I was reading Lisa’s blog on Musing From a Sacred Summer, of how she is being intentional with the things she does before leaving Seattle, but that so often we don’t know what is round the corner. If these past 18 months have taught us one thing it should be that we don’t know what’s coming. Every January we sit and plan, roughly, our year so that we’ve at least got some idea of what is going on. Even as February 2020 came into being and rumours were starting about this new virus we still went ahead and book a trip to see my son’s flat and a couple of other events later in the year. For us here in the UK March 23rd was “end of the world as we know it” day. Lockdown day!! The signs were there. It had been coming. But I don’t think anyone really believed it would be as it was.
So things will change but does that mean we don’t plan any more? I don’t think so. But it is how we plan that will help to keep us sane.
I am trying to make my whole day intentional. I am a writer and, as most writers know, unless you carve out time then you don’t get to write. In fact I think that is probably true for most self-employed creative people without deadlines. I don’t have a publisher waiting round the corner for me to produce my next book, next collection, but I do love to write. I have published a book. I would like to publish again. But there won’t be anything if I don’t intentionally set aside time to write. So I am putting aside time in my diary. I also live in a big house that needs cleaning regularly. It is easy to keep clean if I intentionally set aside time to do it. I have paid projects that I need to be doing too.
Some people write their plans in stone. Some people don’t write them at all and wonder why things don’t get done. But I am planning on writing my plans in pencil. Not because I don’t take them seriously but because things can change. Take for instance my cleaning routine. I had it all planned out and then heard from a friend that someone she knew was going to be homeless for a couple of days, so a quick change, replan and they’ve got rooms ready for them. Or this morning, I had a list of what I was going to write. One of which was to finish off a blog post to share on Godspace but as I was writing it I put in a reference to this blog, that I hadn’t written at the time so thought I’d best get it done!!!
As I’ve mentioned before I intentionally put an Artist’s Date in my diary, where I go for a walk and write. I was planning to do that today but in the end went yesterday because there was a space. I am so glad I did because today there is sideways rain crashing down. Even the dog only got a 15 min walk. Intentionality written in pencil.
Hopefully this will make me more flexible, more trusting in God and the Universe, more able to do what I have to do. So I put things in my diary, make my to-do list, and hold everything lightly, and trusting that what I get done for that day, be it writing, cleaning, working on a project, emailing, seeing friends, or all the other myriad of things I love to do, will be what I am meant to do for that day
Serendipity means – the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for; an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident; good fortune; luck
On Wednesday I had decided to take myself off on an Artist’s Date as recommended by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. On Tuesday night I’d had an important email regarding working with a school’s holiday club which needed admin tasks doing but I decided, as I am trying to “wear the cloak of a writer” – something that comes from the Warrior Goddess work I’ve been doing – I decided that the admin would wait until the afternoon.
Before getting the dog up and leaving for my Artist’s Date – which was going to be a walk from Beaumaris to Castell Aberlleiniog, some writing on the castle motte and then walking back again – I did some journaling around “Roots”. One of the things I wrote was “God will supply all my needs whether money, time, energy, direction, etc” Also things around trusting that I get done each day what I need to get done for that day. A sort of “give us today our daily bread”.
I managed to get a bit lost on the drive to Beaumaris, but found the car park and set off with my bag with notebook, water and a sandwich and the dog along the coast path. The weather was awesome. The clouds were low and were hugging the mountains across the water. I walked for a while and then thought I would stop and take a photo. That was when I discovered that I had left my phone in the car. And I had said to my husband that I would be fine on the walk because I had my phone with me!! Ok so it did help that I was walking a coastal path so just had to keep the sea to my right on the way out and then on my left on the way back! But it did mean that I didn’t know what the time was.
Even though I had journaled around trusting that I would get everything done in the back of my head I had thought that if after an hour’s walking I hadn’t found the castle I would turn back. Well now I didn’t know what the time was so I just walked.
I did find the castle, which turned out to be further from the coast path than googlemaps had said. But because I was working on “trusting time” I was at the top of the motte when the sun burned off the clouds. I wrote poems and bits for the story I’d gone to write in situ, but also as I came down I bumped into a man who had been involved in the restoration of the Aberlleiniog who told me lots more than was on the information boards which was so helpful to my story.
