A Baker's Dozen

At dawn, you whispered happy anniversary, holding my hands in yours. You then promptly went back to sleep but for me the sky lightened as I flicked through mental images of our wedding day. There are so many things I would do differently - but when I force those reconstructive mind-fingers to rest, I can feel again the sense of who we were and how contented we were to at last offically belong together.
Embellish that with thirteen years of overlay, and I realise our communication is refined to a point where our conversations are so whittled away by distractions that we can nod, grunt, arch an eyebrow or look a certain way and still manage to understand each other perfectly. The volume of words has diminished and the time to use them in is filled with other little voices.

The moccasin of each other's company has become smooth and warm.

We have adapted to each other so much that we like the same sorts of things (except that every now and then an exciting curveball of considered bad taste is tossed in for fun).
We can say and hear honest things without losing our security (depending of course on pms).

We see and smile at the genetic reflections on our children, glimpsing each other in their forms at sleep and play; it is like playing in a hall of mirror-love.

We still know how to have a good disagreement - grinding cleansing grit between the cogs of understanding.

We know how to make each other a good coffee.

We compare baby wrinkles. After all we began tracing each other's features when we were in our mid-teens and have now doubled in age.

We understand better that love is muddy. It does not stay in one place.

And I am beginning to comprehend that the further down this route I go, the less I know my way, but the more I enjoy the ride.

The sun is now up and I will lean over and wake you with a kiss (you will get a fright) followed by a very polite demand for a nice cup of tea (which I don't get of course because there are little people milling around needing breakfast, packed lunches and hair to be tied up).
VMD Babe.

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Beauty and Night


A passing soundbyte uttered by Joyce Meyer floated into my mind recently, concerning the concept of developing camera film. Memories returned of the dark room process photographers used to employ (you know, back in olden days, like about 10 years ago) to develop their photos.
That light starved air and heightened sense of touch: the opening, timing, stopping, fixing, rinsing, drying. Light can only then reveal the images.

Pondering the nature of development in the dark brought pearls to mind, as treasure created in hidden spaces devoid of light. And infants formed in dim human depths - viable only after the exact time of developing and then unveiled in light's introduction as tiny beings possessing the miracle of an independant beating heart. Jesus was born at night - far from the hustle of light but rather the dim shadows and humble audience of other night dwellers.

Being sealed off from the comforts of reason, vision, forecast, illumination, sparkle, insight, viewpoint or projection, seems to be a common qualifier for developing new things. At the right time, light always becomes the revealer and fruit ensues from shaded unseen places. Godly black-outs always have an end. Dawn will always follow night. And grief has a funny way of forcing an intimacy with the divine in the midnight hours.

There are some beautiful girls, both out in blog-world and those in hug-world, who are being processed in their own dark rooms. In particular right now Jennifer is walking a journey I cannot bear to imagine and many others on my blogroll have stunning reflections, etched with authenticity through their dark times. What would we do without the knowledge of a Saviour? Without our dark room moments to give light to the hope that we have in Him?


Beauty said to the Night
When will you leave? Take your cloak and your veil
And return me once more to the soft and the pale?

Beauty sang to the Night
Please I beg you be gone - I am afraid in this place.
I am hemmed in the folds of nocturnal embrace.

Beauty called out to Night
Is it long with you here? I am hunched up inside,
Caught in the dread of the blackest hours yet.

Beauty sobbed to the Night
My compass is blind, which way is the dawn?
How many hours till the onset of morn?

Beauty wailed to the Night
Be kind to me Night! Leave, I beseech.
Is darkness the only place you will teach?

Night gathered up Beauty
Quiet in his arms, voice broken with pain,
Tear-wet she blinked slowly in vain.

Night whispered to Beauty.
And crooned her a song
He wrapped up her hope in midnight's shawl strong.

Beauty slept in the arms
Of the guarding Night
While hope buried deep flickered alight

When Night crept away, dragging folds of his cloak,
Light dawned on the hope formed in spite of her pain,
And rose from the ashes where Beauty had lain.

Hope, that sweet gift granted deep in the night,
And birthed in the shadows of vision concealed,
In the law of the morning sees Beauty revealed.

