Monday, 15 December 2014

"My soul doth magnify the Lord" {magnifying in the mysteries}

Mary, the mother of Jesus.

A title so known by those who know Christ, that we may hardly think of the deeper sense of this title.

Mary.

The mother of JESUS.

I was thinking about Mary, as I travelled last night.  I was bemoaning, internally, the horrible driving conditions - rain and spray, in a dark, road-works scattered motorway.

Yet, I was in the comfort of a minibus, surrounded by my children.

I got to thinking about Mary, travelling to Bethlehem, thousands of years ago. We think of her, often, on the donkey, of which there is actually no mention of in the Bible. Heavily pregnant, heading to the town in which her betrothed one was born.

Heavily pregnant.

Not married.

Going to get taxed.

Not three of the most ideal scenarios.

And yet...

She was living the life which God had planned for her.

God.

GOD!

HE had planned.

In His infinite wisdom, and according to His eternal purposes, He designed that a woman - sinful, ordinary, nothing saintly or divinely superior about her - would bear His son.  She would carry Him around within her body, feeling his every move and wiggle, just like any other mother with any other child.  Not only that, but she would do it with the shame and ignominy of a child borne out of wedlock.  She had an angel announce the mystifying news, of the child she would carry - no such privilege was extended to every other person she came across. Can you imagine seeing a woman, carrying a child under such circumstances, and her trying to explain it to you in terms of an angel's message from GOD? She would have been laughed to scorn.

Can you imagine how YOU would feel, given this news?

I would think it to be confusing, in the extreme.

And yet...


"Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word."


She accepted her lot in life - she took on board God's great plan, that would lead to the bearing of sin upon the body of the One she would carry - she humbly accepted the "cup" that she was given.  She knew God's plan, and accepted it.  No questions. No doubts. No arguments.


"Whatever you have planned, I humbly accept it to be perfect"


THAT'S how she took the news.

She had faith -  she believed that God's plan would be fulfilled in her.

After receiving the news, she rushed off to her cousin, Elizabeth, who was carrying her own gift from God. The words Mary speaks, in response to Elizabeth, are the words of worship that should come from our lips, no matter what God allows in our life.

It's often called "The Magnificat".

Why?

Because of the words that come from her lips, before any other.

"My soul doth magnify the Lord"

Her situation, humanly speaking, was a difficult one, yet she chose to magnify, praise, and glorify God, before anything else.  Lifting HIM high, above her circumstances, as the one who does "all things well".

How far from that the refrains of MY heart often are.  Trying situations do not automatically spring to magnifying God - rather, we so often jump to despair and doubt.  That is not the way God wants us to live! He wants us to see HIM in everything - His perfect, leading, guiding, and sustaining presence, no matter the circumstance.

She turns her focus away from the frailty of her own flesh, and the opinions and criticism of those around her, and onto the Lord God, and His blessings abundant.


"my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 
For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 
For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. 
And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. 
He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 
He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. 
He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. 
He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever."


Nothing of self - all of God.

That is how God wants us to live our lives.  We need to keep our focus upon Him.  Taking the circumstances which He has allowed, in His infinite wisdom, and bringing praise and glory to Him through it all.   Although God's ways seem mysterious, rejoicing.

Turning our back on the dissenters, and keeping our eyes firmly upon the one who  planned it all.

His glory.  Our good.

Mary's life didn't get EASIER, humanly speaking.  The bitter sorrow of seeing your son - GOD'S Son - nailed to a cruel cross, is unfathomable.  Yet her faith and trust carried on - she KNEW He was the Saviour.  She knew it was why she had carried Him, and cared for Him.  It was hard, but it was necessary.

Our life is filled with hard, but necessary, things.  God's perfect way is filled with things often NOT of our choosing.  They are mysterious to us, and past finding out, so, so often.

The underpinning principle is the same as that of Mary.

God's ways lead us closer to HIM.

Mary was as physically close to Jesus, as anyone could be.

