About Me

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Where is God?

So I have this obsession. It's about where God is, sort of; well where he resides, kind of; oh well I don't know. I mean I get that he is all around us, Christ is in us.. yeah yeah I get all that. But sometimes I find myself thinking well, where is he? Where is heaven? Is it up in the sky like we believed as kids? It's like I can't get my head around this omnipotent thing. It's not constant, just every now and then it rears up. Like an unwanted guest or a bad dream that you can't escape. And yes, I do pray about it. It's not even about doubt and disbelief because in my heart I know he's there right next to me. I can't not believe thanks to all the amazing stuff that has happened to us over the last 6 months. But it's like I need to know, to really understand where he is. What does he do? Is he watching over us and how can he? yes he's everywhere but how? I know these sound like fundamentals and as I said this isn't about unbelief, I guess I'm not explaining it very well...
It's like this... When I pray, if I imagine I am having a conversation, that Jesus is there in the room with me, well that's a sinch, no problem, I'm just having a chat with my eyes shut. But when I start to really think about it, start getting deep, that's when I start questioning. I know that I can't know the answers to these questions until eternity (that's assuming I get there..;) ) I know there is that bit of mystery that has to be there, I've said it myself before - 'that is what faith is about' but right now it is doing my head in.

I know that he could just show up, or send an angel or cause some miraculous thing to happen to help me understand this, but then I would be like doubting Thomas. And I don't want that, I would rather take the hard route and get my head around it without taking the easy way out (if only it were even offered!)
Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. John 20:29

I feel like I'm rambling now. It's just that I've just been mulling this over today on a long walk and can't quite get it straight in my head, so, sorry for the waffle... maybe I should pray some more :)

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Musical interlude...

At the risk of blowing my cover entirely...
Here's a moment of pride! My lovely hubby in action yesterday at 'Soul by the Sea'! He's on the left, on the guitar...


Watch your words...

Today I read a short article in the paper relating to libel cases. What struck me in this article was the very fact that one woman had related her own memories in a book that related to an area she had worked in for some time. These were her memories. It turned out she had remembered something slightly differently to how it happened. I am sure we all do this. If you asked 4 witnesses of a car accident what happened they would all have slightly differing stories. We all have different observational skills, we remember things differently, that's normal isn't it?! However in this case someone took offence and instead of approaching the writer (who was a friend) they resorted to a libel lawyer. As she herself notes - this is crazy - should this not be the last resort?

It did make me think however about this virtual world in which we all type into every day. On here people blog for many reasons. We share, we offer opinions or advice, we rant, air our irritations (some more than others....) and so on. This is our right, yes? we have a right to air our own views and opinions without risk of recrimination. Ah, but of course we don't do we? - we may have freedom of speech, but only if it doesn't offend or incite. So where do we draw the line? At what point does one persons humble opinion become libel or incitement to do something awful?

In the case of religion lines are much more blurred than other areas. Religion is a contentious issue in some circles and often creates heated debates and strong opinions. Does that mean that we should be more careful about what we write? should we be watching our words for fear of the results they may bring? Of course there are obvious areas to avoid, and I would guess that those with particularly extreme views are unlikely to air them on a public blog... but in the case of the woman above she was just reciting her own memories. Her own memories - not a tale reported to her by another, but something from her own mind. So the facts are slightly wrong. Is it her responsibility to check out her own memories before putting them into print - how many of us would do that? And is it right that the person referred to, can then call an entire libel case upon her because of it? (incidentally in this case the info in question related to the design of a tattoo - not exactly toxic information...)

It strikes me that sometimes this world is going a bit nuts. Where is the forgiveness? the love? the trust? the gentleness and respect? Why do people look at others with distrust and suspicion? People have said that I am too gullible, (which is probably true), but actually I would rather be like that - taking people on face value and trusting in them. Simple maybe but it works for me... :)

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Decision made

So... as of this time next year I will not be working .
(well let's just clarify that statement - I will not be working in this job. I will still be working bloomin hard as a mum and housewife, as PTA secretary, as a comfort to my Nan, doing my kids homework etc etc. Point being I am just giving up my job. It may be foolsish to say so on here, so for those that know me, keep it under your hats... :)

Anyway the last few weeks I have been quieter than usual on here and I have missed it, but my mind has been otherwise occupied and I know God hasn't been placing too much on my shoulders, no deep issues as I have had my own to deal with! I was ill and things came to a real head with work. It has been a weird old time it's true. But in all that, I have had so much peace about it all. I made the decision to give up work (won't bore you with the details, but it's not been easy...) as of Christmas this year. And I can't wait.

