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
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
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
Straight Wait

Trust

Me and my dog on a walk alone at a local nature reserve getting some down time. Photo taken by myself, Diane Woodrow, mid July 2022
Llanfairfechan taken by myself July 2022

I don’t normally fill my posts with bible verses but for the past few days these Bible verses has been buzzing about in my head. Firstly –

Trust in the Godhead/the Universe with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge God in all you do and God will make your paths straight

Proverbs 3:5-6

There has been some stuff going on, and still is, that I’m not 100% sure about. But this verse, one that gets handed out regularly to those who are just starting out on their journey with Jesus, keeps buzzing around. And I have realised something …. It doesn’t mean just acknowledge the Godhead in the Christian activities you do, the things you think are “good” things, but it means acknowledge God in EVERYTHING YOU DO.

So that means in work, in family life, in church life, in therapies, in sport, in walking the dog, in making meals, in talking with people, etc, etc, etc. Now that doesn’t mean dropping God into all things, or even trying to be “holy”, whatever that means. I think it just means remembering and knowing that God is in all that you do – almost whether they are acknowledge or not. But it makes a huge difference when they are acknowledged.

For for instance I was somewhere and things were not going as I would have like and I was feeling a bit tense, but once I took myself off, did some deep breathing, did some remembering of the QEC things I had done and making sure I placed my whole trust, not just a bit of it, in God’s hands I felt so much calmer.

From there I acknowledge God in all that was going on and let go of what I thought was right and proper [my understanding] and from that moment things just went smoother. And things can only go smoothly if the path is straight and level.

Ok I had to keep coming back to that point of breathing, of remembering the QEC stuff and placing my trust in God not in my understanding, but each time I did I felt more at peace.

It did not change the situation but it changed my heart, changed my direction, changed what I was thinking and feeling.

Now I stand at a place where I feel I am waiting for something to happen. I can either wait for doors to open or I can volunteer for things and fill my time. Whilst pondering this another bible verse came to mind

Stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths. Ask where the good way is and walk in it and you will find rest for your soul

Jeremiah 16:6

And I feel like as I am trusting God with all my heart and acknowledging them in all my ways so it means I have to stand and look and ask. I don’t know what my ancient ways are, but I do know that I’d love to go and do whatever gives my soul rest.

And I don’t think rest means doing nothing. I think it means doing what we are meant to do, doing what keeps us in flow, what gives us life.

So volunteering might be the right thing, waiting for doors to open might be the right thing, getting my writing out there might be the right thing. But for now I am going to stand, wait, ask and trust with all that I am, that God will let me know and give me peace as to which way to walk; that I will see those straight paths.

Categories
Endangered species day Godspace

National Endangered Species Day 2022

First published on https://godspacelight.com/2022/05/19/national-endangered-species-day-2022

Taken by myself at our local park

The 20th of May is Endangered Species Day, another of those days put on to calendars to help one focus on something else. But I wonder how often we see ourselves as an “endangered species,” especially when one sees the cries coming from certain Christian elements in the US around the potential lifting of the laws to allow abortion. 

That is extreme but I wonder how often when we see polls saying numbers of church attendance is decreasing, an increase in various ethnic groups, and a rise in the voice of LGBTQ groups, that some think that we are endangered. When we feel endangered we act in fear, panic and anxiety. It does not make us nicer to be around but makes us harsher. 

The focus is meant to be about endangered animals, insects, flora and fauna, with the hope that we will care about our earth, our environment more. But if we are feeling endangered then we won’t want to do that. We will want to build our walls higher, make our voices louder, our weapons stronger. 

Yet Jesus tells us that when we feel threatened we should “turn the other cheek”[Matthew 5:39], that we should “love our enemies”[Matthew 5:43-48]. He tells us not to be afraid and to trust God in all things. As Francis Spufford says in ‘Unapologetic‘ [and I paraphrase], one of the hardest things about Christianity is that it isn’t about following rules but about our heart attitude. And our hearts need to be trusting God, need to not be filled with fear or anxiety, need to be open to God and listening fully. 

When the natural world is endangered it cannot get itself out of the mess humankind has got it into. It needs that self-same group, humankind, to make the change. But also sometimes with other people, they need to shout to be heard and need to get other people to help with the changes. So when we hear people of different “tribes” to our “tribe” shouting loudly because they need to be heard instead of shutting our ears, building our walls higher, etc we need to stop and listen. We need to really tune into what they are saying, listen to their fears, but also listen to our fears about why we have reacted as we have; of why we want to not listen, feel fearful, want to push the oppressed group down further. 

Unlike the natural world we are the ones with the power to change and to make a better world. We do not need to react. We have the God-given power to act and act in a way that is beneficial for all. But only if we stop hardening our hearts, unblock our ears and really listen to the world – human and natural – and follow God’s true leading in how to act. 

