Categories
enough Listen to my heart

Enough And No Further

This is just a good excuse to put a photo of my friend Tessa on my blog post. She has been very ill and since before lockdown wasn’t able to get to the sea side. She lives about 50 miles inland and it was all too much for her. Well she has since been diagnoised and getting treatment so my daughter and I took her on the train to her nearest seaside just to show her she could do it. This was the place on our walk on beach where she said “that’s enough. I’d like to turn round now.” So enough and no more. [Picture was taken about 11.30am but it was a dark old day!]

Today I was reading a book about women in history. I had been struggling along with it and its many references to Mother Goddess. Not because I believe God is male but more because it was being placed as a fact. I then reached a line which quoted John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God”. It went on to say that this was a lie and that history had invent him.

Now as I’m sure I’ve mentioned in previous blogs I think we’ve missed something amazing by giving God a gender and that when the Bible says about how God made man and women in God’s image then God must be male and female, all genders and none. So I’ve got no issues with the argument that God isn’t a “he” but I do have issues with then the creator god being a “she” as though that makes it alright.

But the for me what has made me stop is that sometimes we all have to say “enough and no more”. It is not that I want to make this author believe that God is male but also I find that I reach a point in reading where I had to say this is enough for me and put the book down. I come across this sometimes in historic books or programs, where I feel that author or presenter has gone too far off piste and I am not ready to go with them.

My son used to ski. My husband went out to join him once. My son skis off piste. My husband doesn’t. My husband had to go his way and let my son go his own. Both within their comfort zones so to speak.

So it isn’t that I am not open minded. I hope that I am. But sometimes it gets to a point where I am not ready to go as far as the author or presenter and you know that is ok. So I would not say this author is wrong, but I would say, like with my friend and the walk on the beach, that this was enough and I’d like to go back now.

I was reading some stuff about listening to your heart and going with your gut feelings and how too often we don’t do that. Well for me my heart says that is enough and so I will listen to it. Something I am learning more and more to do.

Categories
Begging crowdfunding

Crowdfunding or Begging

Last week I went down South to visit my mum and catch up with some friends. My chosen companion whilst driving is Radio 4. So I drive for about 5 hours listening to various things, some of which stay with me and some I just forget.

One thing that stayed with me was an article about people who were struggling to pay their bills who were putting up pages on GoFundMe or similar crowdfunding pages. The one woman that they concentrated their feature on was a young woman who had only just gained an MA in journalism but was now out of work. She had set up a page to pay her rent and bills until she got the job she wanted. One of the reasons she was on was that she had raised more than she had asked for. At one point in the interview she said that she knew she could take any job but that she wanted to wait to get into her chosen profession.

What I wanted to know were her thoughts to the homeless person she probably walked past regularly, the beggar on the street, the tramp. Did she and those that had given to her campaign see those people as valid? Would they give as much to them?

I think too often we judge by the cover. So people will give to the pretty young woman who has fallen on hard times but not to the smelly dirty person who is on the street.

I also think that by giving on one of these crowdfunding sites one can distance oneself from the cause. It just takes the push of a Paypal button and money is moved to this woman’s account. I do remember my daughter saying that when she was in London more and more buskers especially were getting these free credit card machines and it did increase their takings. None contact. None involvement.

Whether it is the pretty young woman who wants a top job and isn’t willing to be a part time barmaid or supermarket worker or the long term homeless, is it that we really do not want to know the why of how they got to that place? Are we willing to slow things down, get into a dialogue, find out what is really going on? I think I am as much to blame. It is easier just to push that campaign button, that easy give button, that “sign here” button, than it is to slow my life down, work out what areas of live I really do want to focus on and really dig deep into what is going on here.

Just an aside – when I was planning this post it was going to be very much about berating the middle class aspirations and how no one cares about the downtrodden, but as I have written, as often happens with me and writing, I have changed my view point. I am now pointing back at me and asking what would I really do? Am I similar to what has gone on? Sometimes I think it is good for all of us to have a real look at what we are saying and whether we too are hiding behind something.

Categories
joy peace

True Peace, True Joy

Sunrise over my local park. Taken by myself Oct 2022

There is some stuff going on in my life and I spent half the night planning my speech to say what I really thought, talk about my hurts, my fears, etc. I felt I had a right to say this. Funny how we are brought up that way. And then go on to do some self improvement stuff which talks to us about firm boundaries, being honest, our rights, etc.

Well for me about 5.30am I felt an almost audible voice asking me why I felt the need to say what I felt, why I needed to put over my point of view when in fact no one has asked for it. So I chewed this over, noticed a few repeated patterns that I thought I’d dealt with, and then asked what I could do to change.

