What does it mean to glorify God?

In all I do I want to glorifying God. What on earth does that mean? And I do mean “on earth” because I think in heaven glorifying God will be easy – because He’ll be there.

I am a writer. I am away on a writing weekend with some lovely people. How do I glorifying God whilst I’m here? How do I glorifying God in my writing? I can only write what comes into my head and I do not write a very openly “Christian” story. Yes I have written poems and short stories where, for me, God is very much the centre, but that may not be open to those who don’t follow God. In fact I can see God in almost everything whether openly Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, new age or supposedly nothing spiritual at all. But how do I glorifying God in that?

I was walking this morning as the place where we are is beautiful with wonderful grounds. I had just

The Lighthouse, Tytherington, where I walked this morning with the sky a similar colour to this.

read some very tough stuff in John Piper’s “The Presence of God” book and was chatting to God about it and weeping. I was thinking of my son, who’s just been so a trauma for him of seeing a dream he had planned for about ten years fall apart and the people he expected to stand by him making accusations about him. Now I, not being God and able to see all things, don’t know how true these accusations are but you know what I love my son even if they are true. And that’s the thing, these other people don’t love him with that unconditional way I do because they don’t know him. He has had to learn to trust that I love him unconditionally. He has to learn that his stepfather loves him unconditionally. But this has taken time, has taken heartbreak for him and has taken a time of others letting him down. I know this is how God is for me. With the things that have gone on in my life, not just the last three years of dealing with too much grief, but in all the other shattered dreams in my life before and after making that choice to try to put God in the centre of my life, I have had to learn to trust that God is trustable, not just when things go how I want but when they don’t. I have learned God loves me unconditionally and delights in me even when the world falls apart around me, even when I screw up, even when I make mistakes, even when others hurt me. Its not that things happen as a lesson for us to learn form but that life is about growing to know that God is trustable even when He doesn’t do as we want. My son is learning to trust us when we give to him unconditionally. It is like he is a child again, which is what we are when we first start following God. But there comes a time with God, and will come a time with my son, when He backs off, when we back off, when the trust is built and stuff can happen that we don’t want.

This isn’t me but it is how I like to write; laptop, coffee, journals, and then the dog at by feet and the cat on the back of the couch, or visa versa 🙂

The question isn’t how can I glorifying God in the bad times but how can I glorifying God when life is just normal? It is easy to reach out when the waves crash around us and just let God hold us. It is also easy to praise God when things are going so well. Like it was easy this morning to praise God when the sun was shining, when everything was as it should be; peace, calm, sunshine, bird song, toad croaking, someone else sorting out my meals and doing my washing up. But I want to work out how to glorifying God, not praise Him but really glorifying Him in the mundane of my life, in what I write, in what I say. Not in a cheesy openly evangelistic way but in a way that is me, in a way that is natural.

But maybe, just maybe – and this is how so many of my posts are, full of questions and no conclusions – I just need to keep being me and keep just letting God be God?

The Rules of Francis of Assisi sums it up really:

  • Simplicity: “There is no pretense in the Franciscan Spirituality. We who live by the Rule of St. Francis strive to be the genuine article, that is, people who do not care much for fame or wealth–people who live in simplicity.”
  • Poverty: “Love of Gospel poverty develops confidence in the Father and creates internal freedom.”
  • Humility: “The truth of what and who we really are in the eyes of God; freedom from pride and arrogance.”
  • A genuine sense of minority: “The recognition that we are servants, not superior to anyone.”
  • A complete and active abandonment to God: “Trusting in God’s unconditional love.”
  • Conversion: “Daily we begin again the process of changing to be more like Jesus.”
  • Transformation: “What God does for us, when we are open and willing.”
  • Peacemaking: “We are messengers of peace as Francis was.”

Is God polyamorous?

So is God polyamorous? What is polyamorousness? Well by definition poly means more than one and amorous means loving, so loving more than one person.

Perhaps a definition from someone in the polyamorous community might help – Taken from The Huffington Post on 12/03/2013 “Polyamorous relationships are about more than just couples.”

