Truly Known

I arrived at the grounds before the boy. He and his friends were walking together from school and I stood on the far side of the grass breathing in the crisp air of autumn, soaking in its rich hues.

A gravel path lead them to the corner – boys in uniform of similar size and looks. With the sun and the distance I wasn’t sure I’d be confident when he emerged on this common pathway.

And then I saw him… smaller than my little finger in the distance and I knew it was him. Absolutely knew it, the kind of knowing that comes from 10 years of watching in the closest spaces to the furthest distance eyes can reach.

An eye trained from years of watching rather than looking.

The stride, gesture of arm, turn of body, incline of head – so deeply rooted in my knowing that I know them without realising I do.

beachboys4

In that moment I heard that whisper, so clear it could have been a shout, this is the knowing I mean when I talk about the hairs of your head.

This is the knowing that says, before a word is on your tongue I know it completely.

Not a knowing of facts for shows of intelligence or power. A knowing that comes from watching a person you love so much that you drink them in, all of them. A knowing that goes beyond a general description to a knowledge of a person you carry in your bones, in your ears, eyes, taste, nose, touch.

Knowing that begins to demonstrate a measure of how much you love a person.

Not knowledge to prove your love, like favourite flowers or songs. Knowledge that is simply there because you couldn’t not have it. Because you have noticed, you have loved, you have seen – closer than skin and across the assembly hall into a squinted distance.

Let us be reminded today that we are known.

sambeach

Truly known – not as a show of omnipotence or omniscience but knowledge that comes from being so dearly loved that we are instantly and totally recognised – every part known, every part loved, precious up close and far away.

As Paul put it, ‘dearly loved.’

I watched this boy across the field as he grew large, he unaware of my presence, my joyful, heart-swell at the all familiar shape of him. I recognised him, loved him and delighted in the thought of him looking up and seeing me watching him. I held my breath for that moment when our eyes saw each other and he knew I was there.

I would be there before he realised it, and I would continue to watch after he turned to play again.

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I would be knowing him whether he was aware of it or not.

Do you remember dear heart that you are known? Not a flashy impressive I can tell you facts and surprise you knowing, a knowing that comes from Someone who has watched, noticed, seen you… always.

The Tiring Work of Restoration

Over five years ago the city where we live was taken beyond broken with earthquakes, one especially.

Recently I was driving down a road that is still in need of repair and I felt myself sighing inwardly, anticipating the months of cones and detours and single lanes and 30km p/hr signage. In that moment I said to myself, ‘I wish they’d just leave off the repairs and let us drive on it bumpy.’ Despite the innate joy I get driving down a perfectly smooth and sealed road (and there are some) I just couldn’t hold onto the vision for that end.

All I could see were the difficulties in the process of getting there.

cones1

At that moment I knew this was such a picture of God’s restoration work in my life too. Restoration work isn’t pretty. It’s time consuming, it derails and detours pathways you driven on for a long time. It forces you to negotiate new ways of getting to familiar places.

Restoration involves acknowledging the fact that small surface issues actually point to much deeper problems underneath. The odd pothole that sends me careening off into an angry outburst is evidence of something weak and failing beneath the surface.

Maybe I can drive carefully and avoid exposing the bumps on the road but is that really what I want to be long term? A busted up just functioning, ‘drive carefully around’ person? Even though I long for a perfect road I don’t long for the work to get it done.

I think this work needs time, it needs openness, it needs acknowledging that I might need to rethink how I’m travelling. It will need grace from the people who love me and I will need to trust a great deal in the Master of restoration.

There’s a beautiful quote I often come back to that says, ‘Grace loves us as it finds us, but it doesn’t leave us there.’

2 Corinthians 3 describes it this way,

They suddenly recognise that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognised as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.

Maybe there are back roads, or main roads, or even highways in your life today that need the tiring work of restoration begun on them.

Perhaps there are roads that have been cleared and closed ready for work to begin, but it’s been easier to turn away and drive on different places than deal with the tough and painful process of the work.

Maybe it feels like you’ve been on road cones and detours for ever and you just need to hear the words – not long now, nearly there.

