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.

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Inwardly Imploding.

Almost a year ago I was asked to read Psalm 23 to a handful of people .
I felt as if I was going in inwardly implode. The familiar words that have offered comfort and support, suddenly become my worse nightmare.
Their meaning was lost as I tried to read them aloud.
No one judged me as I raced and though the words. I cruelly judged myself ashamed of my fear of reading out loud.
Today I stood up at the front of the church and read my prayer from my heart.
Thank you God for pushing me to do something I always thought was impossible .

 

This advent Lord, come to the manger of my heart.
Fill us with your presence.
Because of your great love for us before the world began .
We are chosen to be adopted as your children.
We love because you loved us first.
A pure act of faith is to care for your children just you cared for us .
We thank you lord for the open hearted families that make adoption possible.
We Pray for children that are not spending Christmas with their families.
The children waiting adoption. Families waiting to adopt.
Give them strength and perseverance to guide them though the good days and bad days.
Bless them with friends and families that can support and understand their needs.
Pray for the birth families of these children; that they are supported. shown love and compassion.
Adotion is never easy its a pure act faith .
Each unique beautiful child is a gift from God.
Help us to hold onto what is good and true, and follow what leads us into life .
Help us to let go of what holds us back .
Forgive us when we choose the wrong way.
Forgive us when we hold onto what we ought to let go .
Thank you for Jesus,
Who speaks his gracious word to each of us, saying; Your sins are forgiven.
Amen

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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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Horologist Needed.

Only a few blogs ago pain suffocated and consumed me. Deep penetrating pain from the person I love. It hurt me in a deep way I never thought was possible.

The only way I can describe what happened is by thinking of it as a clock. A clock that keeps getting wound up. Winding it when it has not had time to wind down. Winding it when it did not need winding . Pushing and stressing the internal workings of the clock. Yet it keeps getting wound. It’s gets to the point as much as we try to turn the key it not longer turns. The clock cannot take anymore but we still keep trying to turn the key. All that that inward wound up energy and it has to be realised . Months and months of overwinding explode outwards. Bits of clock exploding at force in all directions damaging all that’s in its path.

The clock is painfully broken.

I don’t know how to mend broken clocks . I can pray and I know that prayer works. It does not work in ways I always imagine. I have been learning that . Prayer does not put right a wrong .

The clock is painfully broken spreading its broken pieces far and wide. But it’s not beyond repair. With love and prayer we can pick up the broken pieces .
I pray that that as a community, professionals and individuals we can all work together to find all the broken pieces of my beloved clock.
I pray that as each piece is put back with love and prayer it works better and stronger than before.
I pray that this new renewed clock will run on faith and love not anger and pain.
Prayer allows me to ask others for help without saying why? It allows me to say this is far to much for me to handle God please take this from me I can’t deal with it.
Prayer means I am not alone. It’s a place to cry to be held and fall asleep.
Prayer is the only time and place that I feel completely understood.

God feels my pain. I can’t completely describe my pain to others but with God it’s just known.
With God it’s shared without words.
Some days like today prayer and God is just all to overwhelming, words are replaced with tears.
Holding the broken clock and praying for it to be mended is sometimes all I have to hold onto.

I have just read for the second time Max Lucado’s book “Before Amen” through the pain and joy of the last few weeks it’s been the pocket prayer that has punctured my day .
Saying bits of it or all of it as part of my ongoing conversation with God thought out the day.

Father
You are good
I need your help, heal me and forgive me.
We need help
In Jesus name
Amen.

I am normally not very good at praying or myself. I pray for everyone but myself. I am learning that in order for me to take care of others I need to look after myself too.
Since the clock broke I have only had the energy for prayers for me and my clock. Each word and the silence that is God has only been for us.
Without us their is no moving forward . Its the us that helps make me. It’s the us that makes me smile and laugh. Its his honesty in all that he does that I love. His outstanding way of making sure everything he does is done to his best ability with fairness and accuracy.
I can’t imagine a world when my clock does not tick. We have to repair this broken clock with love and prayer. I pray when it comes to its first gentle winding I have enough strength left to turn the Key.

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Philippians 4:6-7The Message (MSG)
6-7 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Meeting  Destiny .

Three things happened this week.

I meet Destiny
I built a cardboard wall of Jericho
Had to make a big decision.

I sat with Destiny chatting stringing beads together making bracelets. I made her a Yellow bracelet with the words “ you are amazing “. I made myself a bracelet with the words “No fear in love”.

Destiny explained to me the meaning of her name. We talked about fate and destiny what it meant to us. Destiny excitedly told me her life plan, how she was going to be a fashion designer making Yellow clothes.  She explained to me that as I was already grown up I must be doing what my destiny had planned for me.
It was a big conversion to have with 8 years old. I  think it was a conversation that Destiny enjoyed and has many times over when she meets people for the first and proudly tells them her name.
It was a privilege to meet Destiny. Reflecting on our time together I got an email that required a lot of thought in its reply. My instant reply was  No, I can’t do this.
I have had enough given up let fate take control. I have no control or influence it will only open myself up to more pain.
Whatever happens, happens, and I  can’t do anything about it. Apparently, this is called “fatalism,” and it is not biblical.

