Reset

I seem to have got into pondering prophetic words that have been shared over the past few months. And in this blog I am going to look at “RESET”.

Reset is another of those prophetic words that has been banded about since the start of the lockdown. But what does it mean? To me? To you? To society?

I’ve a friend who has done a lot of research into his nation, and for him “resetting” would mean going back to how things were nearly 1000 years ago. That made me think of what that would mean to my country – England and Wales. England is my country of birth but I am very much a Celt at heart and have adopted North Wales as my native land – even if I cannot speak the language! But to me that means looking at a time before 1066, before Norman invasion. And I was happy with that until I read about book about the Viking/Saxon invasions of 550AD and then there are the Romans. So where do I go for my country’s reset?

How about the planet? And global warming? Can we reset our air quality back to before the Industrial Revolution? That’s only 3-4 hundred years ago. Do we really want to go back to how life was then? It would be fine if you were white, male and well-off but not if you were female – death in childbirth no matter what social class, not financially independent, education minimal!! And if you were poor or of an ethnic origin? Well!!!

How about personally? Could we all reset to that time before life messed us up? I know I cannot go back to whatever I was like when I popped out the womb because a lot of who I am now is shaped by the things I have experienced, but the decisions I have made, and also where I find myself now. I cannot, and don’t want to, get rid of my children, my home where I am now, my husband, my friends, the things I do now. I even don’t want to get rid of the things I have learned during lockdown. I want to go forward not back.

After pondering this, then doing a google search and getting a lot of sermons and church sites telling me about restoration and resetting, I went for a long dog walk. It was on this walk by the beach that I realised we have got all this totally wrong. It is not about going back in history or going back personally. I believe it is about resetting to back to the original plan in the original Garden of Eden. Not the actual Garden of Eden because, again like going back in history that isn’t possible. But it is about going back in our minds, hearts, souls. It is about walking naked and vulnerable with our Creator. Not actually no clothes on because well … it is a bit cold where I live to have no clothes on. But it is about not hiding ourselves away from our Creator or from each other. It is about knowing there is some greater being that we haven’t boxed into any type of religion at all, who loves us for who we true are. We may not even know our true selves until we walk with our Creator because we have learned to be good at hiding behind “clothes”; masks, careers, roles, hurts, abuses, addictions, the “that’s just who I am” statement and more. (Add in your own “clothes” that keep you hidden from who you truly are)

I believe “RESET” means resetting back to that place where we can live without fear, no matter what is going on around us, in true relationship with our Creator who loves us just as we are, even when our blemishes are visible, and we can love ourselves fully. And as I have mentioned in other blogs – once we can really love ourselves only then can we really love each other. Totally reset to the original plan!

What Are BLM Protests Teaching Us?

My daughter and her friend at the BLM protest in Cardiff on Sunday 31st May

There are many prophetic posts and articles about how the next “wave of revival” will be led by young people. Revivals are always led by young people and I believe this is because God wants to stay relevant to the prevailing culture, whether us oldies like it or not.

In North Wales, where I live, last year we commemorated the hundredth anniversary of the last big revival in Wales. That revival was led by young people, and interestingly curtailed by older people. But the majority of the people who led these services and gatherings calling for a new wave of revival were older people, middle aged, my age. The services were conducted in a way we all like – words, prayers, songs, talk, all led by the man/woman at the front, with little space for someone else to react, question or interject. It is how we have grown to know and expect church to be. Are we willing to change not only what we think church services should look like but to let this expect “wave of young leaders” mould church their way? There’s more to it than faster, louder songs and a more catchy preach.

I have noticed the Black Lives Matters (BLM) protests that a high proportion of the people attending aren’t just going along to the protests but are reading and researching the issues. They are then posting and sharing on social media the things they are learning. Things are very different from my protesting days! Sharing and connecting and finding information is so much easier and more varied. Interestingly I noticed that many of those protesting against the BLM marches were white middle aged men, who did seem ignorant of some of the facts.

I believe, if we really do hope for this revival that has been prophesied, not just the older generation, but the younger ones who’ve got used to “how to do church”, need to back off, let go, and also gain some in-depth and varied knowledge on our faith, [which I do see happening in some ministries] because when these young people grab hold of God they will want to know the whys and hows and whats. Are we ready for that? Are we ready to let go? Are we ready to educate ourselves in what we believe? As it says in 1 Peter 3:15 “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” Note it says “to everyone who asks”. We need to learn to wait until the questions are ask and only answer what is being asked not what we have our stock answers already prepared.

