Valued and Loved.

Day 33- Lent challenge – Give

We need four hugs a day for survival, Eight hugs a day for maintenance 12 hugs a day for growth.
We really don’t hug enough. Twelve hugs a day for growth that’s almost one hug for every waking hour.
There’s something about the raw simplicity of a genuine hug. There’s beauty in that simplicity. It’s love compassion and peace. A gift that holds you in the moment. A hug is love in action, love without language. It’s love from within spilling out from our hearts into our arms.
Theirs a human connection in a hug. Jesus touched the untouchable, embraced the children. Jesus did not wave from a distance, acknowledge our pain with a dutiful smile. He did not love and heal with an a understanding nod of his head. He embraced.In that embracing opening a way to God, forming human connections and expressions of love. To hug and love each other is profound and real. A living connection to God. A loving connection that children by their very nature understand. A connection as adults we forget.
I defiantly think we should hug more.
I read the other day that a hug is an outward sign of an inward grace. It expresses our spiritual oneness with God and each other.
What could be more beautiful?

Todays blog is a thank you to a very special person. A humble friend with a big heart. They give the warmest most sincere hugs. It’s a gift to be able to hug as they do. Being loved by God while being held in their loving arms. Held in the moment, valued and loved, it’s a transfer of emotions.
I need to challenge myself to hug more. Reaching out to those I love and those who need to feel love and compassion .
Remember we need four hugs a day for survival, Eight hugs a day for maintenance 12 hugs a day for growth.
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Matthew 11:28-30 Good News Translation (GNT)
28 “Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest. 30 For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light.”

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Feet planted firmly on love.

Day 29 – Lent challenge – Questions.

This blog is to my friend of 40 plus years.

Our lives have taken a similar paths. Life’s ups and downs have been shared and solved over many tears and evening walks together. We have seen challenges and problems we never imagined. My friend was always the adventurous one encouraging me to have a go, take risks.
A lot of that was down to our parenting . She was encouraged and allowed to take risks. Her parents would always remind us as we cycled of on an adventure that God would look after us – trust in the lord. My parents would give us the 3rd degree on not talking to strangers, not going to far on our own etc etc. We listened to neither cycled care free.
We both continued to ignore her parents views on faith and God. We learnt to disappear when the subject of our personal relationship with Jesus was the topic of conversation.
As we became adults they became more persistent in their longing for us to be saved. Family barbecues could if we where not careful turn into question time . Strong big uncomfortable questions. Questions that made you want to run, Questions that we could not and did not wish to engage with.
It started to become a family Joke. We talked about conversation rates. Learnt to change the subject when we were asked if we accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Saviour ?
We did not understand why they did this. We certainly did not want a life with Jesus if this is how people behaved and acted.
My friend was often embarrassed and hurt. God to her was a problem that would not go away.
When my friend turned to her parents for help they in turn turned to scripture. They recited verses which to her that had no meaning. Words that where alien and seemed unkind. Words totally out of context to my friend. My friend was just looking for a hug some love an understanding.
My friend is told God is the answer to her grief and pain. A God that is just words to her and a God that causes her embarrassment and pain.

We still walk together about once a month. She has started to slowly ask questions about my faith. We talk about the children’s groups I help with at church. We have started sharing God together .
Some walks we are really chatty others we don’t even approach the subject. She leads and I share.
Friendship and Gods love has to be at the heart of my faith sharing. Meeting people where they are. Walking with them letting them in their own time and space ask questions.
I long for my friend to see the God that resides in my heart. The God of love, the God that gives great big hugs when you need them. A God that takes nothing away from you just enhances and allows you to see things so differently. The God that has saved me because I asked to be saved. Not because someone told me it would be a good idea.

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Ephesians 3:17-19 The Message (MSG)
14-19 My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

Love is joyful sacrifice.

Day 26 – Lent Challenge – Sacrifice.
To love requires us to give something of ourselves. Love is a gift that is given from God to us. A gift that keeps on giving.
When we love we give time and tangible help. We cannot love if we don’t give. We love because we are loved. When we give, we always receive something back in return even if we don’t see that return ourselves.
Love requires sacrifice, love is not a word it’s a action from within. When we give, we should focus on the joy of giving, not the sacrifice involved. When we love, we automatically sacrifice, it’s not a conscious decision it’s a product of love. Our sacrifice may be obvious to others but not to ourselves. If it were obvious than it would not be a sacrifice but a job a chore not done in love.
Today’s blog is for a lady with the warmest biggest heart. She has given everything to her children , grandchildren and great grandchildren. God is at the heart of all she does. Her love extends past her family and into our community.
This lady has helped me see the importance of making space for myself. Finding a place to recharge my batteries. To be with God,
Making time, not robbing time from sleep eating or family. Time not spent thinking about my every growing todo list. Time spent looking inwards growing my relationship with God. Giving time for prayer, worship and deepening myself. Remembering who I am remembering and why I love.
Stopping long enough to feel that deep love that comes from God. Stopping is never sacrifice it’s a joy.
Writing every day over lent has made me realise that I don’t make enough time to just be me. I need to feel the soil in my hands I need to be outside.
That’s when God talks to me at his loudest. I need to reconnect with myself and in doing so with God. I need to pause long enough to recharge my heart. To garden my soul. Look inwards and not create words that challenge me, but look inwards and feel the Joy of knowing God.
God came to me as a feeling, a presence, a voice that said you can do this, I am with you. God came to me without words. The words took along time to form, the words that slowly came from my heart. It’s going back to the God the resides in my heart as a feeling not words. It’s taking myself away from trying and thinking, going outside and just being me and God.