Taken by myself on a beach walk early one morning

Categories
Prompts writing

Everyday Words – prompt for 5th April

Photo of stakes and safety nets taken by Diane Woodrow whilst walking with her dog.
Abergwyngregan Nature reserve, 8th April 2022 taken by myself

I like this picture because it is a bit smudged. I took it on Friday when I was out on a long walk, which culminated in coffee and a bacon buttie, with my dog, getting away, getting some headspace and pondering the poem I had started whilst I was working in the pub the day before. The prompt came from Sarah’s Everyday Words prompt for Tuesday 5th. So as you can see I am a long way behind.

I have gone in a totally different direction to the prompt, which as I have said before is not a bad thing. A prompt is to prompt one to write something not to hold one in chains as to what to write. But it also got me thinking about God and the Bible and of how both those can be used not to prompt us to explore but to hold us in chains. How often do we get told that the Bible means X and if we don’t agree when we are wrong? How often do we hear someone’s interpretation and then worry what is wrong with us because we don’t agree?

I very much think that God allowed the Bible, and many other religious texts, to be written as springboards to get us thinking, so see what direction we would head off in. I do not believe there is a right and wrong in interpreting God’s word however it comes it us. I do believe that the base line for it is the commandment that Jesus told us – to love God with everything we have and to love others as ourselves – which is why I would disagree with any war, genocide, abuse, control, etc that is done allegedly “in the name of God”. But with that as our base line then we go onwards and outwards and explore from there.

So as well as creating this little poem that I’ll share with you from Sarah’s prompt I have also had chance to explore God. Again it is amazing what one little carefully thought out prompt can lead.

So the prompt was based on a poem by Mohja Kahf called The Aunty Poem (Mi Privilege Es Su Privilege)  For me it was Sarah’s final suggestion that sent me off on what support and safety nets can mean to me and here is what came to me, Safety Nets. It was good and therapeutic for me to write this, as it often is I find with writing poetry rather than journaling around things as I have said before. But also it excited me to what a prompt can do.

So remember – no right, no wrong – no write, no wrong 🙂

It is also why I’ve just put this prompt up alone because of the “more” I wanted to talk about. But also that the prompt for 6th April has even more meat in it and I’ve been chewing that over all weekend!!!

Categories
lent meditation Oscar Romero

Oscar Romero – 24th March 2022

From https://www.mccrimmons.com/shop/church/st2e-oscar-romero-cross/

Today I’ve been asked to share a meditation for our church’s Lenten Zoom sessions. The readings are from Galatians 3:26-4:7 about how we are true heirs within God’s family, all fully adopted and all equal. The vicar also put up a reminder that it was the anniversary of the martyrdom of Oscar Romero, a Catholic priest in El Salvador who was shot for preaching about corruption in the government and how the government and army were killing poor people to get rid of them.

As I read through the verses and thought about Oscar Romero I wondered how often we see God as the one who answers all our prayers if we are really part of his kingdom, if we pray enough and in the right way. But are we really willing to stand up for truth and justice even if it means we could be killed, our families harmed, what we hoped for never happen in our life time? Oscar Romero was willing to. Oscar Romero died for it. But then again Jesus did all that his Father asked of him and look what happened to him. How often are we willing to step out and do what is right even if if has dire consequences?

Here is the PDF of my meditation for Thursday 24th March

I hope you enjoy spending time reading it. I know it has challenged me and I hope it challenges those few who turn up on Zoom today

Categories
Knowledge life Trees

Two Trees

Taken by myself August 2021

When the Bible talks of the “fall of man” it mentions a paradise garden and then two significant trees. I’m sure in paradise there would have been a lot more than fruit bearing trees. But these two are significant. I do also think that the story is a mythological story and not a factual story. My thoughts are that it tells of the human condition.

All of us inside our heads/minds/hearts have two major choices – do we choose life or do we choose the knowledge of good and evil? I’m sure there are many people already going “well of course we have to know what is good and what is evil or how will we know what is the right thing to do” but I’m not so sure if life is as black and white as we would like it to be. Lots of what we do [even Putin’s invading Ukraine, or the other atrocities that happen across the globe] are driven by the hurts and traumas we have experienced and also our putting things into good and bad boxes.

We would rather choose to know what is good and bad/evil than to choose life. In that bold statement I’m sure many would say “No I’d rather choose life” but I think it would be life with a caveat of the knowledge of good and evil.

God goes on to say that humankind has to leave paradise because if they then choose life as well as the knowledge of good and evil they will be like gods. I wonder if that is because humankind would still put that knowledge before life rather than being able to combine the two as I hope God can.

