With love from love.

It was a day of certainties. The sat navy planned our route; we would arrive at 9.50, the gardens opened at 10.
The leaflet given to us on arrival told us the history of the gardens. It was described as “ a living work of art” views like scenes from a landscape painting. We were told this timeless masterpiece was a showcase of garden design; gothic buildings, trees all centred around a large lake.
We followed our guide and together a small group of us stepped into this unfamiliar landscape.
I stepped into another world, It was almost as if I took a step every so slightly sideways. The vast landscape wrapped its self around me delighting in my willingness to journey along its paths.
Hands reaching into the rich canopy of this accident woodland I longed to hear it’s story. To allow the whispers of this magical place to engulf my thoughts. To clear the fog that dulled my imagination. Allowing for possibilities outside of what I thought should be reality.
The further I explored this landscape the more it talked a language that I understood. It connected my mind to the journey / plans that God has for me.

I need to rewind at this point at take us back to the beginning.
As I said on arrival we choose wait to take the garden tour. To be shown around this magnificent garden rather than choose our own route. We followed our guide. We took the paths she choose stopping at places of interest not of our choosing.
We did not rush to the magnificent view for which this garden is so famous for. We stopped and waited for our guide to show us the way.
It was sometime during that waiting that I took my sideways step into a slightly different world. The excitement of the journey ahead, the unknown paths, the wait lifted my mind to another place.
I walked the paths set out by this gardeners creator ( Henry Hoare II ) allowing myself to see the garden from his view. I saw what he wanted me to see.
Amazing to think that 300 years ago this garden was new. Carefully planted and designed to delight its visitors. Today it’s still capturing the imagination and delighting the visitors that travel it’s paths.
As I walked I shared something Henry Hoare’s vision. It’s a vision that has reached maturity yet its still growing and changing, at the same time remains true to its original purpose.
This garden really did have a story to tell.
Thats why I was so excited about my visit to Stourhead ( National trust house and gardens ).

Life’s about the journey. A journey planned ahead of us, ready and waiting for us to walk on the paths that God has set out before us.
As I journey along these paths I do not travel alone. I journey with God even when I stray from the path. God waits patiently for me .
His plans for me are not my plans. The journey is mine to travel. I have the free will to take any path of my choosing, I have the free will to race though life going so fast I fail notice the beauty of journey.

God used this landscape to meet me, over flowing with emotions buzzing with excitement God talked to me though this landscape. Connecting me spiritually with my life journey.
The slippery paths, the difficult paths, paths shaded by woodland, paths across open countryside soaking up the summers sun.
All these paths told me stories of my own life; dark times, times when I have needed support, prayerful times, the good and not so good. All a part of the rich journey God has planned for me.
I felt a powerful reassurance that the path I am following is the right one. Even though I have no idea of its route or the difficulties ahead, it’s the path I need to stay on.

Journey to the final view ( the main reason for the visit )

The guided walk gave me glimpses of this view as I walked towards it. The view was often blocked broken up and fragmented by the mature tress that edged the lake.
As I walked closer to the view so my journey become more reflective. The follies that I visited at the start of the walk were now in the distance. The harshness of these stone buildings softened and changed by their watery reflections mirrored onto the lake.
The garden continued to gave glimpses of what’s to come. Amid the decay of the woodland floor new growth resilient and abundant pushed its way though the rich mulch.
The view that I longed to see lost its importance. The journey / story was far greater than any ending I could have imagined .
The garden told me a story of love that never ends. Written and told by a loving father to his child.
The father knowing exactly what his child needed to hear.
The story was told with love from love.
The story told me do not to worry! You need to follow these paths, trust them, learn from them. The delight is not where you will be, but where you are now.

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Isaiah 55:8-9
[8] For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
[9] For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

The Happy Prince.

