Monday, September 29, 2014

What I learned in September...

  1. I relearned that I am human, NOT superhuman (seriously important lesson!)
  2. My favourite tv programs starting back makes me really happy :D
  3. Behind the scenes of The Big Bang Theory is AWESOME!! (who's jealous?!)
  4. Co-workers think I'm funny :)
  5. Hand clapping games with my son helps him make eye-contact and seem to fill us both with the same large amount of joy.
  6. Forcing my kids (and me) to go play outside is worth it.
  7. I am definitely a warm/cool-weather type person vs hot/sunny weather - I LOVE AUTUMN.
  8. Seeing the glow of the pink sunrise on the mountains helps me not hate getting up early quite so much.
  9. I remain marvelous at procrastination.
Linking up with Emily @

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Time to celebrate - or is it?

I don't think I would have swapped it.  Swapped my china dog for the shiny trophy.  I was happy with the china dog, he was cute.  And I was pretty happy with second place, I knew I was good at schoolwork.  But I did wonder if my parents would have been happier if I'd been first.  I did wonder if it would have made a difference.  If there might have been a fuss made.  I didn't want a huge fuss, but a little fuss, a little celebrating; that would have been nice.

I can admit that now, but it's still hard.  I think that's when it started.  My elusive search for 'the thing' that would make them happy, make them proud, and make me special.  It's taken me more than twenty-five years to realise that it's never going to happen.  And if I'd been top of the class when I was five years old, there still wouldn't have been a fuss then either!

There's been plenty of worry over small things and minimising of things that actually were a big deal.  That has always been the pattern.  Lots of getting on with it and "Well, you'll just have to...."  The latter one was a favourite; when I was seven years old I thought it was one word - hafto.  I heard it so often, I wanted to use it in my writing vocabulary at school.  There weren't many choices, there were a lot of haftos in my young life.

That's what was important.  Doing the things I had to do, even when I didn't know why I had to do them.  The main reason why I had to do them was because of the authority of the person who was doing the asking and the futility of ever questioning why.

Now that I'm grown, I rebel against that voice in my head that says I have to do things.  As a result, my house is not very clean, my daughter often goes to school with her hair unbrushed and I haven't been to the dentist in a l o n g time.  I have tried to throw off the shackles of the haftos for the things that have more long-term significance.  I don't know if I'm making the best choices this way, but I'm making the best-I-can-do-right-now choices and aiming a little higher in the future hopefully.

Then there are the things in life (like second place prizes) that warrant a little fuss, or maybe even a big fuss....and I don't know how to do it.  I've done my best to put together some sort of birthday acknowledgments for my children and sometimes even for myself.  But I still wonder how do you do this thing called c e l e b r a t e???? Seriously people, I am actually asking!!

It is nearly the three year anniversary of this Princess moving to the new realm.  Dear readers,what should she do to mark the momentous day?

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

What your heart needs for the hard days - book review

Holley Gerth is like a blogging big sister.

I never had a sister, so I love to hear her nuggets of wisdom and gentle, nurturing encouragement.  She gives me hope and points me in the right direction, just when I need it the most.

For once my life is not an urgent crisis, but that means all the other things that I haven't had time for start floating back up the top of my consciousness and create some hard days where I'm trying to process and plan, and easily become discouraged.

Her latest book "What your heart needs for the hard days" dispenses her usual easy access wisdom and has hit some pretty bittersweet spots of my life in the pages that I have read so far.

I know I am not alone in finding help and solace in Holley's words so you might be excited to know that she's hosting a #bookclubforyourheart on her facebook page.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Whispers - five minute Friday

I'm joining five-minute friday again, now hosted at

I wanted to tell him.  I needed to tell him.  We were alone, as if it had been ordained.  It was sunrise on the beach - as romantic as it gets.  But I could only manage a whisper.  And he didn't hear me.  So I had to force my voice to form the words again, but a little louder.  "I like you".

I could admit my deepest feelings through tears and in a whisper.  She was listening intently, I didn't have to repeat myself.

They are sleeping (at last, and thank you God) and I can whisper words of love and prayers for their protection over their little heads.  Finding peace and calm that was completely elusive during their waking minutes but falls so fast with their slumber.

