Conversations with Chip: Zombies, Spaceships and Doing the Conga

“I had a funny dream last night, Mummy,” Chip said as we made our way to school.

“Oh yes?” I replied.

“Yes. I dreamed that giant zombies came and destroyed Sir William Walters School!”

“Oh dear!” I said and, knowing the way my daughter’s mind works, added, “Was it a nightmare?”

“Not really. I dreamt that I got married to Duncan… Ugh!” She paused, clearly momentarily stunned by the revoltingness of the notion.

“So the giant zombies came and destroyed the school and you got married to Duncan…?”

“Yes. Ugh!” She shuddered again. “But it was ok because we had magic rings and we used our wedding rings to kill the zombies and restore the school! Hooray!”

We smiled at each other. “Well that sounds like it could have been a bad dream but wasn’t in the end.” I said.

“No, it wasn’t a bad dream in the end.” She smiled.

“I had a funny dream too, last night.” I said. “I dreamt I went in a spaceship to Beijing. It was great!”

“Beijing? In China?”

“Yes. But it wasn’t really… and the night before I dreamt I was in a Catholic church lining up to get communion and we were all doing the conga.”

Chip laughed. “Doing the conga?”

“Yes! And in the dream it didn’t seem weird at all. It just seemed like we were all happy and loving God.”

“Well, then, I suppose if it was real God wouldn’t mind as long as everyone was happy.”

“No, Chip, I don’t suppose He would.”

******

N.B. I take no responsibility for the state of my head, or that of my child. We both know our minds work a teensy bit differently from the norm but, hey! That’s how God made us. For any and all comments or complaints please consult the Manufacturer. We’re happy enough; we have the Manufacturer’s Guarantee 😉

Reblog: A Well Ordered Exterior

Beautiful post. May we all desire less ‘me’ and more ‘You’, and may we all become more fully ourselves in the process. When I was a child these were the people I called ‘the shiny people’. I want to be one of the shiny people.

You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do you light a lamp, and put it under a measuring basket, but on a stand; and it shines to all who are in the house. Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16 (WEB)

Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Romans 12:2 (WEB)

Amen. Do read the post below from Ben over at Contemplative in the Mud. His quiet wisdom regularly floors me and lifts me up at the same time.

Contemplative in the Mud

Many of the effects of contemplation, like all Christian prayer, involve setting up storage in Heaven (Mt 6:20). They concern the Church and the world at large.

On the other hand, another of the effects of contemplation is to reorganize and reintegrate our whole person. The human being who prays becomes rooted more totally and absolutely in Christ, the Father, and the Holy Spirit, and these Three impart a new order and organization to everything about him or her.

That includes the body.

Contemplation is something that happens to persons who are, as we say today, embodied. Perhaps it would be more accurate to note that the body is in the soul (as Saint Hildegard says), but regardless of the way we phrase things, it is true that any reorganization, reintegrating, and reordering of our whole person will involve a reorganization, reintegrating, and reordering of our body

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Summer, Age 12

We waved off our middle child today,

All pink and rosy and full

Of bounce.

Or, not so much bounce, what with carrying a backpack

Cram-jammed full for a week of fun

In the sun and the dirt and the green.

And in

A week we’ll pick her up again,

Sunburned, dirt-scarred,

Still, no doubt, rosy

And smiling.

Seven nights under canvas,

Seven days filled end-to-end

And top to bottom

With climbing trees,

Building rafts and making friends.

This is the stuff lifetimes are made of

In the height of summer,

Aged 12.

Just a poem I wrote after Fluff went off to camp this morning. It’s not a great poem, but it has within it what I wanted to say and it’s a start on the road back to writing 🙂

Roots

[Jesus said] “…a farmer went out to sow. As he sowed, some seeds… fell on rocky ground, where they didn’t have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of earth. When the sun had risen, they were scorched. Because they had no root, they withered away.”

Matthew 13:3,5,6 (WEB)

As a parent, the most important thing I can give my child is roots. This is my God-given role. These roots consist of several things:

  • a loving, stable home
  • treating each child as an individual with unique, God-given talents**
  • encouragement and opportunity to make the most of their talents**
  • an experience of what it means to love both within and without our family
  • an experience of what it means to forgive and be forgiven
  • compassion for those who suffer, whether close at hand or far away
  • knowledge of the Word of God – a peg board on which to hang the ‘keys’ of all the above, providing each key with context, so that as the child grows they have ready-made tools, learned gently and softly through the years.

