Just Like Jonathan.

Soaking up the sunshine at our local swimming pool, I was reminded of a younger me sat on the same spot enjoying the sun reading “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”by Richard Bach.
It’s about a very independent seagull, who dared to question what was being told to him. He didn’t just want to spend his time searching for food and hanging out doing what was expected of him; he was different and dared to dream.

The book was gifted to me by an elderly gentleman that I met one day at work. I was young and just doing my job admittedly with my own spin on things. For me it was my job; for him it was a very difficult day . A few weeks later he came to work again, asked for me by name and gave me “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” and suggested I read it .
I have often wondered why this stranger went to the trouble of getting the book to me. Did he see something in me that others did not? Or was I already at 18 flying in a different direction than my peers?

I remember reading it and the excitement of pushing personal boundaries, opening myself to a world I had yet to discover. It made me realise that it is okay to be different and not do what everyone else does, just because you are supposed to.
The excitement of spreading my wings and flying in my own direction stayed with me . It all seemed so very possible aged 18.
The book taught me to share what you have inside, but always to remain true to yourself and to keep working on Love .

I have just read the book again. Enjoyed it as much as the first time but seeing so much more in the story, than a lone gull that wanted to reach out and change his flock.

It’s is about each and every one of us. Reminding me it’s ok to refuse to conform for the sake of conforming. To find things out for myself ,make up my own mind. It’s a story of love, forgiveness and how to reach our full potential. The most powerful force that exists, is that of belief especially in ourselves.

It’s so hard in our world to stand up for what I believe in. Walk away from the crowd and do my own thing .
It’s even harder to tell others about what’s inside me and how beautiful and amazing God’s love is.
Wanting them to feel it too, just as Jonathon wanted the other gulls to see their was more to life than eating and fighting over food.
This last fortnight seems to be full of the same message. My random bible readings have all been about moving out of my comfort zone and pushing myself. The blogs I have read, the films watched all seem to be about individuals being themselves and telling others what’s inside them.

It does all sound a little scary. I need to push past that and allow others to see the sunshine in me.
The sunshine that is the Holy Spirit working , leading and guiding me on a journey .
A journey that may involve meeting people that might not be interested in my story and turn away from me.
A journey that is calling me to take the next brave step into the unknown and beyond. Just like Jonathon it’s a journey of transformation. But unlike Jonathon I have an overwhelming desire for others to have Jesus in their lives too.

Romans 12:2The Message (MSG)
Place Your Life Before God
12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

ring-billed-gull-soaring-2-douglas-lanska

My Last Blog For Lent.

Day Fourty – Recieve – Lent Challenge.

This is my last blog for lent, blog number 40/40.
The last 40 days has seen me reading my Bible more and more. Trying to understand myself and the journey I am on and how it all connects to the Bible.
I read my Bible in many forms on my iPad, audio books, Good News Bible (which I received when I got confirmed ). My most treasured Bible belonged to my Grandfather. He died before I was born. Issued to him in Word War Two this pocket size little New Testament Bible made from light weight Indian paper. It was designed to be carried on the left pocket of the soldier’s jacket over his heart. Published by the Naval and Military Bible Society this Bible is a connection to the Grandfather a that I never had.
The Bible has a couple of pages with the corners turned. I want to share with you the verse on one page that has a turned corner.
Reading and typing this I am reading the same words as my Grandfather did back in World War Two.

John 12:24-25
24.Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die; it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringth forth much fruit.
25. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

IMG_6292

God Understands My Pain.

Day Thirty Nine – Give – Lent Challenge.

14/04/2014
Three years ago today I said goodbye to my foster son. The little boy that I had loved and cared for the last two and half years was moving to his forever adoptive family. I loved him enough to say goodbye. My love for him allowed me to let him go, allowed him to start a new life in his adoptive family .

14/04/2014
Three years ago today I prayed for the strength to say goodbye to my son. I prayed for the first time in my life I cried out to God. Through the tears and pain I felt the presence of God. My strength that morning came from God and allowed me to let go of my little boy’s hand.

