So it's the end of a long, hot, wearying rollercoaster of a summer. We may only be in mid-August (I say 'may'; I really haven't the faintest clue what day it is), but the evenings are that bit shorter and there's a definite smell of Autumn in the air. I say rollercoaster; I won't go into the details, but it's been one of those summers I won't forget for a while. I'm mentally, emotionally and physically tired today, and although it's nothing a good weekend of taking it easy won't cure, it feels like I'm ready for term time to bring on its routines. Still, we have Holiday Bible Club next week in church, so that'll be a good opportunity for a bit of rest and recuperation... Small children are always restful *.
(*small children are almost never restful)
First, we had the arrival of Nephew Smile. This caused great excitement in the Smile household, particularly for Papa Smile, a man not generally renowned for his love of small children, but who has been seen lying in the summerhouse with Nephew Smile on his chest, chatting away and telling him stories. Also, Mama and Papa Smile got a summerhouse. Like, a shed thing in the garden, not a whole separate house that they go to in the summer. That's crazy talk.
Also good this summer was the firm re-establishment of an old friendship - not that it had lapsed, it just hasn't been firing on all cylinders for a few years, for various reasons. Anyway, this is one of those friendships where all we need is to look at each other and we descend into the most irritating (and yet weirdly catching) giggles. Which is probably kind of annoying for other people, because it tends to interrupt the flow of proper grown-up conversations if two of the participants go into hysterics if someone says one of their trigger words. But I've always felt that grown-up conversation is vastly over-rated. Also, CHICKENS!! *collapses to the floor giggling with friend*
<warning: religious bit>
It's also been a summer when I've had to do a lot of thinking about what it looks like for broken relationships to be restored, and how to help in a very broken, messy situation. I've done a lot of reading, and praying, and thinking about God's grace and mercy, and what that looks like in terms of human friendships, and how to bring about restoration. I've been hurt and been let down, and probably hurt other people and let them down; I've forgiven and been forgiven; I've had to trust that God will work in miraculous ways. I've been reminded that God does indeed work in miraculous ways, and that through Christ we have victory over the power of sin. I'm learning that I need to be patient and wait for that victory to be worked out, when I want it all now. I've resisted the urge to shove all my solutions onto a friend going through a bad time, and I've failed to resist that urge. I've tried to figure out what it really means to be a good friend.
I revisited my favourite book (From Fear To Freedom), and have started a crusade to make everyone read it. When I mentioned it on Facebook, Transfarmer requested that I wrote a summary of it here, because she's too lazy to re-read it herself (or she had a baby or something). So I might do that. Then I wrote to the author of the book to say how much I loved it, and she wrote back and said she'll send me a copy of her new book. So that's exciting, and I'll tell you all about it once I've read it.
<end of religious bit, mostly>
So that basically summarises my summer of 2013. I may be back shortly with the WhyNotSmile Guide To Running A Holiday Bible Club (tips: don't end up in charge, and don't be vastly over-ambitious with your craft), depending on how it goes. If you're the praying type, you could say a few words for the week. If you're the type who thinks it's all about brainwashing children into superstition, calm down. I don't have the energy for that sort of thing.
Also, if anyone out there knows how to make and bake salt dough, please get in touch. All the helpers for next week are Supportive Of The General Concept, but none of us have actually ever done salt dough before. I'm currently thinking that the best-case scenario is that we at least get a good laugh out of it, but you never know: it might work. I'll keep you posted.