Greek Holiday 1989.

Day 14 – Lent Challenege 2018- Journey.

This year I am following a 12-month Bible reading plan.
The Journey through Acts sent me on a physical journey to the loft. After lots of rummaging through suitcases I finally found my Greek holiday journal from 1989.
This Journal is full of memories of a fabulous trip to Athens followed by a cruise around the islands.
It’s great to see my photos of the places mentioned in my Bible readings . The places I visited as a teenager are helping me today. Joining up my worlds making the Bible come alive .

Years later my travelling companion introduced me to my husband, supported me through pregnancy loss. When her beautiful baby daughter was baptised she choose me to be one of her God parents.
It’s a massive hug of thanks to my friend of many many years.

Acts 17:16 Good News Translation
While Paul was waiting in Athens for Silas and Timothy, he was greatly upset when he noticed how full of idols the city was.

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Acts 21:1 Good News Translation
We said good-bye to them and left. After sailing straight across, we came to Cos; the next day we reached Rhodes, and from there we went on to Patara.

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Acts 19 Good News Translation
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior of the province and arrived in Ephesus.

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Revelation 1 Good News Translation
9 I am John, your brother, and as a follower of Jesus I am your partner in patiently enduring the suffering that comes to those who belong to his Kingdom. I was put on the island of Patmos because I had proclaimed God’s word and the truth that Jesus revealed.

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Brief encounter with love.

Day 13 – Lent challenge 2018 – refresh .
My Auntie K keeps coming to mind when I think about faith and the word refresh.
I think it has something to do with how real she was to herself and God.
She recorded her thoughts and prayers in dairies. The two diaries in my possession record the wars years 1939 -1940. She records air raids, birthdays, the church services she attended with her mum (my great grandmother).
She also tells her another story. Her brief encounter with love. Her life becomes increasingly complicated because of falling in love with a man that was not hers to love. They meet secretly, fell in love, bringing about unexpected consequences.
Her scribbles telling of the conflict in her mind. Concerned about the pain that she would or could cause others. She battles with her faith. She knows it must end.
She acknowledged the pain love caused. She worried her writings might be found. One diary entry tells how she must stop scribbling.
She wrote out prayers that asked for strength, she turned to scripture for guidance.

The old lady I loved struggled with life “messed up”. When we mess up, which we do and will, God loves us just the same.
Her scribbling provided her with a place to of load her thoughts and feelings. I treasure these diaries as her gift to me.
She tells me that when things go wrong it’s God we turn to. She tells me we mess up.
Theirs something in all of this about not denying who we are being real with God. In that realism we form a closer relationship with God.
When we give voice to our complaints, our worries, our bitterness, or our fears, we aren’t telling God anything he doesn’t already know. We are laying ourselves bare before him, holding nothing back, and asking him into our lives.

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Psalm 73 – Good News Translation
26  My mind and my body may grow weak,
but God is my strength;
he is all I ever need.

The Song of Kit.

Day 12 -Lent challenge 2018 – Hunger.
Today’s thank you is to my girl guide captain. This amazing lady inspired and encouraged me . She pushed a shy teenager to experience the life she was to often afraid to experience. She believed in me and still does.
Going on guide camp was the highlight of each year. Before the world of health and safety we travelled to guide camp in a removal van. All our kit was loaded we than all piled in on top. To secure us a old door was roped across the front.
We sang songs all the way to camp, we sang as we washed up and of course we had the campfire songs in the evening.
I loved the evenings wrapped in my camp blanket sat outside under the stars.
I still sing many of those songs today. The song of kit was just one of many we sang. It seemed a strange song to teach a group of teenage girls.
The song of kit has stayed with me.
Some 35 years later; our teenage foster placement was causing massive disruption and pain. Every time I wanted to walk away,turn my back on her and all the pain she was causing.
The song of kit would come to me. I would find myself singing it as I rode my bike, humming it as I cooked tea. I could not get away from the words
The chorus repeating its self over and over again in my head.

So take this child by the hand.
And lead him back to love.
Leave the fear and the misery behind.
Take this child by the hand.
And lead him back to love.
And show him that people can be kind.

