Celebrations, Honeymoons and Rest Days

Saturday we went to my cousin’s wedding and it was lovely.
The bride was glowing, despite having had barely any sleep all that week, the groom was happy, and their parents were proud and moved by the occasion. It was a big wedding, the bride’s side of the family being a pretty extensive tribe, so it was wonderful to catch up with cousins, aunts and uncles, some of whom I haven’t seen in a few years.

We had dealt with an early start, bad traffic and a diversion on the way down, a very carsick boy, and the wonderful temperatures of a sudden heatwave, after the seemingly permanent winter, all making us late to the ceremony, but we were in time for half the sermon and the important bit – the vows. It was beautiful.
In the gap between the service and the reception, I headed off to hospital to briefly visit my brother, while Husbandman took the kids back to my parents for a couple of hours to play in the garden and attempt to relax – Ha!

I am pretty certain that Husbandman and I spent most of the reception following The Boy and Mini One around the inside and outside of the venue, attempting to pause to have conversations with various family members and friends en-route, or taking them with us as we walked. It was exhausting, but we all got a good dose of vitamin D, so that was a definite bonus.

Eldest, who is most definitely a people person, spent most of the afternoon and evening running off with my cousins, making friends and playing with another couple of children, and introducing herself to every adult she had the opportunity to meet. We checked in with her every so often, but she was so happy hanging out with my cousin whose album she loves, and she got to dance during the Ceilidh – “I did Ballroom dancing Mummy, like in Jane Austen!”, that when I finally told her it was time to go, she was red faced, exhausted and just about to tearfully conk out – just in time.

The three of them, despite requiring a lot of energy to follow (and I had a pretty tough 25minutes trying to keep the younger two together on my own, whilst Husbandman went to fetch the car), I was so proud of them. They were a delight to be around and all handled the huge occasion beautifully, each in their own way. All three were fast asleep in the back of the car by 9:15pm and when we arrived home at 10pm, tired after the long day, they were unusually transferable as we put them to bed.

Bizarrely on Sunday, Husbandman woke at 5:30am unable to return to sleep, followed by The Boy and Mini One an hour later. Despite attempting to doze, I had to be up much earlier than usual. Eldest is the earliest riser of our kids at around 8:30am most days, so with the extra early start, Sunday was very much a rest day.

With Husbandman at work (exhausted) and me dead on my feet at home with the kids, we managed a trip to the park in the sunshine, but otherwise contented ourselves with being dressed and fed, watching tv, and playing with water.

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The house was a state, the washing up piled by the sink and I had no energy to tackle it. But it didn’t matter. It could wait.

We each need a Sabbath.
For Husbandman, Sunday is a work-day, so Monday has become his Sabbath, a day to flop, with very few demands on his time. Having at least a day with nothing planned each week is so important, because we are designed to work from a place of rest, not to rest from our work.
But how often do we get this balance out of kilter?
God rested on the seventh day. HE stopped ‘being productive’, and simply was.

God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
Genesis 1:31-2:3

Even within a normal day, we need Sabbath moments, half an hour here or there to stop, rest or pause, so that when we do return to our work, we are better for it and more effective in our tasks.

However this Sabbath design to work from rest, rather than rest from work, has another vital benefit. It serves to remind us that we are not slaves, that first and foremost we are human Beings not human doings. Our identity is not found or forged in our work, but in our inherent dignity as children of God. This is something that God had to teach the Israelites once He had delivered them out of slavery in Egypt – where there had been no break from the daily grind. Work is something we do to use and hone our skills, to bring glory to God and to bless the world. This is why he has it written into the Law.

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
Exodus 20:8-11

Work may generally function to pay the bills, in our money-based culture, but it is not something we are to be enslaved to. Adam and Eve in the Garden had no pressure, but they still had work to do. It was only after the Fall that it became a toil.

This all made me reflect how rest and Sabbath should mark the start of all new relationships and enterprises. This is reflected in our wedding tradition, as (usually) after the wedding day, the first thing the bride and groom do is take a honeymoon, a holiday with no work or any other demands on their time. Just the space to have a week or two to be husband and wife, to find out what it means to be a new unit, before all the stuff of life kicks in.
Starting marriage, particuarly after the huge undertaking of a wedding, from a place of rest, gives the relationship and the individuals within it a healthy boost of nutrients at the beginning, and if the couple continue to honour the Sabbath and build it into their married lives, they will flourish.

