Shadow Of Victory

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Thursday 18th February F is for Four Words

The Four F words......

F is for Failure....
F is for Focus......
F is for Follicles..
F is for Farewell...

I am off work today after a nocturnal migraine...very rare for me but it has left me feeling absolutely awful.!! My entry today is maybe partially influenced by how I am feeling at this moment but it has been brewing for some weeks.Let me say a little about each of the above F words....

F is for Failure....I am more and more aware of how many areas I still fail in...this last couple of years has seen me come face to face with glaring character faults...leading the car parking ministry has highlighted so much in my personality and character that I have tried so many times to change yet find myself once more in despair of ever being the person God intended me to be. Over the years I have walked along the way with other folk who seem way ahead of me in ability and maturity and I realise afresh just how far behind I am lagging. Every area of church life I am involved with whether it be
Lifegroup...Mentoring...Exposition...whatever ....I always feel like an exception as everyone goes about their lives. On the surface I "fit in " yet still feel like an onlooker....not truly part of the gang....For so many years and probably all of the 26 years of my life as a follower of Christ I have strived to overcome so much yet in so many areas I am still failing.

F is for Focus.......Simon is preaching a series on Life's Healing Choices and this last Sunday was all about FOCUS....He gave 7 keys to change and as I listened I knew these were going to be very important so I took notes...I only ever take notes when I am prompted by God for someone who relies so much on lip reading to actually try and write and listen at the same time is very hard but I persevered. As I have looked at these notes and thought them through and discussed them in LG I have come to the conclusion I am still a failure. I struggle so much in LG ..the people are lovely ...and we are coming together as men in one place and women in another to facilitate discussion and open-ness but I know if I was to be really honest with this group I would feel completely on my I don't contribute from deep sometimes feels as if no-one else does..or maybe this is only my perception .But there are times when I do let my "mask" slip ..only to come home feeling extremely vulnerable....vowing never to share so deeply again..this week was one of those times.

F is for Follicles...I am not going to talk too much about this..just to say that I went with Catriona to have her scan and blood tests for her next stage on their IVF journey...the scan was awesome in that it showed the inside of my daughters ovaries...I am sure there is written somewhere that mums were not ever meant to see this kind of stuff LOL...but at the same time it was incredible to see the follicles maturing...all is well for the next stage and we are hopefully optimistic. I was very surprised to find myself weeping copiously as the nurse showed us around her womb.(!)....we then had some fun test driving some baby buggies in the Mothercare just across the road from the clinic...( I wonder if Mothercare chose this location next to an IVF clinic deliberately (!).. )...I always feel very calm about all that is going on with Cat and Nick but in the early hours of this morning I woke up just in time to reach the bathroom to be sick...a nocturnal migraine had me in its grip and they are no fun !! I made the decision to drug myself and head back to bed and took the day off work. I am made aware again that the underlying anxiety is obviously more than I think.

F is for Farewell....As some of you may know I have been debating about continuing the blog for some time and I have taken the decision to close it down. When I say close it down ...let me qualify..I may re-start it but as a private blog ( possibly invitation only )without public interaction. I truly still believe that "writing is my best chance of happiness" and want to continue to journal my feelings and thoughts but as I have been trying to make sense of how and what I am going through I know I haven't been able to journal as honestly as I would have liked knowing that other people may read the words I have written.Yet at the same time I have been so encouraged by the identification that so many people have emailed me about or left comments on the blog... There is still so much for me to deal with internally and altho our church is creating an great place for "no perfect people allowed" and we are creating an "its alright to say I am not fine "culture.... I am still struggling with who I am and how I am.

Last night at LG we sang one of those amazing worship songs where the words just seem to sum up all that I was feeling...let me leave you with some of the words.

A thousand times I have failed
Still your mercy remains
And should I stumble again
Still I am caught in your grace....Everlasting.....
Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending Your glory goes beyond all fame...

Part of the chorus goes like this...

And the cry of my heart is to give you praise from the inside out Lord my soul cries out....

Today as I write this...these words are echo-ing from within...

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Sunday 14th February F is for Forward

F is for Forward.....well strictly speaking this entry should really be called "Pay it Forward "...but wanted to stick to the F words.!!

