Be Prepared

be-prepared-boyscoutsSo this is a boy scout motto but also something Jesus said and that was repeated in James’ letter toward the end of the Bible. Jesus said to be prepared because we don’t know when He’s coming back and we should always be ready. James said not to make our own plans because we didn’t know what was round the corner, which to a point is like be prepared for anything.

As you know we have a room that we rent out on Airbnb. It has been bit slow going, as actually it was last year where we use to live – though we have had a whole month with a lovely girl from Malaysia staying which was fun and helped us to see if we were ready for long term lodgers. Anyway she left on Friday and from then we had another Airbnb guest for 2 nights, a young friend who we hadn’t seen in ages and my daughter staying. I spent yesterday washing sheets and towels. And of course the housework didn’t

sheets-in-the-breeze
Not our backyard though

get done much over the weekend because of friends and family staying so we were doing things, and it was my birthday. So yesterday I started to catch up and today was supposed to be the day for getting on. Well the sun is shining and I just wanted to do other things but I did bits and pieces. I was debating whether to make up the beds, trying to decide if it was better to leave them for a booking or having things sort of ready. I stopped to have a drink having done over an hour’s cleaning and checked my phone. There was a booking asking if I would accept it for tonight!! Well I had prayed earlier in the day that God would send people and had looked at the spaces on the calendar. So I said yes. This did mean that I had to push on and get the Airbnb room cleaned and sorted and also the bits of the house that our guest would pass through. He is arriving within the hour. I had 2 hours to get things sorted.

7eb393d8579853a90ed8c076c79bcd23But to me it very much said to “be ready in season and our of season.” We have chosen to use the Airbnb and, hopefully rent other rooms too, to make some money so that I can stay home and write and be here for whatever. But today I was almost not ready. It has been a bit of a rush, but not too much as I do have time to write this.

I have really felt God saying to me that this is His vision for our home and for it to be my role to prepare it but today I was tired and was thinking of other things. Yes I am blessed that to a point my day is  my own but within that I do have to remember, and have been reminded, that I am meant to keep this house up together for guests coming.

Sometimes I think we all get caught in a rut and get lost in other things, some just other people stuff, that we forget our calling, our vision, and for me that can be the ordinariness of the vision. Mind you for most of us – Christian or not Christian – our callings are to be there for each other, to love each other, to support each other. So for me this afternoon has been a reminder.

And strange though it may seem just doing what I am meant to do has brought me back closer to God. No I haven’t read my Bible or done anything great but I have done what He has said I’m meant to do.

Advertisements

Knowing Your Calling

And it probably should say “and being comfortable in it.”

christian-denominationsThere is this thing, or maybe it’s just me, but I have found it in many Christian denominations – this sense of “calling”, of “ministry” of “doing something for God.” I have been there, done it, got the T-shirt, so to speak. I have also struggled when I have felt I am not doing “ministry” stuff.

I will share a bit of a conversation that I had today with a friend. We have known each other for about 13-14 years from a time when I was doing really amazing Christian article_discipleship_relationship-680x379ministry stuff; Youth With a Mission discipling, touring Europe and UK praying, setting up prayer groups, as well as home schooling my kids. I was doing the stuff. All I didn’t have at that point was a ministry title 🙂 And she was a newish Christian and finding her feet. I felt like I was discipling and encouraging her. I got married, Things changed. She found her feet and got connected in and encouraged. She has since got married. She is now out there doing the stuff. I must say I was nervous about talking to her today because I felt she was doing things I would love to be doing and that I would feel jealous that actually I didn’t want to talk for too long because I had a house to clean. Yes my focus has become housework. Something I never thought I would say. Anyway we got chatting and then she started to enthuse about the Healing on the Streets stuff and the prayer tent she is involved in. In fact her and her husband are leading these things. When she talked about the teams she talked about her teams. You know what? Suddenly, when she was saying how one knows one is anointed for something because you find the time and energy for it. Well something in me leaped. You know what excites me at the moment? Having a clean tidy house! And you know something? I notice now when there is a bit of dust, pet hair, smudge on the sink! Yes I now notice those things!! But that is because, for this season, my calling is to keep house.

6431-wifehusbandroles
Say Moi! 🙂 

Well that was so exciting. I have been journeying on this for a while, but especially since we have started to settle here. I have been churning over whether I should be getting paid work; whether I should be joining groups, starting CWTP groups, doing stuff, and just keep coming back to the fact that I am content walking my dog, doing a bit of writing, keeping up with emailing friends, and cleaning my house and being home to welcome my guests and also my husband. Each time I’ve felt like going off to do I’ve felt uncomfortable which is odd because I have been teased often for rushing about and doing things. Now that is not the case. Not that I have loads of extra time because I am finding all this housework that needs doing. It does mean that when dear Ian gets home often I am tired because I have done a lot of physical stuff but I am not stressed. So tired but not dumping on him. As my friend said – you know when it’s your calling because you have the energy for it, or as another friend said – you know when you are doing what God has for you because you have the Grace. Both really saying the same thing.

