Shadow Of Victory

Friday, 11 April 2014

Still Standing....

I cant quite believe its been so long since I last blogged ....there is an old wives saying that says..

*How time flies when you are enjoying yourself *.....

I am sad to say this isn't always true.! This will probably be my last blog but I am not saying I may never blog again but I felt I needed to get some *stuff* down on paper (!) and then try and forget it for a time. I don't know about other bloggers but for a long time I would be thinking of things as they connected in my day and my life and then at some unknown time it would all seem to come together and I would know a blog post was ready to go.

This has happened with this post although I must qualify it slightly by saying I really didn't want to blog but for my sake I feel it will do me good. Please don't feel under any pressure to read it...comment on it in any way . Its just me putting a lot of unconnected dots together and hoping it will make sense to me ..if no one else.

I have titled this post....STILL STANDING ...I seem to remember there was a pop song with the phrase ...* I am still standing * ....no idea who sings it nor the rest of the verse but this wee phrase just keeps repeating itself on and on in my head so the best way I know to get stuff out of heads is to write/speak/blog.

September 2012 was a time to celebrate....I was having a granny gap year serving alongside children's work at my church and the night before I was due to start I fainted and cracked two ribs . There followed a long and involved period of treatment and it was well into February of 2013 that I felt the pain was under control. It had taken its toll on me physically but also disrupted my sleeping pattern and the medication I was on only took the pain of the fractures away . It took forever for the doctors to realise that the lung tissue was bruised and as such I wasn't coping well with life in general simply because I was in such pain. Granny gap year floundered into March/April with me taking a fair bit of time out .I was so sad about this as it was the ONE thing I really really really wanted to do yet somehow or other I just couldn't get it right.

At the same time as this we were moving into a new house and sharing with family and grandson and renting out our own house to family too and were happily anticipating the arrival of grandchild number three.......moving on to April time our amazing grand-daughter was born and joy was stirring deep in my Granny's heart. It was a huge shock to us all to hear within 48 hours the wee girly was in SCBU.....at this point I was completely knocked down...not a chance of me singing...I am still standing !!....for 7 weeks our wee girly was treated and we were only able to see her infrequently and rarely able to cuddle her at all....our hearts were with her mummy and daddy....then in the space of a month.... June I think it was.....our grandchild was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital(GOSH )...one of my closest friends was diagnosed with cancer...the husband of another good friend was also diagnosed with cancer and the news re my Dorset Buddy's cancer was not good.

By this time I was having hospital tests and medication for my own symptoms and after tests my doctor and I came to the diagnosis of Anxiety...not depression ( I did laugh at him once when I said...I don't have time to  be anxious....) The medication he prescribed had the horrendous side effect of giving me a stammer which led to neuro tests at Reading and various other investigations as well as a change in medication.

July 2013 saw my * graduation * from Granny's Gap year altho I still don't feel I did the best I could have ......then our 14 year old much love pooch headed for the kennel in the sky and both me...Chris and Cat on weekly trips to GOSH to spend time with wee girly and help out her mummy and daddy...sleeping in the room to let them go home and have a bath and be normal for 24 hours. Wee girly spent a total of 11 weeks in GOSH so you can imagine how stressful all that was. To say *  I was still standing * wouldn't be true but in those situations you run on adrenaline and so it was just one long round of hospitals.....add into the mix the news from all three friends with cancer that treatment was ongoing and then to ensure I couldn't get back onto my feet my daughter became ill whilst driving on motorway which led to paramedics and emergency admission to Basingstoke Hospital.

Fast forward to Christmas 2013.....My closest friend ever .....died in September leaving me... her family and her friends bereft and my other great friend was still walking the cancer journey as was my friends husband. Wee girly was home tho so we celebrated family Christmas and had some joy ..laughter and fun as well as millions of presents. I neglected to say that my daughter after a five day stay in Basingstoke Hospital then went on to three more hospital admissions for days at a time , This also meant that holidays that we had booked were all jumbled up and we ended up going on both family holidays with our grandson Eli...leaving mummy in hospital so the last few months of 2013 were a blur. In amongst all of that Chris and I also relocated church wise to the Sandhurst multisite...to say we were excited is an understatement.. We felt primed and ready to roll.!! Sadly the ready to roll has ended in a feeble presence from me as week by week I struggled with this horrid anxiety....Insomnia has become an ever present enemy that my doctor and I fight every month to see how to get the best meds for me. The therapy came and went and apart from getting some forum input wasn't any real help...God Bless the NHS ...for all the amazing help it gave to my family but for me its just been one long round of * med - tweaking  *

So.....Its April 2014 exactly a year ago that life as I know it now began.....I am so sure of the dates as our wee grand-daughter is one year old on Sunday.....Time is flying but its not because I am enjoying it...its just a blend of days that at times gives a little bit of sunshine....I have several people and places I know I can go and just be ME...I cry a lot and lack energy....I try to go out and fail miserably...I make coffee times in the days I feel good then cancel on the day cos its a bad day. I still don't sleep more than 3 hours at night....I continue to work and love that Matt just hangs loose...he is such a part of our family and loves whoever is here...me...or Chris and loves Cat and Eli much more than me I believe.