Last weekend I watched Rupert Everet’s film “ The happy prince”, the story of Oscar Wilde’s last few days.
Wilde’s body ailing and his mind spinning from past to present day we learn something about this poet and how during his time in prison he found God. A spiritual renewal, a fresh start – to be reborn.
Wilde upon release planned to turn his life around. Be a father to his sons, live once again as a family with his wife Constance. The film showed that while Wilde had faith he had hope.
Living in France Wilde’s old vices soon turned his life upside down, leaving him broken and in poverty.
As death becomes closer his friend/ lover Robbie Ross called for a priest at Wilde’s request. The priest spends time with Wilde, baptising him just before he dies. It showed how grace can transform and redeem us even when our pain is self-inflicted.
One question from the film has stayed with me. The priest asked the dying Wilde “ where did you lose your faith?”
I have been asking myself this all week, When did I lose my faith?
I have eventually found what was possibly my moment when things started to change, I was aged about 7. It was a baking hot day as it is today ( maybe that helped the memory ). I was dressed for the weather wearing shorts, T-shirt and flip-flops.
My sister I were playing that silly game of ringing the doorbell and running away. I can’t remember which one of us rang our front doorbell. I can’t remember my angry mum answering the ring.
I do remember running in flip-flops on a gravel path and falling over.
I remember the two bloody gravel filled knees, and the blood-soaked pillow from the large bleeding gash on my head. I was very scared and frightened.
I remember being told God was paying me back for ringing the doorbell and running away.
As a child I heard:  I’m bad and Gods mad at me, God made me fall over, God is why I am scared and hurting, God is causing me all this pain. I am so scared.

As an adult, I understand that God never dressed me in flip-flops that morning.  It was our free will that started the silly doorbell game.
As an adult, I have seen how God uses the circumstances we find ourselves in for good. It does no matter how impossible these circumstances seem.
God heals our wounds, brings us comfort and guidance. But best of all he brings love. Holds us in our pain so we in turn can hold others in pain and distress.
Everything does happen for a reason. I feel over as I was running scared in flip-flops.

My parents knew nothing of Gods grace and how that grace changes everything. It would be another 36 years before I would become transformed and my life enriched by God’s love and Grace.

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Ephesians 2:8-10 Good News Translation .
8-9 For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it. 10 God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.

Just Being.

Emotional stored up energy.
Focused and realised.
Freedom giving.
Boundaries broken.
Just being.

Mind wanders to silence.
Paths form and grow
Boundless and limitless.
Love Intensifies the silence.
Just being.

Spiritually connected
Phisically contained.
Hedges, fences.
Familiar paths.
Safety in the knowing.
Secure
Just being.

Would I.
Could I break out.
Smashing paths, trampling fences, distorting dreams.
Hurting all.
That’s not me.

Could I.
Should I be wild and reckless
Selfish.
Boundaries would be lost .
love would be hurt.
That’s not me.

Silence beyond just being.
Prayers that never utter a word.
Peace and freedom.
Love that pulls me, beyond my boundaries.
Thats me.
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Comforting powerful words.

Day 16 -Lent challenge 2018 – Stillness.

One of the things that has really helped me find my faith is all the little seeds of faith planted by the wonderful community and family that surrounded me as I grew up.
Today’s blog is a thank you to our next door neighbour for teaching me Psalm 23.
I don’t have many memories of her. But I do remember her dark brown doors with high handles that I could reach but my younger sister could not.
Being in the garden while my mum and next door where both hanging out the washing. They Stopped to chat over the fence,the excited conversation about the pope visiting England. I had never next door so excited before.
But most of all I remember my visits to her house, when she would take down Psalm 23 and recite it to me and my sister.

When my life became full of pain it was Psalm 23 that gave me such hope and strength. The words that where once forgotten became alive. Comforting powerful words backed up by a strong healing message wrapped in Gods unconditional love.
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Psalm 23 King James Version (KJV)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Living small, loving big.

Day Eight – Lent Challenge 2018 – Faith

Today we celebrate the extremes of life—people who do big, bold stunts and make a visible difference in society. Yet we can often ignore the small, meek, everyday people who are making a difference – we just can’t see it so clearly.

