When Kit Kats and Rubber Rings make me feel rich

‘Before falling into sleep, remember the ordinary moments of the day, the moments your children meant something to you. This vision of your kids, it helps restore the prominence of ‘who they are ’ over ‘what they need to do’ or ‘what they need to work on’. Let the images rise to the surface of your day.’ (Simplicity Parenting)

DSC_7967

We have the weirdest Dvd called Wow that’s what I call Nursery Rhymes, featuring Dave Benson Phillips ( for all you 90’s kids he presented Get Your Own Back!) and some other girl called Katie….My kids seriously love it! I cannot for the life of me work out why, but all three of them will sit with heads bobbing along, occasionally jumping up to do some actions or crazy dance. I’m telling you, it is beyond corny but they are captivated. As I set the table for dinner I caught a little glimpse of them all, sitting in a wee row just loving life, hanging out with Dave Benson Phillips and his big orange blow up chairs. I suppose there isn’t much they all enjoy in equal amounts at the exact same time these days. But in that little ordinary moment their hearts seemed so full and they looked so tight and content. And I walked back into the kitchen a little lighter than before.

*

We were getting ready to walk up to school, faffing around with coats and bags and shoes. Then in came Noah, all ready to go….with a big rubber ring on round his little waist. ‘Oh Noah’ I said, ‘Why you wearing that?’ He looked at me like I was an idiot and declared, ‘It’s for if we get flooded. I’ll be okay with this on Mummy.’ Autumn fell about laughing and I said ‘Right well, that’s good news isn’t it wee man….’
I’d been a bit tense that morning, just the wrong side of bed sort of stuff. But I ask you, how can you stress out when there are rubber ring wearing flood protection safety officers around? How can you not grab whoever is closest for a great big bear hug?

*

Noah, Autumn and I sat in the Dentist’s waiting room and he had bravely said ‘I’ll go first!’ but as we were ushered into the treatment room Noah saw the reclining grey chair, he inhaled the funny smell and clapped eyes on the large tray of tools, then announced, ‘Em you go first, Mummy’

‘We’ll just do a quick x-ray, Mum’ said the dentist. She made me bite down on this weird black plastic contraption and then said ‘Come on outside kids, just for a second’. They followed her out giggling but then my daughter stopped in the doorway, looked back and said ‘You okay, Mummy?’

I couldn’t really speak with the big thing in my mouth so I said ‘uh huh’ as best I could and gave her a thumbs up. It was only a few seconds but I could see she was a little unsure why they were on one side of the door and I was on the other. I could sense her need to make sure I was happy with proceedings. I felt loved and cared for.

*

‘Here you go, Poppy’ he said quietly as he broke off the end of his Kit-Kat and passed it to his baby sister. She looked at him, mystified and crazy-eyed at this chocolate treasure being passed in her direction. And then a quiet whisper ‘Ta Ta’.

She held onto that piece of Kit-Kat for about twenty minutes, carrying it round the floor, her precious chocolate smush. I stood silently folding a mountain of tumbled clothes as quickly as I could, smoothing out wrinkles to save any ironing (yes I am one of those people who do everything in their power to resist ironing).

He’s giving her his kit-kat! I thought to myself. He’s quietly sharing!  It was enough to undo the crazy nonsense from all the other days. It was a little quiet moment that was enough to reassure me – Love exists in our house! Kindness is alive and well! We are doing okay!

pic1

*

She sat perched up on the window ledge watching her tv show The Dengineers (there were seats but I am over it). Her hair was up high in a ponytail, scruffy curls and messy in the most natural and beautiful way. She still had her dance class clothes on, her black t-shirt and comfy jogging bottoms and little Converse boots. She had the sleeves of her t-shirt rolled up just a little. I pretended I was watching her tv show too, but really I was just watching my daughter and thinking all of the thoughts.

How has she got so grown up?

What is it that makes her heart so beautiful?

How can I see her as a baby and a teenager and a child all at once?

What if she starts staying in her room all the time?

What if I embarrass her?

Am I being a good mum to her?

And so I just stared at her. I made big eyes at my husband to look at her too. And he knows it. He sees it. Our daughter is growing up every single day and in that little fleeting moment there was a mix of pride and sadness and amazement and worry and fear and beauty that made my eyes water and my heart burst.pic 2

*

My dad called round to have dinner with us (although that is misleading because we were ordering a giant feast from the chippy). He was messing about with Autumn and announced he had a pound for her piggy bank!  He took a while to find it, searching in all his pockets and the little back pack he carries. ‘Don’t worry Granda’ she said, ‘It’s alright if you can’t find it. I don’t mind.’ My dad is 75 years old and I could tell he was a bit annoyed he had lost it. ‘Sorry Autumn, I just don’t know where it’s gone. I thought I put it in my pocket…..’ There was a bit of a lull and then, great news – the pound was found! My dad looked truly relieved and delighted and then Autumn said, ‘Oh thanks very much Granda. This is great’ and I knew she really meant it.

