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.”

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Comforting powerful words.

Day 16 -Lent challenge 2018 – Stillness.

One of the things that has really helped me find my faith is all the little seeds of faith planted by the wonderful community and family that surrounded me as I grew up.
Today’s blog is a thank you to our next door neighbour for teaching me Psalm 23.
I don’t have many memories of her. But I do remember her dark brown doors with high handles that I could reach but my younger sister could not.
Being in the garden while my mum and next door where both hanging out the washing. They Stopped to chat over the fence,the excited conversation about the pope visiting England. I had never next door so excited before.
But most of all I remember my visits to her house, when she would take down Psalm 23 and recite it to me and my sister.

When my life became full of pain it was Psalm 23 that gave me such hope and strength. The words that where once forgotten became alive. Comforting powerful words backed up by a strong healing message wrapped in Gods unconditional love.
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Psalm 23 King James Version (KJV)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Greek Holiday 1989.

Day 14 – Lent Challenege 2018- Journey.

This year I am following a 12-month Bible reading plan.
The Journey through Acts sent me on a physical journey to the loft. After lots of rummaging through suitcases I finally found my Greek holiday journal from 1989.
This Journal is full of memories of a fabulous trip to Athens followed by a cruise around the islands.
It’s great to see my photos of the places mentioned in my Bible readings . The places I visited as a teenager are helping me today. Joining up my worlds making the Bible come alive .

Years later my travelling companion introduced me to my husband, supported me through pregnancy loss. When her beautiful baby daughter was baptised she choose me to be one of her God parents.
It’s a massive hug of thanks to my friend of many many years.

Acts 17:16 Good News Translation
While Paul was waiting in Athens for Silas and Timothy, he was greatly upset when he noticed how full of idols the city was.

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Acts 21:1 Good News Translation
We said good-bye to them and left. After sailing straight across, we came to Cos; the next day we reached Rhodes, and from there we went on to Patara.

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Acts 19 Good News Translation
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior of the province and arrived in Ephesus.

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Revelation 1 Good News Translation
9 I am John, your brother, and as a follower of Jesus I am your partner in patiently enduring the suffering that comes to those who belong to his Kingdom. I was put on the island of Patmos because I had proclaimed God’s word and the truth that Jesus revealed.

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My One Word.

New year resolutions always seem so full of promise. The reality is they often are long forgotten by February.
From childhood my new years resolutions have always included to stop sucking my thumb.
The reality is this will never happen . The comfort my thumb gives me far out ways the new years resolution. It’s my built in ability to calm and relax myself at any place and time. Why would I want to stop !

“My one word is an experimental idea to move beyond the cycle of broken resolutions. The challenge is simple instead of making unrealistic challenges – You pick one word to focus on every day all year .
One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live.

For 2018 my one word is patience .
God is patient , I am not. I have a acknowledged my lack of patience many times over 2017.
The patience of God is staggering, I think of all the times God has been so close to me yet I failed to look.
God is patient towards me as he refines, develops and strengthens me.
I thank God for the patience that is shown to me by others. The patience that at times I do not deserve.
I will blog more on patience as I explore what it means to me.

2 Thessalonians 3:5
And may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

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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.

Thank you Mister God for rest .

Day Thirty – Retreat – Lent challenge .

Mister God  this is Anna brought me to tears , it’s a moving beautiful true story about a runaway little girl and the young man who brought her home like a stray puppy in the 1930s. It’s about faith  love and friendship and Mister God, and all the things Anna taught Fynn before she died, and one or two things she taught him after.

I want to share my favourite bit of the book with you it just reminds me that I need to rest and  give my brain time to untangle the muddle and recharge .

Mum had this lovely gift of asking questions that landed somewhere .
what , she asked us one Sunday afternoon ” What was God’s greatest creative act?”
Anna was watching her intently in chin cupped in hands . There they sat , looking at each other , Mum with her wonderful smile and Anna with her intense look.
Suddenly it happened . Anna slowly placed her hands on the table and pushed herself upright . She gasped ” it was the seventh day of course ”
I don’t get it, I said . ” God worked all his miracles in six days and than shut down for a bit of a rest . What’s so exciting about that ?
“Why did Mister God rest on the seventh day ? “She began.
“I supposed was a bit flaked out after six days hard work” , I answered .
” He didn’t Rest because he was tired though.”
“Oh – didn’t he ?it makes me tired just to think about it all ”
” course he didn’t . He wasn’t tired .”
“Wasn’t he?”
” No – he made Rest.”
” Oh .He did that did he?”
” yes that’s the biggest miracle. Rest is . What do you think it was like before Mister God started the first day ?”
“A perishing muddle I guess”. I replied .
” yes, and you can’t rest when everything is in a big muddle , can you?”

My place to retreat / rest is my garden it’s  a quiet outdoor space where I found God  and feel his presence , it’s a place to reflect,  appreciate the silence the beauty and the spiritual  feeling my garden brings to me and to others .

Thank you Mister God for rest .

Mark   6:31 Come with me  by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.

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The less we look with our eyes – the more we will see.

Day 23- lose – lent challenge 

Everything has a home, the keys live in the top draw of the telephone table , my bike lock lives in the basket of my bike.
The dog lead belongs in the draw with all the dog stuff, and the tv remote control lives on the shelf under the telly.
All these things have a home a place to keep them, so I and others know where they are.
So why can’t I find any of them when I need them, it’s because I don’t put them away in the right place.
It’s frustrating for me and even more frustrating for my husband as I all seem to do is look for things I have not put away , it’s a good job I can call my phone or I would be constantly looking for that ( this does cause problems if I put it on silent ).

For someone that looses everything, how did I find my faith and allow god to be part of my life.
When I look for my keys I run around using my eyes trying to remember the last time I had them , God has always been with me never lost , just waiting patiently for me to work it out .
Instead of running around, I stopped and kneeled closed my eyes and looked with my heart and prayed .

Jeremiah 29:13

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

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