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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.

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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?

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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
adventure heart trust

Trust Your Heart

Picture of my favourtie beach - Conwy - with my dog, Renly, rolling in the sand, happy to be alive. Taken by Diane Woodrow
My dog rolling in the sand on Conwy beach Feb 2022

How often do we trust our hearts? How often do we hear our hearts? Like really hear them?

This is a picture of my dog listening to his heart. He has such joy every time we finish up on a sandy beach and will just throw himself to the round and roll. The first time he did it we thought he was having a fit but now it just makes us laugh. We laugh because he is so joyful when he does it. But my reason for putting up this picture is that, I believe, if we all listened to our hearts more we would be more joyful and so would those around us.

So how do we know what our hearts are wanting for us? If you search “heart” on my blog you will find 68 blogs that mention heart. Hearing your heart is something I do keep coming back to. I suppose because it is something I have been learning more and more to do and getting such joy from it.

It is one of the reasons I didn’t post yesterday even though I had said I would attempt to blog through the whole of March. Something didn’t feel right about what I was thinking of doing and so I just left it. I am learning that I don’t need to know why my heart feels that way but just to trust it.

It does means slowing down a bit. It does mean trusting that I’m feeling and hearing. It does mean being willing to go with it too. No point hearing and trusting and not doing. Though the other day my heart was really telling me not to do something but it was something that I felt I could not get out of so I went. Once there I knew it wasn’t where I should have been. Things were out of place and chaotic. Yes I was able to support someone who was struggling with the situation, but actually my time would have been more wisely spent in not going. Of being brave enough to just say “I’m not going to make it this time”. Also at the beginning of the week my heart said to text a certain person I hadn’t seen in ages so I did and it resulted in a lovely walk in the woods and a good natter. Shame I hadn’t been brave enough to trust my heart and the not going.

I will try to keep up my month challenge of blogging but if I don’t I won’t beat myself up about it but will trust my heart that I am writing what I am meant to be writing when I am meant to be writing it.

Be brave and try and join me – not in blogging every day but in trusting your heart for each thing you do. To me that is true adventuring.

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.

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change Flexible

Flexibility

Photo taken by Diane Woodrow walking by the sea at Rhyl, of birds flying into the air together over the incoming tide
Rhyl Blue Bridge Feb 2022

Flexibility or the ability to go with the flow is so important in this journey towards being aligned.

Things to change. Nothing stays the same. As someone said “the only thing we can be certain of in this world is change”. But if we are flowing in alignment then we do not need to fear change because we are not being pulled by others, by media, by fears, by circumstances.

Take these birds. When I got my phone out to take a photo of them they were all calmly sitting on the sandbank, but at this point the incoming tide had sent a wave over the sandbank so they took off in flight. That is because they are flexible. Yes they have moved with the circumstances of the incoming tide. They have not got boundaries so fixed that they will remain on that sandbank no matter what, but are willing to go with the tides.

Interesting keeping on the subject of birds being flexible and staying aligned with what is going on. Very early into lockdown, when people were not getting takeaways or going to the office and eating the park, the seagulls here took to fishing back out at sea again. But now that people are out, that there is more food litter, they are back in the parks, on the sea front – and one even swiped the top off my husband’s ice cream on Sunday afternoon. They are not working on fixed boundaries but are aligned with what is going on in the wider world.

But to do this one does need to slow down a bit, to listen to one’s heart, to wait and see. When one is reacting rather than flowing with each change and event, and not listening to the bigger picture, there is a lot of tension, a lot of boundaries being put up but very little flow. And very little peace.

Also, I believe, that each of us needs to listen to what God/The Universe is telling us which could be different to what someone else is saying. Whether it is to do with personal situations or world situations we need to slow down, wait on the bigger picture, and then move.

Interestingly waiting doesn’t need to take long. Like with the lockdown seagulls they soon understood the change and knew how to stay alive.

We need to listen to what God/The Universe is saying to us rather than keep being drawn into what the media tells us.

Categories
accepting being me God grief Jesus life Love presenceofGod trust

I Never Promised …

beautiful-rose-garden-romantic-red-roses-garden-benchWhilst at the Interweave gathering in Dublin last week someone stood up and prophesied what I believe to be words of Jesus:

I never promised you a rose garden but I did promise never to leave or forsake you (Marie)

We then went on to sign a song with the words:

Power in Your presence

Hope and Healing in Your presence

Freedom in Your presence

There are loads more words than that and the title has fallen out of my head so I haven’t hqdefaulteven been able to look it up. So for those worship leaders out there do leave a comment if you recognise the song.

What stuck me was that it is only in His presence, in the presence of God/Jesus, that we will find power, hope, healing and then freedom. How often, even as Christians, we try to get all the hope we want from our own self-reliance, from trying to big it up somehow. There is no hope of being healed if we do not let ourselves come fully and unhindered into God’s presence. So how do we know when that has happened?

religion252520belief252520god252520does252520heart252520surgeryI was thinking the how question because for one I am a practical person and there is no point me knowing something but not knowing the how answer, but also during the same Interweave gathering there was a lot of talk of God doing heart surgery on us and I came to realise that was very different for everyone. For one of our number she said she was shouting loudly as God did what He was doing, for another she said it was just a quiet knowing, for myself I just sort of realised afterwards because I felt different that God had changed my heart. So how do we know if and when we are in God’s presence?

I would say we know we are in the presence of God’s Holy Spirit when we can feel our hearts getting healed even if we want to hold on to our grief; we can feel that freedom of being totally open and honest with ourselves; we can feel a new hope arising where we felt all hope had gone; we can see a new vision growing that does not come from our own p1902_health-vision1making but connects with our own desires and we feel we can do it even if we are still  hurting and grieving. In the presence of the Holy Spirit we no longer to to worry about what the world thinks. We can grieve what is gone and will never return but we can have hope inside that says we can keep walking. We just know our desires are ok.

I believe all this comes from being in the presence of God’s Holy Spirit. This can come when we are alone but if we are really hurting it is easier for it to come corporately because the openness of others to God helps us to know we are safe to be open. But also we do need to keep coming back to being in that place, to allowing God’s presence to hold our hearts. It is all too easy once having been in that place to move away from it then the old stuff shuffles around and tries to get back in. Like that 194178bea0e90776e8222c14f865bebcold dog that lies waiting for us to let it in. The hard bit isn’t what God does with us but staying in a place with Him once the corporate has gone and letting Him continue.