HOPE OVERFLOWING

stories of grace, hope and life beyond cancer


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How pausing changed my life

Yesterday, the morning dawned bright and early with a little boy who did not want to go to school anymore and a baby who was cross for no discernible reason. My big boy had decided that he only wanted to attend school on the first and last day of each term and my little boy had just decided that he would be cross and so cross he was! The house was a total disaster area and as I woke up still tired after a full on few days the day loomed long and hot and sticky before me. Joel was due to be working late and I was only expecting him home at about 10pm and so as the day began I felt the misery levels rise at the prospect of a day filled with housework and crying children. Especially the crying children! They are hard to deal with for a whole day.

As I said goodbye to Joel I very ungraciously bemoaned to him what I expected my day to look like. I was angling for some sympathy and did receive some but not the bucket loads I felt I deserved! I begrudgingly waved him off at the tube station and trudged home muttering to myself about how lucky he was to be leaving the mess and the crying for a whole day.

As I got home from the school run I realised that I needed to make a choice about how this day was going to go down. I knew that I wouldn’t get through the day in any manner of which I would be proud without a reality check and an attitude adjustment. I seriously needed some perspective.

There is only one way that I know that consistently helps me find perspective and so I parked all the chores and stopped, sat and let my heart be still.

For me what that looks like is turning on some music (United Pursuit is my choice of the moment – I have put a link to my favourite of their songs below), reading some scripture and pouring my heart out in my journal or just sitting quietly and praying or letting the music wash over me.

So this is what I did. I sat on the floor, in amongst the baby biscuit crumbs and Happyland people with a small little guy crawling around and using my legs and a climbing frame and I paused. I rested and poured my heart out and let beautiful music wash over me and I read some truth and it began to restore my soul and melt my hardened heart. As I wrote and thought and prayed my perspective began to be realigned.

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I was able to give thanks for the mess in the house as it was mostly generated preparing for the funeral of Joel’s lovely Nan who passed away last week at the age of 95. Her funeral and celebration of her life had been the day before and as part of the celebration we all baked the food that she had been renowned for. The mess was as a result of honouring the life of a wonderful woman and I think that is a mess worth having!

As I paused I had some really special time with my little guy, playing next to me on the floor. And I was more able to enjoy his clinginess as it meant extra cuddles (which I don’t get as many of anymore now that he can crawl).

As I rested and stilled my heart I was able to give thanks for our lovely home and that it is filled with love and laughter.  

My perspective was truly realigned. What a sweet gift!

These times of pause are always sweet but it they are never perfect and are frequently interrupted. Most often, at this point in my life, these times happen on the floor. Sometimes they are cut short with a knock at the door or a baby that cries. Sometimes they are very short and sometimes I get the luxury of a longer pause.

But in spite of their imperfections these times are sweet and sacred and vital and they are without a doubt a completely key part of my day

I have learnt to embrace the mess and the imperfection of these times and not to worry about them. In the past I would only have “quiet time” if I felt that I had enough time, could go somewhere quiet, had the correct pens for my journal etc etc. The list of restrictions I put on myself were extensive and as a result the times I had were limited and I felt frustrated if they weren’t quite right.

These days if I imposed any of these sorts of restrictions it would mean that these times would literally never happen. I now snatch them on my own or with my little ones at my feet. The housework can wait 10 minutes. It will still be there, believe me!!!

Yesterday, more than ever I was reminded of the huge value of coming away from the frenetic pace of life and pausing for a few minutes with God. It is a beautiful, humbling and perspective altering choice and it can truly transform the shape and trajectory of each day.

What a beautiful thing to begin the day with a thankful heart and a peaceful soul and it is my prayer that even in the chaos and mess of life that we all make moments to be still, to allow our souls to be restored and to rest with Him each day.

 

 

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The Minionettes and the Moonwalk Marathon

Late on Saturday night, five friends and I joined 17,000 other walkers, all in fancy dress, on Clapham Common in London to walk a full marathon, through the night, to raise money for breast cancer charities.