I whisper "help" and "thank you" sending them heavenward so often in the daily struggles.

I walk and walk and whisper Hail Marys as I process those terrible minutes when I thought she was lost.  Mary must understand, she lost Jesus and didn't find him for days until she backtracked to the temple.

I whisper to myself "you can do it" and "it's going to be okay" when I'm worried about this new step in my life.  These whispers are so much better than the internal sneers that I used to hear in my head.

Monday, August 25, 2014

What's wrong with being a baby and why is crying a crime?

Princess Morag has come across an attitude in various places in the last few years where it seems like being a baby is considered an offense and crying is a crime.  She would like to question these assumptions for a minute, as these ideas disturb her.

The princess was aware of all the parenting manuals that are available when she became pregnant and had a baby seven years ago.  But she did not take much stock in them.  She was figuring God gave mothers instincts for a reason and she intended to follow hers.  After all, her baby was a product of herself and her husband and she was the world's expert on herself and definitely in the top three for her husband!  She figured that genetics gave her a head start over professionals or "experts" who wrote a book but hadn't met any of them.

It seems like some parenting approaches involve trying to move the baby onto the next developmental stage as quickly as possible.  Princess Morag wasn't keen on that.  Change always being a trying thing, child development happened far too quickly for her liking anyway, nevermind trying to make it go faster!  Checking all the boxes wasn't her kind of approach.  Trying to survive was the main strategy.  Along with anything that meant she could get a decent amount of sleep and therefore not turn into murderous meltdown mum.

The babyhoods of the young master and the little maiden were definitely different, probably made more obvious by their proximity.  The young master had the luxury of being the first born and everyone enjoyed the benefit of a tummy full of formula making sleeping through the night more likely.  It was a different story with the young maiden.  She was always crying to be held, always crying for "mummy milk" and thought big brother was much more interesting than the prospect of lying in a crib for a nap.

Yes, the little maiden's crying was hard to deal with .  Yes, she needed the Princess a LOT, and a lot more than the Princess had anticipated.  Yes, the Princess was completely drained and exhausted, but was it the little maiden's fault?  Was her little tiny baby heart full of manipulation?  NO!  She was a baby.  Babies need adults for e v e r y t h i n g.  That's like the deal of parenthood.  You get cute little baby, then you give them everything you have and more so they grow into good adult humans.  And then after a few years they don't need you quite so much, and it feels kinda weird, but good.

But it's not like baby birds that the parent birds feed for a while and then watch them fly from the nest.  It's not as short and sweet as that.  Toddlerhood comes before independence and it is a strange planet where you have two and three year old dictators trying to run your life while relying on you to feed them and keep their little butts clean.  These are the days where they think they should be adults but simultaneously have sudden moments when they want to be babies again and drive you demented by asking for stuff and then yelling no and crying when you try to give it to them.

Understandably during these years, boundaries are important and there needs to be some persuasion for them to actually understand that ruling the universe is just not possible.  Yes, they should be encouraged to use verbal communication rather than scream and kick their little feet and run away in the opposite direction every time you ask them to do something.  Yes, they should learn how to express their feelings in ways that are deemed 'socially acceptable' but should they be shamed for the times when they act like a baby or cry??

Princess Morag is an adult and she still has days where all she wants is for someone to cradle her, and shush her, and stroke her hair and whisper that "everything is going to be ok".  She has days where she wishes she had zero responsibility and that her fairy godmother would just take care of everything.  She has days where tears could fall at any slight thing.  She is a sensitive person.  Should she be shamed for that?  She has been in the past.  But why should it be such a crime?

Emotional sensitivity and physical dependence make people uncomfortable in a world that prizes independence and emotionless problem solving.  An illness or disability that means total reliance on others (like a baby) to meet their food or hygiene needs or might limit verbal communication is deemed sufficient reason by many to not be born or to kill oneself.  Why?

Does a soul need a mouth that can proclaim with sound that it exists?  With an intelligible word and not a cry. Does a soul only count as human if it is in a body that is whole and independent?  We are all dependent on others, some a bit more so.  It is how we react to people who are limited in their human capabilities that measures OUR worthiness.  What place does kindness have in your life?  Do you time for compassion?  Are you exercising patience with yourself and others?

