Light of the world

This winter I’ve been very aware of darkness. With an active toddler to entertain, I’ve noticed all too well the fact that on an overcast day it’s pitch black by not long after 4pm, so we can’t have a trip to the park or do any other outdoor activity after his afternoon nap which usually comes to an end around 3.30pm. Instead, as there are few groups on in afternoons, I’ve had to come up with indoor activities like baking, play dough, craft or (as a last resort) DVDs to keep him amused, and although he generally likes these, I can tell he’d rather be running off some energy outside. Roll on spring and its lighter evenings!

Apart from this annoying aspect of darkness for us at the moment, I do love to see Christmas lights twinkling in the streets, which you can only see when it’s dark; Andrew has noticed them too this year, shouting enthusiastically as he points out various shapes like stars and trees that he can see in lights as we walk home from the one afternoon group that we go to on Wednesdays. I also love open fires at this time of year, providing light and warmth on cold, dark winter’s evenings – not that we have one in our flat, but I love just thinking of that image.

For me the twinkling lights and image of an open fire are, when I stop and think about it, a reminder of what Christmas is all about. Jesus, the little baby who was born in Bethlehem to Mary and Joseph, grew up to become a man, who lived life as a human, just like you and me. But he wasn’t just an ordinary man, rather he was God’s son, sent to this world to die for us, to make up for all the wrong things we do. During His time here on Earth before His death and rising again, Jesus called himself various things when He was explaining to people who He was and why He was here – He made several statements starting with “I am….”, one of which was:

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

The people He was talking to directly at the time would have been familiar with the writings of Isaiah, a prophet who told of Jesus’ birth long before it happened, who said this about Jesus coming into the world:

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” – Isaiah 9:2.

So when Jesus said He was the light of the world, this would have reminded His listeners of the prophet’s writings about someone who would come to fulfil a very special role. But Jesus’ message of who He is was for “Whoever” – everyone, in all places and throughout history right up to now and the future, not just those he was speaking to about 2000 years ago.

The thought that I’ll always have a light guiding me through life’s darkest times is extremely comforting, and let’s face it, the world can be a dark place both literally and metaphorically. I’ve been through some dark patches personally, and even if it wasn’t an obvious light like a spotlight or headlamp at the time, I look back and can totally see God’s light shining into my life through other people and events, and that brought me out of the dark times.

It’s at Christmas that I’m most often reminded of this great promise that Jesus made about being the light of the world, which is why I thought I’d share this on Christmas Day. If you’d like to read more of the statements that Jesus made about Himself, then I’d recommend reading John’s Gospel, a book from the Bible (4th in the New Testament) – if you can’t easily get hold of a whole Bible, then you can read online at Bible Gateway, it’s not a very long book and would take maybe a few hours to read in total. You never know, it might just shed some new light on how you think of Jesus this Christmas.

Happy Christmas everyone! 🙂

Grobag Gro-ing Places Chair Harness

Just recently there have been a few occasions when we’ve thought that a travel high chair would be a good idea. Usually cafes and restaurants have them when we eat out (not that we do it that often, and the kinds of places we go to are family friendly), but we’ve been a bit stuck when going to lunch in the home of friends who don’t have kids. When Andrew was less independent we could manage with him on our lap, but now he wants his own portion and the chair to go with it, squirming and wriggling for freedom from the harness that is his parents’ arms.

I’d heard about travel high chairs but not really looked into it until Andrew’s friend and her parents came for lunch, and brought with them hers. They had a Totseat in a very sensible greeny colour with a strong pattern, so food would not be too obviously visible. So this prompted me to do some Googling, and I ended up buying a Grobag Gro-ing Places Chair Harness. I’ve not done any reviews yet on the blog, and I wasn’t asked to do this, so it’s more just about me telling you how useful we’ve found it rather than an actual review.

Basically it is a piece of fabric with straps and clips that fit over almost any adult chair that has a back to it. You can tighten and loosen the straps to fit each chair and your growing child.

It is made out of a lightweight but strong fabric, which very handily folds in on itself into a little carry bag (a bit like one of those cagoules that folds into itself). That way there’s no way you can lose the bag to carry it in. This is useful when you have a toddler and your eyes are not usually kept fixed on the same task for more than 30 seconds because said toddler has toddled off. I like the fact that the fabric is patterned, so that food spillages are not too obvious. But it’s also machine washable and also just easily wipeable after a meal. Let’s face it, it’s going to get messy! The first time I got it out and tried to fix it onto a chair, it looked quite complicated. But once I’d followed the instructions and had a couple more goes on my own, it soon became easy. The hardest part was getting Andrew to sit still for long enough for me to tighten the strap around his waist.

As Andrew is only 13 months old, he is a bit low still on adult chairs, so we find that we either have to give him a cushion to sit on, or one of us adults holds his plate off the table in front of him at the right height. I’ve got used to eating with one hand since having a baby, so that doesn’t particularly bother me – I can still get on with mine and hold his plate.

I’d say this chair harness is very good value, and we’ll certainly have it with us when we’re out, just in case we need it. It’s so compact that it slips into the change bag easily along will all the other paraphernalia. I didn’t buy many items of baby equipment until I’d either tried one out through a friend, or lived with Andrew for a while to see what would really be useful. There are so many things out there that we’re told we ‘need’ for baby, but it’s not always a case of ‘needing’ everything. This chair harness, however, has definitely been worth it, and it’s hard to imagine not having it now, as it makes our mealtimes much more pleasant for everyone when we’re out and about. Andrew gets to feel all grown up in a grown-ups chair, and we get to eat without a toddler’s body crossing the flight path of our fork from plate to mouth.