What came to me was Philippians’s 4:7 “The peace of the Lord that transcends all understanding” So being me I journaled around that.

What came up was that that real joy and real peace are there for us no matter what is going on in our lives, no matter what we are feeling. It doesn’t mean that we deny our feelings. Often living in that total joy and peace of God/the Universe we can be more open and honest with ourselves about how we feel. In fact I googled an article around this and the writer said how they go walking with their anxiety rather than trying to hide it, and this was from a piece that started with the Phil 4:7 verse.

How would I describe that total joy and peace? I don’t know. All I can say is that I know it is there. I know I can tap into it whenever I want to, though often I don’t try to – which is when I say what I shouldn’t or do what I shouldn’t and let my fears, issues, self-righteousness, hurt others.

The whole point of something “transcending our understanding” is that it transcends it, which means we cannot and should not try to understand it. What would be the point? It makes no sense to be fearful but at peace, to be grieving but feel deep joy. But then what would be the point of understanding everything?

It is great to have mysteries and as a Christian I do not want to understand all that is God. I do not want to be able to figure God out. Well what would be the point of that?

I have to trust in God with all of my being, not understand God with all my being. I have to let go of my need to sort it all out, of my need to be right all the time. I think if we all lent into a higher power of some sort, let go of our need to control each and every situation, let go of our need to figure the whys and wherefores of everything and just accept that somethings just are.

So today I am accepting that no matter what is going on in my life I am going to walk in a place of peace and joy that is bigger than I am, that I don’t understand, and that is ok.

Categories
acceptance Love

Appreciating Each Other

A skeleton found on a dig at Lindisfarne. Probably 700-1500 years old. Photographed by myself Sept 2022

I start with the archeological dig’s skeleton, because we are all going to die And as an old dog walking colleague once said, his Mum died when she was in her 90s and it was still 10 years too soon for him. And I was reminded of the shortness of life last week when my daughter messaged to say her ex-boyfriend’s current girlfriend had died suddenly in the night, probably of meningitis. This girl was only in her mid 20s. Too quick and too soon.

But there was a quote a read on Instagram, which I can’t find again, about how life is short and yet we learn to fear each other rather than love each other. I wish I could find it again because it is really good. Then I heard on Cunk on Earth’s Faith episode, about how Christianity preached love and forgiveness and then killed anyone who would not practice it!!!

These things over this last week have left me wondering why we do not love and forgive more than we hold grudges and fear people. I think it is fear rather than hate. Hate I believe comes from fear. As I keep saying the more I do QEC counseling the more accepting I can be of others, but also the more I see that it is my traumas and fears that used to hold me back from forgiving and accepting people than the people themselves.

This isn’t to say that I am swinging my doors wide open to fill my house full of people. That is something I have learned that I do not like and find hard. That is not to with others but to do with me. But it does mean that I can smile at people when I’m out, engage in conversation where I am listening to them, where I am not worrying about how I will look or if they might “get one over on me”. Instead I am accepting myself and them, giving us both/all our space to be who we are, realising when I react to something someone has said it is as much my issue, if not more so, than their fault.

I think, as I get older, my greatest wish is to be accepting of myself fully, forgiving of myself fully, accepting of others fully and forgiving of others fully. Some of these issues I will have to work through with QEC and other stress/trauma calming techniques. But that is my greatest wish to reach a point where I can appreciate all people and myself, and that all people can do that for each other.

I’m ending this now as I can feel myself going into a rant about governments, etc and I want to keep this post free of that. Maybe next time?? 🙂

Categories
fixing healing

Wounded or Broken?

Walk by river at St Asaph taken by myself August 2022

I am blaming The Naked Pastor for bringing my attention to the difference between saying you are broken to that of saying you are wounded from a trauma. He says, and I think I agree, that if I am broken then I need fixing but if I am wounded then I am ok but have parts of me that need to be healed.

Here’s a quote from David’s last newsletter and a link to the cartoon relating to it:

When you set out to ‘fix’ yourself, you end up changing the person you are and causing extra hurt and extra trauma. 

But when you change your mindset to one of healing, you begin to realize that you were never broken and that you never needed fixing at all. 

David Hayward The Best Healing Cartoon

I’ve just done a Biblegateway search of the words “broken” and “healed”. Broken only applies with something physical, like bread or bones, or branches of unbelief. But Jesus does loads of healing and if fact Peter says of Jesus:

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

1 Peter 2:24

And Isaiah says, when foretelling of Jesus

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

Not broken but wounds. And for transgression read “all the things we’ve done wrong, had done wrong to us, our traumas, hurts, fears, physical, emotional and spiritual.”