**As you’ll know if you’ve been reading for any length of time, we have a young man with special needs in our family. He may not ever live independently. He may never get a job. Even if he doesn’t, he is a Hand-crafted human being and has his own gifts and qualities that are worth celebrating. Jesus made sure He always esteemed the vulnerable. We should too.

Can you add any more to the list of ‘roots’? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

You’re Little for a Little While

 

The end of the summer term brings numerous school traditions. This morning was, once again, Prize Day at Chip’s primary school, and I was invited once more to the ceremony. As they read out the title of the award, followed by the names of the children, I reflected on whether my little Chip would be likely to win any particular one. I didn’t think she’d win ‘Exemplary Behaviour’ like her sister the year before. She’s a little too – er – bouncy for that, by which I mean she occasionally forgets to be considerate in her eagerness. I joked with her beforehand that she ought to win ‘Most Like Tigger’. She just grinned.

The teacher continued to announce the various awards and when it came to ‘Most Improved in Confidence’ I nearly snorted. Chip was definitely not going to be eligible for that one. Any more confidence and she’d be dangerous. Like I say, our very own little Tigger. So which award do you think she won? You might have an inkling. It was ‘Most Enthusiastic Learner’. Bless her, the teacher said that she approaches everything, even the subjects she doesn’t like so much, with enthusiasm and endless curiosity. I was proud.

Next week I’ve been invited to Fluff’s school where she also has won a prize. It’s good to know, as a parent, that you must be doing something right if your offspring continually achieve well. It’s good to know that, despite all the horribleness and ugliness and darkness that we’ve been through as a family, we’ve not only come through, but come through strong. Even this past year, while it has been the best year of my life so far (hallelujah!), has not been easy. EMDR was nothing if not gruelling and it had an impact on the whole family, not just me. My biggest lesson from EMDR, perhaps surprisingly, has been to learn that being a good mother is good enough. I don’t have to be the perfect parent to somehow make up for the past.

So I shall spend this lovely summer’s day enjoying being a Very Proud Mother, and giving thanks to the God of all things good.

The greatest in the Kingdom of heaven is the one who humbles himself and becomes like this child. And whoever welcomes in my name one such child as this, welcomes me.

Matt 18:4,5 (GNT)

‘Mummy, Sometimes I Feel Like Killing Myself’

Frank is away this week in London on business. It’s been a surreal time. I miss him terribly. It’s the longest we’ve ever been apart, but I’m making the most of the time with just me and the children. Also, it has proved the EMDR is working because I am no longer panicking and paranoid when I’m alone in the house. I am coping. Yay!

Anyway, yesterday evening, Fluff was at gymnastics. Chip had lost this privilege earlier in the week through bad behaviour so at 6 o’clock she and I were eating soup with Prince, all nice and calm, like.

“Mummy,” Prince said matter-of-factly while munching toast, “sometimes I feel like I want to kill myself.”

If your child said this to you at the dinner table, how would you react? 

I took it in my stride… we are used to brutal honesty in this house, and we are used to a young man who often says things that are completely unexpected, especially at the dinner table for some reason! He may have autism and learning disabilities, but he’s a very deep thinker (can’t think where he gets that from, can you?). So, despite the seemingly terrible tea time conversation-starter in front of his 9-year-old sister, I asked dear Prince what made him say that. I wasn’t shocked or horrified or… anything, really. I just wanted to understand what he was thinking and why.

“Because sometimes,” Prince replied, “the world just seems like such a horrible place full of horrible things and I don’t want to live in a world like that.”

Bless his beautiful black-and-white thinking. He doesn’t have the social skills to recognise why saying exactly what you think might be socially unacceptable. e.g. when we were in the supermarket and he said, horrified (and within earshot), “Mummy, why does that lady stink?!”

So we had a conversation about a world full of sin and sorrow, and a caring, loving God whose heart was breaking seeing all the misery. We talked about how He sent His Son, who willingly gave Himself to be killed in the most horrible way, to experience for Himself the very worst suffering, so that the bridge between us and God could be mended. Eventually I promised to get him a notebook so that he can write down all of his feelings and show them to his counsellor, whom he sees monthly. Then the conversation took a slightly different turn.