She carried Him in her womb - she birthed him amongst the filth - she nourished and tenderly cared for Him, as a babe - she provided for His physical needs as He grew from babe, to child, to adult - she followed after Him right to the cross - she formed part of the early Church, as they met together to pray and learn.

Our trials should bring glory to God, and draw us close to His side.

Our soul, no matter how mysterious His ways, ever magnifying God.










Friday, 12 December 2014

Cake, craft and companionship {the blessing of making new friends}

Last night, I was incredibly blessed.

My lovely sister-in-law hosted an evening, which she called "Cake and Craft".

How to make many women happy - put those two things together in one sentence.

Cake.

Craft.

Ohhhhhh yeah.

I was instructed to bring some cake, and whatever craft I was working on.  So, I brought two cakes, and all the craft I am working on.

Needless to say, I was heavily laden.

I brought my faithful brownies (a bit undercooked, as I did a "lastminute.com"), and a THM inspired raspberry and almond slice.

Craft wise, I just chucked all my current projects in a bag.  That would be 4 involving yarn (not including my never ending blanket, which keeps ending up on the back burner), and one involving felt.  I had great aspirations to work on the project involving felt, but that didn't happen.

You see, the most precious part of the evening was not what we were to bring, but who brought it.  I had the wonderful opportunity to meet some of the other Mums from a home-ed group my SIL goes to, and whom I had never met before.

These ladies were all lovely.  All different situations.  All different groupings of children.  All different backgrounds.  All united in Christ.

THAT was the precious part.  Fellowship with others of "like precious faith".

Being able to share in our common interests, not least of all home schooling.  Talking about our children and families - the varying struggles and challenges we mutually shared.

That feeling and sense of not being alone in the journey.

It was such an edifying experience, and one I simply don't get the chance to do very often.

I am a VERY sociable person, and I find it hard to not have much contact with other adults, more especially women.

God created us to have companionship.  Firstly He made that perfect union of man and wife, united in marriage. From that flows family, then community, and friendships.  So much of that community amongst family, and Christians, is not the same as it was years ago.  It's not so immediate. It's not always right there, at "hands reach".  It's something that you often have to FIND.  And, like digging for treasure, in a deep, dark mine, it's worth finding.  Fellowship with other Mums is like the glistening of a diamond, dug out from the dark, grimy rock that it has been buried in. It shimmers and shines, from the darkness.

I'm not saying, for a moment, that my life is dark and dull.  I love my children.  I love my responsibilities.  But the craving for companionship can feel dark and lonely.  Finding the gem of fellowship brings beauty and encouragement.

Having spent such a blessed evening together, we want more.  It's our hope to meet together again, in order to be an ongoing help and encouragement to each other. To share experience - to lift each others spirits - to guide in spiritual matters - to laugh and bring joy.

I had thought that I didn't have much opportunity to meet with other Mums, because I don't know that many who could meet together like that.  How glad I am for a sister-in-law who thought of including me in her get together, and encouraging me in tat way.

It has made me realise that the things we need in life are not always immediately obvious.  We may have to look for them, or think of different ways to go about accomplishing things, than we originally envisioned.  It has made me realise that God answers prayers in HIS perfect timing.  The many years I have had with few opportunities to meet others were for a reason.  Those years have taught me much, and maybe now is the time to meet with others, so I can share what God has taught ME!?


I had heard Sally Clarkson talking about "Mom Heart Groups", where Mums got together to fellowship and encourage one another.  I had sighed deeply, and thought, "Wouldn't THAT be nice?"  Well, maybe, now there is  a way to HAVE that!?  A group of Mums, wanting to be the best they can be for their families, and seeking to be encouraged!  Sally's new book, "Own Your Life" points us to remember that God has given us the ability to live life fully, for Him.  It's up to us to make the best choices we can, and connecting with other people is a wonderful way in which live life fully.






I am praying that this New Year will bring the opportunity to have such a group, and share with others in our walk with God and I pray that the Lord will be able to use me to build up and encourage others, in their walk with God.




Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Teaching children life skills {investing time, to shape their future}

Our home has been filled with much activity recently.  Mummy busy, children busy, and Daddy busy.

My lovely husband is a highly skilled "jack of all trades"!

Well, I think so, anyway.

He is able to turn his hand to just about ANY practical job, which has saved us a LOT of money, over the years.  He amazes me, regularly, as to what he can do. From laying laminate floor in an evening, to fixing light fittings - building sheds, to making rope swings - fitting cabinets and work surface, to creating desks for the children's school room. I could go on, but I don't like to boast.....

I was pondering, as he was busy the other evening, on WHY he was able to do this.

The answer is two-fold.

Firstly, his Dad TAUGHT him.  I will be eternally grateful that my father-in-law is, himself, so skilled in many, many practical ways. Being a man who has worked on the land, in farming situations, he can turn his hand to just about anything.  Not just in a basic, "fluffing it" way - VERY well. He has then taken the time to teach his two sons the many things he can do, for which I know my sister-in-law is also thankful! As boys, growing up, they were expected to work on the nursery, too, so their Dad naturally taught them to do the things HE did. He knew that they may, one day, need to be able to do these things for themselves. HOW RIGHT HE WAS!!! To be fair, Robert no longer has need to walk on stilts or reverse a tractor and trailer through a tight space (yes, my husband can walk on stilts!), but who knows when it could be hand? The "around the house" skills, however, are invaluable.

Secondly, his Dad was happy for his children to watch him do things.  My sister-in-law, Anna, (Robert's sister), was telling me, the other day, that she can even do many things, or at least knows how to tell someone else to do them, because her Dad simply let her observe him as he worked. It's amazing what a child can pick up by watching something being done, time and time again.

As parents, we have a wonderful opportunity to pass on skills to our children.  We don't all, as parents, have the same skills, and that is fine! Your hubby may not be able to do the jobs mine can, and I know there are many things other people's hubbies can do, that mine CAN'T! Likewise, as a mother, there are things I can do, which others can't, and vice versa.

The WHAT doesn't matter.

DOING it, matters.

Taking the time to pass on skills to our children, to help them be prepared for jobs in the future.  Having the patience (yes, PATIENCE!) and willingness to bring them alongside us and showing them how to do things, like we do. From making custard from scratch (something my Mum did!), to showing them how to bake a cake.  Laundry jobs.  Hobbies.  Computer skills. Sewing a button on.  The list is endless!

Even just taking the time to teach basic skills like cleaning.  Showing them how a basic chore is done correctly, like tidying their room! They won't know if you don't teach them, and especially showing them by example!

Simply having your children with you whilst you do jobs will help them in the future.

God has shaped our own past, with all of our experiences and skills acquired. What our parents have invested in us, we should make sure and pass on to the next generation.

Maybe your parents DIDN'T teach you much? Perhaps you feel you don't have much to pass on? There are two possibilities! Firstly, that you have skills and talents you just haven't thought of! Maybe you can teach your children about being generous with their time and efforts, or how to show kindness and love.  Maybe you can teach them to be thoughtful.  Perhaps you can teach your sons how to show thoughtfulness and compassion to their future wives, and your daughters how to be supportive and submissive?

Secondly, you could LEARN things yourself! You could ask a friend to teach you how to do something you'd like to be able to do.  There are also loads of adult learning courses for many practical topics, which can save you lots of money in the long run.  Don't forget the Internet! If in doubt, find an instruction video on YouTube!

We have it within our power to massively help our children in future years, by teaching them NOW.  They are never too young to watch us while we work, and it can equally give wonderful opportunities for conversation, too.  Win-win! We are investing our time wisely, if we teach our children in practical life skills, every opportunity we can get.







Monday, 8 December 2014

Own Your Life {New Sally Clarkson book, coming SOON!}

As you may remember, I had the joy of finally meeting Sally Clarkson, in person, last month.  As someone whose books have challenged me, and encouraged me, I was super excited to find out that she had a new book coming out.  What she spoke to us about, that day in Oxford, was the essence of the content of the book.



