The last month of this past winter felt hard to get through and so I was glad when the first day of Spring arrived this week, and with it the first rays of warm sunshine. This has been one of the toughest winters I remember and the snow stuck around for longer than I remember, it’s beauty long gone, hidden under layer upon layer of roadside grime. It is good to see the colour returning to the ground outside and to feel the warmth in the sun and in the breeze. Winter is over for another year and it seems to have left me feeling less young and more tired, though I put the latter down to a case of what Slovaks call “Spring tiredness”.
“Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” 1st Corinthians 13: 4-8
So many good books have been written on marriage, 10 ways to build a happy marriage, improve communication, solve conflicts, improve your love life and spend quality time together but sometimes I think that not enough is said about the role of acceptance in a good marriage. Yet in my mind this is one of the key ingredients that is missing from many more or less unhappy marriages, which could otherwise be reasonably happy and fulfilling to both partners. We live in a world where we are bombarded with preconceived ideas of what a happy marriage should be….
We live in a strange and paradoxical age. The digital world has opened up possibilities of which we couldn’t have even dreamed a couple of generations ago. Suddenly we are able to look at and virtually participate in the lives of people who may live on the other side of the globe. We are invited into an intimacy with acquaintances and even complete strangers that would never have been possible, without Instagram and Facebook, to see into corners of their lives which would only have been seen previously by a privileged few. The internet has allowed us to reconnect with people who, to us, were long lost. On another level it has led to superficiality and the breakdown of relationships. There are so many ways to communicate now, that we are almost paralysed by the number of possibilities
Years ago, while I was still living in Banska Bystrica, there was a case in the local news about a tragic and yet highly avoidable accident, which took the lives of a father and his sons as they sat in their living room. To this day I don’t know what possessed this particular Dad to bring a hand grenade home to show his children, nor where he got it from but what he most likely intended to be a bit of bravado turned deadly when the hand grenade’s safety pin somehow got removed and the grenade exploded, killing all those present, except his wife who had stepped into the kitchen for a few moments.
When I compare myself with others, I become depressed and disoriented. I lose my focus and start spinning in circles trying to find my direction. I start coveting what other people have and lose effectivity in my own life. If I want to achieve or maintain joy in my life, I need to develop soul satisfaction with my portion in life. I need to trust God to be enough for me, to care for me as He has promised and I need to stop hankering after the illusory life presented many times unwittingly by friends and acquaintances on social media.
Sometimes I am guilty of behaviour in my marriage that can only be described as a form of madness. There are things that I do, behaviours that I repeat that I know will not do any good, but I do it anyway. I know better but I go with the flow of my emotion rather than the cool reasoning of my head. And I know that I will live to regret it but I make that choice anyway.
One of my biggest struggles/frustrations/issues as a parent is learning how to pass on a
living Christian faith to my four children.
Thankfully, God didn’t leave us clueless and helpless in this parenting business and He has provided a framework which, though not a hundred percent successful because we live in a fallen world, allows us parents to give our children the best possible chance for developing a healthy spirituality.
Worry doesn’t only steal sleep from us. It steals joy and spontaneity from our lives and it steals never-to-be-repeated opportunities…Why is it so hard for us to let go of our fears when we can see how damaging they can be?
Sometimes I feel like Martha, distracted with all her preparations to prepare a wonderful feast and welcoming environment for the Lord Jesus.Like Martha, I get distracted with all the elements that I think should be “just right” in my life. My goals get muddled up and I end up frustrated.
“But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:40-42)
Ever since the Fall man has been playing hide and seek with God.
It began with the first bite from that tempting fruit, the one Eve so readily shared with Adam and which was man’s first attempt to find satisfaction in something other than that which God was offering.
And the game began.
Man hides, God seeks.
Just like Adam and Eve we hide because we are ashamed and we think that by staying in the shadows, we will avoid detection and that we can avoid dealing with our messes. But just like in that very first garden, God pursues us, wherever we are hiding, and lovingly draws us towards the light. Because He knows that we cannot put our messes to right while we hide in the dark.
This morning I dragged myself out of bed again at an unearthly hour because I needed to find some quiet but not just the quiet of sleep. I needed quiet, not just for my ears, but mostly for my heart. Because my mind had become busy again and I didn’t want to enter my day from a place of restlessness. I didn’t want to find myself driven from one end of the day to the other at some frenetic pace and go to bed frustrated that I had missed what was most important about today. Because I miss so much when my mind focuses on the wrong things.
