Not as it should be

I was woken by rain hammering down on the skylight in the roof. I look at the window and see the rain pouring down. Things are not as they should be for Easter Saturday. I know as Brits we will laugh, shake our heads and say “typical British Bank holiday”. But rainactually we know they aren’t all like that but also we know this isn’t how they should be. Thanks to good old Facebook memories I was reminded of a picture I took from my window this time last year of the tree outside my window starting to blossom. This year it is still bare branches. Spring really is later this year.

But I wondered what the first disciples thought the day after Jesus died. Things definitely were not as they should have been. Things weren’t right. This isn’t why they had followed Jesus. They had expected more. There might even have been some who remembered his teachings about dying and rising again. But he was dead and had not risen again.

How often do we wait for something to happen and it always takes too long? Even if we know that date of a birthday, wedding, celebration it always takes too long to come easter-saturday-crossabout. Imagine not knowing the date? But also imagine not knowing for sure what would happen?

So this Easter Saturday, as things are not being as they should be, I am going to ponder the disciples and share this piece I wrote a while ago

How? What had happened?

What is wrong with the world?

Why is it continuing?

God why can you not make it stop?

Just give us time to grieve.

This is too much.

There was so much promise.

So much expectation.

And now he’s dead.

All hope of promise is gone.

It’s over.

All that we gave our lives for.

All that we gave up.

Gone! Over!

It is finished.

And who cares?

Us few that’s who.

The Passover continues

The people celebrate

They are free at last.

How? Why? Who could have let this happen?

God how could you have let this happen?

You should have stopped it.

He claimed to be your son.

We believed him.

We are walking dead now.

They will come to get us soon.

Gone! Over!

It is finished!

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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

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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.

Blasphemy

eleanor-of-aquitaine-hI have been reading lots of historic novels set in early Norman/Plantagenet times. This was a time when everyone believed God was sovereign and much of what went on was whether it was “God’s will” or not. But all the way through the characters will say things like “Christ’s teeth”, “Holy Mother of God” and other phrases that invoke God or Jesus in a way that would not be acceptable to many Christians now. In fact only the other day someone was saying to me that you could tell whether someone was really following God as to whether they “used God’s name in vain” was the phrase used.

Now I am not advocating the use of “Oh my God” etc in speech but I was wondering when we talk of blaspheming what is really meant. Again it seems to be a word that has changed meaning, or rather developed a meaning different from it’s dictionary definition.

Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for (a) God(s), to religious or holy persons or sacred things, or toward something considered sacred or inviolable. Some religions consider blasphemy as a religious crime.

So one could say using God’s name as an expletive is showing contempt or lack of blasphemyreverence but were those Medieval characters doing that? I don’t think they were. In fact the Blasphemy Act of 1650 was only brought in to be used to persecute Catholics during the time of William of Orange and in fact for most of its time was only used to “keep Catholics in their place”. It had nothing to do with saying “Oh God” when either upset or happy about something. In fact this morning I was chatting with a fellow dog walker and he was using “Oh God” as a form of emphasising what he was saying. He wasn’t being disrespectful or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God. He just wanted to make a point stronger.

Previous to the act of 1650 there were other acts but each of them appear to be used to keep some other group in their place and to be able to punish them under the law whether they were Jews or other forms of Christians that the dominant Christian group didn’t like. So it appears to me that the Blasphemy laws were not kind things, not really loving, and I still think God is love.

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which is what it appears from the reasons the laws were put in place. 

So do I agree with the others saying God’s name to make a point? I don’t think I do. But then I also don’t agree with people swearing to make a point. Do I think people are being disrespectful when they use God’s name to make a point? No I don’t. I think it is a way of speech that has been about for hundreds of years. Do I like it? No I don’t. But the question I keep asking myself is why do I not like it? And I keep coming back to the fact that the Christian culture I have been part of for nearly 25 years told me it was wrong and so it has become part of what I think. Do I sometimes use God’s name in a way that isn’t evangelising or praying? Yes I do especially when I get angry. Why? Because sometimes there aren’t enough expressive words to deal with it. So like the Medieval people I have been reading about sometimes I do need to make a point deeper and sometimes that is all there is. Also the other day when there was the most amazing sunset I did also use God’s name to express myself.