Babies demand with their cries that we pay attention to them and meet their needs.  But we don't want to hear them and react, because we would rather be busy being independent and meeting our own needs.  If somebody cries in response to something we said or did, it is easier to shame them for being "sensitive" than admitting that we might have been insensitive in our words or actions.

The princess is an advocate for babies and people who cry because she has been both.  Babies express honestly how they feel.  They have a need and cry till it is fixed.  For those taught to hide needs and be ashamed of tears, to return to the honesty of a baby's cry would be success, not a travesty.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

What Princess Morag has learned this summer...

1. Summer with children aged 5 and 6 is easier than any of the previous summers.  [N.B. - still not easy.]

2. Princess Morag does not have the motivation to get up and out in the morning to avoid the heat later in the day unless she has an actual plan to meet up with other human beings.

3.  Roald Dahl books are as awesome as the Princess remembered (but seem shorter).

4. A new t-shirt makes her happy.

5. Swimming is much easier when you have a stronger core (for the first time in her life).

6. That wanting/wishing/hoping/praying/pretending that people will act the way you want them to is not effective.

7. Going to the beach is a lot more fun when you go with friends.

8. Exercise and time outdoors is not optional if she wants to stay sane.

9. You can make a great roast chicken in the slow cooker.

10. The car is a viable place to retreat to when the Princess is desperately trying to hang on to her last nerve and the kids are being noisy.  The thuds are still audible but not the screeching!

Linking up at

Monday, July 28, 2014

Knocking at the door.

I wonder how many doors Joseph knocked on.
I wonder how much pain Mary was in.
How close together were her contractions?
How much time did they have?
How many times did they hear "no"?

The Princess has been applying for jobs. So has Sir Rianus. Each time, it feels like they are knocking at a door, asking to come in. And so far, all they have heard is "no". There is no room for you here. Someone else has been chosen.

One day, there will surely be a "yes". But in the meantime, it is hard to keep knocking. It is hard to cope with the anxiety of it all. Trying to steal themselves for the potential rejection, feeling so unwelcomed.

The Princess is singing this children's nativity song in hopefulness!

  Rat-a-tat-tat, Rat-a-tat-tat, 
 Yes! Yes! Yes! 
 There is a little room 
 And you may stay here, 
 We have a little place for strangers. 
 Come in from the night 
 To a stable so bare 
 Which is full of warmth and friendliness-and-safe from dangers. 
 Yes, there is a little room, 
 There is a little room, 
 There is a little room for strangers.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

belong - five minute Friday

I walked round the block tonight and it was a very different view from my usual farm animals and mountains.  The view of suburbia was distracting, I noticed the houses that were nicely painted and the yards full of beautiful blooms.  I noticed the houses that were in need of a paint job and their yards with bushes left unpruned. And I wondered do I belong here? I am only here for a vacation, but they are good to try a lifestyle on for a week, right? Do I belong where I can smell the salt in the air, or where the air is clear and always dry, dry, dry? Do I even belong in this land where the flags are striped and starred in red, white and blue? Where the sky is blue instead of grey and the grass is coarse instead of soft and green.

Five Minute Fridayr />

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Gathering with Mary&Martha

Once upon a time there was a Princess named Morag.  She sold stuff made for a company called Mary&Martha.  They like when people

together; maybe round a table with CANDLESTICKS on it.  The hostess might wear a beautiful

When the guests are
on the door.  The hostess might look at the

while setting out some NAPKINS on the COPPER TRAY.  She is not worried about the dishes later as she is using the pretty PAPER plates and cups.

The hostess opens the door where the guest has noticed her PRAYER on the door

 She offers them
 or some water from the
.  They reminisce about
 and talk about the JEWELRY they gave to their loved ones.

They would never forget about gifts for the

They knew that life was about more than pretty things and a pleasant time, but they were thankful for the chance to rest and enjoy company and planned to get together more often.  After all, Mary and Martha were friends of Jesus, and enjoyed his company.  It is nice to follow their example.

Friday, June 27, 2014

lost - five minute friday

Lost in storage.  Anyone else have a storage unit?  Isn't it fun when you think of something that you own but can't access because it's in storage.  And your husband can't possibly get it for you as it is "buried".