Not sure if I had just hit the bloggers wall. Having some sort of mini lent melt down or just worn out and over emotional after a tough week. With 14 more blogs to write it’s getting harder but than I guess this was not meant to be easy.

John 13:35 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.”

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.”

Energy that challenges and funnels.

Day 23- Lent challenge – Challenge.

I have been thanking and blogging about all the people that have challenged, changed and influenced my life. I think I need to include myself in all of this.
My personal challenges this year include reading the bible in 365 days. And of course this lent challenge.
The lent blog challenge is once again helping me try and make some sort of sense of my faith journey so far. It helps me see things I did not see before. It helps me let go of pain and join up my worlds. Exploring thoughts and feeling that otherwise I would not face.
Blogging in its self is growing and challenging me. God is changing me.

I heard the other day on a course that discipleship is riding the wave of the Holy Spirit.
For a non surfer It took some time to relate to this but my little doddle in my notebook has been in my thoughts the last few days.
For me the whole idea of bobbing around in the deep sea waiting for a wave petrifies me.
You have no control of the waves. Or the size of the waves that are heading your way. No idea when the wave is coming. You can’t change it.
In riding the wave we to respond to its power. Surfing in a style that reflects who we are on our individual journeys. Surfing with focus energy and drive. Surfing at different levels according to our ability but all going the same way forward.

It’s trying to visualise the wave of the holy spirt. A wave taking me closer to being within my own depth and understanding.
My hunger to learn comes from listening to the Holy spirt. It’s waiting for the wave learning to be instinctively aligned with the energy that comes from within.
Than at precisely the right moment riding the wave feeling the energy that brings me closer to God.
It’s this waiting and listening that allows me to connect the thoughts in my heart and convert them into words feelings and tears.
It’s that energy that challenges and funnels me. The waves never stop. Some are bigger than others. Some waves seem impossible challenging me in many different ways, some almost to the point of drowning. Without the Holy Spirt lifts of creative energy I might be left out of my depth in the deep scary water.

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John 14:26-27 The Message (MSG)
25-27 “I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.

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.

Despair – The Compelte Loss Or Absent Of Hope.

Day Eleven – Lent Challenge 2018 – Despair

I feel called to be along side those that have complete loss and absent of hope. Reaching into the forgotten corners of our communities.
Dysfunctional families where poverty and hunger is real. Being a voice for them, fighting for justice. That the love of God may be made visible to them.

Writing the above one powerful image comes to mind.
A father sat rocking in grief unable to look up from the floor. Numb and muted by pain, he rocked slowly in some hopeless attempt to self calm. A father that had his 3 children removed by social services the day before. A father that was expected to partake in a meeting with no support.
He sat alongside his wife holding her hand. Not once did they break contact, not once did they look at each other.
I attended that meeting and did nothing. A cried deeply inside, I prayed that someone would go to them and stop this cruelty.
I am ashamed with myself for not doing something. I never had the confidence to help. I never had the words to say to them.
When I experienced terrible pain and grief myself some 18 months later, I found myself wrapped in love. Held in grief, prayed for and supported in my pain.
I can’t imagine going through so much pain without love. Going through grief without someone to hold you. Crying thinking no one cares.

The father and mother in my story will never know the impact they made on my life.
My journey is just beginning. Giving people space and opportunities to explore what it means to be loved by God.
I feel so full of energy and need some way of putting that energy down . God is changing me and giving me a voice; a voice that I have never really used much before.

My confidence is growing and so is my knowledge. I am hungry to learn, excited to see where God will send me and the path this might take.
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Psalm 88 The Message

1-9 God, you’re my last chance of the day.
I spend the night on my knees before you.
Put me on your salvation agenda;
take notes on the trouble I’m in.
I’ve had my fill of trouble;
I’m camped on the edge of hell.
I’m written off as a lost cause,
one more statistic, a hopeless case.
Abandoned as already dead,
one more body in a stack of corpses,
And not so much as a gravestone—
I’m a black hole in oblivion.
You’ve dropped me into a bottomless pit,
sunk me in a pitch-black abyss.
I’m battered senseless by your rage,
relentlessly pounded by your waves of anger.
You turned my friends against me,
made me horrible to them.
I’m caught in a maze and can’t find my way out,
blinded by tears of pain and frustration.