The person I want to say thank you to today is my 2nd cousin. She allowed me to change my entire perspective on what it means to make a difference. A very quiet and private lady that in the last 5 years I have had the privilege of her sharing her faith with me.
We all show our faith in different ways. It’s these different ways that I find exciting. Gods love changes us from inside out. These changes take different shapes and grow in different ways. All uniquely different, all serving the God who loves us all just as we are.
This wonderful lady belongs and is part of our community. She feels part of and is part of our church family.
As a church, we pray for her. Read her name in out in intercessional prayers.
But she is only known by name, not in person.
She does not attend the church she belongs to. Her life is painful and behind closed doors. Sharing her pain with God is how she remains so positive.
A devoted wife; incredibly proud mother of her adopted son.
Her life has been full of frustrations, illness and pain.
The strength she shows each day comes from God.

Her faith is so quietly lived. It touches the lives of her family and close friends.
Jesus spent times of his life living quietly, with no public attention whatsoever. Only a handful of people knew what he was capable of. Jesus worked in the background. He laboured with his hands, made connections with people, and set the groundwork for his ministry to flourish later on in life.

When we’re living loud, extreme lives, theirs a danger our attention will be spread to thinly.
A quiet life lived, sees the need to love the people closest to you, not just the crowds. It’s living small loving big.
Walking with her is always a privilege, I always leave smiling and with something to think about.

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Psalm 62:5
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

 

Viewing life through the eyes of others.

Day Four – Lent Challenge 2018 – Hospitality.

Today’s Lent challenge prompt is “hospitality ” and I chose to share and say thank you, to one family that are very gifted in hospitality.
Its their total acceptance of who we are. Just as God excepts and love us so do they.
Viewing life through the eyes of others is never easy. It’s so easy to criticise those that do not think the way we do.
It’s so easy to think someone that is loud is rude.
It’s often just their way of hiding the true person. The person they are to afraid to show the world.
It’s only when we take time it get to know people do we discover the true them.
Many of my friends can’t see beyond my husband’s negative comments.

The phrases that comes from his mouth can be blunt and seem rude, but that’s not really him. He would be devastated to hurt someone’s feeling. But he also can seem rude, condescending, or downright mean. Making terrible mother in law jokes that are not funny, laughing at another person’s mis-fortune, or cracking inappropriate jokes.
We have found ourselves as a couple on the edge.
Church family has broken the cycle of us feeling rejected. It has broken the cycle of us not socialising.
Hospitality really is God given. It has only been through the church that we have felt this expectance and love.
So thank you to this wonderful family for inviting us into your lives, for sharing food together and laughing with us.

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Romans 12 The Message (MSG)

12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

My Granny.

Day One – Lent Challnge 2018 – Learn.

My maternal grandmother taught me so much. Spending a lot of my teenage years with this old little prayerful lady was a gift.
A priceless gift that I am only just starting to see it’s true value .
She taught me respect.
I respected her values even if it did not understand them or believe in them.
She taught me to thank God every day. Before we ate she said grace thanking God for the meal we ate together. I respected this.
Before I went to bed she would request we pray for others. I respected this .
The teenage me learnt that my Grandmother valued prayer.
The adult me has been gifted with a teacher that taught me to pray. Showed me the value and power of intercession prayer. She taught me that you don’t stop praying when things get tough. You pray more.
I have so much respect for this little old lady that would pray for hours.
She prayed for those she loved, She prayed for those she did not, She prayed for those that were hurting in the world.
Pray often left her exhausted and emotional but she never stoped .
So my first blog for lent 2018 is to Granny – Thank you for teaching me how to pray. Thank you for praying for me.
I have a funny feeling you knew God would catch up with me in the end.
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1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 The Message (MSG)

16-18 Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.

A choice that was no choice at all.

Reading someone else’s blog the following words shouted out from the page.

“You had a choice,” she said, “but you did not have free will.” A choice that was no choice at all.

These words have been said to me in similar ways more than once in the last 18 months. In my grief they offered no comfort. I was not ready to hear the words “no choice”, not ready to believe that I had no choice at all.

