Sunday, 28 November 2010

Devotion to St Christopher

We Anglicans often forget the Saints. I loved All Saints Day this year as it gave the girls and I chance to focus on a chosen few saintly lives and see how others have served God. My Twitter feed from CSLewisDaily yesterday was:
The stamp of the Saint is that he can waive his own rights and obey the Lord Jesus.
Saints give up what they want, in order to do what God wants. Numerous stories of the saints provide inspiration, but many of us either never find out about these historical figures in the Christian church, or we fail to remember, listen to or pray to them.

But sometimes, they come to us. Last weekend our family of five were finally seated, restfully, around a table in a pizzeria in a city in the north of England.We had driven for over three hours only for our vehicle to overheat in the middle of the city centre as we strived to find a car park. While hero of a husband waited in a cold car for the breakdown guy, I managed to take two big girls and a baby through the city for their promised pizza treat.

It wasn't that simple. It was absolutely pouring with rain. I hadn't been in the city for almost a decade and didn't know the way; my paper map got soggy and unreadable. At one point in the city's most famous street, we realised we were up on a stepped area (thanks, postmodern urban planners!) and had to retrace our route to get the buggy down. On arrival at the restaurant, at the bottom of a very steep hill, we were faced with more steps, so not only did I have to struggle to separate the parts of the buggy and hoist them into the restaurant while the big girls waited patiently, but the bathroom was two steep floors up and I had to lug the baby up carefully in my arms. All this without knowing what was happening with the car and what the rest of the day held!

But it was there my luck began to change. Although the restaurant had access problems, it was from a chain we knew and trusted, and there were nappies of Rebecca's size, wipes and nappy sacks there in the bathroom so I didn't need to lug the nappy bag too. There were two sisters from another family helping each other in there, and the restaurant was filled with other families yet had a table for us too. The waiting staff took great care of us, adding my husband's order at the last minute, and within the hour we were all seated, eating hot food, having fun, knowing that we could check into the hotel with the car fixed, and drive on to our relatives' home to spend time with them and deliver birthday and holiday gifts.

[One of the ironies, incidentally, was that the car broke down opposite a car park; when my husband explained to the rescue guy that we had been unable to find a parking space, he had the car park across the road pointed out to him. And although again, there were many steps and I had to wait with the buggy while my husband brought the car around, it was fine.]

So the lessons learned were not just that a city I spent time in as a student is not the best for wandering around with kids. It was about trust and faithfulness. I had been eager for us to depart from our home as soon as possible, in order to get to the restaurant so we could eat, meet our relatives and visit an art gallery and, for some pre-Advent preparation, the cathedral of St Nicholas. In the end, we just got to eat. But our car got fixed. We got to our destination eventually. And we were soon sipping hot tea in the welcoming home of Aunty Kath. So thanking both God and St Christopher in the restaurant was pretty much a given!

Each daily journey is part of our life's journey and we need to treat it as such, without the rush and the worry. We will be helped there, whether by the saint dedicated to travellers, or others. We just need to trust, and know we will get there eventually. In terms of spiritual, emotional and personal matters, it may be years before we get there, but we are still being helped along.

As an aside - Christopher was someone who said 'No' when God first asked him to serve. He was a big fellow, and didn't think he could do the whole fasting and praying thing - he needed to eat! So God reconsidered in this case. And he found something that Christopher was better suited for - carrying travellers across the river. Sometimes the things we think God is asking us to do seem too hard. We fail to trust. We can spend a lot of time saying no. We put our needs first. And most times God wants us to keep on trying. But sometimes he gives us a break. God seems to know when we've had enough. Jesus knows the limits of our humanness. We are all potential saints too, but serving Him on this earth can be hard. But, like us in the city that day, we need to keep on journeying, and hope to get there, one way or another.

(We also managed to avoid the pile-up on the motorway on the return journey...)

Friday, 19 November 2010

Quick Take Friday Vol 2

1. I am alive, breathing, and drinking tea, for which I give thanks!

2. With great thanks to's other feature this week, on Advent, I have purchased purple table linen and tissue paper so we can celebrate in new ways along with candle, readings and calendars. I am enjoying the anticipation of the advent of Advent, if that makes sense. Practicalities mean we have to start buying gifts and planning early so to REALLY mark the start of the season on 1 Dec with new and special things is wonderful.

