2 more sleeps to go

It’s definitely getting closer, the excitement levels are rising, our oldest asked tonight, should we get the stockings out now, just in case, so they are ready? After a marathon couple of days of trips out, theatre and parties, today was slightly calmer and as a result he’s wide awake at 9pm! Hopefully on Christmas Eve he might be tired? Who am I trying to kid..!

For me Christmas has always been a great time of year, I am rubbish at remembering birthdays, but as I have all year to remember Jesus’s big day, it helps me stay focused! I love the decorations the special treats, the food, the get togethers with family and friends and sharing presents and time together. This year we are having a few firsts.. first time in Mum and Dad’s new house, first time my brother will be spending it with his lovely wife, first time our youngest really knows what is happening, she is 2 and asked me today quite seriously if we have a carrot, sherry and mincepie ready for Father Christmas. It’s also the first year our oldest has been able to write a sign saying “Santa Stop Hir” 

I am feeling much better this year, I feel like I am remembering who I am again, after being a mum has sent me into a bit of a hiatus, and the Springboard course I’ve been on has really helped me get back in touch with what matters to me and find my way. It’s only small changes really, like having 5 minutes to myself, and not feeling guilty, or reading more books.. (even though I forgot to turn up to the first bookclub, at least I’ve joined one!), but it all adds up. I’ve remembered I used to like myself, before I set up an impossible list of things I had to achieve as a mum! I’m spending less time worrying about my kids and my marriage, and more time getting on with what needs doing, and planning time for us as a family together.

In the new year we are continuing with Inspire at St Paul’s. The first one is taking place on Jan 21st (Tues at 7.30pm) and one of our lovely leading ladies is talking about identity and we are going to try and get all arts and crafty, so I am looking forward to that. The idea has come from the website http://www.storyofmum.com (Bad Mummy Bingo is my favourite on that site!)

I know its controversial to segregate men and women, at the moment, the Muslim students are coming in for criticism about this, but the sessions I’ve attended this year either at work or at church which have been positively crafted for women have been really helpful. I am delighted that through this process some of the ladies I know are considering stepping out in leadership roles, which will make the church a more equitable place in the longer run. 

For 2014 I am going to try and be a bit more like Mary, and appreciate the precious gifts I’ve got with my lovely family, my faith in God and fantastic friends, instead of worrying constantly about what I may be doing wrong! As Mary prepare for Jesus’s birth, she sang a song, which explains how she feels about this special time in her life.. from Luke Chapter 1 v47-54… 

Mary’s Song

46 And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49     for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.”

 

 

 

Guest blog.. my lovely sister’s words….

The media coverage today of Nelson Mandela’s death has got me thinking about forgiveness. It is truly awe-inspiring and humbling to think that a man can go from being imprisoned by a brutal system because of his skin colour, and go on to shake hands with and forgive the architects of that very system, which took nearly 30 years of his life.

 

I’ve been thinking about forgiveness recently because I am struggling to let go of a difficult time in my past. We cling on to past bitterness, partly because forgiving means admitting our own guilt as well as forgiving ourselves for messing up. Both types of forgiveness can sometimes seem unattainable when the pain is overwhelming. Anger and the thirst for vengeance have a toxic energy and heat that can fuel us with self-righteous indignation. It’s comforting, in its way, but ultimately corrosive if left unchecked.

 

The Christian message of forgiveness, rather than vengeance, can be such a challenge. Why turn the other cheek when you can hit back and feel better, in the short team, at least? Those of no faith can see this ‘cheek turning’ as at best weak, and at worst, plain stupid. Why wouldn’t you defend yourself if you are under attack? Nelson Mandela showed how much more positively we can live if we can truly find a way to put the past behind us.

 

Think of God’s promise that he loves us, just as we are. We are all imperfect versions of that perfect love. As Mandela put it, “I am a saint if it means being a sinner who keeps trying”. If only we can let God into our hearts, minds and lives, He stretches out our horizons to reveal unfathomable possibilities and positive ways forward that are impossible if we are shackled to past pains.

 

Writing this, I was reminded of the line in Matthew 12, verse 15 onwards, about ‘A bruised reed/He will not break’. Here’s the rest of that passage, that talks of Jesus being a light to the nation who brings forth justice through peaceful means. How apt to read this while remembering the life of such a great man.

 

“Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold;

My chosen one in whom My soul delights.

I have put My Spirit upon Him;

He will bring forth justice to the nations.

He will not cry out or raise His voice,

Nor make His voice heard in the street.

 

“A bruised reed

He will not break

And a dimly burning wick

He will not extinguish;

He will faithfully bring forth justice.

He will not be disheartened or crushed

Until He has established justice in the earth;

And the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.”

 

Thus says God the Lord, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread out the earth and its offspring, Who gives breath to the people on it And spirit to those who walk in it, “I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, And I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, As a light to the nations, To open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the dungeon And those who dwell in darkness from the prison.”

 

Happy Advent Everyone…

It’s count-down time, the advent calendar is out and we’ve started putting up lights and decorations in our house. I am looking at a pile of unwritten christmas cards, and working out who to send to this year, it seems to be a dying art, due to the cost of postage and how easy it is to communicate otherwise. but I do like writing them.

The point of Advent is a bit like Lent we are supposed to be fasting, in readiness for the big event at Christmas, but mainly this time of year I stagger from a Christmas party to the shops to nativity play and get a series of colds, and try and cram in a ridiculous amount in a short space of time (nothing new there!)

It is supposed be a time for listening and waiting for God to arrive in our lives though, and I am trying this year to make a little bit of space for him to hang-out with me. A good friend of mine lent me a book called Time Management for Busy Mums which is ace! After reading it I’ve turned off the push notifications for Facebook from my smart phone, so I am not constantly checking what someone’s been up to that minute. I’ve also tried to be more organised at work and make lists. I work in an amazing office.. West Offices near the station in York, and we have lockers to put our things in, and hot desk, and I cycle into work, so my whole day is different to how I used to work. I am feeling slightly analogue in a digital world (to quote Len from Strictly) but embracing the changes!

I haven’t made a Christmas wish list yet for me, as its so all-consuming thinking about everything else, but I am keen next year to embrace change, appreciate the small stuff, make more time for us as a family, hug my husband more often and generally just try and chill out and enjoy the great things in my life. I’ve got a fantastic church, home, children, friends, partner and need to spend more time enjoying things as well as planning them!

Love hearing the Christmas verses from the Bible too…

Luke 2: v1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.