Halloween Schmalloween.

“Halloween Schmalloween, this day belongs to the Lord and later we’re going to partyyyyyyy”

This was what I tweeted yesterday morning as I sat in the waiting area for my physio appointment.  I have the most bizarre relationship/perspective on the 31st October.  So many memories that make up to how I feel about it.

Before The Husband and I married, both being over-analysers, we disussed everything that we thought would come up in our marriage.  Money, children, ministry, gender roles, pets, did I mention money? So we were smug enough to think we were a step ahead of anything that could catch us off guard.  We were married in the July, and were soon packing up our rented house to move into our own in the late atumn.  Enter 31st October.

It was, as you’d expect, dark outside and we were probably busy packing boxes when one of us realised it was halloween.  Oh.  We’d never really talked over how we’d handle trick-or-treaters.  We decided quickly that we both hated halloween and everything it represented.  But do we answer the door and politely explain that we don’t celebrate halloween?  Do we give out sweets anyway?  Do we blatantly show we’re at home and ignore the door bell?  Or do we turn out ALL lights and skulk around in the dark?

Yes.  As fully grown adults, we decided to do the latter.  It saw us commando-crawling (with a bark of “get-down!”) across the floor each time the door bell rang and reaching up in the dark to peep through a window to see if they’d gone.  We were ready for those teenage ratbags with eggs.  Only they didn’t come.  We ended up taking on mission-“get-down!” for sweet young kids, most of whom were accomplanied by an adult.  I know.  The mind boggles.  We look back now and laugh so much about it, the funniest part being that it was no laughing matter at the time.  It was something we were literally working through as we lived it.

we tried out the strategy that the inlaws use and kept a bowl of sweets by the front door with a sign saying that we don’t celebrate halloween but please take a sweet.  Its seemed to work for them.  Only The Husband paced the floor all evening, peeking through the blinds to make sure the kids were not taking more than their share of sweets! I thought the man was going to have a heart attack…!

And then five years ago, on 31st October I miscarried. The story is told here on my brand-new-not-even-really-ready-to-be-put-out-there secondary blog where I will be piling all my mummy stuff so not to overload it here.  Even now, when October 31st rolls round I feel the sting off loss.

Last year I was sitting thinking about halloween, probably feeling a little wistful over my own experiences.  But I know I was feeling frustrated that children were being exposed to horrible stuff on halloween.  There has been times when I’ve had to walk out of a shop with my girls because the decoration has been so frightening.  I just don’t see what’s fun about death, horror and giving children nightmares.  But at the same time there’s no denying there’s a pull to it; the promise of sweets when trick-or-treating and the opportunity to see your friends at a halloween party.

It’s not enough to say ‘no’ to our children with Halloween.  Telling kids to stay away from something just makes the mystery of it all the more appealing (unless you’re as sensible as Chloe who would not touch anything scary with a barge pole).  If we’re trying to guide our children from something unhelpful we have to provide an alternative, so there’s no sense of missing out.

So last year we launched the Starlight Party at Emmanuel Church, and the church was packed full of kids and their family from both within the church family and from the local community.  Last night we celebrated the Starlight Party’s second birthday.  I felt like my heart would swell out of my rib  cage, I was so thankful for a team of about 30, that worked tirlessly with smiles on their faces.

And we pulled it off! Kids loved it and their family loved it.  I can’t say I’m a little relieved the planning is behind me but it without a doubt it was completely worth it.

 

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disappointment.

It has been said that a successful blog needs a niche.  A specialism.  So you’ll find cookery blogs, crafty/DIY blogs, foody blogs, mummy blogs, etc.  I don’t have a niche.  I just try to record the ‘little things’ that can easily be forgotten, make sense of my jumbled thoughts and share a little bit of me.  Sometimes I write about silly stuff.  Sometimes I write about good stuff.  And sometimes I write about struggles.  I’m guessing the former make for easier reading! But you don’t walk through life without struggles, n o-one does.  And I pray that as I write about stuff that I find tough, that it will encourage you wherever you’re at.

