Thy kingdom come.

Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer movement that invites Christians around the world to pray between Ascension and Pentecost for more people to come to know Jesus.
Last year I pledged to pray for families; children in the care system and those involved in adoption. ( Thy kingdom come 2017)

This year I pledge to pray for five people. Praying that they will know Jesus. That their lives will be transformed just as Jesus has transformed my life.
I have decided to buy 5 roses one for each of my special people. A rose bearing their name. As  I grow and nurture the rose I will pray for the named person.
Praying for these people starts today. The journey and adventure of sourcing the roses the love and care I give to each rose will be reflected in my prayers. Prayers that will go far beyond the 10 days of Thy Kingdom Come.

SARAH VAN FLEET
Rugosa Rose

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PLEINE DE GRÂCE
Rambling Rose

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QUEEN ELIZABETH
Floribunda
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Auspoly
CHARLOTTE
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 Rebecca – Patio Rose

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Black Dog Called Depression.

Day 35 -Lent Challenge – Lead

This blog is acknowledging my life living with the Black dog called depression. The Black dog is not mine, it’s attached its self to my husband. It lives with us and is part of us. It’s real. That’s why it’s included in my 40 blogs.
I have written two stories, both true. For those that have not lived or cared for someone with depression, I hope this helps gives you some understanding as to what life can be like.

Recently some friends brought a puppy. It was a very much loved new member of their family. This golden ball of fluff arrived in their lives looking and acting like the perfect family pet.
He’s such a funny little character loved and enjoyed by everyone that visits them. When the family are at home he’s a joy. As soon they all get ready to leave him at home on his own things start to take a turn for the worse.
He gets anxious paces and makes funny noises. As the getting ready in the morning intensifies so does his levels of anxiety increase. Tension starts to rise between dog and owner.
When eventually they leave him in the quietness of the house he does what all young dogs do.
He’s chewed what he can. Pooed where he should not, and generally gets into terrible trouble.
The owners soon realise the dog’s behaviour cannot continue.They see their short-sightedness in buying a puppy and working full time. They love this dog and want to do all they can to relive its stress and anxiety. They arrange a dog sitter, friends and family help when they can. Dog sitting on evenings and on weekends so everyone had a good quality of life including the puppy. They consult an animal behaviourist. Learn signs of anxiety and take steps to eliminate them.They add routine to their day. Giving the puppy space to explore and play.
They no longer fear coming home. They no longer dread opening the front door.
They never blamed the dog for its behaviour they understood the reasons behind the behaviour and addressed them.

Reading the above story nothing surprises us. We know and understand that leaving a puppy alone for long periods of time is not good for dog or owner. With love time and patience they grow up and become the family pet we hoped and dreamed of.

I am going to tell you the story of the Black dog ( depression ) that lives with us.

24 years ago I feel deeply in love and married my husband. I walked down the aisle a young bride looking forward to married life. We looked the perfect couple. Young happy and in love.
The Black dog ( depression ) joined our family- it becomes attached to my husband. To start with it was more of a nuisance than a problem. With a few simple changes, it was manageable.
We learned to live with it. As we got older the dog grew up and got bigger. It would become a nuisance, causing embarrassment and upset.
It becomes so big that it forgets its manners, being rude, snapping and growling at all those who came near him/ us.
The tension in the house caused more snapping and growling. Going out without the dog become harder and harder.
We seek professional help. The Black dog refuses to go. The more tension I put on its lead. The more it bites and refuses to do even the basic tasks. The Black dog has imprisoned us in our own home. It refuses help. When the dog finally shows weakness, the help that we receive is difficult. The services are busy and overworked. They don’t have time to see past the growling. Each appointment we see someone new. This causes defence behaviour that looks aggressive.
Our friends stop visiting us. Why would they want to spend time with a dog that does not want to engage with them? A dog that does not wag it’s tail. A dog that does not play.
The hardest part for me is leaving the Black dog home alone with my husband. I fear what it will do. I fear it will take away my husband, that it will totally consume him to the point of no return. I fear its greed will be to much for my husband to cope with.
I fear opening the door. I dread coming home to the quietness of the house not knowing what it’s done when I am out.

The trouble with the Black dog it’s invisible. It’s not an imaginary dog it’s real. Because people don’t see it they fail to understand. I don’t blame them, but many blame and judge my husband. They see the behaviours but lack understanding.

