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
new road trust

Another New Road

A winding path through woods  taken by Diane Woodrow
A walk in the woods, April 2020, taken by myself

The wonder of being brought, by God, around a corner and to realize a new road is opening up, perhaps—which He alone knows. And that there is no way of traveling it but in Christ and with Him. This is joy and peace—whatever happens. The result does not matter. I have something to do for Him and, if I do that, everything else will follow. —

A Search for Solitude: Pursuing the Monk’s True Life, January 23 and 24, 1958

I go through phases of taking photos of the same thing. Paths have been an ongoing theme. I love the nature of paths. The way they lead you onward and how much one puts ones trust in a path. I think this is why this quote jumped out at me. And the whole thing of being at the start of another year, and my husband had said about someone he follows on Facebook had said about a bend in the road.

But it is Merton’s joy that comes through here about the wonder of a new road. With all the changes that have been going on since the start of the pandemic, which for us in the UK was March 2020, we are tired on new roads. We are tired of walking roads we have no map for. We really do not want to go round another corner and see something new opening up.

Yet Merton talks of wonder and trust, of joy, and of not worrying about the results. And whatever our religious beliefs most of us do fight worry, which the media encourages.

I wonder how different life would feel if instead of being fearful about the new road, instead of hoping the new road will be similar to something we knew, we could step out in joy and wonder, in trust of each other and something bigger than ourselves, not fearing what is to come, letting go of needing to control the situation.

I’m not talking of not doing anything about the injustices of the world, or ignoring climate change, or pretending everything in the garden is rosy. I’m talking about having eyes that are open about what is going on and of wanting to do something to change, but in a joyful, wonder-filled, trusting way

I think we would feel more peaceful, many of our nations mental health worries would ease, and I do wonder if actually we would then have more energy and confidence to really change things instead of living in fear?

Categories
Blown by the Spirit freelancing

Blown By The Spirit

a canal towpath, barges on the canal, trees picking up the early morning sunshine. Taken by Diane Woodrow
Bradford on Avon canal at sunrise August 2021 taken by myself

There was a phrase that I heard many times when I first committed to walking out the Christian faith which was about being “blown by the Holy Spirit”. The way it was taught was that God would send the Holy Spirit which would take us wherever God wanted. In my thinking that meant to other countries, off on mission, etc, etc. But now, as I progress in this journey, I wonder if it is much more an internal things – that I need to let God’s Holy Spirit guide me in my thinking, my ways of doing things, and just the general day to day.

Each moment of my day I should be “blown by the Spirit” [and I wish I could find the actual bible verses that this is from] not just in the big things of life. In fact I do now wonder if too often many of us have missed out on the ordinary because we have been waiting for the extraordinary.

This came to me the other morning as I was pondering about things for this new year. I wanted to be true to my Freelance calling. So, as I do each morning, after doing yoga with the cat [who is often more enthusiastic than I am about it], I sat calmly on my mat and held my work projects in my open hands, along with the rest of the year. I gave up these projects, and all future ones, to God/to the Universe to do with as they willed, and without thinking asked God to blow them as the Spirit willed.

Oh my word! It was the most releasing of experiences. Suddenly I was freed from any burden of them. Suddenly I was free of having to “get them right” and was able to just let them go, to sit lightly with them.

There have been one or two issues with them since that day and at times I have forgotten that I’ve given them to be “blown by the Spirit”. But each time I remember that these projects aren’t mine to hold tightly but are gifts to use my talents in executing I am able to let them be “blown by the Spirit”.

There is such a freedom in that and I am seeing as well as a peace coming from that, also doors opening.

Categories
End of the year Liminal space

Last Post of 2021

A bare tree with a waterfall behind it 
photographed by Diane Woodrow
Aber Falls Dec 27th 2021 taken by myself

I love this time of year, that liminal space between family Christmas and the start of the new year. A time when meals are inventive because food needs to be eaten before it goes off but it is a challenge to work out what goes with what. The buzz of a house full of family is over, but it is too soon yet to take down decoration. My head wants to start tidying and organising for the new year but with the decorations still up there is only so much I can do, and also my head is enjoying this liminal time.

