Daffodils

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

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

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

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

 

Advertisements

Arise, shine; for your light has come

Today I’m doing a reading in church. Just a regular reading. No performing. Nothing special. I’m now on the reading rota at the church we’ve been going to almost since we arrived here. I like the place, I like the people and I like reading. So of course being me I won’t just say it I’ll put inflections into it and make it lively. Not performing but just being me.

arise-and-shine-for-your-light-has-comeAnd this is why I think this passage, esp the first line is so amazing and I think will be my word for the year. Along with a few others I’m gathering but … what a great start to the year, to sit in church and hear that it is time to Arise and shine. Wow! Especially on this dreary day when the town is shrouded in mist here is God saying “Arise and shine” Wow!

So what does that mean? Well I think it has to come with the second phrase too. “Arise and shine for your light has come.” How can I arise and shine? Because my light has come. How has my light come? Well Isaiah 60 says “and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” What does that mean? Well I think it could mean that actually you have realised who you are and have let the Lord – or wherever you get your strength from – rise upon you.

Without trying to be blasphemous I think you could substitute “Lord” for confidence, for isaiah-angel-smallstrength, hope, reassurance. Almost anything. I really don’t think that one can let the Lord rise upon and around you unless you have confidence in yourself. I know of a friend who went through an awful tragedy but I can hear her sobbing “Just one touch of the King changes everything” but she had to let herself be touched for Him to be able to change everything.

If we can be willing to believe that, even though it is dark and misty outside, even though 2017 is looking like being a worrying year, we are able to arise and shine and let your light shine then we can be part of changing things. We can let our assurance, confidence, strength, hope rise and so shine light into this year.

The passage goes on to say about how the world is in darkness but that people will come to the light. We are not be inert but by worrying, being anxious, being fearful we hold the darkness in place but if we go with confidence knowing that we can do our bit to bring light to our sphere of influence then those in need will be drawn to us.

hpim0765It always takes me a while to get into the fact that its a new year. Others around me come with resolutions that they can present at midnight on 2016/17 but I need a run up to it and some thinking time. So for me though I will put aside worry and also put aside false hope and I will arise. I will shine. I will let my light shine in my spheres of influence. This is my resolution for 2017.

Creator Christianity

Here are some thoughts in following on from my post yesterday about Pagan Christmas. Whilst I was out walking today and marvelling at how each day is different – yesterday we

offshore-windfarms
Ok so not my view but it’s a great picture 🙂 

had a thick frost, today it is mild and damp. I always wish I took my camera with me because there is a view great view where I walk over the bridge over the A55 and look out to see. In our bay we have wind turbines, lots of them, and it is amazing how the cloud and sea and sky can make them look so different. The other day they looked like they were standing on the ground. Today like they were floating in the air. Some days they are brilliant white, some days grey and forlorn looking. So there I am marvelling about this and realised how much most of Christianity can miss about God and how also the pagan side missed about God too.

Ok so this is generalisation so please forgive me 🙂 Pagans are very much into worshipping creation and Mother Nature, which I think is awesome, and do believe it is one facet of 1bd30002809be66a88e93b426a24e6bcGod. Christians on the other hand can get so fixated in Father God that they miss the nature side of things. Both Father and Mother are facets of God. And they are not the whole even when joined together.

But then things get silly as Christians. If I told you I was a Creationist Christian then you would think that I believe the literal story in the Bible, that God made the world in just 6 days. I don’t. But I do believe God created the world. See I think that to do it in 6 days is actually a bit easy. To make man exactly as he is now is easy. It’s almost what we like in our instant McDonald’s world – that quick instant fix. And in the grand scheme of things 6-7,000 years is pretty instant when put in regard to eternity. I think the whole idea that God took millennia to make the world is awesome. As a creative person I am learning that to make anything really read well – or to make my Barefoot At The Kitchen Table business viable – I have to be in for the long haul, and I do have to be willing to edit, to change, to work with what I have.