We have just spent Valentines evening together..enjoying a lovely roast dinner and watching a feel good film called "Pay it Forward" and it has had such a strong impact on us that I have literally walked through from the living room as the titles have gone up and started this get it all down while it was still fresh in my mind. Have you seen it ??... I don't ever remember it being in the cinema so perhaps it was a "straight to dvd " film..or maybe its really was in the £2.99 section in Sainsbury yesterday and it was worth so much more than that.

I wont spoil all the storyline in case you want to watch it but suffice to say a school teacher challenged his class of 11 year olds to write an assignment based on "something that could change the world" and the wee boy who the story is based on outlined a plan where by he did something good to three people and then those three people had to "pay it forward " to three others ( thus making 9) and then those 9 had to "pay it forward " ( thus making 27) and so on and so on.....

Near the end after watching this all unfold the wee lad is interviewed as the "Founder " of this "Movement " called
"Pay it Forward "...(remember this is all fiction) ...and the wee lad says he didn't know it had worked and he thought it had not gone beyond his own 3 people because it

"had to be something really really really hard...and something that maybe you would be scared to do "

One of the people who did "pay it forward " had gone to her mum who had been a drunk and had neglected her growing up and who had become a bag lady of sorts and this person who was "paying it forward " found her mum amongst the street people and said "I forgive you " Watching this section of the film had me weeping ...identification always produces tears for me and as I saw the emotions playing out (remember this is fiction )...I once again saw the power in those words "I forgive you " and even now as I type I can feel tears forming as I " hear " the words of Jesus on the cross saying "Forgive them Father" and as I almost daily encounter Jesus showing me hard things..asking me hard things...but knowing that it is all about "paying it forward" ...God...who began a good work in me wants to complete it...He doesn't want me to "stay the way I am " He wants to change me and that's why He "paid it forward "for me . (remember this is NOT fiction )

As Chris and I watched the film we were incredibly moved by it and the power of doing "hard things"....and as the story developed we saw lots of stories unfold all over America...(remember this is fiction ) and many of the stories involved were about drunks and addicts and bullies....but there was also the ones about giving things to those who didn't have and being there for people who needed help....

"Pay it Forward "
is almost a picture of what Jesus did for me..for each of us...He paid the price thousands of years ago so that I might be forgiven...He challenges me daily to "pay it forward " to others...if I did this every day of my life...if all of us "paid it forward" to 3 people as often as we could and they did the same and then those people did the same...
could we change the situation...
could we change ourselves...
could we change our families..
could we change our communities..
could we change our town....
could we change our world....

When Jesus "paid it forward " He began a revolution of love..peace..grace..mercy..forgiveness...and so much more...

He paid it forward for everyone..

not just for 3 people.....and it changed the world.....

I am going to be "paying it forward " this week...I am going to find 3 people who I can bless in some way...maybe not that big a thing but something that will change their world in a small way card...a coffee invite..a letter...a smile.......maybe they will "pay it forward " and maybe if you are reading this blog you can do something similar to 3 people you know and ......hey before we know where we are we could have a "movement"...Actually I believe we already have a movement..its called the lets all "Pay it Forward ".

Friday, 12 February 2010

Friday 12th February F is for Funerals

F is for Funerals....or as we know in our church its usually a celebration of the persons life and a time to give thanks for who they remember and be together with many who share memories of the one who has died. Today I was once again honoured to be able to serve a family from within our community as they said goodbye to RB.

I was standing in a drizzly kind of rain in the cold watching members of RBs brass band arrive complete with all their amazing instruments...some I didn't even know the name of and then parking the many friends and family who came together for this time.I reflected that it was the 5th Funeral/Thanksgiving we had had in a few months and my heart seemed full of grief and sadness as I greeted so many people...I also know that at some point very soon we may have another similar occasion as a family I know is saying goodbye to K..a much loved wife..mummy and friend to so many.

I love serving like this as it gives me time to pray specifically for those who are experiencing grief and sadness whilst I stand there ...folk may look and wonder what on earth I am doing as they may see my lips move and at times I am pretending to talk on the radios when in fact I am talking to the God !!

In fact I love to serve in the car park...many people who know me think I am daft...and have wondered why I do what I do...and what on earth I get out of it...I know there are times in every volunteer area where we just get on and do it and not actually get anything "out of it" but it is rare that I get to the end of a car parking session and don't come away buzzing and feeling I have given my all.(and with the size of our car park there are many times when I have literally given my all !!)