Though as I write this my lovely husband may is still off work, but he is working for me during this “down time”. I was offered a project which to do with making a historic walking map of a local village. He is much more skilled in route planning on a map than me so is doing an amazing job getting my project to a place where I can then add in the historic content.

With this project and another project from last year sitting and waiting to be completed, and then other writing projects in the air, I am trying to sort out some kind of schedule for the new year but trying to to hold it lightly because who knows what 2022 will bring.

But also because this, for me, is a liminal in-between time, where I know the days are getting longer but it is raining hard and so this extra daylight is hard to notice, but also like I say I can’t quite get organised because of the decorations still being up and the fridge still needing to be emptied, I can only think, ponder and wait until Monday when things roll properly into 2022.

I remember when I used to work in bars before I had children this time between Christmas celebrations and New Year’s Eve was always a fraught time, where tensions were high and anticlimax loomed. I do think to hold this time wisely one needs to accept that, even if one is working, this is still an in-between place where routines are still out of sorts. And for most of us this is what the last nearly 2 years have been – a time when we are stilling in a liminal space waiting to get back to some sort of routine.

Will 2022 allow us to get back into some sort of routine? Who knows. But I know that I will do my best to carve out my own rough routine day by day, week by week, month by month, holding each and every part of that schedule lightly and trusting that someone/something greater than me knows best

Categories
Lord's Prayer Trust God

All About Titles

maize field in the foreground, a row of conifer trees then rolling hills and onward to Snowdonia national park. Sky is cloudy with patches of sunshine. Taken by Diane Woodrow
Looking into Snowdonia. Taken by myself on 16th August 2021

So I will end this run of four thoughts on The Lord’s Prayer at the beginning “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name” I’d love to do a straw poll and find out how many of us cringe a bit when we feel we have to call God Father. I know my hand would go up. I’m not just thinking of my own father but of many other fathers I know who struggle along trying to do the best for their kids but carry so much of their own baggage that they don’t really know what “Father” actually means.

So I start my prayer by saying “To the all loving being who inhabits both the heavens and the earth, who made it all, and all that it is in it, whether the created acknowledge their maker or not. To the connected universe that holds all together and lets all move freely. To you I open my heart today because you are immense and amazing.”

Ok so it is a bit more long winded than the words we read in the Bible. But again I think that is because, for the gospel writers, it was obvious who they were connecting with, and obvious what they and others believed and expected.

In my journey with God I have come to see prayer more and more as not an asking thing but a connecting thing, and so I have to ask myself “what or who am I connecting with?” which is why I have the long opening. It is for me and not for God. God knows who God is. God doesn’t need telling, but I do need to realise the enormity and amazingness of God.

I think often our prayers are for ourselves. So we pray for those we love because it helps us cope with what they are going through. Yes I do know and believe that God answers prayer and intervenes. I also believe that God intervenes without our prayers too. I know prayer is important. But I think we often do it for our peace of mind too. And I believe that when we connect with God, the Maker of the Universe, through prayer or mediation or centering, or whatever we want to call it, then we connect with something higher, wider, deeper, more all knowing than we are.

To gain the real amazingness of prayer we need to also trust that we connect, that we are heard, that we are part of something, that we are co-creators of the outcome. Even if the prayers aren’t answered as we would like.

I like stories to confirm things so … I offered to pray for a lady in the park because her father had been taken ill. Her father died two weeks later. She told me that she knew I was praying because she felt such peace through it all. I didn’t give her peace. I didn’t stop her father dying. But what I did was connect her and her father and her family with The Amazing Power and Peace of God and let things flow as they were intended.

The outcome isn’t my call. My call is to prayer, connect with my Heavenly Savoir, and trust that things will go as the Universe believes to be the right way with peace.