*

There is nothing overly significant about these stories and images. You will have many more. But when I stop and slow down long enough to allow a few special ordinary images to rise to the surface I feel rich in the stuff that really matters. I feel like everything I hold dear is in line with everything I believe in. I feel sure that the simple ordinary moments are quite simply hope on a plate- because in the midst of the chaos and the mess I experience true kindness, compassion, authentic love and care. I see holy hope and power offered and exchanged between cheerful little souls and worn out, stressed out adults.

I suppose the gift of small ordinary moments is nothing new, but maybe it just seems harder to cultivate it in our culture of rush and distraction. I like the idea of hearts full of experiences but it just seem less likely when my hands are so full of stuff and my calendar is so full of appointments. Maybe big belly laughs aren’t noticed as much above the sounds of tweets or texts or email notifications or indeed our blaring tv. Maybe the joys found in the daily process just get lost in a whoosh of hurry trying to reach the end goal.

But when I let those ordinary moments rise then the pressure to be perfect just falls away. I feel a sense of freedom returning and it allows me to see the hearts and minds of those around me, in all of their beauty and wonder.

When I let the ordinary moments rise then the expectation for bigger and better lessens and I delight in just who my people are as they are, rather than anxiously manipulating for more.

When I let the ordinary moments rise it heightens my awareness of what really matters and so the simple act of sharing the grubby end of a kit-kat has the ability to stop me in my tracks.

This lingering around ordinary moments is not time wasted, it is holy work. It reminds me I hold the Kingdom in my tomato soup and pancake covered hands. Which is of course, extraordinary.

And so I will keep letting them rise.

1110_10153676430551187_7191123653951800404_n

 

Gold, Frankincense and Paracetamol

Last year my friend bought me a copy of Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. It is the most beautiful book that thoughtfully guides you through Advent with stories, questions and glorious illustrations.

I was so excited to spend time with my daughter Autumn and make our way through it this December.

I love it. She loves it.

But last week for three nights in a row we just didn’t manage to read it.

One night I was sick.
One night I was out.
One night I was brain dead and read Father Christmas Needs a Wee, instead.

(insert sad emoticon. The one with the streaming tears)

And then I sent Noah to nursery with his pyjama bottoms on under his trousers. I don’t even know how it happened. 

All the mums from Autumn’s class chipped in to buy the teacher a decent present. A brilliant idea! But I forgot to give my tenner in.

I’ve had lots of ideas for Christmas crafts and art and baking. But it seems The Grinch is always on and that’s just easier.

Our tree stands tall and twinkly in the front room. And next to it is a pile of washing so big I keep closing the blinds so no one will see it as they walk past our house.

noah

I went to Noah’s little nursery Christmas Sing-along and it was so sweet. He was dressed up as a reindeer standing at the back and he knew all the words. But then I left my handbag behind. It was full of vouchers that I haven’t even had chance to spend yet. 

On Thursday I did five school runs. Coats on, boots on, gloves on, buggy out, rain cover on, heating off, tree lights off  – five times. By trip number five little Poppy had this look on her face that said ‘you gotta be kidding me, Mummy’

Yesterday morning, Poppy fell off Autumn’s bed. There was crying and panic and much reassuring. Autumn and I argued about who was at fault. ‘It was mine!’ she declared. ‘No!’ I said, ‘it was mine,  it was totally Mummy’s fault!’
My husband just rolled his eyes and went back to bed.

I’ve swapped the Mulled Wine for Lemsip because my throat is busted. Forget the presents and just pass me the Paracetamol, people. I forgot how Winter means there is always one child taking the bright yellow ‘banana flavour’ medicine. My dressing gown is covered in the stuff- a testament to the incessant infections experienced in our house.

autumn
I read lots about simple and slow at Christmas time and I whole heartedly agree. I am wired to notice and engage, constantly searching for significance amongst the crazy of this season that seems to start in October. Slow is good. Simple is good.

But I also feel swept up in rush with teeming school calendars and appointments and to-do lists. I am overwhelmed with sickness and tiredness. The pace just seems to be relentless. I can’t quite work out how to do simple and slow this year.

