Unity is misplaced, harmony is alone.

Reaching out, touching what I cannot see .
Feeling the safety of the warmth that surrounds me.
Dazzled by a love that calls me.
Saddened by loves pain.
It’s within us all.
To change .

If all the world stood still at the same time.
We could hear creation groaning .
If we all stopped long enough to sit with open eyes we could see creations pain .
Sitting with closed eyes we become oblivious to our messy groaning world.
If we listen to the beating heart of love .
We change.

Anticipation of change brings adventure.
Good choices ease loves pain .
Empowering us to listen
Enabling us to change.
Prayers for courage wisdom.
To protect preserve and enjoy.
Harmony restored to creation.
Unity a spirit filled Joy.

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Apples.

The first seeds I remember planting were the pips from an apple.
They grew.

They reached maturity and produced their own harvest. I have to admit the apples produced by our trees had little resemblance to the parent plant.
They where sour tasting apples hardly fit for eating. I remember the screwed up face I made the first time we ate our harvest. Trying to convince myself they where good.
I grew up watching these trees change with the seasons. They out grew the pots on the kitchen window seal. Became rooted into the ecosystem of my Great Aunties garden . They saw me though school, marriage and the birth of our daughter . When auntie died the apple trees in her garden remained firmly planted in my memory.
When I opened my hand as small child I received two apple pips. My plan was to grow apple trees to produce apples we could eat. Apples that would taste as good if not better than the parent plant.
We could have never seen the world of wonder that these seeds would grow.
This blog is not about growing apple trees, it’s not even about bad tasting apples but about the plans God has for all of us.
I think about Gods plans for us and how they are often so very different to our plans.
I wish I could say that God’s plan will always makes sense, but it doesn’t. I wish I could say that God’s plan will always make us feel good, but it doesn’t do that either.
I wish I could say that God’s plan will always make our lives easier and more comfortable, but I am fairly certain that’s not the case.
God’s blessing doesn’t always come as Red sweet tasting apples.
It might even come in a harvest of Red bitter tasting apples. Grown with love and memories that will live on in my heart. Memories that have helped me to see who I am, and where God might be calling me.
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Psalm 104 The Message (MSG)

24-30
What a wildly wonderful world, God!
You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,
made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.

Journeying beyond my boundaries.

Day 39 – Lent Challenge – Freedom.

My penultimate blog for lent. 39 blogs on people that have changed and influenced my life. It’s a thank you an acknowledgement to some amazing people that I have been privileged to know, and in some cases love.
Writing the blogs has been a little bit of an epic journey. Some blogs I have had to work desperately hard to find the words that tell my story. It’s been very emotional at times, I find healing in the writing.

This blog is a thank you to a very individual down to earth man. I have so much respect for him, he showed great friendship and kindness. He also took me beyond my comfort zone, allowing me to experience the joys of being happy in my own skin.

Understanding my own journey to happiness is individual to me, not to compare myself to others. Learning that expressing my thoughts even if those around me do not think the same as me is ok.
He helped me take my first steps to seeing the freedom of thinking different. He helped me find the confidence that was buried very deep within myself, bringing it slightly nearer the surface. I found joy in being myself, making me feel more motivated and more determined to challenge myself, to be adventurous.
He taught me the values of being me and never forgetting how important that is.
He believed in me, he trusted me to push myself but also gave me space for when things become to uncomfortable.
I smile when I think about our times together. The journeys to visit him and his wife. The evenings spent on the edge of the Mendips sat in their garden watching shooting stars.
His funeral that filled the tiny parish church. He was a special one of kind type of person.
Although I am shy and lack confidence.I am happy in my own skin and have been for many years. The confidence that he taught me was a inner confidence. It stayed inside without the voice until I found my faith.

I am revisiting the area that he lived more frequently at the moment.
A journey that followers the same roads but with a completely different destination.
I journey that will need me or push myself in ways that I have yet to think possible.
A journey that scares me far more than excites me. Discovering and responding to Gods call, journeying beyond my boundaries.

