Wednesday, 30 January 2013

What is in a word?

   I have had the pleasure of sorting through a lot of things in our family home over the past few months, today my sister and I disassembled and reassembled a wardrobe and I am in the process of filling it with my things. Why tell you this, of course, to share with you my thoughts upon coming across a small box filled to the brim of the most wonderful things this world could ever behold.

   It is not money nor rare jewels, literally, but they are words. Words of kindness, inspiration and pure love, which are jewels of their own kind. Over the years I have collected notes I have received from various friends and acquaintances and saved them in this little box. I forget about it, come back to it time to time and have a feel-good rummage. Today I knew I was going to be moving my things and knew I would encounter this stash of paper, and I knew it would give me a warmth, but I did not expect to be overwhelmed, and I was.

   As I went through the misshapen pieces of paper and card reading all scrawls of handwriting I felt a lump form in my throat, and caught myself well up in all the niceties of the correspondences. Some of the authors I taught at Camp, others were my councillors from years ago, others were childhood friends, a few were from Teachers at school, some from life-long friends, some from my sister and some from Mum. 

No matter how much I know of it between different people, different countries and different times in my life, Love continues to astound and bewilder me.

Sometimes I think I know what it's all about, service and kindness to others. But sometimes it's about sacrifice and believing in someone when they don't believe in themselves. I know how I have felt over this year and a bit and it certainly hasn't always been chipper. I know what I have done in my life and I am a sinner like everyone else. But I have these lovely words to go back to and remember that I am capable of doing something wonderful, I am able to be better than I think.

   I hope that you have received kind words from friends in the past. I hope you have been told that you are loved, treasured, needed, for without you this world just wouldn't be the same. I pray you understand that these are true, they are sentiments from me, but most of all they are sentiments from God to all his Children. 

     My Child,
You may not know me, but I know everything about you. Psalm 139:1
I know when you sit down and when you rise up. Psalm 139:2
I am familiar with all your ways. Psalm 139:3
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. Matthew 10:29-31
For you were made in my image. Genesis 1:27
In me you live and move and have your being. Acts 17:28
For you are my offspring. Acts 17:28
I knew you even before you were conceived. Jeremiah 1:4-5
I chose you when I planned creation. Ephesians 1:11-12
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. Psalm 139:15-16
I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live. Acts 17:26
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14
I knit you together in your mother's womb. Psalm 139:13
And brought you forth on the day you were born. Psalm 71:6
   I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me. John 8:41-44
I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love. 1 John 4:16
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. 1 John 3:1
Simply because you are my child and I am your Father. 1 John 3:1
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. Matthew 7:11
For I am the perfect father. Matthew 5:48
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. James 1:17
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. Matthew 6:31-33
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Because I love you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3
   My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. Psalms 139:17-18
And I rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
I will never stop doing good to you. Jeremiah 32:40
For you are my treasured possession. Exodus 19:5
I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. Jeremiah 32:41
And I want to show you great and marvelous things. Jeremiah 33:3
   If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. Deuteronomy 4:29
Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
For it is I who gave you those desires. Philippians 2:13
I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. Ephesians 3:20
For I am your greatest encourager. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
   When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. Psalm 34:18
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. Isaiah 40:11
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Revelation 21:3-4
And I'll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. Revelation 21:3-4
I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus. John 17:23
For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. John 17:26
He is the exact representation of my being. Hebrews 1:3
He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you. Romans 8:31
And to tell you that I am not counting your sins. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. 1 John 4:10
   I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. Romans 8:31-32
If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me. 1 John 2:23
And nothing will ever separate you from my love again. Romans 8:38-39
   Come home and I'll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen. Luke 15:7
I have always been Father, and will always be Father. Ephesians 3:14-15
My question is… Will you be my child? John 1:12-13
I am waiting for you. Luke 15:11-32
Love, YourFather,
Almighty God

- - - - - - - - - -
   P.s. Readers, this is part 1 of 2. There will be something else, related, coming to you soon. 

Peace and love. 

Monday, 28 January 2013

Don't worry. Be happy.

   I am a worrier.  I don't know when it started but as far back as I can remember my head has been a blizzard of thoughts, concerns, hopes and anticipation. My worries have ranged from 'what skirt goes with these shoes?' to 'will Mum see my Children?'. Some things are more important than others but I have a logical mind enough to know that if I can not change the outcome, I should not ponder on all the possibilities and drive myself crazy for it, but sometimes I can not help myself...

   We have complicated relationships with so many ways of communicating - we have so many more ways now to be uncommunicative. We have complicated leisure in that there is so much choice we find grief in indecision. The world is your oyster. Anything is possible. 
I worry that I'll take so long choosing many great things to do that I'll only achieve one small something in my life.

It's silly, to spend so much time worrying and miss out on enjoying life for what it is.

   I read something a few minutes ago which really hit home what I have been thinking about over the past year or so. 'Disappointment is inevitable, discouragement is a choice.' 
Plain and simple but not so easy, right?
But what if it is. What if I did count my blessings when things didn't go the way I planned, what would happen if I focused on the good things whilst my worries sorted themselves out when I couldn't control them
   - Then I'd say I'd be quite alright. 

   I find it's the simple things that make the biggest difference in my mood. When I'm feeling down, a cup of hot chocolate can perk me up. Somtimes being alone with some colourful processing does the job, other times wearing a pretty dress on a dull day does the trick as well.
   They may sound like trivial things to you, but I'm a little girl at heart who enjoys the little pleasures in life.

A good friend told me not to worry, to be happy, and to let surprises come to me every once in a while. So I think I will. Or at least I'll give it a jolly good try. 