Good Friday 2014

Four days had passed since I drove of the drive at home with my little boy.
Spending time settling him in to his new home was challenging and emotional and came back home the day before Good Friday totally exhausted.
Good Friday 2014 was the first day without my little boy, the first morning in over 2.5 years I was not greeted by his smiling face.
Sitting at home full of grief was not the way I wanted to spend Easter, so at the suggestion of my mum we attended the church car wash in the local Homebase car park .
So full of grief I did not want to make eye contact with anyone, so full of grief I could not care if my car was clean or dirty. I remember just wanting the world to swallow me up.
I stoped all conversation with those that tried to make it, smiled politely and just wanted to leave .
A family friend that had lost a son was washing cars and spoke to us. She understood our pain and smiled and gave a hug, it never made it better, it never took away the pain. It gave me some sort of hope that we would be able to survive this.

Today -14/04/2017- Good Friday

Today is Good Friday – the day Jesus was crucified on the cross for us. He carried our pain and suffered our punishment willingly. Jesus doesn’t avoid suffering he does not avoid death, The woman that stayed with him at the foot of the cross did not avoid grief and pain. He could have stopped it, but he didn’t because he loved us so much.
Our sins were nailed to that cross forever. This is only possible because of Jesus and because of love.

Today is a day for reflection, some quiet time and prayer time.
Time to try and take in the scale of Good Friday and what it means, look back over my own life and these past three years.

John 3:16-17
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

IMG_6291

Deliver.

Day Thirty Eight – Deliver -Lent Challenge.

I loved my job as a post lady, spending time outside delivering letters and parcels to the same group of houses for over two year. During that time I got to know all my houses and all my people. I knew the names of their children, the schools they went to, where they went on holiday, when they were on holiday, those that had speeding tickets, birthdays, anniversaries. I delivered cards congratulating on a new baby. I delivered sympathy cards, love letters, passports and premium bond wins .

Each person known by their front door and by name, I very rarely saw the person behind the door.
That’s not unlike my non existent relationship with God that I used to have ( before 2014 ). I had no idea he knew everything about me. I just bumbled along my life totally unaware that God was with me. I used to question and wonder how there could even possibly be a God in a world of so much pain.
I just could not see it myself, but he was waiting for that day I opened my heart to him. I still find this totally amazing.

I used to find it very strange that God knows me so well, even a little uneasy about it all .
God knew that I did not believe in him, knew that I could not understand why others believed.
He knows my thoughts and understands my pain. When I behave in a way that I should not he is still there. I now find it a comfort, a reassurance that what ever happens in my life I will never again be alone, never be in a dark place with no way out.

Psalm 147:3-5Good News Translation

He heals the broken-hearted
and bandages their wounds.

He has decided the number of the stars
and calls each one by name.

Great and mighty is our Lord;
his wisdom cannot be measured.

IMG_6266

Searching for the Capital Letters.

Day Thirty Seven – Search – Lent Challenge.

This is blog number 37, one blog and one photo a day written around the word given each day by the Bible society as part of their lent challenge .
I have searched for and taken 37 photos, searched the Bible for 37 passages that relate to the blog I have just written .
For 37 days I have been thinking about my life, my life following Jesus and where I have been and where I am going.
It’s become very obvious that even through I read each blog though over and over again, the spelling and grammar needs a lot of improving.
After blog number 40 has been written my next challenge is to read though my old blogs and with help correct the spelling and grammar.
Search for the missing capital letters, find missing question marks, remove extra letters and correct the misspelled words.
I need to improve myself so I can help others, to be able to communicate with others share my journey and allow others to see that having a life with Jesus is not always easy, but it’s the life set out for us and by following Jesus we are never alone, always loved and just this feeling that the decisions we make are ours but the guidance and the strength to make them come from God .