Yet last night I was at a meeting where the host, who was the pastor of the church where the meeting was happening, said that the church was for broken people and that he was the most broken of them all. See now I don’t think that’s a great boast. Why would I want to be part of something that seems to be proud that people are attending and being led by someone who is more of a mess than they are. What I love about QEC is that not only does it help me to be healed of my hurts, fears and traumas, but also gives me tools that I can then do this for myself. I don’t need to keep seeing my therapist to go over stuff. I have been healed, set free. Oh yes it does sneak up and bite me often but I know how to recognise it and deal with it.

I am slowly growing towards being the person I am meant to be. As Naked Pastor says we aren’t broken and needing put back together as if there is something wrong with us but we are hurting and wounded and need healing. And this is what the Bible tells me Jesus died for and yet why is this church, and others, saying that it is ok to be broken and to want to stay that way?

I am so grateful that when I met with God I was in a total mess and got filled with a great reassurance that I was loved unconditionally just as I was. Yes I have gone on to be fixed but have learned that it is about being healed not fixed. I am not broken and don’t need fixing. I am awesome as I am but need to be healed so the real me can get out into the world. And I am learning to do this with a mix of Jesus, Holy Spirit, God, some great friends who like me as I am, and also [and I know I keep publicising it but it is awesome] with the help and support of QEC and the tools that come with it.

Categories
judging talents

Talents

Photographed on a beach in Cornwall by myself August 2022

There are some talents that are noticeable and some that aren’t. If you can sew, knit, etc then people notice what you do. We’re having two rooms in our house painted this week and next and our painter has talent.

Other people’s noticeable talents made me a bit insecure. I thought I had no talents, which is a blatant lie. I have many talents but they aren’t things that can be noticed. I wonder how many of us can be like that; that we only see ourselves as talented if it is something that can be noticed, gets published, wins prizes, and now in this digital age, has lots of followers and likes.

I love to write and it is one of my gifts. I’ve only had two books published – one that I self published and one that I paid towards being published. I have won a few competitions, interestingly with poetry rather than stories. But I am not going to be a renowned author because I don’t have the push and drive to get to that place, and I am not good at marketing myself. But I have many hidden talents.

I am great with teenagers, that species that many adults avoid. I love going into schools or running youth groups to chat, challenge and encourage young people. I have also been told I am a good listener, which means my walks round the park can often take much longer than the 45 mins they should . When I’m in the mood I am a good cook and do enjoy feeding people. I also love doing these blogs and have been told they encourage other people too. I love taking photos and writing poems about what they make me feel, which is where the Inspirations From Walking In Wales book came from

But it is hard sometimes not to compare ourselves to others, to see talents as a hierarchy rather than gifts we’ve been given. Again I think it comes down to wanting to put things in good and bad boxes rather than look at what gives us life. Once we get into comparing ourselves to others we are saying this is a good talent and this is a not-so-good talent. We have then judged ourselves and found ourselves wanting. Would God do that? Also once we have seen ourselves as not-good-enough we don’t allow ourselves to just be.

We need to know that what we have been given is good enough for who we are and what we are to achieve with this “one precious life” [Mary Oliver “The Summer’s Day”] and then go for it, be our true selves and enjoy it along the way.

Categories
Guests hospitality

Being A Good Guest

These are locally grown flowers from Hilltop Garden Flowers who are part of a great organisation called Flowers From The Farm

Godspace is running a series about Hospitality at the moment with lots of info on cooking and having people come into your home. Now I am someone who loves cooking for people, but I remember a friend who really was worried when she first started getting involved with church because she was not a good cook and also had children who did not like people coming into their house. She did doubt whether she was a “good Christian” or not; whatever that phrase might mean.

But one of the things that struck me in Christine Sine’s post for Monday was about being a “good guest”. We can all come as guests. We don’t need to bring anything apart from ourselves. But what does it mean to be a good guest?

Well for me I get upset when people to my house and bring extra food. I get upset by that because I will have provided more than enough. Though I do love it when they bring wine, chocolates, and/or flowers. All those things to me say they are happy to come to my house. When my sister-in-law first came to stay at our house she brought her own towels. I was hurt by that because I wanted to lavish hospitality on her but she wanted to “save me too much trouble.”