I do love this time of year. I love the excuse to decorate my home, to light scented candles and listen to Christmas carols. I love to plan delicious meals, Christmas cookies and cakes and look forward to savouring all the different Christmas flavours. I love to send cards and good wishes to old friends, to choose and carefully gift wrap presents for my nearest and dearest, and to dream of white Christmases and open fires. I love the opportunity to feast all my senses during this rich season of colours, flavours, and aromas. I love that December is so rich with possibilities. I love that we end the year on such an upbeat note. I look forward to it and I relish it.
There are so MANY words flying around. There are so MANY words claiming our attention, our agreement, and our engagement.
Has anyone else noticed?
I start to feel overwhelmed by them sometimes.
How do I choose?
How do I choose what to listen to, what to ignore, or what to combat?
Don’t you love them? Isn’t there something truly delightful in the whole process of giving and receiving gifts?
I have been given many gifts in my life and though they have varied in size and importance I have valued them. I love the little reminders around my home that someone at sometime thought of me. I value the giver and I value that they have thought of me as they have wrapped a gift intended to bring pleasure and an expression of love. I delight in my gifts. If you have been to my home, you know that knickknacks adorn my shelves and windowsills.Occasionally I de-clutter and put some things away for a while but I cannot bring myself to throw any of them away. There are too many treasured memories attached to them. I still have things on my shelves which I was given as a child and which have become part of the fabric of my home.
November. How does it strike you? What does it evoke for you?
In some ways it is not at all my favourite month, in others it will always be special. I was born in November and while I was growing up, November always meant magical moments of anticipation for me. November was special. So much so that I felt annoyed and even offended with the sentiments in Sara Coleridge’s Months poem because she made November sound so unappealing.
Once upon a time I wasn’t dizzy. Then I lost my balance. Two years ago, long or short, depending on how you look at it, I still had a sense of balance and I could still depend on my body and my brain to give me reliable information about where I stood in relation to the ground. Then, one day, my balance was gone.
I think there are people who go through life fairly self-satisfied, content with who they are and what they do, regretting little or nothing. Sometimes I think it is unfortunate that I do not belong to that group.Sometimes I think it would be nice to live without regrets but on the other hand I tend to agree with Socrates’ statement that the unexamined life is not worth living. And as self-examination tends to result in a deeper awareness of one’s own failings, I suppose that regret is integral to a life worth living. Ignorance may be bliss – at least for the one who remains ignorant – but I don’t want to bulldoze my way through life, careless of my impact on other people.
Recently I grieved my own death.
Before you think that this post is a posthumous visit, or that I am a total narcissist, please let me explain. I was standing in the kitchen with Mia, the same kitchen where I had been standing almost twelve months previously when Dali had received the phone call from the hospital, a call which we were both expecting and dreading, that his mum had just passed away after an intense but all-too-brief battle with cancer. Mia was perhaps remembering the grief and intensity of those days last November, the necessity of saying goodbye to “Stará mama”, the last ever-so-gentle hugs, the last kind words and the last loving looks. Perhaps her young brain was trying to wrap itself around the concept of future days and her own mother’s mortality. It had been an ordinary kind of day
I sometimes lose sight of the fact that I need grace ALL THE TIME.
I need it, not just for the big things but for the little things too , for major and minor irritations and for all the details that make up my everyday life. It is in the small stuff in fact that I sometimes need grace the most because it is the small things, day after day, which can wear me down the most if I let them. I need grace to recognise my own limitations and I need to receive grace for my own shortcomings, and being the mother of four children at various stages of growing up gives me plenty of opportunities for both these things.
How was your week?
Mine has been …well, busy.
I suspect that, like me, many of you have had a busy week too. But today I find myself asking an important question. What did I actually do? I mean, what did I actually achieve? I cooked and baked and cleaned and washed and hung and folded and shopped and sorted. I counselled and corrected and supervised and scolded. I taught and walked and tidied and swept.
But what did I actually do?
Happy New Year!
I love the sound of those words. I don’t think I have ever met a person who isn’t cheered by them. Who doesn’t like new beginnings? Who doesn’t need them? Who isn’t occasionally glad to see the back of the old year? Who doesn’t hope that this will be the year when we will see solutions to long-lasting problems, old conflicts resolved, or even dreams come true? Do we ever become so old and jaded that there isn’t even a glimmer of hope when we cross over the threshold into the new year? Isn’t there a sense that a new year brings new hope? There is a sense of anticipation in me at the thought of all those days ahead, as yet unspoilt and spotless, just like the freshly fallen snow with which we have been blessed this last week, snow that fell softly on barren fields and made them beautiful.