Wandering and Wondering

A conversation with someone led to the start of Muddy Church, developing the idea of making church accessible and also celebrating the different ways we connect spiritually with God.

Muddy Church is a space to wander and wonder… to walk alongside people (and animals), enjoying the outside, community, friendship and the wonderful world around us.

Living on the edge of a nature area we are fortunate and yet overlook this luxury often and Muddy Church hopes to re-discover this lovely area and the fun that can be found in the steep mud banks, scrunching through leaves or bouncing in puddles. The beauty of the seasons captured and enjoyed, the creative God recognised and delighted in and the lovely companionship of easy talk and sharing life.

Muddy Church gives a place that people can meet together with others of shared faith or none. A place families can gather together and adventure – getting the kids off screens! A welcoming place for the extended family of furry friends (treats provided for the dogs) and supporting the local community businesses and facilities.

Perhaps Muddy Church is a breath of fresh air for spiritual wanderers and the church?

Parents Evening TCK style

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Parents evening, the name (or whatever it is called locally) still strikes a fear in my heart.  It’s not that I doubt my children’s behaviour or ability – I know they are more than a school grade.  It’s memories of confusion, misunderstanding, frustration and sadness – and I’m the parent.

As the first teacher arrives he tells my son to sit in his chair and he joins me, the other side of the table and he tells him to begin.  My son is confused but also amused and so asks the teacher how he thinks he has done.  They swap back around and I hear reports of the ways my son helps hand out books in class, he gets distracted at times, generally works hard and is a good student.  Presentation is an issue, I explain it always has been and the teacher says he used to have the same problem and it’s okay, he’ll get there.  I ask my son if he has got anything to ask or say to the teacher?  “Thank you.”  My tears well up and the teacher is taken aback, humbled, amazed and appreciative – in all his years….

With that word – presentation, my son and I were both taken back to his overseas school where ‘parents evening’ was held with students and parents all together in a class.  The only foreigners the first barrier was that usual one of what happens here?  Trying to understand the fast speaking teacher whilst rushing through your head the search for the norms and expectations of this setting.  The teacher began picking out the best students and praising them, how wonderful they are, how beautiful their hair, how well they are doing (often they were paid to like this child).  They would then go around the class and pick out the faults of the others, not good at this, bad at that, not trying, no hope, waste of time.  The aim was humiliation – it worked.  As the only foreign child in the class he got no favours, he is disorganised, untidy, his writing is atrocious. There was no use trying to explain dyspraxia and it’s effects (I did once try) or explaining he was really left handed but not allowed to use that here (yep, tried that one too).  There was no mention of his friendships, the things he was good at or his kindness such as the time he took some paper and sticky tape from home and covered the broken window that had been blowing freezing winds and rain into the unheated classroom.  When he left the school after four years all his teacher could say was the general greeting of ‘safe roads’.

That was why his reaction was ‘thank you’, someone who had seen his messiness and untidiness but saw more and focused on that.  A teacher who first talked of his character and then discussed his academic life.  Every time we sit down I feel the need to explain to the teacher first that he isn’t really English, he hasn’t been through the system and has only been here for two years.  My son rolls his eyes at me but they see the funny blonde haired, blue eyed, gangly teen and don’t realise that he’s never learnt those grammatic rules or writing style – but he could do it in another language!  When they do they understand him a bit more and can take the time to explain, maybe it’s just the mum in me jumping to his defence.  But I see the miracle of his determination in sticking at school to become a student who is achieving and enjoying the experience which demonstrates the resilience of so many TCK’s.  Laughing about their history, which to others is a horror story but to them is part of who they are, and also the challenge of what sets them apart.  With his ‘thank you’ I again realise the richness of how he values and sees beauty in simple things that others would take for granted.  How easy it is to focus on the wrong things, to find criticism first or not see the full picture and yet how powerful when we touch a heart by seeing the fulness of who they are.

As a mum, I’m not sure I’ll ever get over the dread of parent’s evening,.  But just as I did as we walked down the dust road, we walk across the concrete play area and I tell my child how proud I am of them.   Each time I say it I see the fullness of their journey and it means just that bit more.  How grateful I am for a God who sits by me and listens as others declare things about me, who stands for me, who sees my mistakes and failures but also sings over me with delight.

(just to add we did also have an amazing teacher at the same school for my other son and both of them learnt well at the school – in the fullest sense).

Going Daniel Crazy

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We have decided to do the Daniel Fast… I think it may be against the rules to tell you that as fasting is supposed to be done in secret, so please don’t tell anyone else okay and then maybe it will be okay.  I hope or maybe I shouldn’t bother…. hmmm?

Anyway this means finding out what you are allowed so I have searched, googled, pinned, twittered, binged, bloggeled and …

Apparently I can buy lots of recipe books, DVD’s, DVD’s with books, books with journals, journals with stickers, flip, I can probably get a secret tshirt to wear.  In fact the more I’ve looked the more I get the sense that this whole idea is kind of missing out on the point that I thought was the point.

I thought it was a fast, in our case, to start the year dedicated to God, to come before Him as a whole person – body, mind and spirit and seek Him in all that we are.  I thought it was about a cleansing and commitment.  I thought it was about seeking out the heart of my loving God and drawing closer to Him.  But now I think I may have it wrong.

It seems to be about who does it right, what you should do, what you should not eat, what you should not do, the correct fitness routine, all of the rules and regulations that make me feel like people are kind of trying to trick God. 

You cannot have a smoothie unless you have a smoothie with a glass of water because then it is a meal substitute and okay.

You cannot have herbal tea unless you are having herbal tea for therapeutic reasons

You cannot have nutella… dang! You don’t say!! That’s it, I’m over it already! ha ha ha

I am now through searching through what I can and cannot have.  I don’t believe God will see my heart impure and ignore my desire for Him because I drank a fruit tea.  I don’t think God will turn His face away from me because I ate something not approved by the approved recipe book, available at $9.95 from all good bookshops.  I think God wants our hearts, not OUR rules.  I don’t think Daniel had processed foods to decline in the first place because as far as my history goes they didn’t have E numbers and chemicals back then. It’s like saying and Daniel did not drive around in a car! I want to do this properly but I don’t want to spend my time so obsessing about whether I am breaking a rule that it is drawing me away from my focus on God.  I don’t want to be so preoccupied with reading the lists of foods I can and can’t have that I’m not reading the life giving Word.  I don’t want to be so bothered about what other people say is right that I am not finding out what God wants.

For me I’ll check my heart and my motives, I will not try to trick God by finding a rule that I can bend by some law that someone has made up.  The scripture is there for the 21 day fast in Daniel 10 but more importantly my heart is here to come before my God and to consecrate myself to Him. 

Right, now to eat up all that left over chocolate before tomorrow…..  what I’m not allowed to?