It’s stepping out to follow where Gods voice is calling me. Finding my faith has given purpose and reason to challenge myself. Allowing confidence that has been locked away inside to grow. God has given me a voice and with that voice comes adventure, love, hope to a destination yet unknown.

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Jeremiah 29:13 Good News Translation (GNT)
13 You will seek me, and you will find me because you will seek me with all your heart.

A Prayer for my sister.

Day 34 – Lent challenge – Accept.

I sat on my mums lap, her arms wrapped around me. She moved slowly and rhythmically as she held me in her arms. It comes so naturally to her. We sat together with other families listening to the story of Jacob and Esau.
A story where sibling rivalry try’s to distort and destroy all it touches. The story of two bothers fighting over the love of their father, fighting over what they both consider to be rightfully theirs. It’s God that sees these two brother reunited .
My beautiful mother knows so well the pain caused when siblings fight each other. You see my sister and I are not exactly the best of friends.

This lack of friendship does not stop me loving my sister. Just as last night I was not to big ( just over sized ) to sit on my mums lap. Being held in her love surrounded by Gods love.
Listening to a story that in so many ways echoes my own relationship with my sister.
Our story is a painful story. The saddest thing about our story is we both hurt the person we love; our mum. I can no longer accept this. I would never want my actions to hurt others. So why do I constantly hurt my mum.
The biggest reason is fear. It’s a selfish fear for which I am sorry. It’s a fear that my sister will hurt me as she has done in the past. I fear her scheming, deception and the way she can manipulate me. Taking advantage of my weaknesses, leading me to a place of trust only to hurt me as she has done before.
This is no longer an acceptable way to behave. I no longer have to face these fears alone, I am ready to move forward. Taking that leap of faith, knowing that wherever I land God will be with me. In my weakness, he is strong. I pray that we can be reconciled together in some way. What ever way this happens I know God will be a part of that reunion. A reunion that will give peace and joy to my mum.

Last night as we were listened to the story of Jacob and Esau the listening turned into acting. The last part of this story is reconciliation and of course a hug. It’s amazing how much more powerful words are when accompanied by actions. We all played roles, I was one of many donkeys. Jacob and Esau were played by twin boys. Seeing these boys walk towards each other and give each other a awkward hug was profound and moving . After a hug we had prayers. We prayed for people that we wanted to build relationships with. We prayed for broken relationships and healing.
Praying with children and their families is always a privilege and a joy. Being with them as they explore and grow in faith is awesome . I get so excited by their prayers. The language the children use to talk to God is always so pure and humbling. It excites me how obvious children make faith, how uncompleted it is to them. As adults we over complicate something so simple and beautiful as prayer.

A Prayer for my sister.

Loving God
This is pray for my sister.
I pray from my heart through you to her heart.
I ask that we see each other and love each other as sisters should.
That in this loving we heal past hurts and soothe past deeds.
I ask for forgiveness for the pain we both cause to each other and those that love us.
I pray that our families can be joined in love, your love.
Lord I ask that somehow you open doors and opportunities for our relationships to heal and grow.
That we will have the wisdom to see and use these opportunities for love. That from that love friendships may form and grow.
I pray for the sense and understanding to be realistic and accept the path this journey will take.
Please give me the strength to listen to you. I ask that my words will be kind, my thoughts loving and my actions sincere.
I ask that we will find peace hope and forgiveness as we journey with you.
Amen.

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2 Corinthians 12:9 Good News Translation (GNT)
9 But his answer was: “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me.

Unplanned Retreat.

Day 31- Lent challenge – Retreat.