So I came off the phone feeling similar to how I had years ago when we had moved to a aid82011-728px-decide-if-your-friend-is-a-true-friend-step-05place of equality; where we had become true friends. I found the whole experience interesting because it made me see how we can so spoil what we are meant to do by trying to be someone else. And also where we have put this whole thing up of what is doing and what isn’t. Have I, like her, waited years to do this? Not the cleaning and the not going to meet with people. No! Do I want to do this forever? Well the way I’m feeling at the moment, Yes! But that is just that God has me where He wants me doing what I am called to do. I might not be able to write cool newsletters about it but I am here doing what I’m called to. And actually what, I think, we often forget with the whole walk with God is that we are meant to do what He has called us to and not send out cool prayer letters. We have to stop striving for the noticeable “ministry” positions and walk our walk as He directs. I am more than capable of doing what my friend is doing but it would be wrong to be doing it now. And I am sure she is more than capable of doing what I’m doing. Although when I mentioned that she laughed so maybe she isn’t.

grace2bmoving2bin2bgod2527sDoes what she do mean she needs more of God than me, or visa versa? No! We both needs God and to walk out this journey with Him as He called us. And then to help others walk out their calling in Him as they are meant to be.

So We Start

1405623476-airbnb-logo-explanationToday the vision starts to happen. We have our first Airbnb guests staying, a lovely Catholic Polish couple and baby. We also have a long time friend staying too. How will it work with friends and guests staying? Who can tell? But this is what we’re here for.

So far we’ve had both our kids come to stay and have had 2 friends come for lunch; one a friend I went to university with who has moved home to Chester, and another a friend who lives in Bristol but who’s parents live in Liverpool. But this is the start of the real thing, of combining our lives and friends and family.

Over these past few days there has been a lot of preparation going on for our guests.

sodialr-white-home-security-system-photoelectric-wireless-smoke-detector-fire-alarm-0
ours don’t look quite like this but you get the idea 🙂 

Practical stuff like fire alarms, fire blankets, new locks, etc so the house is all fire safe. We also prayed together. I had been praying round the house as I had been cleaning but we prayed together this morning. Now it is up to God. We cannot make anything happen. In fact it is going to be odd because the way the house is we may not see our guests after we have welcomed them in. In fact with this couple we only knew they had gone out because their baby’s car seat was gone. It really is going to be up to God how much contact we have with these people.

We do have a woman coming for the whole of the month of April. Hopefully we will get to meet with her. During that time we already on the calendar have friends come for meals over that time. Who knows what else?

introvertFor me it will be tough because I am still needing introvert time after an amazing Interweave time in Dublin. I love getting together with those people but do find that I am needing lots of down time after; to assimilate what has gone on, to read the emails that always follow, to listen to the things I believe God has been prompting me, and also just because I need that time alone to recover. Also this week we have my husband’s sister and her partner coming so again that will take away my recovery space, and we have to do important things like get living room furniture, because we will need that private space at the front of the house, and also get another car. So it will not be a calm week. I do need to be careful I do not spend my time wishing away what is going on here. I know this is the vision, to have friends and family to stay. There is no way God has given us this magnificent house

heart_on_recharging_by_ezhika
if only it were so simple!

to keep to ourselves. But also I need to find a way of finding space to recharge and to write even with everything going on around me.

It is going to be a time of wisdom, of ceasing what is there, and enjoying what God is up to with us and through us. And trusting that He does know best.

 

Dreams Can Come True

12717924_10153450638860698_431749189329462620_n(2)Yesterday whilst we were walking on the beach and looking at the mountains in the February sunshine we got a call to say that our house sale had completed then a hour or so later a call to say that our house purchase had been completed.

Ever since I was little I use to dream about living near the sea, close to mountain with a room of my own. This was my special place. I use to go there in my head when I felt sad or lonely or when I couldn’t sleep. It was a fantasy. I never prayed for it to become real and I suppose never thought I’d could have something like that. Not that I didn’t deserve it but that the lifestyle I was leading would never lead to that. I was content with where I was and who I was and that was it. Yet this morning I wake up and it has all come true. Actually I went to bed last night in a real grump, but I think that was because I thought the bubble would burst and that it would all fall apart, and that it really was “too good to be true!” Silly me!

