Posts Tagged 'parenting'


“I used to want to plant bombs at the last night of the proms.
But, now you’ll find me with the baby in the bathroom
With that big shell, listening for the sound of the sea.
The baby and me”.

From “Brickbat” by Billy Bragg.


Douglas Coupland entitled his 2001 novel, “All Families Are Psychotic”.  I think the title was memorable and connected with many of us.  It put a smirk on our faces.  It became a cult classic.

The thing is that we all belong to families.  They may be conventional nuclear families or a whole myriad of other set-ups.  You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.

I find it easy to think of church community as a family.  That has been my very real experience in the darkest hours of life or the most trying times.  My four best friends are like brothers to me.  I refer to them all as “bro” regularly.  Would we be as close if we didn’t share a common faith that bonds us that way?  Would my marriage be the way it is if I stopped reminding myself that I’ve to love my wife in the same way that Christ loves the church?  I think that means I’d be prepared to die for her.  That thought often puts tidying up after myself or other menial tasks in proper perspective…

Yesterday, however, Karl said something that really got me thinking.  I know many people find it hard to relate to the concept of God as a “Loving Heavenly Father”, because their own perceptions have been tarnished by the way their own Father’s are or have been.  Thankfully, that has not been my own experience.  That said, if our own experience of our earthly Father is the lense through which we see our Heavenly Father, then that’s a really big deal.

The thing that struck me right between the eyes is that the way in which my children will perceive the notion of Father God will be influenced hugely by how they perceive me.  Now, that’s a REALLY BIG deal!  I think fondly of happy, sun-speckled, cozy, snap shots of intimate moments with my little family unit, but I also recoil in the thoughts of those times when I’m at my whit’s end, hassled, grumpy and determined to get onto the next thing…

It’s good to have another hook to pull my attitude back into line…


Easter @ The 7-11

“Every holiday somehow I find myself down at the 7-11.

At Halloween we go to hell

and at Easter we go to heaven”.

From “Easter @ The 7-11” by Gena Rowlands Band.


Yesterday was Halloween.  It’s funny each year to watch how differently my daughter reacts to the supermarket’s seasonal celebrations – Easter; Halloween; Christmas…

There is something evocative about pumpkins.  They remind me of childhood and, yet, there is something mysterious or deeper or darker or more sinister.  Being a parent has a strange tension of wanting to offer your child freedom, but wanting to also offer restraint or protection. 

Where the mind wanders, the feet sometimes follow… 


Is that how the Father also feels about me as he watches me wander from the path at times or be enticed by things that seem innocent enough but which are not helpful for me?

Hope Is Important


“Hope Is Important” was the title of an album Idlewild released early in their career. I love that phrase.  I love the word hope and all that it means, so much so that we gave our daughter the middle name Hope.  Whilst I call her by her first name most of the time, if I ever write her name down I tend to include the middle name too because I love the way it sounds and what it reminds me of. 

Four years after she was born, my best man’s wife gave birth to their first child.  They also gave her the middle name Hope.  There’s something beautiful in that as the next generation grow up we are trying as parents to instill truth and a sense of value – to speak faith, hope and love into their lives.

Yesterday, we got a bombshell dropped into our lives.  My mother in law has discovered she has skin cancer.  She still awaits a formal MRI scan, so we have no real idea of the seriousness or otherwise of the situation.  The waiting is horrible and the uncertainty can make our minds wander. Cancer is such an awful word and one you just never want to hear mentioned about someone close to you.  That said I have two friends who have both been diagnosed with it in the past.  In both cases the doctors caught it early and they live perfectly normal lives now. 

In the storms of life, hope is important.

Everyday People

“Sometimes I’m right and I can be wrong.
My own beliefs are in my song.
The butcher, the banker, the drummer and then
Makes no difference what group I’m in.
I am everyday people, yeah yeah”

From “Everyday People” by Sly and The Family Stone.


