prodigalmomma











{August 28, 2012}   A photo a day… #2

Seems I have ‘beginning-of-term-itus’ and following the cleansing of the boudoir / office / child’s play area we tackled the washing of my car today.  It’s been overdue a wash – prior to going on holiday there was never quite the moment (bucketing down with rain does not exactly inspire me the get out there with the car shampoo!)

The scrub aftermath

It’s one of those moments where I begin to think “I get where my mother was coming from” when I realise the satisfaction I get out of an orderly (not spotless – my family doesn’t do minimalist), every thing / paper / book has a place and it’s actually in it.  The car looks shiny, and looks loved.

I think perhaps it was also the activity of doing the cleaning & clearing out which I enjoyed, some strange catharsis in clearing out old papers (some from when I was in the process of applying for teacher training) and a feeling of “I’m beyond that stage now”.  Those things that sent me round the bend (tackling the minefield that is moving from benefits to student funding) are now just a memory… somewhat serves as an aide memoir regarding things that I consider currently trying (DD is in the ‘why’ phase!!!) one day I’ll be past them also.

There’s other things that I find harder to step away from, a song, a thought, a time of year can all throw you back into the midst of things, so I’m going to try and remember the moving-on feeling from clearing my room, and thoughts of preparing for new adventures (as in washing my car).

The joyful thing about car washing when you have a child is that it is not a solo activity – we had great fun with the hose, bubbles and sponges (seeing who could do the loudest squeak on the bodywork of the car today!)  Things that seem too mucky to deal with alone can be lightened with the help of other people.  Again, the big divine dig-in-the-ribs where I’m reminded that I’ve/we’ve not been asked to do this alone… we’re made to live in community with others, and involve the divine in those relationships.

Do you need to ask a friend or a relative to ‘grab a sponge’ and help you with the muddy bits?

What do you see?

2 men looked through prison bars… one saw mud – the other saw stars…



{July 26, 2012}   Summer is here…

Guard your thoughts and words.

It’s hot, finally the rain has been ‘shooooed’ away and we have some sunny weather.

School term is finished and I’m cracking on trying to get an assignment towards my Education MA done.  If I pass I’ll hopefully be moving on to dissertation next academic year.  I’m about halfway through the 6,000 word slog – and today actually feel like I’ve made some progress.  I love doing the reading, and trying out new things in my practice in the classroom, generally seeing how I can engage these children better and encourage them to explore this world around us… but it’s rather heavy going to pull all the thoughts, notes and highlighted ideas together and turn it into some sort of coherent piece of writing.  Blogging is a safer space for me, my writing style tends to be a conversational one – great in emails, letters, postcards, blogs… just about EVERYTHING other than academic writing (which is what I’ve set before me as my personal task).  I can meander through topics that grab my attention in a blog, muse over them and spit out my thoughts in any fashion – although I do try to see that they make some sense (dear reader).

So it’s hot, I’ve been plodding my way through piecing together this assignment and then I go to pick up DD from nursery.  Her sunhat went missing (although named) at nursery and still hasn’t been found… now I somewhat object to providing things (as we are asked to do), naming them (which so many parents seem not to… why is it the children who habitually lose stuff whose parents don’t name things???) and then they go missing.  Well I was hot, and a bit anxious (DD has had bad virus thing and is still rather snuffly) and I had a rant at the nursery worker…

I got home and realised it was so not the appropriate thing to do; a) not a good example of how to treat others before DD and her friends, b) it wasn’t an uplifting kind thing to say and c) ranting wasn’t going to make the sunhat magically reappear… so I went to bed that night feeling rather ‘heavy’ and vowed to myself to apologise.

I find saying sorry hard, anyone in my family would attest to this fact – in my head (however ridiculous this may sound) it feels like backing in or giving up.  But I did it, I picked up DD today (who’d had a wonderful day having water fights – lucky thing!) and immediately found the worker and apologised… do you know what – it felt good.  It felt good to accept that I’d done something silly, I’d recognised that fact and I’d considered the effect it may have had on another…

This may seem like “Apology 101” class – but for me this is a big step!

