Friday, November 25, 2011

Of airports, forgiveness and frenetic final weeks

God’s glory in gorgeous movie stars, international arrivals and Murray

I love Hugh Grant. Mostly because he’s lucky enough to look like my husband, but also because he makes me laugh and because he has a way of inspiring the world to fall in love over and over. The Richard Curtis film Love Actually (2003) starts off with a Hugh Grant voiceover. His character, David, says that when he gets depressed over the state of the world he thinks about Heathrow’s arrivals terminal, and the real, uncomplicated love shown as families and friends welcome their arriving loved ones. The film’s story is told in the crazy festive weeks leading up to Christmas (i.e. now).

I had a Love-Actually-frozen-forever moment on Sunday afternoon.

I was in Zimbabwe over the weekend, for a wedding, and I walked through the doors of international arrivals at OR Tambo at 17h00 on Sunday. In the middle of the massive, slick, bring-on-the-World-Cup arrivals arena there stands a gigantic Christmas tree festooned with enormous balls and twinkling lights. The place was teeming – kids, old folks, people alone, jumbles of family, bored people milling around with signs welcoming people they didn’t know. And there was Murray, Cameron and Scott. Murray told Cam I was through the doors and he ran, trusting and unquestioning, in my general direction long before he could see me. I ended up on my knees, smothered in hugs and wet kisses and filth from whatever Scott had been crawling through. I suspect we created quite a scene, but I really didn’t care. It was magical.

Needless to say, Murray and the boys had an absolute blast while I was gone, doing hardcore guy activities like making pizza, swimming at Granny, shopping for light bulbs and fixing stuff. An excellent husband, who can find? For his worth is far above jewels…! (Proverbs 31 – sort of) J

God’s glory in people who are kind and patient

I’ve also seen God’s glory in the amazing team of people that I work with at St Alban’s College. Schools are stressful places at this time of year, but daily I see my friends and colleagues forgoing their time and their egos to put others first or get the job done. I’ve seen what a forgiving generation of people I work with. I had both my boys tearing around the staffroom yesterday afternoon while I loaded exam marks et al. And yet it seemed they were a blessing to people, not a nuisance.

God’s glory in diverse cultures, fusion food and giving up an evening to bless people with kids

Murray and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary on Wednesday night (a couple weeks early, for want of another gap in the diary!) at a fantastic Moroccan restaurant that took us back to our newly wed backpacking days in Chefchaouen. Reynard and Samantha ate takeaways on our couch so that the boys could sleep in their own beds.

God’s glory in milestones and celebrations

Scotty claps when he sees dogs on the TV, or when Barney finishes a song. He also tries to stare me down and seduce me with his blue eyes and raised eyebrows while a hand is poised above an illegal object of his desire. This morning he pointed at the cow on my coffee mug and said something that was most certainly, ‘What’s this?’ And then he mooed.

It’s November and people are tired, and yet we seem to be hardwired to find shreds of energy and enthusiasm to mark the passing of another year and to celebrate the advent of Christmas and God’s unspeakable gift of life.

‘Hope springs eternal in the human breast. Man never is, but always to be blest.’ – Alexander Pope, Essay on Man, 1732

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Of fish fingers, planetary orbits and original sin

Here are just some of the questions Cam asked yesterday from supper to bath time (approximately 40 minutes):

Why are we having fish fingers?
Why do we die?
Why do we get very old?
Why do we sin?
Why did Adam and Eve eat the fruit?
Why did the snake trick them?
Why is it cold on Pluto?
When are you going to die?
Why is Pluto far away from the sun?
Why do you love me?
What didn’t Jesus make?
Why do we get sad?
Why aren’t baked beans nice?

Here are some of the questions I asked yesterday:

Why do people say they are willing to accommodate a visually impaired child, but then leave him standing confused amidst a dozen synchronously dancing toddlers because no one has shown him the routine?
Why do I make the mistake of trusting that people understand Cam’s disability?
How do I not succumb to blinding (ha ha) fury when things like this happen?
How will we teach Cam about the beautiful, painful, powerful paradox that God is taking glory from all this?