I would say my day turned out to be totally serendipitous. But it came from letting go of something that we all use so much now for so much – the smart phone – and trusting to God/the Universe/our own intuition.
Brene Brown in her Daring Greatly book, talks about believing we have “enough” and from the vulnerability to trust oozes. I trusted that I had “enough” time, energy and whatever, to have the time out I needed for my writing, and from it I was blessed immensely.
I’d love to share pictures from the walk but like I said I didn’t take my phone. And then when I got home there was an email from the school I’m going to be working with dates for me to work, and I did get all the admin tasks I needed to do before supper time!
World Book Day comes with lovely memories of my children eagerly awaiting the actually date to go and spend their £1 book day tokens. The tokens would arrive from our favourite home education support group a week or two early but my two would wait until it was actually World Book Day before spending them. They never bought the book that was the one especially put together for that specific World Book Day, which only cost £1. Instead they would add their own pocket money to the token and would spend ages in our favourite independent bookshop searching until they had found just the right book. It was delightful. And came only second to the delight of discovering that my daughter had taught herself to read when she was about three years old in the “book cave” I had designed for them.
Both my two are still avid book readers even though not as much as myself. I devour books. Last year I read over 100 different books which I posted on Instagram and I’m hoping to read as many this year. For me and for my children, and most readers I know, books are a way of not just escaping but of learning about new worlds, people one wouldn’t meant in regular life, or reading about how others think and feel which taps into how we think. For myself I come away from a book with greater wisdom about myself and others, whether historical figures or contemporary. Books give one connection to something bigger than just ordinary life, which I think has been so important in these lockdown time.
As I was pondering this and knowing I was going to be posting it on to the Godspace site I was thinking how I could tie in God. Well of course Jesus is “The Word” which is actually isn’t so very different to a book. I believe each reader reads a book differently. We all dive in with our own ideas, thoughts, life experiences and prejudices and read the story through that. As I pondered this I felt that this is what we all do with Jesus if we choose to dive into him. I do not believe we can get to know Jesus without bringing our own stuff with us. I believe that is why Jesus isn’t a static word but “the living word” because we all change who he is by what we pour into him from us, and he then changes who we are by what we take away. .
I also think this makes God even more amazing than ever. When I wrote my book I had an idea not just what it meant but how I hoped people would feel about it, and what they get from it. It is only a 34 page children’s picture book but I still want to sit with each person and tell them how it should be impacting their lives. Yet God released his Son, the living word, as well as the Bible, into the hands of people. People who were going to read and interpret it through their own lens. I know we sit with God and explore his word with him but I don’t believe he ever dictates to us what we should get from him.
I believe God trusts each of us to read his Son and his Bible through who we are, through our own lens, through are own life experiences. And I think that we need to trust others to read through their own life lens and listen to what each other learns. Maybe we need to read the Bible and share what we’ve learned as we would a book club that would make a difference to our growth as followers of Jesus? We should not listen to what others are learning so we can tell them where they are wrong but, as with the book club idea so that we can learn about them, learn from them – and maybe in the process learn about ourselves just as we do when reading a well written novel.
Normally I would do my end of year review to coincide with Christmas cards I was sending, whether physical or electronic, but this year I have decided to wait until 31st December to post, and am even tempted to wait until midnight just in case. It is not that I am fearful but this has been an “unprecedented” year.
At the time I would normally have done this post I was still laid up with bruised ribs from falling off that horse though was starting to plan what I would write, and I suppose even Different Christmas was a lead up to that. But then just as I was in the planning stages for that my husband got shingles and has been very sore with that. Then on Saturday 19th Dec Wales announced that all was change for Christmas and we were going into lockdown again – though from the volume of traffic I would say that only means that pubs and cafes have now closed. Not sure if I can see much other difference on the roads. It is definitely not back to April’s sparse traffic volume. But then on Sunday my daughter announced that she had tested positive to covid and so, even though she wasn’t coming up here for the holidays it did mean she was going to have to spend it home alone! All this in just a week!