I’m suddenly reminded of that bit from the end of “Mean Girls” Look from 7.14 of this video – essentially she’s talking about how putting someone else down doesn’t raise you up, making another person feel bad doesn’t make you feel good and acting in that way doesn’t help you in the situation.

In this heat particularly, it can be easy to let tempers fray, words get said which are thoughtless… so think about them all a bit harder… think about encouraging someone, complimenting them or simply being someone to listen.

Can you be like balm for someone in this heat?

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways!
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.
In simple trust like theirs who heard
Beside the Syrian sea
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word
Rise up and follow Thee.
O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity
Interpreted by love!
With that deep hush subduing all
Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call,
As noiseless let Thy blessing fall
As fell Thy manna down.
Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess

The beauty of Thy peace.



{July 3, 2012}   A different thing…

You did a different thing… that is a rarity…

Last night I watched the new BBC drama “Blackout” with Christopher Ecclestone.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I tuned in as the trailers looked interested and I find that I rather like the quirky style of Mr Ecclestone.  I’d encourage you to tune in on BBCiplayer.

So C.E. plays this rather unlikeable local councillor; he’s shown using a prostitute and drinks heavily throughout most of this opener (including behind the wheel).  There’s some shady dealings going on between him and someone bidding for a council contract (papers are photocopied late at night, brown paper envelopes, more booze and all that sort of thing.)

Then (bizarrely) he does something utterly out-of-character, something which others call heroic… though he himself shies away from this term, which oddly made me think of “but who do you say I am?” [Luke 9.20 / Mark 8.29 / Matthew 16.13-20]

Following on from this he wants to do better, to be a better man – he wants to do away with the bs of contemporary society (focusing here on local politics).  Similarities with Christ’s attitude to the bureaucratic Pharisees?

Can ‘bad’ people do ‘good’ things?

Can God use ‘broken pots’? [2 Corinthians] (thanks to Momma for this thought!)

And the line spoken by the nurse which I opened with… being / doing different makes us a rarity… makes us stand out… how comfortable am I, are you, standing out like that?



{February 7, 2012}   Like a Movie…

Matthew 24:1-24

My daily reading seems to come across like a script for a Jean Claude Van Damme movie; I read it aloud to let those words sink and it almost seemed as if I should be reading it in that big booming voice as found in the trailers for action thriller films.

This is the sort of passage that I want to point to at moments when it is suggested that faith is a lovely fluffy blanket or opiate to keep ‘reality’ away.  This is reality, it’s far more disturbing than what we see on a day to day basis.  When faith and commitment are treated as an optional extra it’s a dangerous error to be making.

And… I have stood in that place.  I don’t need God.  I can stand on my own two feet.  I’ve got my friends and family around me.  It’s in those moments we need faith more than ever.

Newsboys – “I am Second”

False prophets: It seems we don’t have prophets in the biblical sense anymore, people going around in sackcloth all beardy and munching on locusts.  No, the media has taken that role – I think television has taken the role of the prophets.  The LAB comments that these false prophecies might be… “God wants you to be rich… Do whatever your desires tell you!”

Eddie Izzard in a sketch comments on the advertising industry, particularly how many items are marketed with the implicit line of “buy this and everyone will shag you” Once again it’s these false promises and false realities that perpetuate society (and people suggest I’ve got my head in the clouds as a follower of Christ!)

The consequence of buying into these false prophecies and promises is severe “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” (Matthew 24.12) Love will grow cold.  Now whatever your beliefs, we can agree (hopefully) that love and compassion are a vital part of society.  If we lose love, what are we left with?  If we let it grow cold the world would become barren.

The remedy for this loss of love?  Now it is warned that love grows cold when our attention is on ourselves rather than others, so let’s reverse this!

One way is by writing to those persecuted for their faith, or to those in positions of power who might raise their voice for good.

Get involved by looking at Release International or write to your local councillor and MP regarding something close to my heart, cutting of funding for charities helping those who suffer domestic violence – see about the cuts here

What do you think are today’s false prophecies?  How can we guard against them?  How can we prevent the cold from rising?



