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.

Advertisements

Are You Ready?

Oh my! I’ve just managed to do a huge mistake and have lost a whole post. I will try to 2722781233_31c8f5e721rewrite but am not sure if the words will come again 😦

It is based around these song lyrics.

 I see the King of Glory coming on the clouds with fire
Are you ready
are your lamps filled with oil
have you some in reserve?

clay-grafted-lamp-jar-oil__71949_1and the feeling that at times I feel like I am ready but am not sure I have anything in reserve, but as I wrote the piece that I have lost I have realised that I have more in reserve now I don’t have boundless energy than I did when I could keep going for days.

I am learning that the only way I will be truly ready is to have things in reserve but I need to know where those reserves come from. Since my last post things have been ridiculously busy. As well as back to back Airbnb guests we’ve also had friends and family staying and in the gap in between we went car and furniture shopping. By Friday I felt like I had nothing left but I had to look at what held me.

There are a number of things: one is that I do have to remember to move into the Presence of God because that is where I do get refreshed and when things are busy it is hard. I need gods-presenceto remember that I am an introvert and so being with people will exhaust me and I need to take time to be alone. It is one reason why I love the Anglican service because it does just do the same old same old and it can wash over me and revive me. I also need to realised that I have friends I can check in with.

I have been invited in by a couple of people to get into what I love – spiritual mapping and intercession. Yes I am well ready for that but I felt something wasn’t fitting. And the above song lyrics kept buzzing in my head. So I again remembered that I have friends in reserve so I emailed a couple. They are wise people and they know me. Their response was not to say that I wasn’t ready but that to deal with the issues we were thinking of looking at we needed a larger company. In reality to fight a battle you need the whole army involved, or as this is more a spying out the land you still need the

142088680-tm8ugsfl-ph2
26th battalion Middlesex regiment – photo from 19th century called “spying out the land”

whole company of scouts otherwise things will get missed and the enemy could come up from behind. It wasn’t that I wasn’t ready or that I didn’t have things in reserve but that it would be foolish to go without the whole company.

See this is what I came to. That I do have loads in reserve but those reserves make me move slower than I use to. Before I would go crashing about, feel that I was being held back, not appreciated, but now I am content within myself to wait. Like I said at the beginning I feel like actually there is more in reserve because I have the maturity (?)/humility(?) to be wise and know that I am ready with more in reserve to stand the course. 120104_1timothy6_12

 

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.

 

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.

Why Do I Write?

why-do-we-have-to-write-today-1pm2o5d-e1382927990481Why do I write? This was a question I was asking myself in the early hours of this morning after sending a text to a friend. Before sending it I did ask myself ‘would I have said this to her face?’ and answered ‘yes’. Then I got to thinking about why I had not said these things to her before and why I had written. After much pondering it came back that I am more confident writing. I know people say that and there have been the hurriedly sent emails full of anger and hate, and I have been guilty of that too, but this, and others that I have sent in similar vein, are because I haven’t had the space within the conversation to say these things.

I have said before that I am a loud introvert so people think I say a lot, but in fact I keep the peace when I speak. My sister use to say that I was always the peacemaker, the one who would say the nice things. Again I am one for a fight but I fight and shout because I can’t find the right words. I know my husband would disagree, but the reason I fight dirty is because I don’t like it and am upset and scared. I have to trust someone deeply to be able to verbally disagree with them. In conversation, though many would disagree, I find it hard to find that space to say what is on my mind. In fact I find it hard to know what is on my mind. I go with the flow. It’s why I don’t like small talk. It’s also why I struggle in this new environment to get to know people. I need someone who will kick start the kidnapconversation. Like this morning (this was written Thurs 25th initially – posted later) I met this woman dog walking who stuck up the conversation, not just about the dog but about me and invited me to a dog show. Now I know her name and she knows mine. I liked a couple of the groups we’ve been to since moving here, Bible study groups, because there is a fixed idea on what is going on, and also a common place for people to start.