This blog is to author Paul Young.
2017 Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday I went on a personal unplanned retreat into a virtual world. An absorbing journey that seeks to provide answers to the question ” Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?”
A journey that confirmed what I already knew. A journey that gave story to my pain. A journey into the pages of a novel. Deep into the pages of a book.
“The Shack” by Paul Young.
I know this book has it critics. It’s said not to be theological sound, incorrect in its teachings even a danger to the christian faith.
To me “The Shack” is a powerful novel telling a story of grief and pain. God’s love giving comfort to those who have been overwhelmed by tragedy. It does not try to be anything else. It tells a story; a story that tells us nothing new. A story that tells us God is good. A story that added depth and understanding to the questions that played on my mind.
The story brings the issues of forgiveness and places them in a modern world. It gives a voice to frustration and anger caused by pain, heart felt pain. Theirs real understanding that when bad things happen it hurts.The shack shows us, walks with us through our emotions to a place of forgiveness.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean we forget or accept someone’s actions. It’s forgiveness that releases angry burdens that we carry. In that letting go of angry we heal slowly, we heal in love.
God is always their in our deepest hurts, regrets, and longings.
One of my deepest hurts was a short car journey to say goodbye to a special little person.
I could feel God was with us on that short journey. It was obvious and powerful.
The shack made me think more about the three people in the car that day. Seeing us as three individuals traveling together, each of us having a deep personal individual relationship with Jesus .
We were on the same journey in the same car, all with our own different emotional needs.
These needs were acknowledged and meet by God. Intimate conversations lovingly whispered. Our own taylor made personal emotional survival kit. Through the pain God did not leave us.
Taylor made support surrounded by love.
I knew all this all before reading “The Shack “. But it was not until reading the book did I realise how comforting that was to me. How important it was to me that the little person that I loved so much was not alone. Jesus her special friend was with her. Never leaving her, being where I could not.
As this little person told me herself so many times. “Jesus is my friend he’s always with me. He’s with me in the playground, he’s with me at bed time, he never leaves me”.

It’s strange how obvious some things are. How we deeply know them to the point that knowing becomes a feeling. We read listen, are told over and over again; We understand .Yet it took a trip to “ The Shack “ for me to realise the depth, vastness, greatness, wholeness and the comfort of what it means to know you are never alone.

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Isaiah 49:16 Good News Translation (GNT)
Jerusalem, I can never forget you!
I have written your name on the palms of my hands.

Love is joyful sacrifice.

Day 26 – Lent Challenge – Sacrifice.
To love requires us to give something of ourselves. Love is a gift that is given from God to us. A gift that keeps on giving.
When we love we give time and tangible help. We cannot love if we don’t give. We love because we are loved. When we give, we always receive something back in return even if we don’t see that return ourselves.
Love requires sacrifice, love is not a word it’s a action from within. When we give, we should focus on the joy of giving, not the sacrifice involved. When we love, we automatically sacrifice, it’s not a conscious decision it’s a product of love. Our sacrifice may be obvious to others but not to ourselves. If it were obvious than it would not be a sacrifice but a job a chore not done in love.
Today’s blog is for a lady with the warmest biggest heart. She has given everything to her children , grandchildren and great grandchildren. God is at the heart of all she does. Her love extends past her family and into our community.
This lady has helped me see the importance of making space for myself. Finding a place to recharge my batteries. To be with God,
Making time, not robbing time from sleep eating or family. Time not spent thinking about my every growing todo list. Time spent looking inwards growing my relationship with God. Giving time for prayer, worship and deepening myself. Remembering who I am remembering and why I love.
Stopping long enough to feel that deep love that comes from God. Stopping is never sacrifice it’s a joy.
Writing every day over lent has made me realise that I don’t make enough time to just be me. I need to feel the soil in my hands I need to be outside.
That’s when God talks to me at his loudest. I need to reconnect with myself and in doing so with God. I need to pause long enough to recharge my heart. To garden my soul. Look inwards and not create words that challenge me, but look inwards and feel the Joy of knowing God.
God came to me as a feeling, a presence, a voice that said you can do this, I am with you. God came to me without words. The words took along time to form, the words that slowly came from my heart. It’s going back to the God the resides in my heart as a feeling not words. It’s taking myself away from trying and thinking, going outside and just being me and God.

Not sure if I had just hit the bloggers wall. Having some sort of mini lent melt down or just worn out and over emotional after a tough week. With 14 more blogs to write it’s getting harder but than I guess this was not meant to be easy.

John 13:35 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.”

Our stories of struggle.

Day 25 – Lent Challenge – live.