‘The LORD our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions.’ – Deuteronomy 29:29

Sunday, November 13, 2011

God’s glory amidst report comments

I’ve been quiet in the blogosphere this past week, mostly because I’ve been sweltering under exams to mark, comments to write and reports to edit – intermittently and happily cooling off at various end-year functions et al.

So, despite my efforts to write something poignant or poetic, my mind is defaulting to report-comment mode. If Scott was in one of my classes…:

I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching Scott this year. I have been pleased to note that his health has improved significantly over the past few weeks, and he is seldom without a smile. I really appreciate his unabashed affection and his politeness – he is innately cheerful, quick to cuddle and eager to say ‘Ta’ when requesting assistance. He has worked hard at his mobility this term, and I am thrilled that he is going into the final exams walking up to seven steps at a time. His oral confidence has also developed, and while he is still not the most vociferous member of the class, he is slowly increasing his vocabulary, even employing sophisticated onomatopoeia in some of his verbal presentations (e.g. ‘Moo’). Scott is also proving to be adept at ball skills, rolling, throwing and stopping balls while laughing hysterically. He loves the outdoors, and his Dad. I wish him every success in 2012.

A handful of things to be grateful for this week:

1.       Thunder, rain-heralding breezes and mosquito repellent
2.       Cam’s insatiable interest in everything
3.       When disciplining Cam and Scott: the relief of knowing God has made a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13), and pointing them to it
4.       ‘You call out the stars and they shine for you… How great you are, Lord…’ – Aiden Whitaker
5.       ‘Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness…’ – Psalm 146: 7

Sunday, November 6, 2011

An ordinary week full of things

Earlier in the week I took Lola and the boys for a run on the fields at St Alban’s. On the way home in the car, Lola, who is not given to fresh breath, was panting and slobbering most enthusiastically.

Cam: ‘I can smell something. What’s that I smell?’
Me: ‘Um… I think it’s probably Lola?’
Cam: ‘No. I think it’s someone selling toast and onions.’

Other noteworthy Cameron comments and questions from the week:

‘Mom, why did you live a day in the world today?’

‘Do you want to sip the sky? I’m going to mix in delicious sun and clouds.’

‘Mom, I’m so proud of Scott for eating all his gem squash. He’s such a big boy.’ (This in the hope that I wouldn’t notice the fact that he hadn’t eaten his… J)

Scott does indeed love gem squash. He is also walking four steps at a time and saying eleven words and climbing up and down stairs and out of his bed and devising plans to reach whatever we try to put out of reach. (The other day I came into the kitchen and found him sitting on the microwave.) On Friday he also broke Cam’s glasses and nearly won this morning’s wrestling match on our bed.

We were supposed to go camping this weekend, but due to the frenetic nature of these last weeks of the year and various mitigating factors, we settled instead for a picnic at the Botanical Gardens and putting up the Christmas tree. (Yes, it’s early, but it’s not just me anymore who wants the tree up in November. Cam begged us. The promise of Saturday and Christmas lights was our most powerful vegetable-eating and toy-tidying-up bargaining tool all week.) I realised again that I am living in a house full of boys when this morning I found on the tree, amidst the glistening balls and snowflakes, a frisbee and a rubber snake. Sigh.

This evening before the boys went to bed I was busy with something or other and Cam said, ‘Mom, can you come and sit with me on the couch a bit?’ It was one of those moments when the Holy Spirit said Go NOW. Don’t say, ‘I’m just quickly finishing this…’ So I dropped what I was doing immediately and went to sit with him. He climbed on my lap and hugged me hard and said, ‘I just love you Mom!’ I was very glad I had chosen the couch over the to-do list. I’ll do that more.

Scott, on the other hand, is into big wet splendid smooches at the moment and I just love it. It’s no wonder that the germs continue to do the rounds in this house of ours, and (at least) one of us is always sick. It’s not even worth mentioning. What is worth mentioning is that I have been reading Proverbs 3 this week, and God has renewed my hope and peace. What is also worth mentioning is that Cam informed us on Wednesday morning that he didn’t want to go to school because, ‘I feel a bit green. I’m not green all over. Just a little bit green.’ J

‘You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly. You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the Lord is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.’ – Proverbs 3:24-26
Cam the noble and intrepid explorer, conquering lands from atop his bunk bed...
Ha! They reckoned putting the nappy bin on the book shelf would stop me! So naive...