2424648436_dd3e5aa7c0_z1-e1358896975823Oh! I hope that’s not blasphemous. I’m not saying that God has been doing editing and changing and doesn’t know what’s going on. But I do think God works on growing things and changing and being in for the long haul. Even for what He is doing with me personally He has to be committed for the long haul and for things to edit and to change. I am not the same person I was when I first met with God 24 years ago. In fact I’m not the same person I was last week. Last week I was gathered with my Interweave friends and that always changes me. Yes one could say that because God is outside of time and space He knew where I’d be and how I’d been today but He did also give me free will to get to here as I chose. And I’m not sure if “here” is where He really wanted me or whether we are both just working with the material on offer at the moment 🙂

So the idea that God takes millennia to get the earth to how it is now, and He hasn’t just done it Himself. He has let Mankind be involved too. My view out my window and on my walks is a mixture of God and man working in tandem. I was going to say harmony but I don’t think that is always the case. As I’ve posted before this view is different to what it was and in a few years it will be different again – maybe. painting_the_earth

So my point today is to say please let us stop doing either/or but yes and. Let us see God in creation and creation in God. And also realise God is in this for long haul not a quick picture.

Enough Money

enoughmoneyWhat is enough? This fits in with my post on Success a while back.  What is enough money? I have always had enough money. I’ve never been really rich but have been really poor. I was on income support, the lowest level of benefit in the UK and yet I always had enough. It was in the days when one got a giro cheque and went to the Post Office to cash it. I would get it in small denominations and then have pots on shelf in my kitchen for various things; food, rent, electric, other household bills, clothes, books, trips and holidays. Holidays were always quite a priority. And I would put these little sums of money into these various pots and save up. We ate well and my kids were never hungry. I home schooled and they use to have swimming lessons and French lessons and we’d go off on trips and on holidays. In fact during this time we even went back packing around Greece. None of this was luxury. We had a railcard. We stayed in basic lodgings, ate basic food and had some fun. I had enough.

I have some friends who are in their late 40s/early 50s who have never had children, both piggy-bankworked in well paid jobs, have a house with land in Surrey/Hampshire, must have pensions – probably salary linked ones – and yet they worry about their retirement that they will not have enough. Yes they do go on holiday and have nice things but they worry. They don’t have enough. I also know people on benefits who don’t have enough, who get into debt, who’s children go hungry.

On both ends of the financial scale there are those who have enough and those who don’t. In this I am not condemning those with money or those without. Also I have not always been so content with money. There are times I lie in bed and night and worry about whether we will have enough if … And it is that “if”. In fact we were talking the other day and conversation moved round to “we should rent that other room if I’m not working any more.” But he is working and when/if he isn’t then we shall worry about it then. I suspect we will just change what we spend money on.

Well off is a state of mind not necessarily to do with how much money you have. As a follower of Jesus I think I should learn to be content with what I have, generous whether I 77d5537cfb83c3b1e0edb8a96cbe4c06have much or little. I’m not sure I am and sometimes when I have more then I worry about having enough more than when I have little.

What I would love to do is to know how to contain this feeling of satisfaction with what I have but also be able to pass it on to others.

Carpe Diem – Seize the Day

So a slight twist away from my on going mini-series into what I do/who I am.

6f47d3dae834da213ef7956e9fe60921This has struck me recently but I know I’ve blogged on it before. But just recently we had a couple in early stages of dementia stay and they were talking of what they had done but also what they would like to do and can’t do now. An older friend had told me how her and her husband had saved hard and kept their children short of things because of all the things they were going to do after he retired. He was struck off his bicycle by a lorry in his late forties, had brain damage and is now dead. One of the ladies I meet dog walking said how her and her husband moved to this part of the world when he retired but within 10 months he was head. She has been here ten years now. I can recall many tales from older people who say they wished they had seized the moment instead of saving for a future that never happened. Even with my husband’s broken foot at the moment, he has been saying he will now miss the end of the summer and the clubs he had planned on looking into “tomorrow” will now have to happen next year. At least he does have next year to look at whereas these with deceased spouses or debilitating illnesses cannot do that.