Is it just me or does everyone feel like hibernating?  Most evenings, I’m ready for bed by about 7.45pm (except of course when Homeland or The Apprentice is on, in which case I will still be in bed- but with the lap top and a massive bag of crisps.)

I run this Parentalk group in our home on a Monday night. Six mums meet for cups of tea and mini Chocolate Yules and we bash through how the heck we can be better mums and share tips for staying sane and discuss discipline and good communication and we listen to helpful talks on a DVD.

Without fail there are three words uttered by each of us every single week.

IT’S REALLY HARD.

It’s just really hard to be excited all the time and listen to everyone all the time and stay on top of everything and remember everything and try harder at everything and not completely lose it. The truth is we are all just totally working it out as we go and we feel like most people seem to have a better handle on things than we do.

Furthermore – when the motherhood season and the festive season combine, the majority of us are not walking in a winter wonderland. No, we are walking in Abbeycentre AGAIN, our clothes tinged with the bright yellow medicine, staring straight ahead like complete nutjobs, just praying someone finds our handbag.

How can a mum of three little people experience the peace of Christ at Christmas? 

Well, how did Mary, having just given birth in a barn, experience the peace of Christ? Delirious and enthralled by her new miracle baby, yes of course – but also bewildered, exhausted, cold and uncomfortable. Proud and incredulous as the shepherds shared words about her child, a Saviour to the world, the Messiah! But also, she was a new mum which meant she was so sore and unsure and nervous.

And yet God’s peace and joy filled her heart because her heart belonged to God.

And if He has your heart then you have His presence.

It’s with you, it’s all around you, it’s on you and in you.

Listen, of course I will find moments to be still and dial down the crazy this Christmas. I will make good choices and say no to some stuff in order to retreat and remember and be thankful.

But mostly Christmas will be loud and busy and untidy. There will be tears and fights, tired bones and dark circles and paracetamol.

And I can still experience the peace of Christ.

Because, just like all year round, I carry the presence of God into every room. My heart belongs to Him and so every situation is filled with His Spirit. He walks with me right into the mess. It’s a lie that says God only comes in the quiet, in the calm, in the tidy and organised. Because that very Christmas night God came in a stable and it was far cry from serene and perfect.

My faith is being lived out in the frazzle because that’s what life looks like right now and God hates when I pretend otherwise and do life without Him.

Brushing my teeth this morning I was a little on edge, frustrated as the kids ran rings around me, annoyed that advent is just whizzing past, clinging onto dates I cant remember and cards I forgot to post.

And that’s when I heard it. During the most ordinary and routine part of my morning I heard these words, spoken right into my innermost being:

‘I’m here. You’re not missing me.
I know you love the quiet. I know you love the simple.
And I know you love your kids and they are excited and loud and taking just about everything you’ve got right now and that’s okay.
You’re not missing me, Tory.
Grace and peace are my gifts to you this Christmas.
Grace and peace are yours in every circumstance.
Carry my presence. Lean into my peace. Keep listening for me.
I have your heart. You have my presence.
I am with you.’

Real Wisdom (or why I need Mr Potato Head)

I have three children but Noah is my only boy. With his soft skin, squidgy fingers and little cheeky grin, he is obviously the cutest three year old I know.
Because in the morning Noah will say ‘Aww, not yet mummy’ and pull you into his smelly little IKEA bed for a cuddle. When you read him a story he sits beside you with one hand resting on your leg. Always. Autumn is his big sister and also his best friend. With Autumn around he is slightly brave but on his own, slightly vulnerable. He is that wonderful mix of mischievous and inquisitive. And as much as Noah enjoys our world he also spends a lot of time off somewhere else….Adorable.

But there’s a pay-off to all this cuteness!

It is fair to say that at times I can find Noah challenging. My mum calls him a loveable rogue.

He can flit between completely ignoring me and being downright defiant. To Noah it’s simple -his voice is for shouting, his hands were made to lob stuff and his legs for running, climbing, stomping.

His energy is endless. And if there isn’t anything to say then he’ll just fill the silence with what I can only describe as a nasal ‘Heeehhhhh. Heeehhhhh.’ Toys are more fun when you can just smash them all together until they break. Oh and his vocabulary has greatly increased this year to include this-

‘You smell like a stinky bum bum.
I’m gonna pull your head off. And then sit on it.
No. You’re not the boss.
will keep throwing the ball at the tv.
I will keep ignoring you.
I will keep rubbing this dark chocolate Kit Kat all over my face and shoving it into your pale grey cushion.
I will keep butting in when Autumn is telling one of her long and  boring stories.
I will keep dipping bits of my dinner into my juice cup and declaring that it is nice.’