I have to end by saying I think prayer is amazing and I need to remember to do it more often during the day as it changes me and my energy as much as it changes things I pray about.

Categories
God's Kingdom God's Will Lord's Prayer

Connected Wills

Picture of a wall and a shingly beach, looking across a stretch of water to Anglesey and the town of Beaumaris. Taken by Diane Woodrow
From Abergwyngregyn nature reserve looking towards Beaumaris. Photo taken this morning, 16th August, by myself

My third day of thoughts on my version of The Lord’s Prayer. Today is “your kingdom come, your will be done” to this I always add “in my life and my world.”

Is this a selfish, egocentric attitude? I think it depends on how you view yourself and your connections. For me I see myself as connected to others who in turn are connected to others. For instance, lady in the park told me that the random conversation we had the other day, which brought back memories of her going to Paris with her late husband, made her day and that she was able to cope with a shop assistant who was a bit stressed. I didn’t even meet the stressed shop assistant but my connection with a fellow dog walker supported that shop assistant. And who knows what the kind words from the from the dog walker brought to the shop assistant and so on and so on

Also I am coming to believe more and more that the energy I give out – whether negative or positive, fearful or safe, joyful or angry – affects those around me and again then affects those they come into contact with. It is a bit like my understanding of chaos theory – of how a butterfly flapping its wings in a forest can lead to a hurricane somewhere else in the world! OK for all the scientists who follow me this is a my simplified version!!! 🙂

Maybe me being kind to people and doing my best to walk with an energy of trust, peace and joy, can lead, one person at a time, to peace in the Middle East, which if boiled down to its basic level is people being afraid of people and what they can lose.

I suppose this comes full circle back to believing I have enough, which can even lead to knowing I have lived long “enough” as have those I love. [Of course I don’t want those I love to die in pain but I have to be ready to let them go when the universe says “enough” on their time here – but that’s for another blog!!!] But if I believe I am living in “enough” and that I am walking out God’s Kingdom and Will in my life/my world, then I do not need to fear lose or fear getting it wrong, which brings me back to “Forgiveness” of myself and others.

Makes you wonder sometimes if the Lord’s Prayer was written upside down and should have started with “get ready to forgive yourself and others, trust there is enough to go round, and believe you are doing your best to work out God’s Will and Kingdom in your life and that this will affect others”.

Just a thought!!!

Categories
enough Lord's Prayer

Enough

Trees fluttering and dancing in a light breeze last Sunday afternoon. Taken by Diane Woodrow
Dancing silver birch trees in my local park. Taken by me 8th August 2021

Enough! How often do we start our day believing we have had enough sleep and will have enough time to do all that we think we have to do during the day? Very rarely I would say.

Too often we wake thinking we haven’t had enough sleep – especially if we are menopausal women who have restless nights, or have babies that keep us awake half the night or more. We then look at our “to do” list and think we don’t have enough time.

For me this contentment with “enough” comes from Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly” book, QEC coaching and also really praying the Lord’s Prayer after doing yoga most mornings.

The “give me today my daily bread”, for me, can only come from a place of “enough”. But that was not how I was taught this prayer. I was taught it from a place of “lack”. A place of begging God to “please give me my daily bread”. Believing that unless I really asked God properly I wouldn’t have enough to make his Kingdom purposes come!

I have now started praying “help me believe I have all that I need, my daily bread allowance, to do all that I am meant to do today” or “thank you that I have already got all that I need for all that I will be doing today” or “I start today grateful for the daily bread I have been given for my day.”

It is a knowing that I have already been supplied with “enough” for today; whether that is energy, time, patience with others, grace, food, etc. Even those I meet will be part of my “daily bread” for today; people who enrich me, that need me, that I need, that help me and I help. All are part of my daily bread. And I come from knowing that I have enough to give and to receive all through the day.