 Things I have loved about this weekend:

a)  My sister in law and her boyfriend have been staying with us.  They are family and it really feels like that to me.  I really enjoy their company.  Conversation is meaningful, inquisitive and real.  Our daughter gets really excited about seeing them (so much so she woke up at 1am on Friday night/Saturday morning asking if she could go upstairs and wake our guests up by tickling their toes)

b)  The five of us went out for dinner last night.  Good conversation, great food and a nice atmosphere make for a near pefect evening.

c)  Someone from the small group who meet weekly in our home comes round for breakfast on Sunday mornings.  I love that routine.  It means we are organised and not hassled.  She arrived this morning and made herself right at home with our visitors.  It felt like our extended families were all integrating.

d)  I remember driving to church some years ago and listening to a song by Delirious? that had the lyrics, “We’re going to the house of God.  We’re going to the house of God.  We’re going to the house of God.  Are you coming?  You couldn’t keep me away”.  I longed to feel that way, because my own experience at that time was a million miles removed from that.  Now, you really couldn’t keep me away…I don’t feel the slightest bit bummed that I missed a rare day’s decent snowboarding at Glenshee.

e)  Church was great.  It was an all inclusive service.  We thought about what it means to bring good news to folks around us.  I see weekly our daughter making steps forward in her discovery of faith.  I am learning what it is to have a childlike faith myself.  I am increasingly actually wanting friends and family to find what it is that our faith is really about.  Church on Sundays facilitates that to an extent and I wouldn’t feel atall awkward about inviting friends there, because I know they would be welcomed and have their misconceptions or preconceptions challenged.  Our motto is: relevant, intimate, passionate.  I think that’s what we are increasingly becoming.  A group of everyday people trying to live out our faith in our everyday lives.

f)  I love the fact that we have such a good friendship with our next-door neighbours.  I love the evenings we spend from time to time in one anothers’ houses over food and wine, chatting and laughing well into the wee hours of the morning.  I love the fact that some of the small group who meet in our home weekly are getting to know them too.  I love that they are forever reconstructing camper vans and mountain bikes in our shared driveway.  It makes our home seem cooler somehow.

g) I love it that someone from our small group joined us for lunch today too.  It’s great that our conversation so naturally turns to the things that we really consider important.  There is a natural transparency to conversation that is completely opposite from a guilt led sense of duty to share the gospel.  Hopefully, others just see something of the love we have for one another and the direction and drive our faith gives us.  Hopefully that is good news.

h)  I love the fact that I’m typing this drinking green tea from my favourite Spiderman mug watching a fresh blanket of snow envelop our back garden by the glow of our security light.

i)  Whilst we often use buzzwords like “community”, I love the fact that church really feels like that to me.  I cherish each individual who makes up our small group.  I eagerly await the time we spend together.  I love the friends I have there and the real sense of belonging and the vision for the future.  I love the regular texts, blog posts and emails and calls that mean church community is an everyday thing and not just contained to sundays.  I am excited as our little group begins to explore some fairly ambitious dreams for what we might do in six weeks time as we abandon small group gatherings and actually try to “do something” to bring joy to the world and proclaim good news.  Watch this space…

j) I actually love the fact that music can be a really helpful vehicle in church.  I am losing my inhibitions and have found myself abandoned – letting go of situations I wish I could control…my friend who has had several (thankfully failed) suicide attempts in recent weeks…a family member from whom I am hugely burdened for and feel spent on.

I feel it is important to write all this stuff, because most of these feelings came undone tonight as our daughter has been playing up hugely.  What should have been an evening of relaxation, before the frenetic activity and work pressure of the week ahead, has been overshadowed with coaxing, praying, shouting and trying not to swear as my blood begins to boil and I lose patience…How can someone whom I love more than life conjure up such huge emotions that bear no relation to how I feel for her?  Man, it’s tough being a parent at times. 