I am actually reflecting a lot about my car parking at the moment for personal reasons...and it has given me time to think about the "why"...what is it about being there to welcome people that makes me come alive ...what is it that has kept me going through the wind..rain..snow...stress...panic....rudeness...tiredness....what is it that keeps me getting up my work life...changing commitments..taking unpaid leave from work to serve at conferences....serving at weddings and funerals of people who I don't really know well as regularly on Sundays.

I am not going to start patting myself on the back and saying "well done good and faithful servant" or expect other people to keep on saying thank you
(and people do )...The main reason I have done this for almost three years is simply because God has called me to it.I have always known it was a calling from God as it is SO not my natural habitat...I am an indoors person..I am an up front person..I would much prefer a microphone than a radio/walkie talkie.....and a platform rather than a car park....But somehow or other God put something of His heart in me to be someone who is there to welcome others into the community known as Kerith Community Church and especially to welcome at those events that may draw those who don't yet know Jesus. My Vision Statement for Car Parking has always been..

Car Parking isnt about CARS..its about PEOPLE

And yet...Despite a deep sense of Gods calling....I know I cant go on....I have beaten myself up so many times in the last few weeks as I have struggled with so many confusing emotions. I am not going to share too deeply here as it is an ongoing work of God in my life that I need some time to work through. I feel a complete wreck and failure and disappointed with myself and at the same time I feel complete relief that I have made this decision. I didn't come to it lightly or without much thought..prayer and talking it through. Those who are close to me will know just how much I have wrestled with this decision and how many times I have pressed on...and on...Even as I served today I could feel such deep sadness that I wont be doing it much longer and then confusingly great relief and peace knowing I wouldn't be doing it much longer. Confused yet?? I have been too..!!

Over the 26 years I have been a Christian and served in just about every area of community life and initiated several Deaf Ministry and Kerith Kids I have always struggled with laying things to leave behind an ongoing ministry...I have always thought it was an admittance of failure to stop doing something especially when it was going well....and at times when there is no clear leadership handover. Until I read a book called Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels...I struggled to know exactly who/what kind of leader I am.....Bill is one of my heroes...he leads the Willow Creek Campus in Chicago and I had the immense privilege of going there last summer for their Leadership Summit...I even stood about 2 feet away from him for a few minutes in the coffee shop (!)...but he writes about Leadership with such great insight and this has helped me to grow and mature....and I have found myself once again dipping into his books over the last few weeks looking for insight into my confusion.

So...F is for Funerals... and I guess "endings"...and it is with huge sadness that I realise that there will come.... very "ending" to my leading the car parking team ministry........I may not hang up the yellow jacket this is still an ongoing decision I am wrestling with but certainly leading the gang of yellow men and women is coming to a close in next few weeks. The teams have been amazing..I have felt great joy serving alongside each and everyone of them..not least my gorgeous hubby who has served alongside me so many times when he isn't also inside serving the audio desk.

Let me leave you with this scripture which has been one of my life verses for years

1 Corinthians ch 15 verse 58 says this.....Therefore my dear brothers,stand firm. Let nothing move you.Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord,because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Tuesday 9th February...F is for Fertility

F is for to do with me..!!

This morning I went with Cat for one of her appointments and since then I have been thinking through the whole journey she and Nick are on. We arrived at this rather space age looking building called " The Institute of Reproductive Sciences" As we sat in the car together and then in the waiting room I said to her " it wasn't meant to be like this " and as I looked around the clinic waiting room I saw a group of women of all ages sitting with either mums or husbands or partners and several on their own and I guessed for them too "it wasn't meant to be like this "

As her appointment was running late my mind wandered here ....there and everywhere as various doctors and nurses and patients went in and out of rooms. It was all very clinical and no-one spoke above whispers and no-one made eye contact with one another. There was no shared camaraderie even tho I know that everyone was there for the same reason....everyone seemed wrapped in their own world.I wondered how many attempts some of them had made..or if this was their first visit...I wondered about the ones who were there alone..I wondered about the ones who clutched large files...I wondered if they wondered about Catriona !! The clinic nurse was warm and humorous as she showed Cat the next stage of her treatment and detailed the appointment time scales etc and then we were back in the car driving back to Bracknell.We were quiet on the way home and I kept hearing this refrain in my head..."it wasnt meant to be like this "

It seems surreal for me as her mum to be walking this journey with my daughter. I was so aware that the clinic waiting room was like a very small drop in the ocean of was one waiting room in one clinic on one morning which would have been reproduced all over the nation on a huge scale and on a daily basis . I am humbled by this fact...whilst Catriona is only one the grand scale of things she is also just one of so many...and "it wasn't meant to be like this " for any of the women I saw this morning.

