Author: Claire van Ryn

Quinces, rainbows and bloody thorns

When we walk around our neighbourhood right now, there are boxes on the nature-strip filled with apples or quinces or lemons or books and little hand-written signs saying, “Help yourself”. There are pictures of rainbows sticky-taped to windows and teddy bears perched on window ledges so that children can count them as they take exercise with their parents. (We counted 84 in a relatively short block last week!) My kids receive and deliver snail mail to their friends a few houses away. And when we pass strangers in the street, stepping wide to obey the government-directed girth, there are smiles and nods warmer than I’ve experienced before. It’s struck me that, at the end of this, we will all have a shared experience. Have you thought about that? There are very few things in this life that we can say with absolute truthfulness that we have all experienced to some extent. The pandemic will affect us all differently, of course. I know people quarantined in a hotel room in Sydney right now. Some friends are …

This will surprise you: the first person to recognise Jesus was…

Who was the first person to recognise Jesus? Perhaps you haven’t given it any thought before now. Well, let’s take a look. In the midst of your Christmas preparations, let’s rewind to discover a lesser-known Christmas message. We know that an angel first told Mary that she was pregnant with the “Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32). We know that another angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and dispelled his fears that Mary had been sleeping around (Matthew 1:20-21). They were told, with divine clarity, who Jesus was. But in Luke 1:41-44, we read an account of the first person to independently recognise the Saviour… and astonishingly, he wasn’t even born yet: “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your …

Hey Mama, just jump on the trampoline, will you?

“Pleeeeease, Mum!” she says. “Please come jump on the trampoline.” I sigh. It’s the third day running that she’s asked, and each time so far I’ve had a legitimate excuse. I’m cooking dinner, darling. It’s getting dark. We have to go do the groceries, hun. Today, I have no excuse. “C’mon mum, you said you would,” older brother pipes in. Blue puddle eyes pierce me to my very core. I smile. And they hoot, because they know I’ve given in. So we jump around like crazies for the next 20 minutes. I double-bounce them in turns, sending them literally flying into the safety netting… hopefully it’s still safe. I wave at the neighbour mid-air. He grins. And we laugh and squeal and romp like little kids. Which they are and, as my thirty-six-year-old bones (and pelvic floor) remind me, I am not. I actually kinda love it that they enjoy me jumping (and jiggling) with them. And I’m grateful to have the health to be able to do so – when I get over my …

Inspired by the Psalms

I promised myself that, on completing the Psalms, I would have a go at writing one myself. And I know it’s been weeks and weeks since I finished my Psalm-a-day thing. Forgive me. But, I AM a finisher. A late-finisher is better than a never-finisher, right? Here’s my Psalm. The third or forth attempt. And far from the lyrical beauty of the Biblical Psalms. But it feels good and right to end my Psalm season this way. To respond to creative expression with creative expression. If you’ve followed the Psalms with me, maybe you’d like to do likewise and end by writing a Psalm of your own to our mighty, amazing, gracious, all-knowing, intensely loving God. I’d love to read it!   MY PSALM I look out across the expanse of this new day and see? I see you are there. Blue-sky God. Thunder God. Drenching-with-rain God. I look into the barely blushed petals of a magnolia bloom; you are there. I look across the countless rooftops of this city, smoke curling from chimneys, trampolines …

I made a terrible mistake.

Please bear with me as I explain to you a journey I’ve been on to remedy an unwitting choice I made that rubs against the grain of everything I stand for. This is going to be hard. It’s hard for me to share, yes. Extremely so. But hard too because I know that many of you who read this will be in the position I was about nine months ago.

A psalm a day keeps…

We were like marbles rolling around in a bowl. All around us, 360-degrees, mountains loomed in colours rich, dark and earthy. As the sun rose above the horizon’s lip, shadows began pouring like ink into the crevasses. Hubby Phill and I were at Lees Paddocks in Tassie’s highlands, having hiked in the afternoon before and set up our squeezy two-man tent beside the rickety old hut there. Why didn’t we stay in the hut, you ask? Spiders. Rats. Enough said. The syrupy sun thawed the valley quickly and we pulled on the same clothes, the same boots, cramming unwashed hair beneath hats, ready for some exploration. And the mountains. As we trudged over tussocks, scrambling over fallen trees and lively streams, the shadows changed the mountains’ appearance. The inky black penned in new crags and cliffs; this rock more pronounced, that ledge fading, this ridge slanting at a different angle. Every time I lifted my chin to appreciate the purple-grey-blue-green of the heights, a new vista. Same mountain, new perspective. This year I am reading …

The gift God gave me this year.

“How’s it been, readjusting to normal life?” I’ve been asked. “Has it been difficult?” After our three-month caravanning adventure from Tassie to Cooktown and back again, you’d’ve thought it WOULD be difficult slotting back into the daily rhythms and responsibilities. Of school lunches and ballet lessons and housework and meetings and juggling jobs and groceries. Instead of beach days and markets and ice-cream and beach days and walks and cafes and beach days. But it hasn’t. And when I look back to that jewel of family time on the road, seeing new things every day, living simply and without much need for clocks and calendars, I recognise something very special that God gave us this year. Time. Yes, he gave us three months. Of time. But those three months have given us an appreciation for the true value of our time. And I’ve said this to so many people lately, but it’s true and I want to share it again. Our family dynamic is so very different since we’ve returned. We relish the time we …