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So how do I cope?
Pray
Prayer is my biggest way of coping. I pray when the Black dog is sleeping. I hold my husband first thing in the morning and pray. When it’s bedtime again I hold my husband and pray until God holds my exhausted words until sleep takes me too .
I pray that we can put a “lead” on the Black Dog. That it can be managed, disciplined and controlled.

Gratitude.
It’s being grateful for the little things and thanking God. It’s the littlest things that give hope; a hug, a smile, positive conversations.

Love .
Being honest and open to those that love us. That honesty also has to be respectful to my husband. I have friends that know and understand that life is hard. It’s so important for me to have a couple of special friends that I can trust. These friends are good listeners, they don’t judge. They love us and pray for us.

Feet planted firmly on love.

Day 29 – Lent challenge – Questions.

This blog is to my friend of 40 plus years.

Our lives have taken a similar paths. Life’s ups and downs have been shared and solved over many tears and evening walks together. We have seen challenges and problems we never imagined. My friend was always the adventurous one encouraging me to have a go, take risks.
A lot of that was down to our parenting . She was encouraged and allowed to take risks. Her parents would always remind us as we cycled of on an adventure that God would look after us – trust in the lord. My parents would give us the 3rd degree on not talking to strangers, not going to far on our own etc etc. We listened to neither cycled care free.
We both continued to ignore her parents views on faith and God. We learnt to disappear when the subject of our personal relationship with Jesus was the topic of conversation.
As we became adults they became more persistent in their longing for us to be saved. Family barbecues could if we where not careful turn into question time . Strong big uncomfortable questions. Questions that made you want to run, Questions that we could not and did not wish to engage with.
It started to become a family Joke. We talked about conversation rates. Learnt to change the subject when we were asked if we accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Saviour ?
We did not understand why they did this. We certainly did not want a life with Jesus if this is how people behaved and acted.
My friend was often embarrassed and hurt. God to her was a problem that would not go away.
When my friend turned to her parents for help they in turn turned to scripture. They recited verses which to her that had no meaning. Words that where alien and seemed unkind. Words totally out of context to my friend. My friend was just looking for a hug some love an understanding.
My friend is told God is the answer to her grief and pain. A God that is just words to her and a God that causes her embarrassment and pain.

We still walk together about once a month. She has started to slowly ask questions about my faith. We talk about the children’s groups I help with at church. We have started sharing God together .
Some walks we are really chatty others we don’t even approach the subject. She leads and I share.
Friendship and Gods love has to be at the heart of my faith sharing. Meeting people where they are. Walking with them letting them in their own time and space ask questions.
I long for my friend to see the God that resides in my heart. The God of love, the God that gives great big hugs when you need them. A God that takes nothing away from you just enhances and allows you to see things so differently. The God that has saved me because I asked to be saved. Not because someone told me it would be a good idea.

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Ephesians 3:17-19 The Message (MSG)
14-19 My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

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.

Magnetic Sisters  

Life of mud and wellington boots.
Coloured pens that echo my thoughts.
Fluffy blankets in case my dreams.
Wild hair that lives its own life in its own time.
I dream.

Food cupboards sorted by colour and size.
Hair that’s brushed and not in your eyes.
Beds made, house neatly clean.
Magnificently sublime.
Magnetic sister.

Your hate has so much energy.
Physical punches aimed my way.
I would never fight, just flee
Shyly introverting
Quietly crying.
You hurt me.

Reborn I see your vulnerability.
I want to understand your pain.
It’s time to stop repealing
Stop guarding what we know.
We love each other so deeply.
I know want my love to show.

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God Knows.

2017 has been an epic journey, full of laughter and tears.
God has held my hand in the pain and the Joy. When I fall holding Gods hand I feel loved. It’s that love that gives me the strength to get back up again.
Feeling  so loved and blessed surrounded by the most amazing people. Some  that know me in person and those that read my blogs.
My one big thing for 2017 is growing from world to word ( you need to read the blog ) and starting to find my voice.
I want to say thank you for reading my blogs and journeying with me .Sending you my love and blessings for 2018 what every it may bring.

The poem” God Knows “ By Minnie Haskins has found its way into my heart three times in the last 7 days . Once on Christmas day listening to the kings Christmas speech 1939. A few days after the full version was stumbled upon when searching for something completely different. Today it was read out as part of the sermon in Church.
Sharing it with you.

