Easter Saturday

tumblr_inline_mkj5cj217t1qz4rgpEaster Saturday, the space between death and resurrection life. The hard place to be. For those first followers of Jesus it must have been so awful because they did not know for sure that Jesus would rise again. We do so we go about our daily lives, do some DIY, go shopping, eat, drink, etc. For the Christian now I believe that Easter Saturday, and often even Good Friday, has lost its impetuous. But in our own lives Easter Saturday can be very real.

I feel like I have been in that place between death and resurrection life for a long time; probably since I finished my job in December

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Found this picture when googling for “liminal space”. Wonder if this is why God’s put us so close to a beach?

2014 and got to grips with dealing with my grief and pain and reordering my life without sister, father in law and some friends. Even with this house move I have blogged about being in liminal places, inbetween times. I do pop my head above the surface at times, like a crocus, but then it stops again. Actually that space between the end of something and the resurrection of the new isn’t a clear one day thing as it is in the Christian calendar. I believe for each of us it is a long slow journey. I was journalling all this when I checked my emails to see Day 50 of 100 days for 100 years of history, a prayer for Ireland initiative. Steve Cave says so much better what I am feeling but he says it for a land that I was only praying for last week:

Here are some quotes:

I can’t help but feel we are still living in Easter Saturday here; we know something significant has happened with the transition to politics instead of terror, but we haven’t yet experienced resurrection to something new. We’re still fighting, albeit it is usually now just with words.

we’re still in between what has happened and what we still long for – it’s still Easter Saturday to an extent and we’re waiting for resurrection.

For me, for us, so much has happened but when Ian says “what are we here for?” I have to vulnerability21answer honestly “I’m not sure.” Yes we started our Airbnb rentals yesterday. Yes we have had friends and family up. Yes we have met up with some people here that could be friends. Yes I did feel my heart get majorly lifted and healed last week whilst we were praying about hearts in Ireland. Things did change. I do know something significant has happened, that I am in transition.

What do I long for? I often wonder if I am ready to ask that of myself? I do want to write, but am struggling to do much more than blog and write emails to friends. I do want to get back into praying for the land of Europe but can feel that is a “wait” word. I do want to run a hospitality house but I find it so hard at the moment and find that things can really gallery_write_gallerystress me out. Like with these first guests – it turns out that the radiator in the Airbnb room doesn’t work. Ian sorted them out, got them to move rooms, etc but I was upset by it all and couldn’t come up with a solution. I still feel weary; weary that I don’t want to do anything at the moment. I am down to start work with an agency doing temporary schools work, but I’m not sure if I should.

I do feel like I am still in between what has happened, the healings and the moving, but am still in that waiting place. It is very much that whole thing, as I have blogged so much before, of waiting, not pushing, but letting God. It all goes back to trusting Him. A wonderful learning curve!

So We Start

1405623476-airbnb-logo-explanationToday the vision starts to happen. We have our first Airbnb guests staying, a lovely Catholic Polish couple and baby. We also have a long time friend staying too. How will it work with friends and guests staying? Who can tell? But this is what we’re here for.

So far we’ve had both our kids come to stay and have had 2 friends come for lunch; one a friend I went to university with who has moved home to Chester, and another a friend who lives in Bristol but who’s parents live in Liverpool. But this is the start of the real thing, of combining our lives and friends and family.

Over these past few days there has been a lot of preparation going on for our guests.

sodialr-white-home-security-system-photoelectric-wireless-smoke-detector-fire-alarm-0
ours don’t look quite like this but you get the idea 🙂 

Practical stuff like fire alarms, fire blankets, new locks, etc so the house is all fire safe. We also prayed together. I had been praying round the house as I had been cleaning but we prayed together this morning. Now it is up to God. We cannot make anything happen. In fact it is going to be odd because the way the house is we may not see our guests after we have welcomed them in. In fact with this couple we only knew they had gone out because their baby’s car seat was gone. It really is going to be up to God how much contact we have with these people.

