faith, She Loves Magazine

The Practice of Beholding

January 5, 2017
The Practice of Beholding - She Loves Magazine

“And behold, there came wise men…” So the story goes.

Did they have even the smallest inkling as they set out, of what they would find at the other end of their journey, when their feet would carry them across a threshold and into a simple house where a mother played with her small son–no less dirty or drooly than any other child they’d seen?

But first the wilderness needed to be crossed.

I try and imagine what they must have seen, what vision could have been revealed in the heavens that would kindle the flame of desire in their hearts, until they could do nothing less than pack everything into the saddle bags and turn their faces towards the desert.

What sign did they perceive? What was it about that one star? And how can I also have eyes to see, a heart that beholds the truth shining in the sky above it and understands?


There is much beholding that happens in those early days of the boy Jesus’ life. Angels appear and BEHOLD! Prophecies are fulfilled and BEHOLD! Dreams are dreamt and BEHOLD! Mary sings the world upside down, and BEHOLD!

Barbara Brown Taylor writes it true when she says, “I realised just how little interest I had in defending Christian beliefs. The parts of the Christian story that had drawn me into the church were not the believing parts but the beholding parts. ‘Behold, I bring you tidings of great joy…’ ‘Behold, the lamb of God…’ ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock…’”

I’m trying to practice more beholding in my life.


Read the rest over at She Loves Magazine, where the theme of the month is Capacity. 

faith, motherhood

Roots and Wings – a spiritual parenting journey

November 17, 2016

Back in September, I was out one afternoon in our little London garden with Kaya and Oskar. We were picking cherry tomatoes from our three plants that had gone a little crazy in the sunny spot we had picked for them and were producing tomatoes at a ridiculous rate.

As I stood there listening to Kaya remind me sternly to only pick the red ones, I had a sudden thought that maybe I should be bringing God into this activity. Nevermind that God is rarely mentioned outside songs in my daily conversation with her, I decided this was a good moment for it.

“Kaya,” I said, “we should say thank you to God for giving us so many red tomatoes this year.”
“No, thank you to Granny,” she immediately answered confidently.

Well, yes. I guess Granny was the one to grow these particular plants from seed in her greenhouse and then drive them over to our garden and plant them in this spot with Kaya’s enthusiastic support. Not quite knowing how to respond, I just mumbled something affirming and let it go.


I don’t know how to talk about God with my toddler. Yes, I grew up in an active Christian family, attending church every week, going away to multiple Christian festivals and camps as I grew up. And yes, I’ve been writing and preaching about my faith for many years now. But now my little girl is reaching the age where a conversation is very possible, I just don’t know where to start.

This is my confession: it feels awkward and unnatural. Anytime I attempt it, it feels cheesy and random.

Partly, that is because I’ve been going through my own faith deconstruction and reconstruction the past years – no sudden or earth-shaking loss of faith and rediscovery, just a slow and gradual unpicking and restitching together of the faith of my childhood. In the midst of that uncomfortable but liberating process, I’m even less sure where to begin.

I want for my children to grow up with a full and beautiful connection with the spiritual world, with the God who created them and loves them dearly. I want them to be familiar with Jesus and the stories he told, the vision of peace and connection he lived out. I want them to feel connected with the natural world, to stand in awe of the intricacy and beauty of it all. I want them to recognise that there is no dividing line between sacred and secular, that there are thin places everywhere, holy ground ever under our feet.

I want to give them roots, the kind that will provide a stable foundation for their work and relationships, that will see them through the drought of doubt and suffering, that will feed and sustain their souls.

And I want to give them wings. I want the faith I pass down to be flexible enough that they feel free (as I have) to grow into their own understanding of God, themselves and the world, their own rich relationship with the Divine. I want them to enjoy exploring the spiritual world. I want to learn from them.


Roots and Wings - a spiritual parenting journey


And so I am committing to starting a journey this year, a journey of being intentional about how I talk about and enact spiritual themes and realities in our lives as a family.

I’d love you to come along for the ride. I have lots of ideas but also lots of gaps and questions and doubts. And journeys can be so enjoyable when you have the company of someone walking the same path, experiencing the same bumps in the road, the same twists and turns and beautiful panoramas.

This is not going to be one of those polished and perfected online offerings that so many bloggers create. This is me in the messy middle, asking for some company. I’m putting some structure around it to keep myself accountable to my own desires and hopes, and from chatting with many of you who are parents and carers, I know some of you would really value that too.


There are two ways you can be involved:

  • Sign up for my Roots & Wings monthly email. I’ll plan to send it out just ahead of the coming month, with a look forward at what special dates and season shifts are happening, and some ideas of how we might engage with them as a family.
  • Join the Roots and Wings Facebook group. It’s a closed group so no one outside the group will be able to follow our conversations. I hope it can be safe space for us to explore our ideas and struggles and successes.

I really hope to learn as much from you as you will from me! My kids are younger, but you are welcome to join whether you have toddlers or tinies or teenagers. And if you don’t have your own kids but you have nephews and nieces and neighbours’ kids always in your garden and kitchen, you are welcome too! And feel free to feedback as we get going on what is working and not working.

