Cotyledon / first leaf.

In my last blog I wrote about waiting ( I was waiting for the outcome of the Church of England pioneer panel). The wait is finally over and I have been approved as a pioneer within the Church of England.
This amazing news was shared with me by a phone call, followed a few days later by a letter from the Bishop. I was delighted, relieved and excited to have this news confirmed to me.
It’s the word confirmed that has made this news ever so scary. It’s the realisation that others see and maybe even understand how passionate I feel about mission. They not only possibly understand some of my heartfelt ideas, they actually believe in them and in me. Attending the pioneer panel has been such a positive experience in which I have felt understood; my strengths and weaknesses fairly identified.
I feel like a seed that has just grown my first seed leaf (cotyledon).

There’s a recognition of my growth and potential. The classification of my future ministry has been identified but yet the shape is not yet fully obvious.

The presence and type of seed leaf is also important in determining the classification of the plant that will grow. For instance, monocots have only a single seed leaf, which often stays in the ground. Dicots, on the other hand, have a pair of seed leaves that usually appear at the top of the growing stem and are then replaced during growth.

Most seed leaves are almost identical regardless of the type of plant. These narrow leaves are delicate and fragile. Its an embryonic leaf supporting and providing nutrition for the growing plant. Theirs so much strength in the leafs weakness.
These first leaves are supported on a stem so fragile if handled incorrectly the plant may perish. The total utter weakness of any newly germinated plant is its greatest strength.

My weakness has not been a barrier or an obstacle, it’s not blocked out or stopped me following my calling to God; instead, it’s the heart of my calling, the very thing that has allowed God to work most effectively through me.
There are times when I focus on my weaknesses and inadequacies, my failures and sins. They try to overpower my thoughts, taking me to places I’d rather not be.
The beautiful reality is these weaknesses are often my strengths. They are gifts from God, a constant reminder confirming to myself that I need to give myself completely and wholly to God, looking for God’s greater strength to do in me what I cannot do myself.
It’s overcoming my weaknesses and trusting God that has pushed me and drives me. It’s God’s strength and love that has grown me.
Strengthened by his love and power at work within me. Taking each passing moment as an opportunity for surrender to God’s Love. To give thanks for my strengths and weaknesses. To show others the joy I feel spending time with Jesus. The relationship I embrace is not just an emotion I feel; it’s an action, a calling, of who I am meant to be.

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Galatians 2:20 New International Version (NIV)
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Wrestling with compost.

It’s strange how certain activities trigger memories that unlock a world I have yet to understand. Physical actions gently push my mind, nudging my world closer to the words that I struggle to comprehend. Words that need to find a place in my heart. Require a practical understanding so I can relate to them in my own way. So I can learn to pronounce, remember and recognise them. To understand what they mean to me and others. I need that word to become visual almost tactile to revival something of it’s self to me. It’s a slow often frustrating way of learning. Taking time with just one word, allowing it to guide me in practical way.
The word Koinonia came into my life this week. I must have heard it before but for some reason I locked onto the word and tried to unpick what it means to me.
I discovered my answers while wrestling with a large heavy bag of compost. It sounds the most unlikely of places but together my faith joined my gardening world and made their magical connections to Koinonia.
I was taught at horticultural college to shake, turn and mix a bag of compost before opening it. It’s hard heavy work that I often question. I wonder how many other people get hot and bothered turning over these brute sized bags? Theirs no written notice on the bag “ exhaust yourself by shaking and mixing bag before use”.
Yet I know by putting in this effort my seeds/plants get the best compost to grow in. In the wrestling I mix all the nutrients and soil types within the bag. Ensuring my little seeds have everything they could possibly need to grow.
I never lose the wonder in planting seeds. It’s the endless possibilities, a unison between the creator and creation. My role is to mix compost, seeds, water and love together.
It’s that mixing that connected me to koinonia. It’s a community of love in which we grow. Its a seamless interchange of mutual love which unites the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The more we live in communities of love, the more we can grow into the image and likeness of God who created us.
It’s that powerful incredible linked togetherness with others and God, at the same time being profundity at one with nature.
We are together as a family, as community. Expressing our need to be feed nourished fed and healed by God who is a community of love.
When wrestling with my compost bags, I mix love. Providing that micro community within my glass house. A community that loves, feeds and nurtures my seeds.
We are not as good as we could be at mixing ourselves. I never realised just how much we must move and mix within and outside of our community in order to grow.
Sitting in the same seat in church each week, doing the same things can slow down our growth, and the growth of those around us.
Sitting in the same seat has a lot todo with habit. When we do the same nothing changes, we expect the same.
Moving and mixing is difficult, it challenges us to sit among different people. To get to know someone new, to see a different perspective, to notice things we have never seen before.
When I walk into church this Sunday, I will sit somewhere different. Challenge myself and those who sit with me to change seats each week. Making us more open to change and growth. Mixing with those we do not know.
Maybe in that mixing we will build a stronger community. A Community that together can reach out to heal our wounded planet. A Community of love that grows flowers and fruits in likeness of God who created us.

