Come, Holy Spirit, Come

Acts 2:6
They were all excited, because all of them heard the believers talking in their own languages. When this sound occurred, a crowd came together and was confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. When that sound came, a crowd quickly gathered, startled because each one heard the disciples speaking in his own language.

Imagine the excitement of being one of the crowd that day, to be included in the conversations that surrounded you.
It’s easy to presume when we read this well-known passage ( Acts 2:6) that the language they all heard was spoken.
For some adults and children, the spoken / written language is not their own language.
For those of us that are wired slightly differently ( neurodiverse ) our first language is not always written / spoken. Some of us are picture thinkers. A picture thinker is someone who thinks primarily in pictures instead of the sound of words . Those with dyslexia, auditory processing, attentions issues like ADD/ADHD are people who might be picture thinkers
For those of us that think in pictures we live in a world that rarely speaks our language. Daily we can feel isolated, excluded and ashamed of our inability to communicate with others.  We find ourselves exhausted as we struggle to read, write and function in a world that often perceives us as weird or even stupid.
Being neurodiverse means that we think and learn in a different way to other people. We often have particular strengths such as thinking outside the box, seeing the bigger picture and creative thinking.
When my dyslexic mind walks through what happened on that day of Pentecost.
I wonder how many of those stood in the crowd that day heard pictures being spoken from Peter’s words.
Peter explained to the crowd that everything had been written in the Scriptures about Jesus long before he had ever been born. He told the people that God sent Jesus to save them.
Some of the crowd that day might have seen the story of the messiah. They might have an image that represented  their own sorrow and visualised their own forgiveness.
For the first time in their lives they may have felt truly understood. A way that would have seemed impossible only hours before.
The Spirit comes as an companion, a teacher, a Guide, to be with us – to remind us who we are and to whom we belong. To strengthen us for the task of living as God’s people in the world.  It is the spirit that transforms us and weaves the gospel into our own language.  That gives us a place of peace to go out into in a world that we cannot understand.  It is only because we are understood and loved by God that we can be encouraged to let go of our fears and anxieties and walk into a world that scares us.
It’s the miracle of language. God showed himself willing to step into our individual space and verbalize a message in a language that we could understand. God showing his love to us. And maybe the greatest miracle, and the best explanation, of God happens when we take that love, given freely to us, and share it without reservation with each other.

Come, Holy Spirit, come.
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Protecting the extraordinary.

I’ve recently been reminded of the cycling adventures I had as a teenager.
Balancing conversations whilst cycling hands free and eyes closed.
I remember on one occasion my lovely friend combined hands free cycling with hair brushing. Simultaneously I combined hands free cycling with eyes closed cycling. I trusted my friend to guide me. She trusted me not to trust her when she needed to brush her hair.
Needless to say we lost our balance and wobbled into each other and we both ended up a tangled heap in the road.
I remember our laughter and tears. Both battered and bruised we picked ourselves up and continued our journeys home. Neither of us prepared to explain to our parents how we came off our bikes.
I still cycle hands free but with my eyes open. I still cycle with my eyes closed but keep two hands firmly on the handle bars.
The other evening I experienced worship which was “ hands free “.
No service sheets, all responses where said by one person on our behalf.
No words to read, or misread, no responses to stumble over. It really was a place of freedom full of love and possibilities.
This paper free service took me right back to my teenager years of hand free cycling.
It reawaken a crafted space that in its simple creation allows myself to go deeper with God.
To step back on the path of discovery, to ponder the words that echo around me drifting to a place of awareness.
A place of wordless, imageless prayer.
It’s this place that I seek when I pray. That draws me inwards to God. This place might be cycling hands free, digging the garden, or just simply sitting in my own home.
I used to believe that prayer was words. That all prayer had an audible sound, a solid firm shape. A pattern of compulsory words. Yet the more I journey the more I learn that prayer is more than words. It can be the thin places that God has gifted us. My thin place will differ to another’s. A place from which I feel the radiant transparency of love, infused with a deep moment of silence from which all unspoken words and concepts are tidal.
It’s a place I Instinctively and habitually return to. My own personal place that protects my extraordinary. Opens the doors to the most
inaccessible places on earth, weirdly these places can almost be the most accessible places of my mind.