I have spent 6 months thinking this over and have swung from one extreme to the other. I have been fearful: fearful that God would want me to carry on! fearful of what I would do without work. Fearful that I would be letting people down.
I have been striving: striving to make this decision too quickly, striving to find answers in my own strength.
I have been impatient (in way too many ways to list...!
But I have also been joyful, uplifted, rewarded, appreciated and mostly prayerful. Actually I'm sure God is sick of hearing about my business... And the funny thing is that as I look back over the last 6 months, I can see God has actually answered so many of my prayers and requests about this issue, even when I thought he hadn't. I have been so wound up in the details of it that I couldn't see he was shaping me and the journey forward on this. And although I have been worried,fearful etc, I have actually been peaceful about it too (well, mostly...!) The business has caused me to be stressed a lot in the past and actually now, in this whole process which should have been the most stressful, there has been none. I thank God for that.

The one thing I was occupied with most has been wanting to do the right thing by God. As you know listening to him is still pretty new to me but I think I've been overly worried about it. And actually he has gven me confirmation at every turn - far more than I can ignore. Scriptures, advice and words from friends, even the sermon a few weeks back was perfect for me. I cannot ignore it and what's more I know I am doing the right thing.

I have no idea what he has planned for me next, although I am praying for a 6 month break.. (ideally abroad, somewhere hot... ;) ) but I am so excited.

I can't tell you how alien this is to me - I have probably posted about it before, but I am Mrs super-organised, I have everything planned to a T, I know what I want and I go get it. Having no plans would have, in the past, made me rather twitchy, but right now, well, I just feel... calm. Yes calm is the best way to describe it. I am not planning anything. I am leaving it all up to Him upstairs. Doors may open, doors may close, but it's bloody great!!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Rebellion

So last night was the latest installment of 'Living Free'. One of the things we talked about was REBELLION.

Now I have always been a bit of a rebel. I naturally go against the grain. If someone says I can't do something it's like a red rag and I go all out to prove them wrong. I am noy good at submitting to authority if I don't agree with it.
That is changing, it's true, as I go along this jounrey I am being less of a rebel. But a few things came up last night that were interesting...

...For rebellion, is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatory... (1Samuel 15:23)



So that implies that rebellion is as bad as a form of witchcraft. Oh boy, I am in trouble... ;)



Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as sureme authority, or to govenors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. (1 Peter 2:13-14)



Sumission as our vicar says, is not 'cool' in todays society. We pride ouselves on being strong, individuals, making our own way in life. We teach our chidlren to question almost everything, we don't believe the things we read in the midea (thankfully...), we question scientific evidence. So to actually sumbit to those in authority - well that is not easy.
So is all rebellion wrong? Obviously any authority that tells us to do something against Gods laws would be wrong but what about daily life stuff? Is it ok to sometimes be a rebel? or never? I struggle with going along with stuff I don't agree with. Nicky Gumbel in his Alpha book gives a great example of submission - he talks about Sandy Millar who was the Vicar of HTB. When Sandy was the curate, although he often disagreed with the vicar, he always submitted to his authority, let him make the decisions. Mostly people thought that Sandy completely agreed with the Vicar. But when the vicar left, Sandy took over and he changed everything! So he had quietly bided his time, submitted to his 'boss' and when the time came and he had the authority he then exercised it. Perhapos we should all be a bit more like that?

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Modern day angels?

ok, so I'd like to know who believes in angels? Have you had an experience with an angel or do you think they are just from the bible ?

Someone recently gave me a gift of a small sign on which it says 'angels don't always have wings', the implication being that anyone can be an angel in any given situation. I know of people who have been guided specifically by God to perform certain tasks for strangers, which have seemed strange but ultimately have spoken volumes to the individual concerned. Would they be thought of as an angel by the stranger?

