Really?

I started a blog post with this quote below, wrote for nearly half an hour then some how it all vanished. The fascinating bit was that it was all about asking God to give us tasks too hard for us to cope with so that we come back to Him! Hummm!! But now I will fill my post full of Eleanor Roosevelt quotes 🙂

Eleanor Roosevelt

“Our Father, who has set a restlessness in our hearts and made us all seekers after that which we can never fully find, forbid us to be satisfied with what we make of life. Draw us from base content and set our eyes on far-off goals. Keep us at tasks too hard for us that we may be driven to Thee for strength. Deliver us from fretfulness and self-pitying; make us sure of the good we cannot see and of the hidden good in the world. Open our eyes to simple beauty all around us and our hearts to the loveliness men hide from us because we do not try to understand them. Save us from ourselves and show us a vision of a world made new.”

So I will still post the quote and try to remember some of what I wrote. I don’t know about other bloggers but once I’ve written it is like its gone from my brain!

It was to do with being challenged about our move to Wales and being asked if either I was running away from the pain of the last 3+ years and then also I was “truly healed” to  be able to go,  and me feeling like I would never be truly healed but that that was ok. That I want to be up for leaning on God not on being totally healed.

We are not going to open this house to others so that they come and give us what we want to get healed. We want to open our home to others so that through our experiences and our scars we can show others that life isn’t hopeless. It’s not even to heal but to encourage, to give hope, vision and purpose. It’s about learning to live with the scars of life not to feel sorry for ourselves but to show we can keep going, can still not just dream dreams but make them happen, to show that there is life beyond.

To quote Richard Rohr:

The huge surprise of the Christian revelation is that the place of the wound is the place of the greatest gift. Our code phrase for this whole process is “cross and resurrection,” revealing that our very wounds can become sacred wounds, if we let them.

And this is the thing, we want to let our scars become sacred wounds that God can use to bring something to the rest of the world. Ok so maybe not the rest of the world but those people He will bring across our path. And not for us to heal them because the task is to big for us, and we have learned that, but for Him to do as He wills with each one of them.

So we take our scars, our far off goals, our restlessness and we let God have it all as we continue on this journey – not just to Wales but to all that He has for us. We are not healed, a long way from it, but we moved into a deeper relationship with God not based on what we do or what He does but on who we are and who He is.

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Back To The Future Day

I wasn’t going to write because I’ve got too much to do and also I’m not feeling great but felt compelled to. As the quote says “Back to the Future will now take part entirely in the the past”. I saw all 3 of the Back to The Future films in the cinema and then on TV. Never sure why I liked them but ..

And as Sally Ann says today 21st October is significant in the use of the number 21 – the coming of age number – and I quote:

To me 21 denotes a breakthrough and the number of maturity when young people historically got ‘the key of the door’… Daniel in the Old Testament fasted for 3 weeks – 3×7=21 – and an angel appeared to him at the end of that time: now that’s what I call a breakthrough!

So today, the 21st day of October we got breakthrough – in that we sold our house, offer totally accepted, and had the offer of our new house accepted – and it feels a bit like maturity – because now we step out into the unknown but as grown ups. We are breaking ties, gaining something that is ours totally (as in this house will be in joint names whereas the house we are in now is just in my husband’s name). And also it was 3 weeks today that, after getting back from Wales, our estate agent came round and put this house on the market. Another of those 21 days! And also from now on we start writing our future, a future that is ours, that is different, that we cannot predict at all.

Something interesting too – often when I can’t get to sleep I daydream about having a room of my own that I can decorate and also being close to the sea. Now it doesn’t help me to go to sleep because the dream is becoming a reality. Our future is standing like a blank page waiting to be written. You know it feels like it did just before we got married – that tumbling excitement of stepping into the unknown with the one you love 🙂

So what’s the Vision? What’s the big idea?

‘ve stolen this line from the poem “The Vision” but I think it sums up what we’re up to. Ours is not some big website ministry. The Vision Ian and I have is a little one; a front line out of sight living life vision. As my friend John Bell would say “We’re doing Life” – with a capital L.

