It's Labour Day weekend here in the United States, also known as Summer's Last Hurrah. So let's say goodbye to summer and hello to the autumn. (People in other climes, feel free to adapt as needed.)
1. Share a highlight from this summer. (If you please, don't just say "our vacation to the Canadian Rockies." Give us a little detail or image. Help us live vicariously through you!)
This has been a strange summer, the weather has not been great ( huge understatement), and with Jo and Jon leaving school, Jo working and Jon going on an Australian tour we have had little family time. I worked through our main sailing week, travelling into and out of work from the caravan! I guess through all of this a couple of things stand out, first the twins A'level result day, and the celebrations that followed as our house filled with 20 happy young people all looking forward to their futures, and then walking Blakney Point with Tim- a day of huge relaxation in the midst of a crazily busy summer!!!! I am looking forward to a holiday in October though- just the two of us!!!
Photo; Blakney Point- there is nothing there!!!!... and I love it.
2. Are you glad to see this summer end? Why or why not?
Yes and no- yes because I haven't really had a break and am looking forward to getting away, and yes because I am looking forward to my children leaving for University- and no for the same reason- all change around here- kind of scary!
Off to University- celebrating together!
3. Name one or two things you're looking forward to this fall.
The start of my M.A. course- a couple of Units I am really looking forward to this one in particular Feminist Perspectives on Pastoral Theology, a few days away with Tim, and learning what it is to be a couple again, after years of having children at home!
4. Do you have any special preparations or activities to mark the transition from one season to another? (Cleaning of house, putting away summer clothes, one last trip to the beach)
Last trip to the beach???? No the beach is my year round companion!!!
Beach walking in January!
Blackberry picking would have to count as an autumn activity- I love making crumbles, and even blackberry wine in a good year!
5. I'll know that fall is really here when, the days start getting shorter, and the trees change colour, walnuts are ready to be picked ( the squirrel battle commences again!). It is a toss up between spring and autumn for my fav. season of the year!
Reading a friend's blog this evening, he was celebrating milestones in his daughters lives, it is so important to mark these, to remember them.
Tim and I were looking at photos of our children recently, remembering fun times and hard times alike.
He remembered Joanne's delight at completing a 10 mile bike ride to visit her grandparents, how they'd stopped on the way to look round an old Church...
I was remembering Chris and Jon's first canoe lesson, how they'd enjoyed it and laughed as they splashed one another...
Today though we were continuing to mark the milestone of leaving home, I dropped Jon and some friends in Kings Lynn where they are performing at an "Open Mike evening", it will be one of their last get together before they all head in different directions.
Joanne has spent the evening going through Sheffield's Freshers week booklet, deciding which events she wants to go to, typically for Jo, she has made a list and carefully calculated the cost!
Their mounting excitement is infectious...
... and so Tim and I are planning a much needed break on Holy Island in late October, something we haven't been able to do for some time!
In a meeting the other day I listened to people describing themselves to one another, I think what shocked me about this exchange of information was the way in which both qualifications and accomplishments were of the utmost importance, as if we were saying to one another; listen while I tell you how important I am! To be fair the tone was set by the chair of the meeting, yet it was an interesting if sad reflection on how we value ourselves and one another!
Interestingly I find that the people I respect the most are often the most humble people, people who if they chose to air their accomplishments would impress and even astound us, yet they choose to tell us about their family and hobbies, they make themselves ordinary, even vulnerable.
When Jesus took upon himself the task of a servant, John makes sure that we know this was not done from a sense of insecurity, but rather in complete confidence, Jesus knew who he was, and he chose to serve;
Jesus knew that the Father had put everything under his power. He also knew he had come from God and was returning to God. So he got up from the meal and took off his outer clothes. He wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a large bowl. Then he began to wash his disciple's feet. He dried them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 14: 3-5)
Like Peter I suspect we struggle when those we feel are "over" us choose to serve us, do we also struggle with the concept of service from time to time, preferring instead to take the higher position- much like the guests at the banquet.
There is however a huge difference between true and false humility, if we take a " lower" place fully expecting to be called forward, does the same embarrassment overwhelm us albeit internally when we are left in our lowly position? How we think of ourselves is important, we need like Jesus to learn to embrace the role of servant, even to delight in that role...
So what is the key here- I suspect it is to love and value others, to seek to see them as God sees them, to seek as Jesus did to call forth the best from them, to understand that while the knowledge of Gods love for us calls us out and sets us apart, it sets us apart for his service not for our own comfort or glory.....
So as I ponder this Scripture I am challenged to value so called lower status, whilst being able to look in the mirror and to know myself loved, unique and valuable- just like everyone else!
Brother, sister, let me serve you, Let me be as Christ to you; Pray that I may have the grace To let you be my servant too
Christine at Abbey of the arts issued a challenge here;
These poems are my response:
What is freedom? An open door, a proud display of beauty?