We do have a woman coming for the whole of the month of April. Hopefully we will get to meet with her. During that time we already on the calendar have friends come for meals over that time. Who knows what else?

introvertFor me it will be tough because I am still needing introvert time after an amazing Interweave time in Dublin. I love getting together with those people but do find that I am needing lots of down time after; to assimilate what has gone on, to read the emails that always follow, to listen to the things I believe God has been prompting me, and also just because I need that time alone to recover. Also this week we have my husband’s sister and her partner coming so again that will take away my recovery space, and we have to do important things like get living room furniture, because we will need that private space at the front of the house, and also get another car. So it will not be a calm week. I do need to be careful I do not spend my time wishing away what is going on here. I know this is the vision, to have friends and family to stay. There is no way God has given us this magnificent house

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if only it were so simple!

to keep to ourselves. But also I need to find a way of finding space to recharge and to write even with everything going on around me.

It is going to be a time of wisdom, of ceasing what is there, and enjoying what God is up to with us and through us. And trusting that He does know best.

 

I Never Promised …

beautiful-rose-garden-romantic-red-roses-garden-benchWhilst at the Interweave gathering in Dublin last week someone stood up and prophesied what I believe to be words of Jesus:

I never promised you a rose garden but I did promise never to leave or forsake you (Marie)

We then went on to sign a song with the words:

Power in Your presence

Hope and Healing in Your presence

Freedom in Your presence

There are loads more words than that and the title has fallen out of my head so I haven’t hqdefaulteven been able to look it up. So for those worship leaders out there do leave a comment if you recognise the song.

What stuck me was that it is only in His presence, in the presence of God/Jesus, that we will find power, hope, healing and then freedom. How often, even as Christians, we try to get all the hope we want from our own self-reliance, from trying to big it up somehow. There is no hope of being healed if we do not let ourselves come fully and unhindered into God’s presence. So how do we know when that has happened?

religion252520belief252520god252520does252520heart252520surgeryI was thinking the how question because for one I am a practical person and there is no point me knowing something but not knowing the how answer, but also during the same Interweave gathering there was a lot of talk of God doing heart surgery on us and I came to realise that was very different for everyone. For one of our number she said she was shouting loudly as God did what He was doing, for another she said it was just a quiet knowing, for myself I just sort of realised afterwards because I felt different that God had changed my heart. So how do we know if and when we are in God’s presence?

I would say we know we are in the presence of God’s Holy Spirit when we can feel our hearts getting healed even if we want to hold on to our grief; we can feel that freedom of being totally open and honest with ourselves; we can feel a new hope arising where we felt all hope had gone; we can see a new vision growing that does not come from our own p1902_health-vision1making but connects with our own desires and we feel we can do it even if we are still  hurting and grieving. In the presence of the Holy Spirit we no longer to to worry about what the world thinks. We can grieve what is gone and will never return but we can have hope inside that says we can keep walking. We just know our desires are ok.

I believe all this comes from being in the presence of God’s Holy Spirit. This can come when we are alone but if we are really hurting it is easier for it to come corporately because the openness of others to God helps us to know we are safe to be open. But also we do need to keep coming back to being in that place, to allowing God’s presence to hold our hearts. It is all too easy once having been in that place to move away from it then the old stuff shuffles around and tries to get back in. Like that 194178bea0e90776e8222c14f865bebcold dog that lies waiting for us to let it in. The hard bit isn’t what God does with us but staying in a place with Him once the corporate has gone and letting Him continue.

 

Why do I believe in God?

So there I am this morning at 6am on a windy hilltop in Ireland with a bunch of other Hill of Tara March 2016Christians waiting for the sun to come up, praying and declaring stuff over the whole of Ireland and a question someone asked me a while ago, connected to some of the atrocities in the world that are committed in Jesus’ name came to me: “How can you believe in God?” and was then followed by a “Don’t even try to tell me” comment. I deleted the email and then tried to forget about it. And was doing good till feeling slightly sleep deprived, hungry and a bit cold it came back into my head.

