Roast For Twelve Weeks.

From December 1st our morning routine includes the opening a little paper door on our advent calendar. This non chocolate nativity scene is our traditional way to follow the Christmas story. For some this countdown involves the eating of chocolate. This early morning sugar high can often be followed by panic as they are reminded of how little time they have left to prepare for Christmas.
With Christmas preparations for some starting in September we should all have plenty of time to get ready for Christmas.
I am sure even the most disorganised households can’t take 12 weeks to prepare a roast diner, decorate a tree and buy a few gifts.
The commercialism of Christmas takes control. We are constantly being told to shop and indulge in Christmas . We loose the ability to pay attention to what is going on within us and to what is happening around us.

Late on Christmas Eve 1914, men of the British Expeditionary Force heard German troops in the trenches opposite them singing carols and songs they saw lanterns and small fir trees along their trenches. Messages began to be shouted between the trenches.
The following day, British and German soldiers met in no man’s land and exchanged gifts, took photographs and some played impromptu games of football. They buried the dead repaired trenches and dugouts.
They stopped for Christmas .

They stopped fighting I guess we will never know the motivations for such a complex event to happen. Some portray this event as a magical event. Romanticising
the laying down of arms.
I think it was far from magical but in the stopping it showed the humility of war.
The humility that is Christmas .

Christmas is a celebration of God becoming human: -That’s why I stop . To say thank you for Jesus .
The hugeness of Christmas is lost in the shops. It cannot been seen when we over indulge ourselves and others.

Advent for me means slowing down stopping; to make time to feel the silence and the stillness . Christmas for me is a time to rest, grow and pray . Stopping and standing away from the crowd allows me to journey through advent in a way that feels comfortable to me .

Christmas is a gift to us. A gift that needs to be received. Unwrapping such a special gift needs to be done slowly, taking time to discover its beauty and love.

I love writing and making Christmas cards . Its taking the opportunity to pray for and be thankful for friends and family .

To my elderly friends it’s not the card they are pleased with. It’s the time I spend with them when delivering the card.
The best gift I can give to my friends and family this Christmas is time. Given freely and not rushed.
Sharing with them and celebrating the joy of Christmas.

I can give this time because it’s really important to me.
It’s more important for me to take time away from work at Christmas than it is to have a summer holiday .
I don’t want to work flat out to pay for the Christmas that society believes I should have and enjoy.
I want the opportunity to connect with the community, have conversations invite them stop and engage with the Christmas story.

The beauty of creation is in abundance this time of year. Hedgerows are full of seasonal gifts that add colour and joy . Spending time outside walking and collecting greenery is one of my favourite Christmas activities . I give small gifts that if possible are hand made or made by someone else locally. When I do shop It’s making the effort to support local shops and charities so Christmas can continue on giving.

It’s very easy to quickly get caught up in the Christmas that I don’t want .
It takes a conscious effect to stop.

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Philippians 2:7-8The Message (MSG)
5-8 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

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Bananas May Contain Children.

When I imagine a drive in movie, I think big American, cars rock n roll, poodle skirts and the movie Greece.

I don’t really think much past that image . Until I saw a shared post on Facebook . Cardboard box cars all lined up containing children watching a film. This allowed me to not only reimagine it but when shared it become a reality . On Saturday our community had its very own drive in movie night.

Its such a simple idea, children make cars out of cardboard banana boxes adding embellishments. With plenty of imagination the boxes were transformed. After making the cars and parking them up a tea was provided . The children soon settled into their cars and enjoyed the film.

It has made me think how we label and stereotype often not being prepared to see past what we already know.
The children sat in boxes clearly labeled bananas. To everyone in that room they sat in cars.
The boxes had been beautifully crafted by the children. Adding paper wheels, some even had cup holders. Cars were unroad worthy some even multi occupancy but they were obviously cars.
Sitting enjoying the film my mind started to wonder. It made me think how Jesus does not label us, and how much we label .
On the outside boxes are clearly labeled bananas . So we should expect to find bananas on the inside.
Why would we find anything else? Its obvious why we have to label boxes.
But why are we so keen to label people ?
No one wants their identity boiled down to one thing, even if the label is a strength, a talent, or a gift. Even positive labelling restricts us . Puts us in a box that’s hard to get out of.
The way we label people is something I have always felt strongly about even in my teenage years it frustrated me . Caring for a little person with additional needs and finding my faith has strengthened my feeling about the way we judge and label people without much thought or consideration to them.
We can make decisions so quickly. Putting people into categories because of their jobs, looks, religion or race. It’s easily to do, we have all done it. It’s only by getting to know people and genuinely wanting to be with them understand them do we remove those unwanted labels.

Labels can really hurt, keep you from being who you really are.
I need to live my life by what I feel inside. Not the labels that others give me, or even the labels I give myself.
The labels I have carried and given myself are no longer significant, they no longer limit me in the way they used to . I am learning to see and live beyond my labels.
Jesus set me free from my labels allowed me to peel them back.
I am so much more than a label. I am a child of God and that’s all I am and who I am.

We could have described our drive in movie afternoon afternoon as “A fresh expression of church lead by an evangelical team ” it could equally be “Community family drive in movie night” .
Its was all those things but it was just simply to me one thing God at work .
Its being involved in lives of the families in our community.  It’s The conversations we have, love we have for them, the love of Christ that we want to share with them. Jesus loves us and that’s the message I want to share. “ you are loved “ . Loved without labels, loved on your good days and bad days . It’s good to loose the long words that not everyone understands and think just about what’s at the heart of what we do.