My Mother’s day stall has reminded how much I still need to cry out to God. Reminded me of how far I have come.
Mothering Sunday ended in tears. Emotions were high after the Sunday evening church service. The mother’s day run away service was a place to lay bare my pain, placing it in front of God. It was painful and exhausting; a place to just be, to cry out surrounded by friends, to fall apart in the warmth of the church, a place to be held, a safe place to ask why?
No need to pretend, no false smiles. A whole precious peaceful hour to just be. A hour carved out of a busy day to acknowledge it hurts. To lament and invite the God who loves us into our stories of struggle.

Today’s blog is to my great auntie. A lady that faced grief alone, she settled for simply surviving the pain and challenges that come her way. Her life stopped she turned away from her faith, she bottled it up. She refused to even enter the church. Angry she set herself a path in life that God was no longer a part of. Going it alone she had no one to share her pain with. No one shout out to. When we we turn away from God and those that support us our lives change as does the way we live.

This blog is also a thank you for those that understand our grief, come to us in our pain. For those that acknowledge life is hard. For those that plan and organise services that give us the space to safely fall apart.

On remembrance Sunday last year in the church where auntie was baptised, I shared Auntie and Jacks story. I am going to share it with you too.

Jack
Each year I trace the bronze words spelling out your name on the war memorial. It’s tracing the letters that connects me with you and your story. You were aunties first husband and her one true love.
You worked as a farm labourer and married my Auntie in the December of 1939.
I don’t how long you had together before you were enlisted but I guess not long.
Auntie was a war time bride, widowed within 5 years.

Gunner 1086881 172 field reg royal artillery was killed in action on the 20th January 1943 age 32.
Your story is also aunties story – you see Auntie was never the same after losing you.
She remarried in 1946. She never removed your wedding ring, placing the 2nd wedding ring on top of yours.
As a child I would sit on her lap and be fascinated by the two rings how they sat together. The rings had become almost one but with my small fingers I could separate them into two.
Even as a child I understood the questions I wanted to ask were to two painful for her to answer .
She never talked about the pain and the loss, it was all locked away unspoken like so many.
I grew up knowing the story of you going of to war and never coming back.
I would look at your photo framed in the front room. The room that was never used. The strange blue sofa that was never sat on. In the room that you never came back to.
Auntie just she carried on, remarried and had a different life. She longed for the children which never came and a husband that never came back from the war.
Auntie carried the scars of war with her for the rest of her life.

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Matthew 11:28-30 The Message (MSG)
28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Ordinary things impact people in extraordinary ways.

Day 21 – Lent challenge – Deliver
This blog today is a thank you to my Sunday school teacher.
I remember one Christmas afternoon a car driving down our road, that was strange in its self. Our quiet road of only five houses had very little traffic. A car we did not recognise was certainly out of place on Christmas day.
Moments latter a card came though our letter box. The card was a birthday card addressed to my sister from our Sunday school leaders.
It was not the card that stood out to me but the fact my sister was remembered by them on Christmas day. They took time out of their busy Christmas to deliver a her a card. It meant the world to my sister who’s birthday was always overshadowed by Christmas.
She was thought about loved and valued on her birthday. In that simple act of hand delivering a birthday card they showed such love for the family’s that attended Sunday school.
Sometimes it’s the simplest acts of kindness that have the most lasting effects. Sometimes ordinary things impact people in extraordinary ways.
There are opportunities all around us to show God’s love. I need to be reminded that we don’t have to always think big or complex, acts don’t have to be extraordinary.
They can be the normal,everyday things we do. No matter how simple or complex, no matter how ordinary or unique we always have the opportunity to show the love of Christ through our actions.
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Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. We can show God’s love for us through our actions. We can serve by accepting that Jesus served us first

Love.

Day 20 – Lent challenge – Love.

This blog is to my parents – They are all 40 of my blog tiles and so much more. 40 words of love and thanks to my wonderful parents.