So I believe in God because I’ve encountered Him. Our first proper meeting was amazing. There was me, a single mum in my early 30’s, still doing a bit of drug, still sleeping around a bit, still drinking enough, smoking, and just a bit unsure of my life, and I turn up at this small house church that was meeting on the council estate (social housing project to my American friends) where I lived and God just met me there. All I can say was that something was said during the talking/sermon bit about God’s love and suddenly I could feel myself being covered in what seemed like a thick oil with glitter in it and knowing thatheart3 God loved me totally unconditionally and totally as I was there and then. It wasn’t a text book conversion. It took a long time, a lot of talking with God and Christians, a lot of reading both the Bible and study books, and even now it is still a journey which just involves me going deeper and deeper with God.

I’ve seen money and houses and furniture and stuff just provided where no coincidence can explain it. I’ve seen people healed and lives changed. I have also seen people not healed and die, had my eye sight totally healed but by a surgeon not by some miraculous encounter. Yes I have seen my friends die from cancers, from suicides, from unhealthy lifestyles they cannot leave. Yes I have seen prayers not get answered as I would like. Yet still I pop up to gatherings at the moment and pray.Why?

I’m not sure I know. I know I’m here with this group this week because I believe it’s where God wants me to be. I’m not one of those who brings along things to pray with or even

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I turn up because I’m one of the threads. Without me it would not be complete

mighty words but I’m here. In fact just recently a new acquaintance, who I hope will become a friend, asked me what my role was in this group. I said “I just come to make up the numbers” which actually isn’t belittling but sometimes I think that is what we are meant to do. It is about being faithful in the small things.

So how do I know this is where God wants me? Well I suppose it comes full circle – I believe He talks to me. I believe He has said for me to come. I believe He hears are crazy early morning prayers on the side of a mountain and it does change things. This faith. I cannot tell this person why. I just do. I cannot tell her why God allows these things to happen that do, horrendous awful things, or why members of my family and friendship groups had to die. I don’t know. But I do know God is real because I’ve met Him. And really until she is willing to meet Him she won’t be able to believe.

Actually I think that is why I go off to these places to pray – because until people are introvertwilling to turn and actually meet with God they will not know He exists. Once they have met with Him then they can ask Him all those questions; all the why questions. I believe that when I gather with my friends and pray across the hills as the sun comes up recreating something that happened hundreds of years ago things do get opened in the heavenlies, blind eyes get a chance to see, deaf ears a chance to hear, lives can be changed. Svulnerability21o I will turn up as often as I believe He is asking me to. Does it strengthen my faith? Sometimes. Sometimes it makes me doubt even more. But you know even when I doubt God exists
then it’s Him I go to to find out.

How Mankind Tames Landscape

I met a lovely lady dog walker a couple of days ago who told me about a walk from my

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Gwrych Castle 

house that goes via the castle which I can see from my window, over the North Wales Expressway, then on to the beach and back via the park. It is a lovely walk taking in all sorts of terrain and today the tide was out so we got sand too. What struck me though as I walked was how much mankind has altered the terrain, tamed it, organised it.

First of all I was thinking of the two roads I have to cross – one, the old A road that is still well used. This runs along an older carter’s route. Modern man has just tarmacked it. This has then been replaced by the dual carriageway, much faster and straighter A55 where traffic goes along at a steady 60-70 miles per hour. These two routes make it clear how

north-wales-coast-nr-abergele-looking-towards-colwyn-bay-showing-the-crffc4
Ariel view of the area

man has used the landscape for his own means. These routes have to run where they do because it is near the coastline and so flatter.

