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

 

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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.

Come, let’s sit and talk.

star

Come, let’s sit and talk. Truth is waiting for us under this star studded sky. Listen to my words, but hear my heart. There is no blame here. Grace is spinning and swirling around our words and our hands. Hear it? Listen.

Listen carefully.

We have walked far together. We have trekked over mountain ranges and we have waded through swamps. Hands clasped and hearts cleaved.

You have been constant.

And often silent.

I know you have been present. I have come to know you as silence as much as I have as Lord.

My battered heart knows silence. And it has come to love the quiet.

 

My murkiness has often tainted our conversations. I have poured out mirth on your claims of mercy and grace. I have snapped at your unwavering kindness. Perhaps some of your goodness has seeped through?

Perhaps.

 

I have a suggestion for you.

I require so little.

Will you hear me out and consider my simple request?

 

Here is what I offer you.

I offer my silence in return for yours. I offer you my contentment and my quiet heart in return for yours. Can we just sit, in stillness? I have no need of loud proclamations or fire.

Let’s meet amongst big skies and loud storms, dusty mornings and sweet winds.  Amongst the wind and rain and Spring mornings, this is when your grace and goodness collides with my tainted heart. Just meet me here. That’s all I ask.

It is not so simple is it? Did you hear they slight desperation in my voice? Just meet me here.

Please.

 

And this is when I hear it. The rushing in of your heart. Your delight in chasing my tainted heart over the mountains, again and again. Your voice amidst the howling wind, ‘Mine. You are mine’. In silence and in heart stopping noise –‘You are mine’.

Kindness

Isla and I went for a walk this morning. It was bitingly cold but the wind was still. I walked and prayed for grace and peace.  For kindness overflowing, all consuming.  For the grace to believe in the simple things, the seen things, and to not search the shadows for the hidden.

Kindness is obvious. It finds its way to us on the words of friends and the activity of humble hands. We recognise kindness for the way it makes us feel and the way it quietens our doubts. It sings its sweet song over us and through us, changing our hearts and our minds.

The greatest kindness I have known has been loud declaration of worth that has marked my life. Kindness has come in the form of Truth.

Kindness calls us to happy dances, silly songs and holding hands.

And so I will continue to pray for the gift of kindness. I pray that I would be kind. I pray that my first response would be kindness and that kindness would overrule cynicism and fear. But mostly, I will pray that kindness would taint my words and my actions, singing its sweet song over all those I encounter.

Moses on my mind

michelangelo-moses-eyes(Michelangelo’s Moses)

 

Moses has been on my mind.

A lot.

The great metanarrative of what his life offers us. The great covenant of ownership and home he fought for.

And then, there is this…

Genesis 4:10, ‘…I am slow of speech and tongue’.

Did Moses stutter or suffer from some speech impediment? Did he agonize over public speaking? Was he not confidant in his ability to speak Hebrew?

Whatever it was, literal or figurative; Moses felt that he was unable to carry out the job God asked him too.

I am sure that many a sermon has been preached, and many more will come, that use this verse to extol the greatness of our God who uses us despite our imperfections. I am sure we all take great comfort in knowing God is our strength when we are weak.

I am sure that I have used this verse to justify standing still.

 

But I’m not sure that this is the point of this story.

 

After pointing out his weakness and arguing against himself, Moses begs God not to send him to Egypt.

And then. This…

Genesis 4:14 ‘Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses…’

Stop and consider that moment.

The Lord’s anger.

It makes me shiver.

 

Maybe the issue is not that Moses was unable, but that he was unwilling. That’s a different story. That’s a different theology.

Our failings and weakness’ are known quantities. They are not news to God.

Maybe that is what God wants – my deficiencies and limitations? Maybe they are the tools of grace that God will use? Maybe they are enough?

Nothing needs to be added to them, they are usable and delightful in the hands of an omniscient God.

I don’t know. This feels like a gentle wander through the forest, my mind chasing thoughts down different tracks. But I know that I am not perfect and I know that God does not expect me to be. He expects me to try, to show up and to be willing. He expects my A game. He expects me to be kinder than I feel.

I may feel unable, but I need to willing.

 

 

Exodus 4:10-17

10 Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

11 The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”

14 Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. 15 You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. 16 He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. 17 But take this staff in your hand so you can perform the signs with it.”

Chaos and Harmony

yarra valley autumn

These last few weeks have felt slow.

And heavy.

Like trying to walk through honey.

Longs days tainted with impatience. Long nights punctured with sick girls and self-inflicted restlessness.  There has been little time to indulge in books and words.

Energy has ebbed and flowed as easily as the tide, drawn in by giggling girls, drained out by tiredness.

There is little rest on the horizon.  There is discord playing and chaos forming. But a dear friend reminded me today that out chaos harmony can flow.  Just give it half a chance.

And the days have been pierced with startling moments of God’s goodness.  

Isaiah, the truth teller, has weaved his words in and through my heart, planting hope and promising harmony.

 

Isaiah 58:9-12 (The Message)

If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people’s sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
    your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
    I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
    firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again.