Author: Claire van Ryn

These 33-year-old hands

I’m looking at my hands in the shower as the water runs over them, filling up the liminal lines, smoothing the ridges, the whorls that make up the unique geography of my skin. These 33-year-old hands. I’m thinking that 33 is how old Jesus was when he died. It’s a sobering thought. Who he is, who I am. What he was prepared to die for, what I am prepared to die for. His ministry, my ministry. His relationship with Father, my relationship with Father. His body, my body. And our hands. My hands; they smooth out sheets… spread peanut butter sandwiches… stick Star Wars bandaids on knees… tap-tap-tap on computer keys… swipe hair from eyes… stir soup… grip steering wheel… cup faces. His hands; they gestured in emphasis of teachings… washed dusty feet… brushed tears from eyes… rubbed forehead and temples… clasped tight under a murmuring mouth… stroked the fetlock of a donkey… turned tables over… ripped bread in two… comforted. His hands invited brute nails through flesh and bone. I look at my own pale …

What’s that smell?

My two-year-old darling goes to daycare once a week. She loves it – spends most of the time making dirt pies outside, Mr Biddulph will be pleased to hear, and I’m always thrilled to see how much dirt her clothes have managed to carry home. That statement’s not tongue-in-cheek, by the way. I really am stoked to see her grimy clothes, the clumps of dirt secreted in the toes of her shoes, and know that she’s been engaged in some good, old-fashioned play. Each time I pick her up, swinging her into my arms and covering her face with kisses, I notice a strange smell. When I put my nose to it, inhaling at her neck and in her ash-blonde hair, I realise what it is: someone else’s perfume – the lingering fragrance of another woman’s loving cuddles. The evidence of a Jesus-centred (or should that be Jesus-scented?) life is like this, like a sweet aroma that people are drawn to, intrigued by, entranced by, and which even rubs off on them. They take that aroma home, …

Reading the raunchiest book in the Bible.

I’ve been reading Song of Songs these past few days. I wanted to better understand the concept of my faith being a romance with Jesus. Reading this short book of the Bible always made me feel uncomfortable, confused even. Like watching a steamy love scene in a movie with your parents sitting on the couch beside you.

My girly girl, pay parity and other thoughts on being a woman.

As the proud mum of a two-year-old girl, I am privy to the whimsical workings of her sweet little head. She is the personification of joy and we have such fun doing girly things together, like dancing around the dining table to the Frozen soundtrack, picking flower petals for a fresh batch of perfume and making “wiggly worms” from pink play doh. Every night as I tuck her into bed, she insists I tell a story with a “princess in pink dress, pink shoes, pink lipstick, riding a pink neigh.” For the record, I’m allergic to pink, so this has been quite a journey and proof that girly girls are born, not bred. So, as we come around to another International Women’s Day awareness campaign, it is her I think of first. “Be bold for change” is this year’s battle cry to achieve equality with men and, in particular, pay parity. And when I think of my daughter as she flits through the room in a tutu with fairy wand waving, I do want that …

6 Things I want to remember when I’m mum to a teen

I have seven years until I can say that I’m mum to a teenager. I shall relish those years; relish the toddler tantrums, the toilet training and shoelace tying. Because people keep telling me that when kids hit their teens, the rules change. Everything changes. Dark clouds form and the light and shade of parenting becomes more shade than light. Well, I don’t know if you’re all being a little bit melodramatic. To be honest, I’m not the sort to worry in advance about these things. I’ll let tomorrow worry about that. But as I engage with you parents of teens, and you tell me what is working for you, there are so many nuggets of wisdom that I’m desperately trying to retain, to file away somewhere in this lackadaisical brain so that seven years from now, on my son’s 13th birthday, I can pull out that file marked, Useful Tips & Tricks for Mums of Teenagers. I won’t rely on my brain, I’ll rely on my blog. Here is the start of a file …

“You Disappear When You Get Old,” She Said.

It was a mild autumn afternoon by the river, the water still and the light all toffee and caramel. We were ambling along the water’s edge when an elderly lady came walking her puppy – a silky terrier no larger than a rodent. The pup made instant friends with our two-year-old. There were giggles and face-licking, shrill yapping and shivers of excitement. So it was that I got chatting to a complete stranger. The elegant lady shared openly of her life, a story of immense sorrow and high joys. Her journey was intriguing – I was captivated. I must have stood there with this woman for 20 minutes, until she became self-conscious, realising she had interrupted our stroll. We exchanged names, shook hands and walked our separate ways. In all that she said, there was one sentence that resounded – because it wasn’t the first time I’d heard it. “You disappear when you get old,” she said sadly. My friend (let’s call her Liz), now in her 80s, said those very words no more than a week …

That regrettable NY resolution: update #1

You might recall that, at the beginning of the year, I pledged not to buy a single piece of new clothing for 12 long months (…excluding underwear. Definitely excluding underwear!). How’s that going? Six weeks in I can report that it’s going incredibly well. Like, amazingly well. As in, my wardrobe is bulging with oh-so-fashionable op shop finds to the point where I can count on one hand the number of times I have looked longingly at a sales rack outside a clothing shop. See for yourself… All the above jeans, tops, dresses, cuff, jumper, shoes and shorts were purchased from op shops, markets, a charity clothes swap event, Facebook sales pages – or given to me by a caring friend (black top, bottom right!). And the brands! Sass, Nike, Stussy, Country Road, Quirky Circus etc. Safe to say, I have not had to compromise on quality one iota. Possibly the best bit about this New Years challenge has been hearing from those of you who have chosen to join me. You have decided to …

Upside Down

I was out walking… honestly, so many of my revelations, the whisperings from my heavenly Father, are received on these regular walks of mine, when the sun is in its infancy and the tracks are lonely. I was out walking, admiring the beauty around me; the craggy cliff faces stroked smooth and lined by the movements of the tidal river below; the merry clumps of hydrangeas in bright contrast with the grey-green of eucalypts; the air a-hum with cicada song. I was mesmerised by all of this as I scoped an uprooted tree, sprawling down the steep side of the track, silver and dying. I walked past. And as I continued, I thought about how the tree was upside down, its roots pointed up like branches and its branches digging down like roots. I turned back, walked the hundred or so metres back up steps to look again at this tree that seemed to be talking to me. Not like the talking trees in The Chronicles of Narnia or The Wonderful Wizard of Oz but more as …