And I believe this is all perfectly natural behaviour. Just a phase.

And it’s probably natural that I am finding this a little bit ‘new’. His older sister is a real people pleaser and, to be honest, even a stern look can devastate her.

Noah couldn’t really care less about my stern look. In fact, he’ll probably mimic my look and say ‘Mummy is doing this at me.’  (insert fits of laughter)

But a while ago I saw this Mr Potato Head thing.

It was somewhere online, a photo shared, a pretty simple idea. Mr Potato starts out empty with no bits attached but gradually, as you notice certain qualities and characteristics in your child, Mr Potato begins to get the bits and pieces back on again.

mr_potato_head_54968a.jpeg

This looks good, I thought. Noah would like this.

And so I narrowed it down to four things to make it easier for him and a bit more achievable I suppose!

He gets the big blue feet for walking feet, gentle feet, careful feet.
The hands are awarded when I see helpful hands, caring hands, sharing hands.
The mouth is for using kind words, agreeable words, friendly words.
The ears are for listening ears- listening to mummy and listening to other people.

When I notice something I make a massive deal about it and he gets a little piece. His sister, as always, is his biggest cheerleader and so she is on the look out, too. Never underestimate the power of a six year old who is on board with your behaviour management strategy! Genius.

I know it’s probably just the right concept at the right age. Not a big deal, really. Temporary success perhaps! Just a big plastic potato with a few incentives to behave.

Or maybe it’s more than that.

Because lately, I feel like Mr Potato Head is reminding us to do the hard work of getting along with each other. And man, is it hard work. I think Mr Potato Head might be about encouraging us to be gentle and kind, to listen, to take our time with each other. Mr Potato Head is both reminding and encouraging both of us, Noah and I, to treat each other with dignity and honour.

Noah needs this. I need this. We all really need this.

Because with three small kids I have two goals- I pretty much do whatever is quickest and easiest. On the surface these are good goals. But in reality, it often looks like a lot of shouting ‘No!’ or yelling ‘Stop that!’ or ‘Come on, hurry up, Noah!’ It looks like a lot of shoving and puffs of exasperation and eye rolling and muttering stuff under my breath.

What takes a lot more time is stopping to notice Noah sharing his juice with baby Poppy and praising him for that. Then fetching a white plastic hand and fixing it to the side of a plastic potato. Then talking about what we are doing and why.

What takes a lot longer is asking him to tell me all about those pink listening ears. It takes time to have a bit of chat about how listening well can make our day go smoother. And then I need to think up some special mission which may or may not result in a pink ear!

The point is no yelling. But more time, some gentle conversation, some thought and patience.

It’s not really that hard but you know what? If I’m continually hurried and stressed then it actually becomes impossible. I just can’t do it. I resort back to the shouting and losing my temper in a frantic attempt to make him do what I need him to do. Which says more about me than it does about Noah.

Because this wee man literally can’t get enough of Mr Potato Head.

I think about the ways I can be firm but also gracious and reasonable.  I think perhaps this road is longer. I think from the sidelines this road often looks soft and a bit weak and sort of pointless. But in the end, on this road there is often a lot less isolation and a bit more understanding. And that is never a waste.

So, Mr Potato Head has been helping us out with this. And boy, do I need help.

Because to give Noah a plastic mouth for his kind words and then yell at my husband to get out of my face doesn’t really work. I cannot preach about gentle hands and then slam all the doors in our house in anger and frustration. When my daughter asks for help to get her school tights on I can’t tut in her face and roll my eyes at her incompetence.

My kids aren’t stupid. They will smell a rat. And they are usually the first to let me know.

You see, at the back of Mr Potato Head there is a little flip down door. You can store all the bits inside if you want. The kind words, the listening ears and helpful hands are all still there, rattling around inside, but they’re hidden away.

And I bought the Mr Potato Head for Noah. But actually, I need reminded and encouraged with this stuff just as much as he does. I need help with the hard work of getting those bits and pieces out into the light.

It is worth slowing down for.

It is worth the extra time.

Perhaps, the culture of my home, my community and beyond depend upon it.

Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is
characterised by getting along with others.
It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings…
You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with
God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work
of getting along with each other,
treating each other with dignity and honour.
(James 3 MSG) 

Autumn and Me

Last weekend we celebrated Autumn’s sixth birthday.