Now, I’m off to bed – tired, knowing we’ll have a difficult morning with a knackered and non-compliant four year old as we all try to get out of the house in enough time to make our journeys to work and to arrange nursery drop offs and pick ups on the snowy streets of this city we call home…

I am reminded of Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!”  Before I started battering away at the keyboard 15 minutes ago, I felt far from rejoicing.  It’s not about sticking my head in the sand or pretending to feel differently to how I do.  It’s just about perspective and counting my blessings.

My daughter has eventually fallen asleep (three hours after she should have done).  I hope we all sleep well.  I hope we extend grace to eachother tomorrow morning.


Miss Sarajevo


“Is there a time for first communion?
A time for East Seventeen?
Is there a time to turn to Mecca?
Is there time to be a beauty queen?”

From “Miss Sarajevo” by Passengers.

I’ve always loved this U2 collaboration.  I like the questions and the juxtaposition of notions and ideas.

First communion is a big thing in certain church traditions – almost like some rite of passage or defining moment.  Whilst empty rituals concern me hugely, there still seems something sacred about treating communion in this way.  The whole issue of communion is explained in 1 Corinthians as follows:

23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes”.

Whenever approaching communion I am also always mindful of the verses that come straight after the above quote, namely: ” 27Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself”.

I love the fact that the church community I belong to challenges my thinking.  Last week our Pastor announced that we would have all age communion this Sunday.  He explained that the onus was on parents to explain matters to their children and to decide whether or not they should partake.

Having a four year old girl, I have to confess that it still sounds horrible if she ever says anything about “killing” or “being dead”.  This is maybe extenuated by the fact that one of our church members lost her four year old daughter in a horrific hit and run car accident a couple of years ago –  an event that shook our community to the core.  Yet, when I was four I expect that I was often playing soldiers and imagining killing and death.  Is that just a difference between the sexes or are we over-protective parents?

We have spent this week focusing on the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection when reading the bible with our daughter.  She seemed surprised and intrigued that Jesus had died.  We emphasised that He also came back to life and what that means.  We tried as best we could to explain what communion was about, what it symbolised and why we do it.  We wrestled with whether or not it was appropriate to let a four year old take part?  We explained to her that it is for anyone who knows and loves Jesus, to which she replied “but, I love Jesus”.  How does a parent discern what a child understands or means by such a comment?

So this morning the children came back in at the end of the service whilst the whole congregation had the opportunity to share communion.  As I have thought and prayed this week, I was struck by the verses quoted above, but I also remember how Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me” in Matthew Ch19 v.14.  So, we both still felt a bit unsure of how to handle this part of today’s service.  My own gut feeling was that having explained it repeatedly during the week, we should let our daughter make the decision for herself when the moment came. 

So, as the elements were passed around, we told her again what it meant and asked whether or not she wanted the bread and wine?  We made sure she knew it was important.  My eyes were wet and I had a lump in my throat as she asked to take it.  We whispered to her about what it was all about the whole way through the process.  My wife was fantastic at this and I am so grateful that all of this is hugely important to both of us as parents.

Today seems like a defining moment.  It feels very real and bereft of ritual.  It feels as if we have explained a truth and the whole thing seems more meaningful than it has done for a long time.  As we looked around and saw lots of families explaining things – some partaking, some not – there was a real sense of unity and community.  Others we spoke to who do not have children or are single also said that the approach gave them time to reflect on the significance of something that can become ritual. 

I think we are called to child-like faith not a childish one…As someone I respect enormously said in conversation over dinner on Saturday night, “Our role as parents is to give our children roots and wings…”  It’s weird to think that one day our little girl will leave home and embark on a whole new journey.  Hopefully, we can help her to be well grounded for whatever life may hold.

Read.  Think.  Pray.  Live.

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"The priest in the booth had a photographic memory for all he had heard. He took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel called "The State That I'm In"". From "The State I Am In" by Belle and Sebastian
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