Psalm 139:14Good News Translation
I praise you because you are to be feared;
all you do is strange and wonderful.
I know it with all my heart.

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God Tears.

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.

Transformed

Why I said “I do” again?

The reasons why I wanted to say “I do” again.

My dad escorted me down the aisle of our parish church, to marry the man of my dreams. Surrounded by friends and  family we said our vows to each other with love and meaning.
We were young, and very much head over heels in love. We are still very much in love. It’s a different love today; a love that has matured and developed with age. A  love that has been battered and bruised, a deep rooted love.

So why do it again?

I wanted to say the words with God in my heart . I wanted to stand at the altar and feel the words.  Not just say them – actually feel them .
God was not a part of my life when we got married .We exchanged our wedding vows, knelt for the prayers. The vows were exchanged with love, thought and meaning . The prayers  were said but only as words not with meaning.
Renewing our vows gave us the opportunity to  pray together as a couple. Holding hands, kneeling in prayer together, with a deep understanding that not only do we love each other, but God loves us too.
We made a promise before God with our friends and family 24 years ago and we affirmed that promise again and celebrated  our love for each other.

So why do it again ?

I wanted to show my love to my amazing man. Not just say “I love you” , I wanted him  to know how much  I love him. For him to understand  that I  married him for richer for poorer, for better for worse, and in sickness and in health .
These last 12 months we have been living the reality of vows we made to each other on our wedding day. We have felt poor both  financially and in life. The dark cloud of depression has shown us how  hard life can be living together during times of sickness. We have seen some of the worse days of  our lives.
I have prayed that we both had the strength to see us through the dark days. The days when depression and anger were all consuming.
The poor days have taught us how rich and beautiful the life we have together is .
It’s time to be thankful  for all that we have, learn to  accept our losses and move forward together with love.

Why I said “I do” again?

It was time to move forward with our lives; allow the wounds to heal.
We have been surrounded by love these last 12 months. Supported  by friends and family that have had little understanding as to why our lives fell apart.
They have not asked questions, just held us in love and walked us though our grief and pain.
Depression has left its scars but we are loved so much . I wanted to show my husband this amazing love and for him to see it with his own eyes.

Though prayer and love, God  has given me back the man I married.  A little older and balder but that sweet hearted funny man that I love is still there . He is shining and  I am feeling the warmth of his sunshine.
Life is not perfect. I  have been embracing each moment. Listening to the beautiful things he says and treasuring our time together as we are never sure what tomorrow will bring.

 

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Sharing.

My life is reflected in my garden. Everything that’s in my life is in my garden. I will try and explain this in another blog it’s deeply complicated and hard to put into words.
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This weekend I shared my garden with the public. Opening my garden gate to strangers to wonder round and take from it what they will.
The whole experience was emotionally exhausting. I deeply feel it’s selfish to keep what you have to yourself. Opening my garden is a way to share what’s inside of me.
Until recently I had no other way to express this other than through my garden. No other way to tell and share with others what I find so wonderful.
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Inspiring words from the weekend.

Beautiful
Calm
Vintage
Wilderness
Peaceful tranquil
Old fashioned
Friendly
Homely
Exciting
Natural
Full of charter
Cheerful
Nature at its best
Happy
Relaxing.

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Spending the weekend sharing my garden was such a positive experience . But my thoughts and prayers today were for those affected by last nights attacks in London.

Visitors took time to light candles and share their thoughts and prayers.

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See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence . . . We need silence to be able to touch souls. ~Mother Teresa

Pray For Teenagers In Crisis.

Highest places: pray for teenagers in crisis.
Children in care are 4 times more likely than their peers to have a mental health difficulty.

I pledge to pray for families; children in the care system and those involved in adoption.

When I first read on the “Thy Kingdom Come” website find some extreme places to pray and film yourselves doing it. I thought of all the beautiful places I could pray: high on a mountain, in a darkest cave, under water in the depth of the sea, riding my bike through the countryside.
When I read it again I realised that I can see God’s beauty and creation in all of these places.
But to others these are not places of beauty but are the extremes of their lives.
The forgotten families and children of our society, often out of sight and unnoticed.

Dear Loving Seeing God

I pray today for those teenagers that are in the care system.
Teenagers that are angry with the world for feeling it’s letting them down.
I pray that you can help us reach out to these children .
Show them love in such a way that they accept it.
Help us guide them with kindness and love.
For them to learn that rules are their to protect them.
Not to fight against those that reach out to help them.
Allow them to be loved and understand your amazing unconditional love.
In the name of Jesus Christ.
Amen.

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Pray For Refuges.

Waters edge: pray for refuges
Roughly 2.5 million Syrian refugees are under the age of 18.

I pledge to pray for families; children in the care system and those involved in adoption.
When I first read on the “Thy Kingdom Come” website find some extreme places to pray and film yourselves doing it. I thought of all the beautiful places I could pray: high on a mountain, in a darkest cave, under water in the depth of the sea, riding my bike through the countryside.
When I read it again I realised that I can see God’s beauty and creation in all of these places.
But to others these are not places of beauty but are the extremes of their lives.
The forgotten families and children of our society, often out of sight and unnoticed.

Dear God Of Hope.
We pray for all those fleeing conflict and persecution.
Those risking their living in overcrowded boats, sailing in dangerous waters to start a new life.
A life without constant danger and conflict .
Open our hearts so we can provide shelter and hospitality.
Bless us with the resources and words to soothe their pains.
May our words and our actions be as bold as they can be.
We ask this of you Lord Jesus.
Amen

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