There is a common misconception that a polyamorous relationship is really no different from an open-relationship agreement: one committed couple, with some lighthearted fun on the side. But the word “polyamory,” by definition, means loving more than one. Many of us have deeply committed relationships with more than one partner, with no hierarchy among them and no core “couple” at the heart of it all.

And from the Urban Dictionary – The state of having multiple sexually or romantically committed relationships at the same time, with the consent of all partners involved.

“Polyamorous communities emphasize love and honesty in their multi-partner relationships.”

Well God is totally open and honest with the whole world. He had people write about Him, even if at times His people have interpreted it hurtfully. He sent Jesus Christ to show the world what He’s really like, His totally love and care, and yet so often we all miss what that really means. He build His Church and said it should be a place where all are accepted as they are, all given equal status and respectability, though often people, through their own fear have made it an unsafe place. So Yes I think God is polyamorous because He loves all equally, wants to be honest and open with all people all the time, and never wants to do anything that will be harmful. Ok that can’t be said about His Church all the time but that doesn’t mean He isn’t.

The reason I am thinking about this is because of friend of mine and her husband have decided to move into a polyamorous marriage and over lunch she was telling me about it all.  One thing my friend said was that you have to care for and respect yourself and care for and respected everyone in your polycule. A Polycule is the constellation of people who are seeing each other. What really struck m was this whole love and respect yourself and each other, because it comes back to the whole “love your neighbour as yourself” or as it should be “love and care for yourself so you can love and care for others”. I have seen this friend go through some amazing healing to get to this place where she can care for her own well-being and also care for the well-being of others. I wonder how often us professing Christians are at this place.

I must say I do not want a polyamorous marriage but I do realise that I do actually love others too not just my

Oh I just liked this picture 🙂

husband and my children. There are friends I have that I do love. I do wonder if maybe be don’t get God’s love because we can’t get our heads round being able to love more than one person at a time, even though most of us do, but we are often expected to have a hierarchy of who we love most. And if we are like that then even if we preach that God loves all equally we will also want Him to love us more, or think He loves us less or whatever.

Please comments would be great from those who agree and those who don’t, but if it gets unkind I will delete them 🙂

Cormorant’s Rest

I wrote a poem during my postgrad study day on Sunday in which I talked of re-emerging, coming from that stage of fertile womanhood into the wise old crone and how I now had to just stand and wait for my wings to dry. I meant like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis but when I shared what I had written with my fellow student she squealed “Wow a cormorant!” I got her to explain more.

Apparently cormorant’s have no wax on their wings so after they have bee in the sea they have to stand with their wings held out to dry and only when fully dry is it safe for them to dive in again.

I just found that so uplifting, releasing and encouraging. It is so where I am at the moment. I’ve dived and fished, helped and supported, touched the ocean’s depths of all life could give and now I know its very clear that I am to rest. But I have been a bit scared of this rest because I’ve been afraid that I’ll get old and stuck in it, that I’ll slowly do less and less, that I won’t dive again. For me this cormorant image says that I will dive again, fish, do what I do when I’m in my diving state, but for mow I just rest and let my wings dry full in the sun – and most of all not feel guilty for it. It’s how God made me, to do and dive but then I have to rest. If I dive back in too soon I’ll drown because my wings won’t be dry enough. So now I wait in this vulnerable place, wings held out, still, not able to go, watching the ocean rising and falling.

Matthew 7:21b says “…only those who obey My Father will get in (to heaven).” So often in the Sunday sermon this word “obeying” has been used as a going/doing word, and yet if Father God has told me to rest then I have to obey that. I can’t go off applying for jobs, volunteering, doing really good stuff because that would not be obeying.

Did God make a mistake with the cormorant’s wings? Did evolution let it slip through the “survival of the fittest”? Who knows? But that’s the way it is and it’s learned how to survive. It obeys the rules of God, the rules of Nature, of how it’s made. Why should I think I’m any different? To obey God for now I need to stand with my wings held out, vulnerable, and allow myself to dry. And then I can go from flappy little bird to prehistoric, wise old crone.

