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
Captive thoughts

Take Every Thought Captive

Photo by Anna Bondarenko on Pexels.com

This post title is taken from 2Cor 10:5 which says “take every thought captive”.

I heard a sermon once about how we were to spear each of those thoughts, capture them, so to speak. And I’m sure there was an analogy of standing in a river trying to spear those thought like someone spearing fish. So you had to get a good look at that thought, spear it and then fling it away.

A friend and I were talking about spearing our negative thoughts over coffee yesterday and we both seemed to have the same internal picture. But we both realised that as we did the spearing so we gave those thoughts a good look, even examined them to decide if they were good or bad thoughts. Sometimes we even chewed those thoughts over before casting them aside and even once cast aside we might still give them another good ponder, poke them around a bit, see if they were still edible.

But that was not doing either of us any good. It also wasn’t helping us to live in that true peace and joy of God. In fact keep looking at these captured thoughts doesn’t mean giving them a poke afterwards. I don’t think it even means judging those thoughts. But I also don’t think it means ignoring them.

To be honest with ourselves we need to acknowledge that some thoughts, which come from things people have said to use or done to us, trigger traumas, trigger feelings, that if we don’t acknowledge will fester inside of us.

So if I just throw away those thoughts that are painful and don’t acknowledge that it has caused a reaction then I am cheating on myself and actually could go on to doing harm to myself, my relationships, my future. But also if I pick and poke at that thought, work out who is to blame for me feeling/reacting that way then I am also going to do harm. The person or situation that caused that thought may not have meant how I reacted to it. So if I chew on that thought again I will cause harm to myself, my relationships and my future.

So what are we meant to do with these thoughts if we can’t attribute blame, cant judge, cant investigate, can’t throw away? I think we are meant to accept them as our thoughts, notice and acknowledge them, accept this is what we are feeling/how we are reacting, etc to whatever, and then hand them on to God/the Universe/a High Power.

So whether is it the craziness of the UK political situation, fears of covid, fears about economy, global warming, education, etc, etc, worries about what to do in our future, … [add your own] , we acknowledge openly to ourselves this is how we feel, these are the thoughts that have swum through the river of our mind are ours, and then we capture that thought and pass it higher.

As the song in Frozen goes “Let it go, let it go“. But don’t just fling it away. Instead hand it onward to that higher place/person/being that can handle it.

Here is a piece I wrote on a similar vein 4 years ago. It is interesting that my thoughts haven’t changed much, even if I didn’t remember writing the piece. Taking Thoughts Capitve

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
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
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
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.