Lost because of geography.  I had amazing friends.  Then I emigrated.  There is no 'popping round' anymore.  No cups of coffee made with love, or shoulders to cry on.

Lost in time.  I once was a little girl who was always sensible, and mature, and did the right thing.  But in doing so, I lost some of who I was.  I'm learning to go back to find that little girl and help her learn how to have a little fun.

Lost because I don't know which way to go.  God be my compass.

Five Minute Friday

Monday, June 23, 2014

Book review: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

The Princess has now finished the book: Finding Spiritual Whitespace, so here comes her overall review:

The main points about this beautiful book is that it gave the Princess permission to rest, it eased the pressure to perform in her spiritual life and it gave her ideas on how to accept the little girl princess inside.

When you have lived a life of anxiety like the Princess has, it is hard to find guilt free down time.  There is always something else that she should be doing.  She learned that 'shoulds' ought to be banned from her internal vocabulary when she discovered that she had lived a life of anxiety and hadn't known it!  The (very annoying) voice in her head, is quick to tell her she is lazy and quick to tell her all the productive things she should be doing that she really doesn't want to do.  The Princess doesn't obey the voice so often anymore, she likes to rebel and blow it a raspberry but not obeying hasn't made it go away.

There must be a new voice in her head, if the annoying one is to be drowned out.  Princess Morag has tried to cultivate a more kindly, gentle internal voice and has borrowed from encouraging people in her life in order to do that.  Bonnie Gray's voice has now been added to that choir.  Her gentle and encouraging words in her softly spoken voice, have registered in the Princess's brain.  Instead of the accusations, she wants to listen to Bonnie's beautiful invitation to rest.  And if Bonnie is inviting her, then she must be giving the little princess inside permission to rest and respond.

Many of the other Christian public voices have not given the Princess permission to rest, they have given her a new checklist to perform.  Quiet times, prayer, bible study, verse memorisation - she's done them all.  And they helped her a bit.  But they also compounded the guilt and continued the lie that there is something wrong with her when they didn't completely ease the pain or provide the peace she was looking for.

Christianity is based on a person, not a checklist.  The Princess finds the elusive peace when she whispers the name of Jesus, and when she reflects with gratitude on the little moments of whitespace where he leaves her gifts of love.  For Bonnie to say that these fleeting moments count - that they are not spiritual frosting, that they are the spiritual manna that Princess Morag had thought they were, was a great confirmation that her hope was in the right place after all.

"God uses everything living to speak into our lives.  He knows what's on your heart and the everyday life you are living.  God leaves us love notes in that everyday life to let us know: he is a part of our living story." (p169/170)

Princess Morag knows she will come back to this book in which she has underlined passages and written notes at the side.  It was so rich in help and healing and wisdom.  She entered into Bonnie's story and found so many echoes of her own.  But she wasn't left abandoned at the side of the road like the wounded Samaritan, she was found and taken to the healer who will bind her wounds and let her rest till she has recovered.

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Friday, June 20, 2014

Release - Five Minute Friday

I took off my wedding ring, and gave him over to you.  You know his heart.  You know how his brain works.  You made him.  And everything you make is good.  Even if I can't see it.  I know you made him and declared him good.  I know he has the capacity to love even if he has a very odd way of showing it.  I know you know what this is doing to me.

I wanted to fix him.  I wanted to love him enough for him to change.  I gave him my body.  I gave him children.  I gave him as much patience and understanding as I could muster.  Now I could see it was never going to be enough.

So I gave him to you.  You are the only one who can do the work.  I know you are on our side.  I know you want marriages to work because we stood in front of you and made promises and you take promises seriously.

Today my wedding ring is firmly on my finger, but I still give him to you.  I still give you our marriage, our children, our family.  Because I have held on to that knowledge that I am small and weak and cannot hold things together on my own.  Because I'm not supposed to.  You are the one who holds all things together.  You are the one in which we can rest.  Because we have released it all into your hands.

Five Minute Friday

Friday, June 13, 2014

to the little girl inside - #spiritualwhitespace prompt

The little girl inside, the little girl that is me.
Has been buried down low, drowning in tears.
She tried to cry out, find relief from her fears.