Own


I was invited to join the team, helping to launch Sally's book, so, TODAY, I can finally share with you a little about it.  How can I resist sharing what looks to be a wonderfully helpful book?

First off, watch what Sally says about, then I will tell you some more.




I SO love that teacup analogy.  It really helps to understand the principle which Sally seeks to expand in the book.

We have a life, which God has wonderfully gifted to us.  The circumstances which are part of that, no matter how easy or hard, are also given by God. They belong exclusively to us, and it is our duty, and should be our delight, to live it out as faithfully and fully as we have the capacity to do.

Not half heartedly.

Not begrudgingly.

Not resentfully.

Not cautiously.

But.....

Fully.

Joyfully.

Embracing.

Boldly.


There are so many situations we find ourselves in, which can make us, or break us.  It's entirely up to us how we approach it.  If we can always see God's hand in it all - as the Giver of every perfect and good gift, which everything that comes from Him IS - then we will live life in a transformed way.

I know that I can find myself wallowing and struggling through circumstances that come my way, as well as the everyday sort of issues that are part of life as a mother.  My attitude towards all these things is the key to enjoying life as fully as God intended me to.  How can I live a life that brings glory to God, if I only live it half-heartedly, and with the wrong attitudes? How can I bring glory to Him if I don't do EVERYTHING heartily, as to the Lord? *note to self - that includes toilet training, and all the other "not-so-fun" things*

This is a book about fighting mediocrity, pursuing purpose, resting in God's sovereignty, having a heart transformed by God, and above else, loving.

It's practical, it's meditative, it's heart-warming, and it's full of Sally's personal touch.

I KNOW that Sally's heart's desire would be to sit down with each lady who reads her books, and to help and encourage them.  She can't do that, so this book is an extension of her own heart, right into the hands and hearts of YOU, the reader.

If there is one book you want to get this year, to fill you with a renewed passion as a woman of God, THIS is it.  You see, it's not JUST all about you - it's about how you can shape the lives of those around you - the people whom God has given you to share the journey you are on.

Investing in it, will be investing for your family, too.

Sally quotes a Bible verse in the book, which really sets up the challenge that the book is all about.

"For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him."
II Chronicles 16:9

This is a verse in the KJV which doesn't fully express, in our modern day English, what the verses MEANS.

"Perfect toward him"  means "fully given to him".

FULLY.

GIVEN.

That's what "Owning our Life" means - to give ourselves fully to Him, and fully live that life FOR Him.

I know I want a life fully given to God, and fully lived out for Him.  I know I want to use every means I can to live it that way, and Sally's new book looks like a perfect tool for such a job.

You can pre-order it,  from HERE for the US, and HERE for the UK.  It's a reduced price, right now, and if you head over to Sally's website, you can see some super multi-buy extras, too.

If you follow Sally's page on Facebook, and her blog, you will also see lots of sneaky peeks and insights from the book, as the publication date creeps closer! You won't be disappointed!

I'm not going to buy the book, though.

I will leave that wide open for one of my lovely people in my life, to get it for me for my Birthday! You know who you are!







Friday, 5 December 2014

Why I don't like Santa {the antithesis to Jesus}

I was standing waiting to get served at my local store, when I heard a child talking to a parent. The child was pawing at some lip balm (of all things), wanting some.

The mother replied thus

"If you are good boy, you may be lucky and Santa will bring you some"

I have had SO many people ask my children -

"So, what are you wanting from Santa"

"Have you been a good boy/girl?"

I politely reply that half my children have no idea who this "Santa" is, who they speak of, and the others are not awaiting any gifts from aforementioned character.

I got thinking, though, tonight, about Santa, and what that woman said to her child.

"If you are good" and "Santa will bring you some".

It got me thinking about the truth of gift-giving.

It got me thinking about the "Giver", and what I want my children to know about Him.

 I want my children to learn about the greatest Giver.

Jesus.

