Friday, 13 September 2013

Mercy {Five Minute Friday}

I have to confess, I'm not quite all there today. Focussing on anything creative for 5 full minutes is a challenge, not least such an abstract concept. I'm feeling empty, but here's what's left:


Five Minute Friday

Mercy

A lifeline
A hope
A dream not crushed
Love that can't be broken, even though we try so hard
A helping hand
A second, third, hundredth chance

Mercy is what rescues us when we've lost our way. Mercy given is what inspires us, no compels us to go out and rescue others. Mercy by its definition is not deserved, it is entirely unfair but it is just and right.

 STOP






Sunday, 8 September 2013

Red {Five Minute Friday}

I have a confession to make... I may have set the timer to 5 hours instead of 5 minutes before I started writing today! So I actually wrote for 10 minutes before I realised my mistake. Here goes anyway:

Five Minute Friday


STOP. DANGER. NO ENTRY.

These are all Red words. They are a barrier, a warning to all who would consider taking the risk. They are the wall between us and an almost certain death... or at least a little challenge.

I am one to heed warnings. As far as I am concerned, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. If I am facing a problem that someone has faced before, my first instinct is to go find out how they solved it. I don’t think it’s laziness; more like efficiency. And generally, it has worked well for me and provided me with some good advice.

But what if sometimes, things are different? What if all those warnings (Oh, I tried that and it was a disaster, don’t even go there) didn’t apply to me? What if I was to step right out onto the edge and then dive off of it? I’ve done that once. Young people will be climbing on the roof if you go there, they said. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been hard, but had I listened to those red words I would never have had the relationships in the community that I do. Young people wouldn’t have the space to come to, the positive role models, that they do.


Maybe I’m not so bad at crossing the red words after all.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Reconciliation is my Heritage

My mum's parents met at war. I'm sure many people of my generation could say the same. But my grandparents didn't meet at a dance, or as they served valiantly alongside each other; no, they were supposed to be enemies. My Grandma was German and my Granddad was British.

I don't actually know any details about how my grandparents met or fell in love. I know that after the war they lived in Germany for some time and my two eldest aunties spoke German before they spoke English. I know that when they did come back to England, it still wasn't cool to be German in the working class north east. Unfortunately their relationship did not last the many challenges that were thrown at it, and my mum knew what it was like to grow up in a broken family before such a thing was common.

But something must have been there; some spark of love or passion that would not be ignored in spite of its impropriety or inappropriacy. I can see those traits coming through in my mum- she feels things deeply and has a conviction in what she does, even if it is not popular with those around her. She has a rebellious compassion that I love.

I know that I often find myself caught in the middle of conflict where I'm inconveniently affiliated to both sides. Like when a couple, whose relationship was as solid as the orbit of the earth around the sun, split up. Or when some best friends left my church under a cloud. Or when I just happen to like two people who don't like each other!

Growing up I loved church; the Sunday morning format of singing and worshiping then sitting and listening worked perfectly for me. But I found myself an oddball amongst the oddballs, drawn to those on who struggled to relate whilst relating perfectly well myself. Always the awkward one, standing in the gap.

Not to say that I have always loved easily; I have carried hurt on others' behalf but felt no rest until I gave it up. I could not deny the hurt that I saw, but neither could I deny the love of Jesus that I knew. I have chosen not to take sides, but to embrace the awkwardness that comes with being on both sides.

I am a product of my history: Reconciliation is my heritage.

I've recently discovered the 'sheloves' magazine. It is full of beautiful stories, and each month invites its readers to join in on a particular theme. This months theme is 'Heritage' and it has really got my imagination going! I'm going to try and post something each week on the theme, just to keep my creative writing juices flowing. There's so much to be drawn from looking into the past.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Finding Funds




I don't know if I ever mentioned it on here, but I do have another blog called 'take a talent'. I started it in response to a challenge set by some friends of mine to take an investment of £10, and combine it with my talents to grow that money into more, in support of a charity they were setting up in Zambia. We've gotten off to a bit of a rocky start (business was never my strong point) but I thought I'd point any readers over there. Any advice or offers of help gratefully received!