I think when we come as guests of God to the table I think we should come knowing that it is not too much trouble for God to lavish things on us. Of course we shouldn’t trash the place. As those who have been reading my blog for a while, pre-covid I did Airbnb. I enjoyed it but really got upset if guests did not respect my home and left things in a mess.

So as guest of God we should bring those extras – the spiritual equivalent of wine, chocolates and flowers, which often is nothing more than our open hearts. But we should respect those who are joining us, should respect God’s creation, should respect God’s home – which is our earth.

Also I love having guests who delight in being in my home and delight in being with the people who have also come to the table. So as God’s guests we should delight in being invited, delight in those God has chose to be with us for this season of our lives.

So to be a good guest then it to delight in being there, and not think we need to add to what God has done, to respect the space God has opened for us and those who are also invited to that self same space, and come wanting to be lavished on. If you come like that when I invite you I will be most pleased. And I am sure if you come like that God then they will be most pleased too.

Categories
Appreciate family friendship

True To Self

My local park 1st August 2022

I love walking round my local park, though I realised how easy it was to just go into auto pilot and not notice things so now I am making sure I say focused and present. I take my phone so I can take photos. I now don’t just love it I appreciate and enjoy it too.

Anyway as a follow on from the last post, what I had written got me thinking deeper. about being who we are not who we are not. For instance Princess Leia could not be anything other than she was. Even when we get to know Luke Skywalker we know from that opening scene that all he wanted to do was be a star-ship pilot not a farmer. It was in his blood to be something more than.

I have been reading “My Fourth Time, We Drowned” by Sally Hayden and as well as feeling angry at what is going with the UN and the refugees in Africa, I also feel pretty inadequate. Here is a woman publishing stories that should shock the world with the inhumanity of privileged humans to vulnerable humans, and of what trauma does to people. But then I had to realise that I could not be a Sally Hayden. I can only be a Diane Woodrow. I cannot be what I am not.

If you watch a lot of Pixar and Disney as I do one of the key themes is the main character trying to be something they are not. It is a reoccurring theme and often, no actually always, makes me cry. I cry because too often we push others into being what they are not, or are pushed ourselves. It happens too often yet we either let it happen or do it to others.

Going back to the marriage theme from the last post – as well as sometimes grieving the changes that happen to us in marriage the that we are not the younger people we were when we first met, I think sometimes we try to manipulate that other person into being what we would like them to be. And depending on how they responded to that as a child how they then respond to that as a spouse.

We do all do it a little bit with our friends to fit in with them. We allow ourselves to be what they would like us to be, but then we get frustrated and angry, or accept that mold and forget who we really are.

So I started this post with a photo of my regular dog walk and of how I am trying to be more present there, trying to see it more as it is rather than ignoring it. I am also trying to do this with my friends and family. I am trying to accept and be present with who they are and enjoying them for what they are and not for what I think they should be. I am also learning to be more “me”, doing more of what I want, being more of who I want to be.

Hopefully from this I can appreciate, enjoy and love my friends and family more and more.

Categories
Me Too truth

The Truth Will Set You Free

A view to the Llyn Peninsular taken on a day out with my daughter July 2022

I cried when I heard the result of the RoevWade outcome. How could a country that calls itself civilised take such a backward step? Not only is it saying that women cannot choose but that it is saying women are not able to choose. Then I hear our government saying that abortion doesn’t need to be on The Bill of Rights! Again a major step backwards.

There is that big argument that the child that is aborted could grow up to change the world. Well what if they don’t? What if the child that does not get aborted is brought up in a household on a low income with many different partners in the mother’s life? What if the child is brought up and hated because of what the mother could not do? One cannot talk of “what ifs” when one does not talk about choice.

Did you know it is only recently that Christians believe a person did not become a living being until God breathed life into them at that moment of birth

“I think we know that prior to the Lord putting breath of life into Adam he had a heart, he had a brain with vessels, and these vessels and heart were filled with blood just as the vessels and heart of a fetus are filled with blood. However, Adam did not become a living soul until after the Lord breathed into him the breath of life.

—Robert L. Pettus Jr., MD, As I See Sex Through the Bible, 1973

And “Rabbis have long written that the soul enters the body at birth, with the first breath. For breath is the gift of life from the one who created us. From the God who is both our origin and our destination.”

I know medical science can now keep a baby alive from very early in gestation. I have had friends who have been blessed by this new technology. But that was their choice and that choice has effected their lives since.