I prayed my problems holding the bead bracelet that I made with Destiny. It’s  words spelling out “ No fear in love “.
I asked myself the question is fear saying no?  Am I  just sheltering myself from pain? Am I looking for a place to escape the harsh reality of this meeting and the consequences it might bring?
Running is not going to help, I need to face the pain and the system that caused it.

Still undecided about what I should do I set about the task of preparing my cardboard box wall of Jericho for the children’s group Bible story.
The higher I  built the wall the more I thought about the fun and laughter we would have as I told the children  Joshua’s story. I planned that we would march around the church  7 times shouting, blowing trumpets than knocking down the cardboard box wall.

The message I wanted the children to hear is we need to listen to God. I am going to tell the children the importance of listening to God when today I am too scared to listen myself.

“The walls of Jericho were so thick that chariots could be driven on them. Joshua knew that they could not conquer the promised land until they conquered Jericho. There were many more obstacles in front of Israel. There were many cities to be taken, but Jericho was the greatest obstacle to everything God wanted for them. It was the gateway to their destiny”

As  I prepared the cardboard boxes for the children to knock down I saw my problem as my Jericho wall. It’s one of many walls that I have met on my journey it’s a big wide wall that has until now always been in the distance. Like Jericho, it’s strong scary but it’s my gateway to my destiny.

I need to confront the obstacles in front of me overcome them. Resisting the temptation to walk away, not to compromise.  This is not just about me, I don’t want other families to go through the pain we have. People need to be seen as people and not a piece of paperwork that can be moved from office to office desk to desk.
I am a person with hopes and dreams and with a heart that wants to keep on loving and giving.
We live in a physical world apply and judge on what we can see.  I need to be seen and heard.
It’s the world that is of God that is important to me.  This meeting is not a battle to be won, no winners or losers.
By being honest and open with them. I pray that at as a big organization they will take the time learn by their mistakes and listen to me with their hearts before they make their decisions.

I can only do this because Jesus is with me. When I walk into the room tomorrow It’s with Jesus. I will never be alone again, When I cried out he came to me. The gifts he has given me are the only reason can do this. Fighting for justice I can start to see the suffering and the pain is for the greater good.
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1 Peter 5:7The 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.

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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Growing From World To Word.

Writing this blog has been for my benefit. The writing started when I went through a life-changing event. It’s helping me try and process my thoughts and feelings. When the pain was at its strongest pressing the publish button was a short-term release.
Sending my pain into the ether dumping it on the world helped my grief, gave me focus and purpose.
When I first put pen to paper I was scared.
Fearful that: I would no longer see the beauty that surrounds us, forget how to smile, scared I would not see beauty in creation, frightened that my grief would totally consume me.
That’s why the title of my blog is “ It’s a beautiful world “ ( read more and all will be explained )
It helped me, amazingly people read my blog! not only that they took the time to like my blogs even leaving thoughtful comments.
Every blog takes a lot of time and effort. Spelling and grammar is a constant battle, I am so determined it will not stop me writing.
I have had to learn about sentence structures, going back to the basics learning what I missed out on at primary school.
Learning to find ways around my dyslexia has improved my writing. Conquering my fears has seen my confidence grow.
I have also learnt that when the blog was created I misspelt world and that my blog is called it’s a beautiful word ( not world ).
When this was pointed out to me I saw the humour in this. The humour was short lived when it seemed more purposeful, growing from world to word started to take on its own meaning.
When I started my blog it was all about seeing everyday beauty in the world. Writing and journeying with my blog I have discovered that words are beautiful too, not something to avoid or be afraid of.
My blog is my journey from the visual world to the deeper inside world of me, my spiritual journey, the word of God guiding, inspiring, pushing, almost shouting me along.

When big things happen it’s writing that gives it some certainty conforming my thoughts and feelings.
One big thought has been on continuous repeat in my head for many months “ is God opening new doors to me in a way that seem impossible.”
The person ( me) that started this journey was petrified of words. I left the library book club due to my fear of being asked to read aloud. Avoided writing whenever possible, if their was a card to sign I would never sign it ashamed of my handwriting /spelling, this is all slowly changing.
It’s God that’s pushing me forward changing my beautiful world and allowing me to see beautiful words.
As the fear very slowly eases so the direction all this is going is starting to unfold.
The calling I have to be alongside people in our communities is overpowering. Exploring the possibilities of being called to ordination is the path that I am walking.
It seems totally bonkers, repeatedly asking myself can this be real. Can I, Could I be called to be a Deacon? Is this even possible?
This is not my plan; it’s coming from God. I am going to have to push myself every step of the way acting out of my comfort zone beyond what I ever imagined and believed I am capable of.
Last night I sat with lots of people that have a calling and was not afraid to be their ( Three years ago I would never have gone ).
I was not afraid of who I am and what I believe.
The best thing about last night I felt comfortable with the conversations. I was quiet but learnt so much listening. Just like the written word the spoken word will take me time for me to practice it before I see and feel its beauty too. But the best bit was I felt like it was the place God wanted me to be.

1 Samuel 16:7The Message (MSG)

But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.”

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