Our wee girly will be one and is doing great...she is so brave ...still having daily meds and injections but is the cutest little diddly you ever did see....sadly for reasons I wont go into on here...we don't see her very much....family can get complicated..things are said and misunderstood...hurts happen ....hearts break and yet we carry on. For me as a Christian of some mere 30 years I have so much more to know about God and his healing mercy . Yet the little I do know eg * in all things Christ works together * and that *He will never leave me nor forsake me * and a hundred more verses. .....especially from the Psalms .I have a worship CD that Chris put together for me full of worship songs that build and encourage me and yet life is an ongoing battle ...

As already said I have places and people of peace....one friend who is a real haven recently is 105 seconds from the sea and I can escape there whenever my heart needs soothing. A trip to Edinburgh recently to celebrate our great niece and nephews second birthday and five days of family and friends certainly warmed my heart and as I cried and laughed in equal amounts it did me good to escape there too. I know that friends here are still loving me and praying for me and if the day is a good one I actually may even see them for a cuppa with my new posh tea set. ! I have my *big sister * in Canada who makes use of every tech media to keep me sane and standing plus of course my hubby and daughter and son in law and my oldest son and  partner and my grandson Eli and oldest grand-daughter Mathilda  without whom my life would be the poorer.

This weekend will see my son in law running the London Marathon...in aid of GOSH and in honour of our wee grand-daughter who gained amazing treatment there for so long and still has weekly/fortnightly visits and regular checks...it will also see her celebrating her first birthday with us not there with her but hoping to see her at some point. Its taken me a long time to move through this last 3 mnths and more than once I have thought my heart was broken in too many pieces and I would never be able to stand ever again.. I have come to a place of acceptance of all that is happening in and around me and still singing the refrain * still -standing * on a regular basis.

As I said  as I wrote this...its not for pity or to draw attention to my life ( I am well aware that others go through journeys worse than mine ...eg My Dorset Buddys husband and her two lovely girlys ). It has just helped me get it out of my head in the hope that God will have some space to fill me again and to lift me from my knees back onto my feet.

Monday, 27 January 2014

The GGGggggift of FFFFffriendship ( part three )

You may be forgiven if you are wondering if the keyboard on my laptop has got the twitches.! It is just a reflection on how my speech is at present and I thought I would post about my newest
 * friend *...my stammer .!

Since April/May last year I have had several different medications to help me deal with anxiety. The first medication brought along with it a slight jaw twitch followed by a sort of swallowing of word beginnings.(!). The next medication did well for a good few weeks until the jaw clicking began..most unpleasant and quite embarrassing. This lasted for two months until I begged my doctor to change medication again. I was slightly naughty at this time because I stopped taking the medication anyway and after 10 days I was able to hold a conversation without steam coming out of my ears with frustration. The next medication was bliss...good sleep...good days and no jaw click or consonant swallowing ..for three whole weeks I really felt as if life was getting better...and then

The return of the jaw click with a vengeance...followed swiftly by the consonant swallowing and bringing up the rear the face twitch and not to be discounted the tears of frustration and the horrid horrid horrid thoughts swilling around in my head. I am now at a loss as to where to go now...its the tension of living with a brighter mind and less anxiety ( note its not yet NO anxiety ) but with
this awful life inhibiting stammer...OR a mind that is filled with crap  but able to speak relatively clearly ...or at least with enough clarity so that I can go out into the world again.!

Looking back on this last three months especially I have isolated myself more than ever before. I may be actually present in some social situation but its only my body...my mind is constantly wandering and wary of speaking to someone I may not know well... You may have seen my back as I left church early...or even a weak smile as I nodded at something you may have said to me. You may have looked forward to having a catch up coffee with me and then been slightly miffed that I cancelled at last minute....you may even have decided NOT to try again for a time and day to catch up ....This stammer is NOT me...I am still the same person and still the same friend but for some reason this anxiety is gripping my speech centre and the right medication hasn't yet been found to help my anxiety without affecting the speech centres in the brain.

Just as an aside...I dream in stammer too !