It’s been a bit of a struggle to get my head around the fact that I am in possession of a six year old! Perhaps it has something to do with her growing independence, her rapidly expanding intelligence or the fact that I cannot keep up with how much her little character keeps changing right before my eyes.

image3

I’ve read that the oldest sibling is often organised, a natural leader, a high achiever, an adult pleaser and independent. And I nod along because I do see many of these traits in Autumn.

There are mornings she is standing at the front door, coat on and school bag packed, waiting on me to get my crap together so we can actually walk up to school.

Is my book bag in, Mummy?
Did you pack a spoon for my yoghurt?
Did you sign my reading diary?

(Her prompts are both helpful and annoying because usually I have done none of that stuff.)

She’s a wee stickler for detail. A far cry from the ‘just wing it’ attitude of her mum she likes to know the whys and wherefores, the ins and outs. On leaving the house it will often sound like this –

Where are we going?
Where is that? Is that near here?
How soon will we be there?  How long is that?
Who will be there? I don’t think I know them. Who is that again?
What do they look like? Do they know daddy? Do they live near us? 
So, who else will be there?…..

Yeah. It’s tempting to just stay at home.

She’s really perceptive and sensitive to the feel of the mood in our house. If I am stressed or feeling a tad over stretched or fed up, a little voice will always pipe up –

Are you tired mummy?
Why is your face like that?
Are we making you angry mummy?
Do you need a coffee?

Yeah. You don’t get away with passive aggressive in our house.

She’s a hoarder. Under her bed is a warzone of teeny tiny bits of plastic crap and little scraps of paper ‘that are important!’ as well as endless beads, clips, necklaces, purses and lip glosses from Christmas 2012. Every so often I will go in with a bin bag and do a massive clear out while she is at school. Obviously.

She dances around like a deranged Michael flatly. And not in a show off everyone look at me sort of way (a blessing!) – but just off on her own in her room, giving it stacks.  ‘I made this up myself!’ she shouts.

She is a plain eater. Nothing with spice or herbs or flavour will pass her lips. She has eaten cheese sandwiches for her lunch everyday for about 8 months. I try to switch it up, sneak in a slither of ham or roast chicken. But no, apparently there are red bits and chewy bits and she comes home with a stern reminder ‘Sure I only like cheese, remember?’ Yep. I remember.

She’s a quiet observer. I see her watching, listening, noticing, thinking and trying to find her way in the world and discover her own wee preferences and personality.  In the last few months I have watched her go from Frozen to Monster High (help!) then come back to Frozen then onto discovering the Wii, then dabble in art and craft. These days, it’s pop music and dolls!

She delivers one liners as only a six year old can do. Not long ago, on a dull and dreary, runny nosed, overstretched hideous Sunday afternoon, I was a weeping mess on the sofa and she offered this little gem – ‘It’s good having lots of kids, Mummy. But it is hard.’ I nodded in agreement, staring at her, thinking- how did you come out of me?

And so, my eldest child is six and everything seems to be changing.

There was a time she needed help putting on her shoes and picking out her clothes. She used to bring me her favourite stories to read to her. She used to need me in the school cloakroom.
Now she sorts out her own wee outfits and she can read her own books.
Now she runs off at the gate, barely saying goodbye.

And I am so proud of her having a go and I’m so pleased she is learning and growing and changing. But yet, a small part of me misses being needed in such an obvious, practical way. I miss the days when the roles where so clearly defined and I knew where I stood and how to get it all done well.

So I spent some time thinking about this and I actually came back to the conclusion that Autumn still needs me. (yay!)

But it just looks different now.

It looks more like listening really well and trying to understand her world and believing in her.
It looks like continuing to bang on about being kind and honest and the power that lies in that stuff.
And helping her to notice the forgotten and overlooked, the lonely and lost.
It looks like telling her value and worth mean more than the price and cost.
It looks like helping her face up to everything that upsets, worries and scares her and explaining how being brave can mean talking about it and maybe trying again.
And reminding her that the answers to life are not found on a small screen. That ‘actual’ trumps digital and virtual.
It looks like showing her small does not mean insignificant and vulnerability does not mean weakness.
And telling her our greatest hope for this life lies in the power and presence of Jesus Christ.

And so perhaps the real stuff of parenting begins now?  Maybe as she takes another metaphorical step away from me, I need to take a step (insert giant leap) closer to God. Because some of this stuff strikes me as a lot harder than tying shoe laces and choosing outfits…

So I pray for my big six year old, her place and purpose in this world.
And I pray for me, her mum. That I’ll be the mum she needs whatever that looks like or requires or becomes.