There’s always an ‘uh!’ moment when I wake up and my back/pelvis/legs are playing up. I’m like a disappointed child that’s been told they can’t go to the park, because this stupid injury stops me doing all I want to do. But right now, I’m grateful for what I can do. I’m so sorry for ranting and whining, the frustration might make a little more sense soon.

We had a load of Avon work to do Saturday afternoon and because it was so warm we combined it with a bike ride for my 4 yr old and 6 yr old. Never ever combine work with a bike ride with a 4 yr old and 6 yr old. It was awful. The girls were riding into the road. I totally misplaced a receipt I had for one customer. I was all sweaty in the ridiculous September heat (too much information) and delivered the wrong products to a different customer which meant I had to go back with my tail between my legs. I walked away feeling like possibly the most unprofessional Avon rep EVER. There was a slight turnaround in the whole experience when I delivered to the last customer. She was so lovely and a little amusing. She was asking me if I had popped brochure through a door over the road and kept saying she’s ‘gone away for the weekend’ – and she kept winking and grinning when she said it. it was a little bit wink wink nudge nudge. I grinned back. And had absolutely no idea what she was going on about. Maybe she’s a little ‘wo-hoo’ but hey, if she happy to buy with Avon… SAM_0855

On the way home we walked past some brambles and found blackberries, Much excitement followed and we improvised with Ruby’s bag to collect some. This is when a nice little picture of our foraging efforts would be fitting, but I didn’t have my camera with me. A lesson learnt. Take your camera everywhere.  So here’s what we came home with.

 

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Not quite enough to make a blackberry crumble but it was still a very cool little ‘bolt on’ to the afternoon.

We got home and almost immediately realised I’d walked way too far. For the first time in months I had all tingles and pins and needles down my legs. Gutted.  Some ice, rest and X Factor later my legs feel a little better but the ‘sciatica’ symptoms are still clinging on.

Yesterday I continued to ignore the pain and spent the morning in kids church, moving tables and carrying Ruby.  She has been exhausted since she started school and she’s not really caught up yet.  By the end of the morning church meeting she was showing major signs of flagging and so when The Husband took her this was pretty inevitable:

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Pushing my body when it was trying to tell me it was struggling took its toll and as we arrived back home at lunch time I crawled onto the sofa and upped my pain meds to the point that I was at before I started to reduce them.  Because I am chomping at the bit to get off all the medication I’m on, this was a bit of a blow.

Disappointment is rubbish isn’t it?  It makes you feel robbed and that all the hope has been sucked out of you, leaving you a little empty.  But it doesn’t have to be like that! There is hope in everything.   Here’s what the bible says about it:

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment.

Romans 5:3-4

We’ve heard its been said that we are what we eat.  It’s a good thing I don’t believe that or I’d be slow cooked chicken. I should eat more glamorous food.  We’re not what we eat.  We’re not even what we feel.  I wonder if our feelings get too much of a look in, and this comes from some one who mostly allows her heart to rule her head!  Feelings can be deceptive so we need to stand on what we know to be true.

Sometimes I just don’t feel I have what it takes, but I hold on to the truth that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).  Sometimes I can feel like plans have gone wrong but I stand on the truth that the plans of the Lord stand firm forever (psalm 33:11).

Sometimes I feel frustrated that ‘stuff’ just gets in the way of the important stuff – But I know that Our God is greater.
 

 

 

cherish.

Sigh.  I don’t know where to start.  Around about a month ago I signed up late for Cherish2012.  It’s a women’s conference.  First off I signed up when I was still in so much pain I couldn’t balance all the meds I had to take.  Crazy I know.  Plus – I’m not the women’s conference ‘type’.  I thought there’d be lots of…’fluff’, you know? I can’t explain it, just fluffy stuff. AND I’m so rubbish around people I don’t know very well.  It’s like I’m socially schizophrenic, I turn from a confident woman into a ridiculously immature introvert that forgets the art of conversation.  So why I jumped at the chance to go to Cherish only God knows.

