The school run, Pie Jesu and Henry King.

Day 32- lent Challenge – Remain.

Today’s blog is for my head of house.
When my mum was recently asked. Which four people would she have round for a dinner party (dead or alive) and why? She choose; her granddaughter, her grandfather, a personal friend, and her old English teacher (who went onto be my head of house at school).

I recently asked my mum why she choose him. The main reason was she felt valued. She went on to say that he cared and taught passionately. His love for poetry was something he wanted to pass onto others.
That passion for poetry has stayed with my mum. It’s a beautiful gift, that she has passed onto my daughter.
As children we grew up with my mum reciting poems at any opportunity. This was normally Sunday after lunch. We would all stay sat at the table listening to my mum performing poetry. ( Her owl and pussycat adds a whole new dimension to spoken word poetry) .
Our family favourite poem was the “ Chief Defect Of Henry King “ by Hilaire Belloc. We still all love this silly nonsense poem about little bits of string.
Mothering Sunday afternoon Henry King made an unexpected visit, accompanied by my mum sister and nephew. We spent a blessed hour together. A rare hour full of joy and laughter.
My mum sat on the sofa reciting poems. My 7-year-old nephew adding his own silly words. We all laughed so much.
So a huge thank you to this wonderful teacher for making my mum feel valued. For Teaching her poetry that remains with us and has been passed onto future generations.

My turn.
This wonderful teacher was getting near retirement when he became my head of house.  He held house assembley three times a week, this was a mix of school notices, poetry and prayer.
He always played a track of classical music at the start of assembly, during which he would walk with purpose into the assembly hall.
One morning he walked into the hall to the music “Pie Jesu”. The mood was somber as he gently broke the news to us that our much-loved tutor had been killed in a car crash. The music played on quietly as he spoke soft sincere words of grief and pain. I remember how we felt valued and loved by this teacher, he felt our pain.

Many years later listening to the same piece of music God spoke to me. I was not aware of this at the time. I was not completely listening, not yet ready. A little spark of faith very dimly ignited for a few seconds.
All this happened a few days after 9/11. I was driving to collect my daughter from school. Listening to my new cd of “Pie Jesu” that I felt compelled to buy only hours earlier. I had never even thought about this music until the tragic events of 9/11. The grief I felt connected me with that school assembley so many years before.
Listening to the music I ended up driving and parking near the church. With time to spare before my daughter finished school, I walked into the empty church. Sitting down very very briefly before leaving.
I look back on that day and see it as a wobbly God moment. I often wonder how close I was that day to a prayer. How close I was to opening my heart to God.

Last year “Pie Jesu” was sung at the saying goodbye service at Exeter Cathedral ( you can read more about it here). The service that offered me great comfort and support. Little steps in healing the pain caused by pregnancy loss. Giving my pain to God. It was such a powerful and moving day. Powerful emotions of a journey travelled.

It’s looking back that I see God showing up in my lifetime and time again. Showing up in the ordinary. I love the ordinary amazing things that Holy spirit does for us. Giving space and vision in our lives to turn the ordinary into something extra extraordinary.
Personally for me that’s so awesome, powerful and wonderful. God revealing himself to me in my ordinary routines. The school run, Pie Jesu and Henry King.

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Romans 12:1-2 The 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.

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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.

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.

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.”

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.

Love.

Day 20 – Lent challenge – Love.

This blog is to my parents – They are all 40 of my blog tiles and so much more. 40 words of love and thanks to my wonderful parents.