It has been tough getting to this point, as in the buying the house and moving, but actually 6 sea roadthe journey to here too; the things we’ve walked through in the last few years which almost drove our marriage apart. I wonder why it didn’t? Both my husband and I have been in relationships that have ended in divorce without going through any of the traumas we went through. I wonder what we’ve had? Maybe it is that deep inside both of us there is this shared dream – of the sea and mountains – that has held us together? Who will know what it is that holds some people together and drags some people  apart. But all I do know is that I couldn’t be where I am now without him. And it’s not just that he has the money. It’s much more than that. Standing with my slightly hard-work-at-times husband has meant that I could achieve much more than standing alone. There was a point when we got in the car on 10 days earlier to travel to Wales into temporary accommodation without either our house sale completed and being told the other house was nowhere near ready that I panicked. If it hadn’t been for Ian I would have jumped out the car and gone back to bed, but he held there in strength and kept it going.

6a0120a85dcdae970b0120a86e0f51970b-piWhen we got married my father-in-law had a picture for us, of us sawing a huge log with one of those 2 people saws, and he said that the way things worked best in a marriage was when each person did their bit and took their turn in pulling the saw through the wood when it was the right time to do it, and that if one pulled when they should have been guiding the push, or even pushed when the other wasn’t ready to pull then there would be problems. But if we could each just know when it was our turn to do the right thing then the log would be sawn smoothly and no one would get hurt. We’ve made a mess of this over our past 9 years at times, pushing when we should have been pulling, or even forcing a push when we should have just been supporting and guiding, pulling when the other was pulling too. Yup we’ve messed up at times but we’ve stayed the course. And as I write this I’ve realised that another dream has come true. Ok so Ian isn’t the knight in shining armour coming in on his white charger, in fact he looks very silly and uncomfortable on the back of a horse, but he is my friend and my companion, he’s there with me to walk through. He is someone I want to grow old with.

We have become the verse we had read at our wedding from Ecclesiastes 4:11-13

Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

So dreams do come true and with these it feels like quite unexpectedly 🙂 two-better-than-one

Trust and Vulnerability

86I’ve been chewing over this post for a while. It’s really about living in the liminal place, which sounds so cool when you talk of it as that spiritual place between earth and heaven but the word means inbetween place. And this is where we are, living in that place between places. Our possessions are packed in boxes. We have done our round of goodbyes. We’ve finished our jobs. But we cannot take up new jobs, sort our new house out ready for the whole hospitality thing, can’t get to know our new neighbourhood. It is an odd place to be.

In one of my regular emails this came up:

Have you found your own, unique sense of purpose for your life? Do you have a vision of what your life might encompass if you chose to live it from your deepest desires and yearnings, from the place of that which you value above all else? What would your life look like if you lived it in accordance with your authentic self?

See now this whole thing of purpose and vision I sort of looked at over October and November when we put the house up for sale and found the new one. For me that whole Patchwork quiltbit of know the vision and the why were sort of easy. Ok not overly but they were things God had been brewing in me, and in my husband, over a number of years, both together and individually. The thing is though they involved moving and place. These questions from Abbey of The Arts actually says about what would my life look like if I lived with my authentic self, not what would it look like if I moved to the right place. It caught me a bit unawares this morning but as I pondered I could see that what I have been doing is saying to myself and probably to God that I can be all the things He has said in the vision once we move to Abergele. This mornings questions say can I live it now?

 

The above paragraph was what I was going to explore but actually I am wondering if maybe we are not meant to be living the vision yet but are meant to be living in the liminal place, in that place of neither one thing or the other, that place of not planning. There was something said at church yesterday which I interpreted as people wanting to see how we lived though uncertainty and change. It wasn’t that the world wants answers but that they want to see how we really live. How am I living not in my vision but in my place between places?

hidingbehindwall-1I think often what is seen by those who don’t go to church is a load of people going to church services, pretending everything is ok, and yet hiding something. I do think in our modern church services we’ve tried too often to show God as the answer to everything when in fact He is the supreme being to hold on to, to shout at, to be hugged by, to be vulnerable with. God is about relationship in life not about answers to stuff we don’t even know the questions for.

Today I woke up all excited like a child on Christmas morning. Does this mean we are moving this week? Who knows. That isn’t in my hands at all to say, but what I do know is that even in this inbetween place I am excited about moving. Last week I was so caught up in wanting to know and then of wondering and angsting about trusting God that I lost my excitement. We are moving. It will happen. When? We don’t know but it will happen and I i-can-t-be-calm-i-m-too-excitedwant to hang on to the excitement of what will come; the walks on the beach, having a room of my own for writing, the guests we will be having, the new stuff, the spa I want to join.

As I wrote that I wonder too if we have forgotten the excitement of heaven, of Jesus coming again, whichever we get to first. It is going to be so amazing, but we have got lost in living in this inbetween place, this life on earth. We’ve either got worn down with the cares of life or of wanting to gather us to come with us but in fact we, as Christians who know what is to come – even if we don’t know the details it will be living with God for ever and ever and eternity. We should be like small children filled with that buzz and excitement.

Oh I love the fact that God can take my situation – moving – and turn it round to make me look at Him and what is to come. Wow!!!

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.