Love the medium in which we grow – God is love.

The world in which we live in is a oversized self sufficient garden full of rockeries, ( mountains ) water features, ( seas and lakes ) ,beautiful lawns and vegetable patches that stretch for miles.

Personally my garden is a living part of me that I need to share. Its harvest of fruits, flowers and vegetables, the joy it gives me must be shared with others.
My garden is just as much a part of creation as the whole earth. It’s just a little bit of a whole in the oversized garden that is creation.

I want others to be able to take joy from creation. To be able to smile at a leaf, get excited by a flower not only see creation but feel and connect with creation and in turn God. The gift of creation from God to us is stunning. From sunsets to a tiny ant; it’s Perfect and beautiful.

When you have something wonderful it must be shared, sharing with others brings joy to us and to God. Opening eyes and hearts to the Christian world.

Gardens don’t grow on their own, they need freewill and careful guidance. Gardens left to totally alone often become overgrown a tangled mess. The joy from the overgrown garden can quickly disappear, restoring that garden to its beauty can seem an impossible task and often something you cannot do alone.

We are all gardeners of creation.

We all have a gift to give to the garden , we are all equal when we garden from our hearts lead by the Holy Spirit.
Some of us are born green fingered others need help to see what’s in font of us.
We are are capable gardeners tending and loving creation, with the gifts given to us from the Holy Spirit. Working the soil to its full potential seeing that creation exists not for humankind but for the glory of God and a joy to both.

God created the garden for joy. Through human sin and disobedience the garden was spoilt. We keep messing it up, we are human and get things wrong when we follow our freewill and fail to listen to God.
God created the garden: he is the only one that knows its true purpose ,It’s history, it’s inner beauty and the joy that it should give to its people and the joy it’s people should give back to the God the creator.

God sent his son to be our head gardener. Only though Jesus can we grow our gardens to maturity . Through prayer we learn, we are guided by the head gardener through the creator. We Listen, learn and grow in a Christ like way.
Even than we still get it wrong we are human and not the head gardener or the creator. God sacrificed his only son for the sins of the world. So we can live free and continue to garden creation.
The head gardener Jesus cannot garden alone. A fruitful garden takes love and labour to shape ,grow and form. Letting humanity to feel it’s joys and harvest its flowers and fruits that grow it to maturity.
We need to allow others to make paths , plant their own plants in their own style and way. But always under the guidance of the head gardener and creator.
Constant chatter( prayer) between the gardeners and the head gardener are essential for fruitfulness.
Those that know the joy of gardening open their hearts and there gardens for people to wander in encouraging them to stop and rest ; for them to nurture and form a closer relationship with Jesus. Gardeners form communities to share what they have with each other and than with the wider communities.

I see the church as the garden shed. The place where all the tools and the gardening books are kept and given out.
The priests are the gardeners too, as are we all. They garden from a calling to help others see the joy of the garden. They work not only for their own gardens but sow fruit and scatter seeds in the gardens of others.
Gardening along side and with them. weeding, planting fresh seed, loving , nurturing creation . The priests are gardeners that not only pull up weeds and sow seeds but also a have understanding of why and how to garden. They get it wrong too but their gift to the garden is to grow Gods word.
From the garden sheds they mow out paths, if possible build more sheds and gardens under the guidance of the head gardener.
They reach out to communities that are broken and have no gardening skills, they mend broken branches. Bash down weeds and brambles often getting scratched and stung on the way.
Deep inside they want others to smile as they walk past a flower and feel that deep joy of living alongside the head gardener.

The weed that the priest gardener pulls up is the same weed that any person pull ups. It has the same effect , if it’s done for the same purpose.
Equally the rose the planted by the priest gardener has just as much chance of flowering as the rose any of us can plant, as long as it’s planted with love nurtured and cared for.
We are all equal when it comes to tending the garden.

Humanity has become the problem we surround ourselves with gardens that have become overgrown with weeds. The sheds for some are distance memories at the bottom of their gardens overgrown with brambles.
The gardeners in the sheds work at clearing the brambles , they work quietly and patiently cutting one branch at a time, clearing paths. Making the sheds and the communities inside them available to as many as possible.
It’s not the sheds that we build or the people that garden inside them that give joy , it’s the flowers and fruits they plant and sow that bring us and God joy .

We cannot do this without love.

God blesses the whole garden each part makes a whole, each part has different job within the garden.
Every time someone new wonders into the garden it’s up the the gardeners to great them. It’s up to visitor which path they take and even if they don’t stop or even lift their eyes up from the floor it does not matter.
Next time they visit the garden they might just sit on the bench or even open the door to the community inside the shed.
It’s the encounter with the love of Christ through the gardeners in their sheds, it’s that love that we find forgiveness and a new purpose.
The church’s calling is to bless the world in Christ, remind and tell people why we garden . For the love and joy of creation and the creator God.
Gardeners from their sheds provide conditions for growth, placing people and sheds in the right places – God does the rest. We pray and trust in God to guide us .

