Categories
Begging crowdfunding

Crowdfunding or Begging

Last week I went down South to visit my mum and catch up with some friends. My chosen companion whilst driving is Radio 4. So I drive for about 5 hours listening to various things, some of which stay with me and some I just forget.

One thing that stayed with me was an article about people who were struggling to pay their bills who were putting up pages on GoFundMe or similar crowdfunding pages. The one woman that they concentrated their feature on was a young woman who had only just gained an MA in journalism but was now out of work. She had set up a page to pay her rent and bills until she got the job she wanted. One of the reasons she was on was that she had raised more than she had asked for. At one point in the interview she said that she knew she could take any job but that she wanted to wait to get into her chosen profession.

What I wanted to know were her thoughts to the homeless person she probably walked past regularly, the beggar on the street, the tramp. Did she and those that had given to her campaign see those people as valid? Would they give as much to them?

I think too often we judge by the cover. So people will give to the pretty young woman who has fallen on hard times but not to the smelly dirty person who is on the street.

I also think that by giving on one of these crowdfunding sites one can distance oneself from the cause. It just takes the push of a Paypal button and money is moved to this woman’s account. I do remember my daughter saying that when she was in London more and more buskers especially were getting these free credit card machines and it did increase their takings. None contact. None involvement.

Whether it is the pretty young woman who wants a top job and isn’t willing to be a part time barmaid or supermarket worker or the long term homeless, is it that we really do not want to know the why of how they got to that place? Are we willing to slow things down, get into a dialogue, find out what is really going on? I think I am as much to blame. It is easier just to push that campaign button, that easy give button, that “sign here” button, than it is to slow my life down, work out what areas of live I really do want to focus on and really dig deep into what is going on here.

Just an aside – when I was planning this post it was going to be very much about berating the middle class aspirations and how no one cares about the downtrodden, but as I have written, as often happens with me and writing, I have changed my view point. I am now pointing back at me and asking what would I really do? Am I similar to what has gone on? Sometimes I think it is good for all of us to have a real look at what we are saying and whether we too are hiding behind something.

Categories
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
hamster people pleasing

People Pleasing

From http://www.clker.com/clipart-495807.html

On a recent QEC session we got talking about how people pleasing can be like being a hamster on a hamster wheel. If only I could draw because “a picture paints a thousand words” but “words are all I have”.

So I want you to picture three hamster wheels – you’re the one in the middle and on either side are those you are trying to please. You’re all running as fast as you can. You keep getting carrots but instead of eating them you keep giving those carrots to the hamsters either side of you because you want to please them. Your deepest wish is for them to be happy, to be content, to calm down, etc. And you have been brought up that to be a “good hamster” you make sure everyone else is alright. But the thing is a hamster doesn’t eat the food it is given but stores it in its pouches. So even though you are being a good hamster and trying to keep the hamsters beside you happy they aren’t getting fed because they are storing it in their pouches.

Too often we think we should do everything for others, should be the one pleasing them all the time, should be the ones putting everything right, but we lose sight of ourselves. Like the little hamster in the middle we get thinner and thinner whilst those we are trying to please just get fat pouches but are still not happy.

Because I am a follower of Jesus I often try and think about what the Bible says about things. So Jesus says “love your neighbour as yourself,” which even for someone who doesn’t believe in God it is a good way to be. This is what the little hamster in the middle is trying to do. The little hamster is doing what all good sermons tell them to do, putting others first.

BUT WAIT

This isn’t what that verse says. It needs to be looked at in more details. And if the Bible is read as a whole and not as soundbite then it does go on to explain further.

Someone once asked Jesus who his neighbour was and Jesus tells the famous story of the Good Samaritan [Luke 10:25-37] If you don’t know it then go and read it.

Now in this when the Samaritan does rescue the man he does basic first aid but then takes him to a man who can do more. The Samaritan does not lecture the man and tell him he was daft to be on the road alone, he does not give him extra money to be able to get home, he does not give him what he has lost. The Samaritan takes him to the inn then offers to pay for all expenses for him, then goes on his way. The Samaritan did not throw money at him, he did not set him up in business again, he doesn’t even go and tell his family the man is gong to be a bit late getting home. Nope! The Samaritan does what needs to be done to a man who is danger and needs help. All the other things – like rebuilding what he has lost, of being more sensible in future, of thinking for himself – is left for the man to sort out when he is well again.

