Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Quarrying is not a spectator sport

This has been sitting in my spirit for a few days and courage comes late at night so I'm endeavouring to post this via my phone ......

There's this fab lady who I get to do some life stuff with and she funny and loving and caring and nurturing and then she also does these great preaches that slap me round the face.

Recently I heard her talk about the building of our temples and the quarrying of the rocks to build the temple with, and to keep the temple growing we need to keep fashioning the rocks.  (You  can hear this in the podcast section at www.kerith.co.uk )

I loved it and hated it at the same time.  You see I have really been purposeful this year about building and growing - putting scaffolding around me to stabilise and support it and so I felt like if been to the quarry a lot! And I was slightly over the quarry.... The  quarry was too painful, too hard.  In recent time spent time there and there's been so much bashing and hammering and chipping and breaking there's been no stone left to build with, just feelings scattered as dust on the floor, feelings that run through hands, that get swept under and overlooked, cast aside, valueless, purposeless, that left scars and weakened my temple, there were hurts that kept me away from the quarry, hurts that I allowed to let me settle for less than.

But when God wants you he really wants you, and my spirit is constantly irked by anything or anyone that settles for less. And so this slap around the face reminded me,  even when I am less than, even though I deserve so little of His love, I am enough for His ALL, so why do I keep allowing myself to love settle for less than His best.

So I went back to the quarry this week. Me and God alone - about to do some work....and you see "alone" was the key. You see in previous quarrying expeditions I let others in (I'm a sociable girl, like to invite and be invited)  and with the others  came words that inflicted deep flaws in stones rendering them unstable, actions that crushed my spirit to rubble, lies that trampled truth to dust.... But this time was different - this time it was just the two of us, no distraction, no place to hide.

I'd like to say that Gods hammer and chisel hurts less than mans but it doesn't - but it is different because it's design is to grow and shape and form for purpose- to cut away the rubbish, the edges, to carve beauty and to polish to reflect His glory.

So there's been some chipping and bashing and some bits have been more stubborn than others but I think we together carved a new cornerstone that will under pin the next level of my temple.

Then with the swept under dust and enough tears to fill an ocean (His and mine) we created a cement to secure that cornerstone in place - all those hard times in the quarry no longer wasted/hidden/useless but instead foundational- they are all a part of me.

So girlfriends please be ready for invites to coffee and cocktails, to walk and dance, to chill, be busy, to laugh and cry, to grow and lift each other but from now on the quarrying is only for Him and me.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Starting small....

In my previous blog I wrote about my one word theme for the year SCAFFOLD, and how my aim as I start the year is to scaffold my growth, to learn from others and in this I hope to be a better mother, wife, friend, worker, to be my best me.

Part of this is increasing my reading and my first book of 2014 Believing God by Beth Moore seems to have a divine choice ( it was a free download recommended by a great friend )

In this Beth talks about a Five Statement Pledge of Faith, aka Shield of Faith, and encourages us to write these down ( according to twitter she has this copy on her elliptical trainer) and speak them out often.

At my first read through I found the first two statements easier to say than the third and fourth and fifth because they brought me into the equation. There is a transition from "believing in God" and "believing God" and if I am choosing to Believe God then statements 3-5 are just as true as 1&2, and I will need to embed these into my spirit.

To this end various small cards will be appearing around my house, on mirrors and inside cupboard doors, as bookmarks and in my purses and bags with these five statements printed on them because I know I need to keep reading them and reminding myself because I know that if I choose to believe them and trust in them that they will be pivotal scaffold poles this year. A small thing to make a big difference.


Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Sunflowers and Scaffolding

You may have seen a number of tweets and blogs about oneword365, an idea that instead of a resolution you choose one word that becomes your focus and that you intentionally use to shape the year ahead. You can read more about it at oneword365.com , and here are my thoughts on my one word...SCAFFOLD

I have twin 15 yo boys who seem to grow constantly, sometimes it's a gradual growth and then every now and again there is a growth spurt, when I'm convinced that they actually wake up taller than they went to bed. Our spiritual growth can be like this, sometimes it's baby steps gently moving through the difficulties, sometimes it's a bit like treading water strengthening the position before moving forward and sometimes there are spurts.

2013 has been a spurt, challenges with family, friends and health constantly requiring me to make choices and and adapt to changes, and after each change another seemed to follow, leaving little time to catch breath or to consolidate the learning. Changes to how I work, how I play, to friendships, to relationships.

Some changes included losses and have been so hard they caused physical pain as well as emotional heartache, and whilst I would not choose another year like it, I have seen growth in pruned branches, growth in my understanding of me, of learning who I am and not what other think I am or want me to be, I've learned about depth in relationships and friendships, I've learned that choosing God is not always easy, but that He does pull through. I've learned that I will always hope, and accept that there will be pain in that. My heart was broken and renewed by our youth at our Summer Camp as I saw them pray and love each other through their own hardships and joys. I learned that sometimes when you are asked to make a sacrifice that there will not always be a lamb hidden in bush to take its place.