Then there is the castle, built in the nineteenth century and looks like a fairy castle. Again it has taken the lie of the land and shaped itself around the hillside, put in proper roads and paths. At the moment there are a group of long term unemployed people who have to come and work the estate so they get their unemployment benefit. They are taking what is there and moulding it and shaping it, putting in more paths and are going to make a children’s playground. Again taking what is and changing and making something that fits where life is now.

As I walked I thought that at least the sea has been kept from all this but no! As you look out there are three different groupings of wind turbines standing sentinel in the sea. In 2013-05-15-14-36-11fact you can see the wind turbines from our bedroom window which is how we know we can see the sea! Again man has harness what is to make it his own. Though the wind does decide as and when it is going to make energy. Yesterday the wind was so strong, the tide so high that it was a wild and woolly day, but today the sun is out, the wind has dropped and the sea is hardly rippling. Even though mankind does take what is there is still some of nature that still has it’s own way.

So as I walk I am amazed at what we human beings have done to this land. There is very little there that would have been the same to the iron age hill dwellers who camp I can just see from my house too. Even back then they took what was there, the hill with its view of the sea and back across the land, and shaped and changed it into the circles of hills and ditches that would keep the families castellcawrphotosafe.

So as I ponder global warming and all that I have great confidence that mankind will adapt and change, will somehow find a way through. I wonder what the fears of Iron-age man, Tudor man, Victorian man where? Yet each of them shaped and changed and alter what was to work for them. This is not to say that we should just carry on using energy and resources like we do. No we should definitely take responsibility, but I do think we should stop fearing and trust in our own ingenuity.

Fresh Start! Really?

the-ability-to-start-over-240x221Ok so yes we are in a new place with a new house and new things all around us. I still don’t know where to find half the stuff I want to buy, get excited when I find the butcher and get me meats I want, etc. So yes to a point it is a fresh start. But will that make things better? And what do we mean by better? Will we have the perfect marriage because we now live in North Wales? Will I get around to doing all those things I’ve always wanted to do? Yes maybe! But there are some truths we have to admit beforehand!

See, and I discovered this a long time ago, is that when you move you take yourself with you. There was a song back in the 1980’s by Crowded House called “Weather with you” which I wish I’d listened to clearer which says that basically wherever you go you take you with you. Now I have travelled lots not so much to find myself but to get away from  myself. I was trying to escape who I was and yet the crazed, insecure person kept turningtake-the-weather-with-you up. I’d get into relationships in the hope that they would take over and help me to be ok. But again I kept turning up in them and doing the same crazy things I always did. Eventually I met with God and realised that He loved me for who I was – crazy, scared, insecure, looking everywhere and blaming every thing else rather than at me. And you know once I got to accept that unconditional love I could then start looking at me and who I really am. I like me now. I’ve stopped running away from me now. I do like the fact that I can move 250+ miles and I come too. Ok there are bits of me I would like to change that do keep coming along. I have to decide whether to accept or change those bits. I think that I have to accept before I change.

But also what has come too is the pain and grief of the last few years. I’ve seen a facebook message from a young friend about a friend of his who has died at 23. It brings back to me the rubbish loss of life too soon, of how God doesn’t come through as a knight in shining my-knight-in-shining-armor-doctor-who-17902797-400-220armour and change it all, keep people alive. Somehow God works things differently. So I’ve had to take my scars and wounds with me. They didn’t stay behind in the old house, they couldn’t be stripped off and thrown away like the new owners did with all the decorating we had in that old house of ours. The scars are a part of me too. They come along. A change of venue doesn’t make them vanish. That isn’t to say I dwell on them and tell people. It doesn’t mean I look at them and pick at them every day. These are scars that God has been healing but they remain as who I am. Without sounding blasphemous, but like Jesus scars from the cross. They didn’t vanish because we all have to see and remember what He went through but that doesn’t mean He dwells on them. Without my stuff I wouldn’t be me!

