Go slow

We used to joke that one of our daughters had only one speed in the morning: SLOTH. It was painful to watch as she struggled out of bed, dawdled her way through breakfast and the morning jobs, and then scrabbled to pull it all together as we headed out the door to school. No matter if she was first up, she was always the last to be ready to leave. It used to drive me nuts when we were in a hurry to go somewhere.

But these days, courtesy of the COVID-19 lockdown, we’re not in a hurry, and we’re not going anywhere.

I’ve recently finished John Mark Comer’s book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, which is all about “how to stay emotionally healthy and spiritually alive in the chaos of the modern world” (find the book here, or listen to his teaching on the topic here). And it was like a prescription from heaven for my heart.

Continue reading

Standard

Find and feel his presence

“We just don’t expect enough of the Holy Spirit” – that’s not the kind of thing you usually read in theology books. Well actually, that was my translation, Brian Brock said it this way:

 “The problem of not being able to receive every human being with open arms turns out not to be an insufficiently inclusive anthropology, but an atrophied pneumatology”

Brian Brock , 2019, Wondrously Wounded: Theology, Disability, and the Body of Christ

Brock is writing about intellectual disability here, but I think the same idea extends to every human being whom we might have difficulty receiving as a gift.

And that can mean our own family.

Continue reading

Standard
children's library books on a shelf

Physical distancing doesn't have to mean social isolation

We all knew it was coming, but it still felt like a shock: the news that New Zealand is shutting down for the next four weeks to try and curb the spread of COVID-19. I’d been planning a little, running some scenarios through my head, but my brain was still left spinning when I understood that once I got the kids home that day, we were home for the duration. Of course, my first thought was to assess our supply of library books – only natural right? For a panicked moment I thought the library had already closed, but praise God we managed to get there before they closed, and boy did we stock up.

Because, let’s be honest, this is kind of an introvert’s dream, right?! You know, apart from the pandemic part of it.

As much as part of me would like to go to ground, hold my little ones close, and just read, garden, and bake my way through, I also know that I’m going to go crazy if that’s the only plan.

We can’t let physical isolation mean social isolation.

Continue reading

Standard
couch seat with children's book

Lean into connection

Life is at a low ebb in our home right now. Mostly it’s that we’ve all been sick in turn over a few weeks now (when you’re a family of 6 it takes a while before a virus is done with you), and there are a few stressors from without that are causing turmoil within. It’s just a short season, we know that, but even in those it’s easy to lose perspective.

In the past, my response to times like this was to just knuckle down and press on through; maybe practice thankfulness like a good Christian, or maybe stuff down a bit of resentment… y’know, either/or. But it was about doing something, about pushing an attitude or an action to create a different feeling, or just sucking it up for the sake of my family until things felt better.

But more recently I’ve been drawn to a different, gentler approach: leaning into connection with my family.

Continue reading

Standard

We have everything we need

Air rage – I’ve never experienced it, only read about it thankfully. Angry people make me uncomfortable, so the thought of being trapped with an angry person while 30,000 feet in the air sounds terrible. But it happens. And it happens a whole lot more on planes with first class cabins.

It’s not the pampered rich up front who are kicking up a stink, it’s the act of walking through the first class cabin on your way to cramped economy that significantly increases the incidence of air rage. If you enter the plane from the middle or rear, skipping that envy-inducing walk, the incidence of air rage is the same as if everyone was seated in economy (read the paper here).

As humans we’re wired to make comparisons with others, and usually it’s upwards to those who have more and are more than us. (I enjoyed this podcast from NPR’s Hidden Brain on the subject). While it mightn’t make you mad enough to act out on a plane, it can be demoralising and discontenting. And it’s so darn pervasive.

Continue reading

Standard

Checking in, not checking out

For the longest time I’ve had the same New Years’ resolution: to floss daily. The fact that it’s playing on repeat, says something about how well I’m going with that. This year though, I’m changing it up. I’m still hoping to floss more often than I currently do, but this year instead of focusing on a habit of action, I’m pushing to shift a habit of mind.

Instead of checking out, I want to check in.

Continue reading

Standard

Pay attention to what you’re paying attention to

We all think we’re seeing the world as it is, but actually our brain is playing tricks on us. Helpful tricks, yes, but tricks nonetheless.

When I look out in the view in front of me, I think I’m seeing one big seamless picture: that tree next to this tree, alongside that tree over there, sky above and grass below. But actually my brain is taking little snapshots as my eyes rest on different objects and then joining them together in what only seems like a seamless vista. (Yes, really). The big picture is made up of little fixations of focus. Usually it works well, but sometimes it means you miss seeing things that your brain wasn’t trained to focus on.

As with the eyes, so with the mind.

Continue reading
Standard

Know your red flags

I can’t think of any real-life situations where I’ve come across a red flag warning — traffic cones though, I’ve seen plenty of those. Maybe NZ prefers high-vis orange as its warning colour? But for those sea captains, sailors, and race-car drivers out there (I’m sure I have a large audience amongst those groups), you’ll be more familiar. A red flag means WATCH OUT! DANGER! SLOW DOWN! STOP!

While I don’t seen many literal red flags, metaphorically I’m seeing them all the time. They’re those familiar patterns of behaviour and those familiar phrases that either fall from your lips or reverberate around your head, and they all mean WATCH OUT! DANGER! SLOW DOWN! STOP!

Continue reading

Standard

Happily ever after

I remember this moment of sweet sisterhood in the bath. It was near the end of a run of sick-days for the eldest, and I was really ready for her to go back to school. I’d had a good whinge about it earlier in the day, cultivating discontent as I compared my reality with what I had hoped for (happy not-snotty children, patient AND productive mama, ideal mothering AND ideal working, tidy stylish house, blah blah blah). But in the early afternoon, as they played in the bath together, I was struck by the thought: One day I’m going to look back and think “those were the happiest days of my life”.

Continue reading

Standard
children's book picture of Martha angrily baking

Martha, Martha

I often feel that Martha gets a bad rap. After all, she’s just trying to cook up something amazing for Jesus. But she turns into a stressed-out hostess, trying to make sure it’s all perfect, but poisoning the atmosphere with her grouchy attitude… that sounds a lot like me in the hours leading up to a daughter’s birthday party. If you haven’t witnessed that scenario, firstly be thankful, and then secondly (re)acquaint yourself with Luke 10:38-42.

She works hard, she gets grumpy, she complains to Jesus, and Jesus tells her to chill out.

Anyone else identifying with Martha here?

I hear the rebuke, the redirection towards peace and connection, but I’m still left wondering, What about dinner? Who’s going to take care of that?

Continue reading

Standard