And in following on from the Stephen Fry quote I do wonder sometimes if, as with the laws in put in place over the years whether it was from fear rather than having to defend God. I

grace-of-god-300x168
giving people what they don’t deserve because He’s God. Can we do that too?

do hope God is big enough to deal with any number of people who use His name not in the way He would prefer. I do also wonder how often He takes it literally and as it says in the Bible, both in Old and New Testament, that those who call on His name He will hear and answer.

In my opinion blasphemy is about disrespecting other people’s belief systems whether Christian of any flavour, Hindu, Jew, Muslim, pagan or whatever. And as I finish I wonder, with things hotting up about this EU voting whether we could all deal with it in a way that does not disrespect other people’s belief systems?

Wait!

21132434-coastal-foamy-seawater-surface-after-the-storm-polluted-dredged-from-the-seabed-sand-stock-photoI’ve been pondering this word all week. I believe God has given me a picture of me being like sand on the sea bed after a storm and that I am just to wait until things settle, find peace in who I am and where I am. I love it but …

And here is the big but … for how long? It got me thinking about Jesus’s disciples waiting in the upper room. We all know the rest of the story. We know how long they had to wait and what happened next but they didn’t. Jesus told them to go to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit. Yet we also read that when He first appeared to them He breathed the Holy Spirit on to them. I wonder how many of them wondered what they were waiting for! But also I wonder how many of them didn’t wait and just went off and did. You know at this point they know Jesus has upperroom777711risen from the dead and that He says that by following Him they will be connected to God the Father. So … what was there to wait for? Again remember we know the end of the story they didn’t when they went to wait. They did not know that the Holy Spirit that would come then would give them the power to have the courage to go out and defy the authorities, to risk death for what they believed in. It is easy to say that this manifestation of the Holy Spirit helped them heal, etc but when Jesus sent the 77 out whilst he was still alive they came back saying that they had been able to heal and cast out demons. What more did they want? And yet 120 of them waited and …

There is a great deal of waiting in this journey, so much unknowing. There are whole seasons when they feel impatient and confused about why they can’t find the place they are seeking so diligently. Yet it is the very journey through the shadows that is required to make the desired discovery. – From Abbey of the Arts email about Brendan the Navigator – May 15th 2016

The above quote came in Sunday’s email from Abbey of the Arts. It talked about Brendan dancing-brendan-the-navigatorthe Navigator who set off on a peregrinatio, a journey with no direction just trusting that God would lead. In his journey he goes round in circles a lot and realise at the end that he has to let go of self to really see God, and of course sees God in where he is. Yet he sees more. He is hungry in his wanderings and his waitings and his going in circles to wait for what God will reveal.

At the beginning of the year I did a few journallings and blogged on them about the vision and the expectation of things but it feels like there is a waiting for something. It does feel like the journeying through the shadows but for what and for how long. I know this sounds strange when I can say that our room rentals are going amazingly. We have bookings on both rooms through till September. But I know that the room rentals are only a stepping stone to fund this waiting period. I wonder how the disciples funded their waiting period? Who paid for the room they were in? Did they sleep there? Who paid for their food? 120 people is a lot to feed each day! Or did some of them only turn up the day before because it was a celebration time and got the same gift of the Holy Spirit? So many details not told!

So for many this time of Pentecost is a time of excitement, of giving praise for the waiting-for-godbeginnings of the Christian church, for me it has been a time of really looking at these amazing people who were willing to wait and wait for an undetermined time not knowing what would happen next. This waiting is not like waiting for Christmas, or your birthday, or a holiday. Then you know when the date will be. You can count down to it. What would it be like if you didn’t know when something was going to happen and then still waited?

I wonder if the disciples wondered if they would be there forever? I can associate with that. I do wonder if I will be here in this resting/waiting place forever. But then I feel that I have to be willing to accept that as maybe those early disciples did. Maybe they were more than content to just wait because Jesus had told them to?

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.

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!

Why do I believe in God?

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

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

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

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

medicine-bottle-11-with-green-black-herringbone-interweave
I turn up because I’m one of the threads. Without me it would not be complete

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

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

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