I often wonder if, as well as fearing being “unclean”, the two ‘church’ people were afraid that they would not know when to stop giving. And I think we have all been taught how to give but very rarely have we been taught how to stop.

So back to the hamster analogy – you, the little hamster needs to get your needs met, needs to know what you need. And that might just be getting off the hamster wheel for a bit and finding out what your needs actually are. And also maybe letting those you think you are meant to be pleasing look after themselves for a bit.

It might surprise you, little hamster, to know that those you think you should be pleasing will actually be ok if you stop feeding what you think are their needs all the time.

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
Me Too truth

The Truth Will Set You Free

A view to the Llyn Peninsular taken on a day out with my daughter July 2022

I cried when I heard the result of the RoevWade outcome. How could a country that calls itself civilised take such a backward step? Not only is it saying that women cannot choose but that it is saying women are not able to choose. Then I hear our government saying that abortion doesn’t need to be on The Bill of Rights! Again a major step backwards.

There is that big argument that the child that is aborted could grow up to change the world. Well what if they don’t? What if the child that does not get aborted is brought up in a household on a low income with many different partners in the mother’s life? What if the child is brought up and hated because of what the mother could not do? One cannot talk of “what ifs” when one does not talk about choice.

Did you know it is only recently that Christians believe a person did not become a living being until God breathed life into them at that moment of birth

“I think we know that prior to the Lord putting breath of life into Adam he had a heart, he had a brain with vessels, and these vessels and heart were filled with blood just as the vessels and heart of a fetus are filled with blood. However, Adam did not become a living soul until after the Lord breathed into him the breath of life.

—Robert L. Pettus Jr., MD, As I See Sex Through the Bible, 1973

And “Rabbis have long written that the soul enters the body at birth, with the first breath. For breath is the gift of life from the one who created us. From the God who is both our origin and our destination.”

I know medical science can now keep a baby alive from very early in gestation. I have had friends who have been blessed by this new technology. But that was their choice and that choice has effected their lives since.

I have just read a great article by Nadia Bolz-Weber entitled Stories>Opinions [basically our stories are greater than someone’s opinions] In it she tells her own story of her own abortion, which is very similar to mine, except that she did have a partner with her and friends supporting her. For me, I was in an odd place, sleeping around and did not know who had fathered my child. I was, like Nadia, on a low income and also not in a place to have a child. [I once told this story in a Christian youth group and got cross questioned by the young people, which actually was great because it made me think about what I had done, and I know I did the right thing at that moment in time] Would I have been a good mother then? Who knows. But I chose not to be a mother then.

Later I got my life a bit more sorted and have since had two amazing children. Children that actually I would not have had if I had not aborted the earlier one. Strange that. As someone in my writing group once told me “each choice we make determines where we are today.”

Jon Kuhrt wrote a blog piece a while back on Francis Spufford’s book “Perpetual Light”, which is a story about the children that died in a WWII bomb on a Woolworth’s in London, and what their lives would have been like if they had lived. This got me thinking about what my life would have been like if my first child had lived. I don’t know but I know it would be very different and I know I would not have the children I have now, or the husband I have now, or the life I have now. It would have been different.

When people say about the life of the aborted child they never seem to talk about the life of the mother who has that child, or the father who has to decide what he will do. Also too often the mother is seen as the enemy, as a bad person, who isn’t really thinking properly. I do not know of anyone who did not think through their decisions carefully and how it would impact them and their unborn child. It is not a decision to be taken lightly. But then I did not take it lightly to keep my next two babies. But having an abortion is a taboo subject very rarely talked about in Christian circles openly. Why is that? God knows what I’ve done and still thinks I am amazing. I know this because my first God encounter was of being covered in what felt like a warm, visceral glittery substance and being told I was loved just as I was – unmarried mum who’d had an abortion. I’m not sure what my church would have thought of me if they’d known. I wonder if I will now be asked to stop helping with the youth group that I volunteer at now?

Please can we stop being ashamed of what we’ve done. Please can we start being open about every part of our lives and not just keep God for the clean and tidy bits and pieces. God is the God of the whole of my life – the good and the bad, the times I’ve got it right and the times I’ve got it wrong – and I am loved by God no matter what. That is totally amazing.