It also means that at the end of the day when I’m tired and don’t feel like doing the washing up and can’t read as many pages of my book as I would like that is ok. I’ve done my “enough” for today and it is ok to curl up and go to sleep. I can end my day feeling grateful for what I did and knowing it was all that I was meant to do for today.

Categories
serendipity trust

Serendipity

A picture of one of the turret of Castell Aberlleiniog, Anglesey, Wales
From https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1141115

Serendipity means – the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for; an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident; good fortune; luck

On Wednesday I had decided to take myself off on an Artist’s Date as recommended by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. On Tuesday night I’d had an important email regarding working with a school’s holiday club which needed admin tasks doing but I decided, as I am trying to “wear the cloak of a writer” – something that comes from the Warrior Goddess work I’ve been doing – I decided that the admin would wait until the afternoon.

Before getting the dog up and leaving for my Artist’s Date – which was going to be a walk from Beaumaris to Castell Aberlleiniog, some writing on the castle motte and then walking back again – I did some journaling around “Roots”. One of the things I wrote was “God will supply all my needs whether money, time, energy, direction, etc” Also things around trusting that I get done each day what I need to get done for that day. A sort of “give us today our daily bread”.

I managed to get a bit lost on the drive to Beaumaris, but found the car park and set off with my bag with notebook, water and a sandwich and the dog along the coast path. The weather was awesome. The clouds were low and were hugging the mountains across the water. I walked for a while and then thought I would stop and take a photo. That was when I discovered that I had left my phone in the car. And I had said to my husband that I would be fine on the walk because I had my phone with me!! Ok so it did help that I was walking a coastal path so just had to keep the sea to my right on the way out and then on my left on the way back! But it did mean that I didn’t know what the time was.

Even though I had journaled around trusting that I would get everything done in the back of my head I had thought that if after an hour’s walking I hadn’t found the castle I would turn back. Well now I didn’t know what the time was so I just walked.

I did find the castle, which turned out to be further from the coast path than googlemaps had said. But because I was working on “trusting time” I was at the top of the motte when the sun burned off the clouds. I wrote poems and bits for the story I’d gone to write in situ, but also as I came down I bumped into a man who had been involved in the restoration of the Aberlleiniog who told me lots more than was on the information boards which was so helpful to my story.

I would say my day turned out to be totally serendipitous. But it came from letting go of something that we all use so much now for so much – the smart phone – and trusting to God/the Universe/our own intuition.

Brene Brown in her Daring Greatly book, talks about believing we have “enough” and from the vulnerability to trust oozes. I trusted that I had “enough” time, energy and whatever, to have the time out I needed for my writing, and from it I was blessed immensely.

I’d love to share pictures from the walk but like I said I didn’t take my phone. And then when I got home there was an email from the school I’m going to be working with dates for me to work, and I did get all the admin tasks I needed to do before supper time!

Categories
christmas Covid-19 false dawn full moon hope lockdown trust Trust God

Finding Hope …

Wales is now back in full on lockdown as of midnight on Saturday 19th December. This morning I was on the beach praying for all the pubs and restaurants that would lose hundreds of pounds today because they had bought in food to prepare Sunday lunches, which up here is the time when most people go out to eat, and will have to throw it all away. Where is the hope in all this?

I wrote a piece not so long ago called Full Moon and I still hold to that – of God being above our chaos looking down and being with us through it. But this morning as I turned to walk back from the beach it started pelting with rain, cold icy rain, and the sky was just filled with black clouds. There was not even a fringe of false dawn or red tinged clouds. It was black. And it made me wonder “how can we know there is hope when all is dark?” But then I got thinking about the Christmas story, which many of us won’t get to hear in church because of lockdown, about of how when we tell that we tell it full of hope and yet I am sure there were very dark days.

Can you imagine how Mary and Joseph must have felt as they came into Bethlehem and were shunned? How dark must that have felt? They knew God was there, knew God had planned this, but so much was clouding that hope. I think often we “big up” the Christmas story too much and don’t show the other side of things, which then leads us to feel like we are inadequate, that we have to rise to a place that is beyond what we can reach.

