Daffodils

xdaffodil2-pagespeed-ic-gijrwg9c4tFor a week of mornings whilst out walking the dog as I walk past the park there have been a group of daffodils who’s faces are turned toward the sun, expectant of the day to come. I kept meaning to bring my camera and take a photo because they said so much to me about looking to the source of light and being expectant and ready for the day. Of course I forgot and now they are gone. It looks like someone has picked them. We have loads of daffodils in and around our park and often people pick them to take home. I hope these expectant daffodils have gone to a good home.

But it got me thinking – how often are we expectant for something, looking to the source and then get snatched away from it? At my church this Sunday we’re doing a little play based around Matthew 23:37 where Jesus wants to gather Jerusalem to him like a mother hen gathers her chicks. A mother hen will spread her wings wide when she sees danger and gather all her chicks under her wings to protect them from attacks by birds of prey. mother henShe is willing to give her own life for her chicks. I think so often we think of God as someone we go ask things from and “look to expectantly” but don’t let him cover us from attack/being picked/disappointment. This verse, and many others in the Bible, do say about God being there to protect and support during times of hardship and distress. I’m not sure there are any, or maybe a few, that say He’ll make the bad times go away yet too often the Christian message is “God will make things wonderful and life will be great” and then wonder why people fall away when life doesn’t work that way, when prayers don’t get answered, people don’t get healed, we get “picked” after diligently “looking at the source”.

expectation_vs_realityI’ve just seen a post from a friend of mine who talks about life’s realities sometimes not living up to one’s expectations. With the things I do – the room rentals and the writing workshops – so often things don’t turn out as expected; I don’t get as many coming to the workshops as said they were, or those who come take things off in a totally different direction, or with the rooms people say they are coming for a certain time and then change their minds. We have just had it with the rooms that a couple and a single person both said they were going to be staying for a while. The single then decided that what she was doing here wasn’t for her and left and then the couple found a flat to rent quicker than I’d expected. For both sets of people this is great news, and I am really happy for them, but what it also means is that things have to lived up to the expectations that I had. Things are changing. It felt a bit like I was looking to a certain way of life and then got “picked” and its all change again.

So we need to be willing to accept the changes, go with the flow and also be kind to ourselves and accept that this can be exhausting, and like the daffodils can bring about major changes in our circumstances. And be willing to just hide under the shadow of His wing.

 

Five Wise, Five Foolish

virginsMatthew 25 tells a parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins. In the tale all ten of them are waiting for the bridegroom to turn up. It seems that this bridegroom doesn’t come at the time expected. In fact he is very late. Five of them had come without anything extra just in case and others had come with more oil just in case. When he did finally arrive the ones who had only got enough oil had run out but the others had enough left, though were reluctant to share. What struck me today was that all ten had come prepared but some were more prepared than others.
I am just starting a new project with my church and have been pondering it and how it will fit in with the other things that I do and want to do. How often do I take just enough because I am hoping it will be over quickly, or that I can get someone else to carry it for a while?
Last weekend I had a fun trip up to London to catch up with an old friend, see Moominland hero1600x630-22069-3520moomins20new20website20image-0120-1and see my daughter. Even though it was great fun it was still a very long day. Then on the Sunday I went to help out on Gwrych Castle open day, which again was enormous fun but tiring. Then in the week I had a meeting, a workshop every evening and every day, and a couple of other things going on. A very full diary. This weekend thankfully it has been calm and quiet, and last night husband was away and I had no guests staying. I am almost recovering. When I was in my 20s and 30s I could have breezed through this, but now it has taken a whole week to recover and I still feel a bit exhausted. I had enough but nothing left over.
I often wonder if not just church but the world helps us with this. Youth and the energy of youth is worshipped almost and the wisdom of the grey hairs not so much. But where are the teachings about slowing down, about knowing when your oil is running out. In fact in 1churches I’ve been to there has been much preached on making sure you always have that extra oil. Yes I totally understand that, but I need to know what I now need to cut out so that I have oil left over.
I do think this is as much about knowing your limitation as about making sure you have something in reserve. I wonder what the reasoning was with the five virgins who didn’t bring spare oil to wait? Maybe they’d given it to someone who didn’t have any? Had helped out a neighbour? Been somewhere else beforehand whilst the “wise” had been sitting and waiting? Maybe the “wise” had just come straight from the oil seller and so were able to carry some spare? Maybe the “foolish” had back problems? Didn’t have spare money?
I often push myself harder than I should because of concerns about money, about a job needing to be done, about helping and supporting other people, lots of other reasons. Take last weekend – why was I so busy? Because I wanted to see my friend and Moominland, and then was asked to help at a place I have fallen in love with and want to support. The things I do I do because they are things I love, ways I want to help and support others, things I get999071c3ea3bc8573eefb97f5ea3aa29 asked to do. All valid reasons.
So are we too harsh on the “foolish” virgins? Maybe we need to all be aware that too often we get swept into the role of helping, supporting, being there for others and just get too busy. Perhaps we need to pray more and do less?

