embracing slow: a journey of unhurried grace

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What does it mean to embrace slow, in a world that glorifies busy?
How do you stop and fill your hurried soul, in the midst of the demands and pressures of all the responsibility that you carry?
I wholeheartedly believe that Jesus held the key, when he spoke to Martha.
She was a woman just like you and I—concerned with outward appearance, laying awake at 2am wondering how she could tick everything off her to-do list, and resenting anyone who wasn’t hustling as hard as she was.

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their journey, they came to a village where a woman welcomed Jesus into her home. Her name was Martha and she had a sister named Mary. Mary sat down attentively before the Master, absorbing every revelation he shared. But Martha became exasperated by finishing the numerous household chores in preparation for her guests, so she interrupted Jesus and said, “Lord, don’t you think it’s unfair that my sister left me to do all the work by myself? You should tell her to get up and help me.”

The Lord answered her, “Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Are they really that important? Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing to sit at my feet. She is undistracted, and I won’t take this privilege from her.” Luke 10:38-42 TPT


Making a practice of stopping and sitting at His feet is the key.
How often do you sit down attentively to the Master?
To stop and still, and hear his voice, refusing to be pulled in every direction?
To listen to your breaths. To brew your tea leaves and wait until the flavours steep into the hot water.
To pull up a yoga mat and practice.
All of it is practice; the hearing, the stilling, the daily discipline.

This is the heart of a devotional book that Amanda Viviers and I have written and compiled together.
We’re releasing it in time for Lent, so that in the lead up to Easter we can intentionally slow together—but it can be read and used at any time of year.
We’ve left space for you to reflect and scribble. We’ve added Bible verses for you to go and explore.
It’s a beautiful compilation of stories and thoughts on slowing down in our every day, and we are praying that it helps lift the eyes and still the hearts of every reader that goes on the Embracing Slow journey.

So, keep your eyes on our socials for the release date and links to our online shops.

I’m so excited.

xx

The January booklist

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Maybe it’s that I’ve finished uni now and haven’t been given a list of books that I have to read and then analyse and then write an essay on. Or it’s just that, sometime last year, I remembered my love of reading; it’s been my escape, my joy, my favourite hobby since I was a little girl.

So, in a post-university effort to keep learning and growing and escaping and finding joy, I’ve committed to myself to read more. Read instead of scroll, read instead of watch, read in place of procrastinate (more accurately is probably read to procrastinate).

And, to keep me a little accountable to this intention, I thought I’d share a monthly booklist.
A wrap up.
Also, you can find me on Goodreads if you want to get ideas for your own to-read list, and see what I’m currently reading.
I love reading non-fiction, but definitely need some can’t-put-down novels to break them up in between.

So, here’s the January round-up:

1. A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, catholic, green, incarnational, depressed- yet hopeful, emergent, unfinished Christian.
By Brian D. McLaren

Some Christians in my circles might see this book as a bit controversial, and the emergent church movement a bit threatening, but honestly? This book was a breath of fresh air, and just what I needed. McLaren looks at a whole host of factions of Christianity and pulls out the good, looks at what we can learn from each other, and doesn’t whitewash past ugliness.
I read this book slowly and it’s now covered in post-it notes and underlined.
It created the most in-depth discussions between Daniel and I, over long drives and at night before falling asleep. They always started with, do you think Jesus would…?
Do you think the modern church is…?
I didn’t agree with everything in this book, but I found it so freeing to allow myself to think outside of my Western Church experience, and I find it a comfort that there are people in the world who are pushing back at religiosity.

2. Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

This reminded me a lot of Eleanor Oliphant—Britt-Marie is another character who is endearing and quirky, and so is the host of other characters. She expresses her fear that no-one will notice if she dies, and some of the ways she thinks about this fear, her loneliness and ultimately her desire to be loved, were so incredibly sad and beautiful. I flew through this book in less than 24 hours.

3. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

This book wasn’t quite the page-turner as Britt-Marie Was Here, but easy to read nonetheless.
I felt that some of the characters weren’t quite as developed as I wanted them to be, and it was a bit slow-moving. It raises questions of what it takes to be a mother, and how the consequences of our decisions can spark unintentional future fires. The plot was enough to keep me reading, and it definitely speeds up towards the end.