The crux of the BLM protests seem to be about changing attitudes to race but if you listen there is more. There is a challenge to look at our attitudes regarding sexuality, relationships, and life in general. All those things many of the older generation, especially the white middle classes, are stuck in thought patterns of what’s right and what’s wrong that have never been questioned. I have noticed if I spend time with a radical young person I am pulled up on things I didn’t even realise were racist or sexist. How are those who have been in Church for a long time going to able to cope when this rising younger generation talking of God as She or It or They?

The young people will not only lead but they will revolutionise how we think and feel if we let them. I believe some older church members, church leaders and even those who prophesied this wave, may not be willing to accept these changes.

A prophetic word that came out at the outbreak of Covid-19 was that this would be a time to “reset”. Perhaps this is part of the rest – a rethink of our attitudes to each other. Maybe this is a subject for my next blog?

BLM Cardiff 31st May 2020

Coming into my calling!

So how did I get from posting for myself to sharing?

From a workshop I did in my local library about a month before lockdown

I have always written. I remember as a young teenager writing stories and sharing them on the school bus with friends. I wrote a play about Thomas a Becket instead of an essay for my pre-O level history class, which I was told was great but I needed to get the language more in period. If only I could find that play now I would not change the language style but would go with it as it was – 11th Century drama with contemporary voices. But unfortunately is has gone. Even when I decided to do a degree later in life I went for history with creative writing. I am a writer but I have hidden that from myself. Or rather haven’t been willing to push through. I write lots but I very rarely push through and edit or try and find a publisher or a competition or any outlet for my work. But things have changed.

During lockdown I have had time to moan, to grumble, couldn’t find my creativity or my motivation, and also wondered what I’m going to do with the last third of my life. [I’ve had my 59th birthday during lockdown] But through it all I did journalling, emailing, started writing courses, met up with friends on Zoom silent writing gatherings [where we all sign on and say Hi and then mute and write for 2-3 hours then say how we’ve done and go have lunch]. But something was stiring.

I have a great friend who does amazing inner healing stuff. She lives in South of England, me in North Wales, so we meet via Zoom. She’s good at creativing a calming atmosphere over cyberspace. This last time highlighted my writing and I came away really believing that my calling is to be a writer. In fact to be an author. And from there things have started to open up. It isn’t magic. I have to do my bit. So I finished a story about “the truth of this virus” and have found a competition for it which means editing it from 3500 words down to 2000. I’m up for the challenge. I submitted 20/20 Perfect Vision to https://godspacelight.com/blog/ – and when you look you’ll see that they have edited it. Now if they had done that before I had had this time of both lockdown and inner healing I would have been hurt by it but today I am really pleased with how it looks. My work but their site, their brand.

I used to be afraid of editing especially other people doing it. I saw it as a personal attack, which is daft but that is how it felt. Like they were attacking me and not helping me with my work. As well as the editing on GodspaceLight I also recieved an email from a friend who has critiqued this “truth of the virus” story and again recieved in the manner it was sent – with love and support.

I have more work to do which I am excited about not overwhelmed; a children’s story that a friend is illustrating that it is my task to find a publisher; a fun bit about my husband builidng a eagle’s lair in his office which I shared the idea on a writer’s forum and have been given a website to share the story on; as well as this other post for GodspaceLight and the “truth about the virus” story.

And because of the clearing out of the junk that was holding me back from editing and completing any work I feel energized, creative and motivated. Finally I am stepping up into my calling – and funnily enough it is not all those other things i thought it might be 🙂 But that is for another post 🙂

20/20 Perfect Vision

perfectvision-1024x413-1
Image taken from https://ubcrembert.org/perfect-vision-20-20/ 

2020 they said was the going to be the year of perfect vision – Twenty twenty vision! Then they panicked because suddenly we were all locked inside, unless we were key workers. Suddenly they were talking about how this lockdown/pandemic had been predicted before. Lots of prophecies bouncing out. But not once, at least on the ones I listened to, did I hear anything about this 20/20 vision.

Let me list the things I think this year of 2020 is revealing: (&these are in no particular order so apologies if some look like they are of more importance. That is not my intention)

  • who the key workers really are. Not just health and care workers but delivery drivers, both food and parcels, those who empty the bins, not just our household ones but the ones in the parks and streets, the takeaway food and coffee workers, those who work in food producing factories. I’m sure I’ve missed some.
  • the fragility of the world economy
  • poverty and how people teeter on the edge and losing 20% of their wages pushes them over the edge
  • the huge one that is causing riots and protests across the world – including social media infiltrations via K-Pop fans – is racism. Not just slurs and comments but institutionalised racism.
  • But this is also showing how connected the world is and how people don’t agree with all that is going on and will speak out, will do something. And perhaps it is because so many are at home and have time to do something about it. I am seeing websites starting gathering info, people doing things they would not have had the time or energy to do.
  • Not forgetting climate change
  • Domestic violence
  • Child abuse – interesting how during this time Police say they may have found the real abductor of Madeline McCann which happened so many years ago. Things coming into the light, things being truly seen
    mental health issues
  • the fragility and incompetence of our government and other governments around the world
  • the strange system in the USA where one man speaks for all no matter how sound he is

