Categories
World Toilet Day

World Toilet Day 2022

This post first appeared on Godspacelight.com https://godspacelight.com/2022/11/19/world-toilet-day-2022/

Melissa has asked if I would do my third World Toilet Day post in a row. How could I refuse!

Did You Know?

More people in the world have a mobile phone than a toilet. Of the world’s seven billion people, six billion have mobile phones. However, only 4.5 billion have access to toilets or latrines – meaning that 2.5 billion people, mostly in rural areas, do not have proper sanitation.

https://www.worldtoiletday.info/

I want to start with this quote. I do like a good statistic. But the more I look at this I see that there are 1 billion people who do not own mobile phones but 2.5 billion people who do not have proper sanitation. From my reading of this there are people who own mobile phones who do not have proper sanitation. How can one see owning a mobile phone as more important than being able to go to the toilet in peace, safety and hygienically? 

Is it lack of knowledge? Is it lack of understanding? Is it lack of awareness of the importance of good hygiene? This really has left me pondering. 

All of you who have read my previous posts on World Toilet Day will know how passionate I am about toilets. I am having a bit of a worry at the moment because I am going to stay with a friend who has just moved house and I am wondering about how many toilets she has in her house now, especially as she has told me her daughter and her family, which includes a husband and two kids, might be staying the same time as me. 

I decided to google the history of toilets and it turns out they have been around since Neolithic times with an understanding of the need for bodily waste to be somewhere away from where people are living. So why do 2.5 billion people not have access to proper sanitation? 

Another quote:

accepted patterns dissolve and uncertainty grows, we become more vulnerable to feelings of insecurity, anxiety and fear 

Michael Meade, Mosaic Voices podcast page – healing and making whole https://www.mosaicvoices.org/episode-299-healing-and-making-whole

I think this quote might be of help. As Wikipedia says, the developing world is struggling to get good sanitation. I wonder if the above quote is a clue. All of us across the world are facing a time of “accepted patterns dissolving and changing” which we are all struggling with in the West but imagine if you are in a developing country, a war-torn country, in a refugee camp where you have no stability. War is raging. There is famine. You are displaced from what you know and love. The whole population is dealing with “feelings of insecurity, anxiety and fear”. What is going to be most important – communication or sanitation? 

I know if I was fearful for my family, my children, my friends, I would want to be able to contact them so would put my money into making sure I had a good phone that could be charged up quickly and easily. If I could get money through to feed myself and my family via my phone I could see that as the most important thing. When I needed to go to the toilet then I would wish there was somewhere safe to go but for the majority of the time it may not occur to me. And for the men who are very much leading in these countries it is only when they need to defecate that they would probably think about it at all. 

Also what is more glamorous if you are a young man wanting to look good in your developing country – making sure there are toilets or carrying a gun and a phone? 

So as I ponder this I do not blame the people who have the phone but no toilet. I think of the unstable world we all live in and pray “Your Kingdom come, Lord” as well as “please help us all to forgive ourselves and each other”. 

And then I will donate some more money to https://www.toilettwinning.org/ or https://www.wateraid.org/stories/toilets-save-lives or https://www.christianaid.org.uk/ or other charities like this. 

Photo by Gabor Monori on Unsplash

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
Believe Belong

Belonging Before Believing?

Lindisfarne Castle taken by myself Sept 2022

There is a saying in a lot of churches that we should encourage people to “Belong” before they start “believing” but on a walk with a friend the other day we got to pondering this. I might not get all the conversation but I’ll put down some of they key points I remember and that have got me thinking not just about church but about the town I live in and the projects I’m getting involved with there.

Would you want to go to someone’s house if you did not know who they were? And what if you did go but didn’t know the etiquette? Would you want to go back again? Also what if someone took you to someone’s house but they didn’t know the way you were to behave because they didn’t know the owner of the house, how would you both feel?

A sample of the questions from our conversation on Saturday

I think that if the person who takes someone to the House of God knows God really well they can help and support that person through the intricacies of who they are meeting with. They know what to do. They ease the way. They can make things feel safe. But if that person doesn’t know God that well, or even has had a tiring week and wants to just curl up with God, then they may not be able to help their visitor through the spaces needed. The visitor comes away having had an ok time but they still haven’t come close to meeting with God, meeting the being whose house they have entered.

My thoughts are that if I bring someone to meet with God I have to have a relationship with God and be in the right frame of mind to want to share that relationship.

I often think we try to rush that whole process. So we are encouraged to get people “through the door” so to speak so they feel like they belong to the community, when in fact they are just going through the motions but not meeting the being of God. Instead we need to slow things down, deepen our relationship with God and then get others to meet our friend, our creator, our lover, the one who thinks we’re awesome even when we screw up, the one who loves us unconditionally.

