Zimbabwe

Jemma and I visited Zimbabwe in April 2000. We found a stunningly beautiful country and extremely generous and hospitable people. As part of the trip we spent a short amount of time in Harare, the capital city. My memories of what we saw there will always stick with me and as I’ve followed news developments this week in Zimbabwe my mind has turned to April 2000 and our stay there.

Anti government demonstrations had been taking place as we arrived from the uk. Land reform was underway, mainly white landowners were being forced off their land. Jobs were lost, the agriculture sector began to collapse and there were lots of reports of brutality. Exiting the airport we found a heavy military presence and a few demonstrators who seemed to be in small clusters along the road side. We didn’t think much of it until we noticed many of them had blood stained clothes, bruises and bleeding faces. Something nasty had happened to these protesters, it was in plain sight of everyone and a warning to all who witnessed it had been issued.

In the city centre, around the presidential and government buildings were groups of heavily armed soldiers and road blocks in place. The soldiers were agitated and intent on moving traffic and pedestrians on as quickly as they could. It felt like a level above normal security. Our guide calmly told us we would be shot if we tried to break the security line.

What shocked us most was the sense of normality that surrounded these events. To us it wasn’t normal and it seemed a pervasive fear was being spread by those in control.

I have tracked from home the news from Zimbabwe for the last 17 years, some of it has made pretty grim reading. Robert Mugabe has clung to power and reports suggest the levels of brutality towards anyone who poses a challenge have continued to rise over that period.

Eugene Peterson @PetersonDaily wrote this week, “The kingdom of self is heavily defended territory.” It is still unclear as to what has happened in Zimbabwe this week is the end of Robert Mugabe’s ‘heavily defended territory’. He still holds some popularity for reclaiming land that was taken by the British in the 1920’s and is unlikely to resign without resistance. There are also suggestions of Chinese influence.

But the principle of defending your territory happens in workplaces, churches, families and organisations all over the place. Born out of insecurity and fear, it is always ugly and there are usually casualties.

Jesus taught his followers that the key to finding life is losing it for His Kingdom’s sake. In God’s kingdom success is not measured by how much you have rather how much you give away.

My prayer is for peace and stability in Zimbabwe.

Children of the King

Jemma writes: As Mum in the growing Basham family I’ve found the last few weeks a challenge. I’ve not been able to physically do everything with the children that they’ve wanted or needed me to. My two year old son had a meltdown the other day when I couldn’t pick him up and he just didn’t understand that I felt like my insides would fall out if I did.

Leaving our children while I disappeared to hospital for a C section. Letting a very poorly daughter go with Lawrence to LGI without me….It’s hard to love this much and not be there or be the one they hold on to.

To stave off anxiety I have always told myself when facing a challenge; to do all I can, do my best and then give the rest to God. However, the last few weeks doing my best just hasn’t felt like it was good enough.

Here is a picture of our fourth miracle child.

She completes our family. After over a decade of tears now we have four precious children to love. I am immersed in loving the family, awash with motherly hormones and besotted with the baby. She hasn’t done anything at all but feed and need her nappy changing but I love her completely just as she is.

It is such a reminder of how much God loves me for being just me. It really is that simple. There is always enough love to reach us even on the grumpiest, most emotionally unbalanced and most sleep deprived days of the year. It doesn’t matter how well I do on each day, He loves me completely.

I want the children to know how much we love them, how much we prayed for them and what a blessing they are. But being a part of this family isn’t something we have earned, it’s a good and perfect gift.

There is a source to our family, a beginning and an end that wraps us in unconditional love. In the turmoil of feeding, zero sleep and settling into a new routine I want us to remember every day, that no matter how well or how badly we do each day, we will always be children of the King.

Contested moments

Thoughts on a couple of moments from this morning.

As we left the house, Jemma, knowing I have an important meeting today, gathered the kids to pray for Dad. Little hands stretched out to touch me as Jemma led a simple prayer of blessing.

Later, I have 20 minutes to kill and I need a Monday morning coffee, Nero is my current favourite. After I paid, my loyalty card was full of stamps, earning me a free coffee next time. It’s been my practice to always give away the free coffee card to the next person in queue. I’ve done this for a couple of years now and it’s just a simple way of offering generosity to somebody random.

Both of these events seem unconnected, but for each one there was a strong temptation not to do them. We were late leaving the house and I was anxious to get going, we don’t have time to pray. Then when I get my free card, can I be bothered today to talk to the person next to me and pass it on?

Moments in life are contested, raising healthy, God connected kids will always be contested. There is no clear strategy, just grab the opportunities and natural moments that arise, whether the children are with you or not. Children quickly pick up on authenticity, what’s real and what’s for show.

The coffee is good, I was blessed by my children and the recipient of the free coffee said that’s just what she needed today as she has frozen locks at work and can’t get in.

I wonder if she poured the coffee on the lock?

Proximity

There’s something about being pushed close to one another. The last few days have seen my family spending more time in the same space than we ever have before.

Our hours (day & night) have been dictated by the feeding pattern of a nine day old baby and three children all with viral infections.

We’re not going out, we’re not ‘doing’ anything. We have been forced to stop the busyness and spend time close to one another. Families go through the highs and the lows together and there’s a richness in sharing life authentically in a family or even a church community. Proximity is key.

There is lots of change in our family at the moment, we’ve added one to our number. We can see it’s impacting the older children and right now they need to know how safe and important they are.

We all live in an interconnected world but for me the most meaningful connections are often found with our nearest neighbours. Stopping all the activity that neatly fills our days and occupies our children’s time has been a blessing for us all. Love has to become flesh, get close, in proximity with each other.

Raising healthy kids

This is the post excerpt.

This week Jemma and I got to meet our 4th child, our 3rd daughter Iva Lucia. She was born at the excellent Leeds General Infirmary. A two day stay at LGI for Iva’s birth was followed up later in the week by another couple of days in a different part of the same hospital with 2nd daughter, Joy, who needed a bit of help with a nasty chest infection.

Raising healthy kids has been on my Twitter bio for a couple of years now and as we start life as a family of 6 (plus a dog and 2 guinea pigs) it feels as though doing life together and keeping everyone well could be a fair challenge.

But of course raising healthy kids is much more than dodging the latest virus and ensuring they wash their hands at each opportunity. We want to see our children and all children God connected and flourishing. As we found out this week, raising healthy kids, not just physically but also emotionally, mentally and spiritually is going to be a challenge.

Expect a few notes from the journey in this blog. Not sure how helpful it will be, I’m sure we won’t find the answers to all the questions but we might stumble on a few.