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.

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Greenbelt Reflections 2015 – A Bright and Soggy Field

It’s always hard to do a reflection of Greenbelt. It is so eclectic and focuses more, for me, around my time volunteering in The Tank and catching up with friends. This year it has also been followed by my mother-in-law’s 70th birthday picnic and meeting my son’s new girlfriend; both of which came hot on the heels of a busy weekend so my thoughts become befuddled.

Highlights:

catching up with a long term friend, Kate,

yearly coffee with blogging friend, Paul,

listening to bands in my tent because my feet will no longer hold my weight – Polyphonic Spree, Unthanks, and others who’s names didn’t know

happy hours working in The Tank, both allocated hours and extra ones, and catching up with other Tank regulars

living in a Tangerine Fields tent for 3 nights and not having to worry about putting it up or taking it down

volunteer’s food vouchers and finding the best deals

Dr Chris Meredith of Winchester University making me/us think and question what we think we truly know about the Bible

hearing the truth about the atrocities that those fleeing war zones have to face when they arrive on British shores

portaloos with hand sanitizer and toilet paper

being without mobile signal and internet and the freedom and frustration that brings

challenges to my way of thinking that I want to hold on to and blog some more about

This is what I love about Greenbelt. It is a mishmash of deep and trivial, challenges and settling of things. A place to share 21068331525_c1a82dfd4e_mdreams and to hear of others dreams, to laugh with strangers and to have fun. This year my daughter didn’t come with me so that gave things a different perspective; like the fact that I had to decide for myself where I went and who I saw. This is my sixth Greenbelt, fifth volunteering, and second without my daughter. I do hope there are many more to come, with or without her. As things settle and I find time to breath, and to sleep – I am still really tired because of not quite having time to stop as yet – there will be more to write, more to think about. In fact in my unpacking I have found my Sunday morning service sheet with thoughts scribbled across it which may become blogs. Who knows?

Keeping Sunday Special

What does this mean – “Keeping Sunday Special”? And what does “you must go to church” mean? And how does all this fit in with a “relationship with God”? “Following Jesus”? And “Sabbath rest”? As one who feels very much that God is saying “Rest and wait” and this whole thing of “Cormorant’s Rest” – just being and waiting for me wings to dry, though when my wings do dry I wonder if God will have me in church or elsewhere?

I was talking with someone the other day who was concerned that I had not “been to church” for a long time. I also hadn’t been to their midweek meeting for a while. There was nowhere in the conversation where she asked how my relationship with God

I am not questioning their faith in God at all but I do wonder if the Obama’s go to church to silence rumours of them being Muslims?

was, or even how I was emotionally or spiritually. I did tell her some but it was hard because her plan was to steer it back to Sunday morning. I wonder if, and I know I’m probably echoing many other blogs,  …. I wonder if we judge people’s relationship with God, who we cannot see, by their relationship with a local church? We can see whether someone goes to Sunday morning stuff, is involved on rotas, talks to people, attends weekday meetings, conferences, etc, depending on the denomination raises/doesn’t raise their hands in worship. All this is able to be observed and recorded. Yes is someone isn’t doing the recognised meeting they how can anyone judge where they are.

As the Mindfulness teacher was telling us last week – we are very quick to judge things rather than just experience them. Mindfulness appears to work very much on the principle of experiencing things rather than working out even whether one likes it or not. So often we can look at people who go to church and say “they’re good Christians” and those who use to go and have stopped going as “backslidden” , whatever that word really means! The more I ponder my journey through life and with God the more I have to say it has become about experiencing rather than judging whether I like it or not. I have reached a place where I love God, I trust God as my father who loves me unconditionally, I am trying to follow how I interpret Jesus behaved and yet I really don’t like a lot of what God does. I am moving to a place, like Mindfulness, where I am experiencing what is going on around me, what my senses are telling me, but without judgement. I still get hurt, by people and by God, but I learn to accept that all that is part of the experience.

Going back to “Keeping Sunday Special” and how that is working for me I’m going to use some quotes of friends.

There are some people who don’t get “church”.   They see it only in local visible terms – i.e. you have to “go to church” – as if it’s a place. Scripture to some extent supports this – don’t neglect the gathering of yourselves together (Hebrews 10.25).   But church “happens” for most of us in multiple locations and with different groups of people.   I’m “churching it” every day in different ways.
When people ask me “which church do you go to?” – I say “it depends where I am and who I am with”.   When they say “which denomination do you belong to” – I say “all of them”   A better question might be “How often do you gather with others to pray, worship and fellowship” – and the answer hopefully to that is “daily” – and for some of us “many times daily”.
The experience of Jesus is worth pointing to.   How often was he on His own with His Father?   Answer – all the time!
So how does that work for me? Well in the past week I’ve met with 4 other followers of Jesus who live away from me so

with a gap to let others in to join the fellowshiping

we have to make the effort to meet, but when we do it is 3 or 4 hours of chatting, finding out how we really are, talking about Jesus, our walk with Him, the stuff in our lives we struggle with. It is indepth friendship, which involves prayer, worship and fellowship. I email and text other Christian friends who live across the world. I have friend I support in mission across the world that I pray for every day. In fact I do my best to have a chat with God on and off throughout the day. Also if God is really omnipresent then He’s with me always and I just have to remember that. And in fact I have to remember that He is with those who don’t believe in Him too, and there are times when He speaks through them anyway. So I do gather many times daily with other believers; physically and via technology.

I could go on about I won’t. I think it is just wise for all of us as Christians, not to judge but to look at why we go to Sunday church. For some it is a very valid place to be. It is where God wants them. I remember a church I went to in Scotland where the pastor felt that the congregation had began to worship the worship group rather than come to worship (as in sing songs to) God. He asked the worship group to step down for a season, an unspecified length. Most of the group left to go to other churches where their “talents could be used” and many of the congregation went to places where there was “better music”. I think that nicely proved his point. For me at the moment I feel like I am keeping Sunday special. I am having a sabbatical of indeterminate length and I believe, and it has been confirmed by others, that this is what God’s saying for me. But if He does suggest I go back to Sunday church then I will have to make sure I go for the experience not to “make sure my talents are used”, not to “prove I’m not back-slidden” and also not to judge it. I have to go to experience God and others and keep every day as a special day with Him and with my fellow human beings in the here and now.

…whether in a building on a Sunday, online, irregular electric groups, or friends having coffee, or a 100 other ways