This is the poem that came from the observations about the cormorant.

Cormorant’s Rest

She stands, awkward, wings stretched out

Head down, perched on a rock.

All around the ocean crashes

seagulls scream, continuous movement.

In all this general busyness she stands

vulnerable in the vast active sea.

A freak of nature? God’s forgotten?

Or made to dive and then to rest?

For now the course is to obey

to stand, to rest, able to do nothing until –

the sun’s warmth seeps in to the depths

of wet and tired wings

to dry, to heal, to regain strength.

So even if there’s winter gales

when there’s so much to do

still she must stand, allow the winds

to do their job, to dry her quills.

No diving in too soon no matter what she sees

but wait, but rest, till strong and dry.

And then …

This was the original that encouraged her response –

Original poem – line from Simon Armitage’s “Book of Matches”

Don’t let me be! Don’t let me sleep!

Yes help me rest and realign

To change my shape and change to be.

Don’t let me fix into the shape I do not want to be.

Wake me, help me search to find the shape I can become.

A re-emerging caterpillar as woman become crone

with all the wisdoms I have learned,

to know that even though my womb has ceased it’s purpose

there are still children for me to nurture.

So let me rest, get use to who I am

To see the beauty of this new creation

I am called to be.

I’ll flex my slightly strange new wings

and wait till they are dry.

For now I’ll rest and sleep and then

I’ll come and be again.

Searching For Sunday – book review

I’m really late in getting this out. I should have had the review out by the launch date of 14th April, but life got in the way, as life does. I will stick to the task and then blog later on my priorities.

So I had the great privilege of being on the Searching For Sunday review launch team. This meant I got to read the book in pdf form and put comments up on a special closed facebook page, as well as commenting on my own facebook page. This did mean writing with facebook open which is not ideal for me.

I would say one of the best ways to see the bits that influenced me would be to go on my facebook page and look for #seachingforsunday  In fact there are loads of post across the world from the other reviewers.

For those of you who haven’t read Rachel Held Evans I would suggest reading her “A Year of Biblical Womanhood“, the first one of her books that I read which looks at the things that Church says women should and shouldn’t do. Rachel looks at it with open eyes and candour, not slating it but showing the roots of where these “rules” come from.

In “Searching For Sunday” she looks at her own journey from evangelical church life to exploring congregations, of finding places to question what is meant by what she believes. Like many of us, Rachel has reached a point where she wants to know why she believes what she believes and is off exploring. For many of us we haven’t lost faith in God but want to find a genuine way of working it out. Interestingly I read a piece by Richard Rohr, which I can refind to post, where he talks of how the apostle Paul had to go away and work out how it was this Christ revelation fitted into his understanding of the world. It is like having met Christ we are taking into an already formed world and there comes a time where, not so much we have to question God, but we have to question how we work in relationship to God. Here Rachel talks openly and honestly about her’s. She breaks it down into the seven parts which equate to seven sacraments; baptism, confession, holy orders, communion, confirmation, anointing the sick and marriage. Through these sacraments and Rachel’s journey the reader gets to visit with all sorts of people who are walking out their relationship with God in their own ways. As with “A year of Biblical Womanhood”, Rachel is not judgemental or condemning. This is a book full of exploring, discovering and most importantly hope. As she says at the end

But if I’ve learned anything in this journey, both in writing this book and clumsily living its content, it’s that Sunday morning sneaks up on us—like dawn, like resurrection, like the sun that rises a ribbon at a time. We expect a trumpet and a triumphant entry, but as always, God surprises us by showing up in ordinary things: in bread, in wine, in water, in words, in sickness, in healing, in death, in a manger of hay, in a mother’s womb, in an empty tomb. Church isn’t some community you join or some place you arrive. Church is what happens when someone taps you on the shoulder and whispers in your ear, Pay attention, this is holy ground; God is here. Even here, in the dark, God is busy making all things new. So show up. Open every door. At the risk of looking like a fool buried with his feet facing the East or like a mockingbird singing stubbornly at the night, anticipate resurrection. It’s either just around the bend or a million miles away. Or perhaps it’s somewhere in between. Let’s find out together”

Go buy it. Read it. Get the study guide. There is so so much to explore. If I could afford it I would buy you all a copy but I’m broke, again!