Why Do Some Trees Fall And Others Not?

Oh I’m sure there’s a rational scientific explanation. In fact a man in the park told me that

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Dog and I walk down this road every day. We’d only been home a couple of hours when my friend sent me this!!!

the whole row of trees where one fell all have dead roots so all will fall at some point. Ok so that’s a reason but why that one during Storm Doris on Wednesday? Why not another one? Why not all of them? So as I was talking to him a woman walked past us and we both said Hello to her as we always do then he said “her husband passed away recently” which I knew because she’d told me and she’d told me this is the reason she gets up and walks briskly round the park each morning before she starts her day. Then he said, as she moved further away from us “and she’s had cancer.” She’s still standing, still walking, still able to smile and say good morning.

In fact I know of a few people who are dealing with cancer, bereavement, ill health, divorce, etc who still have time for other people, who still get up each day, who still work, care, smile. Then I know others who are going through similar who have fallen; some to staying home all the time, some to drink, drugs, fighting, bemoaning everything, some even to suicide. So what makes some people fall and others not?

The glib answer could be God, but that’s not true. I know as many Christians who have fallen into that pit of despair as I do those who do not have a faith. I know as many people who are still standing swaying in the wind of the awful things the world is throwing who don’t have a faith as I do ones who do.

There is something more than knowing/not knowing God that has to do with this whole falling/not falling. I think some of it is personality. Some people can just see the positive through things, some can’t. I would say, from experience for myself and those I know, that as a Christian in hard situations it is the knowing that God is there, it is turning to God and

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Tenacity that took this from this on Wednesday to ….

not expecting Him to be a fairy godmother who sorts it out but that He is a true friend who walks with you through it all. For those who say they don’t know God I think it is a tenacity that they won’t let life pull them down, that they will make the most of what they have whilst they on this earth for themselves, their families their friends. I think it is that which causes those with cancers to keep going with

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…. this on Thursday. Some people do this with their lives too

their craft workshops, run marathons, get up in the morning and smile.

So why do some trees fall and others don’t? I think like people they have a tenacity in their trunk that makes them want to stay standing and be willing to face another storm.

Doris – A Silly Name For a Storm

15867717-largeSurely if you are going to  name something then the name should fit. Why call a storm Doris? Is there anything that conjures up wild, fierce wind, storms, snow, plans being changed or cancelled in the name Doris?

My grandmother was called Doris. From what I remember she was feisty and I like to hope I get a bit of my stubborn nature from her, but storm force. No I don’t think so. Might have to ask my Mum to comment there because I was only 5 or 6 when my grandmother had a major stroke which back in the 1960’s was totally debilitating. She never really communicated after that. She did live with us for another 3 years in a bungalow in Dorset. My mum must have still thought she had some fight left in her because she would go to work and leave her with my sister and myself who were both not yet 10 years old then. But she definitely wasn’t storm force because from my recollection I used that time when my mum was at work and Nan was in charge to be horrid to my sister and make her do loads of awful things that a small child should not have done. And also swore her to secrecy about it. Don’t worry I did write her a very long letter of apology.

Most of these storms that batter our coast that they have started naming have got silly 1500546_billgiles_bbc300names. Names that don’t suit a storm. I think that is because it is scientists, meteorologists, who names them. I’m sure they have a very sensible way of doing it. I am convinced they work through a book of names picking at random. I wonder what would happen if you had a group of creative writers naming the storms.