When I was doing Qigong this morning Mark, who leads it, was talking about fire and what we need for fire. We need a spark, we need kindling but to keep the fire really going we need a solid seasoned log that won’t burn up quickly, will keep going for the time needed.

Qigong might not be Christian per se but so often God speaks through it [because if God is as big as we are taught then God is in all and everything anyway] And for me that quick way of getting people to belong in a church community is the quick kindling and if we don’t have the solid seasoned log of our relationship with The Creator of the Universe then the belonging may never become believing because belonging fits all the component parts that that person needs.

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
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
change expectations

Changing Attitudes

Last night we started watching Liar on Netflix and it made me realise how much women’s attitudes to sex on a date have changed – for the better.

Synopsis – A teacher goes on a date with a surgeon and accuses him of assault the next day.

When I was dating 35+ years ago I know me and my mates would half expect that we would have sex at the end of the night to “pay for the night out” so to speak. That didn’t mean we were compliant but just that we almost did not respect ourselves. I know that if many of my generation had woken up the following morning, like the Laura does, and believed we had not given consent but had been raped we would have just got on with our day. We would not have gone to the Police. Possibly even would not have told anyone. It was just what happened.

Even though the series looks as if it will unfold into something much deeper for me I am hooked by the way Laura stands up for herself. But also that her sister, Katy, at least in this first episode, is willing to support her. I know that even my most caring friends 35+ years ago would have just told me to get over it.

In fact I was assaulted by a boyfriend, and quite badly knocked about, and was encouraged by my boss, a Turkish hotel owner, to go to the Police about it. It did go to court but only because I had a lovely female Police officer who would not let me drop it. But the judge’s verdict was that it was my own fault for staying with this man. I’m not sure if things have changed that much there!

But for me it was seeing Laura, and I’ve seen too with my daughter and her friends, that many of them will now say ‘enough it enough and we expect to be treated with respect’.

So even if the many attitudes have not changed I was encouraged to see the protagonist in this series and also what I see from my daughter and her friends no longer being as me and most of my friends were.

Maybe it should not be the women who have to stand up for themselves but it is still a better way than my generation that just accepted having sex as part of a night out.

Categories
Alignment heart

Heart of Stone/Heart of Flesh

Stone pillar, Isle of Lewis. Taken by myself May 2018

My husband and I were discussing the whole thing of the heart of stone which God changes to a heart of flesh and I got to thinking. We have always either been taught, or picked up, in our churches that a heart of stone is something that is hard, feels negative emotions, etc, but that a heart of flesh is joyous, happy and only feels positive emotions – which sort of takes us back to the good box/bad box idea which I looked at a bit in Two Trees. But I don’t think that’s right. See I don’t think following God should be all happy clappy everything is wonderful. I think if we feel that way than we still have that heart of stone.

A heart of flesh is vulnerable, feels things, notices things, is flexible, is free to experience things not encased in boundaries. It is free to be flexible and go with the flow. A heart of flesh will feel hurt and pain, will feel sorrow and anger. It will of course also feel joy and love, carefreeness and happiness. It will feel all these things to a much deeper level that the heart of stone will. But it does not mean it will be pain free. In fact it is the heart of stone which will be more pain free because it is encased in something solid and safe.

I often wonder when we first get to know God and try to follow Jesus that we get confused when we get angry, get hurt, feel sadness, feel pain. I wonder if we try and fight our way of out it. There is a Bethel song that says “sing a little louder” and of singing in the middle of the storm, etc. But what if the pain is too deep? What is you don’t want to sing? What if you just want to curl up on God’s lap and lie there? What if God just wants us to curl up on their lap? What if God doesn’t want us to sing a little louder but to quietly walk through the valley of the shadow of death?

Your heart of flesh is going to let you know what to do and when to do it. I’m not saying it is wrong to sing loudly when things are tough but I think to only do that if your heart of flesh is wanting to. But if it is hardening of heart around what is really going on then that isn’t accepting the heart of flesh God wants you to have.

A dog walking friend was moaning about how at her young niece’s funeral the pastor said that God taken this young girl because he wanted her to live with him. My friend was so hurt that her heart has been hardened away from God. But I do wonder if the pastor was hardened too. If the pastor did not want to weep and bemoan the loss of someone so young. Sometimes it is ok to be angry with God, to shout at them for allowing something one doesn’t like to happen.

Life isn’t all great and plain sailing and with a heart of flesh it will actually be harder. Your heart of stone can protect you whereas your heart of flesh can let you feel. Your heart of flesh can let you full experience what is going on around you, let you be honest and open with yourself and with others, and with God. The heart of stone will keep you safe and closed and maybe not that much help to others.

The heart of flesh will feel the so called negative emotions as much as it feels the so called positive emotions, whereas the heart of stone will keep you safe. The question is – what would you prefer?