It’s not within me to turn away from someone in desperate need of help and love. Every person needs love even if they don’t understand what love is or have never had it.

God crated us in his image to love one another. I could not turn away because it was the easy thing to do. I stayed with her as long as I could because it was the only thing I could do.
To trying help someone understand they are loved. Showing them that people can be kind.

Song of Kit
See a child standing there.
In the rubble and the dust.
He is standing all alone.
There is no-one he can trust.
The soldiers took his father.
And his mother ran away.
He’s a politician’s game
And he doesn’t want to play.

So take this child by the hand.
And lead him back to love.
Leave the fear and the misery behind.
Take this child by the hand.
And lead him back to love.
And show him that people can be kind.

See a child standing there.
With hunger in his eyes.
He is standing all alone.
While a nation slowly dies.
He knows that he is hungry.
But he doesn’t understand.
There are just too many people.
In that dry and barren land.

See a child standing there.
As he sees the world go by.
He is standing all alone.
And he’ll always wonder why.
When nations spend their millions.
On power and on might.
That he never had a chance.
To learn to read and write.

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If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. (Matthew 5:41)

Time For A Rethink .

lent 2017  I challenged myself to blog every day. The theme of each blog was inspired by a word from the bible societies lent challenge.  Here’s the link to my posts, in case you want to know more about what I got up to last year.

Writing 40 blogs helped me to form a deeper relationship with God. Allowed me time to hear that I am being called. I want others to feel that love too. I need to find a way to push myself to tell others the Good news “ We are loved “. unconditionally always and forever.
Its the new life that comes with this beautiful love that I want to give to others. I want my actions to show that Gods love is real and has no limits.

Lent 2018 I set myself  an outside challenge  walking with friends and family. Prayer walks and social walks, walking  with those  that  I often don’t spend enough time with . I planned to walk at least 40 miles a week  with as many different people as possible.

Feeling confident and ready, a list of fellow walkers drafted  up. All I needed was fine weather.
Not sure  we  are ever ready for  the challenges that life brings to us. I certainly was feeling confident in my challenge . Excited about the  conversations / prayers that we would might share as we walked and journey  together over  the next 40 days .

Today  walking is very far from my mind. Battered and bruised and feeling the full effects of  gravity doing what it does best.  A high temperature caused me to lose consciousness.
Gravity took me to the shortest route to the floor. This route would have been straightforward were it for the obstacles in the way which in my unconscious state I hit before  landing in the most undignified heap .
The  planning has rather gone astray but nursing my soreness the last few days I have been drawn to  last years lent journey and how important it was to me.
I have been thinking about all the people that have challenged, changed  and influenced my life.
How we often forget to say thank you to them.
So with a  total  change of plan lent 2018 I will once agin be  blogging on   a given word for the day set by the  Bible society
I will be reflecting  on the people that have shaped and changed my life.

Each blog will be accompanied by image not of the person but my visualization of them . Although similar to last years challenge its still an exciting enriching time and I’m looking forward to this journey with the joy of anticipation that it will bring.

Hoping in time to get some walking in too.

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John 8:12  When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

My Last Blog For Lent.

Day Fourty – Recieve – Lent Challenge.

This is my last blog for lent, blog number 40/40.
The last 40 days has seen me reading my Bible more and more. Trying to understand myself and the journey I am on and how it all connects to the Bible.
I read my Bible in many forms on my iPad, audio books, Good News Bible (which I received when I got confirmed ). My most treasured Bible belonged to my Grandfather. He died before I was born. Issued to him in Word War Two this pocket size little New Testament Bible made from light weight Indian paper. It was designed to be carried on the left pocket of the soldier’s jacket over his heart. Published by the Naval and Military Bible Society this Bible is a connection to the Grandfather a that I never had.
The Bible has a couple of pages with the corners turned. I want to share with you the verse on one page that has a turned corner.
Reading and typing this I am reading the same words as my Grandfather did back in World War Two.

John 12:24-25
24.Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die; it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringth forth much fruit.
25. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

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God Understands My Pain.

Day Thirty Nine – Give – Lent Challenge.

14/04/2014
Three years ago today I said goodbye to my foster son. The little boy that I had loved and cared for the last two and half years was moving to his forever adoptive family. I loved him enough to say goodbye. My love for him allowed me to let him go, allowed him to start a new life in his adoptive family .