I want them to know that they are NOT good.  That they are sinners, in the sight of a righteous God.


"Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 
For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."
Romaans 5:18-19


I need them to know that no matter WHAT good they try to do, they are still sinners, and they do NOT deserve any good thing.

They can try as hard as they want, but doing good will not get them closer to Jesus, and to the Salvation they need.

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 
Not of works, lest any man should boast."
Ephesians 2:8-9

What they need is a Saviour.  The one who came as babe, wrapped in mortal frailty, born in such humble surroundings. The one who grew to be a man who would heal the sick, raise the dead, make the blind to see.  The one who spilled His blood, on a cruel Roman cross, to take the penalty for sin, so they could be saved.

NOTHING they can do will save them from sin's penalty. They can be good, nice, wonderful, and lovely until the cows come home - it's worth NOTHING.

I need them to understand that.

That Jesus is the best, and only, gift they will ever need.  A gift that was offered freely, with no conditions.


"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. "
Romans 6:23



Jesus.  The Best Gift.


"Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift."
2 Corinthians 9:15


If I want them to understand that, I need the concept to be reinforced in our lives.

That means, for me, at Christmas they get gifts from their parents.  They are given out of love - unconditional love - and don't have a requirement of "good" or "nice", in order to be given. No threats for weeks on end, hoping to get good behaviour from them to "deserve" their gift.

Given, simply because we love them, and it's good to give.

We want our children to see the connection.  That their parents express their love,  in part,  through gift-giving.  That God is the ultimate gift-giver - Jesus, the best gift.  Both given from unconditional love. Both given despite the recipient being undeserving.

How can I teach these truths to my children, if I tell them lies about a man who will give them gifts if they are good? I just can't do it.

I want my children to learn only of the kind of love and giving that is a reflection of that is a reflection of

Santa just doesn't cut it for us.

A demonstration of unconditional love, does.



Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Family photos {a day of memories}

Yesterday I had a very trying day.

Yesterday I had a very wonderful day.

Are the two mutually exclusive?

Let me explain.

Every year we send a Christmas card with a photo of the children on it.  It's a nice way for people to see how the children are growing up, and have record of how they look at that age and stage.

Some years I attempt it on my own.

That's, erm, fun.

Some years I have some others to try and make them smile.

That's also fun.

Some years, my incredibly kind brother-in-law has done it, with the help of my awesome sister.

This year, my awesome sister did it, using her incredibly kind husband's equipment!

Eight children.

One photo.

That's the aim.

Yes, well.....

However, for all this to happen, I need to travel, with all 8 children, about an hour and 45 minutes away.  My parents also live nearby, so they offered to feed and water us for the day, as the awesome sister is getting work done in  her house. (Rather you than me, sis - but it will look amazing when it's done!)

We set off, about when I planned to.

Clothes for photo shoot.  Check.

PJs for coming home at night.  Check.

Changing bag.  Check.

Children dressed in suitable clothing..... ummmmmm

I got a gorgeous hooded top, given to Tabitha for her birthday.  So snuggly.  So warm.  Co incredibly cute.  Great for car journeys...

Off we toddled, and all was going swimmingly well, until we hit the M1.  Signs telling me "Major delays after Junction 12".  Well, considering we get on at 13, it wasn't boding well.

I phoned aforementioned awesome sister, and she told me that there had been an accident further down, and I reprogrammed the SatNav (GPS) to avoid the M1.

Well, it avoided it for a little while, then tried to get me back on too soon, resulting in more back roads than we had already experienced.

Then more back roads.

All the time, Tabitha in her cosy jumper.

She started to get moany - she does that, in the car.

Next  thing, Daniel announces "Mum, Tabitha has just had a big vom".

Seems Tabitha gets car sick, when too warm in the car.

So, that added some extra time onto the journey.

Trying to clean her up with a cold, biting wind whipping into the bus, was interesting, with all the other children saying "I'm cold, Mum"!

EVENTUALLY, after a THREE hour journey, we arrived.

