The last few weeks have been a blur.
My last blog was all about how much I enjoyed the media fast. That seems ages ago. Since then we’ve done Waste Week, which I kind of did ok at until the day before going on holiday and I had to just use the tumble dryer….since then, I’ve tried to be more mindful, but at the moment we don’t even have a washing line set up right….so that’s my excuse. It pains me though. Whenever I visit my friend Beverley, and see her managing to dry all her laundry across the back of her small paved yard, when she works three days a week and obviously has far less spare time than me, I feel challenged.
Thankfully, “seven” is NOT about guilt, it’s not about being more “this” or “that” then the next person. It hits us where we’re at, and just turns the spotlight on a few things we may not have thought of before. I think the whole idea of Waste week was to remind us that God made this earth, and if we love God, we’re going to want to look after what he’s made, and not treat it like a spoiled child treats a toy, thinking “what does it really matter? I can just get a new one”. Appreciating and looking after the earth is just another great way to be closer to God and make space for Him.
While feeling a little bit down about how Waste week had sort of fizzled out for me personally, I felt God remind me that I may not be great at hanging my washing out, and I’m kind of rubbish at being “sustainable” and can’t garden to save my life (yet), but suddenly this voice came into my head and said “but you did breastfeed”. Oh yeah…that. Breastfeeding is one great way to contribute to the waste/environmental issue, and it also saved me at least £1,000 the first year. I’m not saying it get’s me off the hook though, I’m certainly more aware, and am going to do my best to do more.
Spending week made for good reading. It was challenging, insightful, and I enjoyed it. I don’t think I’m a big spender. Even if I was, the constraints of living on one steady income with a sporadic modest second income have their realities. But I realise I may be one of those people who sort of (to use an American expression) nickel and dime my money away. A few coffee’s here, a few books there, and suddenly my monthly allowance is gone and there’s no room to be generous or to give and I have this horridly distorted idea in my head that I’m somehow “poor”. ridiculous. Spending week was not just for those people who can afford to go shopping on their lunch hour and buy new clothes whenever they fancy, it was for all of us, wherever we think we’re at.
Stress week came just in time. Life seems to be flying by at the moment. In previous years I have often looked on and observed that busy family with all the different activities and felt a twinge of jealousy. They really seemed to be “living” and “having a life” while my family sat around on a Saturday not doing anything.
I think my kids are starting to get to that age where if we are going to ensure they don’t get run raged and that we don’t look back in ten years time and wonder where the time went, we’re going to start having to be intentional about taking breaks. A formal Sabbath may not be practical in this day and age and culture, but wow, what a novel idea! So many things we view as inconveniences are actually there for our benefit. We talked about this in the group and I told them all about the Red Tent idea, I mean, what a perfect idea that was!! God tells all the men that women are “unclean” when their on their periods…but actually…he’s giving them a well deserved four day rest where they can all hang out and chat together. Genius.
But back to the 21st century where it’s considered noble to “not be able to sit still” and to “have to be doing something or else I feel guilty”. When I see someone who doesn’t stop, if I’m having an insecure moment I will find myself admiring them and wondering how they do it and wishing I could be that cool and together and busy.
So the last few weeks after our holiday have been busy. Ballet recitals, drama practices, trips to Edinburgh to renew passports, antenatal session prep for a client, the marriage course, life group, worship leading, birth hope day, it’s all been “a go” as they’d say in Ireland. So am I cool now? I mean, does all that stuff I listed validate me? Does it make me feel like I’m good enough? Yeah right. You know what? I miss my friends. I miss having random coffee’s with friends in the afternoon while the kids play. I miss being able to have my neighbour’s baby for the day and look after him. I miss having a leisurely conversation with Emma in the afternoon while I cook tea, instead of hurrying off the phone because the house has taken on a life of it’s own, yet again, because I have not been able to face it with being so wonderfully busy.
Ugh. Not the life for me. However, seasons like this are inevitable. And Jen had some great ideas for learning how to take sabbath moments during the day. Some tips from the ancients on seven sacred pauses. I haven’t had a chance to do it yet…but I want to! It makes so much sense! I also love the whole idea of dipping into older church tradition. I think sometimes we modern Christians think that people really weren’t saved prior to Azusa street or one of the great reformations or Wesley revivals.
Do I have any of this stuff nailed?? Not. at. all. However I’m more aware….and it’s starting to work. I was in a huge heap of stress on Friday. I had set aside the whole morning to catch up with a friend, which was good solid sabbath time. You don’t tell your friend who you only see once a year you can’t see her because you need to do the food shopping. Anyway, that afternoon I was in between food shops, and just feeling totally overwhelmed and panicky, My mind was on something I had to do later in the week and I was hitting a wall. After going down the wrong road and having to turn around, I don’t know quite how it happened, but I just stopped somehow, prayed, and then suddenly got this overflow of ideas come into my head to help me know what to do. I ended up sitting in the Tesco car park with Judah in the back seat, and just crying, and writing down everything that was coming to me, and breathing. I had a real peace for the rest of that crazy afternoon, and lo and behold, I survived the weekend I’d been dreading, and even lead worship this morning which I’d tried to get out of on Thursday after a late night coming back from Edinburgh, but Jeff just sort of pretended not to hear when I said “umm, i don’t think I can do it”.
So tomorrow morning’s our “wrap up”, but I don’t know that any of this will get wrapped up neatly…this one’s a messy one…a very messy one…almost as messy as my house right now.