“I’m not sure I want to be a Christian, Mummy.” He said, “I don’t want to be like you and Daddy. It’s too hard. I just want to be able to pray sometimes.”

We talked about love and what happens when God is your friend and constant companion. We talked about how love is the only thing to make a difference in the world, how love is the only thing worth living for, and how God is love. These conversations are always challenging, because Prince’s vocabulary is limited and his comprehension is very literal. I have to keep my language very simple and straightforward, and this is quite difficult!

I thanked God for the opportunity to talk to my son about Jesus on his terms. Church and Sunday School are pitched way over Prince’s head, so he’s never going to learn from there, even if he does recognise that church people are generally kind and friendly to one another. We’ve had some conversations around the dinner table, but that one was a corker.

What about you? Have you ever had stunning questions from your offspring? How have you dealt with it?

Needed Time

I’m off to my EMDR session tomorrow, with the full intention of trying to ‘let go’. My friend is in labour with her first baby. My parents are flying back to Europe this week from America. The children are at school tomorrow. A friend mourns his wife.

In the Middle East, Christians are fleeing their homes, their livelihoods, running from everything they have ever known. Worse still, some of them stay, knowing the consequences but choosing to live as people of light in the land of darkness, God help them. God bless them. See how bright they blaze in the darkness?

Children the world over are abandoned, abused, neglected. Families starve in the basement while in the penthouse they party with champagne. One is born into poverty. One is born into privilege. The world groans under the weight of her own iniquities.

Now is the needed time. Lord. As much as ever, we need You. We need a Saviour. Help us to be thankful for ‘enough’ and when we have more than enough, help us to share. Help us to always be alert to the suffering of our brothers and sisters, and to help them in whatever small way we can. We know that with You, Lord, small becomes big, last becomes first, poor becomes rich. Thank you, Lord, for your Upside Down Kingdom. Help us in our weakness. We need You.

Amen

Reblog – Context swap: helping others to see how their attitude offends

Something Laura wrote in the post below niggled me and has stayed with me the past few days. It coincided with certain news articles, particularly surrounding the Rotherham abuse ‘scandal’ and the mention of former ‘national treasure’ convicted paedophile Rolf Harris. I finally put my finger on what it was:

When someone is convicted of a sexual offence, and then you casually or otherwise remark that you ‘don’t believe it’, you imply that victims are at fault. Even if this is not what you mean, if you insist that you can’t believe that a person could do such heinous acts, you disrespect – no, you dehumanise and degrade – victims and former victims like me. These crimes leave a legacy that lasts a lifetime. Anyone who would rather look the other way than look at the awful truth head on is, in essence, spitting in my face, and the faces of those like me. Spitting in the faces of those vulnerable young girls in Rotherham. They were children, for God’s sake. And that is the politest way of saying it.

We have an appallingly low conviction rate for sexual crime in the UK. An estimated 85% of sexual violence goes unreported. Of those that are reported to the police, only 7% result in conviction. That means that 1% of sexual crime results in conviction. I’d say it’s a pervert’s paradise, especially when police and social services look the other way (which is what happened to me, too).

Also, whenever anyone says that a rape or sexual assault victim ‘must be lying’, this is incredibly offensive. The reality is that very few people invent stories of sexual violence. On the contrary, ‘in March 2013, the Crown Prosecution Service published a survey confirming that false rape reports are ‘very rare’ and suggesting they could make up less than 1% of all reports.’ 

source Rape Crisis

Abusers abuse and rapists rape and molesters molest and all of them blame the victim. That’s how they get away with it! So many times I was made to feel as if everything I experienced, including sexual, emotional and physical abuse, were my fault, both overtly by the abuser, and less overtly by the fact that no one did anything (except my parents, who did all they could under the circumstances). The abuse tore our family to shreds. No bomb could have blown us apart any better. We are still picking up the pieces, all these years later. I thank God that we can. I thank God that it is indeed true what Paul writes in his letter to the church at Corinth (paraphrased rather movingly by Eugene Peterson):

…no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything [except abuse]
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies.

1 Corinthians 13:3-8

My thanks go to Laura, for prompting this. It’s been cathartic. Any thoughts from any of my readers?