She thought no one saw her, that she had been all alone.
But now I can tell her, that's not true!
Jesus was there, He's here now too.
He knows what we've suffered, how we've long felt forlorn.

He won't disappoint, like everyone else.
When he makes a promise you can believe it.
He listens and cares, He knows just the right thing to do.
It might not feel right, in fact sometimes it feels totally wrong.
But He has a plan, and with him we truly belong.

He won't forget us, dismiss us, or ignore.
We are engraved on his hands, our sins He bore.
We know we're not perfect however much we try to be good.
He knows it's impossible that we ever could.
But that's why we have grace, he covers us head to toe.
So we can look upon his face, and our love for him will grow.

His eyes are so beautiful you can't help but stare.
He loves us so much, it's like the best love-dare.
Don't worry about giving him your heart.
He won't break it, it's precious to him; He sets it apart.
He keeps it safe, protects it from harm.
We can rest in his presence, lay our head on his arm.

Real rest is the most blissful thing.
Little girl, you can't even imagine, except when you sing.
When you were on the bridge by the bubbling water,
He heard your song.
You were his delightful daughter.

Your life is hard right now and I'm sorry, it's going to get worse.
But try to remember what I've said in this verse.
Jesus is going to be the most important person in your life.
You'll especially need him when you're a mother and a wife.
But He cares for you too, little girl inside.
He will make a way, He will always provide.

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Let it go - Whitespace Thursday

Everyone who has young children knows that life is all about Disney's Frozen right now.

The Princess hosted a birthday party for the young maiden last week and the last ten minutes were easily filled with this:

Much dancing, prancing and merriment were had by the young people and the Princess sat and smiled and had a moment of joy at bringing all the fun together.

As easily as the Princess can sing along, it is so much harder to take the message of the song to heart and actually LET THINGS GO.

When you've felt trapped for so long in an identity that didn't come from a place of freedom, how do you let it go?  How do you discover who you are meant to be?  "A kingdom of isolation"?  Yep, she knows all about that; Princess Morag could share the throne with Queen Elsa!

  • Do you know 'the real you'?  

The Princess has been pondering this question as it arose from Bonnie Gray's story in Finding Spiritual Whitespace.

"Spiritual Whitespace is a journey to discover the authentic you"*

Are there memories in your past that you've chosen not to remember?  Things that make you feel small and broken and helpless?  Times that were filled with so much pain that it is easier to live as if they didn't happen.

"Perfect peace from God isn't found by forgetting.  Peace is ours if we dare to remember our pain and our sorrow, and experience our fears fully with Jesus.  Shalom peace from God is a putting back together."*

We cannot let something go if we are pretending it doesn't exist.  In order to let something go, we have to pick it up one more time and give it to the one person who can help us heal.  The ultimate healer.

"Jesus is leading us to the operating room of grace"*

Or have you been doing the opposite of pretending it's not real and anxiously reliving a memory over and over because if you forgot, then you would be forgetting your very self.  A memory so powerful that it has come to define you.

For a time, the Princess saw herself as a 'memory keeper'.  She took on the responsibility of remembering the things that everyone else wanted to forget.  Everyone else wanted to pretend like they didn't happen.  The Princess strongly resisted this desire for the past to be wiped out.  If that past had not happened she would not have existed!  So she clung to the memories that she knew were true.  They might not have been particularly happy - but they were important.  

But what if the Princess didn't have to use up all her energy being the memory-keeper.  What if there was someone else who had been there, and could store those memories without cost?

"We can move on because God does not forget .  We can accept the unacceptable because we aren't invisible." *

The Princess is at last recognising her need to "let it go".  Thanks to Bonnie Gray's words, she knows she isn't alone in taking this kind of whitespace journey, and she wasn't alone in those times in her past when she felt so alone.  Her "Abba Daddy" was with her and knowing that allows her to follow the same path as Bonnie into the freedom of discovering her real self.

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Living in the &

Today is my first anniversary of being a Mary&Martha Independent Consultant.  Except, I started out as a Blessings Unlimited consultant after praying for more "blessings" in my life!