But you know what? All these issues have been raised before. It seems not so long ago another middle aged black man was crying out “I can’t breath” but things did not explode like they have done. It did not become a worldwide thing. Why now? Some say it is because people have less to do, but I would like to raise the issue of 20/20 vision, the prediction that this year we would see things clearly.

It looks too like I might not be the only one thinking this. Here is this great poem by Leslie Dwight going around which says
“What if 2020 is the year we’ve been waiting for? ⁣
A year so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary, so raw —
that it finally forces us to grow,”
“⁣A year that screams so loud, finally awakening us
from our ignorant slumber.⁣
A year we finally accept the need for change.⁣
Declare change. Work for change. Become the change.”
“A year we finally band together, instead of⁣
pushing each other further apart.⁣⁣

2020 isn’t cancelled, but rather ⁣
the most important year of them all.”⁣

[accessed 5th June 2020 on https://www.instagram.com/p/CA_CXcBp7Rg/?utm_source=ig_embed and https://www.today.com/news/what-if-2020-isn-t-canceled-inspiring-poem-message-change-t183397%5D

 

What if we can look back on 2020 and say that things really did change, that we would not settle for what was again. I must say I am so proud of my daughter and others being brave and going out there and protesting. That takes courage. But they aren’t just doing that. They are reading, they are learning, they are looking, really looking with their eyes wide open.

Clapping the NHS

aplauding nhsInteresting times we are living in when many in the neighbourhood go out on their doorsteps at the same time every week to clap people who are not there. I’m not knocking those who do it but for me it is strange. I think the NHS are doing an amazing job and I worry about people I know who are having to be in there dealing with it all; friends, family and acquaintances. A sister-in-law, an NHS worker, has caught Covid-19, though thankfully only mildly and as yet none of her family are exhibiting signs. A friend’s cousin, also an NHS worker, had it mildly but then her husband caught it and is in intensive care. So yes I think they are doing a great job and should be respected and applauded. So I send them messages, tell them I am thinking about them, etc. But I do not go out and do the clapping. But that is because I don’t get it. But then I also do get many of these grand public outpourings.

But what got to me most of all was a local historic castle has very publicly put blue lights on its façade when the clapping was going on, made sure it was on all their social media that they had done things, emailed all their supporters. The emails had a donations button at the end but this was for the monument’s fund raising not the NHS raising. But also this place has made sure all its parklands are locked so no one can walk through them. Thankfully there are lots of other places to walk but I just wondered if a good public gesture would have been to open its parklands to give people more space to walk. Some who might even be those NHS workers who they are illuminating their building to support.

But this got me thinking about how we, and I include myself in this, make big open public gestures but don’t do the little things that will help. So how many people clapping, or even giving to the amazing people like Captain Tom to raise money to support the NHS, will be willing to have their taxes increased to support not just an improvement in the NHS but also to support all those who are on furlough, to improve our schools, our bin services, etc, etc etc. How many people who are in management in these sectors find it easier to clap than to take a pay cut so those below them could have a pay rise? How many are finding time to support local business? Not just now when we’re thinking about it but after this is over?

So I do applaud those who go outside to applaud the NHS, but I also applaud those who are key workers in other areas, but also those who are sticking to the rules and staying at home. But I do wonder what things will change when this is all over or will we just want it all to go back to normal without having to pay for it, make changes, or even look at what is wrong in this world to have brought things to this point. And by this point I don’t just mean this pandemic but a struggling NHS, an overly polluted planet, etc, etc etc.

Are you obeying Lockdown rules???

 

Is it just me or when you go out or look through your window or read Facebook or Instagram does the thought pass through your head of whether those people are obeying lockdown rules?

renly on the beach april 2020Maybe it is just me 🙂 But I know when I’m out walking my dog with my daughter I look at groups of people and ask myself “are you all part of the same family and living in the same house?” When I watch cars driving past I often think “is that journey necessary?” When I see all the cars in Tesco carpark I ask myself “how often have you been there this week?” All the time I’m judging people. And actually not in a good way.

What if those people walking together are from different families is it for me to judge? If people are walking for 2-3 hours rather than the one allotted for exercise, or going out 2-3 times a day instead of one, is that for me to judge?