Could it be that true freedom lies within, and that many a trapped heart, walks through an open door?
Could it be that true freedom shows itself in another guise, and many a proud display hides a guilded chain?
What is freedom ?
True freedom lights me from within, and though the cage door is closed, still I am free! For these bars do not hold me and even in the dark night my heart will sing. Songs of joy will burst forth until the cage melts away, and freedom, true freedom, overcomes all that seeks to hold me captive….
My last post was about changes, but this post is about fear of no changes, my heart was chilled when the Brompton Hospital rang today with news of Chris's cardioversion, the question that entered my head was ..."what if"... what if things go wrong, what if plans and dreams ( specifically Chris's ) crumble to dust again...
Is God the same, can He/ she take my rage and tears?
I pray the answer is yes for I will need strong arms and bottomless comfort=rt if all goes wrong...
I fear the hospital for all does not go a planned, we have lived through that before, and yet that does not change eternity, it simply tears at may heart, and forces me to cling tighter to faith... to echo Peter's words..." to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life....."
There is no other way...
Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. ( 1 Jn 4:18)
It has been a strange day today for many reasons, Emma and Ralph headed back up to Newcastle to sort their new house out before they begin teaching again this term, Em now has 20 private pupils, the new house has a bay fronted room ideal for teaching, so they are very happy. That marks the beginning of the mass exodus from the Coleman household, Chris leaves on the 15th, Jo on the 22nd, and Jon on the 29th... by October we will have gone from a household of 6/7 to a household of 2! How odd that will be after 26 years.
One more piece of news regarding Chris has been that he is booked in for a cardioversion next Thursday, this is usually a simple procedure but with Christopher's delicate physiology it has the potential to be more dangerous. Please pray that this will be successful and that Chris will be able to start Cliff college as planned.
All of this family busyness lies against a backdrop of ministerial formation for Tim and I, he enters his final year of Foundation training this year whilst I have switched to the MA degree, and am looking to study through ERMC for the next two years. I am very much looking forward to the challenge of the Feminism and Psychology Units.
All change, it is scary and exciting at the same time- back to living on a student budget for 2 years will be interesting... yet I am reminded that God knows what we need, he numbers the hairs on our heads and cares deeply for us... perfect love casts out fear... teach me your ways Lord, show me your paths...
I've been reading " Butterfly in Brazil" by Glenn Packaim; it is a recommended read from "The Ooze". He looks at the "Butterfly effect" how that whimsical question posed by Lorenzo in a paper presented at the December 1972 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C;
Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil set off a Tornado in Texas?
Using this evocative illustration Glenn Packaim goes on to encourage his readers in the small details of discipleship, encouraging us to dream big dreams, but within those dreams to take small steps of faith;
We can't bottle up our passion, energy and dreams of action until we are on the right stage...If we try to save our vision for the perfect day we'll loose it! (p. 10)
I wonder how many of us live life in the wings waiting for our cue, and yet missing out on living, stuck in a trap of our own making? Waiting for the right moment focusing on our own greatness instead of the glory of God. What are the small things God calls us to do each day, in what kind of spirit do we enter into them? All of these questions are raised , incarnational living is the key- God works both in and through us as we yield our lives to him;
God loves to lead us from inside the story, he shapes history by taking an active role in it, while at the same time standing outside of it. (p. 27)
As I read I was struck by the fact that each and every character in God's story is vitally important, it may seem to our eyes that some are more important than others, and yet much like Paul's illustration of the Body of Christ ( 1. Cor. 12) we need one another and the story would be a lesser story without the presence of the seemingly minor walk on part... our faithfulness in the small things might just be the trigger for great things to happen...
Lasting change is often the result of simple faithfulness with something that seems inconsequential. A big impact usually begins with a small act. (p. 41)
His encouragement to persevere is a timely message for today, in a church where small acts of faithfulness go unapplauded, and we are always looking for the next thing to "fix" the problem of dwindling numbers we are called to make a difference in the everyday stuff of life, to continue when the going gets tough, to put our hands to the plough and not to look back if the ground becomes hard, not to be continually looking for the next spiritual high...
God's enduring work does not happen on the hight peaks of passion, but in the flatlands of perseverance. (p. 97)
Often we struggle with the ordinary stuff of life, this book encourages us to keep on keeping on. When I read Hebrews 11, I am reminded that it was:
11:2 The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd
They are not commended for greatness, but faithfulness, their lives shone out not because they were perfect, but because they trusted in God so much that they did not turn away from him, they knew God's forgiveness and love, and even though they stumbled they persevered..
I am still reading this book,it is worth staying with and not rushing through, taking time to digest and consider its message is well worth doing.
Hebrews 10:36-11:2 But you need to stick it out, staying with God's plan so you'll be there for the promised completion.
It won't be long now, he's on the way; he'll show up most any minute. But anyone who is right with me thrives on loyal trust; if he cuts and runs, I won't be very happy.
But we're not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We'll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way. The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.