Categories
healing Remembering scars

Scars to Remember

St Asaph taken by me May 2022.

This tree has been here for about a year now. It was swept down by the floods but it is there as a reminder. At a similar time I had a bit of a mishap on two different youth events. In one I opened a heavy firedoor across my foot and then at a different youth event the following day I feel over going uphill. Both very painful at the time. I still have a scar on my left shin from the fall and a deep line up my right big toe nail. Neither hurts now but both are very clearly still there.

It got me thinking about scars and healings. As you know I have been through quite a bit of QEC healing sessions and have swept out a lot of stuff, but sometimes things trigger a reaction from me and I realise that although I am healed the scars are still there. They are fading and don’t stop me doing things as they used to but it is like there is a reminder. And sometimes it is a good thing. It also helps me to know why I am reacting in a certain way.

For instance because I do walk round in bare feet a lot – hence the name of business BareFoot At The Kitchen Table – I do see my funny toe nail. It has made me more cautious when I open doors. I see the scar on my leg and it reminds me of how clumsy I can be at times too.

When I react to something and acknowledge my headed scar on my heart I can understand what has gone on. I can also remind myself that I have been though healing for that.

I was talking with a friend around this yesterday. We have both been involved with young people and we are both Christians. We were saying that too often we expect people to forget their scars, that to be fully healed means to not have scars. If that were true why then did Jesus show his scars to his disciples? Jesus came back with a scared body even though he was fully healed. I don’t fully understand all the theology around the cross but I do know that Jesus was scared, Jesus died, Jesus rose again, Jesus still had the scars to prove awful things happened to him. Why do we expect to be any different?

So if you or I still have scars that is because we have been through stuff and have been hurt. That does not mean we have not been healed. But I do also know, with the insect bits around my ankles at this time of year, that if I keep picking at those scars they will not heal. So we need to let God through whatever means they know best – whether direct intervention, whether Christian healing, whether things like QEC, whatever – heal us, and help us to leave our scars alone so that even though they may still be visible they are no longer causing us pain.

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?

Categories
Holy Spirit Limpet

Blown By The Spirit

Photographed by myself, Diane Woodrow, whilst I was walking the dog this morning. It was from here that a poem emerged
Abergwyngregyn nature reserve June 2022

This morning I did my regular walk Abergwyngregyn nature reserve. I do this every couple of weeks. It is close enough to home but far enough away that I don’t see anyone I know. It also has a great dog friendly cafe in the village.

I walked and made notes and something about the limpet shells floated past me so I took some photos of them. Since publishing Inspirations From Walking in North Wales and getting such a positive response from those who bought it at the Abergele Arts Festival last weekend, I have been encouraged to work on a new collection.

So I had a few words and ideas about these limpets. I’ve recently done a QEC session around holding tightly to cliques/groups/tribes who are not good for me. So even though these thoughts were not foremost in my mind because when I do this walk I can just let my thoughts wander these things joined together.

But then what came next was James 3:8 where Jesus says to Nicodemus “The wind blows where it wants, and you hear the sound thereof, but can not tell from where it comes, and where it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.“. This comes after Jesus has told Nicodemus he must be “born again”. It is interesting but I have heard many preaches about being born again but very few of being blown wherever the Holy Spirit wills.

But as I pondered the limpet, the letting go of being in toxic groups and of being blown by the spirit, I came up with this poem

No longer holding tightly just to survive

Letting go was not as painful as you thought.

You drifted for a while until you came to land.

Now you lie and let the elements do their work on you.

Day by day, week by week,

with scrunch of food and pound of wave

slowly you are changed.

Then one day you wake and find you are small grains of sand.

It is then and only then

that the wind can pick you up

and blow you where it will

Too often, I think, we wonder why we are not freely flowing within the Holy Spirit. But I do wonder if that is because we are holding on to tightly to the rocks and things like limpets when in fact we should be letting the Creator of the Universe do their stuff and change us into something small enough that can be blown by with gentle wind of the Spirit.

Categories
peace Transition

Transition

Photograph of Pensarn beach taken one warm evening by Diane Woodrow
The shoreline is always a place of transition. Taken by myself May 2022

I’ve just read this great article from Godspace about Transition and creating healthy boundaries for it. Whilst reading it I got a bit grumpy about how easy it is to create these boundaries when you are in control of the transition – which is not what the article says but what my brain decided to put in to wind me up because there had just been a transition within our family that I had not been brought into the discussion about and which, though not out of the blue, had wobbled me a bit. Only a bit.