Newest post here: Re-launch

Friday, 30 August 2013

Worship {Five Minute Friday}

Five Minute Friday

I lay down and close my eyes. The world spins around me, ears ringing, head full of a thousand thoughts that shout for my attention. Fears and worries, memories, things I forgot to do in work, things I must remember before tomorrow, fears and worries, memories, things I forgot... Round and around in circles, never resolving.

 Somewhere deep inside, there is a quiet place. Though the mountains may fall and the city is desolate, still my child will rest in in disturbed places of peace. That's what you said. As the world quiets around me, so do my thoughts. I prick my ears for the still, small voice.

 And again, I know. I know the rock on which I stand.

 STOP.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Small {Five Minute Friday}

It's Monday, but I'm sure it's still allowed. I need all the practice I can get!

Five Minute Friday

Small

“From a tiny acorn, the mighty oak tree grows”.

The smallest things are the most powerful. My favourite film is Horton Hear a Who. It’s silly and it’s about elephants so it gets marks for that. But it also tells the story of something tiny, and how that made a huge difference to two worlds. An elephant hears a cry coming from a tiny ‘speck’ and discovers that a whole world of people live there. It changes everything for him; he goes from being a happy-go-lucky take-it-or-leave-it spirit to somebody with determination and purpose. He changes a whole community, and rescues another.

I have started small things. I launched a youth group that saw 2 young people to 4 leaders for a whole term. Less than a year on it is still not huge, but I’ve heard people talk about it on the street. Could we change a community?


STOP

Destination Domestication


I'm not sure what's in the air; whether it's my impending wedding, cabin fever from having time off and commitments slimmed down, or if I'm just becoming old. But I have become increasingly 'domestic' over the past month. 'Domestic Goddess' is a wild exaggeration and the thought of Proverbs 31 is enough to bring me out in cold sweats, but I'm giving it a good go. I have picked strawberries and made jam; I've baked cakes for birthdays and just because someone was coming round; I've made stock from old chicken bones. 

On Tuesday my brother came to stay, so with all of these conquests in mind, I decided to try something new for dinner. Chicken pie sounded nice and easy, and in one of Jamie Oliver's 'everyone can cook' books, there's a recipe for a quick and simple recipe. Great. Monday night I caught Morrisons just before closing time (and had to run home for my purse, but that's another story) and bought a kilo of chicken leg & thigh, various veg and some pastry. I was up early in the morning ready to go. 


The meat needed to be skinned and de-boned, so somewhat hesitantly I set about trying to separate the component parts. I have yet to meet anyone who enjoys dealing with raw chicken, but this was a task apart. Ten minutes and a couple of morsels wrestled off, it was too much. Into a boiling pot it went, and soon the cooked (and very hot) meet was being gingerly picked apart as I burned the nerve endings off my fingertips. Asbestos fingers don't just happen: you have to work on them! Suffice to say the pie mix wasn't ready before I left for play scheme that morning.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Five Minute Friday

I like creative writing. In the olden days, when the internet was new and the word 'blog' didn't yet exist, I had a 'livejournal' which was a cross between a blog and a social network, really. Amidst the general teenage angst there were lots of groups dedicated to developing writing as a skill, where you would write a stream of consciousness, based on a single word or concept, for a set number of minutes. I really enjoyed taking part, and have thought back to them infrequently, but have never found anything similar since.

Until this week. I've been browsing through this blog: catch a single thought and the lovely Jess had a feature called "Five Minute Friday" which in a nutshell is what I've just described! So I'm going to give it a go this Friday, and probably not next Friday or the one after that because I'll be away, but maybe the Friday after that, and we'll see how it goes. I might discover a hidden talent; I might write lots of nonsense.

The structure and topic comes from here. The rules are this:
1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word. 
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Go and comment on the post of the person who linked up before you. This is the one rule of this community.


Today's topic is: Lonely

Lonely is a funny thing. It can be in a crowd or on your own. Loneliness can feel different too. I know Lonely. It's racking your brain for someone you can tell a secret, or a fear, or some exciting news to. It's realising that in all the busyness, in all the activity and rushing around and doing, you don't know who to call on a rare day off. 

