we the redeem-able, we the restor-able

2018 has not been an easy year for my family. There were job changes and losses and juggling. There was stress and sickness. There was the learning of how to parent a 2 year old that never forgets ANYTHING. And there was also the building of a house which seconded and underpinned all of our energy, finance, time and attention. My dear husband has basically been working 7 days/nights a week at his ‘real’ job and then at site to make it ready enough for us – But it is a site no more, because as of two weeks ago, we finally moved into our home. It is beautiful. I’m so proud of us. Of Shannon in particular, but of both of us – that we actually made it here.

Many times this year I’ve had conversations with friends and family who ask about the house or how we’ve been going, and I shared mostly about the hard work that a self build-off the grid-custom house is, and the toll that it’s taken. Please understand, I don’t want to whinge: So many people only dream about the opportunity that we have had to build this place. I get how privileged we are. It is a beautiful thing.

But it has been costly. And by costly I mean in time. And in relationships. And in health. And in sanity. I think about the disagreements that Shannon and I have had this year and all most of them have simply arisen from the fact that we’re both so tired and desperately just wished our partner would acknowledge how hard we’ve been working.

Anyone with me?

I’m just tired. and done. And after yet another Christmas where sickness has taken us out of celebrations, and after all the work and stress and frustration and envy of other-people’s-seemingly-simpler-lives, this is the prayer that I’ve been repeating – as I sit in our beautiful home – a beautiful home at the end of a really long, hard year

“Jesus. It’s been really really hard.
Can you redeem this for us? Can you redeem me?”

I really really hope so.

There are many names for Jesus – we are reminded of them at Christmas – but one of my favourites is Jesus the Redeemer.

Redemption is Deliverance. Rescue.

The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us…Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.

Romans 3 (MSG)

To redeem is to gain or regain possession of (something/someone) in exchange for payment. Redemption costs something. It also requires a third party, the redeemer, to pay up. So Jesus being our redeemer, has freed us from slavery and death, in payment of himself.

As an aside – thinking about Jesus the Redeemer makes me thinking of the amazing statue called Christ the Redeemer that stands above Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. It’s truly magnificent: I’ve always loved how Jesus stands guard over the city, his arms raised high.

I have not seen it in person.

But what I have witnessed is in the outskirts of Buenos Aires. You take a suburban bus and come across a gem called Tierra Santa or the Holy Land, a Jesus theme park. You heard it right kids. An entire theme park exists where you can visit reenactments of the creation, of Jesus’ life, and you can dress up as biblical characters. What Tierra Santa also has is a Jesus that resurrects (and rotates) out of a mountain on the hour, every hour. It’s so good. Take that Rio De Janeiro.

But back to the Redeemer. This name for Jesus is truly wonderful.

Redemption is a powerful, enticing idea. And it is something that I long for so often.

I think it’s something that we all long for really.

Can those parts of us, of our lives, that have been, or are presently, destructive, painful, shameful – can they be freed?

I think that’s the real prayer I’ve been making. Not that my entire life would be replaced and made perfect – although that would be nice – just that the elements which are broken can be redeemed and made to be life giving.

The thing is, I think Jesus is all over that too. Because what is also encaptured in this concept of REDEMPTION, is RESTORATION.

Redemption means freedom FROM something, yet restoration – a closely linked process – is the act by which we are brought TO something.

Redemption FREES, but Restoration PROVIDES – provides new life, peace, meaning & relationship.

The two work hand in hand in the biblical story – both in small lives but also across whole groups and nations. God is in the business of offering MERCY to redeem us, but also GRACE in the restoration to beauty, wholeness & life.

I didn’t want to get too preachy in this post. Sorry about this. But it’s so good. YES. God redeems. YES Jesus restores. He tells us that he does. And I’ve seen it happen.

We often hear about the stories of people meeting Jesus and their whole lives have been transformed in one moment – like Paul on the road to Damascus, or the drug dealer who suddenly becomes sober – and as a young person I remember feeling so jealous of their stories when mine was a far more mundane one.

But the way I’ve seen God work in my life is within it – restoring and redeeming the stories of heartbreak, the feelings of loss or loneliness, the times of intimidation or embarrassment. What I’ve come to realise is that it’s an equally valid & transformational story.

He has redeemed my whole being of course – but every day, and within and through my life, he restores it.

Moreover, the thing that I’m so comforted by is the thought that the very nature of restoration and redemption assumes that there is something worth saving.

It assumes that I’m worth saving.