I name this storm Desdemona. I think that conjures up someone that would wreck havoc around the country, that would love to make people scared, make them want to run for cover, to cancel things that aren’t major emergencies. She even sounds like she should come with an orange warning. Desdemona from Shakespeare enraged and disappointed her father and ran off with Othello, a man much older than herself. Yup that sounds like the storm that’s wiping around here, that made my dog only want to go out to do the ferdinand-theodor-hildebrandt-othello-und-desdemonaessentials and pull to come home, that made my writing workshop group all want to stay home. Desdemona has sent waves of rain water under my front door and soaked the free paper that was there. Thankfully it is only in the porch and only the free paper that got ruined. Also I think a storm called Desdemona would wait till we had cancelled the group, till she had wrecked her havoc and then stopped raining and made wonder why we’d stopped everything. Though I must add that Shakespeare’s Desdemona does eventually get strangled by her estranged husband because his sidekick makes him think she’s an adulteress.

From what I remember of Doris, my grandmother, she was someone who made things happen for me. I remember her catching me in the bathroom early one morning attempting to wash my own hair because my mum would always get shampoo in my eyes and I didn’t like that. I remember her being patient and helping me to do this myself. I don’t remember my mum ever washing my hair after that so my grandmother must have shown me well enough for my mum to be pleased with what I did. This isn’t this vindictive storm that has messed my day up today.

Come on whoever names these storms. More appropriate names please!

Come As You Are Not As You Should Be

“Come as you are not as you should be,

don’t cover up those scars,

their your glory, their your story,

their Your Beauty…”

[http://www.onmmusic.com/blog/2015/2/25/new-joshua-luke-smith-ep

These are such powerful lines and yet we got talking about them on the way  back from the last time we saw Josh Luke Smith perform this and some interesting things came from our chatting.

It is fine for me to come as I am with my woundings and hurts, my bits where I say and do img_8911-blogthe wrong thing, etc but what about others? How willing am I to have people who are hard work, mess my life up, over step my boundaries about? What about the couple we had last year staying in our house who wrote the awful review? Are we happy that they come as they are? Ok so we learned from them but actually we’d have preferred them to come a bit more sorted? What about the person who cuts us up when driving? Who abuses a child? Who like Karen from The Moorside was broken and lied? How happy are we for people to come as they are?

I think it depends often on our relationship with them. Ok as Christians there is this thing 1cb15258fa6a3e274a8e8288ec9b15d0that we should love everyone as God loves them, but we don’t. I can forgive my children anything because I love them fiercely and still have that mother-tiger protective care element. I can forgive my husband most things because I have chosen to like and love him and forgiving him is my gift I can give him. Many of my friends I can forgive if they are snappy, hurtful, do stuff I’m not sure I like, but that’s because there is some bond between us that makes us friends. For me to not allow them that space to come as they are means I have to break that bond of friendship. There have been people that were my friends that I have had to do that to, who’s “coming as they are” has been more than I could cope with and for my own emotional well-being I have had to make a space between me and them. Does that mean they should change? Not necessarily.

We all put on different faces and show different sides of ourselves when we meet. This isn’t hiding and being something we’re not but this is knowing that we do need to behave differently with different people. When we have people staying here who are similar ages to my children we don’t speak to them as we would Ben and Tabitha. We speak to them differently. Every man who comes through our house I do not behave with in the same way I would behave with my husband. In fact last weekend we had 3 different sets of people to lunch and each meal was different. We acted differently and I suspect the people who came acted in a different way too. This isn’t them “covering up their scars” but is them being true to themselves in the situation they are in.

I think we do need to be willing to accept our scars as much as we accept other people’s. A alone-enoughbit like the love your neighbour as yourself and you have to love yourself first. So we need to be able to know we have scars, reveal them wisely, don’t be as we think we should be – because often that means we are false to ourselves anyway and people can feel something is not right and avoid us anyway.

I think we are to be true but be wise. Not everyone wants the raw version of us. We often don’t need to see the raw version of ourselves. But also we must not go around pretending to be something we are not. My crazy story is what has made me me. As I told someone today I’ve made some crazy decisions and have survived. I must say that it is surviving those crazy decisions that has made me – with my scars, my story and my glory 🙂

The Moorside

I watched the BBC drama The Moorside on iplayer, based on the disappearance and refinding of Shannon Matthews, a 9 year old girl who’s mother reported her missing and 94221540_moorside-metrothen 24 days later she was found staying at the home of her mother’s partner’s uncle. All the way through, because of knowing the story, it  appears obvious that the mother knows something more than she is saying, but most of the estate rally behind one of the women who organises searches, poster and t-shirt campaigns, marches and all sorts to keep the media focused on this little girl from the poor estate.