1. Learn – Dad thank you for all the hours we spent at the allotment together.
2. Remember – Dad remember when my baby hedgehogs escaped into your bed in the early hours of the morning. Thank you for seeing the funny side. (mum did not)
3.Breathe – Mum and Dad you breathed your life into me .
4.Hospitality – Mum you are the queen of hospitality. I still have so much to learn from you.
5.Receive – Mum and Dad you welcomed and received my husband into the family. Thank you.
6.Listen – Mum thank you to reading to me.
7.Search – Mum and Dad sorry for stoping out so late that you had to go out looking for me. The sunset that night was beautiful and worth getting into trouble for.
8.Faith – Mum and Dad thank you for not forcing my faith. You allowed me to discover it myself.
9.Follow – Dad thank you for the lovely cycle rides around the country side. I would follow you for miles, listening to stories of your childhood.
10.Joy – The joy I felt when I came home from school to find you had been to the dogs home and brought home lucky a little collie cross.
11.Despair – Mum you always say you despair of me. I love that you understand my scatterbrain.
12. Hunger -I was always asking for some new pet. Some ridiculously impractical others not so. I remember my hunger strike for a pet mouse. Not sure how long I lasted but I never got the mouse. Thank you for saying No to me and the mouse ( The mouth turned out to be pregnant )
13. Refresh – Mum and Dad thank you for being such wonderful grandparents to H. For the holidays and the baby sitting. We valued that time to be together as a couple as much as H enjoyed her time with you.
14. Journey – The holidays we had where always eventful. Our unreliable cars only just getting us home was all part of the fun.
15.Family – Mum thank you for being the granny to our foster children. You have treated and loved them as you have loved us.
16. Still– I love the stillness of water. Our trips to abbots pool were always a favourite. The joy of collecting tadpoles and watching them grow.
17. Celebrate – Mum and Dad I celebrate your marriage and your love for each other.
18.Ask – Mum and Dad thank you for saying no to me.
19. Forgive – Dad thank you making lots of rabbit hutches for all the baby bunnies. For forgiving me when I went to work and the boy bunnies got into the girl bunnies as I never shut the door properly,
20.Love – Thank you for your unconditional love that I never once questioned.
21.Deliver– Mum you have delivered the church magazine for over 40 years. I always loved this monthly ritual. We would stop for coffee and biscuits and share conversation.
22.Longing – Mum I know you long for some sort of reconciliation between me and my sister. I pray for this too.
23.Challenge – Thank you for always believing and encouraging me in all that I did.
24.Refine– Mum I am so much like you. In looks and ways just slightly different.
25.Live – I am the 4th generation to live in our village. Mum and Dad thank you for give me such a good foundation in life.
26. Sacrifice– Thank you for being wonderful parents. You gave everything for us to have a happy childhood.
27.Fear – The only time I can remember fear is when we lost my sister for 3.5 hours on a busy beach. With the tide coming in police coastguard all involved in the search.
28.Endure – As a family we have said goodbye to so many, friends and family. The pain of this has made us stronger.
29.Questions – Thank you for answering my questions with honesty.
30.Friendship – Mum thank you for supporting my friend when her life was difficult.
31. Retreat– Dad your garden was your place to retreat, thank you for sharing your space with me.
32.Remain -Dad you might no be here, but a bit part of you remains with me.
33.Give – Dad my favourite Christmas gift was the dolls house you made me. You secretly worked in the garage to build the house of my dreams – Thank you.
34.Accept – Dad we had to all accept that you had cancer and that it had spread beyond treatment. You never gave up. You never gave us false hope. You helped us come to terms to a life without you.
35.Lead– Dad you lead me down the isle. Thank you for making our wedding day so wonderful and perfect .
36. Review – Dad you always reviewed you work, checked and double checked everything. I loved that about you. I love my sister is the same yet I am the opposite to both of you.
37. Wait – As a family we loved to fish down the docks. Rods out feet dangling over the dock wall.Their was something in the waiting in the not knowing if we would catch anything.
38. Hope – I always had hopes and dreams. You never said I could not, you never thought my ideas were to wacky.
39. Freedom – Mum and Dad thank you for the freedom to learn by own mistakes.
40.Begin – Thank you for having me baptised.

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When I asked my mum for her favourite bible passage, hymn that comforts her she emailed me back a few lines from Dear lord and father of mankind.

Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.