Friday, 29 May 2015

My mum always says "choose your battles"

As a parent there are many times when I fall into bed at the end the day feeling happy that in this quiet space I don’t have to walk that fine line anymore for today.  I will often think through my day, of my words or my actions wondering should I, or could I have handled that situation better.  As I fall asleep I pray that tomorrow I may do better.
There are days as a parent when I feel like I constantly walk a fine line between:

  • Saying too much and saying too little.
  • Speaking up or letting it go.
  • Doing the job myself or making them do it.
  • Addressing the tone and attitude or putting up with it.
  • Initiating conversation or wait and listen to them hoping that will one day they will ask your advice

My Mum always says to me, “You need to choose your battles.”  Boy, this is good advice.  I just wish that I could PAUSE sometimes in the midst of the battle and remind myself of this before I walk OVER the “fine line” and say things that I can’t take back. 

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I seem to always have the best responses.......... in HINDSIGHT.

My experience has been that just when one battle is over, another one appears.  Each year a new boundary is crossed, an old rule is pushed and so the line needs to move.  The “fine line” I feel I am walking is constantly transitioning to a new position as the children get older.  No wonder I slump into bed at the end of some days!  In 1 day my Son turns 18 years old.  Wow, where did the time go?  The line will be moving yet again.  Am I ready for it?  I’m not sure! It feels a little scary.

If “choosing my battles well” is the advice I adhere to, then this may be the time when the “battles” really begin to count.  It feels like the stakes are getting higher as he ventures out in the world as an adult.  OR is it rather that the BATTLES we have already fought up to now are what have really counted? Either way I lie in bed wondering, “Have I done enough and am I prepared for the next challenge?”

At this time I could focus on what I am NOT and the times I haven’t played the role of the wise adult OR I can choose to rest in the knowledge that there is always forgiveness, grace and love. I know that the love we have for each will get us through those challenging times when I have let my kids down.  I find my kids very forgiving.  They have heard us say sorry enough times that they are able to say the same back. In fact some of the greatest times in our battles over the years have been when we get to say sorry, share the love and forgive each other. It comforts me to know that FAITH, HOPE and LOVE in all things ....really is the answer.

I wake each morning and CHOOSE to have FAITH that God is in control and believe that sometimes all we can do as parents is model that FAITH in God to our children and that this is enough.  I CHOOSE to HOPE that they know He is always there for them and we are too and HOPE that there is always a way through any battle. I CHOOSE to LOVE my children with a LOVE that says sorry, that laughs in good and bad times, and that chooses never to give up but believes the best in each other whatever the next challenge looks like.

Yes, I need to keep learning to CHOOSE my battles better, but mostly I CHOOSE to take with me into each battle; God’s promise of FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Is Cleanliness really next to Godliness?

I don’t know about you but when we have visitors arriving there is often an all hands on deck time before they come, to clean up the house.  I must confess, I do like the house always being in general order but total cleanliness is not my strength.  This seems to be something I have passed on to my kids. When I announced this morning that the house needed to be clean because people were coming for lunch, my youngest asked if she had to clean her room too as no one was going to see it and my eldest looked at me as if to say, Really?!”   I of course replied with a typical parental statement, “Is that what it is all about, only cleaning what other people can see?”  I could see my daughter roll her eyes and giving me the look that said, “O Mum, please don’t make a life lesson out of this, we are just cleaning the house!”
As I began vacuuming, (which is immediately satisfying but very quickly needs doing again with a dog like ours), I was wondering how I would live if no one ever came into my house?  Our house has always had an open door and we love having people over, so this means I regularly stay on top of the housework to ensure it is in an acceptable state for unexpected visitors.  I asked myself, if I had a space that I knew no one would ever see, what would it look like?   I then had to ask myself, “Why do I clean the house mostly when people are coming over and would I do this if my house was not so open to visitors?”
There are many levels to this personal mind began to go wild with questions and reflections?

  • Am I concerned about what people will think of me if my house is not perfectly clean or is it just being a good example to the people I do life with?

  • Is cleanliness really next to Godliness? (I am sure that is not in the Bible!)

  • God sees every part of us, so keeping clean and ordering the parts of our life that are hidden to others makes us personally authentic. Maybe this is also why it is good to live in community because it keeps you on your toes about who you really are.  It is harder to hide when people are always around. 

  • A little bit each day, is a great Biblical principle of not letting things build up and to stay clean and fresh each day. If we live in a way that is authentically clean spiritually, with regular rhythms of time with God and the things that matter, then we are ready at any time to give an account of who we are in Christ.

  • How can we help our young people learn the importance of the general maintenance that is required to live an ordered and clean life in the areas that count? How can we help them to do more than the bare minimum and stop trying get away with as much as they can?