Laura Droege's blog

Recently, controversial Christian preacher Douglas Wilson took issue with women who disagreed with him. (You can read a fuller version of the story on Tim Fall’s blog and several others.) He called them pushy broads, twinkies in tight tops, or waifs with manga eyes.

I’m not interested in discussing Wilson’s views; others do a much better job of pointing out what is wrong with his theology and attitudes. Nor do I feel the need to talk about what’s offensive about these particular terms; I’m assuming that my regular blog readers already agree that the terms are sexist and racist.

Here’s what interests me: If another person has a sexist attitude or uses a sexist term and doesn’t understand why it’s offensive, how do we help him (or her) understand?

(This isn’t limited to gender matters, of course. This applies to race and sexual orientation, too.)

For someone like…

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Reblog: Results of Almsgiving, Fasting, and Prayer

One thing that strikes me with many revered writers is that the English used in translation is quite complex. I had to look up ‘concupiscible’ and I have a good vocabulary. Yet I don’t think that the writers necessarily intended to be obscure. There are many people for whom the phrasing and vocabulary of such writers just goes too far. It’s beyond their intellectual understanding, but I don’t think that that in itself excludes them from understanding the spirituality, quite the contrary. It’s not as if our intellect can ever be anything but puny compared to God’s!

I had a go at paraphrasing what I thought St. Teresa of Avila was trying to say in a post yesterday, just a couple of paragraphs. I imagined explaining the ideas to my daughters, who are themselves bright girls with vocabulary beyond their years (11 and 9), but the biggest challenge would be to paraphrase it enough so that my son could grasp it, or something like it. He is 15 but has autism and receptive language disorder. His language skills are that of the average 7 year old, at best. He has taught me that good communication is in the ability of the *communicator* to explain a concept as simply as possible. Sometimes, of course, the writing has to be of a certain level, but many times writing is needlessly obscure.

I am glad God gave me my beautiful boy. He teaches me about Himself through my son. The boy has a way of seeing things in black and white, and with an inviolable innocence that is at once challenging and compelling.

Contemplative in the Mud

Almsgiving heals the irascible part of the soul; fasting extinguishes the concupiscible part; and prayer purifies the mind and prepares it for the contemplation of reality.
Saint Maximus the Confessor

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Inner Critic?

Excellent post from Pam Hogeweide this morning. Really hit the nail on the head for me!

As I said over on Pam’s blog, my inner critic points fingers at me. She is very worldly. She says I’m broken and useless. Didn’t have a normal childhood or teenage years so must be worthless. Illness and abusive marriage must have somehow made me ‘less than’. Inner critic (Inga Crittick?) says the world laughs at me because I didn’t get my A-levels (the exams one takes at 18), didn’t go to university like my peers, never had boyfriends, first-ever boyfriend became abusive first husband, stuck with him for 10 miserable years because I didn’t have the common sense to leave, haven’t had a job since I was 21…

She’s very worldly, isn’t she? God says I’m His precious child (hallelujah!!!) but sometimes I listen to her without even realising it. She’s so sneaky… She says that nothing I do is good enough unless I’m the best or unless I do it perfectly or unless it will ‘get me somewhere’. What kind of a screwed up b***h is she? I don’t like her! Why on earth do I listen to her?

 

Jeremiah’s inner critic said he wasn’t ‘enough’, but God said:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you [as My chosen instrument], and before you were born I separated and set you apart, consecrating you…”

Then said I, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am only a youth.”

But the Lord said to me, “Say not, ‘I am only a youth’; for you shall go to all to whom I shall send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak…”

from Jeremiah 1:5-7 (Amplified)

Mary, Jesus’ mother, thought she wasn’t ‘enough’, yet:

‘…the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee named Nazareth…

But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled and disturbed and confused at what he said and kept revolving in her mind what such a greeting might mean.

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found grace (free, spontaneous, absolute favor and loving-kindness) with God…”

from Luke 1:26-30 (Amplified)

And Jesus Himself said:

“…if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.

“We are intimately linked in this harvest work… Accepting a messenger of God is as good as being God’s messenger. Accepting someone’s help is as good as giving someone help. This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing.”

from Matthew 10:39-43 (The Message)

What does your inner critic say to you? When he or she tries to tell you you’re not good enough, remember Jeremiah, remember Mary, and remember Jesus’ own words: start small. You’re always good enough because He made you. God doesn’t make mistakes. You won’t lose out on a thing. 😀