This has been the strangest of years. Even to the point that our cat went from eating biscuits to demanding that we feed her cat meat from a tin. She now has meat twice a day and ignores the biscuits that sit waiting for her to be hungry enough. If it hadn’t been for the local cat rescue places being closed all the tins that had been in the cupboard for the last few years would have gone to them but now she’s eaten them all.
Talking of pets – our crazy rabbit died in the summer, happily of a possible heart attack whilst he was sunbathing before begining yet another digging project. He was buried inside his own warren of tunnels that he had constructed over the four years he had been living here. He is still very missed and the amount of veg peelings in our food recycling bin has increased.
As with everyone 2020 started normally enough, though it was odd for us because my husband chose to stay home for New Year’s instead of going to a youth hostel with old university friends. So actually even the start of the year was different for us with us being together when we woke on 2020. We went away as always for our wedding anniversary at the end of January, which was followed by my husband going off for a week of intensive Welsh learning on the Llyn Peninsular. He managed to get away climbing with friends in Scotland at the start of March, but by the time he went away then things were starting to change and covid was being muttered about. We had two Airbnb guests, both in the medical profession, who went from saying it was nothing to worry about to slowly getting more and more concerned about it, to our guest from Burma having to cut short his stay so he got home before all airports were closed.
I was supposed to go on my regular March writing retreat but felt uneasy about going which was just as well because suddenly things got serious. So instead of being in Gwynedd I went Cardiff to bring my daughter to stay with us when the pubs closed. We bought her some walking boots the day before the country went into full lockdown. We thought we were going to be walking all over North Wales, but then the 5 mile rule was introduced and we finished up doing lots of walks around where we live. We have seen my daughter more this year, probably a good 4 months of the year, than we have since she went off to university about 7 years ago. I picked her up yesterday, now that she is over her coovid isolation time and will spend New Year with us and stay until this lockdown lifts. So even though we have seen so much more of her this year when it comes to everyone else – my son and our mothers and our friends – we’ve seen them less than normal.
My husband changed jobs at the start of lockdown and has now been working for his new company for 8 months and never seen the inside of his office or met any of his colleagues face to face. We are so grateful for our lovely big house and him being able to work upstairs in his own office. But his is the only work going on in the house because, with all the guidelines and restrictions, it is not safe to run our house as an Airbnb rental home for the time being. Read more about that on Humility. And since not having guests coming and going it has changed how I see the house and what it is for. For now I’m not making any decisions how things will look regarding Airbnb and room rentals in 2021, but I do know I see this place much more as a family home now than a business.
We did manage to get away for a flying visit to Somerset to see our mums and a couple of friends at the beginning of August and my son and his fiancee came up to us for a long weekend in mid August. Both times we were blessed with great weather. And we managed 6 days in Northumberland in late September, though because Northumbeland went into tier 3 we were not able to see one friend who had moved there a couple of years ago, and also a friend’s 50th wedding anniversary party was cancelled. But we did manage 6 days of walking, reading, and resting together.
As well as Airbnb all my work has stopped – no more writing groups, no more schools work, no more workshops in the library. All very strange. But I have been doing a lot of my own writing and a few of my blogs from here are being published on Godspacelight.com which is quite exciting. I have also been working with a young illustrator and we have a book called TheLittle Yellow Boat which is with BumbleBee Publishing in the process of being put together and published later in 2021. I will tell more about that once it is out in the big wide world. My plans for 2021 are to work on more short stories and other ideas and of course to blog more. I do not want The Little Yellow Boat to be my only publications. I have also been working towards an MA in Celtic Studies and have loved the modules about the Mabinogion, especailly the Four Branches. I am thinking of doing some stores around the women from the Four Branches.
Every year we do not know what is going to happen, but I think 2021 is probably the one where we have the least idea. Will the vaccine prove effective enough to bring back “normal” life? Will we have enjoyed some of the changes and not want “normal”? For some their business will never be the same again. Many will be bankrupt. For others there plans will be delayed and will be able to move forward a year or two later. But also within that not knowing are things we do have control over. I plan to continue with the Quantum Energy Counselling healing work I’ve been doing. I will work on my own writing and develop a body of work and look at being published. I will meet up with people when I walk with my dog and have great conversations. I will email my friends. And I will carry on reading. All these I have control over. As to whether I’ll start Airbnb rental again or whether I’ll be able to restart writing workshops and schools work, that I have no control over, so will hold lightly. Also I do have control over how I behave towards what is going on around me and I hope I can hold Joy and Hope in the right place and walk as God wants me to through whatever is thrown my way.