In fact I also blog because it is the way I can say what I’m thinking, maybe too to a wider audience, but I would find it hard to say some of the things I write about in a conversation. In fact to have a conversation about the things I write would take a lot, for me anyway, of pride. How would I be able to start some of the things I write about? I know whoever reads my blogs knows it will be a one sided thing, but conversation’s different. Also I know I am a facilitator which means in conversation I have to let the other person have their say, explore their thoughts, give them the space. Writing in all it’s forms is my space to have my say.

So I wrote/texted these things to my friend because they had been on my heart for a long time, because I’d been chewing them over for a while, and because I wanted to say them to her. It does mean that she didn’t see the tears in my eyes when I told her, but also I didn’t hear either the hurt or the misunderstanding in what she said back to me. Do I hope our originalfriendship is strong enough to go through this? To be honest I’m not sure I mind. What I really hope is that when I see her face to face I am able to be as honest with her as I was in what I wrote. Often when I do write emails, texts, letters or cards to people it is to open the conversation so that when I see them face to face we can go from there. Although again I wait for them to initiate. I wonder if there is a personality type for those who need others to initiate? 🙂

(Posting this on Friday 26th 2 days after writing. Interestingly I have just had a conversation with someone here in the library as I was writing. I smiled but she initiated the actual conversations. I think that says that one does need to be open for someone to start but again I need them to take it further.  Also re my friend – I do hope we can still be friends through what was said, and if we aren’t then I will be sad, but that will be because I felt misunderstand in my actions and so would feel the friendship couldn’t cope, which would be sad.) I did feel I had to keep the post as it was though and just add this to it 🙂 

Statio

There’s a word for where we are at the moment – Statio. It means “the practice of stopping one thing before beginning another. It is the acknowledgement that in the spacethreshold1_0 of transition and threshold is a sacred dimension, a holy pause full of possibility.” (Christine Valters Painter PhD)

Ok so we are stopped between one thing and the next but have we really acknowledged that this is what we are doing? To a point, No! What we really want to do is move on. We are both struggling with the lack of knowing what tomorrow might bring, the lack of things in the diary to keep the world in order, the lack of something to get up for. We are packed, the house is clean, we’ve done our goodbyes, we have finished work. All is done! And we are struggling. We want to be working, filling the diary with new things, unpacking, planning. But we are in Statio – stopping between the end of one thing and the beginning of the other.

thresholdThe challenge is “In this in-between place of stillness, can you consciously and with intention, release what came before and prepare to enter fully into what comes next?” So can we? Are we willing and able to release what came before and prepare for what comes next? And what does that mean in practise?

For me I think a lot of it meant realising who I was really saying goodbye to and what friends I was always going to be in touch with, realising who I have a heart connection with. Like my friend who I have journeyed through her marriage and her husband’s suicide, we are joined at the heart forever because of what we both endured. I can never let her go. For many of my friendship it is an endurance, which isn’t as bad as it sounds, but of moving away, keeping in touch via letter, email, phone calls, and of knowing what we have done once we can do again. So for me the preparing comes with looking at relationship.

After reading this from Abbey of the Arts this morning, whilst out walking the dog instead05-lambs-on-the-cliffs-ruth-walking-the-gower-peninsula of saying that we wouldn’t be doing this walk for much longer I said goodbye to things; to the sparrows, the sheep, the trees, the styles, etc. I will do that again tomorrow and the next day – consciously say goodbye to things that are very much part of my dog walking landscape. As I drive through our town I will start to say goodbye to things too, things that I’ve been use to, even things that annoy me. The town I live in is a beautiful town but I don’t think we will come back and visit it much after we’ve gone, and if we do it will be as visitors not as residents anyway.

I am going to work on releasing the experiences that I have had here, some good, some bad, some really horribly, some amazing. I will let them go and let them stay in this place. That doesn’t mean that I will box them up and try to forget them but that they will become a part of here.

il_570xn-678785025_23y4And I will start to prepare for what comes next. I’m already on 2 agencies for working in schools with either learning support or teaching assistant jobs. I have things that I have acquired to go in my new “room-of-my-own”. But also I am going to pray and release the things to come that I do not know of. A friend prayed for us last Sunday and asked of Diane and Ian shaped spaces where we are going and for good neighbours and friends. I am a people person, as recognised with the importance of relationships earlier on in this, and for me people are part of the tapestry of what is to come. Also if we are offering hospitality then we do need people in that equation 🙂