Fffrrrriendship...what a gift...I have actually spent time recently with great friends and altho I haven't said very much its been really lovely to be with them.I had a trip to see The Yate Youngster for lunch last week and a group of The Oldies here for an evening and on Saturday I spontaneously dumped me and and my stammer on The Pevensey Pal for a couple of days recently and altho the stammer was stammering away nicely at all these times I had a good catch up and for me it was just what I needed.

God created us to be in relationship with not only him but others too but when one of the fundamental ways of being together ( communication ) is hindered it takes a fair bit of determination to press through. Added to the stammering is my deafness and with two of the major senses knocked out you may well be forgiven if you have been wondering where I have been for last few months...simply answered ...in isolation !

My main reason for this entry is simply to ask for your forgiveness....I am pretty sure there are a few of you...family and friends who at one time or another over this last few months have been let down by me....disappointed...hurt...and maybe even have made the decision not to continue to walk this road with me....all I can say is....my heart aches...my spirit aches...my jaw aches ..
my head aches (!)...and I am humbling myself daily before God and begging him to bring healing ...

Alongside the medication  I have been taking I have had a great doctor who listens...a great strength especially when the talker is stammering and crying....I have had some therapy...both of the mind kind but also the physical kind and I have got some "tools" to put into place when both the anxiety and the stammer get overwhelming. Its not perfect and I still prefer to be alone but its a start and its something to build on and continually putting it into practise  ....I hope...see 2014 being a much better year than the latter part of 2013.

To all who I would call Ffffrriend and to all who I know are FFfffamily ....TTThhaaannkyyou

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Multi-thoughts on Multi -site

I have been doing a lot of  * thinking * over the last few days and Simon's preach on Sunday has helped me to get my thoughts into some kind of order.  I am always the same after year end...with all the Christmas and New year out of routine stuff it can take me a long while to actually get back into routine again. Although the whole idea of * routine* for us in our co renting family unit is a bit of a laugh with all the illness going on. ( yes Cat is back in hospital ,,,again ...) Simon spoke of consolidating areas of our life...not just church life but our own personal life too and I was struck by several of the areas he mentioned. I will plan to unpack them in the next few blogs hopefully with some positive and encouraging news.

The one that most challenged me was  * community * and I confess to feeling very sad as I listened to him...its all about being involved not just in church but with each other and with our immediate sphere of influence..eg family...friends..work etc...

The other aspect of consolidation was * health * and I can tell you that this area in my life and families life is way overdue some miraculous intervention. Its not just Cat...its me...its the ongoing health issues that face our grand-daughter too ...health is def going to be high on the agenda this coming year

The final aspect that I felt challenged by was  * prosperity * and as Chris and I are both self employed its always an area where we most need to be aware and to be thankful and value our income and to be prepared to steward it well. The last few months when we have seen several holidays bite the dust due to ill health and family issues it has been a serious drain on our reserves so much so that at the end of this month when our self assessment tax and our NI are due to be paid it will take some amazing work of the Holy Spirit to cover us. For the first time in years we were unable to pay off our credit card  invoice in full ...and that is seriously sad for our hearts. Having been in debt for so long we have so enjoyed some level of prosperity and paying off the credit card every month for last 4 years has been a source of great joy so we were really not happy when we realised it wasn't going to happen this time. Grrrrr

But for the purpose of this blog entry I want to lay out some of my thoughts re Multi site. Many of you will be aware that Kerith Bracknell opened a new site in Sandhurst and as we moved here last January we were really revved up and ready to go when September came around. We had been a part of the church when we met in Wick Hill Hall decades ago so we knew all about the set up and assorted things that would need doing. For first two or three weeks it was amazing..exciting...challenging...and we were so excited to be a part of this new thing. Sadly illness hit and my particular involvement had to be scaled way back.On the bright side Chris and Nick continued to be able to serve most weeks as Cat and I struggled on with ill health and caring for Elisha.

I have long known that * community * best happens when new things start and being fully involved in a ministry is always a great way for friendships and caring to happen almost effortlessly. As the term went on and I had to pull back even more...often not making the meeting at all or if I did ...leaving with Elisha as soon as the meeting was finished ...not always being able to stay for the coffee time I began to realise that * community * wasn't happening. I don't write this for anyone to say....aww ...poor girl.... I am blessed with friends that * stick closer than a brother * but in the life of our involvement in Kerith Sandhurst  it wasn't happening. We did make it to the all church lunch that the Amazing Mehta family had at their home and it was great to actually chat to some people there that we didn't know at all...*community *  three cheers for the Mehta Family