4. The Vertical Self: How Biblical faith can help us discover who we are in an age of self obsession
by Mark Sayers

I wrote in an earlier post that this book is cultural commentary and self discovery gold. And to think it was written even before Instagram!
It’s a must-read for anyone with social media (so, everyone) and is a not so gentle reminder that our worth and identity does not/should not come from the culture we’re immersed in, from movies and television, from social media, from elevating performance over character. Read my post about Instagram and you’ll get an idea of what rumblings it caused in my inner world.


What did you read in January? Have you read any of these books? I would love to hear your thoughts!

xx

10 things I’ve learned after 13 years of marriage

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We celebrated our thirteenth wedding anniversary on Monday with dinner out with the kids in tow, and it was actually my most favourite anniversary ever. I blearily cupped his face in my hands as I walked past him in the kitchen at 5am, as he ate his porridge. “Happy anniversary” I whispered.
When he got home from work, an hour before the kids got home from school we exchanged cards, and his contained the letter I’d requested (more on that below). We snuck out for a coffee and shared a big slice of strawberry roulade at our favourite cafe.
Then Indian for dinner and even after we ate we lingered, catching eyes across the table as the kids shared their hearts and talked about the biggest issues they’re facing right now: bullies, friends who use swear words at school, and being kind to the kid that’s annoying. If anything makes me happy its that. Quality time with my people.

And then, as on all anniversaries, I pondered the beginning, thought about the growth and marvelled at where we’d ended up.

And I’m a rookie, really, when it comes to marriage - there are many who’ve made it work for much longer - but there are a few things I think I’ve learned so far:

1. Don’t be scared to ask for what you need.
We can’t read each other’s minds. I spent too many years wishing he’d express his love in ways that were different than how he did. Now, I sneak a reminder in every now and then, “love me with your words please?”. And when he mentioned getting me flowers for our anniversary I told him: you know what I’d love even more? A letter. He’s not wired with an endless supply of words of affirmation like I am, it doesn’t come naturally but he knows that’s the way to my heart and a letter was delivered - full of words of love and gratitude. Those words don’t mean any less because I asked for them.
Sometimes, we just have to express what it is we need. Most times, our partners had no idea but are more than happy to oblige.

2. You’re not their parent.
Self explanatory. You are both grown adults. You’re both responsible for your own stuff. Just like you, they have to deal with the  consequences of their own decisions - whether they’re the consequences of a late night, or too much junk food, or lack of preparation for something that needed more, don’t own that.
Don’t nag them like their mother. It’ll stress you both out.

3. Lower your expectations.
You’re both going to let each other down. A lot. But it happens less, and it feels less painful when your expectations aren’t ridiculous.

4. You don’t have to like the same things.
We are totally opposite in so many ways. I’m bookish, he’s sports-mad. I’ve given up fighting against the time he spends playing cricket over the summer (he’s compromised so it’s not the entire summer!) and he doesn’t complain when dinner is eggs on toast because I can’t stop reading. We celebrate the things we love together - good movies, cafes, camping trips, board games - and don’t try too hard to feign interest in stuff that just doesn’t interest us!

5. Don’t rely on each other for happiness.
It’s too much pressure. Way too much. And your soul needs so much more: friendships, solitary time, exercise, prayer - whatever it is that fills you, you need that too. Making you happy is too heavy a burden to bear for your favourite person.

6. Stay in a posture of gratitude.
I find when I’m intentionally seeking out the traits and actions that I’m grateful for, it’s easier to shake off little annoyances like the socks on the floor or the times he doesn’t answer my phone calls.

7. Dream together, always.
Sometimes life kicks your butt. Finances aren’t working, or someone gets sick, you don’t get that job, or you just get lost in the mundane and loose the joy. Dreaming together is what’s kept us on the same page. We often snuggle up and whisper into the dark, before we sleep, or chat excitedly on long car rides with the music up loud. We dream about when the kids get big, we get excited about the next holiday, the plans for the next 5 years or dream and scheme ways to smash the credit card debt. Whatever it is you’re dreaming, do it together. It’s fun.

8. Prioritise sexy time.
Life gets busy and it’s easy to collapse into bed, too late, too tired.
Honestly, sometimes you just gotta schedule it in. Set a minimum for the week. Aim for more. Send eggplant emojis. Whatever makes it work, make it work. It’s important. And good for both of you.

9. Learn compromise.
It really is all about laying down your own life for someone else. Constantly.
And sometimes that’s about as fun as it sounds.

10. It’s daily.
Every day. The little things - either good or not - can make or break a marriage over a long period. Choose every day to love and keep choosing. Choose love in your speech and your actions and your thoughts. Every. damn. day.

xx