In doing some of this QEC counseling I slowly learning, as I’ve mentioned before, to let go of past traumas and to teach my heart/mind new statements about those traumas. I’ve forgiven and let people and myself go, no longer placing them or me in the good/bad box. I am bit by bit learning to look at things through the lens of “that is how I feel about it” rather than “good/bad”. Even some of the traumas that have wounded me I no longer look at as good or bad but as what is.

In fact I was working with a young woman on a project with Youthshedz and she tells her story very succinctly but also adds that all the things she has gone through are what makes her her and has brought her to the place she is. She talks of holding on to hope rather than boxing what has happened to her into good/bad. She is willing to explore the tree that will give life.

I do believe even as Christians we are not exempt from deciding whether things, people, lifestyles, etc are good or bad, and yet I don’t think God does that. I think God wants us to have life but also I believe God just wants us to trust them and talk to them and via Holy Spirit through prayer to trust them.

I was going an online yoga with Abbey of The Arts yesterday and at the end the instructor said that prayer is us talking to God and meditation is us listening to God. I think we do more praying and less meditation. Maybe we need to turn it around, hear from God/The Universe/Higher Being and so gain life and not worry about putting things into the good/bad box.

So today, not just with the people I meet but with God, I am going to try to really listen rather than just wait for my space to be able to speak.

Categories
heart Viewpoint

How We View Things

photograph by Diane Woodrow
Beauty or showing off?

With the way the media has been portraying things recently I have been pondering how we view things. For example take birds. We marvel at eagles, we use cuckoos as a herald for spring, and we are superstitious about magpies. Yet each of the birds kills the chicks of other birds but I have only ever heard magpies be condemned for doing it in a big way.

So now we look at one side of a conflict/war/atrocity as a hero and the other side as evil. It can even switch sides if something happens to do that viewpoint. For instance England fought against France for hundreds of years and yet in the First World War many British men died fighting with the French. And then for a brief period France, Germany and Britain were all in the EU together.

I wonder what makes us view things in a certain way?

Yesterday I got upset with someone I was having coffee with. When I took time out to examine the why of how I felt I realised she reminded me of something in my past and it was that wound I was reacting to. I’ve had similar things with projects that come to an end. It hurts more than just a freelancer being insecure about where the next job comes from. But again if I slow down and listen to my heart I realise where that hurt comes from.

So I wonder as we go into the good guy/bad guy, good thing/bad thing way of labeling things we need to slow down, check with our hearts and ask ourselves why we are doing this. Is it to do with the present situation we are in or is it to do with some greater hurt or fear?

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll do a blog on my thoughts on why the Bible tells of man eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil rather the tree of knowledge because I think this explains something.

So next time you think about labeling something or someone good or bad slow down, listen deeply to your heart – that bit of your heart that doesn’t get heard too often, and see if you can find the real reason. Then give your heart a hug and be kind to yourself for over reacting, as I did yesterday.

Categories
Focus priorities

Who Guides Our Priorities?

Photo taken by Diane Woodrow at end of Feb 2022 Taken whilst she was walking on a Saturday morning with her dog
Morfa Conwy Feb 2022

How often have you wondered who guides what you priorities? What you focus on? What you worry most about?

Today there is much talk across the Christian community of Ash Wednesday being a day of prayer for Ukraine, which is great. It really is. But what about the other things? But if I dig a bit on various news-feeds I read about ethnic inequalities, massive inflation across the world, there is still a climate crisis, there are still people being persecuted in Afghanistan, Nigeria, Myanmar, and still people dying from Covid across the world. But it is hard to find out any other news.

I remember back in September 2011 when the twin towers were destroyed and all focus on was on them. A friend who worked with orphans in Africa said more children had died of starvation and AIDS in one day than had died in the twin towers. Or when Princess Diana was killed in a car accident the pastor of the church I was attending at that time asking us to pray for all the other people who had died in car accidents that night who would be lost under the media coverage of her death.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think this situation in Ukraine is awful as was the Twin Towers disaster, but I do think too often we then forget other things. We forget had forgotten that there had been Russian oppression in parts of Ukraine for over 10 years because the media got bored and turned us to other things. We get bored of hearing the same thing day in day out.

We are fickle human beings and, I believe, more so now with 24 hour news, internet access, etc. I think too that if this conflict in Ukraine hits a point where there are no big headlines we will move on to something else.

Is it that we don’t care? I don’t believe that at all. But I do think it is because when we are bombarded with news and information day in day out our brains cannot cope so we shut off. And then the media needs to keep us watching the news, reading papers, scrolling through the internet, because they earn money that way. So they will find us the next thing to be drawn into, the next thing to worry about, the next thing that we give our money to.

This isn’t wrong but it is just the way it is. Can we change? Maybe this is about again looking at aligning with God, with the Universe and fixing on that and being willing to go for whatever we are called to for the long haul – which is hard.

Are you, am I, willing to take time out and find out what my true focus is or am I, are you, going to be swayed by the winds of the world?

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

James 1:5-7