To keep Sabbath Holy means to keep it set apart from all that is usual.
I know that I am getting better at honouring the sabbath moments in my life, stopping to simply read or listen to something for half an hour with only a cup of tea to be busy with, yet I still struggle against the pull of the lie that I am only what I do or produce.
However I am discovering how vital rest is, to do something that feeds my soul, pressing pause on the duties of life, if I am to function healthily.

So I am practicing forgiveness for the messiness, giving myself permission to flop, because there will always be more work, but I don’t want to miss all the life that happens in the smaller moments, because I was too exhausted to take it in.
This is something I want to pass on to my children, so unless if I learn to model it by doing, how can I expect them to value it’s importance?

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Valentine – A Sonnet

To my love…

My Darling Husband, kind and loving man,
Though tested by my melancholy state,
You’ve wrapped your arms around my crying frame,
And lovingly have bourne much of this weight.

These storms have lately shak’n us both with grief,
Attacking peace and robbing us of quiet,
Challenging Love, our patience and belief,
As darkness loomed, obscuring, briefly, light.

And still you love me, sure of brighter days,
Creative bursts and energy restored.
You watch for smiles, where vision lights my face,
Sense resolution for the broken chord.

My grattitude, O darling, gift of mine,
Is offered here, beloved Valentine.

 Our Family Walking In A Wilderness Season

The past few months have been challenging for our family.

At the beginning of June, we moved out of our home with only a week’s notice. Our landlords were suddenly dealing with life-threatening sickness and a dodgy buyer for their home, and so needed our place back in a hurry. They were so grateful that we were so accommodating, that they bent over backwards to help us, paying for removal services and up to two months worth of storage for pretty much our entire house-worth of stuff. This took a weight off our shoulders, because finding accommodation for a young family of five in a week is one thing, but taking our furniture with us was not an option.

We had offers to stay from two sets of friends, and moved in with just suitcases,

highchairs, a changing station and a few toys and dvds. They had generously said that we could stay for up to a month whilst we found somewhere, so despite nothing on the horizon, we were incredibly grateful for the provision.

This all came during a season where things have not been very easy for P at work, causing a lot of pain and stress for him, and subsequently for us as a whole family.

We have been waiting for a particular breakthrough, which has not yet come, and so tensions have at times run high, and spells of depression have attempted to drag us down. Throughout this whole process – from knowing that it was possible we would need to move out, waiting for breakthrough, to hearing for certain that we only had a week- we have been praying and waiting on God for some kind of answer.

Admittedly, this was often a case of waiting on God to give us the specific answer we wanted, but we also fervently wanted whatever it was that He has planned for us, and for it to come to pass at the right time and in the right way.
It has been a test of trust and obedience, that neither of us have found easy.

But Jesus didn’t promise that when we chose to follow him, we would have all our circumstances lined up and easy. Rather he promises that he will be with us at every step, never leaving or forsaking us. This is a pretty massive and hope-inducing promise.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

God wasn’t really telling us what we wanted to hear, but neither did he seem to be telling us anything. We were listening, but He seemed to be choosing to remain silent.

The night I heard that we had a week to move out, I felt pretty upset and in went into ’emergency planning mode’.
The next day, I was immensely hormonal and drained, and just kept seeing how big and seemingly insurmountable the task would be. Needless to say, that was not a very peace-filled happy day. Quite the opposite.
But that evening when I went for my walk and prayer time, I ranted at God, and poured out my heart- my fears and frustrations with everything – the lack of change and breakthrough, and how I needed to know what was coming next.
I felt God impress upon my spirit that no, I did not need to know, but I simply wanted to, but that HE knew what was coming and how things would play out, and that I needed to let go and trust Him.

He also drew my mind to the Israelites at the time of the Exodus, reminding me that they had to have a season in the desert in order to get to the promised land. Whilst God had taken them out of slavery in Egypt, he also had to take Egypt and it’s disfunctional ways and attitudes out of their hearts before they would be ready to take their land, stepping into all that He would give them.
All this resonated with me and I felt so encouraged and graced with trust, that during the whole process of moving out of our beautiful cottage on the Friday and into our friends’, I was full of joy and peace, and immense grattitude at God’s faithfulness and provision.