So what is the Vision? The Vision isn’t Wales – though God has led us there through our love of the country, our love of beach, mountains, walking, and the people of Wales – and when we are there we will be praying for the land we’ll be standing on, and interacting with the people. But the location is almost incidental without that sounding disrespectful to the country that is accepting us. No the Vision is also the house and the space in the house’ the space for us to grow to be more like God intended us to be and to help and support other people to grow into their God given destiny. So what it is is

the front garden

the space. We asked for 6 bedrooms, 2 living rooms and a big communal space. What are these spaces for? This is the important part of the Vision.  We can “see” a space to have a lodger living full time with us as part of our family, with the whole giving and receiving that comes with family. Plus we want to be able to do the Airbnb thing more; having holiday makers, travellers and business people pass through our home. This is something we have enjoyed doing already but have found our little house a bit too cramped. We have been able to host Chinese, Londoners. Polish, Brummies, Australians, Americans, Lithuanians, Bulgarians, French, Italians, Indians, others from across the UK, some who have been working in the area, some who are holidaying, some who are on long term travelling, some who need to talk and eat with us, some who want some space. All of which has taken some discerning. We like doing it via Airbnb because then we can be a spare room in a family home rather than having to comply to all the regulations that come with official Bed and breakfasting.

So that is 2 bedrooms with functions. We also feel like we would love to have our own separate spaces. We were both single for a long time and it has been a challenge to get use to living and sharing our space, but we have done well and are enjoying it, but it is like to expand as who we are we could do with “a room of my own”. For me it will be to write, to be able to leave my writings out and not have to tidy up, to be able to have books piled about so I can pick up when I want, and for room to study, though as to what the study and where it will go I do not know. For Ian it will be a place to explore, to work from home and also to not have to tidy away because this house now is too small for us both to leave things out.

Two more bedrooms with functions. Then of course we will have our bedroom and that leaves one more bedroom. This will be for our children and for our friends; a place where those we already know can come and be with us, can enjoy what we have got, can walk on the beach, can be revived and refreshed.

The reason for the space downstairs? We believe there was need for a communal space where every one could draw

the kitchen/diner viewed from standing in the kitchen

together. Plus a living room for us to relax in and another living area that was just for us as a family so we could withdraw when need be.  This house we hope to get has a kitchen/diner with one end a lovely square cooking space, with breakfast bar, that then reaches into a space for a reasonable size table (6-8 places) and room for a couch too. The reason for 2 living rooms is, much as we want to share our lives, we also want space to withdraw. We also found with the Airbnb guests there were times when one of our children needed just us but there was no place to withdraw and just chill out. So the front living room will be our family space alone and then the other one will be for sharing. There will be times when we have a lot of guests and the functions of the rooms will have to change but that’s ok. This is very much God’s house and He will have His way. We hope that it will be filled with love, laughter, prayers and tears. We’ve done too much of life to know that tears are very much a part of real life and that is what we want this place to be.

So this is The Vision. This is the Big Idea. As Habakkuk 2:2 says “write the vision plainly so the runners can run with it/so that it can be read on the move”. Here is our vision written plainly so we can keep moving ever closer to it. Unless it is written clearly it is easy to settle for second best. In fact when we were house hunting we so knew that God wanted us in this area that we almost settled for a house that did not have what the Vision called for. It is so easy to  miss out when it isn’t written down.

It is also like God has given us this house vision and then the desire for the area but also kept us in mind to our needs. Things like the need for a large attic because we do still carry a lot of our children’s belongings, which gives them freedom to travel and explore the world unhindered, but also we have things that we would like to keep too, as well as Ian have all his outdoor stuff which will be so important to him when we are so much closer to “the big outdoors”.

Sometimes I think we get afraid to write it large and write it bold and stick to it. I know we have which is why it took us so long to get here. But we cannnot look back on shoulds and oughts but only keep on going forward, ever growing.

Trust! God!

We’re on the move

We are on the move, my husband and I. Some people have advised caution, said “don’t move too fast” but in fact this has all been a long time coming. Nearly nine years in fact! We have got close and then things have changed but we have held in there, often without knowing it.