Wales is now back in full on lockdown as of midnight on Saturday 19th December. This morning I was on the beach praying for all the pubs and restaurants that would lose hundreds of pounds today because they had bought in food to prepare Sunday lunches, which up here is the time when most people go out to eat, and will have to throw it all away. Where is the hope in all this?
I wrote a piece not so long ago called Full Moon and I still hold to that – of God being above our chaos looking down and being with us through it. But this morning as I turned to walk back from the beach it started pelting with rain, cold icy rain, and the sky was just filled with black clouds. There was not even a fringe of false dawn or red tinged clouds. It was black. And it made me wonder “how can we know there is hope when all is dark?” But then I got thinking about the Christmas story, which many of us won’t get to hear in church because of lockdown, about of how when we tell that we tell it full of hope and yet I am sure there were very dark days.
Can you imagine how Mary and Joseph must have felt as they came into Bethlehem and were shunned? How dark must that have felt? They knew God was there, knew God had planned this, but so much was clouding that hope. I think often we “big up” the Christmas story too much and don’t show the other side of things, which then leads us to feel like we are inadequate, that we have to rise to a place that is beyond what we can reach.
I totally believe that God is in all that we are going through, even this sudden lockdown and the loss of earnings from too many places, and mental health and suicides that have come from the anxiety and fear and stress of all this time. This, though for me, is where faith comes in. But too often the burdens we bear make it too hard to look up and find that faith. And that is when we need to be kind to ourselves and to each other, be honest that actually on some days we have no hope, we have no faith. We can only see the storm that is gusting around us.
[I was in the process of pondering how to finish the above paragraph on this post when my daughter messaged to say she’d tested positive for covid-19. She has very minor symptoms and had done the test because someone she worked with had tested positive. So it was all a bit of a shock, especially as she’s been trying to work out how she could get from South Wales to North Wales now we were all in lockdown. So sometimes the storms are crazy and the sky is dark but I am pleased I could find the words for the above paragraph to give myself the encouragement I needed]
The BBC have done a fascinating interpretation of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, where they have given Scrooge a larger backstory than the Ghost of Christmas Past shared in the novel, as to why Scrooge is the way he is. Episode two where Scrooge is taken to Christmases past should be shown to all business people who put profit first. This is not a problem that has gone away
But the thing that stuck me most were the issues this version has chosen to highlight. Scrooge was as he was because he had been unloved and abused as a child, been told the only way to survive is to have money in the bank, not to trust others, and be be his own person. Bottom line – he was afraid and had built his own saftey net around him.
The alcoholic or drug addict doesn’t abuse their body and their families because they think it is a good idea. They do it because they are afraid. Even the person who abuses their partner or children or attacks others does so because they are afraid. And these are the things society notices. But there are also those who have more money than they could spend in a life time, but they are also afraid – of not having enough, of not being safe, etc, etc. If each of us is honest we are all afraid of something and have all built walls, big or small, to keep ourselves safe.
But this is the time of year when the Bible expounds with “do not be afraid” – to Mary, to the Shepherds, to my big hero of the Chrismas story, Joseph. Joseph has such a bit part in this story and never gets any of his own lines, but twice he is told not to be afraid; the first time when he finds out Mary is pregnant and is told not to be afraid of how she got with child, and the second when he has to leave everything he knows and go to Egypt to keep this child that is not his own safe. He is amazing because he marries Mary, but doesn’t sleep with her till after Jesus is born, takes her with him when he goes for the census so that there is no chance of her being stoned whilst he’s away, and then goes to a land to live as a refugee until God tells him it is ok to come home again, and home to a place he really doesn’t know what his relatives will think of him.
God tells him not to be afraid, and we too often read that as “dont be scared” but I think it means “to let go of all those issues you carry with you that will encourage you to build walls of self preservation around you and trust God“. I think Jesus learned a lot from Joseph about how to be open and trusting even in a place of fear. And Joseph through all that went on around him learned to trust God, to not be fearful, to put aside his own strength and not build up walls.