My personal reflection on Gods widening Circle by Graham Tomlin.
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Hebrews 10:9Good News Translation (GNT)
9 Then he said, “Here I am, O God, to do your will.” So God does away with all the old sacrifices and puts the sacrifice of Christ in their place.

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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.

My Glamorous Grandmother.

Day 28 – Lent Challenge – Endure

This blog is for my other grandmother ( dad’s mum ) I don’t have many memories, only stories passed down to me from those that knew and loved this remarkable lady. I don’t know about her faith but I do know she had a huge loving heart that endured pain and suffering at the hands of others.

My grandmother was glamorous like a movie star ( that’s what I have been told) She feel in love with the most glamorous young bachelor in the small village. They both had a huge personalities and enjoyed a party.
They married and had two boys that loved the freedom of living in a rural village by the sea.
My grandfather was a merchant seaman, spending many months at sea. During the war years his many months turned into years. My grandfather spent 3 years of the war in Rio De Janeiro, after falling into the hold of the ship and being to badly injured to return home.
The three years in Rio was unpaid sick, leaving my grandmother with no income. She worked as a nurse at the local hospital plus war time factory work. Holding down two jobs while bringing up two small boys during war time could not have been easy.
She was supported by her mother and the community in which she lived in. She worked hard and still found time to support families that where struggling. Always going that extra mile to support those that were hungry or in need.
Her marriage was turbulent and emotionally abusive. When my father a teenager my grandfather came home for good.
The man that spent his life on the ocean waves was soon spending his days along side his wife. They both drunk heavily and partied. My grandmother was a functioning alcoholic and no angel.
They eventually divorced when my dad was about 16. My grandmothers drinking got worse.
For all of this my grandmother was an amazing woman. She endured years of unhappy marriage to my grandfather.

When I was about 6 months old she went to a residential hospital to dry out. Supported by friends family and colleagues from the hospital that she nursed.My grandmother dried out.
She lived another 6 years, long enough for me to form beautiful positive memories. Long enough to see my sister being born. Long enough to know we loved her.
This story is a story that does not want to be told. It was hidden from me until I was about 18.
Until today I imagined my grandfather in his oil skins at the helm of the ship bringing food to a starving Britain during the war. I learnt today he spent most of the war in Rio De Janeiro.

God was with all of us on this journey. My love for my grandmother does not change knowing her story. Her story is a part of me and my journey. It’s connecting with her story seeing God at work in our lives both past and present.
I keep on my dressing table a book of common prayer that belonged to my great grandmother. It was a gift from my grandmother in 1922. Reading from this little book reminds me of my journey with God is just beginning. That God does not often do what we expect him to. God endings aren’t always the happy ever after we dream of. It’s not always a ending we understand or even want to understand. It’s a ending of new beginnings .

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Psalm 30:5 Good News Translation (GNT)

5 His anger lasts only a moment,
his goodness for a lifetime.
Tears may flow in the night,
but joy comes in the morning.

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.”

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.

Family.

Day 15 -Lent challenge 2018 – Family.

This blog is to my wonderful beautiful friend (my second mother).
A strong lady that listened and loved me as I did her.
She had a natural earthy connection to our world. Her front door was always open, her home a warm inviting place to go and just be me. I always left her house covered in dog hair and happy.
She understood me, never minced her words. Saying what she saw at the same time understanding,acknowledging what was going on in my world.
Her eyes lost their sparkle I was just finding mine.
She had started to talk to me about her faith journey. A part of her that she had never shared with me before.
Being terminally ill seemed to make her faith more reachable more connected.
In her final weeks she would share a prayer or we would just sit silently together.
My faith was still so new to me. I was still so confused by everything I felt. She knew God was changing me. Yet I was still not able to find the words to tell anyone what I was feeling. She could see the little change in me that others could not .
Faith was something we never had the chance to explore together. I often wonder what she would be saying to me today .
The last thing she said to me was you are beautiful. We held hands so tightly that day knowing we would never hold hands again.
Four weeks after her death I was confirmed. My faith journey reaching a milestone that I could not share with her.
The empty space she left was already being filled by God.I was exploring a new place to be me; prayer. I was feeling God in my life.
I started forming friendships within the church family. New friends that I could laugh and cry with. Friends that understood.
My beautiful friend left me just as I was discovering a whole new world and family.
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Proverbs 3 Good News Translation
Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way.

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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