Yes 2013 was a hard year but I never wished it over, it just feels a little too much like its been a bit too quick, a spurt I was not fully prepared for. The picture I have of the year gone is that of a sunflower, those beautiful, summer evoking flowers, often cartooned with broad smiles. It might seem an odd picture for my year, But there has been a lot of common ground this year.....

Sunflowers grow fast and in fact are one of the fastest growing plants, my growth has been full of fast spurts this year at times it felt too much. As they grow, sunflowers lose leaves, parts of them now gone, loss is hard.

Sunflowers grow tall not to be noticed, but to get clear access to the sun, one characteristic is that the heads track the sun's movement. I certainly had not foreseen to grow as I have, the circumstances and difficult situations and consequences were not part of my plan, but a very conscious decision back in January to Choose God has meant that I have sought His face more this past year than other years, sometimes to seek Him I have had to turn my face away from lots of stuff, and hold fast to His promise that

"God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them" Romans 8:28 NLT

And so now I find my self standing tall, good deep roots in my home and church, slightly battered, more than a little bit bruised, full of seed and fruit and questions and hopes and dreams to take into 2014 and choosing my one word.....SCAFFOLD

2014 I am choosing to scaffold my learning, to build a structure around my growth, to strengthen and develop it, to continue learning how these new things work and how I continue the transition. It's not a defensive wall, to keep people out but rather a structure that invites people in. Scaffolding is a process through which a more competent peer helps another in their development. I will be purposeful in seeking guidance from other wives and mothers, workmates and friends, older and younger and I hope to find a group that will form a part of this, and that this scaffold will help protect my growth, my learning as I'm sure there will be storms still to weather, challenges to overcome and I'm certain that God did not bring me through this to wish it away, or just to feel thankful it has finished, but instead to be a better me and bring Him greater glory.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Trees have Leaves

I got my first pair of glasses as a teenager, the writing on blackboard had become too hard to read and The squinting was giving me wrinkles. After much deliberation I picked a "fashionable" pair, which coupled with my Dierdre Barlow (younger readers feel free to google) perm make me thankful there are not pictures readily available!

When I put them on I was struck by the huge difference that they made, despite knowing my vision had been getting worse I was not aware of the amount I had been missing out on, the sharpness of detail, and I remember the biggest difference I saw was that trees had leaves. It might seem bizarre, I knew that trees had leaves, but my poor vision meant I only saw trees as whole objects and not the intricacy of the individual leaves. I was completely taken by the details of these things and even now I love the beauty of trees as they change through the seasons.

15 years ago I realised my vision was getting blurred again, but this was not something that could be corrected by glasses or contacts. The cloudiness was in my heart, the pressure of life and family were the behind the fogginess. I had become overwhelmed as a new mum, Christmas was speeding towards me and all was blur of present buying, house decorating, people seeing, recipe testing to make the best Christmas a Dinner, each one thing overlapping the other, crashing together, becoming one big blur falling under the banner of Christmas which began to feel like a lot of effort over nothing very much.

December 13th 1998, after spending time on an Alpha Course at Kerith Community Church, I made a choice to accept Jesus in my life during a Sunday Church Meeting whilst the notices were being read, and that day I got new glasses, spiritual glasses that changed the way I saw Christmas. I no longer saw the whole big mess I had made it but instead the tree lights shone brighter, the baubles were more colourful, the angel atop the tree now looked jaunty not wonky.

As I wrapped presents I was not frustrated by sticky tape and awkward shapes, but smiling as I thought of how the recipient would feel. When I wrote cards wishing peace and joy I actually meant it more than a trite greeting. As I planned recipes I scaled them down, and took some shortcuts, to give me time with guests instead of being banished and frustrated in the kitchen.

I sang carols with a new heart, the words having meaning beyond the old familiar tunes, I counted down the remainder of advent with new perspective beyond what the next chocolate shape would be in the calender.

The cold was colder, the frost crisper, the scarves and hats snugglier as I bundled my boys into our Christmas Day morning meeting and I sang my heart out with joy and gladness, and as I walked back to the car and saw trees stripped of the leaves that had so captured me 30 years I felt like a small child; buzzing with anticipation of present opening, knowing nothing could top the gift I had received that year, and that He would stay with me forever, He would not become outdated, would not need returning in the New Year, nor a cheaper version be available in the sales. Jesus - my Hope, my Joy, my Peace ......my best Christmas Present ever.


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Breathe In, Breathe Out

With pneumonia, lung infections and constant coughing breathing and lack of breath have featured quite heavily in my day to day over the last 4 months.

Today I heard this song anew and was reminded that whilst my actual air supply might have been constricted by my physical ailment, my spiritual access to air is always available in abundance


Breathe in

Breathe out

You will
You will find Him here


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Growing boys, shoelaces, FIFA and Kung Fu Panda

Last night we went to sixth form information evening for our twin boys.