Who’s in??!


right now (September 2016)

October 1, 2016

We kicked off the month perfectly with a week in Provence with my parents. It was really lovely to have a change of scenery (wow, pretty great scenery) and spend time with my parents. Our rental house had a pool, trampoline, swings, petanque course, tree house – Kaya was officially in paradise. We also got to visit friends nearby at their beautiful vineyard, which was very special. The rest of the month included a week at my parent’s, a family wedding, and the joys of potty training…

Here’s what I’ve been into this month (linking up with Leigh Kramer and the lovely people who turn up there every month to inspire my reading/listening/cooking).



Oh the joys of holidays with grandparents!! Time to read!

I finally, finally, finished The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd. It’s the memoir of her personal exploration of the feminine divine and it’s been entirely fascinating and challenging reading. If this is an area of spirituality and theology/thealogy that you are interested in already, definitely give it a read.

I also read through Danielle Mayfield’s Assimilate or Go Home. It was a book I probably should have read super slowly because of the number of thoughts and emotions is was producing in me but I really really wanted to actually finish it in less than a year (hello, I started that last book in April last year). There is so much to love about Assimilate or Go Home that I’m not sure where to start. It probably deserves its own post but in the meantime, highly recommended.

I discovered a new-to-me poet by randomly picking up a book at the library. Jackie Kay’s collection Fiere is inspired by her search for her Nigerian and Scottish Highlands birth-parents, and the poems are beautiful and moving. I just picked this up last week so will be savouring these for a bit longer before letting it go back to the library.



I discovered the newish podcast The Road Back to You, which is about looking at life through the lens of the Enneagram (an ancient personality type system that describes how human beings are wired). I’m about to stop making any sense if you’re not familiar with the Enneagram, but I initially thought I was a 2, but recently a friend who knows a lot more than me told me outright that I was wrong, I was definitely a 4. And ohmygoodness I am so a 4. It’s a little scary how 4ish I am. All that to say, I am enjoying the conversations and insights from this podcast.



Yes, Great British Bake Off has begun again and I am in my happy place every Wednesday at 8pm. It just gives me all the warm tinglies to watch an hour of baking in all its glorious Britishness. Also, I just love how ridiculously nice they all are. A gingerbread house collapsing? All hands on deck to keep it upright. Not enough time to get those filo pastry hors d’oeuvres off the baking tray and onto the plate? Here’s you competitor coming to help you out. It’s just lovely.



This warm lentils with fennel, sweet potato and halloumi was a simple and yummy vegetarian dish.

I made this pear and ginger cake for my mum’s birthday. It sank in the middle a bit (as said half the commenters – ugh, always read the recipe comments first!) but it tasted really yummy so I might try and tweak it and make it again. They’re the perfect autumn flavours for a loaf cake.

Another almost-good new recipe was this Harvest Loaf. It tasted good, but mine burnt pretty badly on the bottom and I ended up scraping it out of the dish. The top half was yummy though, so I just need to try a different dish maybe? I’m going to attempt to bake bread from scratch a little more often, so let me know if you have any good recipes?



South Bank with toddlers


in London.

We’ve been away a lot this month so no new spots for us. But I did take Oskar and Kaya with some friends to South Bank last week. It’s one of my favourite places in London, and perfect with little ones because there is no traffic and lots to see – boats! buskers! buses on bridges! We started with coffee at Borough Market, walked past the Golden Hind ship (the quay had been drained and it was getting a hose down which was endlessly fascinating for the little ones), under the lights of The Clink, past The Globe theatre and the Millenium footbridge, and up to the Tate Modern (you can just keep going if you don’t have tired tinies).


on the blog.

I talked about how it feels to begin trusting my own desires as signposts from God; about a quilt my mum made in her college accounting lectures (for She Loves); the end of an era as the tree of my childhood garden was felled; and a few thoughts inspired by the autumn equinox this month.


Grandpa's 87th Birthday


family birthdays. September is a full month around here – both my parents, my Grandpa, and my niece. Kaya has enthusiastically embraced the birthday concept and we must have HAPPY BIRTHDAY CAKE WITH CANDLES (it’s nearly always shouted passionately when she says it). It was most special to get to spend my Grandpa’s 87th birthday with him. We took him cupcakes, blew out the candle, and then played with duplo on the floor.

family weddings. My cousin Pete married the beautiful and lovely Hannah this month. I love our whole extended family so it was such a treat to spend the day together with lots of them, including a bunch of USA-based cousins I hadn’t seen in years. In true baby-parent style we spent half the ceremony in the church creche, missed the groom’s speech while feeding the baby, and left before the dancing began because we were about as exhausted as our kids. But it was still pretty much wonderful.


hosting friends. Yet another old friend was in London for work this month and we got to host him overnight and eat sushi and talk about everything important. It’s one of the many reasons I love living in this city – it’s such an epicentre of business and travel, that eventually nearly everyone you love passes through and you get to have them stay.

sushi. We ordered in sushi when our friend was in town and I realised it was the first time I’d eaten it since we moved to London. Which is far.too.long. I love sushi.