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Hebrews 10:24-25 The Message (MSG)
22-25 So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

Beyond my Boundaries.

Gardening is a massive part of my spiritual life. Its a commitment to a simple way of living, searching for a more sustainable lifestyle. This has drawn me closer to the idea of getting an allotment.
It’s being sustained both physically and spiritually, by what we grow and how we grow it.
It does seem a rather bonkers idea to take on an overgrown allotment right now. But it seems so right. Almost significant and defiantly something to celebrate.
My garden teaches me to look for God in all my daily activities and encounters. It reminds me of how we change from season to season.
The garden takes away the complexity of life that fills my mind. It’s a place that I don’t fail, It’s a place that forgives, it’s a place that grows. It’s a place that shows me the love, beauty and diversity of God our creator.
It opens my eyes to the smallest weed and allows me to see its beauty. It tells me God will never abandon me. However small and weedy I might feel my garden gives love and shows love.
So where is this allotment going to fit in? How will it differ from my garden?

My allotment has no fences, no visible boundaries.

It’s taking what I know outside of myself ( outside of my garden ). It’s time to start sowing seeds beyond the safety of the fences, beyond my boundaries.

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Ivy-  Hedera helix – Hedera  a classical Latin name for ‘ivy . Helix is derived from Greek helico- (spiral) meaning ‘screw-shaped coil, winding around or twisted’

It’s new.
It’s fresh new soil, new beginning. Gods grace forgives, allows me to start over and over again. I feel this little patch of mud is a new beginning. I’m not sure where it’s going, it’s new and exciting, the first physical seeds are still yet to be sown.

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Growing with that community.
It’s almost as if this allotment is a stepping stone. An opportunity to prove to myself that I can join a new community. I can sow and grow outside the comforts of my own garden. I can grow with confidence knowing God is with me.
I cannot hide on my allotment, my efforts, my disasters, are their to be shared in the community of gardeners.

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Using my gifts
I always feel so confident when I garden. It gives me a glimpse of the person that I could be.
This little patch of earth will teach me to take the strengths and gifts that God has given me out into the community.

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Love
You need love to grow. Telling someone they are loved is something I never do often enough.
Growing flowers and giving them away is something I can do. One small part of this little allotment will be for cut flowers. Flowers Grown to be given away, grown so people feel loved.

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Sweet pea – Lathyrus odoratus ” The Bride 

Maturity.
My garden is in a few places is reaching maturity. It requires light maintenance a couple of times a year.
It looks good and feels amazing to see my vision growing, being almost self-sustaining in places. So I do have time for this exciting new venture.
Allotments are a place of conversation, community, companionship, sharing the harvest, sharing my love for creation.
It’s a perfect place to share my love for Jesus. It’s the first step to sharing what burns inside my heart in a place that I feel comfortable, passionate, and connected.
A place by its own nature is rooted in love.

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2 Timothy 1:7 Good News Translation (GNT)
7 For the Spirit that God has given us does not make us timid; instead, his Spirit fills us with power, love, and self-control.

Emotions held in ink.