I recently have been having a struggle with my work, and prior to an important meeting, I was at a rather low ebb, and I was led to a particular scripture:

See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him. If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. (Exodus 23:20-22)

This spoke to me at the time and gave me comfort but I didn't think much about the angel. However the following morning at the meeting, my colleague totally took control. She was like an angel. Where I was unable to function properly as I was emotionally involved and upset, she was very practical and laid down a list of instructions to deal with the situation. Quite a role reversal for us actually!

It has occurred to me that she is the angel from the passage.

So, is that all angels are? ordinary people that God uses to help us? Or are there biblical angels out there too, with big wings and lots of power? thoughts anyone?


Monday, 14 June 2010

Testimony

Yesterday I shared my testimony at our village chapel.
I was, frankly, crapping myself, in advance. Even though they are lovely people and I knew most of them already. But I was laying out my life, stripped bare, and so making myself very vulnerable. But I know this was Gods plan for me to share it and I am sure there will be other opportunities to do so, so I felt strong. And before hand I prayed, a lot, and when the time came there were no nerves, no nervous twitching of paper (a habit I have!) and all went well. They laughed in the right places, looked on with sympathy at the bad stuff and were joyful at my salvation.
I feel very blessed, with some wonderful friends, my beautiful family, and we lack nothing (well nothing essential, although I think my husband is coveting the neighbours huge flat screen TV...) and God is good :)
Thank You Lord.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

CHANGE

Something that came up in the Living Free course I am doing: 'We are in the business of being changed'.

We should be prepared to change. Hands up who can point out someone who has been a Christian for years and yet refuses to be moved on issues or listen to new ideas? Having served on the PCC of a village church some years back I came across several of these types! (no judgement here though...;) )The line used at the course was 'we are in the business of being changed' and I thought that was a great line - I mean the whole point about getting saved is that we are changed, through Christ, and we should go on being changed by him, for our entire earthly lives.

We are in Christ, so change needn't be scary - we can lean on him. so why are people who profess to be Christians so alien to change...?

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Being condemned

So last night I went to week 4 of our churches 'Living Free' Course (have mentioned this copiously before, but see here for more info). I won't go on about it all again, but I love it. It's quite a contraversial approach and I guess you have to believe in the devil/enemy/force of evil/insert other variant here, to get it.

Anyway last night the talk was partly about repentance and condemnation. So much of the talk spoke to me in ways the course hasn't done before and particularly in relation to condemnation:

There is NO condemnation in Christ.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus... (Romans 8:1)

Seems simple right? we don't need to be taught this. but how many of us condemn ourselves for things we do wrong? Recognising we've done something wrong is usually the easy bit and even repenting isn't that hard once we've recognised it. But then how many of us beat ourselves up about the initial wrong thing or sin? The girl doing the talk gave a great example of her own about shouting at her kids and then descending into a spiral of 'oh I'm such a terrible mother' and so on... how many of us Mums shout at our kids and then feel bad? Now I'm not saying we shouldn't feel bad at all - I mean that is how we recognise what we've done wrong and try not to do it again. But we do not need to beat ourselves us about it. Repent, receive Gods forgiveness and it's dealt with. simple as that!
In relation to repentance she then had a diagram of 3 doors. The first has a sign on saying 'defensiveness and self-justification'; the second: 'repentance'; and the third: 'Condemnation & guilt'. When we sin and ask for forgiveness we can chose which door to go through. It is up to us, no one can make us go through one door over another. we chose. But only one is the right one, the path to true forgiveness.


Wednesday, 9 June 2010

illness & prayer

So this week (well last actually but this week were the after effects) I got food poisoning. Will spare you the details but let's just say I never intend to eat another prawn (or perhaps never let my husband cook them..) ugh.
I am not good at being ill (is anyone I wonder?) and it takes a lot for me to actually take a rest. I get bored being ill and always make myself worse by trying to do too much. That's what happened this week - woke up feeling heaps better on Monday so then had a 'normal' day - just getting on with stuff. Come 6 o'clock I am feeling grim again, serves me right I know. Since then I have been napping at lunchtime and going to bed at 9pm, and living off water, plain digestives and vegetable soup. (so dull...) (church nights out as mentioned in previous post have mostly been canned!)