It made me think about when I go walking on the beach. Our beach has a series of little pensarn-beach-2streams that bisect it. Many of them look deep and they can cut short a walk. The other day I decided to go for it reasoning that the worst that was going to happen was that I would get my feet wet. You know what – some of them weren’t actually that deep and did not come over the thickness of the soles of my shoes but also I did get my feet wet at times, but I did not die/come to any harm and in fact had a much longer walk because of it. I did not let those little inconveniences stop me.

The Bible talks of being careful about planning too much for tomorrow because you do not know what will happen. It talks of a man who has a huge harvest and builds a huge barn to put everything in because he is just then going to go and enjoy himself. God say that he is foolish because the following day he is dead. But I don’t think he was foolish for actually building the barns because it would have been foolish for him to just leave all that harvest lying about. I think it is to do with planning toward something that you do not know if it will happen.

e2809cnever-leave-that-till-tomorrow-which-you-can-do-today-e2809d-e28093-benjamin-franklinWhen I talk to the dog walking lady she is sad that her husband is not with her but has lots of happy memories of when they did come together to this coastline and I love to hear her tell me about them. The dementia couple had tales of what they use to do. The friend who’s husband had the accident unfortunately is sad about the things they missed out doing with their children.

Life it so short anyway to spend time worrying about the future because often this is what the problem is. Thoughts of having to save because of never having enough, of having to wait because you could made a mistake, of being fearful that … (we can all fill in that blank). I posted a piece on my business’s blog yesterday which says about just giving things a try and seeing what happens. Check it out – “Do not be Afraid

So it is not about being reckless but about not putting off till tomorrow what you can enjoy today. I am so grateful for the crazy things I did with my kids and with my life. And my life is not over yet. Watch this space 🙂

Belief/Faith

51fazfvcuql-_sx322_bo1204203200_I have just started reading “The History of God” by Karen Armstrong. I’ve been wanting to read it for ages but have been nervous about it in case it made me lose my faith in God. I have really only read the introduction and already it has strengthened my faith. Not because she talks about God in a way that makes one want to believe but from her opening paragraph which talks about the difference between belief and faith. She says how she believed in God, enough that for a while she was a nun, but she did not have faith in God, and that none of her studies ever brought her to that place. Even the Bible says that there are many that believe in God, even the devil believes in God, but he does not have faith to live for and with God. Until reading this book I had often pondered what that meant – the the devil to also believe and why Jesus was condemning about it. Now it makes sense.

I believe as part of my journey I have gone through the believing stage but that, probably peace-in-chaosdue to the things I had to walk through from 2012 I have come to a place of faith in God. I wrote a piece back in January when I was struggling with all the moving stuff and said that I had reached a place where I could really trust in God. Yes true, but I also feel that that was where I went from believing in God to being willing to live a life of faith in God.

Being a practical person I have to know what that means 🙂 Well as an example; we went to a church this Sunday where the sermon was about letting go of hurts, habits and knowing your time is God’s. It was about believing it’s ok to do that with God. But for me, as I chewed it over with these thoughts in my head I realised that I have faith that if I let go of some of the hurts and fears I have about life, other people, etc and also deal with habits that are not ok, that I will still be an ok person, faith-3still be loved unconditionally by God, still be able to function. And you know it doesn’t matter if that person hurts me again because I’ve let my guard down, that’s ok. And it doesn’t matter if I do lose it again, reverting to that habit of temper tantrum, because God loves me unconditionally. I have faith that God loves me, but also I have faith in the fact that He doesn’t just love me because I’m ok, He loves me when I’m not ok. I have faith that if I didn’t ever change that would be ok.

