Enough grace

 

Picking up dirty socks from the floor, exasperated at their presence

Tiredness exaggerates my movements

The heart of a mama beats

Wash, dry, sort, fold, put away

 

Mountainous laundry stares me down

Tedium reigns

The rhythm of repetition

Breathe in, breathe out

Wash, dry, sort, fold, put away

 

The grace of repetition?

The grace of everyday

 

Hands submerged in oily dishwater

 

My skin wrinkles

Before its time

 

Hers will not

 

Cleaning dishes becomes grace

The chance to

The ability to

The choice to

 

 

There is enough grace here

Enough to rant and rage against

Sill there are glimmers of light sneaking through

 

The Old Songs

Last week we found out that my sister in law was seriously ill and had been moved into palliative care.  We are in shock and still coming to terms with the reality of this.

The 31 Day Challenge quickly fell to the wayside.

I have had no words for days.

We have been surrounded by people whose goodness is lighting the way.

And God’s grace has broken down doors and bombarded us.

These last few days I’ve learnt to sing the old songs.

Songs heavy in ancient truth.

The simple songs our ancestors chanted as they wandered the wastelands.  Songs that echo through history and into eternity, flowing back and forth to us and over us.

The songs of all consuming mercy and love.  Songs of declaration and bowing down.

I have chosen to sit here with these songs.

There is layer upon layer of questions and sadness, and pale glimpses of joy. I know God has cushioned us amongst people who are praying the words we can’t and whose ready hands are being splattered by our tears. We are being loved well.

There are those who understand this better than I. Those who trust that mourning will be turned to dancing, sorrow into joy. That there is peace unfathomable waiting.

I am leaning heavily into God’s goodness. I know He is faithful.

Grief is distorting the quiet moments into something graceless. I am restless. Daily I have to choose to let the old songs wash over me and seep in.  To let their words go deep into the hairline cracks of grief and to wash away the shards of pain.

It is a long road ahead.

There is sadness to be felt, hands to be held and tears to fall.

But there are people willing to walk with us and to sing the old songs when we cannot.

School Drop Off and The Civil Wars

 

This mornings school drop off looked like it does most mornings. After the chaotic whirlwind of jackets, shoes, library bags and lunchboxes made its way to the car, belts were clicked and the CD player was turned on. I have had a long standing rule regarding the car and music: ‘my car, my music’. So far I’ve managed to ward off the tide of kids music and just plain bad music in the car.  Because seriously, my house is awash with primary coloured plastic and lost socks. Surely the car can be mine.

It takes about 7 minutes to drive to school.  We were a little early this morning and Praise the Lord our arrival at school coincided with The Civil Wars’ cover of ‘Billie Jean’ coming over the speakers.  So I locked the car doors and told the girls to sit back and appreciate these extraordinary musicians and singers, let alone one of MJ’s best. Bless their hearts they know better than to try and avoid Mummy’s attempts to influence their musical tastes.

While the girls were imprisoned in the car, I glanced over at the car next to me and noticed a mum, who I know to be a lovely, faithful lady, jump out of her car, run to her boot and grab a blanket and a bible. She got back in her car next to her daughter, tucked the blanket over their knees and opened the Bible.

The contrast between what was going on in my car and the one next to mine was stark. And even though I cannot be certain as to what was going on in the other car, I’m pretty sure it didn’t involve the incarceration of children suffering through their mother’s musical appreciation classes.

I felt a momentary stab of guilt and shame that I too was not taking this prime opportunity to pray with my girls.

But the moment passed quickly. I will not apologise for the way my girls and I do life and faith together.

That is not our way. That is not our rhythm. Our school drop off routine involves loud and tuneless singing and discussions over pocket money.  I will not pretend to be a mother I am not.  Let’s be honest, I’m lucky to get out of the house without raising my voice at least once most mornings. And yet my girls know that I am their greatest advocate, their loudest fan, their ceaseless prayer and their safest place. Faith is found entangled amongst our loud laughter and rowdy car trips.   We stumble over each other and we are not always kind. But we are sure of each other and of our God. Our rhythm is far from melodic for anyone outside our little family, but to me it is sweet and fun and full of glittering colour.