Isaiah 54:2 “Enlarge the place of your tent; Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; Lengthen your cords And strengthen your pegs”

IMG_6219

Reimagine

Day Thirty six – Reimagine  – lent challenge

I work in a barn, its an old cow milking shed that has been basically converted into small units. When you think of barn conversations you might imagine beautiful houses incorporating features from the barn but alongside modern comforts.
Our barn is basic, we have cold running water, a small area to make a cup of tea, heating is extra clothes a small fan heater and hot water bottles. I often imagine the changes we could make to improve our little place of work, heat and hot water would be first on my list, maybe followed by carpet and a connecting door so I don’t have to walk outside in the cold.
Once imagined I reimagined that I could get an office, painted in business colours, a beautifully designed packing area with boxes stacked high, orders arriving and being packed by staff. I imagine a business looking smart and branded, clean slick painted. Maybe a kitchen with a  fridge full of healthy snack’s and we could hold business meetings in comfort instead of issuing weather warnings, and requesting visitors to come dressed warm and offer hot water bottles to those brave enough to stay.
We would look good on the outside but what would in the heart of the business? Would we lose what we are about by working like this?
The way we work provides us with an income to live within our means, it’s basic but keeps us connected to the world, I look forward to spring, look forward to feeing the warmth of the sun. I remember the excitement when we brought a fridge, we celebrated it was a big day, I still smile when I open the door to get a pint of milk.
To reimagine has to be for the good and not out of greed or wants, we need to put our creative minds to helping others, helping others see what a life following Jesus is like.
Jesus was born in a barn – God could have worked it out that a room would be available, but God chose for His Son to be born in a barn. Jesus came into this world humbly and in poverty to identify with the poorest and weakest among us.
I might not always like my barn, but it’s a constant reminder that we need to be thankful for everything we have, from a fridge to running water, their are many in the world that have nothing our barn keeps us dry and provides us with a place to work.

Romans 12:3 The Message (MSG)
3 I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

IMG_6223.JPG

I will Never.

Day Thirty Five – Imagine  – lent Challenge

I never imagined I would be able to say goodbye to my babies that died, I never imagined there would be the right place, or the right time.
I never imagined I would have the strength to let them go, the courage to face the realisation that I can’t hold on to them for ever. This was all made possible by the faith I never imagined I would have .
The right place was the Lady’s Chapel in Exeter cathedral, the right time was 8th of April 2017.
The strength and courage came from God and prayers.

The service was beautiful and very moving acknowledging baby loss as something you never get over but something you need to learn to live with.
The poem ” I will Never ” by Clark- Coates / Fossberry was read out and afterwards a hand bell was passed around during the playing of Pie Jesu recorded by Katherine Jenkins .

I held the bell knowing I would chime it 5 times, a chime for each precious life, it felt for the first time that they were babies .
I prayed for God to care for them until I can be with them again, I looked at the candles burning in the chapel, as the flame flickered it reminded me that although they are gone the flame in my heart will never go out but remain lit and burn brightly.
The chimes allowed me to let go and pass my pain to God, I have carried this pain for a very long time and the time has come to allow God to carry the pain and leave me with warmth and love .
The beautiful stained glass window In the chapel showed Mary holding Jesus as a baby cradled lovingly in her arms. The little baby that she had once held in her arms died crucified on a wooden cross, and pierced her heart. Jesus was her son and she was his mother .

In the presence of God I said my goodbyes, God who knows my needs, hears my cries and heals my wounds .
The hymn Amazing Grace was sung and radiated around the little chapel, the light of the spring day cast colourful shadows of light over us as we sang. The warmth of this sun gently soothing my pain and drying my tears .

I Will Never

I will never get to hold your hand through a storm.
I will never get to wipe your sticky fingers.
I will never get to teach you to tie your shoelaces.

I will never get to watch you catch your first snowflake.
I will never get to know who your best friend would have been.
I will never get to see you fall in love.
I will never get to hear you tell me about your first day at work.
I will never get to hear you tell me ” l’m going to be a grandparent.
But always know ……..
I will never be too proud to ask for help.
I will never be too scared to say this hurts.
I will never be too frightened to declare you matter.
I will never be too afraid to carry on living .
And
I will never forget you
I will never stop saying your name.
I will never stop wondering who you would have been.
I will never stop loving you.
I will never stop remembering the sound of this bell, rung in memory of you.
By Clark – Coates / Fosberry.

1 Peter 5:7Good News Translation
Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you.

IMG_6215