I was sad to leave the "blessings" part of the name behind, as it was part of my 'why' for my business.  But the idea behind Mary&Martha is that you can live in the &.  This appealed to me as I have never liked to be put in a box, by others, or being forced to myself.  I can always see both sides of a story or argument.  I can put myself in someone else's shoes quite easily. So, if you were to try on their shoes, who would you be?

  • Are you a Mary or a Martha?

I definitely identify more with Mary than Martha.  I would always choose to listen to teaching over work in a kitchen.  But I know that Martha was trying to do the right thing too, preparing a meal for her guests and she didn't want to do it alone, she wanted her sister to help her.

When Jesus responded, he said to Martha "you are worried and upset about many things"(Luke 10.41) and said that Mary had made the better choice.  I am sure Jesus didn't turn down the meal Martha had prepared for them.  Yet, he didn't want her to be worried and upset about providing hospitality. I wonder if Martha was worried and upset because she knew she was missing out?  I wonder if she really would have preferred to be sitting beside her sister and listening to the words of the rabbi?  I wonder if she was trying to live up to her own expectations rather than listening to what her heart was telling her?  Did she not believe it was possible to do the right thing & be true to herself?

When I think about Finding Spiritual Whitespace by Bonnie Gray, it so clearly brought to mind Mary&Martha's new catchphrase: living in the &.  Her book is memoir & devotional & self-help.  It cannot be just one of those.  It is ALL of them and that is why I like it so much.

Bonnie, like Martha, has spent her life working hard.  She had many accomplishments that reflected that hard work.  She even had a book deal, and was ready to write.  Except then she couldn't.  And she was more than "worried and upset", she was stricken by panic attacks and other symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In her book, Bonnie prompts us to think of many things, and guides us, helping us choose the "better way".  Always being a Martha, always striving, always seeking control over our own agenda, and wanting others to go along with those plans is exhausting and ultimately futile.  Jesus tells us, ever so gently, that there is a better way.  And how do you find it?  At His feet.  In His Presence.

Bonnie calls this journey "Finding Spiritual Whitespace".  She calls it a journey to rest.  Could there possibly be a more attractive call for women today?  I don't think so!

Are you a Mary or a Martha?  It matters not.  You are called to rest.  You are called into his presence.  You are called, just as you are.

But there is another thing to add.  Jesus calls you "as is". But he also calls you 'as you were'.  Bonnie talks often in her book of her childhood.  She talks of the "little girl" she once was.  And this little girl is also called by Jesus.  She is called to enter into the place of rest, that maybe she never had.  

You are called.  You & the little girl you once were.

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Nothing special - Whitespace Thursday

When you think of yourself, does "nothing special" come to mind?

The Princess has long felt that way.  Bonnie Gray in Finding Spiritual Whitespace, says it this way:

" I've carried this uneasy suspicion that I was nothing special and everyone would probably know it if I ever stopped doing and was just plain old me." (p65)

The Princess doesn't believe that 'plain old me' is good enough, she desperately wants to be special.  She thought that being a bride would cure that - it didn't.  She thought that getting pregnant would cure that - it didn't.  Sometimes she wonders if she was really ill, like with cancer or something equally terrible then she would be special.

That last if is the one that made her realise that her thinking might be flawed somewhere.  Does she really have a death wish to be special?

What does 'special' really mean to the Princess if she wants it that much?!

It means:

  • having someone's attention,
  • being listened to, 
  • having her needs anticipated or at least considered.
  • someone thinking she is lovely, 
  • someone wanting to spend lots of time with her. 
  • someone giving her gifts.  
  • someone giving her a compliment just to see her smile. 
  • someone telling her a joke just to make her laugh.

If your life is filled with people who do these things above, who think you are special - be thankful you are so fully blessed. They are not commonplace in the Princess's life. But it's funny, because "nothing special" is no longer just a judgmental whisper in her mind, it is also a song lyric.  And the song is one of the Princess's favourites and it lifts her spirits.  Because there is an antidote to "nothing special", and it is found in the Abba song: Thank You For The Music.

She starts singing that she's "nothing special" and then the magical word appears "but" - she might be nothing special, she might not be able to tell a joke, but she "has a talent, a wonderful thing".  And her talent of singing and dancing was recognised very early in her life by her mother, then presumably encouraged and celebrated.  She also acknowledges that she is lucky in terms of her physical appearance "I'm the girl with golden hair".