I had no choice but to turn and walk away.
Holding you in my arms, I told you a life with this new family would be so much better than a life with me.
Expressed my happiness in all that was happening.
I told you that it was going to amazing and wonderful.
A choice that was no choice at all.
I hugged you a hug of a thousand words.
Inward tears streamed inside of me .
I smiled so you understood it was ok.
A smile that was just muscles moving my face.
It was a smile that wanted to scream.
I had no choice but to smile.
No choice but to leave and not look back.
I could not look back.
You trusted me.
You could not see my face grumbling in grief .
Relief momentarily numbed the pain.
Relief that I held it together.
Relief that I made it outside before I gave into searing heat of breaking pain.

A choice that was no choice at all.

No choice is why I could not cry.
No choice why you could not stay.
I had no choice but to leave and say goodbye.

I had free will but no choice.

Loving Father
Please let your will be done in my life. If it’s not your will let it slip through my grasp. Give me the strength to forgive those that hurt the ones I love. Give me the courage to face my fears. The peace not to worry about the things I cannot control or change.
Amen.

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God Tears.

God has been very much with me these last few days. I have been forced to slow up, giving more time for Prayer; for myself and others. Praying for myself is something I I find difficult; I pray for those I love, friends family, communities, those that live far away. It always seems selfish to ask for things for myself; I have food, a lovely home, I am loved. To ask for anything outside of this just does not feel right. This weekend I focused more on myself praying for help and guidance.

Trying to understand just because I don’t believe in myself God does. Images thoughts and dreams that come from God are so big and so real. Theirs no escaping them every time I pray the same things come to me.

They defiantly come from God because I don’t believe in myself enough to make these things happen. But I do believe God thinks I am capable; these things are strangely possibly achievable. I am overwhelmed by the thought of my future but excited at the same time.

The prayers have brought the tears that shape and change me. In church this morning tears were trying to escape at every opportunity. Tears that that needed to flow and happen . Some of the tears were full of Gods love, some sadness, but most of the tears this weekend were fear, afraid of what I might lose or never even get the opportunity to gain.

Sunday church service this morning caused a lot of tears . Being asked to think and pray about “ what does it take for me to follow Jesus” . The more I thought about this this the more the tears tried to leak out everywhere a few escaping .
Following Jesus produces tears, not sad tears; but God tears .
Gods love is bigger than pain, it does not stop the pain from hurting but protects me from the pain in only the way God can.
Following Jesus has changed my life in a way that cannot be reversed. It’s not as simple as starting to attend church it’s a complete inside person change. It’s following Jesus that has caused my pain and is continuing to cause me pain.
It’s standing up for what’s right treating another human with love compassion and grace. Staying with them and not turning my back on them when life goes the wrong direction.
Fighting for justice , not allowing something that is wrong to happen just because it’s easier not to fight.
Life would be so much easier if I was not following Jesus. I could think only for myself , not look beyond the four walls of my home and live a blissfully inward life. I would think I was happy convincing myself that retail therapy wants and needs would give me fulfilment.
But that’s not happiness; even when emotionally I am exhausted, I still smile it’s that beautiful inner happiness ; The joy of having Jesus in my life .
To follow Jesus for me is pushing forward to do Gods work alongside the people in our communities fighting and working with the unseen and forgotten families. By doing these things, I may hear Gods call to live a life that will let me love as only I can, and allow me to serve others with the special gifts I have been given.

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Joy comes in the morning .

Day 27 – Endure _ Lent Challenge

Mother’s Day 2014 – Celebrated with a very special little person knowing preparations were underway for adoption in the following weeks , with goodbyes only a few weeks away we spent our last Mother’s Day holding onto each so tightly hardly daring to let go it was a Perfect day to be treasured .

Mothers days 2016 – left church before we even sang the first hymn, I carried home a scared and confused little person in tears  aged only 4 years old.
The reality of Mother’s Day with out their mum was just to much .
They snuggled into my shoulder and asked me why “mummy’s day was so hard” I had no words only love to give, even love was not enough but it helped.

Mother’s Day 2017 – woke up with empty arms , But a heart full of love and happiness knowing two very special little children far away where getting up excited to give cards and gifts to two very special mums that them just as much as I do.

Psalm 30.5
Weeping may endure for a night , but joy comes in the morning .

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