Do We Want To Grow Through This?

flutureI did not intend to blog for a while. My mother has been visiting and then today my mother-in-law comes. I have a story that is in the editing process that I need to get to a place of understanding so I can leave it for the weekend but then this post from Richard Rohr came up. I am going to paste it all at the end of this but I felt it was rather apt for the state of UK at the moment. I was going to just share in on my facebook feed but then realised I was adding a whole post to it as I went.

Here is a quote I was going to pull out of it to share as an intro:

Change can either help people to find a new meaning, or it can cause people to close down and turn bitter.

No matter what happens with all this the UK is in a place of change. I even heard last night of a couple who had been dating for over 5 years have ended their relationship because they have realised how opposed their political views are. I have also heard of families that 082cannot now sit together to eat together. And these are people who were close not estranged families. Someone said before the referendum that the spiritual atmosphere felt like a civil war was coming. Now I’m not sure how much I understand of that but what I see is very similar to what I have read about. Being a historian I also know that The Civil War of Roundheads and Cavaliers was not the only one. Ever since the Norman invasion there have been wars across our land where families have been divided on which side they would support; French or Norman, French or English, Woman as leader or Man as leader, Protestant or Catholic, York and Lancaster, and many more. This division is part of who we are as a nation and we haven’t come out of it very well.

transformation-in-text-webpage-711x200-jpgSo will we in this time of Change find a new meaning in our lives or will we close down, turn bitter and get into name calling. Each person had their reasons for voting the way they did. I know someone who voted Remain because of the emphasis on the economy and heard of another who voted Leave because she felt that the Remain campaign just went on about money and didn’t seem to care about people. There have been Christians on both sides saying this is God’s will and voting from their interpretation of scripture. And on it goes.

… transformation …  more often happens not when something new begins but when something old falls apart. The pain of something old falling apart–chaos–invites the soul to listen at a deeper level. It invites and sometimes forces the soul to go to a new place because the old place is falling apart. Otherwise, most of us would never go to new places. Whatever it is, it does not feel good … You will do anything to keep the old thing from falling apart. This is when you need patience, guidance, and the freedom to let go instead of tightening your controls and certitudes.

The world is transforming from what we know to what we don’t know. It is painful. There can be no argument about that. To deny the grief would be wrong. But are we willing to listen deeper? Not just to what we want but to what might be going on at another level? On one very open level now we are hearing about open racism. I cannot believe that this is young-businessman-standing-with-back-opening-doorbecause people have suddenly become racist. No I think it was under the surface all along but no one wanted to listen. I am not old enough to remember Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech when he spoke about how bring in a lot of migrants would cause problems in our land. He was shut down and called racist. But there are people in the UK who are fearful of those they don’t know, fearful of things they don’t understand. I think just to say “racism is wrong” is missing something. I believe we need to listen at a deeper level and try to hear the why’s.

Someone else, a Leave voter, was saying that she had been accused of being provincial by someone who lived in London. She felt that it was those who lived in London who wanted to Remain because of what they would get out of it. Now we get the city/country divide. It is not just a North/South, Rich/Poor divide but also a City/Country divide.

I do wonder if we are willing to listen deeper if we will hear more of these division. Are we then willing to support and help through this or do we just want to close these voices downtumblr_ne6or13mvb1tm1y5io1_500 and go back to pretending they don’t exist? Are we willing to be patient? Are we willing to let go of being in control? Are we willing to trust that God knew about this before the beginning of time and that He has a plan?

 

Here’s the whole of Richard Rohr’s message if you want to read it:

Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation
Two red and black insects protecting an egg sack.
Transformation:
Week 1
Change as a Catalyst for Transformation
Thursday, June 30, 2016
The word change normally refers to new beginnings. But transformation, the mystery we’re examining, more often happens not when something new begins but when something old falls apart. The pain of something old falling apart–chaos–invites the soul to listen at a deeper level. It invites and sometimes forces the soul to go to a new place because the old place is falling apart. Otherwise, most of us would never go to new places. The mystics use many words to describe this chaos: fire, darkness, death, emptiness, abandonment, trial, the Evil One. Whatever it is, it does not feel good and it does not feel like God. You will do anything to keep the old thing from falling apart. This is when you need patience, guidance, and the freedom to let go instead of tightening your controls and certitudes. Perhaps Jesus is describing this phenomenon when he says, “It is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:14). Not accidentally, he mentions this narrow road right after teaching the Golden Rule. Jesus knows how much letting go it takes to “treat others as you would like them to treat you” (7:12).
Transformation usually includes a disconcerting reorientation. Change can either help people to find a new meaning, or it can cause people to close down and turn bitter. The difference is determined by the quality of your inner life, what we call your “spirituality.” Change of itself just happens; but spiritual transformation must become an actual process of letting go, living in the confusing dark space for a while, and allowing yourself to be spit up on a new and unexpected shore. You can see why Jonah in the belly of the whale is such an important symbol for many Jews and Christians.
In the moments of insecurity and crisis, “shoulds” and “oughts” don’t really help; they just increase the shame, guilt, pressure, and likelihood of backsliding. It’s the deep yeses that carry you through. Focusing on something you absolutely believe in, that you’re committed to, will help you wait it out. Love wins over guilt any day. It is sad that we settle for the short-run effectiveness of shaming people instead of the long-term life benefits of grace-filled transformation. But we are a culture of progress and efficiency, impatient with gradual growth. God’s way of restoring things interiorly is much more patient–and finally more effective. God lets Jonah run in the wrong direction, but finds a long, painful, circuitous path to get him back where he needs to be–and almost entirely in spite of himself! Looking in this rear-view mirror fills you with gratitude for God’s work in your life.
Gateway to Silence
Teach me how to see.
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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!

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.

 

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!

What should Christmas eve traditions be?

6471920I was pondering Christmases past as I’ve worked through a mediation about rest and Sabbath from Abbey of the Hearts and think how things have changed. I was thinking how, when we were in our heady Ywam Scotland days and also involved in lots of full on Christian ministry stuff the kids and I would go to ground for 3 or 4 days. We’d get new pyjamas on Christmas eve, have a bath and get into the new pjs and then not get out of them till Boxing day when generally we needed some fresh air. But even then we would just go for a walk the 3 of us. We generally didn’t see anyone until at least 28th, maybe not till the new year. We needed it to recover and regroup. We’ve had other years when we’ve spent time with family and friends. Before I had children I use to work in hotels and bars over the Christmas time because I christmas-articlewanted to avoid it. So much has changed.

This year is different – because the kids are older, because the people we would have spent time with aren’t here this year (whether moved away or died), those that needed our support last year don’t need it this year.

I do wonder if some of the stresses for Christmas come from trying to have Christmas traditions that worked great at certain times of life – like when the kids were little – and don’t now. So we try to do the Christmas stocking thing but the kids go to bed after us, try to have breakfast together but again by the time they want to get up its nearly lunch time, or we can’t quite relax into it because the dog needs walking, we’ve offered 3ea2219c930313c1ea3665aaf7279b24to look after a neighbour’s cat, family member isn’t with us, we’ve living in a different part of the country. If we say “but we always do ….” then we are asking for a fall. I am sure there are periods in our lives when we can do the same thing year in year out for Christmas, but really this is only for a few years. Things change. People change. We are back to that Change thing again!

I really do believe if we can live in the moment of Christmas this year then we can have peace during it. We can grieve for those who aren’t with us this year – like my friend who would have discussed the latest Star Wars film with her son but her son died 13 months ago – and even when it is longer than that we still grieve for those we would have enjoyed this season with – for myself every year I miss my sister and my stepdad, not because it was all great, but actually because they made the season crazy and drove me mad trying to get things sorted but it was part of the Christmas chaos. Living in the  moment doesn’t mean forgetting those who aren’t here but it does mean having peace with what is here, accepting that this is it.

My husband has always said he likes to have family Christmas, which means seeing his side of the family, which as his sister’s children have got older and since his dad died has got harder and looks different every time. And next year, once we’ve moved, will look different again. For him Christmas is a time to rest from work but to be busy with family and friends. Somehow we have to find a compromise and every year has had to be different because my children have grown older, want different things, have different boyfriend/girlfriends they want to include/not include.

So this year we embrace the fact that our home is full of have pack boxes christmas-presencewaiting for the new year move, that we have both my children here with us for at least 10 days, that we can only get to see all my husband’s family for one afternoon, and that things with my mum, apart from her not being with my stepdad of 25 years but her husband, who she has had now for 9 years, will be with us as usual in the interim between Christmas and New year, that the batteries have stop on the tree lights and no one can be bothered to get that sorted, and that our turkey has been crowned for the first time ever.

Some things are the same, some different, all accepted as the tradition for this year.

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.

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!!