Categories
end of 2022 Reflections

Reflections

First published on GodspaceLight.com on December 28th 2022

Scotland, May 2022 photographed by myself on an early morning dog walk

This is the time of year when we are encouraged by almost everything that passes through our inboxes and magazine reading to “reflect on the past year”. Even in churches we’ll be encouraged to think about that. But when the disciples ask Jesus what is the most effective prayer, he gives what has now become known as The Lord’s Prayer. One of the lines in it tells us to ask for our Daily Bread; not yearly, monthly, whatever, but daily. In other places Jesus is recorded as telling us not to worry about tomorrow, but to cast each day’s cares onto God. He also tells a story about a man who builds a barn to store his grain in which sounds like a really good idea, but then the man is dead the following day; it was a waste of time for him to reflect on his great harvest and plan too far in advance. 

There is a practise I have been into which I think is Benedictine, and it is to reflect on my day as I get into bed. As I ponder and reflect on my day I can ask for forgiveness, can forgive others, can see what I need to sort for tomorrow [though I always recheck the tomorrow things the next day to check I’ve got that correct]. It also means if I have done something that I feel I need to put right I can do it the following morning. 

There is a multi-million dollar/pound/euro industry of self-help books that talk about living in the moment, living in mindfulness. But you can’t be “mindful” if you’re reflecting on something that happened a few months ago. Surely that is contradicting their own teaching. And as Christians if Jesus is saying ask for what we need daily, then do these practices not contradicting our theology?

Also, when it comes to remembering, even during that same day we put our own filters across our experiences: negative, self-blaming, accusing, condemning, positive, etc. But the further we are removed from an event the more we blur it, the more we put our own emotional memories into it. So if we do the reflecting the same day and get the rubbish cleared out, then each morning really does start as a new day – really does start with us being able to truly live out our daily bread

The other thing we are encouraged to do this time of year is set goals. Hands up – who then feels disappointed in themselves by February, or sooner, that they haven’t stuck with their very well intentioned goals? Goals are again like the man who builds the barn; full of great intentions but we don’t know what’s round the corner. We don’t know what the world will throw at us. Loads of things I am doing as this year ends I couldn’t have envisioned, and other things I thought might happen didn’t. So no goal setting for me because like I say for one it isn’t leaning on God, isn’t living in the moment, and also leads to disappointment. 

Instead, I do have some things I would like to come to fruition in the coming months so I am doing some QEC work around them. And there are other things that I need to ponder, check my heart about, talk with God about, and see what becomes of them. 

Though I realise as I come to the end of this post that I do tell a little lie to myself and to you, my reader. I do have a goal. Quite a big goal. It is to continue clearing the junk out of my heart so that I can hear it properly which will mean more QEC, more working with God. This will lead to trusting myself in a deeper way, trusting the Universe in a deep way, and trusting the Creator of the Universe in a deeper way. 

All of which can only come about through daily forgiveness of myself and others and daily asking for those things I need to nourish me throughout each and every day. 

Categories
stronger together

Stronger Together

My dog and my son&daugher-in-law’s dog thinking that if they if they stand together begging they will do better. Who can resist those 4 beautiful eyes?

Google “Stronger Together” and you get all sorts; from the Manic Street Preacher’s 2016 Wales football song to the UK Labour party’s website, to a campaign to stop modern slavery, to the NHS, to supporting people with mental health issues. Stronger Together is very much a thing, a great tagline, an important way of being. Yet why does so much in Christianity talk about giving it to God, of asking God to sort it, to almost stepping back and letting God?

Now I know there are songs and verses around casting your burdens on to Jesus, praying to God about your problems, etc. But I don’t think that means we’re meant to just hope that God sorts it all out. I think we’re meant to be in this together.

As I’ve worked my way through stuff with QEC, even though it isn’t a God centred program, it has led me closer to sorting my stuff out with God rather than expecting God to do it or doing it on my own. I’ve realised these are my things that I’ve gathered, picked up, been hurt by, taken on board, and that I am not able to do them on my own. But just handing them over still seemed to keep them circling. This could be me and maybe I didn’t hand them over to God “properly”. But what I’ve found is as I have come to see things and then shared them with my QEC counselor, done the activational exercises, put in the changes in my thought patterns, then God and I have been able to sort them together.

In other forms of counseling, of therapy, of inner healing, either I’ve taken control and done it my way or have totally handed it over and expected God to sort it. Neither were overly effective. If God and I work on this together then I know I am stronger. But I also know that God is stronger in my life if we do it together. It was like when I prayed and gave it to God God wasn’t able to walk with me, walk along side me, but was sort of left with my stuff. Yes I walked away from it but God and I didn’t sort it. And I think that to be healed of stuff we need to sort it.

I now do it when I get upset, angry, out of sorts, I ask myself what is going on, why am I feel this way. I sit then with God for a bit and we chew over things. I see the triggers, the things that I think I heard but that is from a badly remembered hurt from many years ago. And we all do that. But if I can sit with my QEC activations, with God, with time, be willing to see that I am maybe not hitting the mark – and I know I’ve said this before but really sin is just not hitting the target of all we are called to be – then I can change.

It isn’t easy. It isn’t quick. But Together We Are Stronger. Together God and I can make changes in my life that will have a knock on affect on the world – hopefully.