I totally believe that God is in all that we are going through, even this sudden lockdown and the loss of earnings from too many places, and mental health and suicides that have come from the anxiety and fear and stress of all this time. This, though for me, is where faith comes in. But too often the burdens we bear make it too hard to look up and find that faith. And that is when we need to be kind to ourselves and to each other, be honest that actually on some days we have no hope, we have no faith. We can only see the storm that is gusting around us.

[I was in the process of pondering how to finish the above paragraph on this post when my daughter messaged to say she’d tested positive for covid-19. She has very minor symptoms and had done the test because someone she worked with had tested positive. So it was all a bit of a shock, especially as she’s been trying to work out how she could get from South Wales to North Wales now we were all in lockdown. So sometimes the storms are crazy and the sky is dark but I am pleased I could find the words for the above paragraph to give myself the encouragement I needed]

Categories
2020 accepting Advent being me Brexit Building a Wall Charles Dickens christmas Christmas Carol faith Joseph Mary open Scrooge trust Trust God

A Christmas Carol

Advert for BBC’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol

The BBC have done a fascinating interpretation of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, where they have given Scrooge a larger backstory than the Ghost of Christmas Past shared in the novel, as to why Scrooge is the way he is. Episode two where Scrooge is taken to Christmases past should be shown to all business people who put profit first. This is not a problem that has gone away

But the thing that stuck me most were the issues this version has chosen to highlight. Scrooge was as he was because he had been unloved and abused as a child, been told the only way to survive is to have money in the bank, not to trust others, and be be his own person. Bottom line – he was afraid and had built his own saftey net around him.

The alcoholic or drug addict doesn’t abuse their body and their families because they think it is a good idea. They do it because they are afraid. Even the person who abuses their partner or children or attacks others does so because they are afraid. And these are the things society notices. But there are also those who have more money than they could spend in a life time, but they are also afraid – of not having enough, of not being safe, etc, etc. If each of us is honest we are all afraid of something and have all built walls, big or small, to keep ourselves safe.

But this is the time of year when the Bible expounds with “do not be afraid” – to Mary, to the Shepherds, to my big hero of the Chrismas story, Joseph. Joseph has such a bit part in this story and never gets any of his own lines, but twice he is told not to be afraid; the first time when he finds out Mary is pregnant and is told not to be afraid of how she got with child, and the second when he has to leave everything he knows and go to Egypt to keep this child that is not his own safe. He is amazing because he marries Mary, but doesn’t sleep with her till after Jesus is born, takes her with him when he goes for the census so that there is no chance of her being stoned whilst he’s away, and then goes to a land to live as a refugee until God tells him it is ok to come home again, and home to a place he really doesn’t know what his relatives will think of him.

God tells him not to be afraid, and we too often read that as “dont be scared” but I think it means “to let go of all those issues you carry with you that will encourage you to build walls of self preservation around you and trust God“. I think Jesus learned a lot from Joseph about how to be open and trusting even in a place of fear. And Joseph through all that went on around him learned to trust God, to not be fearful, to put aside his own strength and not build up walls.

I believe fear kills because it causes us to shut ourselves away from not just others but from out true selves. Fear causes us not to trust others, causes us to use other things for our safety; like career, profit over people, having ‘enough’ money, etc, being accepted by others, alcohol, drugs, being the life of the party, food, overly caring for others at the detriment of ourselves, not being able to say yes, or not being able to say no, relationships, and … here ponder and name your own.

I don’t think God asks us not to be scared but asks us not to be afraid and to stay open and trusting to all the facets that make up the Godhead, and trusting others too. So as we enter this season of vaccines and Brexit and being unsure let us be open, trusting and not afraid, not build walls, and lean on the One who can hold us through.

mary-joseph-with-baby-jesus-39533-wallpaper.jpg (1291×1600) (wordpress.com)