But then actually if one reads the article without that grumpy, poor me attitude then it is about having things in place for when transitions come so one doesn’t get wobbled by them. I won’t go through each one but to say that it was the last one Transitions cannot be rushed that really got to me. But once I had calmed down – which involved taking the dog for a walk in the rain. And I do think there is nothing quite like North Wales drizzle to sort one’s mood out. Or at least it always works for me.

I came back realizing that even though the family members appeared to be rushing the decision they had probably been talking about it for a while. Just because my counsel had not been sort for whatever reason – and that is another thing – don’t go second guessing other people’s reasoning for asking or not asking for you counsel. That is very much a “grow up and get over it” that we have to say to ourselves and our attitudes when it comes to our children, I think.

Another aside – why is that often we find it so hard to see that our children have grown up and don’t need us to ‘parent’ them any more? Thoughts for another post one day maybe!!!

Anyway just because someone else is transitioning doesn’t mean that I have to go so fast. I can sit and ponder their decisions, their transitions, and I can slowly allow their changes to seep into my consciousness. And also though their lives are changing mine is staying the same and slowly but surely as I adjust to their changes I can allow their transition to become my transition.

I found this all very exciting. Sometimes though I do wish I didn’t have to have a grump beforehand. Though, and I know I keep pushing it, since I’ve been doing the QEC work around my issues, hurts and past traumas so I have found the grumpy times are getting shorter, the wise voice is coming in sooner and the peace is deeper.

So now as I process this transition – among the many other transitions that have gone on in these last couple of years – I feel a profound sense of peace. It is not my decision to decide someone else’s lifestyle choice, whether they are family or friends, and that really does give me enormous peace.

Jesus said “my peace I give to you” and as Naked Pastor said about love so I think is true about peace. It is all around us and there for anyone but we do just have to open ourselves to it. And being grumpy does stop that peace.

So as I transition into my family transition so I lean into that love, take it slowly and all that “peace that transcends all understand “to guide my heart and mind [Philippians 4:7]

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
Alignment boundaries healing

No More Boundaries

A wall sheltering a shingle beach with rocks and seaweed on it, looking across to Anglesey with t he tide out. Taken by Diane Woodrow
Abergwyngregyn nature reserve taken by myself on 19th January 2022 at 9.15am

During my QEC session we talk a lot about not having boundaries but being in alignment to the world around you and your energy. I’ve been pondering a lot about it because it is counterintuitive to a lot of what one gets taught. How often have we all heard about “having clear boundaries” or even about “having boundaries that are flexible“. I attended a lovely workshop once around looking at boundaries – a fallen down fence, a brick wall and a wall with a gate in it, with the wall with the gate in it being what we should aim for. All sounded really good. Then I get this spanner in the works and because I trust so much else of what I’m doing through QEC I have to work this through.

As you can see from the wall above when a storm comes, or when it isn’t cared for, it falls and the sea rushes in. This is what we’re encouraged not to do – not to let the sea cascade in because …. because we could come to harm. So we spend a lot of energy working on those walls, even making sure the gate is in the right place and is well maintained. But alignment is a totally different thing.

I had gone through a bit of an issue with someone I was working with where I felt out of alignment with them and felt I was not getting the justice I deserved. Whilst pondering around this I was also doing some meditation around focusing on Jesus and the Cross and Healing what came to me was that “healing is once the pain has gone and the wound is clean” But how does that happen?

What I realised was that to get that healing I had been coming at it from a “your will be done” but wanting God’s will to actually match up with mine. So it was much more “my will be done. This has caused me thinking about my boundaries and what I wanted rather than what would being peace in my world.

As I let God/The Universe take over my niggles and need for my justice I felt myself calming, felt myself coming into alignment with God/The Universe’s peace for me. And that is the only word I can use to describe it – “peace“. I would say I got “healed of needing to know the bigger picture”.

So I may not look to the cross every time I feel discombobulated by something but I will learn to relax into alignment with a bigger will than my own. Once I can do that then there is no need for boundaries; no need to know what comes next; no need to even know why. There is peace. There is freedom. There is trust.

I know this will be an on going thing because I have been brought up for too long thinking I’m only safe if I’m behind a boundary but in fact I am safer when I am aligned to God/The Universe’s bigger picture and trusting God has it covered.

Categories
judging trust

Dodgy Characters

Picture of man with square black backpack. chosen from pexels.com by Diane Woodrow
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Note this is not one of the people I am talking about but a free Pexels.com image to I don’t show real people.