Wherever you are right now may you have courage to bear the pain, strength to persevere, Hope and Trust that the future will be worth the current delays.

May you have all the grace you need today.

 

Happy Mother’s Day

Darling mamas today I am sending you love and thanks for the role you have in the lives of children.

Sam & Wil 3

For the unseen longings,

for the silent tears,

for the midnight wakings,

for the joys and wonders of motherhood.

May we each of us receive grace for the journey – a deep reassurance that there are many types of wonderful mothers.

This is my prayer for you today.

For more of my mother’s day musings this is something I wrote for Esther & Friends recently. (This is for all women, not just mamas x).

All the love

xxx

 

You Can Buy a Hard Copy of My Book

Holla,

Recently I decided to take the plunge and get an ISBN and do a physical print run of my book. Because the book is for children and families it just makes so much more sense for it to be a proper physical book (in my mind).

**For those bookish types, in NZ you can get an ISBN number without cost but you have to provide the national library with 2 copies of your book – one for the archives and one for loaning. Which I love the idea of.

This is of course a bit of a risk – when you decide to publish a book yourself you pay all the cost of the book at the front end with no guarantees that you will break even at the other end. Writing this book was never a money-making venture of me (tbh, most authors, whatever route they are published don’t make a lot from it), but I would love to break even.

example of a page – there are 24 like this

I decided to get my book published locally – about 5 minutes down the road. I know it would have been much cheaper for me to get it done off shore but, as much as I can, its nice to support local people in local jobs and also the thought of trying to do this kind of thing by distance does not excite me.

I also decided to get my book published on the very best paper I could get – 100% recycled, at the highest of international standards and bleach and chlorine free. This felt like the right thing to do too – even though it made it a little bit more expensive for me.

So now 100 copies of my little Advent book are printed! Which feels like a big number to sell but hopefully kind of realistic.

Of course I’m aware we’re not even at June yet, but if you like to get things like this sorted early (or you need a whole year to get through the activities – which I completely understand!) you can get yours now.

You can read more about my book here
and you can also read reviews of the book here

Because I want to live hands open I would like to give away the first copy of this book (I can sign it if you like). I am happy to post this anywhere in the world. If you’d like to win a copy just comment here, on my other blog http://createhopeinspire.blogspot.com or on my facebook writer’s(!) page.

If you would like to buy a copy of my book, (yay!), it is $25 plus p+p. If you live in Christchurch I may well be able to drop you off your copy – or we could have a coffee??!

In NZ I can post this out in an A4 prepaid envelope so the total cost will be $27.90. At this stage copies can only be purchased from me. Because the mark up is so low it is unlikely at the moment that it will be sold through shops but I’ll let you know if that changes at all.

If you live somewhere else and want to purchase a copy/copies please let me know and I will calculate postage and let you know.

You can still buy the kindle copy via amazon which will only set you back about the cost of a coffee if you still want one but your budget won’t stretch to a hard copy.

I think that’s all for now. So….um…. you want to buy a copy of my book?

Bright Hope for Tomorrow

When all the worst stuff happens, and we are reminded that the rains do fall on all, we stand at a cross-road of decision.

Do we grieve without Hope or do we grieve as those whose Hope is sure?

Because we do grieve, we must grieve. Being a Christian doesn’t mean we live immune to the sorrows and sadnesses of the world. It shouldn’t mean that a platitude will clear away our grief. Our faith must sit with despair as much as it sits with rejoicing.

Jesus was described as someone familiar with suffering and sorrow. He stood at the tomb of a dear friend and wept.

As we acknowledge pain and disappointment, when prayers slip into a chasm of silence, we also have the opportunity to lean into Hope. To lean into the promise we are not alone and to remember again and again the promise that tells us we are never alone.

hope for tomorrow

I’ve been playing these old words over and over in my heart of late:

strength for today and bright Hope for tomorrow

Wherever you find yourself today may you have the strength of being able to do all things (big, small, mundane, magnificent, noticed and overlooked) through Christ. The One who strengthens you, the One who loves you and who even now lives to intercede for you.

May you have the ability today to rest in the love of the One who hovers over you, who never despises a broken heart.