As is so often the way with God, that once you step out in trust and obedience, THAT is when He brings the provision you need, so the very next day after we moved out, we had a phone call from a close friend telling us that his in-laws were on a canal trip for most of the summer, and that we were invited to house sit, free of charge, from a week Monday until the middle of August.

This turned out to be a BEAUTIFUL family home,

with lots of space, a beautiful flow to the downstairs, and a gorgeous big garden with a climbing frame, swings and a slide. It was in the same town we had lately moved out of and which we loved, and because the couple have grandchildren, there were child-locked cupboards, toys and even kid-friendly toilet seats. HOW GENEROUS IS GOD!

We moved in and have had an amazing time there.
With all the challenges brought by what was going on for P, it has been a place of sanctuary and peace.

But just when we started to get comfortable, feeling secure in our surroundings, God threw us another curve ball.
This couple had needed to change their plans, and were now going to return home nearly three weeks sooner than we had initially thought.
Which is totally fine, it is their house, and they had been more than generous to us.
But I was a little cross with God about it.

I am not a huge fan of uncertainty and change (I suspect not many of us are), and would have liked something more secure.
However what God has been showing us, time and again, is that HE is our provider, not our friends or our circumstances, not P or even his wage, and that God is the one who will provide for us and who will mobilise his people. We will not go homeless.

So we moved out on Monday this week, and have had a house sitting holiday, at a friends’ home by the sea, which so far has been lovely.
On Saturday evening we move into our other close friends’ house back ‘home’, part house-sitting, part sharing with them, their two children and dog, for the month of August.
They are also being incredibly generous and accommodating of us and our needs. They have counted the cost and inconvenience of having us, but have decided to go ahead and look after us anyway. This should hopefully be a lot of fun, as we and our kids are all good friends, but it will also pose the natural challenges of merging two households and two (sometimes different) ways of living.

After that, only God knows, and he is not currently sharing.

We are on the council housing list and will have to wait out that process, because despite P’s reasonable wage, we simply cannot afford to live anywhere in the area at market prices. Even looking at small places without an adequate number of rooms, we are still priced out. The area where P works is wealthy and affluent on the whole, so prices for living are sky high, and as I am a full time mum of three aged four and under, (no fee paid for this!) we only have the one wage to live on.

  • God has never let us down yet. So he isn’t about to now.
  • God also never answers a prayer less well than any he has answered previously, so He is hardly likely to do a less good job of supplying our needs.


    And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
    Philippians 4:19

We have been saying that we are a #FamilyOnTour. Sometimes this helps.
My discovery during this season, and really the whole conclusion and point of this blog, is that trusting is hard when you don’t know what is coming next, but that if we did know what was coming – it wouldn’t require trust.

But we do know Who we are trusting in.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
Psalm 84:11

Our God is faithful, kind, loving and generous. His timing is perfect.
If he doesn’t share His plans with us at the point that we ask, it is because He knows we couldn’t handle it and/or wants us to see His goodness as he comes through for us -BEAUTIFULLY – yet again.
We have been learning to find our hope and our home in Him, not in our circumstances, and there is JOY to be had in the process, regardless of how tough things get.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7

And the biggest joy of all is knowing His PRESENCE – HE is close to us at all times if we would just learn to look, and lean into it.

I have been switching on my teaching podcasts and worship music more often, learning to steal moments of praise in my kitchen or bedroom, with or without the kids around my ankles. I have even begun to do this more quickly in response to a horrible and depressed day (though admittedly I still have growth to do in this area), rather than wallow in my sadness. And when I have, His Holy Spirit has lifted my head and my heart, swapped my misery for joy, and changed my perspective.

Likewise, we have been lifted up in prayer from so many different directions, that I have discovered a far deeper understanding of what it means to be part of the body of Christ and to be connected to a praying community. This too, has MASSIVELY helped and encouraged us during this season.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Romans 12:15

So I say, despite my uncertainty and trepidation about the future, despite the confusion and unrest this upheaval has caused our children, I will lean in to this process and I look forward to what God brings next. Praying that I finish well.

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have laid hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus.
Phillipians 3:14