When Simon spoke about this on Sunday everything seemed to crystallise in my heart and spirit and I have spent a couple of days thinking through what God is saying and what I can be doing to move on . If I am honest my main friendships are in Kerith Bracknell and I do miss seeing them on Sundays and its not always possible to catch up with them during the week. I loved to just catch a smile off my friends as our eyes met during a worship song or a few minutes at beginning of meeting or a coffee at the end ....but this isn't happening at Sandhurst for me ...YET.... I have made efforts to ask about life groups and how to get into one and begin to be a part of a smaller group but again the main word for that is  YET....I cant at the moment offer to serve as I need to be free for Elisha whilst Cat is not just in hospital as she is at this moment but also so support her until she is completely well...so for serving the word is still ...YET...I look around and to my  old and tired eyes the majority of Kerith Sandhurst are young enough to be my sons and daughters and actually a lot of them are my daughter and hubby's closest friends and altho we chat they are probably not going to want to be our *community * There are several older members who like us will have their main ties still at Bracknell and I guess they too aren't going to be our *community* .

 Simon encourages us all to be friendly....if we want friends to be friendly...go speak to people..ask them who they are..invite them into our homes and lives and I  agree !00% with this but as I explained its not easy in this season of our lives .Many times in the last 4-6 months Chris and I have made arrangements to see people...do things...go places and illness has struck and we have had to pull out or cancel so many times that we are slightly embarrassed and hesitant to make that first tentative offer of friendship again just in case.

But having said all that there is a deep yearning placed inside all of us to be a part of something...something bigger than our own lives...bigger than our own four walls...bigger than the day to day lives we lead and Simon stirred me up again. It may take me a few more days/weeks/months to get to the place where I truly feel that Kerith Sandhurst is our spiritual community and not just the place we go on Sundays but I am determined to press through in this area.

Finally some jumbled thoughts on multi-site that may just be important to me....the actual venue is great... five minute drive from our home...plenty of car parking spaces and only a few yards to walk into building.... tiered seating so no worrying about someone six foot plus sitting in front of me....a sort of wooden footrail that is just the right height to place feet on so you can be comfy....the stage is really close ...and low ....so for me ..the lip reading aspect is fantastic and I never worry now about whether I need get there early to get a good seat as I can see the speaker no matter where I sit. Plus there is something about seeing the * whites of their eyes (!) * that lends a sort of friendly aspect to the worship band and with being able to see and hear the worship leader so well it has brought a new dimension to my ability to concentrate on worship without worrying if I haven't heard properly....the speaker is very close too and its sort of cosy.....esp if it is Simon as he usually sits on his stool so its a little like story time for adults !! The loos are nearby...the coffee area is literally a thirty second walk from auditorium and the childrens rooms ...recently moved into main building ...mean we don't have to even put coats on to drop off or pick up ...bliss...

If you haven't been to Kerith Sandhurst....come along and have a look...if I am able to be there ..come and say hello and be a part of my aim for *community * .

More on this series of preaching will follow in future blogs

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

THE GIFT OF FRIENDSHIP ( part two )

I am fascinated by friendships...relationships...people...in another life I may well have been a therapist as I love watching the interaction of different people in different settings. People watching is one of my all time favourite activities. I have been known to make up entire life stories about two people in a coffee shop...my husband thinks I am bonkers but he does join in at times too especially on holidays when we get time to chill out and watch the world go by.

This year ...if you have been following my blog....or indeed know me and been a part of my life in the real world...has been one of the worst years on record in my life. I am not even going to repeat all the sad bits...nor the health problems...nor the confusion...I console myself with saying that 2014 is just around the corner and I am so looking forward to a new beginning and a deep hope that it wont ever be as bad as 2013 has been .

I have had a lot of time on my hands this year...way more than I really wanted or needed and it has given me time to think....Thinking is sadly under-rated...I have come to the conclusion that I need to do a lot more thinking in future and less talking or acting or doing stuff but just being quiet and letting my mind and thoughts and emotions have a few moments to themselves !

This is what I have come up with whilst letting my mind free fall.....some other thoughts on the subject of Friendship. I wrote a blog entry about my friend Bren who recently went to glory leaving a huge gap in my heart and soul and as yet I am still finding it so hard to believe she is no longer here...no longer will I get an email or a text and I cant plan a trip down to see her. Its a weird horrid hurting gap left that I am daily praying that God will fill with peace on a day by day basis.

So...what other thoughts have occupied my thoughts on friendship ....I will just blurt them out in no particular order and not listed by their importance...just thoughts.