Our team was called the Minionettes, we were dressed as minions and I, for one, was feeling really nervous. The atmosphere was buzzing, we were ready to go but we had a long wait as our group only got to set off at 11:45pm… way past my normal bedtime!

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Once we started, it was slow going. The roads weren’t closed and the pavements were very congested with walkers. But the mood was high and we cracked on! The route was great and we really did a tour of the London sights, walking past the London Eye, over Tower Bridge, past Buckingham Palace and St Paul’s Cathedral and finally going round what felt like endless loops of South Kensington.

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The slow pace and congested route started to get me down a little as after 3 hours we had only walked 9 miles which was so much slower than the speed we had walked in training and by about 3am I was starting to feel tired and frustrated, and we weren’t even half way there! For me, from about the half way point completing the walk became a case of mind over matter… I know I can walk one just one more mile, and then just one more and then just one more… Oh look there’s the sunrise… Just one more mile… Until eventually…

We reached the finish line.

Nine hours later!

Hallelujah!

By this point my body was objecting strongly to both the lack of sleep (the last time I had stayed up the whole night I was 15 years old! Seriously!!), and the 9 hours of walking but it was an amazing feeling crossing that finish line.

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I didn’t expect to feel particularly emotional on this walk, particularly as my Peru trip had really felt like my comeback moment, and for the most part I really didn’t feel emotional at all. But just at that moment, crossing that finish line, I once again felt overwhelmed and so thankful and grateful to still be standing. I felt thankful to be able to challenge myself, to push harder, to be stronger, to keep going. I felt so thankful for my friends and family that joined me in this slightly bonkers challenge and for all the love and support they, and so many others, have shown me over the past three years.

No tears were shed, but my heart was full and glad.

And in spite of not being able to walk for several days thereafter I am looking forward to doing it again and have already started planning my outfit! (Next time it will definitely involve lights and way more glitter!)

Doing the Moonwalk also challenged me in other ways… It reminded me of the power of determination, and how when we fix our eyes and hearts on something we will get there. But it also reminded me of the call in Hebrews 13 to run (or in this case power walk) the race marked out for us with perseverance, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.

In life, as in the Moonwalk, we are called to keep going, keep moving forward with purpose, not worrying about others’ costumes or the fact that they got an earlier start time or that they didn’t have to press the green man button again because there was so much traffic that they were getting slowed down… Rather, we are called to run our own race, that has been marked out for us, whatever that looks like. We are called to keep going and to run it faithfully with our eyes looking up. And when we are done, when we have completed that last ‘just one more mile’, how sweet will that day be when we finally cross that finish line.

I don’t know about you, but despite all of the distractions, at the end of it all I want to know that  ran focussed and ran well!

Thanks Moonwalk. See you again next time! I will be coming for you armed with glitter!

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Little man is five months

Yesterday my little boy turned five months old! The day was marked by much playing in his play gym, bouncing in his doorway bouncer and trying to get him to roll over again following his first roll on Sunday (it hasn’t happened again yet despite our best efforts!)

These last five months have undoubtedly been the most topsy turvy of my life but thinking about him and the incredible blessing that he is to us reminded me to stop and be thankful. I am so thankful for everything about him, from his fluffy hair and cheeky smile to the way he squeals with delight when you talk to him.

Often when things are tough it can be easy to let our struggles fill up our windshield and that is all that we see. I know in my own life it is easy to become overwhelmed by circumstances beyond my control that I sometimes just feel like giving up. Sometimes everything just feels too hard!

But… I know in my head and am learning in my heart that it is so important to develop a thankful heart that is able to rejoice in spite of circumstances. Having a thankful heart is not saying that one’s pain doesn’t matter or that it is somehow not important, but rather it is allowing things to remain in a healthy perspective. Pain is not all there is to life. I am still blessed. I still have plenty to be thankful for. I will not allow my own heart to be robbed of joy because of my circumstances.

I do not know what is around the corner, but right here and now I am blessed and I can be thankful.

Today, as with every other day, my little lad reminds me of how blessed I am. Happy 5/12ths for yesterday super sausage! (Here is a picture of him celebrating his 5/12th birthday! I hope it makes you smile!)