The very nature of restoring an old car, house, chair, person – assumes that they have worth. There are parts of me, of you, that are worth the effort. The very point of redemption is that you don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, but recognise the beauty & creation in something’s, or someone’s, essence & soul.

This is the thought that has warmed my cynical, clapped-out heart this past two weeks.

If he is the redeemer,

I am the redeemable.

if he is the restorer,

I am the restorable.

x

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black friday, true crime podcasts, and everything anxious

You may have heard that my husband and I are building a house. Which we have been building for the last 299409 years. She is a beauty and I can’t believe that we’ll be actually living in it someday soon. This piece is not about building a house – I’m sure many will come of the like – but it is about the fact that when you’re at the end of a house build, you rarely have money. The money you do have should and does go into buying boring things like curtains. and septic tanks. and doors. You know, the things that make a house liveable…but not sexy. Septic tanks are not sexy.

Now despite the reality that I know I should be buying roller door fire retardant seals (clearly the most exciting product on the planet), this weekend I have found myself scrolling Instagram and Facebook, seeing add after add of “BLACK FRIDAY SALE”, and wanting so desperately to buy all of it. Whatever IT was. Not only do did I want 1200 thread count sheets at 70% off, or that gorgeous Gorman dress that would be so amazing over summer, but the hard truth is that I cared less about how wonderful all these purchases would make me feel  (which is the #1 rule and trick of consumerism) and the identity I am creating (which is the #2 rule and trick of consumerism), and more about how anxious I was on missing out on the opportunity to feel better about myself and support the image that I am creating (which is really the driving force behind #1 and #2).

Let’s state that again. Yes I want wanted dresses and sheets and crockery and Rollie shoes and environmentally sound keep cups. But the anxiety on missing out on the opportunity to gather these items was a far stronger force than any desire for discounted Kikki K 2019 diaries.

I just didn’t want to miss out.

The thing is, this is what the consumerist society is designed to do.

Consumerism is DESIGNED TO MAKE YOU FEEL BAD ABOUT YOURSELF.
SO THAT YOU BUY MORE STUFF. It is defined as Perpetual non-satisfaction.
IT is BEST FRIENDS WITH ANXIETY and man, do they have a good working relationship.
The system works so well: Guys, buy stuff to make you feel good & represent your identity. But more than that, do it NOW so that you won’t miss out on becoming/staying part of the in crowd who have already done so.  

I’m not knocking purchasing. I do it all the time – just take a look at my 63 strong hoard collection of vintage dresses. I’m not even talking about the role of of unethical purchasing or irresponsible stewardship of our money, which are both really important things to consider in our purchasing habits.

But if you are feeling anxious about shopping – and what you’re missing out on, please. take a breath. wait a minute or hour or day to purchase.
THERE WILL ALWAYS BE MORE CLOTHES.
THERE WILL ALWAYS BE MORE HOUSES.
THERE WILL ALWAYS BE MORE T2.
THERE WILL ALWAYS BE ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY.

Perhaps you are one of the chosen ones in our society who aren’t implored to shop. But maybe you like podcasts instead. I love podcasts. They’re so good. Give me a true crime, or a revisionist history, or a tv show dissection, or a Cultural Theory, and I am done. I am happy. and I am probably smug that you haven’t heard of the podcast yet and I get to introduce it to you.

But here’s the thing. I have been anxious about podcasts too! In my work commute I have an hour of juicy time to listen to my episodes. But more frequently than I care to admit, I have caught myself thinking “What podcast am I missing out on? What knowledge or in joke or unbelievable-but-true crime am I missing out on knowing the ins and outs of?”

This is dumb.

Podcasts are a privilege of the elite and learned. Podcasts are a joy of creation and thinking and sharing of knowledge and humour and wisdom and musical theatre. We should delight in the fact that they’re free and that we get to listen to them. We don’t have to be anxious about what we’re missing out on. Just put it on the list and you’ll get to it if and when you can.

We don’t have to add a consumerism lens to our resources and time.
We just don’t. It’s exhausting and robs us of joy and peace.
Maybe we can choose not to. 

You and I, dear friends, have far greater things to spend our time and energy on than feeling anxious about the purchases that we should be making to feel good or the podcast that we’re missing out on.

If you are feeling anxious, I implore you: Name it if that’s what you’re feeling, and consider why you are feeling like you’re missing out or feeling crap about yourself today. Talk to someone about it. Pray about it. Read some truths about yourself – Such as you are an incredible masterpiece, a gift, a delight, someone worthwhile.

It might save you some dollars and maybe also give you some joy and peace that lasts longer than it takes to open the package.