The vast array of options open to them as they plan the next steps of their life, and as they checked different ideas and talked about their plans or lack of, I was struck with how grown up this seemed and yet these were still my small boys.

The same boy who only that weekend had his menu choices at the Chinese restaurant based upon what he'd seen in Kung Fu Panda, was now carefully weighing his abilities and trying to match those to his dreams.

The one who could be reduced to a heaving mass of frustration over a fumbled goal in an online football game, was looking at options, trying to feel his way into a future path.

These mature boys asking responsible questions were the same ones I'd argued with in the morning over shoe laces, yes really shoelaces!   Their annoying lazy habit of taking to shoes off without undoing and a seeming lack of attention paid to the many lessons I have of tying the perfect bow had led to one (identity protected 😜) boy hopping round the house when we were already late to leave.  

Frustration, fingers, unhelpful fraternal intervention and forks (my idea and seemed logical at the time)  together succeeded in finally making the knot completely and utterly watertight and undoable, so the shoe just had to wedged on.  I tried not to wince as the back heel was squished as I remembered the joy, (also spelled trauma) that was involved in buying a pair of durable, school appropriate shoes and reminded myself that they were in the sale ( but In Clarkes everything is relative) and bit my lip on the long (10 min) journey to school. ( to be read as shouted and huffed and puffed and blew it all out of proportion)

The end of day saw the shoe wrenched off, the laces cut and replaced with some from another old pair  that should have been thrown out about three sizes ago but I'm not brave enough to venture too regularly into the bottom of his wardrobe. A solution found and normality restored, apologies and hugs given, cups of tea made and I did not comment when the other "innocent brother" dumped his own undone shoes.

And just a few hours later the same boys who could not tie or would not undo a shoe lace, were making decisions for their future with hope and a smidgen of direction.  

Later when they went to bed I read comments some friends had made about my boys, commending them and encouraging me and whilst you should never parent well to get the praise from others, there are times when that encouragement is just what you need to keep you moving forward, sure of your path. 

Yes they are growing up and I will try each day to give them all they need to do that well, to become well rounded men, but sometimes they will just be my little boys and we will argue and apologise and eat food based on Disney movies.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Hope Deferred.......

Have you ever been in an interview, when you get asked about your strengths and weakness.?  It is a question I have asked and been asked and my answer the last time I was asked was "Hope" as my strength.

Hope is a huge part of my character, my glass is half full (preferably after I've drink the first half!). I hope that difficult situations will work out,  I hope that people will succeed and be the best that they can be. I think Hope is a precious and wonderful thing! For me it's the expectation of a greater day, it's like the preparation time a new day, to a change, it excites me and encourages me.

So here I am as I said a few days ago waiting, and I know that is the place I am to be that God has a plan BUT I am an impatient patient and this morning my knowing and my hoping collided, and my Hope turned from a strength to a weakness.

Small but definate steps in getting better had set my mind a wander, and in spite of a doctors note to say no and an understanding with work that I would not be there, I began to hope that over the weekend I would get 100% better and be back in place to work with the team for one of our major events next week but this morning in the midst of yet another coughing fit I realised that my hope was not going to become a reality -my hope and Gods plan were not arriving at the same destination at the same time.

I had allowed my want to shift my focus and put my hope in my want and not in Gods will.
My high hope dashed turned to disappointment and frustrations and anger and tears.
Oh my!  I tried to be rational and and talk my way through it but my heart kicked in and kicked harder and it hurt.

I knew I had a choice to make I could have sat and sobbed and been entirely miserable and defeated and at the end have been no where forward, but instead I called a couple of  freinds who know me well and whose experience and honesty I value and I shared my disappointment with them. They listened and cared and spoke truth and stopped my pity party whilst I sat and sobbed and felt entirely miserable but as they left I know I was not defeated.

One of them gave me this verse from Proverbs 13:12 it says
" A Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life"

My hope is not gone, it is just deferred, His time is better than my time ( I am a really slow learner in some things and I seem to be revisiting the whole timing/patience/He knows best themes so please bear with me)

To make sure my hope stays a strength I need to make sure I'm clear in where I place my hope, it's alright to hope and pray that I get back to work quickly but I must make sure that I keep my eyes focused on His will, that my hope is not isolated but rooted in truth, and not in my identity but In His,

It's  hard  there is sooooo much more to learn and grow and to suck up...It's hard knowing that my focus had gone off piste (again) , my want drowning out Gods will and that I'm on another turn around, I don't know how many more time I will circle these issues tramping round the walls of my Jericho till I get to make that shout and those walls will crumble, but I'd still rather be going round than standing still.

Maybe you have your own deferred hopes and dreams, your breakthroughs that have not yet come.  It's hard, but if all you can do is put one foot in front of the other you are one step further in the next circle round your Jericho.

Jeremiah 29:11
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.