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Mr Suitcase

one of the things i miss the most about the company of The Guy, is that easy reassuring way he has of embracing the concept of who i am. when he is away, there is a slightly dislocated feeling - like I am not quite sure which me i am. plus, at the end of kiddie-filled days, there is an absense of deeper communication. after a few days i get the feeling i am drinking from a very shallow word pool - the surface of which is quite still and my reflection is all i see without the ripple or whirl of company. our phone conversations tend to irk me as they are a mirage between time zones (i am not my dynamic best at 1.15am) and do not pay homage to our usual banter but instead stretch out in pauses of things unsaid or bounce together in flimsy sentences that overlap down the lines. it is a bit like trying to drink upside down out of the word pool - messy - and you end up with a wet face. thankfully, by nature i am at peace on my own, and suffer no anxious ambition to stuff the space with white noise. days become more fluid and ribbon along till their abrupt splash into reunion at the end of our time apart.
learning to dive deep again into sharing life takes me a little while - the mes in me rearrange till a different order is resumed and the word pool becomes an inky well, ironically not beyond the choppy scope of storms. Come home soon Mr Suitbag.

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Grace

This week's theme is still gentle. Sometimes life for me feels like a freshly shaken snowglobe. I need time and space for things to settle quietly and for my heart to catch up before I am ready to plunge into the fray again. The week has held a valuable lesson for me - in how to trust and how to wait for the settling of snowflakes. Just the words "Come to me" speak volumes.

That delicate scramble of finding hockey forms, lunch money and library books; the challenges of discipline, completing artworks with approaching deadlines, eyeing crumpled shirts waiting politely to be ironed; knowing there is a half-mown lawn as I flooded the motor earlier today, carpets that need vacuuming, meal making and exercise to fit in all whirl together in the melee of family. But all is suspended now while I sit, latte in hand, silent and allowing the flakes to drift to rest.
I cannot lie and say that sometimes the seemingly endless and at times, difficult tasks of motherhood don't threaten to overwhelm me. I do sometimes come unravelled and fail to see the funny side.
But the verse goes on to say "I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

So that's what we're doing - keepin' company with the King. Care to join me?

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My baby can run!








Well done Maddy for winning first place again - you sure have wings (funny that you were actually wearing some on the back of your shirt at the time!) Good thing you take after this guy who came third in the Dad's race:

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Lead me to the place where I can see...


This is one of my book-end scriptures, ya know? the kind that stands up more weighty than some of the other ones and holds them straight. It brings comfort in stretching times, holds no excuse but neither hints at rebuke. It says to me that I am understood.

When it is giant-season on the Motherhood front, I like to dwell on David venturing forth on that Goliath guy. David was a shepherd too - and the parallel line with the verse brings new light to me of simple things confounding the wise. Of the meek inheriting the earth. Of the kingdom belonging to the poor and of the pure in heart having eyes to see.

And of the way the nurturer shepherd boy chose to see things God's way, said yes and began to action the victory despite the climate around him.

lead me to the place
where i can see
Amazing Grace will carry me
(More of You - Can You Feel It? Equippers Church)

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this love

for some reason, mishal dressed in a satin edged lilac tutu - fairy wings glittery on her back and sturdy little feet in silver slippers - did something strange to my heart. i unravelled. the fog of weariness from the day began to lift. and when I pressed my lips to her cheek and told her I loved her, she copied me.


ahh wuv oo.

a feeling brighter than the sun exploded and for the first time that day i dipped into delight.

it's a powerful thing, this love.

how priviledged i feel to know it, and know the Creator of it - and to realise that at all times i am sustained in His delight.

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Promise Lilies


I am looking around.

barbie is wearing platforms in the kitchen
a hot pink golf ball lurks beneath the couch,
turrets of the fairy castle tent flap on the deck,
a board book somehow gets nestled in with my magazines,
a pale pink butterfly net waits on the stairs
a lost glittery hair band peeks out from under a cushion

Sprinkles of girliness we find ourselves surrounded by each day as an adult couple who are parenting little people of the pink variety. When it comes to raising girls, it becomes clear pretty early on in the piece, that they are just baby women. Emotive and led by the heart. Simple practical pointers only go a short way in terms of communicating and they feel things as much as they see and hear them. Sometimes I catch myself expecting them to behave like little robots - going through the motions of instruction - but at times they are really just mini-mes, feeling their way along with mental eyes shut. Pink is not so much a colour as a state of being!
Just before term started, I realised that they were holding back a jangly combination of feelings and were bickering, unrepentant and unclear as to what was motivating their choices. I sat them down at the table with clean sheets of paper and a pencil each and got them to draw. It doesn't take long for the feelings to pop to life in their illustrations and I was interested to see the negativity and fear that was being expressed. A great deal of it had to do with their imminent start at the new school and there were secret confessions of possibly feeling unliked and missing their old lives.
Then I got each girl to choose a square of scrapbooking paper and on the back I asked them to write things that they KNEW to be true. They needed help with this: I am loved, I am unique, I am safe, I am a child of God...just some of the promises they needed reminding of that day. Then we folded the paper up into lily flowers.
I placed the flowers in a vase on a bed of brightly coloured buttons and we are all reminded daily of the promises hidden under the prettiness. Their fears turned out to be unfounded, but were however at the time, their reality, and this activity I found released them to face those scary feelings and turn their focus onto what they knew to be true in each of their situations. I did at no time promise that things would be great. But I did promise them that God knew everything and that they could trust Him. I imagine this will not be the last time we make a tactile reminder of our dependance on God. Next time I might use thinner paper - these got quite wodgy at the end :)