{January 31, 2012}   Blind Ambition

Matthew 20: 17-34

I confess as a parent I want the absolute best for my child; I want her to grow up and continue to have the joy for life and learning that she currently has.  I hope that she will make good choices.  I pray she will come to be in a relationship with Jesus.  I want her to be full of kindness and compassion, and to have good survival skills when she faces disappointments and set backs in life.  I hope that I, and the rest of our family & friends have provided strong roots for her, which will allow her to grow into an amazing woman.

I want all of this so badly that I can picture it in my mind.  I can see all the possibilities opening up before her… I don’t want to miss a thing!

These are my ambitions for her and I don’t see anything wrong or harmful in holding wishes for the future for our children, and our friends’ children.  But this reading from Matthew (when I read it again using the Life Application Bible) looks at exactly this area… parental ambition…

Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom. (Matthew 20:21b)

I have mixed feelings about this request; 1st feeling is she displayed absolute faith – the kingdom belongs to Jesus, she faithfully accepted Jesus’ position.  The notes in my Bible encourage me to look further at this though – what were her motivations?  Perhaps she sought glory for her sons, perhaps (though on the surface demonstrative of faith) this mother had missed the point of Jesus’ ministry.  She was blinded by her human ambition.

Jesus modelled a different kind of leadership; Jesus demonstrated servant leadership – washing the feet of his disciples (John 13:11-13), submitting to God’s will first through his baptism (Matthew 3.13) and finally ultimate submission on the cross (Matthew 26.39 and John 19) – this was leadership without seeking glory.  Jesus represents here an amazing example to us all – How best to lead people.  The example of sevant leadership can be useful to us in any field; I particularly it’s role in parenthood, in teaching, in family life – what other areas might it be useful in?

At the completion of the section; the theme of ‘blindness’ is tackled again…

Jesus stopped and called to them.  “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.  “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”(Matthew 20:32-33)

The LAB (Life Application Bible) comments on this passage…

These blind beggars could see that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, while the religious leaders who witnesses Jesus’ miracle were blind to his identity, refusing to open their eyes to the truth.  Seeing with your eyes doesn’t guarantee you seeing with the heart.

I quoted because this section really hit me…

  • what do I / you allow get in the way of believing?  (What’s your blind spot?)
  • do I / you ever in your actions get in the way of people seeing Christ?
  • who / what do I / you submit to in life?
  • when we / I lead do I present a servant model of leadership… or an authoritarian one?

[on a side note]

I am loving getting more into the Bible and really unpacking it, and thinking as I write – this is the way I find it easiest to operate.  Sometimes I just jot ideas / thoughts and pictures down on paper and in notebooks, other times I blog it.

I blog because I had a bit of a deep think about whether or not to continue to be on social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook (on twitter I am @prodigalmomma ) as there’s some truly negative and ‘not uplifting’ stuff out there… and to be honest I find it all-too-easy to be drawn into the sillyness etc.  but I wanted to continue putting positivity out there.

I am not an authority, or a theologian – just a follower of Christ who’s trying to navigate her way through life… and life, I’ve found through bitter experience, really does go downhill when I’m not stuck into the Word regularly.



{January 30, 2012}   Do something Beautiful…

In the same vein as it ‘never being too late’ this devotion also popped into my mailbox today (yes, I’m at home working on the M Ed. so generally clearing out my mailbox and doing deskbound stuff)

But instead of just surviving, of asking God “Please bless my plans today” (c’mon be honest, who hasn’t done that?!?!) Challenge yourself and go do something beautiful for God.

Do beautiful things for God.

Graham Kendrick sings “Do Something Beautiful”



{October 31, 2011}   Church is Irrelevant (so says us)

In his article Dean Seddon asserts that that contemporary society has branded the Church as irrelevant, and (as sad as I am to say it) I believe that he’s right.  I’d take the assertion a step further and argue that not only does society brand the Church as irrelevant, but it also labels it as a hindrance, something which holds us back (at the best) and as something which hides from humanity the darker elements of itself (here I think of the sad cases of child abuse within the Church and conspiracy theories such as were popularised in the Dan Brown books).