On the weekend a message came up on a local neighbourhood group about “dodgy men” going door to door in various streets. Well two of those “dodgy men” came to my door. They were actually boys not men and were very honest about the fact that they were ex-offenders and were doing this for a charity to gain credits for careers advise and driving lessons. Now my main worry was that they were being made to do this against their wills as a form of human trafficking/slavery. And I did talk to the boys about this and said I could put them in touch with people who would help.

I did buy some stuff from them and had to pay by cheque as we don’t have cash any more. One of the lads gave me his name and I did google him afterwards. He came from the town he said and yes he had been in prison for fighting. But actually some of the young people I work with in Youthshedz have criminal records. It is often very much a case of “by the grace of God/good luck/being born with different parents in a different part of the country” it could have been me.

But too many people are brought up to be fearful, to panic when they see young men with large black bags door knocking. They worry for themselves and not for the young men. Of course I did not let these boys in my house or do any thing that would endanger myself or my home. But actually that is wise and fair to them as much as to me. It is like not leaving the alcoholic to take charge of the wine cellar. I would be wrong to put temptation before these men but they need my/our support as much as anything.

But also what makes us in a place to judge? We see where someone is at that moment in time but not how they were or how they could be. I have to laugh because I am now running lots of youth based activities but in my youth I was into all sorts of things and was not a “good person” as some would say. But for those I work with and for and who see me dog walking I am a good person now. And yes I am a good person now but when I was in my early 20s the same could not be said.

I think with these “dodgy men” and other people that many fear we need to give them a chance, see the good that is in them, realise they have made mistakes due to circumstance, personality, home lives, and so much more, but they can, with help, support, determination and expectation become more than you see at the moment.

For myself the turning point was giving birth to my son, wanting to change my lifestyle for my boy and then meeting with God in a very powerful way. But for other people it is different things but all seem to include meeting with something bigger than themselves.

Let us all try to give these “dodgy men” and women a chance to desire to meet with something bigger than themselves, to tell their stores and to find a place of belonging.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone – Jesus

John 8:7

Categories
Abandonment Freeing Letting of Steam

Enthusiasm

A blue curtain waiting to be raised in Theatre Cymru for the performance of The Rocky Horror Picture show. Taken by Diane Woodrow
Waiting for Act two to begin

Last night I went to see “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” on my own. I had a seat right at the back and could watch not just the performance well but also see the audience. People were not as dressed up as I remember 35 odd years ago and the production didn’t seem to be as rude and raunchy as I remember. But that could just be me that had changed. I was a bit nervous of being in a theatre full of people with no distancing, which again is why I picked a seat at the back. There were 5 empty rows before there was anyone else. But I suppose viruses can travel.

Anyway when it came to the end the cast came back on stage and led everyone in iconic dance of the show, “The Time-warp”. I would say the whole audience leapt to their feet and danced for a good five minutes. We’d all taken our masks off because we were sitting down. So lots of singing, dancing, a bit of sweating I’m sure, and no fears or even thoughts of catching the virus. It was just the full joy of having seen a great show, enjoyed the enthusiasm of everyone else and just wanted to let off some steam. I must say I then skipped to the car and sung all the way home. I was even dancing and singing when I got back and had to take the dog for a pee.

Now I know I haven’t been to church since March 2020 but even before the fear of this awful virus there wasn’t that level of enthusiasm. Even when I went to a charismatic church back where we used to live it was rare to get that level of carefree abandonment through the whole congregation. As one crazy guest musician once said “you all think you’re being wild but you are all staying in your seats, the same seats you sit in every week.” It was true.

So I’m not saying that we need to infect other people but how often when we are in church do we get that level of carefree abandonment where we just want to let go and just have fun. It isn’t about being undignified. But, like with last night, it is about being caught up in the craziness, the enthusiasm, the fun, the joy, and also the whole thing of being in something you know so well that you know what to do.

Because, as I started this thought, I wondered if maybe last night was because it was different, but as I listened to people talking, for most people they came because they loved this iconic show, which is why it is still going after 40+ years. I was there because it was something I knew. So if, as Christians, we say we know Jesus, say we love Jesus, say we have gained so much from our lives from Jesus [which is much more than being the audience in a show we love] why don’t we go wild, feel such joy and abandonment.

I don’t know about you but I know that I now need to have a re-tweak of how I walk out my following of Jesus and have more of what I had last night in it.