Home Alone

 DSCF0264

I am home alone today. The girls are with family, AJ is riding and I am here, by myself. And the house is not only quiet, it feels hollow and uneasy. This is a rare and treasured day. A day not to be wasted. But it sits uncomfortably on me. I miss the girls.

It is cold today and I am refusing to turn the heater on until I feel really cold. I will relish that moment when the house floods with warm air.  My feet are wrapped in my favourite blanket, a sweet gift from my sister in law. My nearly numb fingers tap on my laptop. I love the muted noise of my fingers pressing on the keys.

Spotify is making me happy. The room is thick with memories dancing on old songs. Songs I wouldn’t dare play if anyone was home. Yesterday AJ and I talked about buying our 7 year old an ITunes voucher for her birthday. How did that happen?

I’m not opening the laundry door today.

I am reading and thinking and trying to find the words to make sense of the last few weeks.

 

I will not imagine life any differently.

I will dream of a gentle ascent towards dreams and hopes. But I will not rush towards an alternative reality. I will not wish time away. I will not hope for a quickening.

I will be content, here, amidst the fullness of what life has offered me.  And I will not attempt to be, or write, in the shadow of others.  I will wait out the cold and rejoice in the warmth when it comes.

 

 

Simplicity Reigns

lake district winter

I shall live badly if I do not write, and I shall write badly if I do not live. Francoise Sagan

 

It is grey and dull today.

I am huddled inside with our youngest baking muffins and painting. It has drizzled most of the morning. A hazy mist of barely there raindrops.

These are my kind of days. Slow and peaceful. Restorative in their quietness and ordinariness.

I ventured outside to gather basil and parsley for our lunch and caught a hint of someone’s wood fire. We never had an open fire in our house, growing up or since. But somehow that smell reminds me of home. I hurried inside and rang AJ, declaring our ‘need’ for a fire pit in our back yard, for adventures and toasted marshmallows and damper on sticks. He agreed – it was indeed necessary!

I made our little girl a ‘coffee’. Heated milk frothed to fluffy perfection, topped with milo. She wiggled with happiness. I made myself a coffee and added almond milk, because that is what I do now. The milk and coffee separated and there were clouds floating in my mug. I tipped it down the sink.

The TV seems to be broken, or at the very least it is having some trouble agreeing with the remote control. Tinkerbell will have to wait. Try explaining that to a two year old. Peace was restored with a pair of gumboots and a wand.

Today I am thinking of my friends who are travelling through the UK for the next 5 weeks. My excitement for all that they will see is tainted oh-so-slightly with jealousy. I long for quiet adventures and wild, sweeping landscapes. For the beauty of the North of England that I know and love. Misty mountains and cosy pubs. My friends will return with great stories, told with rapidity and joy, and I will delight in their wonder, of this I am sure.

Simplicity reigns in this house today.

Introvert’s Inc.

introvert

Today, I am intensely aware of how deep my introverted nature runs. How demanding it is.  How it impacts my family and friends.

Today, I am painfully aware of how ungracious I become when I am tired and in need of time to myself.

Today I am acutely aware that I am married to an extravert, mother to two extraverts and one introvert.

Sigh.

I am grateful that I know when I have reached my limit. I have learnt to stop.  I have learnt that I will not tolerate extended time surrounded by noise and people.  I am at my best when I have had time to think, write, reflect, drink coffee and watch well written TV series’ on repeat! I have learnt to embrace this part of myself. To celebrate it, to not deny it or try to change it.

I am at my best when those around me know this about me. I can relax into these friendships without fear of assumption or expectation.  They are safe havens, solid ground, and secret gardens.

I have learnt, being an introvert is not a weakness.  It is strength in silence and reflection. It is life packaged quietly and beautifully.  It is words and actions, deeply felt, sincerely offered, quietly hoped for.  It is the sweetness of dear friends who love all, despite all. It is knowing that I can be who I am without apology or justification.

It is life in all its shadows and light.

And I am grateful: for safe havens, solid ground and secret gardens.