** interestingly the Dan Brown books are still on my ‘to be read’ list of books, I’ve seen the first movie but not read the books as yet **

Society may be a rebellious child shouting at ‘the Church’ and straining at the leash to be free.  “You stop our fun!  You hate sex!  You hate gays!  You hate women!”

Society believed it had killed God many years ago, and now it’s trying to stamp on the grave…

 

Do you ever have a quiet giggle to yourself over the danger of this strategy?  It is a little like poking the sleeping lion (or perhaps the sleeping mummy after you’ve kept waking her up every 40 minutes overnight!)

God isn’t dead…

And God is watching!

 

I remember a rather long but amusing joke I heard a few years ago…

There’s this burglar who breaks into a warehouse one night.  The burglar’s made a plan, he knows when the night watchman has his break, knows where the cameras are… all those shenanigans. 

So he’s padding gently about, looking for things to steal and sell on.  Then he here’s this voice, “Jesus is watching you!”  The thief turns round, but there’s nobody there, so he continues and a few minutes later he hears it again, “Jesus is WATCHING you!”

The burglar’s getting more than a little twitchy now and wonders whether he should get out of the place right then and there.  He hears the voice again, “Jesus is watching you!” and he begins to suspect someone is winding him up, so he replies “who are you?  Where are you?”

“Behind you, over here!” The burglar strains to see where the voice is coming from, he certainly hasn’t heard anyone else come into the building.  “Who are you?” he asks, to which he hears a reply close to his left ear “Moses!”  The thief whirls round to see a parrot on a perch in the darkness.  He chuckles to himself and says “that’s an odd name for a parrot!”

The parrot responds, “not as funny as ‘Jesus’ is for a rottweiller!”

 

Perhaps the question to ask of society’s attempt to brand the Church as irrelevant poses some important questions…

  • Who / what do they believe the Church to be?

I personally see the Church far more as a group of people, a family – Church provides me with love, support, guidance, friendship, fun among many other things.  “Church” to me is no more the building or an institution any more than a school is the building.  One of the oddest experiences as a new teacher is to be in school at the start of a year; there are no pictures on the wall, no displays of work, chatter of children… the atmosphere is entirely different.  Creating a good and positive learning environment is one of those things I constantly work towards – and I view the Church in a similar way.  Church is the smile from the welcoming team, the chat while getting tea & squash, making plans for Christmas, charity (we’re supporting the Christmas Child shoebox thing), thinking ahead to the summer.  Church is praying for those we care about, for those ‘in the Church’ and outside the Church… Church is so many things which cannot be contained in a negative newspaper article!

No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honour her husband. [Ephesians 5.29]

  • Why do they want Church to be irrelevant

Things which are branded ‘irrelevant’ are not considered important.  The rain pouring down is irrelevant in my decision to go to work, it’s not important enough to stop me… that’s compared with perhaps my daughter being poorly and needing alternative childcare or a trip to the doctor.

Society wants Church branded irrelevant because then they can ignore it, they can ignore what Jesus did (WWJD is just some cheesy Christian wristband isn’t it?), they can demote God to a swear word.

There should be a consistency that runs through us all. For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself. [Hebrews 18:8]

God, and Jesus and faith and all that – well that’s something to turn to when you’ve had your fun.  When you’re old, and about to die.  It’s not relevant to today – the Bible was written all those years ago!

“Up on your feet! Take a deep breath! Maybe there’s life in you yet. But I wouldn’t know it by looking at your busywork; nothing of God’s work has been completed. Your condition is desperate. Think of the gift you once had in your hands, the Message you heard with your ears—grasp it again and turn back to God. “If you pull the covers back over your head and sleep on, oblivious to God, I’ll return when you least expect it, break into your life like a thief in the night. [Revelation 3:2]

Today I think I’ll take some time out in the evening, against the backdrop of All Hallows Eve to pray for those who don’t yet recognise Jesus in their lives… because it is a matter of life or death.



et cetera