I believe fear kills because it causes us to shut ourselves away from not just others but from out true selves. Fear causes us not to trust others, causes us to use other things for our safety; like career, profit over people, having ‘enough’ money, etc, being accepted by others, alcohol, drugs, being the life of the party, food, overly caring for others at the detriment of ourselves, not being able to say yes, or not being able to say no, relationships, and … here ponder and name your own.
I don’t think God asks us not to be scared but asks us not to be afraid and to stay open and trusting to all the facets that make up the Godhead, and trusting others too. So as we enter this season of vaccines and Brexit and being unsure let us be open, trusting and not afraid, not build walls, and lean on the One who can hold us through.
I have been reading this book, Untamed by Glennon Doyle, in the afternoons after walking the dog. The subject matter is brilliant – about hearing with your heart what you want to do and not pleasing people. Actually just this morning it made me decide to write this instead of doing an online Welsh class. My heart said “get this written” but it was interesting explaining to my husband why I was doing one thing and not the other how I started to not trust my heart. But despite it being an amazing book I think Glennon could have made her points in half the time and still had an excellent book. It does go on reiterating the same point a wee bit
But the bit that will stay with me is the end chapter which reads like a poem. Glennon has taken that passage from the Bible when Moses asks God “Who shall I tell the people you are?” and God answers “I am who I am” [Exodus 3:13-14], and from that writes a list of quesions as to whether she’s happy, sad, straight, gay, Christian, heretic, good, bad, believer, doubter, etc, etc. And she answers with “I am, I am, I am”.
It made me wonder if God never meant “I am” to be sacred but was just saying “I am who I am”, as in I am a conundrum of all difference, full of love and yet I do get anger, totally involved and yet sometimes distant, in each situation I will be who I will be. If “I am” is not a holy phrase but just God saying they’ll turn up as they will in a given situation surely that also releases me to follow my heart for each situation?
I am who I am. Today I am a writer who has so much stuff in my head that is tumbling out that I need time to get it out. Other days I don’t want to write a word. I am funny and crazy but also deeply serious. I like people but only in small amounts and get my energy from being alone. I like to plan but can’t stand it when those plans get to tight. I have roles like mother, wife, friend, but none of those should define me.
I believe, after reading this last chapter in Untamed that God spoke those words and Moses, or whoever wrote down Exodus, recorded those words to release us and not to keep us afraid. It was to show both the conundrum of God and the conundrum of ourselves. We should be free then to release God to be all God will be at any given moment and release God from having to confrom to a formula. But also we should be able to release ourselves from shouds and oughts and whatevers, or even “but last time I did x then y”. I am who I am gives me the freedom to be who I am whenever and wherever I am.
I am who I am gives me freedom to listen to my heart at that moment, and also means that I can trust God to listen to their heart at that moment in time. No formlua. No explaination. Freedom!
This season for me, as you can tell from reading my blogs, has been being reminded of prophetic words. When I first got into this prophetic praying one of the major verse was:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
I believe this is another of the “Reset” places we should be exploring as the pandemic still creeps across the world.
I believe the word “sin” basically means that we have screwed up, been selfish, missed God’s mark. So we need to go back and humble ourselves before God and say we have screwed up. This is being highlighted in Black Lives Matter, the continued abuses and inequalities between women and men, wanting to see the economy recover often to the detriment of people, climate change, animal welfare, etc.
Reading this news I have noticed that whenever some country or world leader boasts about how they are doing with this virus suddenly they get a spike in Covid-19 cases. Pride steps in, they want to tell everyone how well they did and then bam! they get walloped. It is like the virus is saying to “get off your high horse” and be humble.
Being a practical person I have always have to say what can I/we do?
Well I think the only true way is to stop saying we know what we’re doing and stop, wait, rest and let peace flow into our troubled minds and stop rushing about trying to sort out what the “new normal” is going to be.
But, as I’ve said before, I see people being busy, wanting answers, rushing into the next thing. And this happens as much with Christians as much as anyone. There has been a rush in our church to deep clean to get things “open again” and in England Sunday services are happening so it won’t be long before they start in Wales. But I don’t know of many people who have been praying to find out what God wants to happen next.