Categories
Being not doing Jesus prayer

When Jesus Went Away To Pray

Photo by Diane Woodrow from near the top of Conwy mountain towards the interior of Snowdonia
View from Conwy mountain into Snowdonia

What does that mean? It occurs quite often in the gospels with no real explanation as to what it means. Preachers over the years have explored and explained it and so often it comes down to a doing thing which we’re then mean to follow – petitioning, telling, asking for, listing, talking with. The other day I got a different revelation whilst listening to a podcast on Spotify by Orphan No More talking about mediation – something that was almost banned when I first became a Christian because it was seen as Eastern religion, verging on demonic!! Thankfully things have moved on in the last 30 years.

The way Josh expounded Jesus “going to pray/going to be with his Father” I got this revelation that Jesus went off on his own not to talk, not to ask, not want for anything, but to just go back to the basics of who he was and who Father God is. And it was during this time that God revealed things to him – eg who to pick for his main disciples [Luke 6:12-16]. The more I allowed myself to just dwell on those verses and also on the “Be still and know that I am God” [Psalm 46:10] I came to see that as I pondered about peace and stillness with God so God could talk to me.

Earlier in the morning I’d been pondering an issue, done some journaling around it, did 10 mins of yoga, then sat for 10 mins just breathing in and out focusing on the peace and stillness of God and that verse. Almost as soon as my timer went to tell me I’d finished my 10 mins stillness what I felt was the answer to the issue fell into my head. As I was walking the dog later I wondered if this was what Jesus had felt like when he had been hanging out in stillness and peace with God all night. That suddenly he just knew who to call for his special twelve.

I wonder if too often we do too much talking when we’re with God or even too much trying to listen when actually he wants to get us to a place of trust so that our hearts can hear. Too often it is our heads, our minds, that hear but not our hearts. Doing this QEC counseling one of the things to learn is to stop, breath and listen with one’s heart rather than one’s mind. The mind is jumbled up with thoughts and shoulds and oughts and fears and anxieties and busyness. Meerkat/monkey mind, always on the alert. But our hearts know what we really really want. They are still and touch the peace inside of us. If I listen with my heart I feel peace. I think it gives me time to know what I really want, to feel what God wants for me, to slow things down a bit, and to let go of the meerkat/monkey mind that is constantly chattering.

I think if Jesus was fully human then Jesus also had to deal with a meerkat/monkey mind. If he didn’t then he wouldn’t be able to truly understand what we all go through. But he taught that to go away not to petition God but to rest in God’s stillness and peace we could hear the answers to what we need to hear answers to and let go of the rest. I think Jesus spent his times with God alone calming his meerkat/monkey mind and remembering who he truly was – which if Jesus did then so do I!!

Categories
friends friendship Godspace The little yellow book

Jesus our Friend

Diane Woodrow's dog, Renly, sitting on a rock looking up lovingly
“Can I be your friend?”

These thoughts on Jesus our friend were prompted by Lilly Lewin’s Post from 5th May entitled “Cups of Connection and Joy“, from starting talking about connection the post flows into the John 15:14&15 were Jesus tells his followers they are friends not servants.

How often do we see those in church behaving like servants, running round doing stuff, keeping the whole show on the road, even busy doing the praying stuff – which looks so righteous – but in fact they are spending time in praying, whether at alone, online, in prayer rooms, not to hang out with a friend but to serve.

When I tried to share this I was reminded that the Bible talks of asking for things, of petitioning prayers, etc as if that meant that we had to do rather than hang out with our friend. It got me thinking about my friends and how I behave with them and what I expect from a friendship. I though about the words in The Little Yellow Boat book where she says “She realised she did not want to be rescued and taken home. She wanted help to continue her quest.” She then realises those boats she had dismissed, which become her friends, all have different things to offer and different ways to help her so she goes to them for different things.

My friends are all very different and I go to them for different things and expect different things from them. I have friends who I would go to for help to do things, friends that I would go to if I was trying to workout what to do next, friends that I would walk with, others I have never walked with but drank a lot of coffee with, others no coffee but lots of meals and wine. Some of my friends are Christians like me, and some even think about God in similar ways to me. Some are of other faiths and some none. Some challenge me and turn my thinking upside down. Some are a calming influence. When I met with them I am different depending who I’m with.

I found it interesting that there are many many Bible studies and Christian groups that look at God the Father but very few what look at Jesus as our Friend. I wonder if that is because there is distance between us being able to father/parent someone else and us being someone’s friend? With talking of Father God we can stand back a bit, forgive parents and welcome in God, or if parents repent for our misplaced parenting, but perhaps we keep our distance from looking at Jesus as friend because it would challenge us more. I also think being a friend is much harder to define than being a parent. As I’ve listed above I expect different things from different friends and give differently to my different friends.

Yet every day we can get up and be a friend, in whatever guise that is, but how often do we choose to do that?