14/04/2014
Three years ago today I prayed for the strength to say goodbye to my son. I prayed for the first time in my life I cried out to God. Through the tears and pain I felt the presence of God. My strength that morning came from God and allowed me to let go of my little boy’s hand.

Good Friday 2014

Four days had passed since I drove of the drive at home with my little boy.
Spending time settling him in to his new home was challenging and emotional and came back home the day before Good Friday totally exhausted.
Good Friday 2014 was the first day without my little boy, the first morning in over 2.5 years I was not greeted by his smiling face.
Sitting at home full of grief was not the way I wanted to spend Easter, so at the suggestion of my mum we attended the church car wash in the local Homebase car park .
So full of grief I did not want to make eye contact with anyone, so full of grief I could not care if my car was clean or dirty. I remember just wanting the world to swallow me up.
I stoped all conversation with those that tried to make it, smiled politely and just wanted to leave .
A family friend that had lost a son was washing cars and spoke to us. She understood our pain and smiled and gave a hug, it never made it better, it never took away the pain. It gave me some sort of hope that we would be able to survive this.

Today -14/04/2017- Good Friday

Today is Good Friday – the day Jesus was crucified on the cross for us. He carried our pain and suffered our punishment willingly. Jesus doesn’t avoid suffering he does not avoid death, The woman that stayed with him at the foot of the cross did not avoid grief and pain. He could have stopped it, but he didn’t because he loved us so much.
Our sins were nailed to that cross forever. This is only possible because of Jesus and because of love.

Today is a day for reflection, some quiet time and prayer time.
Time to try and take in the scale of Good Friday and what it means, look back over my own life and these past three years.

John 3:16-17
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

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Searching for the Capital Letters.

Day Thirty Seven – Search – Lent Challenge.

This is blog number 37, one blog and one photo a day written around the word given each day by the Bible society as part of their lent challenge .
I have searched for and taken 37 photos, searched the Bible for 37 passages that relate to the blog I have just written .
For 37 days I have been thinking about my life, my life following Jesus and where I have been and where I am going.
It’s become very obvious that even through I read each blog though over and over again, the spelling and grammar needs a lot of improving.
After blog number 40 has been written my next challenge is to read though my old blogs and with help correct the spelling and grammar.
Search for the missing capital letters, find missing question marks, remove extra letters and correct the misspelled words.
I need to improve myself so I can help others, to be able to communicate with others share my journey and allow others to see that having a life with Jesus is not always easy, but it’s the life set out for us and by following Jesus we are never alone, always loved and just this feeling that the decisions we make are ours but the guidance and the strength to make them come from God .

Isaiah 54:2 “Enlarge the place of your tent; Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; Lengthen your cords And strengthen your pegs”

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Reimagine

Day Thirty six – Reimagine  – lent challenge

I work in a barn, its an old cow milking shed that has been basically converted into small units. When you think of barn conversations you might imagine beautiful houses incorporating features from the barn but alongside modern comforts.
Our barn is basic, we have cold running water, a small area to make a cup of tea, heating is extra clothes a small fan heater and hot water bottles. I often imagine the changes we could make to improve our little place of work, heat and hot water would be first on my list, maybe followed by carpet and a connecting door so I don’t have to walk outside in the cold.
Once imagined I reimagined that I could get an office, painted in business colours, a beautifully designed packing area with boxes stacked high, orders arriving and being packed by staff. I imagine a business looking smart and branded, clean slick painted. Maybe a kitchen with a  fridge full of healthy snack’s and we could hold business meetings in comfort instead of issuing weather warnings, and requesting visitors to come dressed warm and offer hot water bottles to those brave enough to stay.
We would look good on the outside but what would in the heart of the business? Would we lose what we are about by working like this?
The way we work provides us with an income to live within our means, it’s basic but keeps us connected to the world, I look forward to spring, look forward to feeing the warmth of the sun. I remember the excitement when we brought a fridge, we celebrated it was a big day, I still smile when I open the door to get a pint of milk.
To reimagine has to be for the good and not out of greed or wants, we need to put our creative minds to helping others, helping others see what a life following Jesus is like.
Jesus was born in a barn – God could have worked it out that a room would be available, but God chose for His Son to be born in a barn. Jesus came into this world humbly and in poverty to identify with the poorest and weakest among us.
I might not always like my barn, but it’s a constant reminder that we need to be thankful for everything we have, from a fridge to running water, their are many in the world that have nothing our barn keeps us dry and provides us with a place to work.