Funny how much it has taken out of me. I have done very little this week, even blogging has been minimal. In fact that old saying about kicking a man when he's down came to mind. As this week a whole host of things have come to a head, some might call it a spritual attack (some meaning me). Feels like I've been got at on every level. from illness, to work stuff, crotchety kids, you name it. But the thing is, out of that, in my weary state I have spent much time in prayer. In fact I think I have been through many stages of prayer this week... something along the lines of:

1. Pleading prayer:
without intimate details, when the prawns were making their reappearance and I had a particularly close view of the toilet bowl, I was definitely pleading for God to stop it all.
2. Weary thankful prayer:
after said action had stopped
3. Angry prayer:
at not getting well. and at not being able to do the stuff I wanted to do.
4. Weary acceptance prayer
It's not Gods fault I am ill. sorry for being angry at God
5. Desperation Prayer
still ill, kids grumpy, can't do the things I want or need to do and so fed up of it.
6. Weary acceptance prayer
Its not Gods fault. I will get better, I will be patient.
7. Real acceptance prayer
ok I finally accept for real that everything that has happened this week is not of God. If he weren't in it it would probably have been a whole lot worse.

In fact I have realised a lot of my prayers are like this. I ask God about something, it doesn't happen instantly and I get annoyed. I really must learn about patience.

And the thing is that although this week has been frankly hideous, and I am still exhausted, a lot of things have been worked out, both in my head and in 'real life'! So whilst I would rather not have been ill, (especially as prawns are my fave and I am annoyed at now not wanting to eat them ever again) good has come out of it. So was the Lords hand in this all along? Or is it just that he manages to make good come from bad? Or is it all irrelevant and my husband just a lousy cook...



...For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10)



Sunday, 6 June 2010

its all in the timing...

ok it's happened. the moment people warned me about. finally church is taking over my life. and I totally love it!
People said to me that God won't just suddenly make you change what you are doing, there will be a progression and several people actually said: what usually happens is you find your time is gradually taken up with the new stuff and there won't be time for the old and then you have to make a decision. Well that has happened. I got home tonight, after a church based meeting (which I wanted to go to don't get me wrong) and realised that by Thursday I will have been out at church based 'entertainment' 5 nights on the trot. My husband then told me he was playing in the band on Sunday and was off to rehearsal on Tuesday night. so there the line was drawn! I don't like the kids having babysitters too often and its not fair on them, so something had to give.
I have been really careful about not taking on too much as we are both so keen we would sign up to something every night of the week if we could! but the last few weeks have been a bit odd for various reasons. Thing is, I want to do all the church stuff. I don't resent it, I want to be involved, be part of it, pray with others and so on, but it really just can't fit with my business and my family. just wont, and doesn't work. unfortunately barring a small miracle (or a bigger one) I am a bit stuck in the work area for the next 8 months, so I guess I just have to hang in there with a whole heap more prayer.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

embrace life

I just saw this on JBR's blog here, and had to repost it - it is such a beautiful advert for such an important campaign. It always amazes me that people refuse to wear seatbelts in this day and age. I was also surprised to see that it is actually made by my local safer roads partnership who I have worked with on various issues with our primary school.
Watch it and get it - wear your seatbelt!

Friday, 4 June 2010

helpless?

Recently I have been visiting my Nan once a week. She's in her 90s and lives in a care home nearby. To my shame until recently I saw her only once a year when she came for Christmas. A few years back I went to see her, feeling a bit guilty about my lack of visits. She was so rude and crotchety I didn't go back. She is not happy in the home and she is making my mums life a misery, calling her up to 10 times a day, being rude and generally not a very nice person to be around.
Then in January I felt there were a few issues that God was putting on my heart to deal with. One of these was my Nan. So since January I have been visiting her in her home once a week. Practically this has been hard, simply because I have no free time as it is, so adding another few hours of things to do every week has been tough. But I have been so blessed in visiting her. We have talked about family history, stuff I had no idea about, like she told me about how she met my Grandad and how he proposed to her. Generally she has been lovely. Yes she moans a lot and I hear the same old gripes about the staff or the food every time I go in... But I think it helps her to get this off her chest and I don't think she gets much sympathy from my mum as she has heard it so many time before.
Sometimes the visits are hard. really hard. she is so unhappy and I have left in tears on occasion because I feel so helpless to help her.

