Trust

Who do we trust these days?

I was reading the headlines this morning on my newsfeed. I must admit I have given up Llsnfairfechan and Ian's birthday 053.JPGopening articles because they are so negative. But as I was walking this morning I got to thinking about trust. I was brought up with the adage that you couldn’t trust politicians; that they were all two-faced, etc. Those of us politically minded would then go on marches, send letters, etc, even visit our local MP or go to the Houses of Parliament. This was in the days before online petitions so one had to be a bit dedicated to write and remember to buy a stamp, go to the post office, etc.

There is a tagline going around at the mo that says “the 0.2% have voted” which works on the lack of trust that these 0.2% have any idea what they are doing. It has almost gone beyond the “all politicians are two-faced” but to the “they haven’t got a clue”. Now I do believe there are a lot of politicians that don’t have a clue about being on benefits, dealing with the NHS, the state of the education system, trying to use public transport etc, etc. But I do think there are a lot of other people who don’t know or understand this either. So I think we need to be careful where we go with that.

But again this moved me on to the TRUST thing. Who do we trust? Llsnfairfechan and Ian's birthday 050.JPG

Or more personally who do I trust? I trust my weather app and will look at that rather than out the window before I go for a walk! 🙂

But it led me to do I trust God? Followers of my blog posts, and my life, will know that we have been through some stuff where God hasn’t done as we would have liked. Do I still trust him?

Llsnfairfechan and Ian's birthday 049Lesson from my dog – Renly and I were out walking at 7.30am this morning and it was still wayyyyy too hot so when we got to a stream I tried to persuade him to get a drink. He was frightened because the bank was a bit steep and he is only little. So I threw him in the water. He stood there with the cold water lapping round his belly and then walked out further so it was over his back. He drank and drank. For the first half of the walk he had trailed along because he was too hot. On the way back he ran like a mad dog because he was cool and so was happy. I’m not sure if he will still trust me by streams in case I throw him in but just maybe he learned that it was a good idea.

So sometimes God has to throw us into things for our own good to help us with the next part of our journey – no matter how hot or steep that next bit is but he wants to not just “lead us by still waters” (Psalm 23) but immerse us in those refreshing waters. We might not trust him next time he has us stand by those waters but he might just throw us in again for our own good. But it would have been much easier for Renly and for me if he had just jumped in when I’d showed it to him first of all and easier for us too if we just trust God a bit more.

So I may struggle to trust politicians or the media but I do need to, through the turmoil in our country and the direction of my life, trust in the Lord with all my head and lean on his understand – not my own (Proverbs 3:5)

Pensarn Beach – a prose poem

Pensarn beach Feb 2020 taken by me

The following prose poem can also be found on https://walklistencreate.org/wr_instance/shorelines/ where they are still accepting work.  Shorelines is a collaborative project on writing and reciting, focused on the dividing line between land and water. Check out the line and go from there.

Today the sea speaks to me in tones of deep and grey asking me to follow it on its relentless quest around the globe.
Yesterday its voice was more of a lethargic slap of apologetic wave on languid shingle.
Yet competing with the sea are the constant bass undertones of the A55, always calling the dreamy walker back to the world of activity; of work, industry and commerce.
The traffic’s rumble is frequently enhanced by the scream of siren or buzz of speeding motorbike.
It never listens to the sea or hears its rhythmic call because that thoroughfare believes in the busyness of doing to be the purpose of the human race. .
Though my feet lead me to the shoreline to dance in its shallows or keep a respectful distance from its crashing waves, too often my mind is on the A55 needing to be part of man’s chorus of employment and cloistered individualism.

Are you praying for the now or the future?

St Winifred’s churchyard, Gwytherin, Conwy. The old stones in this photo are from early, possibly pre-Christian times linking the old and the new [photo taken by myself]

When you pray what are you praying for? This struck me the other day when I was reading an article about the Spanish flu epidemic that happened 100 years ago. In the article it said that after two years of people dying the virus became less virulent and people just got used to the fact that everyone winter there would be deaths from flu. But what stuck me was the article said “then there were the 1920s”.

Now the 1920s were a time of hedonism and loss of faith in God, that then ran into the Great Depression of the 1930s which gave rise, in Europe to Hitler, who in the early 1930s was seen as a hero who was rescuing German.

I was also reminded of the first time I heard John Mulinde speak. He said how in Uganda the prayer warriors prayed out the awful dictator, Idi Amin, only for the vacuum that his demise caused leading to an even greater dictator to take his place. His message was that we should be careful when we pray and not pray out something or someone but pray in something or someone so there is no vacuum.