I have just read a great article by Nadia Bolz-Weber entitled Stories>Opinions [basically our stories are greater than someone’s opinions] In it she tells her own story of her own abortion, which is very similar to mine, except that she did have a partner with her and friends supporting her. For me, I was in an odd place, sleeping around and did not know who had fathered my child. I was, like Nadia, on a low income and also not in a place to have a child. [I once told this story in a Christian youth group and got cross questioned by the young people, which actually was great because it made me think about what I had done, and I know I did the right thing at that moment in time] Would I have been a good mother then? Who knows. But I chose not to be a mother then.

Later I got my life a bit more sorted and have since had two amazing children. Children that actually I would not have had if I had not aborted the earlier one. Strange that. As someone in my writing group once told me “each choice we make determines where we are today.”

Jon Kuhrt wrote a blog piece a while back on Francis Spufford’s book “Perpetual Light”, which is a story about the children that died in a WWII bomb on a Woolworth’s in London, and what their lives would have been like if they had lived. This got me thinking about what my life would have been like if my first child had lived. I don’t know but I know it would be very different and I know I would not have the children I have now, or the husband I have now, or the life I have now. It would have been different.

When people say about the life of the aborted child they never seem to talk about the life of the mother who has that child, or the father who has to decide what he will do. Also too often the mother is seen as the enemy, as a bad person, who isn’t really thinking properly. I do not know of anyone who did not think through their decisions carefully and how it would impact them and their unborn child. It is not a decision to be taken lightly. But then I did not take it lightly to keep my next two babies. But having an abortion is a taboo subject very rarely talked about in Christian circles openly. Why is that? God knows what I’ve done and still thinks I am amazing. I know this because my first God encounter was of being covered in what felt like a warm, visceral glittery substance and being told I was loved just as I was – unmarried mum who’d had an abortion. I’m not sure what my church would have thought of me if they’d known. I wonder if I will now be asked to stop helping with the youth group that I volunteer at now?

Please can we stop being ashamed of what we’ve done. Please can we start being open about every part of our lives and not just keep God for the clean and tidy bits and pieces. God is the God of the whole of my life – the good and the bad, the times I’ve got it right and the times I’ve got it wrong – and I am loved by God no matter what. That is totally amazing.

And now let us stand together and support those who have had an abortion, who are thinking of having abortions, and also those who think the whole this is an anathema. We are all made in the image of God no matter what we’ve done or what we think. And are loved because of and in spite of all that.

Categories
questioning Triune God

Does it really matter?

The grounds of Hawarden Castle. Photographed by myself July 2022

I’ve got an important post to write so I am procrastinating. So this one comes as my not quite so controversial post but still up there.

What does it matter what gender or sexuality God is? Have you ever thought that? Or do you just go along with what you have been conditioned by church and by society?

Jesus calls God Father but was that just to make it easier for people to understand? Would he have made things harder in a male dominated society if he had called God “Parent” rather than Father? Jesus himself compares himself to a mother hen wanting to draw Jerusalem under his wing. Also God made man and woman in their image. It isn’t that man was made in God’s image and woman was anything left over. It says clearly that man and woman were made in God’s image.

I believe “he” is used because of not being able to use “it” as that seems impersonal. Of course now the word for someone not idenitfying solely as male or female is “they”. God is all and so must cover all genders and none so they would be a much better pronoun to use – even if it is confusing after so many hundreds and thousands of years of God being he.

The triune God is not like the gods of Greek, Roman, Norse and other mythologies which have many gods, some male and some female. The triune God covers all genders. It must do otherwise they couldn’t have made man and woman in their image.

But does it really matter? Is it because of something deep within that makes us want to talk to a male god not a female one? Or a transgender one?

Also what about Jesus and his sexuality? In The Last Temptation of Christ there is a controversial scene of Jesus imagining having sex with Mary Magdalene; a temptation he never succumbed to. But what if Jesus was asexual, not interested in sex with either men or women? Or what if he was gay? Perhaps it was because of his asexuality or homosexuality that he was not betrothed at thirty years of age?

But my point here – as well as hopefully making you think – is to wonder why it matters what sex God is, what sexuality Jesus had. Why do people get so upset if one says God might be a woman? or Jesus might be gay?

Surely if God is totally amazing and made the whole universe and made us in their image it shouldn’t matter their sexuality.

Surely if Jesus came to take away our sin and pain and open a doorway back to full relationship with God it should not matter what his sexual leanings were.

Maybe if we could focus on the amazingness of God, of Jesus, of relationship with the triune God and stop worrying what pronoun to call God or who Jesus might or might not have fancied we could get on with loving ourselves and each other fully and stop making judgements.

My challenge to you today it to try to call God “she” or “they” and to try and wonder how Jesus stayed true to himself and resisted the temptation to fit in.