I have been reading and looking at the woman in the bible with the issue of blood....she has always been one of my favourite characters and I identify with some of what the story tells...( not that I have had an issue of blood ! ) but the fact of her being stigmatised...and marginalised within her community...I read a little between the lines and guess she isn't one of the people you would want to hang out with...simply because she was ill for so long. I wonder what her life was like before she got ill ...did she have lots of good friends...was her social life full...was she invited to friends homes or gatherings...did she herself have the gift of friendship and a full life within her community??

I kinda think that perhaps when she didn't get better that slowly but surely maybe her friends and her community and her support network just got smaller and smaller until after 12 years I think she was very alone....the culture of those times was that she was " unclean" so I am probably right in saying she was alone and probably lonely too.

So what am I saying here....If I am honest I have felt that the whole of this woman's 12 years has been whittled down to cover the last 8 months of my life...Previous to me becoming unwell I would have said I was blessed with some really precious friends and had as full a life as I could have around my work and family commitments. As it became apparent over the months that I wasn't going to get "better" and that the route to wholeness and wellness was going to a long haul rather than a few weeks I realised that slow but sure the contact and community I had was diminishing and days would go by with no contact with anyone except maybe a quick coffee time and then I noticed that even those were going and being replaced by txts and this last two weeks even the texts have almost died off too.

Please believe me...I am not pointing any fingers...I also hold my hand up and admit that most of the time I would make an arrangement and then cancel it at last minute if I wasn't able to cope or had a doctor/hospital appointment so I am definitely not blaming anyone. The woman in the bible probably had some good days when she thought perhaps she would be able to go see someone but then wham her issue came back again and she had to cancel again.

These thoughts on friendship have been brought to the fore of my mind mainly because of Bren's death...I can honestly say that she was the most loyal and loving and caring friend ever and no "issue of blood " made any difference to our love for each other...if I cancelled she just kept on loving and caring and keeping in touch..her emails and txts didn't stop until 6 days before she died and even then they were full of her concern for me and her love or me.

One other "odd" thing I have found is that friends who I have known for decades but maybe who haven't been a part of my everyday community have been so caring and understanding even if from a distance .. As I pondered on this ...the old versus the newer friendships...by that I mean the 15 years plus versus the less than 8-10  years I have been surprised and blessed by the oldies way more than the newbies. I wonder if this is specifically because of the history we share...or is it because they don't all live nearby and don't have to put up with me and my "issue"

I have come to the conclusion its because they knew me way before 2013 when life became so hard and they remember ME...as I was not ME as I am now.

My oldest buddy in Edinburgh ...Sandra is one of the best of friends one can ever know. Sandra came into my life at the same time as Chris did..so at least 41 years of shared history. Sandra has always been there for me...not always in the same country as she lived in South Africa for many years but by letters we kept our friendship alive and in more recent years ...texts emails and visits have all strengthened our love for one another. Sandra isn't a Christian....but she is a God believer if that makes sense.. (.I did check this out with her before I wrote this blog ) and her giving of herself and her home and her time has been a huge blessing to me. Loyalty...is one of her characteristics and no matter how low I have been this last year she has consistently loved and encouraged me all the time. Sometimes her advice is way off the wall but mostly she is just loving me through and treating me no differently to the ME that she has known all these 41 years. One other attribute that Sandra has that allows her to shine in my life is that we can talk about my faith and she supports me in that and would never try and change me...in the same way I totally accept that she isn't (yet) a follower of Jesus but that our friendship doesn't depend on us having the same belief ...its more dependent on  who we are to each other....The other great thing about Sandra is she loves not just me but all my family too and takes an interest in all that we are doing....its a wrap around kind of friendship that truly allows me to feel safe.

In the same category as an * oldie * is my friend Sharon....we met probably 22 years ago here in Bracknell...she now lives in Yate near Bristol. Again for many years our friendship relied on letters ( shows our age as this was way before txts and emails ) and I find now over the last 3-4 years that the distance isn't any barrier to keeping the friendship alive and well....this last few months Sharon has consistently been a support and encouragement to me and mine. I could fill a whole blog talking about how this friendship has blessed me so much.

Another "oldie" is Caroline...she lives in Amsterdam and I last saw her in the flesh 32 years ago when she visited me in hospital when I gave birth to Andrew my middle child...and altho the miles and the distance are clearly an obstacle somehow or other we have kept alive the link of our hearts which  first formed when we were five years old....Caroline is my * get real * friend...by this I mean she minces no words...says what she means...and keeps my feet on the ground... I love her outspoken thoughts and her amazing ability to remind me that life at times is a bummer but  you just got to keep going. I also love the fact about Caroline that she is just as smitten with her grandchildren as I am with mine so we are a mutual adoration society on Facebook.