But to pray something “in” we need to see God’s vision. As my husband reminded me “without a vision the people perish”. What is the vision of God for the future? Not just for our churches individual or corporate, not just for the UK but for the whole world. What is God saying that it should look like?

As I said in “Revivals!” blog, in the past when revivals have come pubs, cinemas etc have closed down, but our economy now depends very much on the hospitality industry. Those who work in hospitality are the ones who spend the money there, and who rent rooms and flats, buy clothes, etc, etc. I do not believe we can just say “God’s got a plan.” I believe there is power in prayer and that we need to be praying in that God given vision. But first of all we need to be asking God what that vision is.

I’m afraid at the moment I don’t know what it is, but (and here’s a book plug) I am hoping that when I receive Tom Sine’s book ‘2020s Foresight:Three Vital Practices for Thriving in a Decade of Accelerating Change‘ there will be things in there that will help we to see what God is planning, and how to pray into that.

Yes I do believe God can drop in the world vision as we seek it but I do also believe that we need to study, see the signs and get confirmation. Am I willing to put in the time? Are you willing to put in the time? Or is it just easier to pray out what we can see now like the virus/economic crash/dysfunctional governments/etc? If we do what will fill the vacuum?

It is Unconditional

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

Yesterday I finished “Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas” by Maya Angelou. I’d also just done another QEC session which involved forgiving myself for misinterpreting church teachings and working too hard to earn God’s love and acceptance, whilst at the same time teaching and sharing about that self-same unconditional love and acceptance!!! Goes to show how often we can teach and share on things that we know to be truth but haven’t accepted into our hearts!

In the last few pages of the book, Maya goes to see her vocal coach to unload about how awful she feels she has been to her son, and lots of other issues, and he says “God forgives you, that’s a given. But you now need to forgive yourself”. Wow! How often do we browbeat ourselves about not being forgiven when in fact God who’s totally forgiven us but we are not forgiving ourselves? If God really loves us unconditionally, which I do truly believe God does, then like Maya’s vocal coach we need to believe that it is a given that God has forgiven us. As my OEC coach told me, and she isn’t a Christian in the ‘purest sense’, “From what I gather God loves everyone unconditionally, even the murder and rapists, and wants to heal them too, and so will forgive them so they can be healed.” We need to forgive ourselves so we can be healed.

Maya ends with this book with a story about her and her son in Hawaii. He was only about 9 years old and had gone off on his own, leaving her asleep, for a swim. She was really worried about where he was because he hadn’t eaten breakfast in the hotel. When the police finally find him he says he ate breakfast in place down the street. He had told the proprietor of the place where he ate “See that name?” pointing to the sign above the hotel with Maya Angelou’s name in lights, “She’s my mother and she’s a great singer.” It made me think that I don’t often enough say “There’s my God and it will be cover by our relationship”.

I should be able to know that I can go wherever I want and do things knowing that the “payment” is covered by God because I am God’s child and am totally loved and looked after and will always be fed. Surely this is the message of the Cross – Jesus made the payment for us and we don’t need to have too any more! Now that is exciting! But to believe that I needed to forgive myself for all the times I’d not quite got it.

Revivals!

Chester Cathedral by me

I’ve been watching a series about revivals on https://commissionthecity.thinkific.com/ [I would highly recommend it]. But what has struck me is that when revival comes certain things happen

  • people stop going to pubs
  • people stop going to sporting events
  • people only want to go to church and pray

What I have noticed about this pandemic is the order things have reopened and the things everyone, including Christians, have seen as important.

  1. Our economy – which meant certain things had to reopen even before it was probably safe to do so and those things are:
  • Firstly large sporting events that bring in lots of advertising revenue which are being watch at home on TV
  • Second pubs, restaurants and cafes
  • shops, hairdressers, etc, etc
  • And then lastly our churches.

It seemed to me in reading about revival that no one cared about the economy. Does this mean there was a huge economic crash at this time? In Wales in the early 20th century people really were only going to work, which at the time was mainly agricultural and industry, and then going straight to church. But also at that time there was no major hospitality industry, tourist industry, no consumeristic society.

My daughter works in hospitality. If she stops work to go and pray all the time, or has to stop because no one goes to the pub because they are all praying, how will she pay her rent? And she’s not the only one.

It made me wonder if this is why we are often reluctant to pray for revival, even if that reluctance might be only on a subconscious level. The pictures we are given is of the things we know and love – hospitality industry and sporting industry – grinding to a halt. Do we really want that? As we have seen with things being lockdown for a few months the country has tumbled into recession. Do we want that?