And now let us stand together and support those who have had an abortion, who are thinking of having abortions, and also those who think the whole this is an anathema. We are all made in the image of God no matter what we’ve done or what we think. And are loved because of and in spite of all that.

Categories
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
Everyday Wrods writing prompts

Speak Simply

Pensarn Beach strand. Photographed by Diane Woodrow
Taken this morning [27th April 2022] on my early morning beach walk with the dog

There have been a few ups and downs clouding my outlook and stopping me looking forward to my holiday. One of them, which might sound trivial, is these prompts from Everyday words. As I have said before they are so full and there is so much to think about that I have been doing them slowly. But they are now filling up my inbox and my “get it done” nature is struggling with them all. So I decided to take a new tack and am doing the ones that are most recent. So today I have done today’s prompt even though I still haven’t done Day 10’s. Coming from this approach has stopped me feeling so overwhelmed. I am learning too that sometimes life in general overwhelms me and I have to find a way out.

Preparing for a holiday can overwhelm me. I feel like there are so many things to get done – packing, sorting and preparing things for the animals that are either staying [the cat] or coming with us [the dog]. I feel like I need the house clean and tidy and all the washing done. Some of that comes from wanting to be kind to my future-returning-from-holiday-self, but it does make me panic a bit. This morning I was really pleased when my husband hugged me and thanked me for doing the washing so that there would be clean clothes for the holiday. It is probably from those words that the inspiration for this poem comes from.

Even though the PDF says one thing I am renaming it “Simple Things“. So the prompt comes from my friend Victoria Field’s poem ‘Dandelions’ which can be found in her new book A Speech of Birds. and Sarah’s suggestion of taking the line “Dandelions speak dandelion…. write about what they might say to each other”

My dog walk this morning was filled very much with the simple things of a dog enjoying being on a walk, of the sea and these lovely plants that grow on edge of the shore, of chatting with fellow dog walkers and a friend giving some wise advise. In my preparations for my holiday I need to keep the simple things in focus and not get all ‘Marthaed” and do what doesn’t need to be done.

Categories
presumption Viewpoint

Not Everyone Views The World As I Do

Photograph taken whilst on a walk with husband and mother-in-law taken by myself, Diane Woodrow
Lambs, Lady’s Walk, Montacute April 2022. Taken by myself

I was really surprised yesterday at the writing group I was running that the two ladies who were there had never picked wild garlic and so never cooked with it. I then told a dog walking friend this and she had also never picked and eaten wild garlic. Her and I are now off to do that later this week. But it got me thinking of how many things I take for granted and think everyone can do them.

But it also clouds ones view of things. I know I would not be great at helping people who struggle with money because I have always been great at budgeting and of making money stretch. I am not 100% sure how I do it but I just do. So for someone to say they just cannot budget would leave me confused. But also I cannot map read. No matter how many times my husband shows me how to do it, and he is patient, I just can’t seem to get my head round it. I still am amazed that the sea is at the top of the map here. We live of the North Wales coast so for many of you that will be obvious but to me – Nope!

Too often when we talk about things, whether it is how we budget, what we eat, or try to share our faith, we come from the place of what we know. So for instance faith-wise we know what we know about God – and that can be different for each person – but we talk about it from what we have experienced, how it manifests to us, and then get frustrated with others from that point. This with the ladies at my writing group has helped me to see this. They are both over 60 and to me everyone has picked garlic.

With the Christian youth group I’m privileged to co-run I have started to ask the young people questions based on the liturgies and phrases they use about God, about their faith, about the out-workings of it all. When you say “I believe in God the Father” what do you mean by that? Because I am a writer I get them to write it down. Also I think there is space to say things in writing that you might not say out loud.

So for me from these ladies and that they had made it past 60 having never picked or cooked with wild garlic I am hopefully learning that my experiences of the world are mine and have shaped how I do and see things but not everyone has experienced, done or see what I have or in the same way I have. So instead of presuming I will start asking and wondering and learning and finding out.

Perhaps if we all started listening, learning and asking questions rather than presuming and going our way then there would be less fear, less anxiety and less fighting and wars?