3. What else has been going on? I made favourite foods this week - Yorkshire Puddings for Imogen aged 4 and Lemon Curd for Sophie aged 6 this week. I am really appreciating immersion in household tasks at the moment, I guess it's the season (see point 2) BUT given that there are other things I could choose to focus on (study, visiting friends, emailing, blogging LOL) it's a huge achievement for me.

4. I DID write my essay on prayer, finally, but it's 800 words over and I can't face the edit. I missed the first session of the new module on Monday, but hope to go next week, whether I've done the prep or not. It's Old Testament for the next few weeks, which I have learned to appreciate :-) Every time I read the doom, gloom and gnashing of teeth stuff in the OT I'm reminded of how Jesus means we no longer face God's vengeance, just forgiveness, compassion and grace, and I do a little happy dance!

5. My husband is being a hero this week, just in doing the small but actually huge things that serve the family. And not just because he watched Fireproof this week (which was an act of sacrifice in itself. Good concept, scary acting, I thought.) For a non-worshipping person, he sets a huge example to follow.

6. Baby Rebecca is 3 months old now and a pleasure to be with, always (other than when she is tired and screaming obviously.) It's my middle daughter who's had the bulk of my attention this week though, as she has been going through illness and behaviour issues which could only be solved by a) removing all possible privileges and b) simultaneously showering her with as much love as possible. This means TV has been replaced by doing jigsaws together on a couple of days, and we even hung out at Starbucks while the baby slept, instead of pre-school. I don't think I can continue this pace, but she starts school in January so I truly hope I can continue investing in her. As well as focusing on my eldest daughter whose needs probably got lost this week in the tussle for attention...

7. I just noticed in someone else's blog that Betty Beguiles family got to move into a new place and have a new couch which her internet followers gave her and which she accepted with such grace. Such an act of Christian love pouring out to others. Something to celebrate!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Small Successes! Volume 4*


I clearly haven't been blogging lately, even though I have many ideas. Life is happening around me, so that even when the needs of our 3 month old daughter are met, there are the needs of other family members, church meetings, online gift shopping and studying to be done. I have been feeling slightly unhinged about this lately - that I can't do many of the things I was used to with 'only' two children to look after - but things seem to have come full circle in terms of my understanding, as this week's Small Successes explains.

Inspired by a chat with a friend who is a mother of three (with no more on the horizon and starting to develop certain bits of life more for herself) we realised that until recently, I was in a position to do lots of things for me. My lay ministry course was flying, I rehearsed and performed regularly with a singing group, helped run our church's Pram Service, ministered on the Baptism Preparation team, attended committee meetings for the church women's group and my middle daughter's playgroup, enjoyed cooking from scratch using the produce from our weekly organic fruit, veg and meatbox, baked cakes for events, attended church on a Sunday evenings solely for my own spiritual satisfaction - and so on. As well as taking care of the family.

It sounds a lot, but actually it was in balance. I am skilled in saying no to things I know I can't do, or would stretch me too much. But since the new baby, everything has dropped by the wayside, to an extent. Obviously I'm indescribably, madly in love with baby Rebecca, but I have also missed church services by myself, getting up to read the Bible to the congregation, women's nights, singing rehearsals and baking. I will be unable to perform in my Ensemble's upcoming November concert. I have kept on with meetings and helping at Pram Service, but along with blogging, lots of parts of 'me' are left behind.

But after talking with my friend, I've had an epiphany - and not one of the 'it won't last forever' type. Just that, I had become used to these gifts to me - time, space and the motivation and ability to do different things than mothering. Yes, one day they will come again, but that's not what's changed my attitude. It's more the fact that, when I had two kids under two, I had none of those things. And it was wonderful. Hard work, but do-able, and there wasn't much left for me, but there was always enough. I'm only missing things because I had them, and had developed them, and become used to them. It's a privilege to have them, and success is in realising that I am content mothering, studying a little and playing a little. It doesn't matter if I am not getting to do what other folks can, because they are not in the same place as I am. And I am great where I am.


I have helped keep the family alive, fed, clean, well-slept and generally happy this week!


Thanks largely to Imogen's godfather, who is sat playing games with her while I type, and my husband, who is in the other room where the baby is sleeping, I got my small successes done this week, which is a small success in itself. What a gift. Celebrate. Woo hoo!

Hosted by Danielle at Faith and Family Live