It was so lovely to see my parents, my sister and my nieces.  One of the best moments was when my parents told me they LIKED my new glasses.  Given the mixed response I have had elsewhere, that meant a lot.

We ate lunch, then hurried off for the photos to be done.

As my sister finished setting up, I asked an older sibling to take care of Tabitha, whilst I got others ready for the pictures.

Next thing, she fell over and bashed her head - BIG TIME - on some stocks.

Yes, some stocks.

Not the scented, floral variety (yes, there are flowers called stocks)...

The type used to keep prisoners from running off.

(Doesn't every Church's Sunday School room have them?.... I'm going to just leave that there without explanation, because it is quite funny to think of that being there, as if they torture their Sunday School students... bwahahaha)

Large, purple bump on her head.  Terrific.

(Awesome sister says she can edit it out, because she's awesome, don'tcha know?)

Well, we had fun.  Some children posed beautifully.  Some posed hilariously.  Getting the group shot was almost impossible, as Tabitha didn't want to sit still. Then there are the children who keep looking away, or looking at me instead of the camera (oops....).  We did our best, and my awesome sister is working her magic on a finished product.

Then, I went to see the work being done at my sister's house, which is lovely, because now I can "see" it in my mind, instead of just imagining what's happening.

Back to my parents for dinner, and a chat.

The day ended with me helping my Mum, by drying up the dishes.  Seemingly mundane, I guess?

However, as I was thinking about my day, with it's trials, and challenges, this "mundane" made me smile.

I used to dry up the dishes a lot when I was a girl.  You remember the days, before dishwashers? It was, more often than not, a time to chat, and often have fun with siblings.  I may be remembering with rose tinted spectacles, and perhaps we bickered, too.  My memories, today, were happy ones.

It was also precious just to talk, in person, with my Mum. To share recent experiences, and to talk about my children, and how they are growing up.  The challenges of parenting.  Our memories of years gone by.

From start, to finish, it was a day all about family.  Travelling to see family. Family who are generous with their time, efforts, gifts, and homes. Family who God has given me to care for.  Family who, when I got home, had done painting in my utility room, and bathrooms, so that they look super duper. Family who my children got to see in old photos, and giggle at, and exclaim how alike they were to themselves, with great excitement.

Family.

Family is a gift.  It's a treasure to be valued and appreciated. I wish I lived closer to my family.  My parents and sister, with her husband and girls, live the closest, and my brothers are over the sea, with their wives, and my nephews. None of them are close, really.  Especially when you have the journey I had yesterday!

Yet, it was so worth it.  So worth it for the moments where I laughed with my sister at my posing 4 year old.  Worth it for seeing my oldest child chat so happily with  his Grandpa.  Worth it see Tabitha giggle when she did Eskimo Kisses with Grandpa.  Worth it to chat with my Mum, in her kitchen like old times.  Worth it to eat a dinner I didn't have to make myself.  Worth it to relive memories when looking at old photos.

Just, worth it, because family IS worth it.

God gave us family.  Right in the beginning, when He saw that it wasn't good for man to be alone, the concept of family began, and it was good.  Two become one, which, if God sees fit, can become three, or more.  Generations are added, and parents become grandparents.  Such wonderful blessing.

Of course, when God established this family unit, they stayed close to each other, in a community sense.  They were able to support and encourage each other in a tangible way.  As the world has become a smaller place, this has shattered.  So few families remain in a close proximity with all their near relatives.  We have phones, FaceTime and Skype, of course, but nothing can replicate actual, physical time together.  It's precious.  It's uplifting.  It's a joy.

Now, as I look back on my day yesterday, I can see that what I am doing as a mother, today, is forging the kind of thoughts, in my children's minds, that I am thinking.  The little things, like singing in the car, laughing along with them at Adventures in Odyssey, or chuckling with them at old photos, are the memories THEY will have as an adult.  Going to visit grandparents.  Having an Aunt willing to spend time taking photos of them, and making them laugh.  They are all memory makers.