Is it for me to judge? No it is not. I must follow the rules and guidelines as I have interpreted them but not judge others who see it differently. Yes they might get sick – but I must not say “serves the right”. They might die and that would be sad. They could stretch the NHS and that would not be good. But all in all it is their choice, as it is mine, how to interpret this whole situation that we have never been through before.

But it got me thinking of how much I judge others but the things I see them doing. And this can be good or bad, better or worse than me. Do they go to church more/less than me? So are they are better/worse Christian than me? Do they spend more/less time writing than me? Are they a better/worse writer than me? Etc, etc. Who am I to judge???

If nothing else lockdown has taught me how much I judge others by what I see and what I want to see. So today when I look at photos on Instagram or see people walking together outside or driving their cars I will just let it go and continue doing what I do. And trying not to judge myself!!

Who will say ‘I don’t know!’

Stay-Home-Stay-Safe-Graphics-3723422-1I have been reading through headlines like I have never done in a very long time. Every morning I check what the latest death toll is, what the latest report says, what is going on in the world. What has struck me through all of this is – there are a lot of people there with opinions but no one is willing to say “I don’t know”

Journalists and opposing political parties and people in general are asking questions – why do we have no PPE for our staff? why no testing? how did it get like this? who is to blame?

What I would really love to hear is someone high up in politics answer these questions but saying – I don’t know how it started, why it got this far, why we didn’t see it coming, but you know what? We’re in this together so lets stop blaming and try and work toward a solution.

Yes I know lots of people are volunteering, helping, doing what they are told and staying home. But actually we all want answers and we all want someone to blame. For me I would say a lot of the problem in our country is that we have continually voted for a government that cuts taxes. Unfortunately cutting taxes leads to services not being able to stock pile things ‘just in case’. If last year the government had stockpiled PPE ‘just in case’ the press would have been running them down for wasting money, wasting storage space, causing a panic.

Scientists are working hard to find out how it all started, why it started and what to do about it. Chinese food markets seem to be taking the brunt of it which could be where it all started, but why now? Why this year? What changed?

I think all governments from China on through were slow to react but I do wonder if that was because they didn’t believe it would get that big. We had a couple of health care professionals staying at our house in February/March and until around 5/6th March they were saying not to worry, that it was going to be like SARS, which though bad didn’t effect this many people even without lockdown. If in February our government had ordered a lockdown then people would have been screaming ‘Police state’. Actually our government did try to get people to be adult about it but what did they do? Rushed to local beauty spots to walk, climb, hang out. I wonder if people had stayed home that weekend and behaved like adults whether things would have been different and there would have been things closed by no lockdown.

I think we like to get ‘authority figures’ to give us answers because we are all scared children in a big world we don’t get understand. If someone in charge gives us an answer and it is wrong then we can cry out like the children we are. We do not take any responsibility. The cause of this could be you and me wanting cheap food, to pay less taxes, to be able to travel the world, etc, etc. But we would not accept that answer very well.

For me I would vote for the next person who says “I don’t know but we’re working with what we have and we’re learning all the time” and “Our political party will raise taxes to pay for this, to support WHO and overseas relief, to pay our NHS and teachers.” And I will be willing to pay more for my beer, my wine, my meals out so that those hospitality staff earn a decent wage.

Easter Sunday

DSCN0826 (1)I wonder how the followers of Jesus felt as they woke after Passover. Not the 12 disciples or the women who stayed with him. We know what went on with them. I wonder about those, who are like so many of us, sitting on the edges, are not part of the inner clique. Those who had heard Jesus speak, had felt something stir in their hearts, stayed with him even when they didn’t get picked to be the elite disciples. Those who shouted “Hosanna!” the Sunday previously and who stood at the back of the crowd when others shouted “Crucify him” and felt helpless to do anything about it. How did they feel?

I am thinking they felt a lot of what many of us are feeling now – grief, loss, anxiety, confused, uncertain. Did Jesus come to them? And if he did then when and what was it like?

As we go through these uncertain times, locked in by an unseen enemy, realising what a mess our world is in and how much it relies of economy rather than care, not knowing when this will end or what the future will hold will the Peace of Jesus come to us?

Many this Easter Sunday will be doing virtual church or be involved in things like https://ctbi.org.uk/sing-resurrection/ organised by a friend of mine. But also there will be people, I think, like those who were not connected with the inner circle of disciples and followers, who will just be getting on with their own thing. The thing they did to survive and live after Passover, after the world had changed.