Much as these stories of revival are totally awesome I think we need to be praying for a new picture to talk to us about revival. Someone did say to me that this pandemic and the lockdown have shown some key things – man’s fear of dying, the fragility of the economy but also our need for it, and also our individuality. Maybe our new picture for revival needs to be about tackling those issues rather than bringing down the economy and the industries that our country now survives on.

So don’t just pray “Revival” but ask God how it would look and how our families and friends would survive through it.

The Great Pause – Sara Vian

The Great Pause – Sara Vian
(click on link to hear the song)

Sara Vian’s haunting vocals take us through the journey many of us have been on since the beginning of March; from the unexplained fears and anxieties to finding that new way of living our daily lives, and on into our hopes for the future.

The first line “she’s feeling down, she doesn’t know why” draws one immediately in to the narrative. From there the opening verse expands on what so many of us were feeling – despair and anxiety even when we were not in imminent danger – and of “having to” constantly tune into those daily broadcasts even as they stole our “peace and flow”.

In verse two there is a chance to smile at those the “inevitables” that went on – hair growing long, learning an instrument, baking – but also of the choice to change, to pause, to find a way through this; reconnecting with nature.

The last verse comes over like a prayer of hoping that things won’t go back to the busy world that used to be and that our Prime Minister will have learned from what he has been through and want to “build heaven on earth.”

The whole song sends shivers down my spine every time I listen to it and the chorus is firmly lodged in my head. I sang the lines …

“The Great Pause, The Great Awakening,

The planes are grounded, industry is shaken,

The Great Pause, The Great Awakening,

There is peace in what was godforsaken”

… to the seagulls on my morning dog walk as well as asking for us to all want to “build heaven on earth.”

I’ve reviewed this song because I know of Sara from The Write Day writing group we are both part of but also because I feel this song fits in with the posts I have already blogged and the ones I have to come, especially my next one about how people are reacting to coming out of lockdown and what they want life to be like in this “new normal”.

Fruits Of The Spirit

Photo by me by the river at Betwys y Coed, North Wales

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” Galatians 5:22-23

How often have you sat in a church service and been told to ask for the fruits of the Holy Spirit? I’m sure, like myself, it has been multiple times. I remember a lovely cartoon I used to watch with my kids called “Benny’s Biggest Battle” and that was all about young Benny not having any self-control and it told how he managed to acquire it. For myself I used to ask for patience regular. I was a single mum homeschooling two bright, active children. I needed that patience. And I was told, when they had been particularly trying on my patience that when you asked God for something you got tested on it.

Well following on from the Beech Clump, Mere I got a revelation about how produce growing. You don’t go up to your apple tree or courgette plant and tell it to give you apples or courgettes. You know it will give them to you in abundance if you give it the right conditions. So you need to water your plants, give them the correct fertiliser, but also clear the land of weeds and brambles to help them to grow to be what they are meant to be.

So surely if we want the fruits of the Holy Spirit we shouldn’t be asking for them but we should be clearing away the weeds, finding the correct fertiliser, and making the conditions right for them to grow. And giving them lots of water.

I know I keep banging on about QEC but it is being a great help in clearing my “land” and getting rid of the clutter that has been putting weeds around the Holy Spirit, not giving Holy Spirit enough light, having the wrong kind of fertiliser, and to nurture the real me. I’ve had to learn to love and like myself, to take responsibility for how I think and feel, clear away hindrances. Through doing all this I am finding that in a lot of areas I am kinder, more patient, more at peace, and more self-controlled. And my husband is telling me he is seeing me as kinder, more gentle, and just easier to live with.

It hasn’t been an easy route finding out what has been getting in the way and keeping out the light, and would have been much easier to blame others and give them a hard time. But then that is the same with gardening. Weeding is really hard persistent ongoing work. But the more I weed in myself the more space there is for the light to get in and things to grow to a depth that cannot be shaken.

In fact more like “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drouth and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 that Sue reminds us of in Trust

So this has left me wondering if at times we have spent more time asking for fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit and less time praying and finding out what is hindering the growth of that fruit in our lives.

Heal the Land

This picture is of Beech Clump, near Kilmington Village, Wiltshire. Back in the mid 1970s my then boyfriend’s paternal grandparents lived at Kilmington and we would go and visit occasionally. As we would drive along the B3092 from Frome he would point out a hill with a clump of beech trees on it that pushed out of the flat plains but was dwarfed by White Sheet Hill ridgeway behind it. Back then there was a large gap in the centre of the trees and Steve would tell me about an RAF plane that had crashed there killing all on board, and of how his father and his father’s friends went over to the hill, once it was safe to do so, and took away pieces of airplane. The narrative 40+ years ago was that the trees would never grow back again because of the trauma that had happened to the land. Though back in the mid 70s the word “trauma” would not have been used.

