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The CallJanuary 3, 2018

I lay aside my years word of ‘invest’ with a heavy heart. I’ve not done with it yet, I’m not ready to move on, I’ve not mined it’s depth enough. Yet the year keeps moving and the date changes yet again and somehow I find looking back it’s message seeped into my marrow in a way I’d never expected. ‘Invest’ has lead me to dream of possibilities bigger, risk planting myself firmer, try laying some shaky foundation stones.

Often when we move on we are reluctant to let go because our hands feel empty. In our rush we fill fingers with things that so easily slipped out of grasp. My desk testifies to many a plan embarked upon hardheartedly whose remains litter hopes that one day they will be rescued. As a new year was about to dawn I had yet to choose a word that meant something deeper. Life felt routed but unproductive, I was struggling with the realisation that my language classes where slipping away, my site rarely updated, our nap-times gone I didn’t know how I’d get back into the work I felt drawn to complete. Evening drew and new years plans began around up when I received a donation to my site with an attached note:

Out of no coincidence, I found your site this morning. Praying this allows you to follow God’s call.

It came like a sledgehammer, had I risked losing the plot. I’d been so busy investing my time and energy and hopes in what life had thrown at me had let The Call that first drew me here fade. Yes, yes yes, it was still there, I was still ticking the boxes and striving to serve but not always as the primary drive. I’d disconnected from the whisper that had meandered through the stones of the old fortress as I felt my heart yearn for the city I surveyed, or the roar in the trains and planes and busy motorways that had deposited me onto the soil. My memory was dim to the music of an open heart as gathering after gathering had gently confirmed the heaven sent seed that I’d begun to nurture. Was it time and familiarity or had I placed so much weight upon continuing the journey I’d stopped listening for new directions.

This year I hope that God can rekindle the fire that I once felt so strong. This year I’m going to have my ‘phrase of the year’ be ‘the call‘. It’s not about going or doing or even speaking but a call to actively listen and dare to respond to what you hear. The call is simply something you hear, something you can’t control or direct or even anticipate. I didn’t think I wanted to change my focus from the inward investing but I’ll admit I’m getting rather excited. I’m no longer being called as someone who is in any way temporary, we are praying we have enough resources for a permanent visa, I’m a part of the fabric here now even if my pattern is somewhat unusual I’m bound by time and love and family.

They said, “We will call the girl, and ask her.” And they called Rebekah, and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will.”

Genesis 24:57-58

FoundationsOctober 16, 2017

‘Go’ said God, or did I just imagine it, did all the coincidences and happen-chances not add up to a shout. And so I went, with a little trepidation, with a spirit and determination to meet adventure. ‘Go’ I’d whisper as troubles rose, ‘go until…’

‘Stay’ said God, or did I imagine it, stay in this land that looks so different and yet familiar, stay with these limitations that your birthplace inadvertently bestowed. Stay where you will not find belonging in such a simple form. See I’ve made a path, a path that leads here, to this land, this city, this is where you shall dwell. ‘Stay’ I’d whisper as troubles rose, ‘stay until…’

‘Grow’ said God, or did my heart just do it without bidding. Grow friendships and conversations, smiles and tears, hardships and blessings. Grow a family, a community, a way of being who you are in this land, this town, this little patch of God’s earth. ‘Grow’ I’d whisper as troubles rose, ‘grow until…’

Then last year a new message came unbidden. A new message that did not whisper and build to a crescendo, but crashed suddenly, a cymbal in the still air. That message was ‘release’. ‘No’ I replied. but it was out of my hands, the rope had been broken, the fire started, the roots separated, the foundations rocked. All those threads and securities that had held promise for the one day fell, a myriad of Velcro hooks unlatching. My foundations wobbled so violently I drifted aimlessly.

Release is not a stage you expect to go through, it comes when you’ve sailed the seas of culture shock many times, when you’ve stopped referring to only one particular country as your place of origin, when you realise that it’s more than a just a few major events the ocean has separated you from. Release comes as the roots that once drew water from afar dry and crack and you mourn them each passing. Release is freeing as it’s painful, it stops the clock and puts it away in the cupboard.

As summer ended we made a new home space in a way that was slow and expensive and lasting. We kept justifying our doing so by trusting this was where we would remain for some years. Before I had gone ‘until’, stayed ‘until’, grown ‘until’ but now I’ve gone, stayed, grown and found a place to dwell. When I chose my word this year to be ‘invest’ I felt so adrift I craved security, it was, in some ways, a selfish word, a word that puts the emphasis on our plans over His. But as the year has progressed I’ve seen how my limited view needed to expand, how my ‘until’ mentality has had to be released, how my British identity has to uncoil, how my every progress is only fulfilled by his strength. As we roll into the final straight of the year I realise that this safe space was God giving me a new foundation, a new launchpad, an investment not into trinkets that will one day decay but into a community that I will no longer be passing through.

One day the call may come again, one day the whisper of ‘return’ may float in the air around me, but this year the word is invest, and so we build, secure, establish, and settle in for the journey of watching and serving the the world that moves around about us.

When totschool changedMay 14, 2017

Spring came, unfurling it’s opportunities to get out of the house and explore, it knocked our tot-school, upped our social life and lead letter Y and Z to spread their merge activities over more than a week each. With letter ‘Z’ now finished I thought I’d share the beautiful and unexpected continuation to our journey.

It started with a request from a friend, to take their little boy (6 months older than Adam) for the mornings. The first week was a steep learning curve, my language faltered, my children’s ministry mind wanted to plan activities, the boys were adjusting and the house suddenly felt rather small. Out came toys to be scattered, tot-school went out the window as alphabets were not shared, and my cupboard full of art materials was scoured with a shaken head more than once.

Adam is confident with his letters, numbers, shapes and colours after our first trip through the alphabet. So, with the days changing, I happily pressed the pause button on the ‘formal concept learning’ in favour of ‘skills learning’ to hone gross and fine motor skills, interactive play, turn taking, instructions, etc.

I’ve just finished week 2 of the two boys in the morning, we had a bit of a break between weeks, and this time I was prepared. I’d found loads of ideas and yet what transpired was setting up a 2 part activity morning. Free play with the addition of a play prompt followed by a table time activity and then outside time if the weather allowed, food and final bits before nap wrapped up out time together.

We’ll alternate weeks between having corporate play mornings and weeks of just our little family. I’m hoping the quieter weeks will still hold at least one play prompt of creative activity, perhaps with a concept learning slant. However, for the next fortnight we have grandparents visiting so no tot school or corporate play mornings.

I thought I’d share our weekday corporate play mornings activities in lieu of tot school for this week.