My hope is that Jesus came to those people too. It isn’t recorded in the Bible if he did but my hope is that the Jesus I try to follow came to those who didn’t, or couldn’t, do anything special to wait for him; couldn’t or wouldn’t stop their daily lives. I hope he came for them. So this morning my hope is that whatever anyone is doing, whatever they believe, fear, hope, feel, that they’ll get a glimpse of Jesus and he’ll bring a bit of his healing balm to these uncertain, anxious times.

In defence of Airbnb

sunset
Sunset from one of my Airbnb rooms

As all who read this regularly know I am an Airbnb host. I have two rooms at the top of my lovely 3 storey house that I rent out. Because of Covid-19 that has all stopped. The cancellations started around my son’s birthday on 16th March and by the time the lockdown started on Monday 23rd everyone had cancelled. I have lost a lot of bookings and no one is booking yet for the summer because we are all waiting.

I read all the articles I see about Airbnb and they make me cross. Let me say clearly – Airbnb is a platform for those of us who wish to put our rooms, properties, caravans, etc on to so that people worldwide can see they are available. I get bookings from as far away as Burma, Australia, Brazil, Congo. I would not get these without Airbnb. I am not forced to put my rooms on to Airbnb. I know that they take a percentage from me for each booking I receive. I also know they take money from guests who book. This is all clearly stated. For this percentage, as well as getting the Airbnb website platform, I also have access to over insurance cover should things go wrong. I have never tried to claim so not sure how well it works but it is there. I also know that it is my choice how I advertise my rooms, what I say about them, about the area, about what people will receive when they arrive. It is also my choice how I behave to my guests. It is then also my guests choice how they review my property and me afterwards.

When I read stories that include how a man had a portfolio of properties on the Airbnb site and doesn’t know who he’ll cope financially now they have locked down the site. I want to say to that man that yes I am sorry that he will be losing his livelihood but that is not Airbnb’s fault. No one said he had to put all his properties exclusively on to Airbnb. They are more than happy for people to advertise on different sites and even have a function on how to sync calendars from those different platforms. Also, very big one –  at the moment no one should be travelling so you should not have people wanting to book your properties. Actually Airbnb have sent an email to all their hosts to say that if you are willing to have key workers stay they will make your properties available. Because my husband is asthmatic and we have my daughter staying, who has taken over the top floor, I’ve not tried this.

I have also read stories that talk about how Airbnb have let people advertise that their properties are a good place to stay during this crisis. No Airbnb did not do that. The idiot who’s property it is put that on his site and has somehow overroad the lockdown Airbnb have imposed.

I notice too that there are never headlines about how Sykes Cottages, Lakeland Cottages, etc behave or how bad they are. Let’s be fair

So please note – Airbnb is a platform  we host use not a boss we work for. We, as adults with rooms, houses, etc choose to put our lettings on there. Airbnb does enable us to do this. And Covid-19 is NOT Airbnb’s fault.

Brexit

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve had lots to say but not been able to work out how to say it, or have had other outlets. But this morning it came together.

dsc_0630I was at church where things were really uplifting but I didn’t feel it. I have had a heaviness in my heart since Friday evening with the whole Brexit thing. I’m not saying how I voted but what makes me sad is that – here is a momentous occasion in our nation’s history and yet the country is divided and so doesn’t know what to do.  Yes there were some who did have parties to celebrate, but it definitely wasn’t half the country. There were some who were in major mourning but again not all those who voted remain. There were many who were just numbed by the length of time it took to get from a vote to a movement. To me there was a sense of apathy, numbness and fear of the unknown. There was a sense of not knowing how to react so as not to upset anyone one way or the other. In our house the B word cannot be uttered because of where the conversation goes.

But this morning whilst we were singing it all made sense. We finished our service with an old favourite: Shine, Jesus, Shine by Graham Kendrick. The chorus says it all for me:

Shine, Jesus, shine
Fill this land with the Father’s glory
Blaze, Spirit, blaze
Set our hearts on fire
Flow, river, flow
Flood the nations with grace and mercy
Send forth your word
Lord, and let there be light

The lines I have highlighted I sang with gusto and as a prayer, but especially the line “Flood this nation with grace and mercy.dsc_0621

My prayer was that I don’t care what you voted for and whether you regret it or are pleased about the result, all I pray is that each of us can go out with GRACE and MERCY to cover this land, to heal this land, to heal division. And then … no matter what happens we can stand together, build our identity as a nation built on GRACE and MERCY, walk out whatever the future has with GRACE and MERCY, look each other in the eye with GRACE and MERCY. Only then can we really become the nation that we were meant to be.

Surely whether you are a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Pagan, Jew or any other that I’ve missed you want to see peace in this land, see freedom in this land, to unity in this land. And that will only come about if each of us can be filled with GRACE and MERCY and give it away to those around us.