It must be desperate when God sends a self-care opportunity out of the blue: crazy busy autism household in lock down.

Social media is giving me the impression that everyone has managed to achieve great and exciting projects during lockdown. I think I’m developing a good dose of lockdown envy, and guilt that I haven’t! There have been no home improvement DIY’s, no de-cluttering, no clearing out – the house is in fact messier and more chaotic than usual. I haven’t learnt any new interesting skills (apart from with tech for our ministry tasks). There just hasn’t been the time or the energy!

Doing work, ministry, volunteering, schooling, family life; being Mum, carer, wife, author, a disciple, a human – all simultaneously, all in the same space for all these weeks has been an intense challenge with no respite. The worries of the lockdown and the virus have made T more clingy than usual, set back our sleep (which lets face it wasn’t great anyway), caused bigger and more frequent waves of anxiety that have had to be managed… and everything has had to be done differently – and we don’t like change in this household!

I’ve been counting it as a good day when we are all up & dressed for some of it, and we get to bed having been fed & watered (which we are always – thank you Andrew!) and still in one piece!

IMG_20190527_155305309

Just for a moment this morning we all went to the garden, at the same time and stood looking up at the house martins circling the garden, and trying out our house walls and window ledges for size. It was breathtaking – the birds, and the all stopping together to take it all in.

In a whirl of busy-ness where when ‘work’ (voluntary & now job as well – that’s taking some getting used to) can be put down, something or usually someone else needs to be attended to it was like a long drink of cold water on a hot day!

I do thank God for those unexpected moments he provides which, of course, turn out to do self-care and rest so much better than anything you could have planned … and not quite achieved.

 

Love is patient, love is kind…practicing family love during lock down

IMG_20200409_214158351

The trouble with lock down is that it is magnifying our weak spots! It is intense being together 24/7 for this length of time!! (Or is that just us – please tell me it isn’t)

Loving each other as a family cannot stay as words only, this pressurized time needs us to step up big time and become much more conscious of our actions towards each other. Not at all easy! Our actions means our tone of voice, our assumptions (often based on un-forgiven baggage lets face it), our body language and facial expressions (which of course we don’t all read in the same way which adds another layer of complexity), our acts of service and choices that affect each other.

The Bible gives us a daunting description of family love…

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

from 1 Cor 13

… and of course shows us what that love looks like in practice in the life and death of Jesus. The passage finishes with ‘LOVE NEVER FAILS’. Oh help!

Truth is, when I rely on my ability to ‘try, try, try again’ with even just one of the adjectives in the passage I run out. My fragile, incomplete ability to love is not enough to never fail my family. It is true that being a Christian is not to be perfect – but rather to know we need perfecting by the grace of God.

This week one of the new words for T in her school work at home was ‘invoke’, to actively invite and welcome in, to call upon the presence of. A word that for me conjours up a picture of embrace… which is not simply me embracing an abstract concept when it comes to God, but rather a real living, holy presence who is also actively invested in the embrace! I’m reminded of Jesus’ parable of the prodigal’s return and the Father who out ran the shame and disgrace to reach his child and clothe him with honour, and crown him with love. We are invited into an embrace full of love – love so abundantly given that there is enough to fill us to overflowing.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Col 3:12-14

We still ‘try, try, try again’ – but wrapping the clothes God gives us really close, fully embracing his loving grace-filled presence (yep – on a good day!!), allowing his love to embrace us – our thinking, our actions and words.

God’s not finished with me yet!

 

 

Praying for the world together: Covid 19

IMG_20200325_072003559

There have been two global calls to prayer in the last few days, but it has not been easy for us as a family to join in at the right time or in the same way.

But we do want to pray!

Here are some creative ways to pray together as a family for this world as it struggles with Covid-19 on top of all the other urgent and devastating needs for prayer – war-torn, cholera, malaria, malnutrition, slavery, child-marriage, trauma, displaced people…

IMG_20200325_071528248

  • Play a board game and ‘travel’ around the world. But pause to pray for each place you go through and arrive in. We have this game sitting on our shelf.

IMG_20200325_071758784

  • We happen to have an inflatable globe, but if you have a balloon you could use that and simply write countries on it with a marker pen. Throw and catch – pray for the place which is nearest your thumbs when its your turn to catch.

IMG_20200325_072223135

  • Lovely ideas from GodVenture – make a pile of stones together, each stone a prayer – blow bubbles to visualize asking for God’s blessing to fall and spread around the world, our family, our community. You could draw places and people and then lay out the pictures and blow bubbles over them.
  • Get crafty together – a collage using recycling materials in the house, or painting with water/chalk outside. Talk and pray together for the places you add to your creations. Remember God made the whole world and it is his!

IMG_20200325_074727607

  • Prayer doodle alongside each other. We printed off a simple map of the world to use.

 

However we manage to bring our families together to pray, whether it’s a way that works for sensory seekers, those who can’t sit still, or who wouldn’t join in with words our prayers are powerful because the God we bring our prayers to is mighty!

 

Need help to keep bedtime calm tonight? 5 hope filled Bible stories to listen to

 

2016-04-09 20.34.39

 You’re tired, they’re tired. Nothing is how it should be – we’ve had another day with many of us at home rather than school, college or work – anxieties are running high for everyone. You’re frazzled and yet you all need and want a calm snuggly, safe bedtime – don’t know about you but I’m not the best story teller on days like this!

 Here are some great places to find hope-filled stories told by other (calmer!) people to get you all ready for bedtime…..

Sally Lloyd Jones  – author of ‘The Jesus Storyteller Bible’ and many other books, is going to be reading some stories on Instagram while there are a lot of us stuck in at home.

The Bible Society has an animation ‘Super Cool Jesus’ which tells the story of why Jesus came, and how he loves us.

Saddleback Kids quirky animation of Matthew 6 is all about how much God cares for each of us – especially when there’s lots to worry about!

Bob Hartman has a wonderful story song all about God’s good world.

Bible App has loads to choose from, and activities to download and print that follow up on a story if you want to.

Have you heard of Illustrated Ministry yet? Sign up for free contemplative colouring

Illustrated Ministry have some free download contemplative colouring pages available during the Coronavirus crisis. Sign up with them to be sent a new design each week.

IMG_20200316_193202461

T & I started this week’s today with our morning break.

It asks God calls me…

T replied “lovely”!