Dear Friends,



So, we’re wondering what to do about a holiday this year. We were a bit rubbish and only managed a single weekend away last year, what with the move and other excitements. But this year we’re not very likely to be moving, so we can think about the Great Escape. Two or three weeks somewhere completely different with an as yet unknown number of children (the number of our children wanting to come with us being inversely proportional to the perceived excitement of the place we opt for).

We are thinking of doing a house exchange – swapping homes with another family and thus having the dual benefit of a cheaper holiday and also a better feel for the community in which you’re taking your break. We’ve done this with two families in France and one in Canada in recent years and they’ve all been excellent times.

One of the hidden benefits when we house-exchanged in the year we were selling our house in Chester, was that it forces you to get all the little jobs done around the house that otherwise might be put off indefinitely and cleaning everything to within an inch of its life. Well, you don’t want other people coming into your house and thinking you live in a mess, do you? So you end up with a fixed house that smells of paint and floor wax.

Some people would view the prospect of an unknown family coming into their home with aghastness (which probably isn’t a word, but you know it should be). We may be reluctant about letting others in to our personal living space; but how are we with our personal spiritual space? We’re told way back in Old Testament writings that whereas man looks at the outside, yet God looks at the inside. The Lord, to whom all hearts are open and from whom no secrets are hid. How much internal spring-cleaning, fixing or repainting would we feel we need to do before we could say to God ‘It’s all ready for inspection!’ And is that what he wants? Or would he be happy being asked in exactly how you are now – meeting you in the everyday, walking with you in the here and now. The Queen may go around finding that everywhere she goes smells of paint and disinfectant, but I think God prefers the little bit of dust and chipped woodwork, the imperfect, the lived-in. We must never wait until we think we’re good enough – but to let him come to us today, and each day. He seems to like to join us in the clean-up operation!




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