We are off on Friday to spend a week in Anglesey. Dear Ian will only get a 2 day holiday because he has to start work on Monday but I am hoping that having me close to come home to each evening will help his transition into the next stage of his working life. I can be praying and supporting because also I have realised that my marriage is something that I need to be supportive of. This has come out of this “statio” time, of letting go and welcoming in. Again the prayer last Sunday was that we would remember why we got old_windmill_no-_2_at_gaerwen_anglesey_-_geograph-org-uk_-_48070married to each other. This week has not been easy with the uncertainty that has gone on and I can do my bit to support, even if it is just being there a week on Monday to welcome Ian home with a cooked meal and a listening ear.

So my plan (&I am a natural planner, that’s how God made me) for these next 6 days here is to consciously let go of here and consciously welcome in what is to come – even though I don’t know what that will be. I know now that I don’t need dates and fixtures but I do need a rough idea of how to spend my time. We’ve other things to do, like say goodbye to our rabbit for a while who is going into long term fostering with a friend, and some seeing people stuff, but on the whole it will be a statio time of letting go and waiting.

Prayer – Not the answers expected

This whole house moving thing is stressful and so we’ve had people walking along side us interceding for us and many email back with messages of support. I sent an email update out on Sunday because of feeling so frustrated about not yet having a date to move. Some pen-282604_1280of the replies that came back were empathetic, some encouraging but some just wound me up. I started journalling about it this morning and then took the dog for a long walk. It is beautiful and frosty this morning and the sun had just come up and was making things glisten. A great day for a long walk.

What started as journalling I unpacked as I walked looking at how and why I had reacted to some of the email messages the way I had. One of the replies I had that really bugged me said: “he wants you to learn how to let go of your plans and ‘need to know’ and to allow Him to be the natural planner. When we can relax into the letting go of our own control and planning to settle into the peace of each present moment with God, then we learn how to surrender all to Him. Then we will be ready to move on into a new place of trust in Him and all will be revealed.”  This came from a friend who regularly challenges me so I did stop and think about it. I know I have posted on this before but what struck me is that I do not trust God.

Oh yes a biggie to say and not many places one can say it out loud but out in the frost frosty-winter-sunrise-1covered empty fields this morning I was able to tell God that I didn’t trust Him and listed the ways that I felt He had let me down. The list was long. It included healings that never happened and the people died, marriages that failed, dreams that never happened and were squashed, people I’ve prayed for who still are happy not in relationship with God and more. But it was not just that I didn’t trust God but also that I didn’t trust people and there are a lot of people involved in a house move that need to be trusted; buyers, sellers, estate agents and solicitors, removal companies, and friends and family. I told God all the people who I felt had let me down; friendships that were no longer close as they were, hurts and times of not being able to be open, church leaders who I felt weren’t there for me, and also the suicides and drownings we experienced. There were 4 people who let me down majorly, I felt.

So here I am at a place where I have to trust God and trust others and feeling like I can’t. No wonder I feel really stressed. If this was going to be a “good evangelistic post” I would now say that God said/did something, but He didn’t. No, but what He did was listen, and that was what I needed, just someone to listen without making a judgement call. I walked and talked and unloaded and cried and He just walked with me and let me. It was also interesting that once I had reach a point of peace with my feelings that I bumped into someone I knew to chat to. So I suppose yes God did do something, He let me talk myself to a place of peace.

peace-in-chaosHow do I feel now? I’m still struggling with the waiting and the not having a date but I feel much more peaceful with the struggle. Sometimes, I believe, we need to wrestle with God and with our thoughts and emotions. We need to be honest and open. I now understand why I’m struggling and through that reflection I now have peace with my feelings. This is very much what Mindfulness teaches. It isn’t about pretending that I’m ok, that I trust God, but accepting that I’m struggling. I think that this is what God really wants from all of us, not that we are sorted but that we accept how we are doing at this moment in time.

But also I know I couldn’t have done it without those I have included to ask to pray for us through this part of our journey. Even if I am at a point where I am struggling to trust people I have to include them in my journey. I suppose too that even if I am struggling with God I need to trust Him in my journey.

Peace comes by being open and honest