I have always had a strong relationship with books.
When I was a child, I lived within the pages of whatever well-written, character-driven plot was available to me. Ann M Martin, Francine Pascal, R.L Stine, Lucy Maud Montgomery and Lois Lowry were expert fabricators of children's fiction, according to my particular tastes between the ages of 10 and 13, but I would stick my nose into any book with an appealing character and a witty writing style.
As a teenager, I moved on to a few authors a shade darker than those of my childhood: Dean Koontz and Christopher Pike, and still R.L Stine, but now the young adult fiction rather than the Goosebumps series I had loved so much as a kid.
Later came my baptism into the world of contemporary Christian Fiction with Francine Rivers and Frank Peretti at the forefront: I loved that the themes, while often gritty or thrilling, maintained a sense of hope: of good triumphing over evil: a theme often missing from the books of my youth.
Realising as I sit here, that authentic living is found when we quit dividing ourselves - separating our aspects into those that are shameful, angry, weak from those we consider good: our patience, our love and selflessness.
Only one thing is large enough to embrace both. Grace.
For years I have lived in shame of those parts of me that don't make the grade. The impatient attitude that sneaks out and bites those closest to me. The anger that lurks in the deep parts. The desire to pull away from that which is truly good to that which tastes good in the moment. It is the hidden place where guilt lives - all that we should be, but are not. All that we shouldn't be, yet still, exists.
It is raining outside, the world being washed, and this is our seventy-eleventh day indoors. I've spat the dummy. Told my daughter that I refuse to wash her jacket; one that I have washed twice already but never seen her wear.
Lightening crashes. The jacket falls to the floor.
I am in the middle of a mundane task; one that has been unobtrusively awaiting my attention for the past four years; I am cleaning the desktop of my laptop! As I drag and drop and sort and organise files into the simplest of methods (a folder created for each year), I am amazed at all the writing I have done over the years; most of which has not seen light of day or blog.
As I look back, I’m quite surprised that writing which, at the time, I thought was dull, repetitive, uninteresting and has-been, now seems to me to be sharp, interesting, emotive, and full of potential.
What has changed?
Six years ago, I started studying at university as a mature age student and mother of two children; one primary aged and one pre-school. My major was writing and boy did I learn. I learned to compare, critique and admire writers past and present and I didn’t escape my own critical eye. Like a wine connoisseur, one who we might be tempted to believe is turning his nose at what he considers to be an...
Do you remember a time when you just existed before the Lord? Maybe it is a place that you remember as a child; some garden or quiet corner of the world; as the adults ‘adulted’ inside: doing their grown-uppy things: drinking tea and laughing about matters that made no sense to you. Did you play with siblings? Make garden swings or bike jumps? Did you swim or skate or read or play make believe with your dolls and fairies?
For me, it was a My Child doll that I think of when I remember ‘just existing’. For those of you old enough to remember My Child’s were the other doll on the market (it was the Cabbage Patch dolls who everyone wanted). But I loved my My Child doll. She had long strawberry blond hair, a white shirt with tiny red cherries on it, bright red shoes and a perfect button nose.
I would brush her hair and change her outfits. I remember her sister, Bridie, a plastic faced blonde doll whose head curled into the nape of your neck at th...
The bird doesn’t sing for the sake of the listener.
He sings, because the song is in his DNA and he has to do it, in as much as he needs to breathe.
He may sing a little note that is off, or his whole song may not be to your liking.
Perhaps he sings to a land that is not his own, and in that, his song is foreign.
This post is not for all of you. I encourage you, as you read, take what is good. Spit the bones, and forgive the humanity of it all, for I will never cease to be human, neither will you, and God does not consider it offensive to use us despite this small matter.
For so long, I’ve feared that the ‘seed’ I sow might receive a different reading than what I’ve intended it to. Eyes of the Spirit are vital so that the reader will be made wise to reject any error or misunderstanding from my human-hood inflected by or projected into these words. And that is the reader’s responsibility.
My responsibility is to write as faithfully to what I hear...