Finally another *oldie* who has once more proven that friendships can and do last the test of time. Melita...I have known for about 28 years ..we have holidayed together..served God together...shared a bed together ( never again..she is not that good a friend )..we have laughed and cried and prayed and lost all hope then found it again when least expected. Melita has now moved miles away and I have already forgiven her for that...but am still working on the forgiveness issue that she lives 105 seconds from the sea. Melita is an all round friend...she is who she is and and loves me exactly as I am ...all the time...

I count myself more that blessed to share about my friends....these are the ones who despite the distance ....have gone the distance with me....I have written this to honour them .

Sandra....Sharon ...Caroline ....Melita.....my friends...please know I love and value you in so many different ways and you are a gift from God into my life especially more so in recent months.

Monday, 25 November 2013

REFLECTIONS OF 1997 ..POETRY

My amazing husband found the poem and here it is ....I can remember the evening so well...I wonder if anyone else does too. I would love to hear from you if you were there.

I also realised that I did actually write another poem...This was for a Sparklers Time Out morning so watch this space for more poetry...who knows I may have a real gift !!

 
REFLECTIONS 

Come journey with me throughout my year
and witness this moment that God etched clear
in my search for the essence of love.
 

A child so young, so precious, so fair
stumbled and tumbled and fell down the stair
Come watch with me in Intensive Care.
I felt the coldness of the valley of death
as I watched machines work to give her breath
I was overwhelmed with worries and fears
my eyes ached with the fierceness of my tears
Yet even in this chaos I heard this voice
I knew as always I had a choice
To give way to the panic that I was feeling
Or believe in the Lord and trust Him for healing.

Was it then that I knew the essence of love?
Perhaps
 

Come journey with me throughout my year
and witness this moment that God etched clear
in my search for the essence of love.
 

A friendship covenanted in love and prayer
nurtured and held with tender care
I grew careless and took it for granted
neglecting to watch over the seeds that were planted
Harsh words came, like weapons of war
they drew blood and opened wounds so sore
Yet God in His mercy provided words to say
For healing and forgiveness and strength to pray. 

Was it then that I knew the essence of love?
Perhaps
 

Come journey with me throughout my year
and witness this moment that God etched clear
in my search for the essence of love.
 

A child caught up in that "in between" life
full of struggles and conflict and inner strife
exposed and isolated by a sense of shame
realisation dawning that life's not a game.
As the burden of sin became too heavy to bear
Eyes locked into mine begging me to share
And forgiveness flowed like heavenly rain
Our relationship released from desperate pain. 

Was it then that I knew the essence of love?
Perhaps
 

Come journey with me throughout my year
and witness this moment that God etched clear
in my search for the essence of love.
 

A woman of spirit called by the Lord
A voice amongst voices repeating these words
"You are fearfully and wonderfully made"
"You are fearfully and wonderfully made"
"You are fearfully and wonderfully made"
As the echoes resounded again and again
I could feel the familiar sense of pain
And then all who were there just disappeared
And in my spirit a vision appeared
In the shadows childbirth
and even as I approached to see
I knew the baby would be me.
And as I watched this event unfold
My heart was gripped by icy cold.
And as I saw the child born - laid aside and rejected.
My spirit within felt dead and dejected. 

Then something happened that was very strange
As I saw the shadows lift and the vision change.
A presence I knew was
The Father picked up the child.
I was cradled in His arms and felt safe from all harm.
I heard His voice, like thunder yet
whispering like a gentle breeze into
my very soul 

Eavesdrop with me : 

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
 and have no compassion on the child she has borne,
tho she may forget you I will not forget you.
Before you were formed in the womb I knew you
Before you were born I set you apart
For I created your inmost being
you are fearfully and wonderfully made
and I will never leave you or forsake you.
For I know the plans I have for you,
plans to prosper you and not bring you harm,
plans to give you hope and a future. 

And as my thoughts began to gather
I knew this voice to be my Father
And the eyes of my heart were opened to see
that with this love I could be me.
And chains that bound me to the past
Released my spirit and I was free at last
 
Was it then that I knew the essence of love
OH YES
It was then

 

 

Sunday, 24 November 2013

GODS LOVE NEVER FAILS

Today at our amazing new  Kerith Multi Site meeting we sang a song with the chorus..

GODS LOVE NEVER FAILS ..NEVER GIVES UP..NEVER RUNS OUT ON ME

If you have been following my blog....or know me well...you may know that most of 2013 has been a messy ..painful...confusing time ..not just in my own life....  but in our family and friends lives too. The one thing keeping me going is the truth that God loves me....loves me enough to give up Jesus to the cross...enough to resurrect him from the grave and to give to me...completely free...the Comforter...His spirit living within me ....holding me up...keeping my feet on the rock...keeping my eyes lifted up...keeping my heart beating to the sound of all heaven worship-ing his son Jesus.