But it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

I’m not good with numbers (and these are poor images taken on the balcony) but this gives you a good idea of how many girls came to hang out for a weekend.

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What grabbed my heart straight away was the effort that went into making us feel welcome and important.  There were so many ‘little details’ that I couldn’t begin mention everything.  They covered the place with tiny butterflies, paper pom-poms and a big message for everyone walking through the car park.

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No massive reason for it, just to love us, appreciate us and embrace all things girlie.  Each woman at the conference received a gift, delivered by a team of amazing suited-up guys who served us the whole weekend (the gift was a veeeery pretty candle holder).

 

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Gifts – and no strings, it’s pretty counter-cultural right?! And another thing – no ‘fluff’ in sight!! Just a team of ordinary (but very annointed!) women who love Jesus pouring truth, affirmation and a spiritual ‘kick-up-the-butt’ to hundreds (?) of other ordinary woman that love Jesus too.

We even had a free afternoon to head into Bradford city centre for a bit of retail therapy!

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Becky didn’t go for the batman top in the end Smile.  I shared the weekend with a handful of women – some that I already knew well, others not very well at all.  I came home loving every single one of them, and blessed that I get to do life with these lovely ladies.DSCF3018DSCF3020

I couldn’t think how to get this picture in – but it can’t not, its too funny! Yes that is two grown women sitting in the boot.

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I ‘ve gone through the notes I made from the weekend and I’m committing to work through them over and over until they’ve settled nicely into my mind and my heart.  A weekend that made you feel special, where you are able to just be filled up afresh, spend time with some awesome friends and enjoy some ‘ mummy-off-duty’ time – Even the pain in my back couldn’t spoil it.

On the closing evening I had a tap on my shoulder only to turn around and see my old youth pastor standing in front of me.  Tears, laughter and lots of hugs followed and it was the perfect end to a very memorable and special weekend.

 

 

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my heart broke a little today.

My heart broke a little this morning. As I tried to piece together what was and what was not said in an interview with American Pastor Mark Driscoll. The interview has apparently quoted him with this:

“Let’s just say this: right now, name for me the one young, good Bible teacher that is known across Great Britain. You don’t have one – that’s the problem. There are a bunch of cowards who aren’t telling the truth.”

I truly, with all that is in me, hope that he has been misqusoted. The statement reeks of an us-and-them mentality. There is no competition. There is no us and them. There is one church of Jesus christ!

There is no space for kudos or fame in the kingdom of God. Name a good bible teacher that is known across Great Britain? Known? To who? Why does that matter? But I could write and write about British men and women who live wholeheartedly to fire the gospel of Jesus Christ into the hearts of people who don’t know him. Mike pilavachi has impacted on thousands upon thousands of young people to live sold out lives for God. Andy Hawthorne has shaken the very core of Manchester. Nicky Gumbel has poured years and years into the Alpha Course which has reached 17 million people accross the world – sharing the news of Jesus.

This is not patriotism. I don’t boast of these people – Id offend them if I did. They are just people. People who love Jesus with all their heart, soul and mind. No one is perfect. We all let opportunities slip through our fingers. We all let selfishness or even fear get in our way of being light in a dark world sometimes. Regardless of which side of the Atlantic they live on.

I really do hope that statement was fabricated. But on his blog, Mark Driscoll directs this to the ‘Brits’ in general:

Please do not shy away from talking about sin and allowing your preaching and teaching to devolve into vaguely spiritual self-help principles. Please do not be ashamed of the foolishness of the cross, where Jesus died in our place for our sins enduring the wrath of God we deserve

Is this really what British christians look like? In a country built on tradition and a colourful history I could see how easily an ignorant perception could be made. Oh God never let me become ashamed of the cross. But as I look to my own pastor who, with fierce determination, lives to move his flock to be the hands and feet of Jesus where we live, and boldly speaks the word of God into our hearts, the words of Mark driscoll feel alien to me.

Of all the christians in this country who have impacted my life – imperfect? Absolutely. Cowards? Never.