Sharing something of myself during a therapeutic / creative writing session. I realised why and how pastoral care is so important.
It offers something beyond the human. It reaches our inner selves, takes us to the place where love is.
When we connect with love we find it’s source. We realise that we are not alone, Jesus is with us.
Writing has become my way to express myself. To unpick my thoughts and feelings. To journey with my blurred jumbled words alongside Gods word.
I imagined the course would help with this writing (which it did).
I was not prepared for the sad emptiness that I felt on the journey home.
My thoughts and feelings remained on the paper stuffed into my hand bag. My emotions remained held in the ink.
Having just taken myself to some painful places, I needed to end the session with a prayer. Lift the written words from the paper and give them to God.
I made me realise how much pastoral support gives and has given me.
The love that has been poured over me. I have cried, laughed and journeyed to places I never imagined possible.
For me Pastoral care is doing. Its emotional and spiritual support. It’s walking with those in crises and trouble. Supporting those in grief, journeying with them. Sharing their joys, however small that joy might be. It’s seeing the gifts in people, they are possibly unaware they even have. Encouraging sharing in their delight, as they discover these gifts for themselves .
It’s the simple things: liking a Facebook post, a smile, noticing people, making conversation, a birthday greeting, a prayer. a email late at night, that tells someone they are loved.
It’s practical stuff too: it’s doing, it’s being, it’s listening . It’s this practical stuff that shows Christ living through us. It’s the action that comes from loving one another, because we ourselves are first loved by God.
Knowing we are loved is powerful and beautiful it heals. To tell someone they are loved is from God.
We take God to the people in the hands that we hold, the stories that we listen to, tears that we shed with one another, and the prayers we share.
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John 13:34-35 The Message (MSG)
34-35 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

One big long emotional prayer.

A wooden cabin located in the Somerset country side was our home for the weekend.
This beautiful location with its own private garden was a safe place to off load the burdens that we carry. Two friends on a weekend date with God.
We gave ourselves permission to be real, not just with each other but also to God. We talked about pain and fears. Being open without the slightest fear of judgement, knowing that we are loved.
The weekend was best described as one big long emotional prayer.
It was weekend of giving to God in a way that I have never really experienced before. I started to understand that the gifts I have do not belong to me or the church, but to God.
Gifts that have been freely given to me with the purpose of using them to help others, to praise God in my actions.
I experienced how astoundingly powerful just being with someone can be. How sharing and preparing food together is an act of gratitude, knowing that we are fed by God.
It was strangely exhausting, An emotional exhaustion that is almost neutralised with prayer and love.
As I listened, prayed and journeyed with my friend I grew too.
I showed myself that I can lead prayer. I can pray with someone that’s hurting and make a difference.
Showing my love the only way I knew how. Grounded in the ambulance of natural beauty that surrounded us. I shared the love that residues in my heart. We both felt that peace and love that comes from God.
The prayers we shared were personal and a beautiful reflection of our friendship. The loose itinerary planned pushed us both in many different ways but at no point did we feel uncomfortable.
Journeying with my friend giving her space to be with God, to share Gods love for us was a privilege.
To listen to her story, to be trusted with her thoughts and to share her prayers was friendship at its best.
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1 Peter 5:6-7 The Message (MSG)
6-7 So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.

Seeing The Bigger Picture.

The church I attend has been running a stewardship campaign. Asking us to look at our giving to review the money we give to the church.
It’s left me feeling that I have very little to give and what I do give is not enough to make a difference.
Church for the last few weeks has been personally for me focusing on what I don’t have. It’s been a focus on my lack of income and my failure to give. It’s left me feeling guilty about the money I spend on ourselves. Wondering what else can I cut out of my life to give more to God.
I have associated stewardship with the sermons I have heard and the letters I have received about church budgets and lack of funds.
I have since come to understand that the fundamental principle of biblical stewardship is God owns everything, we are simply managers or administrators acting on his behalf.
Stewardships heart is deep in creation. Creation that God has entrusted to us with the understanding of God’s ownership of all.
I needed to see and hear the bigger picture look beyond the budgets to the way God connects everything we do with what God is doing in the world.

Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service, you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already.
– C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
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Love the medium in which we grow – God is love.

The world in which we live in is a oversized self sufficient garden full of rockeries, ( mountains ) water features, ( seas and lakes ) ,beautiful lawns and vegetable patches that stretch for miles.

Personally my garden is a living part of me that I need to share. Its harvest of fruits, flowers and vegetables, the joy it gives me must be shared with others.
My garden is just as much a part of creation as the whole earth. It’s just a little bit of a whole in the oversized garden that is creation.

I want others to be able to take joy from creation. To be able to smile at a leaf, get excited by a flower not only see creation but feel and connect with creation and in turn God. The gift of creation from God to us is stunning. From sunsets to a tiny ant; it’s Perfect and beautiful.

