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Selling outFebruary 10, 2016

I’m going to do it tomorrow

My kids ministry website – Jesus without language – has been a constant work in progress since it’s first incarnation at the beginning of 2011. Every year I’m trying new ideas. I’ve tried adding video’s and even a game, I’ve reformatted, redesigned and revamped some lessons multiple times. I’ve also taken things away, like the said videos, and just this week I’ve done some major pruning!

There has always been one steady necessity, that the material is freely available, not hidden behind any payment walls or subscription needs. It’s been great to offer to the world of kids ministry, school teachers, kids groups and homeschoolers the doodling and musings, paper creations and craft explosions that’s come over the last 5 years, nothing can diminish that. Sadly distinguishing between free and freely available is a constant battle lost. The donate button is seldom used considering the demand.

The one think I kept returning to, kept being bough back to, was making the material publish worthy. I’d tinkered with the idea, made a few trials… frankly, it was just so much work. People could just build the lesson from the parts I provided anyway, couldn’t they? The idea wouldn’t die though.

Eventually I embraced it. I sold out? I’ll put something behind a payment wall, sort of, not really, kinda… OK I didn’t sell out at all, I just figured I’d help all those people who could afford to be lazy! Because ultimately that’s what this was, it was a tool for people to be lazy with, a lovely pretty layout that would print nicely so they didn’t have to juggle papers. It wasn’t needed and I wasn’t holding anything back by putting a minimum donation price on it.

The more I pondered the more the idea rooted itself. I had been given a talent and I must be prudent and wise in it’s stewardship. I must take account of human nature, of the belief that the whole internet is free as long as you hunt hard enough. I must acknowledge that God has given me this talent as a way of survival, to bless but also to be blessed with. I must see these keyboard taps and glue sticks just as Paul saw his tent canvass and needles. Even if it fails I must try, because this idea really doesn’t want to die.

I’m going to hit publish tomorrow – I’m sorta terrified.

reviewNovember 11, 2015

This time of year has always been a bit awkward for me. Early November has a lot of painful memories attached, memories that shaped my path through roadblocks more than open doors. It’s a time of year I pause for a little longer to feel those ever present divine arms encircling me and lean into them just a little more. It’s always a temptation to re-live those memories, drag myself through the darkest moments I have known, and at times that may be beneficial, though it rarely is. The past is a dangerous world, one where we get to master the remote control and replay how we would tweak the scenes with the perfect clarity of hindsight vision. The present is always a bit more cloudy.

Times of loss, however, do shape us. It may be loss of something we loved, someone special, loss of a situation or loss of a dream, it shatters our security and leaves us with a mark of vulnerability. We then chose what to do with this mark, how it will influence us going forward. Sometimes this scar can seem overwhelming, there have been moments, thankfully fleeting, when living to endure more scars has seemed beyond my ability. Some marks scratch us so deep they light a fire, bestow upon us a gift, unwelcome but heavy with blessing. While some marks we bury, cover over and deny their existence, others we parade as badges of honour, magnets for sympathy, over shouted excuses. Time fades them all, lets our true selves develop and grow, we can’t be stopped, our shoots and leaves will break even the most robust concrete lid.

Who I am today is not who I was 8 years ago, 3 years ago, or even the blurry eyed new mother of one year ago. Who I am today is marked deeply by those times but not defined by them. My past roadmap is written on my heart, etched into my wrinkles and breathed into my blood – to deny it is to deny myself. Equally to live as if the journey is over, the map complete, is to deny the Kate of tomorrow, of next year, the Kate that will read this with wiser eyes a decade from now.

This time of year has always been a bit awkward for me – and in a sort of backwards way I’m glad. I’m glad I can still feel the lump in the throat, the wind that tugs towards the vacuum, the whisper of numbness, because it clarifies the laughter of my son, the love of my husband, the ever present need for something greater than I and the security of my odd little life.

Hidden from the sunSeptember 1, 2015

Call me a wimp but some days are just too hot. August loved hitting the top thirties, topping over the brink of 40 occasionally and can still be pretty unbearable once the sun has departed. Nights are a gaggle of sweaty bodies and kicked off covers. Opening the door to a live oven is quite simply horrible. On days like today, of which we get a good handful every year, thee are only 3 options – boil, sweat or hide. Those brave enough to boil try to head for the beach or gather by shaded fans and sip ice drinks, those who need to sweat usually do so in work clothes, but mostly we hide.

These are the days we worship the white boxes on our walls. If your location sports an air conditioning unit you’ve hit jackpot, and they are everywhere, even in tiny kiosks. You see people linger and debate how low you can set them, others beg you to put them off as their body is shocked from going in and out of temperature fluctuations. These white boxes provide room to breathe, space to work, a cocoon from the reality of reddened faces and sticky skin. They are our shelter, allowing us to pretend.

And we like to pretend, to hide from that which scorches us, to travel away and dream that the world is pastel and pretty, not marred in mud and grime, darkened by death and broken by lack of simple kindness. We shut out the knowledge that less than 2 hours south families take what shelter they can in city parks before continuing their long pilgrimage from terror to safety. We rephrase the exodus and call it a migration rather than civilian forced retreat, a cacophony of war battered souls looking for refuge. We forget our refuge centres still have people living in their rooms from the last conflict, more than a decade of displacement under their belts. We pretend because we want to believe in better, we want to feel safe and secure, we want to feel a little less helpless.

So the white box beeps and I stand under it’s cool breeze. I breathe in and release the breath and wonder if there is anything I can really do, if I can venture into that oven or if my place is really in this cocoon? I lay in bed at nights ashamed at my inaction and yet clear in the knowledge that even a 20 minute travel stretches my physical abilities. There is no simple solution but my heart still yearns to find one. Soon the sun will dip again, soon the rain will come, the cool of autumn and the danger of winter, when will we stop hiding?