It can be so easy to just be jealous of someone like Agnetha Faltskog and dismiss ourselves as forever talentless and without any outstanding features.  But is that really true?  Or is it just that we've never be given the chance to figure out how we are special.  What is the Princess's talent?  What can she do that brings her joy?

Is it true for us, like Bonnie:

"Nothing special was the voice of the little girl in me.  Waiting to be loved and seen." (p66)

Will you stop and listen to the little-girl-you today?

What did you love as a very young child?

What did she dream of?

Even if she was discouraged by people then, how can you encourage her today?

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Friday, May 30, 2014

Nothing - Five Minute Friday

I've been married for nine years.  When we were newly weds, I'd ask my husband what he was thinking and he'd say "nothing".  I didn't believe him.  But it kept happening.  He kept saying the same thing.

If I was asked what I was thinking, I couldn't in good conscience say "nothing" because I'm always thinking something and normally about seventeen things at the same time.  I thought he was being evasive.

It turns out I was wrong.  The male of the species, is apparently able to think absolutely nothing, they can just switch their brains off.  Several therapy and comedic sources finally made me believe that it was possible - they were male, they said it was true.

I have sincerely wished I could do the same, but I cannot.   I was sick last week and I was grateful for the mind-break.  I knew I was better when I tried to go to sleep one night and my brain went 'bing' and started working on oh so many ideas and projects that are unlikely to ever to be put into practise because my early-a.m. body never agrees with my late-p.m. mind that making them manifest is important.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Learning to dance in the rain - Whitespace Thursday

I've spent most of my life holding my breath.  Rarely feeling safe enough to exhale, never mind to actually rest.

Despite being an optimist, I am not often a happy one; most of the time my most positive emotion is relief.  Relief that maybe, at last, someone might listen to me.  Maybe, at last, the time of crisis is over.  Maybe, at last, I have some time to myself.  And then I use that time to grieve for all the hard stuff I've been through, before it starts all over again.  Lurching from one crisis or difficult phase to another, I've begun to realise that constantly waiting for the calm after the storm and before the next might not be the best way to live.

The new journal I bought says

 "We are NOT here to wait for the storm to pass but to learn to dance in the rain".

Since moving to the new realm, I hardly ever see actual raindrops fall from the sky.  But the storms of life are just as common above my head here as they were in the old realm.  Soon after moving, I determined that I would live my life more restfully, more peacefully, more quietly, in the hope that it would soothe my soul.  I have prioritised rest, I have as peaceful a life as I can with the two small people and one big person I live with, I savour the quiet when it comes, but I still struggle with unrest in my soul.

I WANT to know how to dance in the metaphorical rain (I've done the literal version).  I'm hoping that I might find the key in the spiritual whitespace Bonnie Gray talks about in her new book.

In her story I am finding strong echoes of my own.  She doesn't promise me solutions.  She offers only "whispers, etched in pain".  But these I trust.  If I speak in my "full voice", when I utter truth from my heart, it is never loud.  I too, can only offer a whisper of wisdom, or confession.

And I too, know what it feels like to be unwanted.  I know the longing of wanting to be known but the overwhelming fear of the transparency that requires.  Her gentle prompts to open up to Jesus, and to find the little girl deep inside me - they reverberate in my soul.  They help me to believe that hard work, self-sufficiency and "getting on with it" are not necessarily the most helpful practices when trying to move past the wounds of the past.  I appreciate her guidance, knowing that she also is a wounded warrior on this pilgrimage of life.

The idea of stepping into 'whitespace' is quite daunting, and yet inviting.  A place where 'being seen' is valued at the cost of our hiding places.  Striving to survive was not my life's goal, yet it is the place I find myself.  I long to be saved, mostly from myself.  So I take Bonnie's challenge to find spiritual whitespace and the gentle mercy of Jesus within it.  I will stop seeking my own solutions and listen for my Saviour's voice.

Jesus promised us 'trouble' in this life, but He also promised He would be present with us.  In all my lonely wonderings about life in the old realm, I forget that He knows, He was there with me, and still is now.

