What am I enjoying?
Some really good friendships made here in Bristol. When we moved here, a few people said it takes a couple of years to settle somewhere and make good friends. I thought, ‘surely not that long, that’s ages. I’m sure it will be different for me’ (confession: I often think ‘it will be different for me. That’s either Hope or Pride, you decide). And although I did meet friends within the first couple of months of being here, it took a lot longer to feel settled, to have enough relationships locally that sustain us. Longer even than two years, I think. I can look and see we are so blessed with good friends and community and people wanting to share life to the depth that we do.
I’ve had this thing about community and sharing life more closely for many years. I remember when it started, prompted by an inspiring book I read (as many things start for me). I remember being on my knees asking God for that depth of community and His Kingdom in our lives. It’s taken ages. I mean that in the ‘new testament’ modern kind of way; in the old testament they really did wait ages. Ages and ages and ages in a way that would’ve driven me crazy and probably drove them crazy too. Forty years? I’m not waiting that long! (as if I have a choice). So thankful to be Living Now with internet and good tea and comfortable beds and shops.
Still it’s happening but not yet happening. We are closer but not yet there (I wonder if we ever will be ‘there’ in this life. I really don’t like that feeling of not-being-there-yet. I’m always waiting for everything to BE HERE. Happening NOW. The Journey, Ugh!, the Journey.) And, goodness, its happening in a surprising way, amongst people I didn’t expect. Isn’t that often the way with God? We have our ideas and make our plans and God laughs (in a kind way I want to point out, just in case you’re hearing a cackle).
What am I working on?
I’m getting up early. Setting the alarm kind of early, which isn’t actually necessary when you’re home educating and most mornings have nowhere to be before 10am. I’ve been up early for the last two weeks, even at the weekend and it is SO GOOD. I’ve realised the trick to getting up early is to be getting up for something you actually want to do. Has that been obvious to the rest of you for a long time? I’m slightly embarrassed to face those of you who have no choice to get up early and get the bus in the rain to be at an actual job, which you may or may not love. Really sorry about that. Can I buy you a cappuccino next time we meet?
So I get up and brew a lovely pot of tea in my bedroom and take it to my office next door (its actually a shared office with Matt but I call it ‘my office’ because he has another actual office with real people and work in it and its not fair for him to have two.) And I listen to the Bible audiobook (one of my goals for the year is to listen to the whole Bible. It’s the NIV read by David Suchet (Poiro!), who’s voice I mostly love but sometimes his God Voice is a bit cross and I definitely don’t hear God in that voice. But that’s a whole other conversation.) So, I listen to the Bible and I DO COLOURING IN or KNITTING.
Hello, is that a lovely start to the day? I think so. Then me and God have a follow on chat where I do more listening because He makes more sense than me. I might also write down some ‘thankfulness for the previous day’, another new habit I’m trying to form. Noticing and writing down thankfulness really does grow a thankful heart. Although I have to admit its impossible to get another person to do this unwillingly (i.e all of our children, yours and mine)…it really has to be done willingly doesn’t it? I forget this sometimes when I threaten our children that we will spend the following whole evening watching video clips of ACTUAL CHILDREN STARVING AND NOT COMPLAINING AT ALL ABOUT THE FOOD THEY ARE GIVEN. I haven’t followed through with that threat but if I do, I’ll let you know how effective it is.
And I’m always disappointed by how quickly the time goes and 8 o’clock comes around which means its time for Matt to leave for work and hand over any awake children. I do love my children so but I never ever want to leave that place of peace and quiet, where its just me and God and no other noise or demands or requests. Taking God with me into making porridge and finding clean laundry and listening to complaints and directing little-and-middle-sized people into purposeful tasks is what I’m working on. I know He comes with me. He’s there already, but remembering Him in my mind and my body. Knowing His presence in the Noise doesn’t come naturally.
I’m also working on balance and boundaries. With myself and our family. I had it pointed out to me lately (quite painfully, but with love) that I’m absolutely rubbish at boundaries. Abysmal. Dire. Dreadful. Perhaps I knew that already but was pretending I’d forgotten. I don’t know how to make these decisions….do I let my kids talk to me while I’m on the toilet? Do I listen to their soul-sharing moments when its past 9pm and they know its meant to be our adult time without them? Do I give them every last piece of myself and my time? No, probably not, because when I do, I turn into Horrid Mum and that’s not who I want them to be around. Giving myself time and space makes me Lovely Mum and that’s who I want to be.
What am I reading?
‘Refugee Boy’ by Benjamin Zephaniah. Our book group choice. It’s a really good and easy read which is tugging at my heartstrings for all the people far from home, fleeing war and violence.
I’ve just finished ‘The Screwtape Letters’ by C.S Lewis and want to make my way through his collection, which I bought Matt for Christmas. It was a gift for Matt, it really was.
Dipping into this self sufficiency book. I don’t realistically aim to be self sufficient any day of my life (and I think that label goes against my belief in community, although I get the gist), but we are looking into getting pigs, as part of a small co-operative to raise for meat. So there’s a lot of experience to learn from here, which is very easy to read. The pages on butchering make me feel queasy and remind me that I’m not great with raw meat. I really really want to outsource that!
What am I making?
I’m still knitting a blanket for my baby nephew who is now over half a year old.
I’m nearing the end and will be able to hand it over soon. I have enjoyed the pattern which has been easy, but it’s quite a large blanket knit with a small needle size so I’ve definitely lost motivation at several points on it’s journey. And the rows are long and involve me constantly counting. But putting it aside for a while means it takes even longer to complete; I do understand the logic of this. Nevertheless, my hands put it down and my mind tries to forget and I do something I can complete more quickly. And Mojo returns. I’m insecure about the colour I’ve chosen for it. I like the colour. For me. But I can’t imagine him liking the colour until he’s at least 43 years old and, by then, it will have been lost or passed on or chewed by someone’s dog. But I didn’t realise this until the said project was well on its way, too far to go back. And I haven’t found an alternative homemade gift that I can easily make now. And I really want to hand something over very soon. So blanket it will be.
I need to trial a recipe which includes Sunflower oil. I haven’t used this yet, but have been doing a little research and want to give it a try. Its inexpensive to buy, full of goodness and, as far as I know, not doing the earth damage in its’ processing. Ok, I admit to having done very little research on the latter point but it’s important to me, so I will do.
I’m still in the phase of trying out different oil bases for my ‘perfect soap recipe’. I’m not overly enjoying this phase, although I find it interesting. The smells are what really enliven me and I can’t wait to try out wonderful and funky scent combinations. Until I decide on my base ingredients, it’s probably wasteful and expensive to use too many essential oils. I’ve been sticking to the more basic ones such as lemon and lavender.
There’s a lot of waiting (that old friend again) in this phase of soap making. I should wait at least 4 weeks (ideally 6) before using the soap I make, and I find this stops my flow quite a lot. I’ve realised I need to make a lot more soap to keep flowing, and because I need the practice. I really need to practice and practice and make mistakes and learn from them. I’ve got so much more to learn. Letting go of the desire for every bar of soap to be amazing and useable will serve me well in the long run.
What I love is that God is in all of it; my quiet times with Him in the morning, my soap making, my writing, my conversations with the kids about the food they eat. The starving people and the full people. The walking and the sleeping and the food and the tea and the playing and the watching and the talking and the listening and the singing and the crying and the waiting and the making and the journey and the destination. He’s HERE. NOW. I don’t have to wait for that. We don’t have to wait for that.
For now, my friends, a hot pot of peppermint tea and a big kiss xx