I pray for Autumn and me.

FullSizeRender-1

Remy and Django

There’s a Disney Pixar movie, Ratatouille, about a wee rat named Remy who has impressive culinary skills and big dreams of becoming a top chef in Paris. It’s mainly about the crazy risks he takes to achieve his big ambition despite opposition from his dad, Django. He would much rather little Remy stayed out of sight with the rest of his rat family.

Anyway, last week I was wiping the table after breakfast and the kids were watching the show, Ratatouille. (Yes dvds at breakfast. Sue me, it’s August.)

th3LFAD2KFAnd my five year old daughter pipes up, ‘Who is right, mummy?’

‘Sorry? What do you mean? I shouted. ‘I’m knee deep in crumbs and cheerios here’

‘You know’ she replied, ‘the daddy rat just wants to stay safe but Remy wants to take risks. So who is right?’

Indeed. Good question.

WHO is right?

Stumped by my five year. It was one of those moments when I just sort of looked at her. She looked back, waiting.

I didn’t really give her a proper answer. I mumbled something about how a bit of both is probably best. ‘Not too careful and not too crazy, you know?’

She seemed happy enough and so I carried on with my wiping.

But it’s followed me around a bit, that little scenario and her good question.

In a way I feel built for safe – perhaps comfortable and settled are better words. I don’t really like to get my feathers ruffled or leave the proverbial comfort zone. I crave the predictable environment, fashion my life to meet my needs and get happy. I wouldn’t say I’m a risk taker or particularly radical or ambitious.

I’m closer to Django than Remy.

And yet.

I know those people who live a bit differently. I’ve heard those speakers and read those books. People who have done things that aren’t ‘normal’, that don’t seem particularly safe or comfortable or predictable. And in the past I’ve probably shook my head and thought ‘that’s nuts.’

But random white hairs have started appearing in my eyebrows. White hairs, people. They shattered the notion that I will eternally look and feel a youthful twenty-four years old.

And they sparked a million thoughts about the passing of time and being comfortable and what is radical and what is living a good story.

This post, it feels a little odd. It feels like it’s for someone else. Someone with a functioning brain who wakes up firing on all cylinders, filled with passion and drive.

Not a full time mum stuck in the trenches with reward charts and chicken dippers, where a very real risk is offering brocoli at dinner.

And yet, there is tension to be felt living in a culture such as ours.

There is a call to live life in a way that says God is real.

There are always opportunities to live a better story.

I wonder what scares me so?

Andre Gide says, ‘Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore’

And so, perhaps part of it is courage. I lack courage.

Anne Lammot says, ‘It’s good to do uncomfortable things. It’s weight training for life.’

And yeah, maybe I just don’t like the exertion or the effort required for taking a few risks. These days, I usually just opt for relaxed and easy, simple and slow.

image

Not Remy.

He knew it was going take guts and effort to have any chance of reaching his dreams. He saw how high the odds were stacked against him. Moreover, his family didn’t approve and they were choosing safety.

It made such good sense to stay with them.

But he couldn’t escape who he was and what he wanted. A chance to live a great story.

Of course, there is wisdom and value found in safety and comfort but, in truth, how little room I allow for the radical, how rarely I pursue change.

Then again, what on earth have I got to offer, anyway?

My skill set has been significantly reduced in recent years and my current ambitions revolve around getting a decent cup of coffee and going to the loo by myself.

My world feels a lot smaller these days.

But while that is a very real truth it is not the whole picture.

Because I have Jesus. And he’s in the business of making stories better. He knows I feel a tension and a draw to more. He knows the situations where I can bring more of the kingdom. He’s already redeeming my fears and insecurities and constant desire for self-fulfilment.

He’s reminding me it’s not really about me and all I can accomplish. It’s about Him and whatever He might accomplish through me.

And so perhaps a better story can start with just having empty hands. Less stress and more surrender. Less worry and more wonder.

It seems –He is able do immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine. Not because I am anything special but because of His power that is at work within me. Which makes me think He longs to shine a light so bright that people will catch it and want to be part of the story.

And so it is, in Ratatouille.

Because in the end, we see Remy’s family actually join him in the crazy cooking adventure in Gusteau’s Restaurant. There’s no predictable outcome and they’re scared but they’ve been inspired to do the thing that makes no sense. They want to be part of the dream and part of the change and live a great story.

They’re a little bit less Django and a lot more Remy.