So on our honeymoon my husband had this big download from God about our home being a place of safety for others. He got words and pictures and all sorts. So we pottered on letting this happen around us, for my children, for people God dropped into our lives along the way. We got hurt and confused at times by what it was all about. We had people that we had spent time with moving on to other things and not even speaking to us. In hindsight we have realised that this is what the “vision” had all been about but wasn’t easy. Then came the big crash three and a half years ago when people we had been praying for took their own lives, either deliberately or by accident. That shatters one’s trust in the vision and in God. We had been told we were a safe place and those we’d been praying for and who had come under our roof took choices that led to their lives being cut short. Where did the vision go then? Buried!!

Though not quite. It simmered away. We both kept niggling at it without realising but we had lost our trust in God to do His bit. We never walked away from Him. Like Peter said when Jesus asked him if he was going to leave as others were doing, it was “where else can we go?” But there had been a shift in the relationship. I believe we spent the last two years rebuilding our trust in God, because it has only been just over two years since my father-in-law died. Someone else we’d been praying for and hoping to become well again.

So the Vision was written large nearly nine years ago. We wanted to run with it but weren’t able to – to being with because of our own lack of experience and also lack of space, but then because of things beyond our control unsettling us. We needed to grieve. We needed to regroup. We needed time. We needed to be bold enough to look at the Vision. Interestingly we didn’t do anything deliberate to bring it back to the surface. It all happened in an roundabout sort of way. So yes it would be possible to say that we are moving quickly but in fact we’re not.

And we are still trying to learn to trust. It’s odd but I can see it when we wait for someone to buy our house. It isn’t happening fast enough which at one time I would have said was a great way for us to learn patience but now I’m struggling because that trust that God can and will has slide. But actually it makes us rounder people, I believe, more able to support those who’ve been hurt because we’ve been there too. But trust is such a hard thing to regain.

And as I think of regaining trust in God I think of people in my life, not just those who’ve died but those who are still alive, who’ve hurt me, broken my trust. In all cases it is hard to trust again, but God seems to have led us to a place where we are having to trust Him to sell our house and led us to our “Promised land!” 🙂

Everything Needs Two Sides

On Wednesday we watch Inside Out, the new Pixar movie. I will try not to give too much away, though my movie blogs should always come with a spoiler-alert. Anyway suffice to say that one cannot be happy all the time, and all the memories we have come with a healthy mix of happiness and sadness, and this in fact leads us to become much rounder people. If we all tried to be happy all the time then we would miss out on so much. Interestingly this revelation was followed by a family relationship meltdown; lots of shouting, misunderstanding, mistakes made, and a need for some space. I look back on many days, many memories and it is very rare that they are just happy. There is generally a mix of sadness, anxiety, misunderstanding, as well as happiness.

This isn’t my field because I don’t take my phone dog walking as I don’t want to be contacted but it looks a bit that colour, though no mountains in the background 🙂

Out walking the dog the other day I was amazed that one of our favourite fields was glowing golden; an amazing mix of oranges, reds and golds with the highlighting it. It turned out that the farmer had covered it in some form of weed killer and was going to plough it in and change the whole look of the field. A mix of wonder but also trauma and change.

There are so many incidents when we really think about them that are a mishmash of things, and yet we spend good money trying to be happy as much as possible. And what happens? Well people are disappointed, feel let down and actually are sadder for it. If one could be content in all circumstances then that would be so much better. I could use my anxiety to try to change things, my misunderstandings into working out where I go wrong and to make me a deeper rounder person. Again that is an interesting one because so often we think we should get better, but actually as I grow I want to become deeper not better. I am ok as I am but I can become more of what I am. Yes I want to be able to understand my family to a deeper extent, but as someone said to me today I need to learn what my boundaries are too to be willing to let them have theirs. That means I am deeper and rounder but not better.

