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.
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.
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)
7 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.”
Surfacing looking for clean love filled air – God air
Breathing in as much as my mind and heart can hold.
Suppressing the urge to breathe it out.
Holding, searching always looking for another pocket of love air.
You would have thought God would make love air so it never runs out, always plentiful and easy to find.
God air is everywhere if we breathe hard enough and want it.
It’s not for sale, infused to perfection, blended and mixed.
Personalized to the last second of time.
Air that heals, Air that says “I Know “ Air that cry’s with you. Air that holds you until the next breath.
Air that’s in abundance yet, takes time to make, craft and blend.
It’s easier to breathe the old stale air of me.
Tastes so familiar no need to hold it, put in the effort to seek and make more.
Its air that once belonged to me.
It sinks to the bottom and takes you down
Down to a place that’s dense with old me.
A place that God air is hard to find.
Breathing it in is lazy – breathing it out hurts.
It’s thick. Chokes my creative thoughts.
It drags, pulls, takes me to places I don’t want to go.
Holding my breath not tempting to breath the foul old air of me.
Standing up in the clean air of love.
Breath that fills and inspires.
The amazing thing about God air is when you breathe it in it’s for you.
When you breathe it out others feel it too.
Angry air, chocking air breathed out by others that cross my path.
Drifting swills of soupy murky dark filled air.
Blown and directed at me.
Dragging me pulling to places I don’t want to be.
It’s tearing me apart inside. It’s you I want at my side.
It’s all the love and peace you bring
I need to learn to walk away, not to feel the hurt I do today
Hurting like it never hurt before.
My prayer today is just for me
Help me listen and see what it is you what from me.
Help me stop just long enough to see your love among the pain that litters and fills my life.
Help me stand up so tall that it’s only your air that I breathe.
Please calm the angry waters give me the strength to come up for air and reach out to you.
Struggling today with work that’s nothing new for me, but today it seems the calling from God to be elsewhere is far bigger than my mind can deal with.
The trouble is my work involves consumerism. vast amounts of money spent on products that give pleasure and joy for a few days and then end up in landfill.
The more God becomes my life: selling disposable products and cashing in on Christmas seems so wrong.
The life I have today is not the life I want to live. Living in a world of consumerism when I want to live in a world of God and love.
Spending my working day posting out parcels of that damage creation, when I am called to spend my time with Gods people.
Walking away from my business of 17 years is the next step leaving behind consumerism. and going to love.
I no longer belong here and pray that God will show me the way to lock the door at work behind me and step out with him and journey with the people that are often forgotten and bring them to faith and love.
God has been very much with me these last few days. I have been forced to slow up, giving more time for Prayer; for myself and others. Praying for myself is something I I find difficult; I pray for those I love, friends family, communities, those that live far away. It always seems selfish to ask for things for myself; I have food, a lovely home, I am loved. To ask for anything outside of this just does not feel right. This weekend I focused more on myself praying for help and guidance.
Trying to understand just because I don’t believe in myself God does. Images thoughts and dreams that come from God are so big and so real. Theirs no escaping them every time I pray the same things come to me.
They defiantly come from God because I don’t believe in myself enough to make these things happen. But I do believe God thinks I am capable; these things are strangely possibly achievable. I am overwhelmed by the thought of my future but excited at the same time.
The prayers have brought the tears that shape and change me. In church this morning tears were trying to escape at every opportunity. Tears that that needed to flow and happen . Some of the tears were full of Gods love, some sadness, but most of the tears this weekend were fear, afraid of what I might lose or never even get the opportunity to gain.
Sunday church service this morning caused a lot of tears . Being asked to think and pray about “ what does it take for me to follow Jesus” . The more I thought about this this the more the tears tried to leak out everywhere a few escaping .
Following Jesus produces tears, not sad tears; but God tears .
Gods love is bigger than pain, it does not stop the pain from hurting but protects me from the pain in only the way God can.
Following Jesus has changed my life in a way that cannot be reversed. It’s not as simple as starting to attend church it’s a complete inside person change. It’s following Jesus that has caused my pain and is continuing to cause me pain.
It’s standing up for what’s right treating another human with love compassion and grace. Staying with them and not turning my back on them when life goes the wrong direction.
Fighting for justice , not allowing something that is wrong to happen just because it’s easier not to fight.
Life would be so much easier if I was not following Jesus. I could think only for myself , not look beyond the four walls of my home and live a blissfully inward life. I would think I was happy convincing myself that retail therapy wants and needs would give me fulfilment.
But that’s not happiness; even when emotionally I am exhausted, I still smile it’s that beautiful inner happiness ; The joy of having Jesus in my life .
To follow Jesus for me is pushing forward to do Gods work alongside the people in our communities fighting and working with the unseen and forgotten families. By doing these things, I may hear Gods call to live a life that will let me love as only I can, and allow me to serve others with the special gifts I have been given.
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.