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To Blossom


My words seem a bit stuck at the moment. Sometimes my voice loses the knack of giving song to my thoughts and they remain a muddled medley in my head. But in the interests of allowing a melody to emerge, I will try to divulge some of the score. So, as you can see from my word of the year button, the hot topic is establish.

The dictionary defines this as "to install or settle in a position, place; to show to be valid or true; prove: to establish the facts of the matter; to cause to be accepted or recognized; to bring about permanently: to establish order."

It has become clear to me that in order to move forwards I need to move back a little bit; to clear the clutter and debris that formed the routine and pattern of the old life. To get to know myself better in a new place at a new time and to listen to the silence around me before I fill it up with replacement noise.
The first thing I notice in the change, is how long things take. How much time has to pass before the focus sharpens and perspective begins to fall into place. I survived for weeks on grey fuzzy nothingness, intact but slightly grieving my old identity and completely perplexed on the shape of my new one.

The second biggie for me was that establishing yourself has to happen in all three dimensions of humanity for it to get traction.
Mentally I am not zinging but capable more and more of clear thought thanks partly to the commitment I made to the physical side of things.
My physical fitness has always been for me an enormous obstacle. I have taken this right back to square one and am re-learning about how to gain confidence with moving my body. The shame and unreality of moving at any pace faster than a walk has had to take a back seat as I grapple with a new discipline and rhythm. This involves the rather humiliating experience of nailing myself to a programme of torture at the local gym. More on this perhaps in the future as my courage increases.
The spiritual slice of the pie has to be nurtured and considered with care and I have released myself from any should-be's or could-be's and have rather taken the opportunity to give my heart space for the illumination of the truth. Actually through out this entire journey, of leaving and forging a path for the first time as a married couple on our own, the spiritual side is what has kept my chin up and my feet firm. Yes the facts and circumstances were hard to endure at times, however, they did not destroy me and there was HOPE perched underneath it all, chirping away merrily. For this incredible sustaining power I am so grateful.

I was genuinely terrified with the unknown obstacles of our future - I set myself up for disappointment, but like stumbling across an oasis, realising that the reality of our present is more lovely and delightful than the past, has been a surprise. I prepared my heart for drought and longing and missing. Instead (completely un-coached by me) it has blossomed and the space I live in now is much more free than the confines of the past (confines I didn't realise even existed).
My days are still filled with birdsong. There are hundreds of calling birds in the towering trees surrounding our home (yes, God heard my prayer on the tree front) and in particular, there are wild doves that cookoorooo in their own unique soft way. This sounds transports me to my Zimbabwean childhood and brings comforting contentment.
The summer has filled the days with brilliant rays of sunshine, warming me to the tips of my toes. I have such a peaceful enviroment to paint or write in and when Mishal is tucked up in her whitewashed wooden cot, under her favourite gray knitted blanket, I sneak off to my studio and give permission to my creativity to appear. This is taking quite some time. It has become rather shy. In the places where it doesn't instantly surge forth, I sit in my apple green armchair, with my laptop and quietly browse sites of refreshment and inspiration.
The girls are responding better in their behaviour to my change in attitude after reading Boundaries With Kids and I am learning to think before I speak when parenting them.
Some excellent teaching has also been instrumental in altering my perspective and although this would be impossible to summarise it involves key words for me such as: Yes, enthusiasm, follow through, position, and portal.
Being a wife and mother is certainly a challenge but for the first time ever, I am in the position now where I can see how to put in place the essential practice of establishing my roots as an individual first. The rest of the plant grows properly after that and its colour, strength and size can only go as far as the roots allow it to. For the kind of dreams I have, those foundations are going to need to be pretty deep and steady! Establishment = preparation to blossom.

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