The spirited wind that ruffled my hair as I cycled hand free as a teenager was the early beginnings of a transformative spiritual practice that would sustain me .
Two risk taking teenage girls cycling hands free, have guided each other, supporting each other into adult life.
I have realised this friendship has prepared me and helped open myself to Jesus. It opened for me a path of adventure to follow my my deepest desire.
To understand that our risk taking may end up not as planned. I think back to myself and my friend in a tangled mess of bike and bruises. The gap of silence in which our tears turned to laughter. The unspoken words from our parents when we returned home battered and bruised. Those inner words of love that are parents never spoke.
I’ve come back as a adult to the thin places that feed the gentle gap between thoughts and words, a place to rest with God.
An inner silence, a stillness reinforced by a familiar habit of searching for a deeper stillness.
The places that taste and smell of creation. A conscious return to a unconscious place. Where my imagination traces pictures that have yet formed words.
A precious rediscovered energy, a gathered moment in time that held my breath and ruffled my hair.
A physical reminder of the breath of God that breaths within me. A tactile sensation of the wind blown Spirit. A mysterious force that guides my heart to prayer. That generates a core of outwardly focused energy.
When I stop focusing on what’s expected of me. When I follow my heart I bring myself to God. Letting go of the patterns of life that dampen my imagination, the words that confuse me, letting go of the handle bars that balance and guide me.
Closing my eyes I Listen to a silent love that prepares my soul ready for a purposeful action. A risk that’s so empowering it’s wrapped in love. A love that in which ordinary people can do ordinary things.

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What’s in a Tear.

Officially it’s a drop of water, containing elements which gives tears their characteristic salty taste.
Emotional tears also contain hormones which can improve our mood or ease our pains.
Tears release stories and emotions, expressing what our heart cannot say.
One single tear released in love is more powerful than a thousand tears cried in anger.
Just one single tear powerfully acted in the film “ Joker “ realeased me from the person I used to be.
In the opening few moments of the film before the story even starts, we watch the artist ( the clown ) applying his craft.
We see that familiar white clown face, with a coloured Blue  diamond painted over the eye.
Than a solitary tear escapes from the clowns eye. This single tear travelled through the perfect hues of White and Blue. Leaving behind it’s own imperfect trail. A tear trail …
God spoke so powerfully to me through this single tear locked into a frame of film.
It was in that moment that I realised  that this tear held the person I once was.
I was once a makeup artist. I would have scrutinised this tear from a technical view.
I would never see the true tear.. I saw the actors craft and the makeup artists skill. I saw lighting and editing. I saw film.
I questioned the products used, always looking for makeup continuity errors.
As that tear rolled I was released from thinking that way. Releasing me from the person I used to be.
In that one single tear; I saw emotions, I saw pain. I wanted to know the story behind the tear. Each tear holds more than we can ever imagine, more emotions more pain. Some tears hold stories that are just to painful to be told.
That one tear encapsulated my story. It was a tear that I was unable to cry myself . In the cinema God took that one tear and cried with me and for me.
I don’t miss the person I once was . Today I only see a life with Jesus . Sat in the cinema I said my goodbyes to the person I used to be.
It was not a time of my choosing, or a film of my choice. God spoke to my heart through the Jokers tear.
A tear that confirmed to myself that my recommendation for ordination training was real, realistic and from God
To serve God is a freedom thats full of creative energy, to serve is to remove chains and release love.
It is LOVE that inspires me and drives me to serve God . Only love can make such a choice. How different it is to serve another for love’s sake than it is to serve out of obligation or duty!
Jesus comes into the world not to be served, but to serve. He comes not to do his own will, but the will of the One who sent him.  He “empties himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in human likeness.” He does this for love.
When we love we want to serve. We long to be given some task that will contribute to the good purposes of the one we love.
A mother longs to serve her children – out of love. We willingly set aside our own desires and preferences, we lay down our lives, for the sake of those whom we love.
I am a chosen servant of Christ.
I will make the wrong choices, I will mess things up, I will cry, laugh and seek those on the margins of our community. To be a voice of comfort and a voice of truth. I will freely and willingly give all of myself to God’s creative purpose.
Only love can make this choice.

James 2:5

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters. God chose the poor people in the world to be rich in faith. He chose them to receive the kingdom God promised to those who love him

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Ackiba’s creed.

WE BELIEVE in one master weaver.
Who shapes and intertwines
The stories of the Gospels held
Within our chocolate vine.

We are woven into creation.
Rooted in the ground .
We are the princess of the mountains .
Walking towards the promised land.

We have held Moses in his basket.
Journeyed down the Nile.
Long tendrils lead us to your vision.
Signposting us the way.
Reaching for the light.
Through him all things were made.
We have held bread and fishes.
Shared the jug of Red wine.
Please listen to our story.
As we weave through your time.

These are stories of salvation.
Of prophets, people and kings.
And all of the one God that knows everything.