When you have something wonderful it must be shared, sharing with others brings joy to us and to God. Opening eyes and hearts to the Christian world.

Gardens don’t grow on their own, they need freewill and careful guidance. Gardens left to totally alone often become overgrown a tangled mess. The joy from the overgrown garden can quickly disappear, restoring that garden to its beauty can seem an impossible task and often something you cannot do alone.

We are all gardeners of creation.

We all have a gift to give to the garden , we are all equal when we garden from our hearts lead by the Holy Spirit.
Some of us are born green fingered others need help to see what’s in font of us.
We are are capable gardeners tending and loving creation, with the gifts given to us from the Holy Spirit. Working the soil to its full potential seeing that creation exists not for humankind but for the glory of God and a joy to both.

God created the garden for joy. Through human sin and disobedience the garden was spoilt. We keep messing it up, we are human and get things wrong when we follow our freewill and fail to listen to God.
God created the garden: he is the only one that knows its true purpose ,It’s history, it’s inner beauty and the joy that it should give to its people and the joy it’s people should give back to the God the creator.

God sent his son to be our head gardener. Only though Jesus can we grow our gardens to maturity . Through prayer we learn, we are guided by the head gardener through the creator. We Listen, learn and grow in a Christ like way.
Even than we still get it wrong we are human and not the head gardener or the creator. God sacrificed his only son for the sins of the world. So we can live free and continue to garden creation.
The head gardener Jesus cannot garden alone. A fruitful garden takes love and labour to shape ,grow and form. Letting humanity to feel it’s joys and harvest its flowers and fruits that grow it to maturity.
We need to allow others to make paths , plant their own plants in their own style and way. But always under the guidance of the head gardener and creator.
Constant chatter( prayer) between the gardeners and the head gardener are essential for fruitfulness.
Those that know the joy of gardening open their hearts and there gardens for people to wander in encouraging them to stop and rest ; for them to nurture and form a closer relationship with Jesus. Gardeners form communities to share what they have with each other and than with the wider communities.

I see the church as the garden shed. The place where all the tools and the gardening books are kept and given out.
The priests are the gardeners too, as are we all. They garden from a calling to help others see the joy of the garden. They work not only for their own gardens but sow fruit and scatter seeds in the gardens of others.
Gardening along side and with them. weeding, planting fresh seed, loving , nurturing creation . The priests are gardeners that not only pull up weeds and sow seeds but also a have understanding of why and how to garden. They get it wrong too but their gift to the garden is to grow Gods word.
From the garden sheds they mow out paths, if possible build more sheds and gardens under the guidance of the head gardener.
They reach out to communities that are broken and have no gardening skills, they mend broken branches. Bash down weeds and brambles often getting scratched and stung on the way.
Deep inside they want others to smile as they walk past a flower and feel that deep joy of living alongside the head gardener.

The weed that the priest gardener pulls up is the same weed that any person pull ups. It has the same effect , if it’s done for the same purpose.
Equally the rose the planted by the priest gardener has just as much chance of flowering as the rose any of us can plant, as long as it’s planted with love nurtured and cared for.
We are all equal when it comes to tending the garden.

Humanity has become the problem we surround ourselves with gardens that have become overgrown with weeds. The sheds for some are distance memories at the bottom of their gardens overgrown with brambles.
The gardeners in the sheds work at clearing the brambles , they work quietly and patiently cutting one branch at a time, clearing paths. Making the sheds and the communities inside them available to as many as possible.
It’s not the sheds that we build or the people that garden inside them that give joy , it’s the flowers and fruits they plant and sow that bring us and God joy .

We cannot do this without love.

God blesses the whole garden each part makes a whole, each part has different job within the garden.
Every time someone new wonders into the garden it’s up the the gardeners to great them. It’s up to visitor which path they take and even if they don’t stop or even lift their eyes up from the floor it does not matter.
Next time they visit the garden they might just sit on the bench or even open the door to the community inside the shed.
It’s the encounter with the love of Christ through the gardeners in their sheds, it’s that love that we find forgiveness and a new purpose.
The church’s calling is to bless the world in Christ, remind and tell people why we garden . For the love and joy of creation and the creator God.
Gardeners from their sheds provide conditions for growth, placing people and sheds in the right places – God does the rest. We pray and trust in God to guide us .