Poetry Month – Day One

The month of April is National Poetry Month in the USA so I thought I would give it a go. Some of the poems will be brilliant, I hope, and some will be not so good and some will just be silly. I don’t see myself as a poet, though I do write a lot of thoughts as poetry.

My first attempt is a pantoum covering both the fact that today is April Fool’s Day and also the first day of Parliament being closed in the final run up to the elections on 7th May. Enjoy!    (I can’t get it to do the stanza breaks so have put in the frog so you can see the 3 stanzas and get the pantoum idea better!)

A Silly Pantoum to start Poetry Month and the dash to UK Elections

First fool!

Is it foolishness to be first?

Frolicking frogs appear forlorn,

furtively all forlorn.

Is it foolishness to be first

on this day when kings became fools?

Frolicking frogs appear all forlorn.

What happens when fools get to rule?

On this day when kings became fools

do they remember to change back?

What happens when fools get to rule?

Would anyone notice the change?

What is Rest?

What does rest look like? God talks of rest and in Isaiah 30:15 says  “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it,” which makes one wonder why church is so busy all the time.

I’ve just been away for 4 days with Interweave, UK Reconciliation group, and there the theme God wanted to pull out was rest and hoI w it was only in rest that we could be able to know what God had planned for us. Rest is counter-cultural. Life is about being busy and doing things and getting on in life. Work is seen as something that you work more hours than contracted for and then have busy recreational life. We’re now at a time when more books than ever are published and there are more TV programmes to watch than ever but we are expected to be doing all the time.

I have been brought to an enforced time of rest but it is hard to stay here, and hard to tell people what I do, or don’t do. I talk of looking for work, when in fact I think God has been saying very clearly not to look for work. Resting is scary because it gives time for me to think, think about the last few years and how I feel about what has gone on. The first month of my resting time has been filled with grief, of what should have been. Interestingly that was something that kept coming out as people told their stories over the last few days. God seemed to have decided that instead of us doing something reconciliation stuff in UK He wanted us just to build relationship and become vulnerable with each other. So we told our stories. So much came out that things had not “turned out as they should have” and a lot of talk of “what should have been.” It was all done in a positive stance of it not being fair and not how it should be. It was like everyone was affirming each other that at times its ok to stamp one’s feet and say “its not fair” and you know what – God can cope with that. So much of what we are led to believe in church and in our culture is that one should just pick oneself up and keep going. Though we also pay more than ever for counsellors, therapists, therapeutic treatments, as well as recreational drugs. Maybe if we slowed things down and rested then we could save some money? Maybe if we were allowed to say “its not fair” “it shouldn’t have turned out that way” and then really grieve then maybe we could save some money. So these past few days myself and others were able to say that things didn’t work out as they should have and that we were grieving that and that was ok. From that place of honesty we could rest.

But it is also from that place of rest and honesty that one can re-evaluate one’s life. Things haven’t worked out as they should have so what was planned will not now happen and that’s ok. Interestingly whilst I was away my son, who’d just joined the army, found out that a couple of old rugby injuries meant that he is going to be medically discharged. This was not his plan. I haven’t spoken to him but I am sure he is saying “its not as it should have been.” He’s made some big life changes before he went in in preparation. He will be grieving. He will also have to be rethinking what he does. He needs to rest and re-evaluate where he is going and what he is going to do. And that’s ok. And it’s also ok for him to be angry that it didn’t work out. Same as its ok for me to be angry that people I loved committed suicide, died too soon, things I’d hoped for didn’t happen, for my friends to be angry at deaths that shouldn’t have happened, partners that shouldn’t have left, jobs that should have happened. I think rest is to acknowledge that, to be honest about life and relax into it.