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
acceptance being me

Holding On To Who You Really Are

My dog being himself at The Good Life Camp in July this year

Last night I was home alone and watched the whole of the Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney Plus, all 6 episodes. Basic story line is Obi-Wan rescuing Princess Leia from the bad guys. What made is so convincing was the young Leia had traits like the grown up Leia from that very first time we all met her on screen back in the 1970s but also showed how what happened to her during the kidnapping and subsequent rescue shaped her too. She was the Princess Leia some of us have loved for 45 years.

But it got me thinking about how we are all born with certain characteristics, traits, ways of being, which are then either shaped, encouraged or squashed as we grow up. I wondered if I would recognise the 10 year old me if I was shown her story.

I did read somewhere that to make a marriage work we have to regular grieve the loss of the person we married and the loss of ourselves – as in I am not the person I was when we married 15 years ago. Life has changed me. And my husband isn’t the person I married 15 years ago as life has changed him too. But I do wonder, after watching things last night, how much of the depth of who I really am, who we really are, is still hiding under there.

I know I bang on about QEC but I think it has helped me to realise the me I really am and also the life events that have encouraged, shaped or crushed those tendencies.

Another of the reasons that got me pondering this is the being home alone. My husband has gone into the Snowdonia for 2 nights camping and walking. It means that from Friday night until he gets home this afternoon I can do what I want. In fact at the moment because I have very little work I can do what I want most days. So what did I choose to do? I walked the dog locally, read, did some writing, sat in the sun, walked the dog some more locally, read some more, and then binge watched Obi-Wan. This was what I wanted to do.

What did I like doing when I was younger? Well I got a memory of me sharing a story I had written with my friends. I remember sitting quietly on the river bank with a fishing rod in my hand. I remembered enjoying being alone with a book or a notepad or nothing at all. That was the me I remember. And now life has gone full circle and I spend much of my time reading, writing and just being. It is coming back slowly. But there are times I feel guilty because I am not “doing”, whatever that means.

I need to learn to be more like my dog and just bounce around being who I am most comfortable being. Just as Leia could only be what she was and Obi-Wan had to get his head round that so I can only be who I am and I need to get my head round that 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.

Categories
future past

How Your Past Interacts with Your Future

Seen on lots of Facebook accounts – not sure where it originates

This poster has been circulating Facebook for a while and I used to be very excited by it but actually the more I’ve done my QEC and other things looking at my past and I have come to believe that your past does affect your present which then determines/influences/inspires your future.

I know many of the people who have posted this have had rough pasts – abusive childhoods, drug addicts, etc – but I think those still determine/influence/inspire your future. I would not be sitting here typing this if I had not gone through the things I had been through. I would not have done what I did, would not have experienced what I did, etc.

My past has determined where I am today and so will have a influence on my future. I cannot change the past. I can change the way it affects my present and then my future but it will still be there – even when healed – to make me think.

I pick the jobs I do and the people I hang out with because of my past. I know someone who because of the way their teenage life was has devoted their life to working with young people. They would not have done that unless they had gone through what they had gone through.

I do understand that it is a phrase to say “don’t think you’re stuck because of what has gone on in your life before” but I do think it is a bad use of wording

So let us try to celebrate our past no matter how good or bad it was because that has made us who we are today. And through all of it God has loved each and everyone of us and whether we knew it or not has been there for us to turn to as and when we wanted.

Our past has made us what we are today and who we are today will inspire/influence what we become in the future.

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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.

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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
poem Prompts writing

Everyday words April prompts – 6th and 7th

Amazing colours and frosts looking over a local park in Abergele, Conwy taken by Diane Woodrow
Picture of my local park April 2022

So I am steadily getting further and further behind with these prompts and loving them more and more. These two clash, contradict and I think compliment each other. One is based on the horrors unfolding in Ukraine and other other was written Easter Saturday morning whilst we were staying in our friend’s house.

So this one from Day 6 was inspired by Laurie Wagner’s poem Things I Didn’t Know I Loved For me this has an even more poignant feel after I’ve read the Joel News report from Ukraine. Joel News’ remit is to show the good news that is happening in the world, to show where God is moving. And yet this week’s one talks of the awfulness of the war in Ukraine and of the coming global famine. It makes one ask “Where is God in all this?” But also one of the things I’ve learned with QEC is that to keep aligned and not get into high stress I need to be grateful. So really this poem is about what I realised I was grateful for and often take for granted. I’ve also called it Things I Didn’t Know I Loved.

This next one from Day 7 comes from a poem by Catherine Smith called Hero, about a bus driver really. But one of the prompts was ‘Where would you go to if a bus driver would take you absolutely anywhere?’. I did the prompt whilst we were staying down south visiting mothers and friends. It was a busy weekend and I was up early with the dog sitting in our friend’s conservatory enjoying some time out – something that I realise I do need to add to my “Things I didn’t know I loved” poem. So here is “Where would I go if I could go anywhere?” This one also comes with photos of the view I had.

As Brits we can have a perchance for moaning about what we do not have. Sometimes it is good to remind ourselves what we do have, but also then to remember to pray for those who do not have. We must never get smug and complacent, but I think that by being grateful one can learn to not be complacent and also to pray others can have what we too often take for granted.