The Spirit is deep today. I sense Him as the deep blue waters of my dream so long ago. The glacial depths of unknown magnitude; limitless, bottomless, unsearchable. I plummet in, my clothes thin around me; water cold and sharp like lemonade on a summer day. The water takes my weight, holds it, draws me down deeper still wrapping around me like a cloak; I feel my nothingness.
On days like today I am reminded that the best laid plans of mice and men mean so little when it comes to accessing the deep blue life Christ promised us. Words pour out of me like a great rushing waterfall, heart and all; the beat of my thoughts marking my page. I think of my reader, my audience, because it is hard not to think as a ‘writer’; of my ‘seen-ness’. I’ve learned to hate writing because I don’t want to pour the insides out for the spectacle of men; for the critic or worse still, the untouched. I’d almost rather be hated than to have no impact at all. Perhaps the biggest fear is of being…nothing.
When I was a young girl, I remember standing in PE class next to my best friend. I just so happened to notice that her bare feet were white and slim and elegant and as I moved my eyes to my own feet, I was suddenly aware that mine were not. They were shorter, more square and less pale. At seven years old, I shifted my position to try and conceal the feet that I now thought were less than what they ought to be.
Now that I’m older, I don’t think too much about my feet. They do their job quite well, getting me from A to B. I have two of them, each with five toes and sometimes I like to put nail polish on them. I have dear friends who are anticipating with eagerness the day that they will walk on their two feet and that helps to bring perspective to my Grade One woes of not having a slim-enough foot.
I do however find that escaping the comparison trap is more challenging than it seems, even as an adult; even ‘knowing better’ than I did as a child. Comparison is not usually out and out with m...
Still, I sit. My socks are resting on my shoes, removed; wet from the fields I just walked through. I hear wind blowing through the grove of silver birches above me. Their trunks are tall and straight; their leaves rustle golden and birds are singing. Not just the sweet morning whistles of Khancoban, but a sole cranky sounding rumbling from a bird I cannot see.
Behind me the town is awake; quietly going about its business. I expect drivers-by to look at me and wonder who this rugged up stranger is, walking the outskirts of town with coffee in hand, stopping every few meters to take a photo of a scarlet leaf or a swooping hill. Instead, they continue about their day: there are locals to be fed; travelers' cars to be filled with petrol; many more important things to do than to trouble themselves with the affairs of a tourist. The snowy hydro is just up Alpine Way; I’ve never known much of these matters other than that certain seasons double the towns population of 200 when workers come...
When I wake this morning, my bed is warm and the sky outside is light. No sun, but comfortably bright and there is the promise of warm days ahead. I hear my children in another room. My husband is working from home today and he is tickling our son. Laughter fills the air; the stomping of small feet as they attempt to escape the all-consuming Tickle Monster that is my husband.
All is well. Our home is small, warm and safe.
As my eyes open the thoughts begin to swarm; like mosquitoes; a buzz of worry here, a sting of fear there.
The thoughts aren't even coherent; no direct line of worry to attack; just a buzz of general anxiety. If I am too explore the thoughts, I find myself in a marsh; some swampy wasteland with no way up or down or ahead or through. Just the bombarding of seemingly unconnected thoughts; random scatterings connected by one strong impression; the sense of threat. The feeling that I am unsafe in this world.
I’m driving home on a cool Autumn morning, having dropped my children off for their day at school. I’m trying to focus. Trying to sort out the best way to organise my day. The tasks are many; although perhaps not as many as they seem to be. My husband made an honest observation a few weeks ago that struck some quiet place within me; ‘I’ve noticed, Rach, that the things you have to do take up more mental real estate than they need to.’
Another way of saying, ‘You stress too much.’
It’s true, I admit it.
But how can I not? There are just so many things to be done; so many glaring, obvious demands (the 2000 plus emails in my inbox; an assortment of spam and necessary flux, intermingled for my convenience, the dirty dishes and work calls to be made, the children’s bedrooms which seem to be perpetually in a state of disarray no matter how much time I put into them; truly the black hole of our existence, where plates and bobby pins, pens and socks are swallowed in the abominable pit that is my...