This weekend my husband and I stayed in a self-catering cottage in Mere so we could visit both our mothers who live half an hour in each direction from Mere. It was our first trip outside of Wales since lockdown so was a bit of an intrepid adventure. On our first night in the cottage we climbed Castle Hill, Mere, and as I looked over I saw Beech Clump. It now has a full head of trees and doesn’t look as if anything has happened there.

I went back up Castle Hill first thing Saturday morning just me and the dog and, as the mist was rising, looked over again at Beech Hill. I felt as if God/the Universe was saying that if we give it time then our trauma will heal and things will grow again. The traumas that have happened to us are real and they hurt a lot and we are not to live in denial of them. But given time to work through the dross, to cleanse and heal things can grow again. The deep thing for me was that nothing can grow and we cannot be all we are meant to be unless we allow ourselves time to heal. It is all about time and waiting.

Beech Clump is once again restored to being a hill with a clump of beech trees on it, but it was still the place where 20 RAF airmen where tragically killed back in 1945, which I think is even more tragic because it was so close to the end of the war. It was also very exciting to come across RAF Zeals and the Dakota Memorial, Beech Clump and find that there is a memorial to the airmen who were killed, each listed by name. So the trauma is remembered, acknowledged, but the land has healed and become all it is meant to be. That means the same can happen to me, to you, to anyone.

Thanks to John Grech publishing his article on Hidden Wiltshire about Beech Clump. Check out his post to see the photos.

Noah in Lockdown

Image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay

I’ve been doing a bit of taking known Bible stories and giving them a “flip” sideways. I have written a tale about Adam and Eve being bored with being shut in the Garden of Eden and wanting out which is why they succumbed to the temptation of the apple. i don’t believe it came out of the blue 🙂

Anyway yesterday I was chatting with friends about Bible stories people struggle with and how much is allegorical and how much was factual. One of those tales was Noah’s ark. So I will share my thoughts

Noah’s tale

The world was a bad place. People were going about their daily lives selfishly and not thinking of each other. The economy was in bits, people weren’t caring for each other. There were wars and rumors of wars and the fears of climate change.

Noah was praying and asking God what should be done when God said to him “Gather your family around you, your sons and their wives, and gather a selection of animals and food for you all and go to the place I have for you.”

“But how long for,” asks Noah. “And why?”

“Just take them all and gather what you need and shut the doors,” said God

So Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives, plus a selection of animals, at least one male and one female of each kind, went to the large farmstead they had built and padlock all the gates. As soon as they had done this the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced a global pandemic. Governments across the world said people must stay at home until further notice.

One month passed and Noah and his family were getting a bit fed up of just seeing each other, of playing board games, of reading books, of making bread, so Noah asked God how long this would last and God replied, “Until it is over.” Another month passed, then another. Slowly governments start to lift the lockdowns to restart the economy. The Noah family start to kill the rapidly breeding rabbits to feed themselves and some of the carnivores. They cut the hay, milked the cows and look to the internet to see what was going on. There was the threat of a second wave and so they waited.

Ok you’re getting the picture. Noah went into the ark whilst God cleared up the world around them. Noah did not know what was going on as him and his family were effectively on lockdown. Noah also did not know how long they would all be in the ark and how much they would need to continue their lockdown.

As I chatted with my friends about this I felt we’ve had this tale sanitised in too many Sunday school classes and tried to explain it away so we like the story but if we look at it as an allegory we can see the tale as relevant for our lives today. God shut a family away together for an interminable amount of time and yet was still with them. They did not know how much food to take on the ark for themselves and these animals, but there was enough.

I believe God said to me yesterday that we are like Noah and in unprecedented times for an undeterminable amount of time, but that he is with us and there is enough to keep us going.

Privileged?

Photo by myself – Reykjavik Iceland early morning Oct 2016

One of the big things that is taught about how to look after your mental health is not to compare yourself to others because your trauma, your issues, your situation, is yours and it is hard for you. It may appear easier than someone else’s but that doesn’t matter. As lockdown has eased there have been more articles appearing about how those born from about 1990’s are struggling with lockdown and those born before 1965 are wondering what all the fuss is about.