But to stop moving forward and to wait on God – or if you don’t believe in God then the universe, a higher power, that inner gut feeling – takes time, and might cause change. Do we really want change?
I took my own advise seriously and during my morning dog walks on the beach I started to ask God what I was do with my “one wild and precious life”. I came away feeling that I was to take my rooms off Airbnb and not advertise for anyone to stay and to trust that if we were meant to have people staying they would find us. Over coffee that Saturday morning I chatted with my husband and he totally agreed. It is odd because the only reason we moved up to North Wales and bought this big house was to do Airbnb! We move up here a place of trusting God, but that was to do something. Now this whole waiting to see what the plan is next is much harder and more humbling because we cannot do anything.
I believe with all things, if we don’t give them to Jesus and leave them in his hands, then we will never be humble. It is not easy and is an on going process, one that God started with me nearly 30 years ago. I’m glad God has more patience with me than I often have with myself.
I was reading the headlines this morning on my newsfeed. I must admit I have given up opening articles because they are so negative. But as I was walking this morning I got to thinking about trust. I was brought up with the adage that you couldn’t trust politicians; that they were all two-faced, etc. Those of us politically minded would then go on marches, send letters, etc, even visit our local MP or go to the Houses of Parliament. This was in the days before online petitions so one had to be a bit dedicated to write and remember to buy a stamp, go to the post office, etc.
There is a tagline going around at the mo that says “the 0.2% have voted” which works on the lack of trust that these 0.2% have any idea what they are doing. It has almost gone beyond the “all politicians are two-faced” but to the “they haven’t got a clue”. Now I do believe there are a lot of politicians that don’t have a clue about being on benefits, dealing with the NHS, the state of the education system, trying to use public transport etc, etc. But I do think there are a lot of other people who don’t know or understand this either. So I think we need to be careful where we go with that.
But again this moved me on to the TRUST thing. Who do we trust?
Or more personally who do I trust? I trust my weather app and will look at that rather than out the window before I go for a walk! 🙂
But it led me to do I trust God? Followers of my blog posts, and my life, will know that we have been through some stuff where God hasn’t done as we would have liked. Do I still trust him?
Lesson from my dog – Renly and I were out walking at 7.30am this morning and it was still wayyyyy too hot so when we got to a stream I tried to persuade him to get a drink. He was frightened because the bank was a bit steep and he is only little. So I threw him in the water. He stood there with the cold water lapping round his belly and then walked out further so it was over his back. He drank and drank. For the first half of the walk he had trailed along because he was too hot. On the way back he ran like a mad dog because he was cool and so was happy. I’m not sure if he will still trust me by streams in case I throw him in but just maybe he learned that it was a good idea.
So sometimes God has to throw us into things for our own good to help us with the next part of our journey – no matter how hot or steep that next bit is but he wants to not just “lead us by still waters” (Psalm 23) but immerse us in those refreshing waters. We might not trust him next time he has us stand by those waters but he might just throw us in again for our own good. But it would have been much easier for Renly and for me if he had just jumped in when I’d showed it to him first of all and easier for us too if we just trust God a bit more.
So I may struggle to trust politicians or the media but I do need to, through the turmoil in our country and the direction of my life, trust in the Lord with all my head and lean on his understand – not my own (Proverbs 3:5)
Bottom line – things change but you have to trust the voice that is leading you!
Maybe that’s all I will write. Do you need any explanation? Do you need to know where I was when I realised that? Do you need to know what thougths were going through my head at the time? Probably not.
I did realise too that I have more trust at times in the satnav on googlemaps on my phone or on the BBC weather app than I have with God. I suppose some of it is that they are clearer. The satnav much more open in her directiveness. If only at times God would say “turn left here” then shout at me if I miss the turning. If only, when there’s an accident on the road I hoped to go on would tell me the best way to avoid it. Or maybe this is my fault?
I only hear the satnav when I have the media volume turned up high. I also have found I need to radio off so I only hear her speaking. When she sends me a direction I was not expecting because I thought I knew the road I trust her and take that turn.
So maybe with God I need to cut out distractions, turn the volume up a bit more and
when sent somewhere different trust that he knows best?