Dad.

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It’s Father’s Day and I am hugely grateful for my Dad, who has been a massive encouragement to me over my life, especially growing up. His attitude (and my Mum’s too, just to be clear) towards us was always that we should pursue our dreams, be the best we could be and trust that God had a plan for our lives.

My Dad is also the person I get a lot of my gutsiness from.
As a kid he would catch us as we leaped from climbing frames, spot us as we walked along the wooden perameters of the local park, chanting “it’s easy, it’s easy” to ourselves, whilst he did the same and reminded us to keep “chin over chest, chest over knee” for balance. That alongside the sage advice that if we started to wobble, we should bend our knees to regain our balance.

Dad was the one who taught me that the silly and sinister ghost stories I heard in the playground, and which scared me as I tried to sleep, were actually just silly when you really thought about them.
The one who explained that the rattle snakes in True Grit were not real, followed by some rattle snake facts about how to tackle them; who endlessly quoted that “fear is only what you don’t know”; who at age six, first took me rock climbing and taught me to trust the rope by trialling a fall; at age 8 taught me chemistry and helped me make blue copper sulphate crystals in the kitchen with his old chemistry set- boy did I feel clever, and who made up silly songs and wrote me poems, something that I also love to do.

Dad taught me judo in the kitchen, football in the garden, gymnastics over the shed threshold, and when I was being bullied, practiced karate punches and blocks with me. His technical approach to movement always ready to help me work out something new.

We climbed trees, wrestled in and out of water, we went for long walks, had long talks about life God and the universe, discussed politics in depth, despite my young age, and marvelled at sunsets together, always pointing out his wonder at God’s artistry.
He inspired my love of fine art, and fed me the belief that I can achieve anything and that it is always worth trying and committing to something.

He enjoyed us as kids and promoted the family, working hard alongside mum to help my siblings and I build lasting and warm relationships with each other- something we still enjoy.

He was my biggest fan, told me before every performance to “knock ’em dead!”. His approval meant the world to us and his courage to ask our forgiveness when he realised that he’d got stuff wrong, made our fights disappear as relationship was restored.

And when I decided that I had prayed and felt called to be an actress, he never once suggested that I should play it safe, get a trade behind me and wait and see, but encouraged me to shoot for the moon with God in my sights. I have never been in any doubt that he is proud of me, he has told me often and told everyone else who would listen.

Sure he had and still has his flaws.
But he was my first hero, my first example of fatherhood, my first impression of what God’s fatherhood is like, and he has done remarkably well.

Despite being his firstborn, where no man could ever be good enough for me, he learnt to let me go to another, my most wonderful and Godly husband, now also a wonderful father, and he welcomed him into our family as another son.
He is an encourager of me, an encourager of my husband and of our marriage, and he is very much enjoying being a granddad who encourages his daughter-now-mother in her own motherhood.

His love of Jesus and desire to follow him wholeheartedly, frequently in the face of trials and persecution (again just like my mum) has played a huge part in grounding me in my faith, and I am grateful for this above all.

I realise that I am hugely blessed, that not everyone is as lucky as I am to have a dad who cared so deeply, or who praised and encouraged his children so generously and unashamedly, and who was so free in demonstrating his affection, but I also know that there are many, many who do.

I am so grateful for my Dad.
I am also grateful that when his time eventually comes to go home, I will still have an eternal father to love me, who never gets it wrong.

So thank you God for my dad.
Thank you for my wonderful husband who is the most amazing father, and will build his own legacy as he parents our children.
And I ask for blessings on Dad’s everywhere, that they may become more like you with every day of fatherhood. Because this is where the legacy of a dad is – in his children.

‘Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.’

Psalm 127:3-5

Easter Vigil

light(I wrote this as a post-communion reflection for our vigil service this year.)

Not a fairy tale, or myth,
But a legacy of Grace.
A history of faithfulness and patience
In the face of perpetual infidelity –
A stubborn people broken,
Shattered into pieces,
The result of brittle hearts.

We are part of the story.
Woven into our lives a scarlet cord of blood,
Links us to those who dared to hope,
To trust that there was more,
That the eternal cry –
Written into our DNA,
And pulsing through our veins –
Would be answered.

In broken trust and deception,
We fell prey to a con-artist of the highest order –
One who took what we already had,
Made us feel bad,
And sold it back to us at an extortionate price.
Suffice to say, we complied –
And lost everything.

Yet The Word who spoke it all into being,
Seeing this, before it took place,
Wove Grace into the narrative.
Pre-empting our loss,
Already the cross in His heart,
That this parting would not be permanent –
He brokered re-union
Through broken flesh and blood,
To restore us in heavenly communion.

His status surrendered –
Abundantly patient
He walked alongside us,
Proclaiming the truth of our identity as
Children of God,
Until, gripped by fear,
He had a choice –
Turn back and give up, leave us behind –
Or walk to a brutal, bloody death.
“Yet, not my will but yours!” He said.

With breath constricted,
As the agony of inflicted separation tore him apart –
So His heart stopped,
That ours and our Creator’s might once again beat in step.

His blood pours forth.
He takes my place.
And I am floored by this incomprehensible love
That sacrificed, not just his body to the pain,
But his Spirit
To the yawning distance of
Disconnection with the Father
His loss –
My gain
That by his broken body
I am made whole.
And in the shedding of his precious blood,
That scarlet cord entwines me and my God
For all eternity.

Here,
Tonight,
In the solemn stillness ‘twixt death
And resurrection –
A realisation of my freedom,
This perfect kingdom,
And the hope it brings –
Makes my heart sing,
As the well of gratitude bubbles up and out of me –
I will not hold back these tears of joy,
As I behold my Christ, my peace, my dignity.

Dignity Recovered

Dignity is precious.
Not only for the ‘special few’, who
Can afford to hide behind titles
Or prizes, the dignitaries and VIPs
Most visible on TV’s and cinema screens,
Reasonably lamenting their lack of privacy –
But for all of us,
Big or small of heart or stature.

This dignity is inherent,
Neither borrowed or lent,
But given to us by our maker,
Creator of all,
Definitely not small,
Though personal –
He calls us “Daughters”,
Calls us “Sons”,
And won our freedom for us
At terrible cost,
And the cross – a most undignified death,
Where breath was surrendered,
Battle ended,
Our wounds mended –
Where heaven kissed earth,
New life was birthed
And we are offered Hope,
As we recover our identities.

For where hope reigns –
Where identity recovers,
There is dignity realised.