When I got home I was looking for something in a drawer...and I found a piece of paper...I had forgotten existed. Many years ago ( 17 years  ) the "old "style of women's ministry used to meet once a term for an evening of worship and word and Val Cottee who led the team at that time had asked me to be a part of the evening. I usually feel very honoured to be asked to be a part of leading women into Gods presence but this particular time Val asked me to write and bring a poem
. Yes....a poem .Val had been praying about the evening and felt very strongly that God wanted her to ask me to write a poem There was no guideline...no topic...no theme ...no scripture....Val encouraged me to seek God and go for it.
 Now to put this into perspective  I love writing ....anything....letters...cards....emails...texts ...blogs...Fbook and lists..lots of lovely lists for everything you can imagine...shopping lists..things to do lists..things for others to do lists...things to pack for holidays lists.. and probably somewhere in one of my drawers there may even be a "list of lists ".BUT I have never...ever...ever written a poem...not even a ditty.or a limerick or even a two line rhyme so I kinda got a little teensy bit nervous.

I had about two weeks to prepare and you gotta bless Val she didn't even want to vet it..correct it..mentor it..she just trusted that God had told her and that was enough for her to trust that I would bring to the women's ministry evening what He wanted to bring.  As I prayed about what on earth I should write about God laid on my heart the word.. REFLECTIONS   and the poem began to shape itself almost without my having to work too hard at it ( hint for future...this is when you know that whatever has been asked of you that its from God )

The poem ended up being a look back at the year I had lived through which was 1997 and as with 2013 it had been a very very tough year for me personally and for the family and friends ( sound familiar ? ) and if anyone asked me tomorrow if I would write a poem based on the word REFLECTIONS a lot of what I wrote 17 years ago would be repeated . The circumstances would be obviously be very different but the main theme running through this 17 year old poem is very simply

GODS LOVE NEVER FAILS..NEVER GIVES UP...NEVER GIVES UP ON ME

My amazing husband has told me he can find the poem....he yacks on about files and folders and cutting and pasting and yes it will appear on the blog.. So I am trusting in God that this is true (!) and that at some point in next couple of days I will share with you my one and only poem...immortalised forever ...in some hard drive..or usb thingy or even something called a dongle ?? Stay tuned and understand I am not boasting about my ability to write poetry...I am simply and humbly reminding myself that hard times like 1997 and 2013 make no difference to the truth that

GODS LOVE NEVER FAILS ..NEVER GIVES UP..NEVER RUNS OUT ON ME

Monday, 4 November 2013

RETREATING

As a church we are so blessed to be able to take time out and head off to what we call FOURTEEN...this is basically a day set aside in an amazing setting and after an introduction talk you can settle anywhere in the house or garden for up to 5 hours of silence ...broken only by a lunch laid out for us.I have been on probably 6 of these days over the last two years or so and look forward to the dates coming out and planning ahead and anticipating that I will feel rested...refreshed...restored and sometimes I even meet with God !

There is no pressure to be "spiritual" ....no pressure to "hear from God "....no pressure to "share amazing visions "....in fact there is just NO PRESSURE...Sometimes I look around and I see women snoozing....knitting...walking in the garden...sitting staring into space ....and sometimes I look around and see women reading the bible...writing journals....or plugged into their music. I have to be very honest and say that I take a bag full of "stuff " and often the stuff  just remains in the bag but I do also plunge right in and get on with the stuff too....There is no pressure to do anything other than BE and I love it....just  " being " is a new concept in my world and its one I am embracing with wide open arms and a heart that is beating to this new rhythm rather that the loud discordant beat of " doing ".

I have developed a sort of routine for " being " when I go on retreat days....it consists of picking up a cuppa and a choccie thing....making  myself very comfy in my chosen armchair and reading at least two of the magazines that are laid out on the resource table...great reading and I just indulge myself in this with my feet up and enjoy a leisurely hour. Then I get sort of .....oooo I should do something now...this time I wrote some letters...and cards...I am a list person and a writer of letters and I usually have at least 4-5 that I want to get written every week. I was very pleased that in the next hour I managed to get 7 cards/letters written . Its just "stuff " but I felt good that the stuff in the bag got at least an hours attention from me.

