Advent

There is great excitement in our house as it’s the 1st December tomorrow and the advent calendar is coming out. I have to say I remember this being one of the best bits of being a kid, even though we never had a chocolate one! We are not planning a big extravaganza this year but looking forward to having mum and dad to stay and being in our own home for the first time ever on Christmas Day.

Advent is supposed to be about getting ready and preparing for the big day, but in spiritual terms it’s more about preparing for the birth of Jesus and fresh starts in God’s love, than dealing with never-ending “to-do” lists and trailing round the shops! I told our son it was Jesus’ birthday at Christmas and he thought I’d lost my marbles!

Last weekend I went away with the ladies from our church to a sort of retreat in Wensleydale, which involved alot of prayer and talking, and the odd glass of wine!

The leader showed this video which really made me think..

(I hope you can work out how to get to this link!)

http://skitguys.com/videos/item/birthday-jesus

 

 

 

 

Women as leaders

This week I have been considering applying for a senior management post that I could probably do, but don’t feel confident enough to apply for. I am feeling encouraged by staff, colleagues and friends to keep going in my career, despite my own concerns about my abilities and role in life. Growing up in the 70’s I heard alot about equal opportunities but didn’t necessarily see it around me. My mum’s generation have had to be ground-breakers in making change happening, and smashing glass ceilings, all over the place. I pretty much take for granted now that if I see a job with Director in the title, it’s open to women as well as men. I don’t have to check if it’s open to women before considering the option. Nor should I if I have the right experience, knowledge, skills and abilities to do the job well. 

Mum is a natural leader, and ended up in the church despite a slow start in faith. The death of my older sister in a car accident is one of the turning points she talks about, as a young mum, in coming to know God. She became one of the first women to be ordained many years later, without in a sense setting out for this to happen. Her experiences with the church of england haven’t always been positive, she’s faced considerable prejudice and disappointment, but she’s always been extremely highly respected vicar and inspirational speaker. Her work in developing youth and children’s work was ahead of it’s time, and she’s been able to mentor and support young people going through ordination training since becoming a vicar herself.

For all the women in the church who have chosen to become leaders, I think tonight’s vote in the General Synod is really sad. Change can happen from the ground up, but it can also help to be in a position where you have some “clout”, and women will always have a different and often complimentary perspective to men, that is just not being voiced at the moment. We won’t understand what a difference that could make to this country until we take a risk.

It’s not about women wanting to be ambitious or powerful necessarily, it’s more what they’ve given up for the church and how the church is thanking them. Maybe they woudl have preferred to stay home with their kids, or go into more lucrative avenues of work that would have been alot easier for their families. Sunday for my mum has never been a day of rest. 

However….. nothing is impossible with God, and however upset or angry we feel, it doesn’t matter. Mattew 17 v20 has been sticking in my mind this week:

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Breaking up

A few of my friends or friends of friends are going through seperation at the moment. It’s quite a shock as many of them always seemed to be very happy together, and on the face of it they have everything going for them. I understand how tough it is on a relationship if you have small kids, and also if you can’t have kids, and want to, I think this can be a really difficult issue to come to terms with.

This year I’ve tried to arrange lots of breaks for us, so we each respectively get some time on our own and also just time together to hang out. At the weekends I try and spend time on my own with the kids to give my other half a break, and some of my friends who are single mums are often glad of company, and other people are often around to meet up with.

The bible is pretty tough on couples splitting up, so maybe not much comfort if you are in the middle of this, but it comes from Jesus trying to protect vulnerable people. He says to his disciples and the men listening to him, “you think it’s legitimate because you’ve got a piece of paper allowing you to leave your wife, but really you are turning her in a an adultress”. This was because back in those days women couldn’t really survive financially on their own, so they would have had to find a new husband, and someone to help them feed their kids. Being a widow was also pretty tough, and the story of Ruth is a really good Bible chapter to have a look at for postive female role models!

Today I guess we have a responsibility to our friends to be there for them in the middle of painful seperation or divorce, and to help them find the right answers for their family. There don’t seem to be easy answers, but we can all try and be a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on and pray that God is with them during this difficult time.

Party Time

I love this time of year, as it’s my birthday, then Trick or Treating which we tried for the first time this week, and loved, then bonfire night and then Jonathan’s birthday. So there are lots of nice things happening, and opportunities to get together with friends. 

I am a notorious party-goer, and prior to becoming a mum, this was the main preoccupation of my life. Entertaining the kids is now my top priority when I get home from work, and the main row me and Steve have is that I am not helping out enough around the house, and just play all the time! I do try and keep up with his high standards but mainly fail.

I am also guilty though of ignoring the children to do jobs around the house at the weekend, just because playing with jigsaws or lego, doesn’t seem enough of an occupation when there are other things that need doing. I am constantly thinking, if I just nip next door now, then I could put that away or do a bit or ironing, and then have the kids following me around saying mum, mum, come back! I think about work priorities, but not about how I could enjoy my marriage with my lovely husband more, or make time for my family as much as I could. Sometimes I end up biting my Dad’s head off when he is trying to talk to me about something he’s been doing.

I was discussing these issues with a lady from church last weekend who’s son is the same age as me, and he has had to give up work following a brain tumour. I kind of felt like I don’t have anything to worry about when I see how she handles her life. We were both in good form as we had been listening to the lovely Joan Sargeant talking at St Paul’s. My friend reminded me of the following passage, and how important it is to make time for space for ourselves and for God…

Luke 10:38-42

At the Home of Martha and Mary

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”