So I have faith and trust that God has a plan for me, for us, for my family and friends. I have faith that if it doesn’t work out how I want it to then God is in control.

I have a lot of crazy beliefs that maybe I’m trying to make fit – like how I view God, what I’d like God to be. In fact what has struck me is that we, whether Christian or not, spend a lot of time trying to work out what we believe or not about God and yet very rarely have the faith to let those beliefs go. I don’t really know what God is like. I don’t really know what God wants me to do. I have to trust the still small voice in me and have faith that God is bigger than that still small voice.

So it sounds like semantics but I think it is more than. I think it is easy to jump up and down in church, or read liturgy or however one does church, and say I believe. Like Jesus have-faithsaid even the devil believes all those things. But how much faith do I have to trust in God? And I believe this is what I have been learning over the last few years – that it doesn’t really matter what I believe or not. In fact there could always come along something that shatters those beliefs. But am I willing to have the faith to live my life for God?

I was going to follow that with a “I wonder what that looks like” but in fact faith is like the verse from James of not planning and preparing but of taking today as today – being Mindful!! – and accepting what is and walking in that. So on the practical at the moment for me that is being here in my room, praying, writing, reading, cleaning, welcoming others, supporting and being me. As it says on my new businesses cards I am:

airbnb host, writer, historian, researcher, life coach, mentor, encourager, CWTP facilitator,  prophetic intercessor, reconciler, member of Interweave, dog walker, coffee&wine drinker and friend

At the moment that is me. I am having faith in the fact that this is the life God has for me and so I am laying down any hopes, oughts, shoulds, not worrying about what other people think, but I am laying out what I am and who I am and having the faith that God will walk with me as I try to walk with Him.

have-faith-in-what-will-beAnd I do wonder if that is the core issue with faith as opposed to believe. Believe is a mind thing that does move to the heart too, but Faith is a heart thing that has to move to the  mind. I do have to have faith that God sees I’m doing my best as much as I have faith in Him to lead my life as I believe He would want me to lead it.

Why Do I Take Photos Of Sunrises?

12832500_10153518986685698_6284486525866500011_n
Sunrise over Dublin – March 2016

I love the sunrise. I love taking photos of it. Yes I do take photos of sunsets too. In fact my lovely study room faces the setting sun and I have taken photos from here. But I love the sunrise. I find now, as the days get longer, that I miss out on the sun rising because it all happens too early. Though there are times that I get up to go to the bathroom and see an orange glow. Then I will go into the back bedroom, if we have no one staying there, and watch the back of the house get bathed in the golden light. Even Tesco’s carpark looks beautiful as the sun comes up.

I remember the first sunrise I ever saw. It was 1982 and I was at Greenham Common. I had gone up with a couple of car loads of women from the town I lived in to meet up on a big protest day with women from across the country. It was a surreal time. Anyway we were sleeping in this huge marquee and I couldn’t sleep so I got up and went to the camp fire. There as I sat trying to work out if I like drinking tea or not the sun started to rise. It was a clear sky and slowly it was filled with this glowing ball. I remember the only sound was the birds chatting excitedly at the start of a new day.

And that is how I feel when I see the sun come up; that it is exciting to start a new day. I

12814014_10153517274445698_2802497884257770259_n
Sunrise with angel’s wing at  the Hill of Tara – March 2016

take photographs of sunrises because for me there is so much promise in a sunrise. It marks the start of something new. The darkness of night has gone and it is a walking into the light. There is promise, potential, hope, expectation, a new beginning. For me, no matter what I know I have to do, the sunrise always says “today is a fresh canvass go paint something new.” So that is why I take photographs of the sun rising and why I love the start of a day.

12742724_10153462112075698_4464626227682851960_n
Sunrise on the day our furniture arrive to be unpack at our new house – Feb 2016

My husband on the other hand is a sunset man. He loves to watch the sun go down. For him it signals that the day has past and he has survived. Interesting how we are so different.