Custard cream

Since our half term has been dominated by a sickness bug, and the worries and stress that brings with it in our family life I’ve decided it’s about time I introduced you to our gorgeous guinea pigs, custard cream and bourbon. (A far nicer thing to write about than the amount we spent on anti-bac cleaners, or just how little sleep I had while T was ill, or just how debilitating the worry of it spreading was for all of us – each expressing it in our own unique ways!)

We chose them and brought them home not long after we moved here. B named & looks after Custard, and A & T have Bourbon. They have a ‘summer residence’ in the garden, and an indoor hutch. To be honest though, we are all so used to them being inside with us none of us are rushing to get the summer home cost & ready this year! And we have a run they go outside in whenever the weather is good.

They both quite quickly got used to cuddles, though we still keep a close eye on cuddles with T, she holds them very close!! Bourbon is the quiet one, preferring a quiet calm knee but Custard on the other hand is always ready for a challenge, an explore our a new adventure. He was first to learn going up the stairs, and pretty much gallops up with delight when he gets a chance, waiting at the top for B to catch up. He loves going exploring in the garden on his lead, and seems happy to pose for photos. Bourbon loves to chatter & chunter once everything in still and settled. He will follow Custard’s lead to learn new things, but really he loves what’s familiar and is very content. Custard finds baths exhilarating, Bourbon is glad when they are over! (Yes books about keeping guinea pigs recommend giving them baths… once read, must be obeyed!)

It’s good for us to have them with us, a part of family life. They bring fixed points in our daily and weekly routine, and love how they bring out the gentle, careful caring gifts in B, A & T. Holding them brings a stillness and calm which not much else can sometimes… easing us out of that awkward bit after a bad meltdown when what is needed is closeness and acceptance as well as space … drawing us out from shutdowns in a winsome and undemanding way. Being with them reduces stress… often visibly.

Now of course looking after them brings a few stresses too – going away and leaving them can prove very difficult for some of us, with worries about whether the (pages of) instructions have been written clearly enough, or if they will be read, or followed… they come with mess… especially as they often follow B around the house (or is it the other way around??) leaving me a little trail to follow! And my worst bit, they need their claws cutting regularly which does leave me just a little stressed wanting to get it right, not hurt them, and needing help from my wonderful assistants to be able to get it done!

But we wouldn’t be without them!

Welcome

So, right from the start of this new adventure I want you to know that I’m not writing posts because I am brilliant at sharing, modelling and nurturing faith with my three lovely children – some days feel like a disaster, many times I try & fail with style. A good friend encouraged me by saying I might have a ‘ministry of imperfection’. I certainly know I don’t get it all right (whatever that looks like!), and I am happy to be honest about that in the hope that it opens up conversations which might encourage and inspire.

The truth is I am passionate about my children growing in faith – it comes up there alongside my hopes that they will be healthy, secure, loved, and find purpose and fulfillment. In fact I’m not sure I can separate it out from those hopes. Jesus is the only one who brings life in all its fullness, and that is my prayer for them.

I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. (John 10:10, The Message)

But its the ‘how’ that’s an adventure and a half, a challenge with lots of frustrations, failures and also full
of precious moments of blessing and new insight – insights that nurture my faith too. It’s an adventure with sometimes unexpected encouragements – always good to remember on the painful ‘nothing is going right’ (OK, more honestly – ‘I’m a failure as a Christian mother’) days – like the wonderful one I wanted to show you that we found hidden among the messages in Andrew’s Fathers Day present this year!

Let me introduce my family a bit, I am married to Andrew, a vicar, and we have three children, a boy & two girls. Our oldest girl has Aspergers (some say ASD, some Autism, some high functioning autism) and we are in the process of assessment with our youngest girl too; their way of seeing and understanding things, and the way they experience the world around them shapes our family life quite a bit!

In September they will all be full time at school, two in secondary, one starting infants – so I am told I might get a tiny little bit more time & space for the other things I fill life with. I am ordained too, and minister alongside Andrew on a flexible voluntary basis, so far since we moved here my ministry has involved children’s groups, work with families, work in infant & secondary schools, leading & preaching (esp love all age) and writing. I love gardening, crafting, baking researching family trees, and do them whenever I get a chance – oh and of course somehow or other all the jobs that go hand in hand with being ‘full time mum’ get thrown into the mix too (and some of them – dusting?? – get ignored!).

I am excited about sharing the ups and downs of this adventure I have been on for nearly 14 years now – and I am looking forward to the conversations we will have about sharing faith with our children.

“Daddy, I love you so much because – along with mummy – have helped me to learn more about God.”