There were some in our group who know how to find that rest even when their diaries are full. They have learned to dip into that rest and listen to what they should be doing, know where to put the “its not fair” stuff. But that didn’t mean they told others of us to just get over it. They affirmed in us that we needed to say and feel the way we did.

So what is rest? For me at the moment it is time walking my dog, hearing a friend’s life story and writing that and other things on the couch with dog and cat wrapped around me, studying for my Masters and catching up with friends. I am also starting 4 hours tutoring a week and we are renting our spare room out on Airbnb. This will bring in enough money to keep us going so we don’t have to worry about that. For my husband it is working 4 days a week, attending church meetings and going walking and climbing at times, but also finding time to drink wine or coffee, depending on time of day, with me and friends. We’re learning that it’s ok not to do. But I think one of the key things REST means is being open and honest about how one is feeling, being connected to one’s feelings and also connected to God.

Why Should We Think God Will Answer Every Prayer?

So simple???

I come from a tradition of Christianity that believes that if one prays in the “right way” then prayers will be answered. From evidence seen that isn’t true. But this has got me thinking “why doesn’t God answer prayer?” which actually has led further to a “why should God answer any of our prayers?” And this is where I’m starting from now. Not that I will never pray again but I do wonder what give me the right to think that I should have my prayers answered? If I am a Child of God, which I do believe I am, then I trust that my Father will do what He thinks best, but most of the time I behave like a toddler, grizzling when I don’t get what I want, and thinking if I find the right formula next time then He’ll answer. As a parent I’ve had to make lots of decisions for my children from where we’d lived, even to whether I’d stayed with their father or not, to what form of schooling they had, even what religion they learn most of through my practise. That one is

Firstly a demand then a realisation that it’s only God’s mercy that answers our prayers

interesting because even if we say that we will teach our children about all faiths they learn most about the one we follow because of what we say as much as what we do. So as a parent I make decisions, and even if I consult my children, which I did often, whether we did as they suggested or not was up to me. Why should I see God as any different? Why should God answer my prayers?

Ok so this hurts when someone dies too young from anything; cancer, suicide, accident. But do I pray because I think I am worthy of being answered? Or do I pray because I want to be able to input into my “father’s” decisions? There is a story of Abraham and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19, where God brings Abraham into His decision making process. God does similar with Moses during the exodus from Egypt. Loads of times God asks His people what they think. But we don’t see it as an honour but as a right.

C’mon But so often we don’t see it as an honour to be included but as a right. We pray and we expect God to answer the way we want every single time. When He does answer often we are grateful but more as in it being our right and it being a miracle that God should deign to answer us.

I think God answers our prayers so often, and so many of them are so trivial; for parking spaces, jobs, even at times what to cook for supper – or maybe that’s just me 🙂  But there are big prayers that don’t get answered, where people died, get into debt, wars break out, etc. I think though we notice more what doesn’t happen than what does. I’ve been praying for a young friend who’s mother died suddenly last year from a severe asthma attack. On the anniversary of her death he graduated as a Butlin’s redcoat and now has his own show as one of the big animal characters there. When I knew his mother was in hospital I prayed for her but she died but I have been praying for him ever since and he is doing great. Now I could focus on what didn’t happen, his mother’s healing, or I can focus on the life he is living. That doesn’t mean I’m not sad about his mum’s death but I can choose what to focus on. There are too many times when we focus on what didn’t get answered rather than think ourselves honoured that the Creator of the Universe should even want to listen to us.

God is good – all the time – but so often we forget what a privilege it is to be heard by Him at all.

And it’s all about Grace that I can boldly go into God’s throne room 🙂

I do think though that we focus on what didn’t happen because when we lose someone to death it is such a big thing, such a huge grief, and its like the compliments thing – we need 10 good things said to us to overcome one bad thing. But I for one am going to get to the place of being honoured that God should even take any notice of me at all, and still walk into His Throne room boldly!