When I started visiting her I really felt God had a purpose for me seeing her, and in fact quite early on we did talk about faith, but to be honest as the weeks have gone on I have felt like I have no idea what I am doing there. I feel so helpless. Every week before I go I pray for her, I ask God to give me the discernment I need to know what she needs, but the more I go the more I feel that she is just waiting to die. I was angry with God for letting her live like this for so long when she is so unhappy. I found myself praying for Gods mercy upon her, asking him to let her die, not to live in this misery any more. Which in itself is more upsetting.

Then about a month ago we were talking about faith again and she was saying how lucky I was to have been brought up in a Christian family and to have had that grounding. I said well, it has helped but actually I didn't really understand it until very recently. She said that she still doesn't. Revelation! Suddenly I felt like I had renewed purpose in seeing her. That maybe I need to help her to understand. I know she was introduced to Christianity at college (some years ago...!) and she has a prayer book that she reads from every day, but she is not living in faith, that is obvious. I had assumed from some of our chats that she was quite happy with her faith, but I was so wrong.She is pretty much where I was before my big renewal of faith, but she's been there years longer!

The funny thing is that in one of my very first visits to her, I felt that the sinners prayer was going to be important, but as early on we talked about faith and I thought from what she said that she had a strong faith, I thought I must have got that wrong. Now however I think I was right. I came away from that visit a few weeks back thinking what she needs is an alpha course! But obviously there's no way she's going to get to one and its highly unlikely she would read the book, so I felt a bit stuck. Talking is not easy as she is so deaf, so lengthy conversations on the basics of Christianity were going to be tough.

So I've been writing her, her own personalised, very basic, shaped for the over 90s, introduction to Christianity. Which I type up and leave with her when I go for my visits. The idea being that she can then read it in her own time and ask me any questions when I go in. We're on week 3 now (out of 7), and I think it's making a difference, although it's hard to tell. Thing is, I worry about what will happen when I've finished. What happens if we get to week 7 and she isn't 'saved'? What if I've got this wrong? Will I go back to praying for Gods mercy upon her? I so desperately want to her to be happy and I am hanging all my hopes on this, well on God actually. And I guess that's all I can do.


Tuesday, 1 June 2010

just an aside...



Just as an aside, with no real point other than what a nice day we had, yesterday we went to The Big Church Day Out. Which was a really fab day out with some awesome bands/artists including Tim Hughes (is it wrong to say I quite fancy him...?), Hillsong, Lou Fellingham and a host of others... We went sans enfants which was doubly good as we could enjoy the day without once going near a bouncy castle or ice-cream stand (oh the simple pleasures of life...). One of the loveliest moments of the day was singing along to one of my faves 'Hosanna' by Hillsong and feeling very moved in the spirit, and then looking across to the hill nearby and seeing a huge cross lit up on the hill. Our Vicar who was standing with us told us about the people who own the land, who are Christians and have been praying on the land for years for it to be used by God. On the hill behind is well known local landmark, Chanctonbury Ring (basically a bunch of trees...), which has been used for years as a site for occult practices and witchcraft. So when these guys moved in they went up on the hill, prayed and put up a big cross to claim back the land. The cross was smashed down the next night. So they went up and put it up again. It was knocked down again, and so they went up a third time and put it back up and apparently it is still there, (although I confess at that time of night I was not going to go and investigate!). Hence the reason why they lit up a huge cross of lanterns on the night of the festival, giving a message far and wide to the local area. The photo doesn't really do it justice, but at the risk of being rather over emmotional, just imagine being in a field at dusk, with 10,000 others, gently swaying to the dulcit tunes of Hillsong United, the odd prayer being offered up (well ok, probably more than the odd one...) the smell of damp grass in the air and being in the arms of someone you love, both literally and metaphorically, and then you look across and see a giant cross on the hillside, flickering gently..... that's what it was like. pretty bloomin' cool.

ok enough gooey stuff for now, will be back to the ranting and questioning tomorrow :)