Sometimes Lonely is standing in a room of people, wanting nothing more than to go home. It's walking into a room and wishing you could walk right out again. 

Sometimes it's not about me at all, but the geography. I live in the most densely populated neighbourhood in Western Europe. Lonely is going to stay in the countryside, and feeling the lack of hustle and bustle around you. Sometimes it's just staying in the suburbs!

STOP

Wow, that was a hard one to start with! I'm going to have to brush up on my writing in weeks to come. Gotta start somewhere though. Why not have a try? Let me know if you do!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Excuses

Just come across this post I started writing over 2 years ago. It's still true, so here you go:

When I first started this blog, it wasn't meant to be a "Christian" thing. I was attempting something called "101 in 1001" where you set yourself 101 goals, and aim to achieve them in 1001 days. One of those goals was to keep a diary at least once a week, and I opted for the online sort. I'd had a livejournal when I was at school so figured it would work just the same. But there are a few more limitations to this blog, such as not being able to edit privacy settings on posts, which have changed my usage slightly. But to be honest there is another reason, which is that I find it increasingly difficult to describe my life without relating it to God! I try, but there is no aspect in which He is not fundamentally involved. And so here I am, resigned to the fact that however all-inclusive and accessible I try to be, my faith and love of God are inextricable from my reflections on life. I hope that's okay.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Much more than a month!

Meet Elliot and Buttons. They have been a long-term project of mine. And when I say long-term, I mean REALLY long.

I was given a cross-stitch set by my auntie for my fourteenth birthday, and started it not long after. Over the past twelve years, Elliot (the elephant) and Buttons (the mouse) have made the painstakingly slow journey towards their current framed glory. The progress has gone in fits and starts of course; I'm slow but not that slow! There have been periods where I've worked on it quite frequently, and years at a time when it has sat in a drawer gathering dust. It's a surprisingly complex pattern; I had no idea how many different shades of light grey and off-white existed before I started!

The process of cross-stitching is an inherently fascinating discussion, I am sure you all agree. But for the unconverted among you*, lets bring in some parallels to life. I have recently been listening to people talk about old dreams, things that were vision a long time ago but seem to have gone by the wayside. It reminded me of this.

Sometimes dreams (/visions/goals/whatever your terminology) can be really exciting at first; we see the picture of what is going to happen into the future and can't wait to make it a reality. We set off, stitching row by row, anticipating the end result any time.

But it's a longer process than we expected. There are more obstacles than we ever knew existed. It's funny working to a pattern. You have to trust that everything will work together, because part way through it just looks like random blocks of colour, and doesn't seem to make sense at all!The initial vision and current state of affairs just don't seem to match up. And life gets in the way; surviving takes over for weeks, months, years at a time. Occasionally we look back and think about it, or have a really refreshing experience and move forwards a couple of steps, but ultimately, progress is slow.

I have a real problem with finishing things. Getting to the conclusion of anything is a real challenge for me psychologically.  Once all the cross-stitching is done, the picture needs stitching around to draw in the outline and the detail. The outline is so fiddly but adds real detail and definition to the picture.  This sat in my drawer just awaiting the outline for eighteen months.You might be on the edge of realising your dream; all of the pieces are in place and you can more or less see the end product; let me tell you it's worth going all the way to the real thing!

I've learned a lot in the twelve years since I first unwrapped that present. I have learned that hearts do break, but they mend again. I've learned to be a speech therapist. I've gone from being a child to an adult, I've nearly gotten married! I'm not sure how much any of those things have contributed to my sewing abilities (every parable has it's limits), but they have certainly contributed to my dreams. Dreams that have begun their process but are nowhere near ready yet.

Joseph had a dream. He was going to rule over all of his brothers and parents. The journey from favourite son to ruler took him through slave, manager, prisoner and advisor before he finally saw the dream come to fruition. Each phase was vitally important in producing the man capable of coping with the reality of the position he had seen so long ago.

So what's my point? Partly just to show off a long-term achievement. But partly to encourage you. Don't give up. Don't regret perceived 'wasted' years. Just keep following the pattern and trust in God for the rest.

*This is a joke, I'm aware irony doesn't always come across well in print.