“God Knows”
by Minnie Louise Haskins (1875-1957)
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

So heart be still:
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.
God knows. His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.
Then rest: until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.

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Roast For Twelve Weeks.

From December 1st our morning routine includes the opening a little paper door on our advent calendar. This non chocolate nativity scene is our traditional way to follow the Christmas story. For some this countdown involves the eating of chocolate. This early morning sugar high can often be followed by panic as they are reminded of how little time they have left to prepare for Christmas.
With Christmas preparations for some starting in September we should all have plenty of time to get ready for Christmas.
I am sure even the most disorganised households can’t take 12 weeks to prepare a roast diner, decorate a tree and buy a few gifts.
The commercialism of Christmas takes control. We are constantly being told to shop and indulge in Christmas . We loose the ability to pay attention to what is going on within us and to what is happening around us.

Late on Christmas Eve 1914, men of the British Expeditionary Force heard German troops in the trenches opposite them singing carols and songs they saw lanterns and small fir trees along their trenches. Messages began to be shouted between the trenches.
The following day, British and German soldiers met in no man’s land and exchanged gifts, took photographs and some played impromptu games of football. They buried the dead repaired trenches and dugouts.
They stopped for Christmas .

They stopped fighting I guess we will never know the motivations for such a complex event to happen. Some portray this event as a magical event. Romanticising
the laying down of arms.
I think it was far from magical but in the stopping it showed the humility of war.
The humility that is Christmas .

Christmas is a celebration of God becoming human: -That’s why I stop . To say thank you for Jesus .
The hugeness of Christmas is lost in the shops. It cannot been seen when we over indulge ourselves and others.

Advent for me means slowing down stopping; to make time to feel the silence and the stillness . Christmas for me is a time to rest, grow and pray . Stopping and standing away from the crowd allows me to journey through advent in a way that feels comfortable to me .

Christmas is a gift to us. A gift that needs to be received. Unwrapping such a special gift needs to be done slowly, taking time to discover its beauty and love.

I love writing and making Christmas cards . Its taking the opportunity to pray for and be thankful for friends and family .

To my elderly friends it’s not the card they are pleased with. It’s the time I spend with them when delivering the card.
The best gift I can give to my friends and family this Christmas is time. Given freely and not rushed.
Sharing with them and celebrating the joy of Christmas.

I can give this time because it’s really important to me.
It’s more important for me to take time away from work at Christmas than it is to have a summer holiday .
I don’t want to work flat out to pay for the Christmas that society believes I should have and enjoy.
I want the opportunity to connect with the community, have conversations invite them stop and engage with the Christmas story.

The beauty of creation is in abundance this time of year. Hedgerows are full of seasonal gifts that add colour and joy . Spending time outside walking and collecting greenery is one of my favourite Christmas activities . I give small gifts that if possible are hand made or made by someone else locally. When I do shop It’s making the effort to support local shops and charities so Christmas can continue on giving.

It’s very easy to quickly get caught up in the Christmas that I don’t want .
It takes a conscious effect to stop.

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Philippians 2:7-8The Message (MSG)
5-8 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

Bananas May Contain Children.

When I imagine a drive in movie, I think big American, cars rock n roll, poodle skirts and the movie Greece.

I don’t really think much past that image . Until I saw a shared post on Facebook . Cardboard box cars all lined up containing children watching a film. This allowed me to not only reimagine it but when shared it become a reality . On Saturday our community had its very own drive in movie night.

Its such a simple idea, children make cars out of cardboard banana boxes adding embellishments. With plenty of imagination the boxes were transformed. After making the cars and parking them up a tea was provided . The children soon settled into their cars and enjoyed the film.

It has made me think how we label and stereotype often not being prepared to see past what we already know.
The children sat in boxes clearly labeled bananas. To everyone in that room they sat in cars.
The boxes had been beautifully crafted by the children. Adding paper wheels, some even had cup holders. Cars were unroad worthy some even multi occupancy but they were obviously cars.
Sitting enjoying the film my mind started to wonder. It made me think how Jesus does not label us, and how much we label .
On the outside boxes are clearly labeled bananas . So we should expect to find bananas on the inside.
Why would we find anything else? Its obvious why we have to label boxes.
But why are we so keen to label people ?
No one wants their identity boiled down to one thing, even if the label is a strength, a talent, or a gift. Even positive labelling restricts us . Puts us in a box that’s hard to get out of.
The way we label people is something I have always felt strongly about even in my teenage years it frustrated me . Caring for a little person with additional needs and finding my faith has strengthened my feeling about the way we judge and label people without much thought or consideration to them.
We can make decisions so quickly. Putting people into categories because of their jobs, looks, religion or race. It’s easily to do, we have all done it. It’s only by getting to know people and genuinely wanting to be with them understand them do we remove those unwanted labels.