1. Learn – Dad thank you for all the hours we spent at the allotment together.
2. Remember – Dad remember when my baby hedgehogs escaped into your bed in the early hours of the morning. Thank you for seeing the funny side. (mum did not)
3.Breathe – Mum and Dad you breathed your life into me .
4.Hospitality – Mum you are the queen of hospitality. I still have so much to learn from you.
5.Receive – Mum and Dad you welcomed and received my husband into the family. Thank you.
6.Listen – Mum thank you to reading to me.
7.Search – Mum and Dad sorry for stoping out so late that you had to go out looking for me. The sunset that night was beautiful and worth getting into trouble for.
8.Faith – Mum and Dad thank you for not forcing my faith. You allowed me to discover it myself.
9.Follow – Dad thank you for the lovely cycle rides around the country side. I would follow you for miles, listening to stories of your childhood.
10.Joy – The joy I felt when I came home from school to find you had been to the dogs home and brought home lucky a little collie cross.
11.Despair – Mum you always say you despair of me. I love that you understand my scatterbrain.
12. Hunger -I was always asking for some new pet. Some ridiculously impractical others not so. I remember my hunger strike for a pet mouse. Not sure how long I lasted but I never got the mouse. Thank you for saying No to me and the mouse ( The mouth turned out to be pregnant )
13. Refresh – Mum and Dad thank you for being such wonderful grandparents to H. For the holidays and the baby sitting. We valued that time to be together as a couple as much as H enjoyed her time with you.
14. Journey – The holidays we had where always eventful. Our unreliable cars only just getting us home was all part of the fun.
15.Family – Mum thank you for being the granny to our foster children. You have treated and loved them as you have loved us.
16. Still– I love the stillness of water. Our trips to abbots pool were always a favourite. The joy of collecting tadpoles and watching them grow.
17. Celebrate – Mum and Dad I celebrate your marriage and your love for each other.
18.Ask – Mum and Dad thank you for saying no to me.
19. Forgive – Dad thank you making lots of rabbit hutches for all the baby bunnies. For forgiving me when I went to work and the boy bunnies got into the girl bunnies as I never shut the door properly,
20.Love – Thank you for your unconditional love that I never once questioned.
21.Deliver– Mum you have delivered the church magazine for over 40 years. I always loved this monthly ritual. We would stop for coffee and biscuits and share conversation.
22.Longing – Mum I know you long for some sort of reconciliation between me and my sister. I pray for this too.
23.Challenge – Thank you for always believing and encouraging me in all that I did.
24.Refine– Mum I am so much like you. In looks and ways just slightly different.
25.Live – I am the 4th generation to live in our village. Mum and Dad thank you for give me such a good foundation in life.
26. Sacrifice– Thank you for being wonderful parents. You gave everything for us to have a happy childhood.
27.Fear – The only time I can remember fear is when we lost my sister for 3.5 hours on a busy beach. With the tide coming in police coastguard all involved in the search.
28.Endure – As a family we have said goodbye to so many, friends and family. The pain of this has made us stronger.
29.Questions – Thank you for answering my questions with honesty.
30.Friendship – Mum thank you for supporting my friend when her life was difficult.
31. Retreat– Dad your garden was your place to retreat, thank you for sharing your space with me.
32.Remain -Dad you might no be here, but a bit part of you remains with me.
33.Give – Dad my favourite Christmas gift was the dolls house you made me. You secretly worked in the garage to build the house of my dreams – Thank you.
34.Accept – Dad we had to all accept that you had cancer and that it had spread beyond treatment. You never gave up. You never gave us false hope. You helped us come to terms to a life without you.
35.Lead– Dad you lead me down the isle. Thank you for making our wedding day so wonderful and perfect .
36. Review – Dad you always reviewed you work, checked and double checked everything. I loved that about you. I love my sister is the same yet I am the opposite to both of you.
37. Wait – As a family we loved to fish down the docks. Rods out feet dangling over the dock wall.Their was something in the waiting in the not knowing if we would catch anything.
38. Hope – I always had hopes and dreams. You never said I could not, you never thought my ideas were to wacky.
39. Freedom – Mum and Dad thank you for the freedom to learn by own mistakes.
40.Begin – Thank you for having me baptised.

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When I asked my mum for her favourite bible passage, hymn that comforts her she emailed me back a few lines from Dear lord and father of mankind.

Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

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.