I have been trying to write a blog post about rights and privileges but it hasn’t been coming. I did do one just after the Brexit vote which flowed but this one was not coming. Lots of drafts but nothing that made sense to what I wanted to write. Then, after receiving a forwarded article from a friend from her local vicar, and going for a long walk on the beach with the dog, it all fell into place.

In this article, from my friend’s vicar, he talks of all the major historic events that happened for those born in 1900 compared to those born in 2000. And yes those born this century have not had to deal with 2 world wars, plus 2 minor wars that the West was involved in, major economic crashes, and the Spanish flu, amongst other things. And yes those things are horrendous and are not comparable to not being able to go to school, not being able to hang out with friends, not knowing if you can go abroad on holiday, of having to wear masks, of being confined at home, miss out on growing and developing as an adult at university. No they do not compare but they are the issues that young people are having to walk through and it does not make them any less traumatic.

As another retired friend of mine said that even though she misses her friends and her clubs, etc, she has had a life that she can look back on when she’s at home on her own. There is the phone to call people and she’s getting the hang of video calling too. But as she says, she’s had her life. Even for myself, I missed seeing people for those first couple of months but now I can go visiting and am even off to England to see family. I’m even restarting horse riding today. I have reached a stage in my life where I don’t want much but that is because I have done things, travelled, partied, had freedom to come and go as I like, in my teens, 20s and 30s.

Also I believe our media has spent that this century pumping anxiety into us from climate change to Brexit to terrorism. We live in fear and are constantly in flight or fight mode but can do nothing to change it. So our young people have been born into this high anxiety media storm with social media and image over riding so much. So no it isn’t a World War pr any of the things listed above, but this lockdown is riding on the back of traumas, anxieties and much more. As well as the media portraying the pandemic as possibly never ending.

So let us be kind to those who look at some of things that we might see as privileges as their right. Let us try and understand why they feel this way and not just tell them that “it was harder in my day“. That really isn’t helpful. That piles on the guilt which makes anxieties even stronger. It becomes not just “what is wrong with the world” but “what is wrong with me“.

I’m sure Jesus would have listened to both the young and the old and all those in between without judgement or condemnation. Shall we give it a go?

Humility

Newborough Beach, 2007 – taken by me

This season for me, as you can tell from reading my blogs, has been being reminded of prophetic words. When I first got into this prophetic praying one of the major verse was:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14

I believe this is another of the “Reset” places we should be exploring as the pandemic still creeps across the world.

I believe the word “sin” basically means that we have screwed up, been selfish, missed God’s mark. So we need to go back and humble ourselves before God and say we have screwed up. This is being highlighted in Black Lives Matter, the continued abuses and inequalities between women and men, wanting to see the economy recover often to the detriment of people, climate change, animal welfare, etc.

Reading this news I have noticed that whenever some country or world leader boasts about how they are doing with this virus suddenly they get a spike in Covid-19 cases. Pride steps in, they want to tell everyone how well they did and then bam! they get walloped. It is like the virus is saying to “get off your high horse” and be humble.

Being a practical person I have always have to say what can I/we do?

Well I think the only true way is to stop saying we know what we’re doing and stop, wait, rest and let peace flow into our troubled minds and stop rushing about trying to sort out what the “new normal” is going to be.

But, as I’ve said before, I see people being busy, wanting answers, rushing into the next thing. And this happens as much with Christians as much as anyone. There has been a rush in our church to deep clean to get things “open again” and in England Sunday services are happening so it won’t be long before they start in Wales. But I don’t know of many people who have been praying to find out what God wants to happen next.

But to stop moving forward and to wait on God – or if you don’t believe in God then the universe, a higher power, that inner gut feeling – takes time, and might cause change. Do we really want change?

I took my own advise seriously and during my morning dog walks on the beach I started to ask God what I was do with my “one wild and precious life”. I came away feeling that I was to take my rooms off Airbnb and not advertise for anyone to stay and to trust that if we were meant to have people staying they would find us. Over coffee that Saturday morning I chatted with my husband and he totally agreed. It is odd because the only reason we moved up to North Wales and bought this big house was to do Airbnb! We move up here a place of trusting God, but that was to do something. Now this whole waiting to see what the plan is next is much harder and more humbling because we cannot do anything.

Two blog posts have been particularly helpful in this process: Trusting in Jesus, do not let your heart be troubled and Let Jesus Hold Your Stuff For You

I believe with all things, if we don’t give them to Jesus and leave them in his hands, then we will never be humble. It is not easy and is an on going process, one that God started with me nearly 30 years ago. I’m glad God has more patience with me than I often have with myself.