Labels can really hurt, keep you from being who you really are.
I need to live my life by what I feel inside. Not the labels that others give me, or even the labels I give myself.
The labels I have carried and given myself are no longer significant, they no longer limit me in the way they used to . I am learning to see and live beyond my labels.
Jesus set me free from my labels allowed me to peel them back.
I am so much more than a label. I am a child of God and that’s all I am and who I am.

We could have described our drive in movie afternoon afternoon as “A fresh expression of church lead by an evangelical team ” it could equally be “Community family drive in movie night” .
Its was all those things but it was just simply to me one thing God at work .
Its being involved in lives of the families in our community.  It’s The conversations we have, love we have for them, the love of Christ that we want to share with them. Jesus loves us and that’s the message I want to share. “ you are loved “ . Loved without labels, loved on your good days and bad days . It’s good to loose the long words that not everyone understands and think just about what’s at the heart of what we do.

Psalm 139:14Good News Translation
I praise you because you are to be feared;
all you do is strange and wonderful.
I know it with all my heart.

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Your Bedroom Is A Mess.

Bishop Rachel has written a letter to her 20 year old self as part  of Gloucestershire’s Live’s – Letters to my younger self series – http://bit.ly/2xyMYy8

It’s got me thinking what would I say to the 20 year old me.

Dear Me.
You are 20 with a head full of dreams and daydreams.
You work at the local Dogs and cats home. The suffering you see every day in the eyes of the animals you care for angers and frustrates you. You start to Question the way we live, campaigning and caring for the environment.
Most evenings you take your work home with you. Hand rearing orphaned animals that require round the clock attention.
Working full time not often getting a full nights sleep does not sound much of a fun filled life for 20 year old but I know you love it and thrive on it.
Living at home your meals are cooked for you, your washing is done for you. Your parents are so very tolerant of you clearing up the trail of mess you and your animals leave behind. Please don’t take them for granted a thank you would not go a miss.
Your bedroom is a mess and I know you think otherwise, but honesty it is.
You need to try and be a little more tidy and considerate and understanding to your family and friends .They can’t see what you do; they find it hard to understand why you spend all your time and money looking after animals.
You will spend a lot of your life doing things a little different from others don’t worry about it, embrace it follow your heart.

What’s important you at 20 never really changes. Your love to help those in need and serve your community grows with you and matures as you do.
You are scared of the simplest of things, the word dyslexic is not familiar to you; but it will be . Its not a reason to hold back, don’t use it as an excuse not to do something , it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Embrace this way of thinking as a gift from God.
Shyness gets better you will have to trust me on this and push yourself every day you can’t stay hidden.

Your sister: you may not think you have anything in common with your sister but you do. Try to understand that being different is ok she just does not understand your love for animals just as you don’t understand her love for Jesus.
I want to tell you so much, but it’s in the finding out that makes you grow into the person we have become. I will tell you pain shapes you and changes you in ways you can never imagine.
Learn to listen with your heart , embrace creation hold onto what you have. Having just one is enough and a blessing.

I want you to know that life is an adventure and that after pain comes joy. One day when you least expect you will learn to open your heart to Jesus. Don’t be scared it’s real and will change your life forever.
Embrace these changes but be gentle to those that surround and love you. Remember they have not yet seen what you have, be patient and trust that things will come right.
The experiences that you go through cannot be told to you, they are your future and it’s not for me to tell you , but a few things I think you should know.
You will meet the man of your dreams he is a good man and loves you. Marriage is not easy, stay with it and never go to bed on a argument even if it means staying chatting until 4 am.
I have one regret that would be easily rectified ( many that cannot ) . Uncle Norman: one day he will need you to make a very important decision for him. Be assured you made the right one no regrets their . Just Stay with him for the next hour afterwards he needs you. Sarah can drive your car home you need to spend time with him it’s important.
My final thing to say to you; stay true to the inner you, smile, laugh embrace creation . God loves you and one day you will feel that love too.
Your have an amazing life ahead of you surrounded by friends and family that love you.
Have fun.

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