Thursday, 24 January 2013

Others have excuses, I have my reasons why.

   A few weeks ago a 12 year old boy at my church in Corby gave a prayer in which he asked God to help us each with our "personal battles and private wars". I thought it was so eloquently put I wrote it down, it's a phrase which says a lot about a 12 year old's understanding of the people around him, because I know I have personal battles and am fighting my own private wars. I'm sure you are too.

   My sister and I watched 'The Social Network' last night, a film depicting the events surrounding the creation of Facebook, the largest social networking site in the world. The shocking thing about the site is how popular it became (and remains) in such a short amount of time. Zuckerburg and this 12 year old boy understand that people are all about people, and that people all have problems. We are all more alike than we would like to think. Since the beginning of time man's heart has remained the same, I believe that our problems stem from selfishness, of our own doing or someone else's, or they are dealt to us through circumstance and human dysfunction. Whilst some may preach that specific objects, groups and devices are evil, I argue that everything is what we make of it, and the decisions we make are ultimately down to the intentions in our heart.
   This blog has had almost 7000 views since I started it last May. I'm grateful that so many take the time to read my words, but it doesn't surprise me that the majority of readers would be able to relate with my stories, thoughts and prayers. For this, I love you. If there is one reason we are here it is to glorify the King of Kings, if there is another it is to love each other as He has loved us.

   Upon scrolling through some blogs I follow this week a few issues with encouragements have cropped up that I would like to share.

Courtney shared a pick-me-up quote from an 85 year old woman.
An Unapologetic Dreamer believes we should not only celebrate our similarities but also our differences - culture and otherwise.
Natalie reminds me that bad relationships in the past prepare us for the one good one that lasts.

Here is some simple advice on life and living. Short and sweet. Written by a 90 year old woman from Ohio, so I'm pretty sure it was written after some trial and error.

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short – enjoy it..
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. Save for retirement starting with your first pay check.
9. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
10. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
11. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
12. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
13. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it...
14 Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
15. Get rid of anything that isn't useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.
16. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
17. It's never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.
18. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
19. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
20. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
21. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
22. The most important sex organ is the brain.
23. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
24. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'
25. Always choose life.
26. Forgive but don’t forget.
27. What other people think of you is none of your business.
28. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
29. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
30. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does..
31. Believe in miracles.
32. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
33. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
34. Your children get only one childhood.
35. All that truly matters in the end is that you Loved.
36. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
37. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
38. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have not what you 'need'.
39. The best is yet to come...
40. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
41. Yield.
42. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” - Marianne Williamson 

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Death is nothing at all.

   Not long after coming back from the states I went into the small Christian bookshop we have in Peterborough and saw a poem on a wallet-sized card. It has been in my purse ever since and reading it on Monday it gave me the same hope it did months ago, only this time for someone else.

   In 2010 before I moved up to Dundee for University a woman at the church in Corby made me some pretty bunting to decorate the room in which a dinner was held for me, a 'last supper' as it were. Upon exclaiming how CUTE it was, she let me keep it and it decorated the foyer of my flat in Dundee for a year. She's the type of lady who loves a cuddle and joke, on numerous occasions I recall her coming up to me from behind and pinching my bottom before asking me to spill all the updates of my life, love and otherwise. In my mind she always wears fashionable leather boots (in a UK size 3 or so because she's tiny), a 3/4 length skirt which flares at the end and a cosy coat (because it's always cold when I'm in Corby!). Our conversations are about fabrics as she had a fabric shop in the marketplace for a while. We speak about Mum and how we miss her; the pair of them were the dependable food-makers for events at Corby and when Mum died she took the load herself, even organising the food for Mum's funeral at our request, and she always did a wonderful job.
 I remember her Mother and her Mother's Mother. As I grew up in the church they 'slipped away to the next room' and a few days before Christmas last year she went to join them. On Monday we said goodbye to her earthly body, knowing she is already at peace with her maker. Her three children, husband, Father, sisters and friends are in the same room as you and I, waiting, hoping and praying to see her again soon.

Death is Nothing at All
Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.

All is well.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Time flies... doesn't it?

What does time mean to you?

Time is a bird which leaves its footprints
At the corner of your eye.
Time's a jockey, racing horses,
The sun and moon across the skies.
Time's a thief, stealing your beauty,
Leaving you with tears and sighs.
But if you waste time trying to catch him,
Time's a bird and time just flies.
  -  Valerie Bloom

Time has been segmented into seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years (etc.), but really all there has ever been is a moment and that moment is what has been, what will be, and what is right now. I often wonder what I would do without deadlines. If I weren't hurried to finish essays by a certain date, or didn't have to be at the station by a specific minute. If I lived in a place without watches, where the sun was the only atmospheric movement detectable, and physical decay was the only sign of ageing...

[   Looking out from the wooden deck we could see the driveways and garage to the left, and grass leading from it rise up on a slight incline and over a small hill within which stood three horses. One was grazing near the fence and the other two were moseying, one in front of the other. Each step seemed synchronised with a lulled heartbeat, their bodily weight shifted from hoof to hoof, and their tails swished effortlessly in the temperate heat. As we indulged in the sight the man we were standing with pointed to the pair and said "Now I believe that is the pace in which we were all meant to live." ]

We can not venture into the past except through our memories and keepsakes. We cannot go into the future except by dreaming and scheming. 
   We can not live in the moment if we are caught up in what went before, nor can we appreciate what we have if we are in want for something more.

   Time means a lot of different things to me. Over the past few years I have witnessed a life at it's end, and have also seen a new life come into existence. For me, time is not measured in how long I have left but how far I have left to go.