As a Christian I know God loves me as I am but that doesn’t mean I want to stay as I am, or even that God wants me to stay as I am. I love my children as they are, but I also want to support and help them mature, and want to see other people in their lives supporting and helping them. I not sure if God is like this but I know as a parent what I really would love is for my children to have other people in their lives supporting and helping them to grow because then they would become deeper and rounder. If they only have me then they will actually be very much like me. Though I suppose with God He is much rounder and deeper than I’ll ever be, which makes you wonder why we want to try to make Him able to be understood. Wouldn’t faith be so much more if we let people connect with the unfathomable God rather than the God that a church leader can give the explanation of???? 🙂

Footprints – part two

After posting the other day I came across this poem by Kathleen M Quinlan in her book From We to I. (An amazing book of poetry that can be bought from http://www.cinnamonpress.com/index.php/hikashop-menu-for-products-listing/poetry/product/10-from-we-to-i-kathleen-m-quinlan for £4.99)

Here are some experts that I think show how at times God makes us walk through stuff rather than carry us.

Footprints, chased by hungry waves,

stumble out of the sea

A woman skips across the sand,

claiming the earth with her footprints

….

And here are some prophetic words that I had spoken over me back in October 2004. I happened to mention this prophecy to a friend not so long back and she asked me to get it out and share it with her. These words struck me as relevant to the walking rather than being carried.

… I bless you with an increase of faith that you might walk with a fierce faith of Jesus … And though you walk in barren places, may you see that which is under your feet as the creation of God before it was scarred, …. Therefore walk to and fro in the land. And where the sole of your foot treads, that will become an inheritance in My Kingdom. …

Often in Christian circles we see walking as when things go well and being carried when things aren’t going so well. But as I said before I had to walk these last few years, but in fact now I can see why. Like the woman I am claiming the earth with my footprints. I had to walk in barren places. In fact Psalm 23 says “even though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death …” Life is tough and we, as Christians, have little to offer others if we just say “God carried me through this” because sometimes that doesn’t make sense. But I know I can say “God got me to walk through this and Him and I, we did ok.” It also means I trust Him to walk with me again when life gets tough.

Oh wouldn’t it be great if I could say “well those last few years were tough, I’ve done my bit now and so can I have an easy ride till I die”? But see I don’t think its like that. I’m a gatherer of those who need encouraging but actually I can only really encourage when I’ve really walked it! Ho hum!!

Footprints

Please note I do think there are loads of times when God does carry us

Please note that I do think there are loads of times when God carries usFor many years Christians had the poem “Footprints” somewhere in their homes. it basically said that there are times when life gets too tough and God carries you through. I’m not sure if that’s right for every time. I think there are times when God holds your hand and you walk together or even times when He lets you go to see what will happen, to grow your faith. It’s not that He’s miles away. In fact I think He’s standing closer than you realise but your human eyes don’t let you see it. But I think there are times when you have to walk the road because then you can show to others how to do it. I must say, after the few years we’ve been through, I only trust those who’ve walked a hard path too. I struggle with those who say “God carried me”. I know God kept me going through it all but because He made me walk it I am stronger for it.

When I was away a couple of weeks ago I took a series of pictures of a path the dog and I were walking, just the two of us, on the Isle of Arran. As we walked I would

A clear path
A clear path

occasionally not be too sure where I should be walking but then would come across a footprint in the mud where someone had slipped of a stone. I knew I was on the

A footprint
A footprint

right path, not just because someone had gone that way before but because someone had slipped off and got caught in the mud or bog. If the people who had walked before me had been super careful and stuck to the stepping stones or been carried by some greater force I would never have know this path was walkable. It gave me such reassurance to know this path had actually been walked by someone. And that is why, I think, at times God doesn’t carry us but makes us walk along. I think too, that at times He wants to strengthen our faith and let us walk unaided.

Again after the last few years that I have walked through I know I am a stronger person, but interestingly too that hasn’t made me more self reliant, but almost more trusting in God, have a deeper faith in God. I no longer trust for something or have faith for something but have faith that God is God and trust that He loves me unconditionally. It’s an interesting place to be. But I also know if He had carried me all that way I would have nothing to share with my friends who don’t see God in places, who don’t expect to see God.

It is an interesting phenomenon that the more I know I can the more faith I have in God. Paradox or fact of life?