Dancing through the seasons.
Weaving flowers, leaves and vines.
We might not always see .
Just how these weavings intertwine.

Supported by the Trellis of Pentateuch.
Hang Chocolate leaves of Grace and Goodness.
We believe as we climb through the Gospels.
Are woven into the psalms.
You weave us to your completion.
It’s your shape, your stories .
That we intertwine.

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Take risks. Be vulnerable

My silent scream in Asda today went unnoticed. I screamed a painful frustration of mixed emotions. Brokenness released into a haze full of love.
A intimate brokenness that is fully understood without a word ever being spoken. My unspoken words are heard, my brokenness is soothed by tears so full of love.“ I know I’m loved”.
God has transformed my heart, opened my whole body to listen to silent conversations within myself. Conversations so complex they become knitted into my being. Unspoken words that are so rich in love they become visible. These are my conversations with God.
Gods word is so beautiful when unwritten. It becomes void of differences, it becomes one spiritual language of love.
I’m stood nervously listening to God on the blurred edges of the vocation journey. Discerning Gods call for me but also asking; what does that call means for my husband and family?
The path that God has called us to walk along is a bumpy one . I can’t walk on this path alone, in life my husband and I walk together, we choose together, we discuss together.
We choose the paths that we know. We walk together trying to support each other.
This journey is challenging us both to walk a different path in ways we do not know or understand. It’s a path that is not of our choosing it’s a path that I trust .
I expect my husband to walk with me. Yet these paths seem so ridiculously difficult for those closest to us .
I’m asking my husband to step out in faith with me, for his steps to parallel my enthusiasm for this unknown journey.
This journey grows anxiety from what we don’t know and can’t know, especially what will happen. Fearing uncertainty, focusing on what knowledge we have as something to grasp.
Holding so tightly to the person he used to know theirs a fear in the reality of knowing the person that God knows.
In all my sadness their is love, in all my pain their is hope, in my brokenness theirs a hunger for knowledge. God invites us together to step out in faith.

I’m hurting today, the pain between us is real and possibly avoidable. “ it’s ok not to be ok”.
We both seemed trapped in non stop questioning, endless conversations of reasoning. The rights and wrongs, the what ifs in our quest for certainty.
Together we can’t see a way through these questions alone. What excites me, scares him.
I’m so happy to wonder in the blurred haze and delight in the unknown. Act with freedom and inhibition, unconcerned about what others may think. Get down low and get up close to look at all I have yet to see. Try it out. Take risks. Be vulnerable.

I am taking risks with our relationship, pushing what’s familiar, journeying together discovering what unfolds. Keeping it simple being gentle with ourselves. Today just being is enough. Just being together with the God who is mystery.

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Isaiah 30:18 The Message (MSG)
But God’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you.
He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you.
God takes the time to do everything right—everything.
Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones

I’m tired.

I’m tired of holding it together.
Being the one that has to be strong.
Fighting for the simple things and feeling I don’t belong.

I’m tired that I am trying
To be the best person I can be.
I’m worn out by my limitations.
That keep on holding me.

I was tired when she prayed for me.
Cried when she held my hand.
She whispered I was good enough
To step into this strange land.

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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.

Doing things different.

This picture was taken in 1976, a 5 year old little girl presenting the lord mayor with a flower button hole. The occasion was the grand opening of the church’s Christmas sale .
The picture is staged for the local press. Everyone smiling and the little girl is doing just what is expected of her. The newspaper cutting shows us how life has changed. Lord mayors opening the Christmas fete is surely something only happen in years gone by.
The little girl at the front is me .

I had forgotten until recently about this photo. I can’t remember the day of the church sale. I can’t even remember the photo being taken. But I do know I was a member of a church community that loved me.
The photo shows me before I started school, before the education system started to erode the person that I longed to be. I was painfully shy and that made me different. Struggling with school work, daydreaming, instead of engaging with the written word.
I was told I was not good enough, told I did try.
These comments shaped me, shyness slowly developed into fear, and lack of confidence .The fear of words and shyness would start to rule over me.

I have been reconnecting with my childhood journey of faith. The child that still lives strongly within me is taking me back. Showing me that God has always been with me .
We are each called for a particular purpose, we’re supposed to be wildly different. We are called to show God’s love for us. Show this love in our actions / doing things different, the way we spend our money, the TV we choose to watch, the conversations we have.
The coolest thing is when the Holy Spirit lives within us we connect to our creative child within ourselves. We never lose our sense of wonder our world just gets bigger and more full of love.

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.”