Seasons of Joy: Precious Memories

Ribbet collageSeasons of Joy

I’ve not written a precious memory or seasons of joy post for a while.  I’ve been trying to cut down on my blog writing so I can focus on a couple of other writing projects.  This Seasons of Joy/ Precious Memory mash-up post covers bits and pieces which have been going on over the past few weeks.

Friends and Family

Life has calmed down over the past year or so.  When one isn’t dealing with serious health issues and one is finally sleeping like a baby, one’s life takes on a whole new and more relaxed perspective and it feels really good.

We have a lovely rhythm to our weeks and months.  We are all trying to make our weekends slower and really different from the rest of the week.  Once a month we drive down to the nearest beach.  There is no place on earth I feel as close to God and as a family it is a widely anticipated day trip out:

Ribbet collageww2

Once a week we have our baby sitter come so Gary and I can go out on a weekly date.  Now some might say we don’t fully make the best of these nights, given we eat at Sainsbury’s and then go for a weekly shop!  Thing is, we have so much fun together, it doesn’t really matter where we go.  It makes sense to get a job done whilst enjoying ourselves.  All five children adore Emma and they all have a great time whilst we are gone:


More time has meant more visiting friends:


Andrew and I know each other from our school days, when we caught the same bus together for six years.  He would have been one of my favourite friends during my teenage years and we have been friends for well over 25 years.  He is married with children now and it has been lovely to see our children building friendships with his.  He is big into his cycling which Gary and T13 also enjoy, whilst his gorgeous wife and I get on really well.  I remember when I was completely overwhelmed having three babies under the age of one, she would come over every Friday and be my shining light amid the mess of nappies and spit up!

We also still get together with Lorna.  Remember Lorna?  My friend who always claimed to beat me at badminton (which, of course, she didn’t.  Ever)?  Our families still meet up once a week alternating homes and eating a baked potato and toppings feast.  Lorna has just decided to home school her daughter and K11 will be joining us for one day each week.  I think it will be really fun adding another student to the mix and the girls can’t wait!

We also get together with another home schooling family which has been such a blessing to us all.  Vikki has seven children.  T13 and her eldest boy are getting on so well.  They are currently building a chicken pen in his back garden.  The rest of the children play at gymnastics and dress up, although if we are at our house (we alternate) the older ones will go for a long bike ride.  And Vikki and I chat.  Do you know how lovely it is to have deliciously long conversations with another adult?  I am very thankful for my friends.

Friends are so important to experiencing joy and I am so grateful for having the time and opportunity to see some of mine on a regular basis.

Fun Times with the Little Ones

The little ones have been joining in with lots of the bigger children’s schooling making pomanders:


and making some foam crowns out of a kit:


I am enjoying the novelty of having all my children be old enough to choose an activity, set it out, do it and then clean up….all independently.  On that note my littlest is now out of nappies overnight.  It is bittersweet, knowing that she is my littlest and I will never again have a child in nappies.  That said, I am not altogether unhappy about that prospect.

Here the girls are playing and creating:

Ribbet collageaaa1

and here they are watching some indoor fireworks, some Dr Seuss school and more dress up using bits and pieces their older sisters made for Elizabeth I coronation:

Ribbet collageaaa

All things are possible…

I am still fairly free of sugar, which is really quite incredible, and I feel much healthier.  But something else is changing as well.  It was almost imperceptible at first but I am now definitely noticing more and more.  And that thing is my attitude towards myself.

The verse I have been focusing on for weeks has been Romans 8 v12-14:

So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

And Ephesians 4 v20-24:

Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life

I wondered why God had me stop here, and no matter how much I mentally tried to figure out exactly what it was that He wanted me to do, I still felt there was something I was missing.

Over the past couple of weeks I have discovered what that something was.  Except it wasn’t something He wanted me to do, more something He wanted to do in me.

One of the things I love the most about Gary is his very deep belief in himself.  Honestly, no-one thinks he is more wonderful that he does!  And yet he is also really humble and not at all boastful.  He has a quiet confidence which means he is always game for anything.  He’ll happily try anything, turn his hand to anything.  He fears nothing.  If someone asks for help he will do all he can to help even if he doesn’t have the requisite skills.  I have a different confidence.  I am confident in anything I know I am capable of doing.  The rest, though, not so much.  But it is worse than that, because those things I am not so confident in I won’t even try.  It’s only been the last few years I’ve felt confident enough to sing in church out loud.  I’ve never wanted to ruin anyone else’s worship so I’ve kept quiet.  Funnily enough I was in my school choir for years and never sang, not even once, just mouthed the words.  I don’t have the confidence, like Gary has, to try anything I might fail at.  And this seems to be what God is changing right now.

I have begun certain projects I have wanted to do for years but never felt they would be any good, so what was the point?  God is teaching me that the joy is not in the excellence with which something is done (or not done as the case may be), but rather it is the faith with which it is done.  Gary is fearless and full of faith in God, himself and others.  It is this fearlessness I can feel begin to infiltrate me as the fearfulness subsides.

God is helping me to give the untruths of my childhood a decent burial.  It is not the type of burial that someone or something might be able to dig up at a later date; no, it is a proper, burying-it-deep, never-to-be-seen again kind of decent burial.  I can literally feel the weight of all the nastiness of my childhood being physically lifted out of my heart and soul and being replaced by a new feeling of fearlessness.  It is very exciting and incredibly freeing.  God is freeing me from my past.  Do you know how big this is for me?

I am currently exploring things I would never have had the courage to even contemplate before.  I am beginning to live a God fashioned life.  I am beginning to live my God fashioned life.  I am free.

So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through (John 8 v36)