May you find in today strength, and bright Hope for tomorrow. Beloved ones you are noticed, you are cared for, you are held and you are accompanied in your grief.

Be blessed, be held, be Hopeful.

In a desert land he found him,
    in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
    he guarded him as the apple of his eye,
like an eagle that stirs up its nest
    and hovers over its young,
that spreads its wings to catch them
    and carries them aloft.

Deuteronomy 23:10-11

Friday Eleven – for Peace

Friday Blessing: For Peace

When sorrows come like waves on the shore and when your world is groaning under the weight of despair,

May Peace whisper quiet from the shadows and keep company with your heart in every beat.

When justice seems delayed and fairness denied,

May Peace give strength to your resolve to speak truth with love and courage.

When all feels unattainable and fear looms large on your horizons,

May the Prince of Peace gather you in His arms and reassure you the story is not finished and His Presence will be with you – always.

eleven peace

Thinking of you wherever you find yourself today. May the Peace of God be a fortress around your heart and keep you anchored in whatever storms may come your way.

All the love

Miriam x

Setting Our Hearts

From time to time I read something that immediately undoes me – usually I recognise it is because it has voiced some deep longing in my heart, or some truth I cannot put words to myself.

Today I read again this beautiful quote of Reepicheep (the talking mouse):

“My own plans are made. While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Treader. When she fails me, I paddle east in my coracle. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws. And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan’s country, or shot over the edge of the world into some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

 

It made me cry, again!

Sometimes it seems as though are plans aren’t getting us somewhere fast enough. We feel like we don’t know the way. We feel, worse still, that maybe we have missed the way.

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Today maybe it’s time just to reassure your own heart that you will continue with all your heart in the direction your heart desires. And, if your boat sinks you will continue swimming and if all else fails you will sink with your nose to the sunrise.

Hope for you today dear heart.

Hope and courage.

Hope and courage and perseverance.

The story is not yet finished.

x

Good Friday

Today we celebrated Good Friday at church. This is one of the reflections I wrote for that service. The painting was done by a team of beautiful and clever people I get to journey with.

Thinking of you today – may you find life and hope in grief and despair.

easter crosses

While the drama of the crucifixion plays out in an intensely physical and earthly place we must lift our gaze to contemplate the great spiritual drama in play.

The lashings, jeerings and mocking are the least of what Jesus is enduring. At this time sin, sickness, defeat, despair, depression, oppression and brokenness is being transferred to Jesus, the final atoning sacrifice.

In the Old Testament we see sin atoned for by the priest laying his hands on the person and the animal brought for sacrifice – the sin passes from the sinner to the animal, often a lamb. On the cross we see Jesus, our great high priest, the mediator of a new covenant, take up all sin.

What once had to be done again and again to make atonement for sin is achieved once for all, on a wooden cross on a hill shaped like a skull.

None of the bystanders could begin to perceive the exchange at this moment – the chief priests as they justified their win, the disciples as they feared and agonised, the women as they openly grieved the one they loved.

How often do we walk past the cross without stopping to meditate on the truly cosmic moment when the Trinity was torn in two, where the final victory was achieved, where the words ‘It is Finished’ truly meant it is finished.

And then the curtain tore.

A huge and heavy embroidered curtain, reported to be up to 4 inches thick was torn from top to bottom – from God to man – the supreme gift, a way into the holy of holies.

What was once a dividing place between the holy and the unholy instantly accessible to all.

God’s holy presence no less holy, no less awe-some, no less powerful but because of Jesus we are now made holy and worthy to enter.

His blood the sacrifice we could not make. His broken body taking away our brokenness, our shame exchange for his garment of righteousness.

Jesus has defeated death itself – not for his disciples, not for Jews, not for good men but for all – for strangers, for the lost, for the sick, for gentiles and women, for children and for all of creation – right out to the edges of the cosmos.

This act of Jesus, conceived by God as the ultimate rescue mission, initiated in heaven, is for all of the created order.

In this divine exchange the whole of creation’s brokenness is taken up into Jesus and finds in him the answer and the cure.

May you know the Presence of God today and may your heart leap at the welcome into the Holy place.