Maybe you don't have such happy  family memories.  Well, make sure YOU are making good ones for your children RIGHT NOW! It doesn't have to be big things.  Just the little things are forging happy memories of tomorrow.

As their Mum, I need to put in the effort today, to make the memories of tomorrow.  It doesn't have to be spectacular things - the simple things, like chatting whilst you wash dishes, can be  memory maker. They make memories which remind us of what a blessing our family is, and we can acknowledge God's grace in goodness in giving us to each other.

I truly hope, in the future, our children will look back and think the same.

In the meantime, I will look forward to having the photos to remind me of my wonderful day.

(As well as the ones taken by me, and, well, the picture says it all....)



 




(I did not have any hand in the making of that ^^^^  - self confession all the way)



Monday, 1 December 2014

God's way, the high way {making beauty, from the mess}

Today was the day.

The day I had been busily planning for, for weeks.

Today was December the first.  The day we would start our month of giving. All of our fun activities.

Our giving.

Our focussing on the Saviour.

The greatest Gift of all.

It wasn't quite the day I had planned.

We all slept in, then the children had jobs to do, then I had jobs to do.

Before I knew it, it was only 30 minutes until lunch.  I wanted, desperately, to start well, so we read our scripture, and we read our "Giving" challenge for today.  We were planning to make a gift for some family we are visiting.

We also planned to sort the clothes from last season, to get stored away, and thin out what we had, to give to charity, when we put them away in boxes.  It was a job we planned to begin today, but knew it wouldn't get finished until Wednesday. That was fine.  The boys brought it all to the dining room, and the girls sorted it out.  Success!

I planned to read Jotham's Journey in the evening, before bed.  I had it all organised, in my mind. My mother-in-law also gave us an Advent Candle, that we planned to light whilst we read.

The afternoon held a trip out to the shops.  I needed some craft supplies for our home-ed group on Thursday, and we needed to pick up some new shirts for the boys, for our photo session tomorrow.  As with all plans involving a trip out with eight children, it never takes as little time as you expect.  ALWAYS more.  We had a lovely wander around The Range, but it just took longer than I planned.  By the time we got home, it was almost time for dinner, so the craft didn't get started.

Dinner, clear up, messing around, and FINALLY we began the craft activity, whilst I read Jotham's Journey.

Candle lit, reading started - then began the interruptions.

Children asking for help with the craft, little ones getting tired and cranky, and me not being very patient.  Then I noticed the time, when my patient husband phoned, wondering when he should come home to eat.... it was 8pm!

So, Jotham was paused , and I told them we would read extra tomorrow.

Then came teeth brushing, children crying and having accidents, and finally, bed.

It was not the way I planned it.  There had been tears, tantrums, impatience, and a complete deviation from things being the way I hoped.

It was messy.

It was imperfect.

It was REAL.

Yet, there was still beauty at the end of it all.  We had still learnt of God, and His plan for salvation.  We had thought upon giving and generosity.  Seeds were sown in their hearts.

We had created gifts, that I KNOW the recipients will love, because they were created by children, longing to love others.

There was mess, and plans which didn't work, but beauty came, in spite of my plans failing.

It pointed me to my Saviour.

It pointed me to a truth I read, just this morning.

"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD,he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:7-9


Our lives our ruined by sin.  All our ways are nothing, because the imperfection of sin taints them.  No matter how hard we try, we will fail.  We are sinners by nature, and our heart is inclined toward sin and self.

Yet, God has mercy.  He ABUNDANTLY pardons. He makes beauty, out of our mess.

Why?

Because His thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours, in that place that forgives, despite what our puny minds can understand. It's not dependant on our perfection, but upon His greatness, mercy and grace.

Despite our messy, broken days, we can start again the next day, back on track, because He abundantly pardons.  We turn from our sins, turn our back on what we have done - on the mess, the failings, and the imperfections - and start over again, through His ways, higher than ours. Through His mercy.

Oh, how thankful I am, that despite the mess I can make, and the days, spiritually, which don't turn out how I planned, God's ways are higher.