All this while I am vacuuming.....I know it is scary where my mind can go....and it didn’t stop there.......!
My Daughter kept asking if she could stop cleaning and cook cupcakes for our visitors and in the meantime was continually getting distracted with her phone. 

My son, learnt the hard way what happens when you leave something way too long....and then proceeded to do a ¾ job because the vacuum cord couldn’t stretch as far as he needed so he decided to stop at that point thinking that was good enough.  

I say this not to bag out my kids, they are just being normal.   Let’s face it, cleaning the house, like most chores are not something NORMAL people like to do!  (Sorry couldn’t resist a jab at the clean freaks).  I would much rather make cupcakes or be happy with “near enough, is good enough” but I know some things are necessary, like the everyday disciplines of our spiritual walk.  Maybe cleanliness is next to Godliness after all, or more correctly “cleanliness is LIKE Godliness”.  It is a daily discipline that helps is stay close to God and be able to be an authentic example to those we do life with,  to show others that we are who we say we are, even when no one is watching.
In Matthew 24: 45-51, Jesus warns us to ALWAYS be ready for when he comes back.
“Who here qualifies for the job of overseeing the kitchen? A person the Master can depend on to feed the workers on time each day. Someone the Master can drop in on unannounced and always find him doing his job. A God-blessed man or woman, I tell you. It won’t be long before the Master will put this person in charge of the whole operation.
48-51 “But if that person only looks out for himself, and the minute the Master is away does what he pleases—abusing the help and throwing drunken parties for his friends—the Master is going to show up when he least expects it and make hash of him. He’ll end up in the dump with the hypocrites, out in the cold shivering, teeth chattering.”
Are we ready for anything? Are we living in a way that honours and glorifies God?   When people open our doors, what do they see?  I am talking about more important things than a clean home... clean living is a discipline that can start with the small things, the everyday things.  Lord help me to live daily in such a way that my children and the community I do life with see a life that is ready to give an account, that is authentic and that desires to have God in the centre = GODLINESS

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The Rhythm of BOTH/AND in daily life

There has been much discussion in the Church about whether we should be all together across the ages or whether we should be in divided age groupings. There are positives and negatives for both camps. I believe that if we could get into the rhythm of “BOTH/AND” we could get the best of both worlds. The trouble is the conversation has been more about “EITHER/OR” and I know I have been guilty of being a part of these conversations over time.

Take time to STOP and consider your rhythms in daily life
with the people you do life with.

As I STOP to consider this week of “life together” in our community, I see that daily we oscillate in the BOTH/AND rather than the EITHER /OR.  All have been positive and have their value. Last Sunday was filled with time across the ages of eating together, worshiping, praying and sharing all together(Generational connections/Big story of the Bible/ Encounters with Jesus). Then in our home over the past 2 days different ages have come together to spend intentional time together (Mentoring) as well as quality family time over meals. Last night my husband and I were out having a date night (family) and we came home to my daughter (14years) leading worship in our lounge with her peers and a message from my son (17years) saying he was at his peer’s house playing drums and worshipping with a full house of young adults. My husband sat out in the car park (because we didn’t want to disturb what God was doing) praising God for positive peer groups and yet very thankful that Sunday was full of all the ages coming together to celebrate and worship our God (Generational Connections). 

Today, our community tutors young kids in Maths and English. It is such a joy to see teenagers, young adults and the elderly all serve together to help struggling children in their school work. (Mentoring and coaching/responding with compassion/Serving in mission). 

The next two days we will see elderly groups and the youth connect separately for Positive peer groups and then next Sunday comes around and we will all be together across the ages (Generational connections) in a space we called CONNECT.  This is simply an account of some of the things that happen with the people I do life with over this week. It is the rhythm of our community. It is a BOTH/ AND rhythm.
The key is a rhythm where these aspects are BOTH/AND and that we are intentional about them. As a family and a community of faith we desire to create spaces where this is an important part of daily life. It is important to take time to STOP every now and then and consider how you spend your days? What is important? Why do we do what we do? What has eternal value? Are we being intentional about this precious and limited time we have on earth? If we STOP and find that it is more a case of EITHER /OR then I think we have a problem. Is it PROGRAMS or PEOPLE? Is it WORK or FAMILY?  Is it AGED BASED EVENTS or ALL TOGETHER? Is it LEISURE or SERVING. If it is either/or, rather than both/and we are missing key elements of our faith formation.
Q: What is your weekly rhythm? Q: What is your monthly rhythm?  Take some time to STOP and think about it. It will tell you a lot about what you value as parents, pastors and leaders.
If you want to think more about Lifelong transformational discipleship across the ages visit