Thing turn horrid when it comes to light that the mother knew where her daughter was. It is interesting that the mother’s partner has been arrested for viewing child porn and there is the implication that he has been abusing the children, yet the estate turns on the mother calling her a “lying bitch” for the worry and upset she put them threw when, for whatever reason, she did not tell the truth that she knew where her daughter was.

The mother was a weak, sad, slightly mentally backward person, who had been abused all her life, rejected by her parents, and gone from different man to different man who used and her abused her. Maybe she did take her daughter to a safe place because she knew her 2016-01-26-1453834070-2415422-mentalhealth1present partner was abusing her but was not strong enough to say. Who knows. In one scene during two of the close friends of the mother are sat in the park and both say that they were abused but it is said in a matter of fact way; one saying you had to get over it and move on, the other saying she did report her father but only because he was remarrying and she wanted to project the children of his future wife. But it was just a very normal thing. It left me wondering how many people on that estate had been abused or where abusers and so reacted as they did.

There was a lot of showing mob rule and of it being all or nothing. But it was not just the people on the estate who were like that. When the mother was prosecuted the lawyer who gave the statement to the press said she was “pure evil.” No she wasn’t. She was a sad, weak, simple woman who had made a mistake and was taken advantage of and never told the truth. She never did tell the whole truth. And as psychiatrists are realising now there are people with borderline personality disorders who find truth a very strange concept.

12afa4a6d1d378e24725c1fb0fffe132Yes she did have mental health problems but she was not evil. What it left me feeling was how we are into this all or nothing. Trump is all evil or all mad or all something. Everything is in or out, good or bad. It is all or nothing mob rule and I believe The Moorside was showing just that through the tale of a young misused woman and an estate full of people who were lost and no longer knew their way.

Footprints in the sand

Now I’m sure I’ve blogged on this before but it seems relevant again  – at least for me for now.

bd8142d355ec494c723ae48d3e39be40Most Christians, and many who aren’t, will know the story of the Footprints in the sand; where there are two sets for a while then only one and the person says “where were you Lord when I was struggling?” and God says “I was carrying you.” And it is to encourage Christians to realise that when they cannot go on God carries them. A great metaphor! But why footprints in the sand?

As you know we now live by the sea and most days the dog and I go to the beach for a walk. Sometimes we get sand to walk on, other times we have to walk on the grass and stones above the high tide level. I have noticed, after being here for a year, that the revealed sand is constantly changing. There are streams and rivulets that go across the sand. Last summer I knew where each of them were but now they have moved. Some are deeper, some going a different way, some gone. Even today there was a change between a place I could cross which the sand has now moved around on and it isn’t there.

Which is where I get back to the “Footprints in the sand” piece. Yes I do think there is footprints-in-the-sand-wallpaper-4something there about how God does carry us but I also think that it is in the sand because footprints in the sand get washed away twice a day and as fallible human beings we quickly forget what God has done for us. Just over a year ago I wrote a piece about trusting God and about struggling with trusting God and yet I still want to walk in my own strength through things. So we have  only been living here a year – exactly today we got the keys 🙂 – and I now run a successful room rental via both Airbnb and word of mouth, and am running workshops in various amazing places. Yet I struggle to trust that God will provide – work, participants for workshops, money, people to stay in our home. Because of workshops and also with room rental bookings not all coming via Airbnb there can be times when people cancel due to change of circumstance or ill health. I have noticed that these things happen when I  have projected how much money I should be earning that particular week/month and have started spending it in my head. It is like God then says “excuse me, but you’re trusting in yourself and not in me” and I have to have a rethink. I want to be self-sufficient but God is saying I have to be God-sufficient. It happens again and again because I am so bad at learning my lessons. But I’m getting there 🙂

8504328-animal-footprints-in-the-sand-copy-space-stock-photo-dogSo I think the reason that the it is “Footprints in the Sand” is, one because we forget when we cannot see the evidence, but also because we need to walk in trust with God all day every day so that we can make those new footprints with Him every single day – like I do on the beach with my dog each day 🙂