Romans 12:3 The Message (MSG)
3 I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

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I will Never.

Day Thirty Five – Imagine  – lent Challenge

I never imagined I would be able to say goodbye to my babies that died, I never imagined there would be the right place, or the right time.
I never imagined I would have the strength to let them go, the courage to face the realisation that I can’t hold on to them for ever. This was all made possible by the faith I never imagined I would have .
The right place was the Lady’s Chapel in Exeter cathedral, the right time was 8th of April 2017.
The strength and courage came from God and prayers.

The service was beautiful and very moving acknowledging baby loss as something you never get over but something you need to learn to live with.
The poem ” I will Never ” by Clark- Coates / Fossberry was read out and afterwards a hand bell was passed around during the playing of Pie Jesu recorded by Katherine Jenkins .

I held the bell knowing I would chime it 5 times, a chime for each precious life, it felt for the first time that they were babies .
I prayed for God to care for them until I can be with them again, I looked at the candles burning in the chapel, as the flame flickered it reminded me that although they are gone the flame in my heart will never go out but remain lit and burn brightly.
The chimes allowed me to let go and pass my pain to God, I have carried this pain for a very long time and the time has come to allow God to carry the pain and leave me with warmth and love .
The beautiful stained glass window In the chapel showed Mary holding Jesus as a baby cradled lovingly in her arms. The little baby that she had once held in her arms died crucified on a wooden cross, and pierced her heart. Jesus was her son and she was his mother .

In the presence of God I said my goodbyes, God who knows my needs, hears my cries and heals my wounds .
The hymn Amazing Grace was sung and radiated around the little chapel, the light of the spring day cast colourful shadows of light over us as we sang. The warmth of this sun gently soothing my pain and drying my tears .

I Will Never

I will never get to hold your hand through a storm.
I will never get to wipe your sticky fingers.
I will never get to teach you to tie your shoelaces.

I will never get to watch you catch your first snowflake.
I will never get to know who your best friend would have been.
I will never get to see you fall in love.
I will never get to hear you tell me about your first day at work.
I will never get to hear you tell me ” l’m going to be a grandparent.
But always know ……..
I will never be too proud to ask for help.
I will never be too scared to say this hurts.
I will never be too frightened to declare you matter.
I will never be too afraid to carry on living .
And
I will never forget you
I will never stop saying your name.
I will never stop wondering who you would have been.
I will never stop loving you.
I will never stop remembering the sound of this bell, rung in memory of you.
By Clark – Coates / Fosberry.

1 Peter 5:7Good News Translation
Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you.

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Scared to be still.

Day Thirty Three – Still – Lent challenge.
When I read my old blogs it’s amazing how far I have come, there are good days and bad days but life is so much better, but I can’t relax, forgotten how to.
I am scared to be still, scared to stop for too long, Burning the candle at both ends, late nights and early mornings is at times exhausting.
The massive hole in my life needs plugging, so I fill it by keeping busy filling the hole seems the only way to cope but only prolongs and hides the grief.
Times of stillness are rare and it’s often only when I pray do I dare to allow myself to stop, but it’s safe in prayer, I feel held in Gods love,  it’s a time to reflect, recharge and take my strength from God.
As soon as I open my eyes say Amen my brain is off planning thinking and busy busy busy.
The grief of the past years all seem to have all been rolled into one big hole and I need to find ways to deal with this grief and than I  feel that I might be able to stop and relax.
This weekend I will be attending a remembrance service at Exeter Cathedral for those who have lost a child at any stage of pregnancy. I will for the first time be in a space to pray for them and hold them in my heart acknowledge each one as the child I carried and loved.
Lighting 5 little candles will be very special and important part of grieving and moving on.

John 14 :1-6 ” What God creates God loves and what God loves God loves everlasting”

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