It was then lunch time. Here I have a confession.....after the very first retreat where I joined the rest of the women and chatted and shared food together ....I decided that I wouldn't eat with the others and that I would take my lunch with me to my armchair and munch on my own....you see ..there is no pressure to mix with others...they don't think I am rude ....I feel quite free to do this and it keeps my mind fixed on just " being ". I don't have to make conversation ...I don't need to exchange news ..or views ..or opinions....I find that it keeps my day flowing with no interruption. Then my routine ...as is a lot of folk ..anywhere...is to have a wee snoozette after lunch. Lovely warm home...comfy armchair...feet up...full tummy....no phone...doorbell...conversation...just a chance to " be  ".

When I said at the beginning there is no pressure to be spiritual or to hear from God I rarely come away from the retreat without a sense of his presence and I wrote a blog entry a few months ago sharing about the armchair on the landing which had a really old Dolls House sitting right beside it and how  I had one of those rare and special moments when God "whispers" and you know you have to listen up and lean into Gods heart .Today after my snoozette I decided just to focus on the view outside my window. The gardens are truly amazing but as I am no gardener and really have no interest or knowledge in plants or trees I do enjoy just letting my eyes wander and then settle onto one area or one thing and just as a few months ago God put the Dolls House in front of my eyes ...this time He put a garden table in front of my eyes . Literally right in front of my eyes ! Where I was sitting was directly facing the patio where there was a large wooden garden table ...

As it is fast approaching winter months I guess that all the chairs and sunshine parasol had all been put inside so it was just this solitary table...it was a fair size and I would reckon you could get at least ten folk around it or more if you all squeezed up. Knowing the family and the setting I also guess that it has been well used for many seasons ......for gatherings large and small and for different occasions ..eg Sunday lunch..birthdays...visitors...or just a general sit down and rest up kind of day. As I continued to "look" at the table I felt one of those " whispers" from God that I knew I just had to allow him to reveal something personal to me about this table. It felt very similar to the "whisper " I felt some time ago with the Dolls House moment and I was more than ready to listen up.

As I continued to look at the table I realised it was a fair age....it didn't seem to be one of those new ones all spruced up and well varnished. It looked as if it had seen a number of seasons. The wood was wet and this had warped some of the planks that made up the top of the table...from the angle I was sitting I couldn't really see the table top but judging by the bits I could see I reckon the top was less than perfect and probably had a fair amount of nicks and splintered bits too. I am no DIY person but it even seemed to me as if someone had actually built the table itself and laid the planks on top. The base was very sturdy and not at all like the flimsy posh wood ones we see in shops now and certainly not the plastic round ones that fall apart after two years. This was a very solid table and looking closely again I decided that the reason it was still there and not put inside with the chairs was maybe that it was very heavy to move or that it was too big to be stored anywhere or simply that it may still be of use even as autumn and winter approached. It stood there quite alone without any chairs around it ....no bright and cheerful table covering....no bowl of fruit...no vase of flowers ..no plates of food .. and it was "outside "with no one nearby....looking a bit damp and weathered and unused yet still standing firm on a solid base ..almost waiting for a new season to begin and I began to hear the whisper from God.

 I felt God was saying I was a bit like this table...alone...bit damp (!) ..bit worn... bit splintered. ....not being used....no one sitting nearby or around me....not even a chair to offer anyone to sit with me..anyone coming near would just have to stand and therfor not stick around for a long time....nor was there a sun parasol for them to rest under . I had nothing to put on this table...no bright and cheerful covering..no food and nothing beautiful like flowers or plants. This season of my life feels a little bit like this..okay be honest Irene...it has felt a lot like this !! But then I heard another whisper from God and this is really all that I wanted to share..... that like the seemingly old and battered looking table looked abandoned and alone at the moment...  I too feel like this garden table.....

Then God whispered to me... just wait till the sun comes again...wait till the warm weather starts again...wait till the time for sitting in the sunshine comes again...wait till the chairs are laid out...wait till I get a new and bright table covering...wait till flowers bloom again...wait till the clouds give way to an endless blue rainbow filled sky...wait till the voices of children shout across the table....wait till the chairs are filled with friends who come to sit with me ....wait till those days arrive again...to share life together ...shelter under the parasol or kick back with their feet propped up on the table top. This table ( me ) may look alone and abandoned but God says quite clearly...look at the base..look at the structure ..how strong and sturdy it was ..no one on their own will be able to move it ..it was stable and sited exactly where God wanted it to be .....right in the front of peoples view and ready at a moments notice to be used as and when this dry and thirsty season ends and a new and fresh day is dawning.

So here I am sitting and waiting and just "being"..I am not abandoned..not unused... not alone...not unwanted...I am just in that season where I need to be able to rest and be assured that the foundations ..like the base the table is built on ...will never be shaken and I am just going to "wait "