I am humbled in the spiritual sense also that I know God is in charge of Cat and Nicks journey ..I know He is sovereign...I know He is the author of life...I know He is the healer....I know He can produce a miracle...I know...I know ..I know..

There is no way we can ever prepare ourselves for things that "arent meant to be this way"..there is no course we can go on to find out the best ten steps to dealing with this....there is no fast track to coping ....

There is only God...
There is only His Spirit....
There is only Jesus...

In Him alone ....

Monday, 1 February 2010

Monday 1st February . F is for Fun

F is for Fun...and F is for February and I want to know who stole January ! With all the snow and disruption it seems as if January disappeared and we are now rolling on into Spring.

This is just a short entry to post some fun !!....I spent some time on Saturday with the Exposition group...this is the writing group that the church has under the Unique Women's Ministry banner and we had a day away planned which was excellent in many ways. Joining in with a group of women of all ages ..sharing our words and thoughts together was stimulating and challenging. It was all the more challenging for me as for the last 3 meetings the group has focus-ed on poetry....and just to explain..

I do not "do " poetry..don't write it ..don't like it...don't read it...just plain don't "do"!!

I will hopefully work out how to post my offering of poetry with this blog but I wanted to share a kind of "epiphany" I have had about myself brought about by Exposition over the last year. For as long as I can remember I have always felt slightly inferior with regard to academic ability...leaving school at 16 with O levels and never really undertaking any higher education I am very aware that I often mix with folk who have degrees and are hugely more intelligent that me in the academic sense. Exposition has stretched me way beyond my comfort zone and at times I have often thought to give up ..especially when it began to focus on poetry...In the run up to the day the emails were flying with all the poems being sent round so we all knew each persons offerings.I only had to read some of the introductions and explanations to realise that I was way out of my depth...and then reading the actual poetry just blew me out of the water.

But..I have slowly reached an acceptance and understanding of who I am and what I have to offer and decided that rather than try and be what I most definitely am not...I would just be myself and write as I see it.This in itself is a step forward for me as I have sometimes found myself pretending to be other than I am...if that makes sense? Have you ever sat in a group doing ice breaker kind of activities and you have to say something "encouraging" about each person in the room...or where you have to use one word to describe each person in the room?? Over the years if ever this has been my experience the main thing people would say about me would be comments about "how funny I am "...or about "my sense of humour " and whilst there isn't anything wrong with that I have so often wanted the words "wise " "spiritual" "strong" "adaptable"...and other remarks like this...and at times I have said "I wish people could see past my humour " to the real me.!!

The awakening realisation I have been experiencing for this last year is that actually being funny...humerous...bringing laughter into life is a vital part of the "real me " and is a gift in itself and I could relax into it without feeling in any way inferior. As we all shared our poetry on the Away Day and each of us read our offerings I was so very aware that each persons poem was much deeper and more mysterious and needed lots of thought to get the meaning and to understand and grasp the truth of the words they had written. I knew as my turn approached that there was no hidden mystery...just laughter at the basic humanity of a woman. In the past I would have felt so very much out of place and been nervous and worrying about what others perceived me to be...but instead I just felt a complete and utter freedom that I had written something fairly good and very funny and it provoked exactly the reaction I had expected..planned ...and wanted...laughter...much hooting and giggles.!!

Fun is good..laughter is precious...and if my wee poem makes you giggle then this blog entry has been worthwhile...


Just once,
Can I get through the day
without squeezing whilst sneezing
or holding tough when I cough
when walking to the car seems way too far.

Just once,
Can I get through the day?
without a queue for the loo
or crossing of legs like pegs
When running for buses causes down below fusses.

Just once,
Can I get through the day
without Senna or Tena
or creeping whilst seeping
when a heavenly sigh confirms that I am dry,

Just once,
Can I get through the day
without slickers as knickers
or whinging and cringing
when the cold hits the tight bits.

Just once,
Can I get through the day,
without a sneak for a leak
or constant wee-ing and pee-ing
when daytime dribbling becomes nocturnal widdling.