If there's ever a time to resurrect a dormant blog, then surely the new year is it! This space was so precious for so many years, and now and then I find myself returning to it... just to dive into the memories of life with very small children. Somehow remembering the physical intensity of those early years makes me appreciate the phase we are in now.
2022 has been a year of transition, and lots of deep soul-searching. I started a new job (which I am absolutely loving, which involves me going into local primary schools and teaching RE, and which is completely within school hours and totally flexible - such a gift of God!) and Ava started Secondary School which has actually been an amazingly smooth transition... its been a rollercoaster year for our wider family, and we've been learning and growing and being humbled in lots of ways which have been both painful, but also precious. Over and over I see the generosity of our good God who sees the mess of my heart and challenges, changes and moulds, and I find as I get older, I'm more aware than ever of my tendency to selfishness and pride, and therefore bowled over by Jesus' love for me and constant patience with me even more.
There is SO much inexplicable peace and joy in the hard stuff when you surrender it all to him.
I don't think I'll ever stop learning that... or being deeply grateful for it.
At one particular rough point this autumn, when I was home alone and heard some news I hadn't wanted to receive, I sat sobbing in our hallway, my back to the wall, tears flowing, and feeling so very broken. But within seconds I just had this overwhelming peace as I prayed "Lord I trust you"... as I sat there the sun literally started pouring down on me and my tears of sadness just turned to tears of gratefulness. So many times in my 37 years where the words have come through smiles and tears "My Jesus, how lost I would be without you". Again, I can testify to the ever present faithfulness of a Saviour who brings peace and joy and hope in every circumstance.
Our kids are growing, developing their own interests, increasingly independent and staying up later (something Dave and I are adjusting to - losing our evenings!) and we are getting used to parenting bigger kids. I loved the little years, and was so nervous about moving beyond them, but honestly, I'm loving the bigger years so much! Seeing the personalities growing, developing character, sharing experiences and the late night deep and meaningfuls! Its intense in different ways... the emotions are more complex, the circumstances less straightforward, and the bickering more common... but its all growth... for all of us. And its humbling to realise that while I felt I wasn't "in control" sometimes in the little years... that feeling is a lot more prevalent as they grow. Shepherding hearts and ministering to minds rather that good old fashioned action and reaction!
Highlights of 2022:
Holiday projects - since lockdown homeschooling, we've missed exploring learning together, so the children genuinely ask for a "holiday project" every time the holidays roll around - this year we've enjoyed exploring Medieval Britain, Mountains and the Stuarts... its always super fun and creative and low key and we all love it (I love the planning, they love the activities!) - of course it always involves a trip somewhere too - we hit the Tower of London for Medieval Britain, climbed a real mountain in Norway for our Mountains project and hit Hampton Court and the sites of the Great Fire of London for the Stuarts!
Positive news on Heidi's heart - Heidi had a long-awaited medical back in March which involved a running machine and which she thoroughly enjoyed. It was good news for her recovery from Kawasaki, and as we head back for her yearly check up this week, I'm reminding myself of God's faithfulness on every turn in this journey.
Word Alive - This conference is a gift to our family every year - full immersion in God's word for a week - time with dear friends and the kids absolutely love their groups - and of course the beach! It pops up in our highlights every year!
Easter Sunday - eight young people baptised at church - declaring their decision to follow Jesus in their teen years was just pure joy!
Heidi as Miss Honey - Our youngest lady literally blew us away performing as Miss Honey in Matilda Jr... she wowed us all with her solo performance of "This little girl" - its been wonderful for her to have a hobby that is just hers and to see her flourishing and blossoming in it. Musical Theatre is her favourite and there's been no looking back!
Ava's leavers celebrations - It was emotional! Leavers assemblies, graduation parties, her performance as the Sherriff of Nottingham - there were a lot of tears but we were left so humbled and grateful to God for the way he provided this school for us - check this post to hear the crazy back story - of how much we DIDN"T want to go there!!! So good that God knows best!!
Women's World Cup - Elias and I missed it, but Dave and the big three were at the 8-0 match against Norway which they will never forget. We watched the final from Norway but it was a big moment - especially for our football-loving eldest daughter.
Norway - Family, fjords and mountains - we love it every year! Our boys were particularly in their element this year, loving time with their cousins and the wider family! Jonas took part in a football camp which was probably the highlight of his year! Precious time with family and friends out there!
Buckingham Palace - we returned to the news about the Queen, and we, alongside my good friend Katherine, took the children up to London to lay flowers the day after she passed. It was busy but sombre and one of those experiences I don't think they'll ever forget. We also got to see King Charles on the day he was officially named King of England! A bit of history they got to experience!
Advent and Christmas - the build up to Christmas is always special. This year we particularly enjoyed daily readings from a book called Jotham's Journey. The children thoroughly enjoyed it and we were loving trying to guess which characters from the nativity would pop up at which point. It was helpful to centre our daily readings around the Christmas story and have them applied in a child-accessible way. Christmas itself was precious time with family!
Matilda, Matilda, Matilda! Post Christmas highlight for everyone was hitting the West End to see Matilda the Musical at the Cambridge Theatre. So talented and utterly unforgettable!
All in all - a year of highs and lows... and the thread continues that through it all, we are so thankful for a God who sets us upon the firm foundation of Jesus Christ... who sustains us, who gives us joy in all circumstances and calls us to be ever more like him.
We don't know what 2023 holds, but we do know who holds it!
Happy New Year everyone!