My personal reflection on Gods widening Circle by Graham Tomlin.
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Hebrews 10:9Good News Translation (GNT)
9 Then he said, “Here I am, O God, to do your will.” So God does away with all the old sacrifices and puts the sacrifice of Christ in their place.

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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You Can Do This.

My blogging has been quiet for a while, I have not stopped writing just not blogging . Expressing myself in other ways has given me less time to blog . Writing a prayer diary each evening has become a part of my daily routine. It’s a colourful private place full of drawings thoughts feelings and prayers.
I have also been studying with the spurgeons college . The study skills course is a non qualification course learning to write essays and improve my writing skills all focused around the New Testament . It’s great place to learn and equip myself for future learning .
Why the studying ?
God is calling me ; sending me in different direction and it’s confusing . I can’t yet blog about it as I can’t make sense of it in my own head let alone put pen to paper.
I think I know what’s going on and where I might be going , but it does all seem a little impossible and at the same time exciting and a tiny bit possible.
Today with the text books left at home I learnt so much; I am buzzing inside. Excited and yet again amazed by how God just does amazing things.
Today we ( me and my hubby ) visited a local church . A beautiful church build in the 1930’s only about 11 miles from my home. The church was as beautiful on outside as it was inside. It’s located in a area of social housing and completely different area to the church I regularly attend.
When We walked in instantly I loved it and felt as if God was saying to me these are the people I want you to work with, pray with and be alongside them as the journey through life.
Today the people in this beautiful diverse little church gave me the confidence to follow what God is asking of me.
The congregation were so excited to see us and welcome us to their church. Keen to make us welcome in a beautiful genuine way.
Their faith seemed earthy and very connected to each other and the space around them.
The Pianist was truly amazing, at the start of the service she took it upon herself to preach from the pulpit and reminded us to use the gifts given to us by God. Their was no hiding her gift and she certainly practised what she preached. Gods loved flowed from her fingers to the piano in the music she played. With a mysterious grin she added a honky tonk feel to the hymns . Deliberately slowing the music down and than speeding us up.  Everyone just sang and smiled.
This small diverse congregation each gave something to the service , a warm welcome, making the coffee, entertaining the children , giving out notice sheets and reading the prayers .
The visiting clergy taking the service just went with the flow as we all worshiped and prayed together in a jumbled way.
And I for the first time I said to myself “ You can do this” I am being called to these people.
I felt blessed and privileged to be with them today, hearing their stories and sharing coffee and a biscuit with them.

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A gift they are to afraid to unwrap.

Christmas  what does it mean to me?
Love is the first thing that comes to mind , God loves us so much he sent his son to save the word through him.
The rush to buy gifts food and make arrangements for the big day are on a massive commercial money making scale.
It’s ugly and sad, It’s not what Christmas is about and never will be.
The greatest gift we can give to one another is love .
Love is not like other gifts we give, it’s special  priceless and beautiful.
Often when you give love you get no response from from person receiving it, not a hug and thank you or even a smile .
I have given my love openly and freely to the fostered children that have been a part of our family , and it’s a gift that just keeps giving it’s so very very precious from the moment I  hold the children in my arms  to the time I  let them go it’s love that counts .
I pray that I planted enough love in their hearts that when or if they want to find gods love they will recognise it  as love and be able to start their own journey of faith.
Giving a gift that does not want to be given is not easy .
A gift  that gets pushed back and rejected  , a gift they are to afraid to unwrap as they are scared of what they might feel when they open it.
It’s a gift they have been given many times before only to have it taken away again and again .
Refusing the gift is the way they cope. But that’s not a reason not to give it.

Loving  damaged children hurts but all children need love , when I gave my love to these wonderful special children  my  faith grew and I was never alone as I had gods love every step of my journey and their is no greater love than the love of god.

So this Christmas please  pray for those adults and children that are not loved and are to scared to love, and fear love so much  they reject it and hurt and push those away that reach out to help them.

Loving god
Every child needs to be loved
Every child needs and a  future .
Help those that find love so scary they push it away
Allow them to let your love into their hearts .
Thousands of children around the world go to bed cold  hungry and scared every night.
When they awake in the morning nothing has changed for them, please show them love and kindness offer them hope and a future full of love and hope.
Amen

Corinthians 13:13

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

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