Can you advocate for me?

So you’ve had an illness for some weeks now. Maybe it’s a cough, maybe it’s a headache that just won’t go away no matter how many pills you pop, maybe it’s your kid who has had 17 ear infections in the past year. So you go to the doctor, perhaps again. You can’t get into the Doctor you normally see and so you’re scheduled with a very educated and very well meaning other stranger doctor who hears your story, checks your symptoms, maybe writes you a script, or if worse comes to worse, tells you to keep up the fluids and to ‘wait and see’. 

You still don’t feel better. 

You walk  away from the experience feeling disappointed and unsatisfied. 

Why is that? I mean the obvious answer is that it’s annoying because the doctor couldn’t or didn’t fix us. We go to doctors to get help, right? 


I’ve got nothing against the medical profession by the way – I’m grateful for those in our midst who were willing to sacrifice the years of study to know way more about the human body than I will ever  do – but again, so many times when I’ve sought help from health or other services I walk away feeling deflated. 

Maybe it’s because there’s something else going on under the surface. I think the disappoint may also lie in the fact that what we really long for is someone to be our advocate. Someone to take up our cause and say “I see you! I hear your problem. Let’s make this better for you.” We long for someone to follow through with that promise and not to stop until they’ve exhausted all options and it DOES feel better. 

The thing is, that’s not necessarily going to happen at your local gp’s office. I mean, who’s got time for that? 

I was reading this this morning though and it stopped me in my tracks.

“I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit; you heard my plea, ‘Do not close your ear to my cry for help!’ You came near when I called on you; you said, ‘Do not fear!’ “You have taken up my cause, O Lord; you have redeemed my life.”

‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:55-58‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Be careful, oh my soul. Be alert, Kirsten. As weary as you may be, Be aware of who you’re looking to to save you…but take heart. 

Do I want someone to follow through on their promise?

Do I want someone who knew me then, knows me now and will know me in the future?

Do I want someone to hear me and advocate for my cause? 

Here he is. 

Expertly Amateur

I’ve been a mum for 2 weeks now. As others have said before me, prior to meeting your bubs, you try to imagine both the emotion you’ll feel for your little one, and also the way that it will change your life. Both imaginations failed dismally to what I’ve felt and experienced in the past two weeks. I mean, the girl is scrumptious.

K&A

The sleep deprivation is not.

And neither has been that feeling of complete incompetence I’ve felt over the past 17 days. Like when my husband and I attempted to change our screaming bubs in and out of 5 outfits last night because we couldn’t judge the size of said garments compared to baby’s dimensions yet. Our daughter looked at us with this face that said – “Seriously, come on guys. It can’t be that difficult.”

Can’t it? I mean, how difficult is it to dress/feed/cuddle such a lovely one?

Heaps, apparently.

In the last 17 days I have found myself exposed to my own (and my imagined daughter’s) criticism in a way that is supremely uncomfortable. I’m an amateur.  Seriously. I don’t know squat. And that, my friends, is the thing that I’m afraid of MOST in the whole world. Forget spiders, heights, *collectable spoons and cancer. I can face them. But looking like an idiot? Please God, NO.

I’ve built my career and relationships on the fact that I know stuff. And that I can contribute. Not only have I learned big words in the past to sound impressive in conversations, but I have also actively avoided activities because I have trouble being vulnerable enough to learn things and not be an expert immediately (just ask how I went learning how to play tennis).

But now I’m faced with the task of needing to learn how to be a mum -and fast- so that my child can live and thrive. Not fun. The fact that she’s learning too hasn’t provided comfort yet because I am still the adult, right? In this situation, I’m the one who is supposed to be in control, and yet I’ve found myself being intimidated by a person who is only days old because I want to do so right by them, but I’m not sure if I can.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that I can do some stuff, and some stuff I’m actually not terrible at. Here’s the rub though- I’m an amateur in Everything. EVERYTHING! Who am I kidding?! My dear God looks at my ridiculous attempts to impress him, and he says thanks love, but you don’t need to. I just love you. It’s ok.

There is so much beauty and space to breathe when I finally come with humility and realise that my state of amateurism can actually be one step closer to experiencing his grace for me. I’m so grateful that it’s ok to not to be an expert in life yet. My weakness and willingness to be taught can be a statement to his glory.

What a gift for me to be reminded of In Easter week.

Oh Dear Jesus, thanks for saving me from myself…

And please keep reminding me of this.

Kirst x

*Collectable spoons still terrify me.

“Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”
2 Cor‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