And you know in reality I don’t want to start here as a clean slate. I want to be here as me with all the things I come with; good and bad. Because of my journey and because of who I d-romans12-15am it helps me to be able to weep when others weep and also rejoice when other rejoice. If we are to give a safe, hospitable space to others we do have to remember who we are and where we’ve come from, to accept ourselves and our circumstances, good and bad, and let our lives and what we have to give flow from there. I think too that if we can accept that change of location doesn’t change us then we have so much more to give.

the-curious-paradox-is-that-when-i-accept-myself-just-as-i-am-then-i-can-change-carl-rogers
Very excited to find that someone else had said this before me. I’d only just though of it as I wrote 🙂  & Carl Rogers is someone I quite admire!

 

Though also we need to remember that – wherever place we can change and grow so long as we can accept and love who we are now. And also let God set the pace not us!

Missing the Familiar

quote-aziz-ansari-one-of-the-big-things-i-miss-60676
similar thing

Whilst not having any internet last week I did some therapeutic writing about what I was missing having moved. From it came not that I was missing anything major but that I was missing the trivial and the familiar. I was missing knowing the names of dogs when I was out walking, knowing where to buy certain things, being able to recognise someone from a distance by the way they walked or what they were wearing. I missed knowing where to buy the things to make up my home-made muesli, or where to get an organic veg box, where to get biodegradable dog poo bags, and even where to buy a hat stand. All these things I would have known where to go and what to get but here its all new. I did also miss not having the car just outside. At the moment as it is our only car Ian is taking it to work as he finds that less stressful than going by public transport, and it’s an easy drive whereas the public transport is harder. Mind you not that I would have gone anywhere in the car because I didn’t know where to go, where to park once I got there and all that sort of stuff.

Since writing the piece my daughter came to visit, which made me happy as I hadn’t seen

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this is the butchers 🙂 

her since 1st January. Then we got the internet and so I’ve been able to google and get an organic veg box delivered, find that we have health food shop in Abergele which I have just visited. It isn’t as extensive as the one where I was but I’m sure I can make it mine after a while, but it did have the basics I needed. I went to my butcher, who I have been cultivating since arriving, and as well as being able to get the chicken wings for the dog he also had rabbit. Now I can’t remember how much is was in the local farm shop near where we were but I know it wasn’t cheap. Here it was £5 a pound and the butcher could tell me who’d shot it too if I wanted to know. The familiar is coming together.

Also this morning I got coerced  into going to a prayer meeting for my lovely Interweave friend. Yes I did sort of want to go but again that lack of the familiar was making me feel shy and a bit scared. Well God was doing the coercing. Firstly a lovely lady phoned me up and said she would meet me on the bus as she got on a stop or two before me. I agreed but was going to chicken out when another lady knocked on my door yesterday and said she would be round to mine at just after 10am to pick me up and take me. It wasn’t so much pressured as God making sure I was going to go. Well I went as I had no choice and the funny thing is that the familiar is in prayer meetings. Everyone wants to hear from God and pray for the person. It was a well set out one too. I loved it and I remembered that actually I am an intercessor. I like to pray. And I’m a bit good at it 🙂 The lady who had given me a lift was going on elsewhere but the other lady was going to show me how to get

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the second hand furniture shop and cafe

back on the bus but first of all we went for lunch because she was going on elsewhere. So she took me to a lovely cheap little cafe that does great snacks but also has a great second hand furniture store incorporated in it. There was some lovely stuff there and I will definitely drag Ian along on the weekend 🙂 So she introduced me to the familiar.

When moving somewhere new, even if it is the right thing and feels like home there are still so many things to have to sort out, so many things to miss. Sometimes you just need a friendly had to guide you, point you in the right direction, be a bit firm about things. Goodness we have only had the keys for this house 3 weeks on Friday and have only been living here for 2 weeks and 2 days. It all takes time, but knowing where to get certain items makes me feel much more comfortable and settled.