I don't know how to dance in the rain yet, but maybe I  hear a few musical notes floating in my direction.  And I think my toes are starting to tap!  I'll let you know when I've learned a few steps.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Time to sleep? time to rest? or time to remember? - Whitespace Thursday

This week the Princess is claiming sleep as her superpower!  This has happened before (she knows never to take two Benadryl again if she wants to be conscious) but this time it was due to some virus that made her stomach ache but mostly made her crave her bed.  Sir Rianus was slightly perturbed that she was spending so long in slumberland; he claimed it was because he missed her, the Princess is sure he is jealous of her superpower!

Sleep is good, the Princess has always believed so.  It was prescribed to her by her mother as a cure all and it worked fairly well.  Naps have still be known to get the Princess out of a terrible funk sometimes.  But even though the last couple of years have featured a decent night's rest most of the time (unlike when the wee man and little maiden were babes) the Princess still longs for rest.  She can often sleep through noise and light or in strange conditions but she finds it harder to rest in those circumstances.  What she is really looking for is:

"Space to breathe, to feed her soul, and dream dreams."*

This is more elusive to the Princess than sleep.

Princess Morag had been looking forward to this morning as finally her chance to rest.  Finally, there would be some peace and quiet as Sir Rianus was returning to work.  Not to be - the wee man came down with the sickness so the Princess is not alone, and it is not quiet.

But she is here, and she is fighting to maintain her concentration and be creative.  It is not the same though.  The Princess knows her limits.  When her son is present, her radar is switched on, and she cannot rest.  She remembers those long years of his baby and toddler-hood when she could never rest.  She discovered her supercapacity to be hypervigilant.  That's tiring to read, never mind operate your life on!

Only one person knew that she was suffering so much, that she was completely strung out.  He met her in tears of grief and exhaustion.  He met her at the moments when everything was too much.  She wasn't always aware that He was there.  But now that she looks back, it's the only explanation for how she kept going.  She would reach breaking point and then someone would get sick, or Sir Rianus was going to be late home, and she just had to "get on with it" as her mother would always say for another day, another week....

This morning, she is in that same place, of knowing that she needs a break, a rest, and it might not be coming as soon as she would like.  But He is here, He is her strength.  He will help her to keep going.  He will give her the love they need from her.  She trusts in this more now.  She believes He is faithful, because she remembers.

And there might not be a whole hour, but there will be moments of quiet.  There will be time to sit with a cup of coffee and read a little, an interruption probably guaranteed but Princess Morag is getting better at telling Princess Perfectionist to hush and take a break.  It might not be exactly what she wanted out of the time, but it will be enough.

*From Finding Spiritual Whitespace by Bonnie Gray

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Alone? - Whitespace Thursday

I went alone.  I invited four people.  Three couldn't make it and one didn't reply.  I didn't mind going alone, it had been my original idea.  But then I thought it might be nice to invite a friend.  I thought inviting four people increased the odds that at least one person might come.  It didn't turn out that way.

For a few hours I felt sad and hurt and rejected.  These were familiar feelings, but it had been a while.  A while since I'd allowed myself to be vulnerable to ask someone for something.  A while since the rejection that I feared, came.  I was pretty sure it wasn't personal, they weren't trying to avoid me.  And when my heart reacted in the same painful manner as in the past, I didn't like myself.

Making my mind up to do it anyway.  Making my mind up to not let myself wallow in bitterness.  Making my mind up that I should do the thing I wanted to do - that was the important thing.  So I got ready.  And I went.  And I was glad.

I sat at the back of the movie theater, in the left corner.  It was a good view.  The small theater was bustling and at the end there was a smattering of applause and some cheering.  They were vocal in their agreement that 'Heaven is for real'.  I agreed too, but slipped out quietly instead of hollering!

When I reached home, I sat in the car for a while.  There were a lot of thoughts and feelings that had arisen.  I had found it frustrating that there could be so little belief within a 'Christian' community.  But the characters in the movie, based on real people, were not saints.  They were just regular people.  And the humanness that was portrayed was heartening.  Trials one on top of the other had threatened to overwhelm.  Then came the voice of a child to tell them not to be afraid.  It was real, Jesus was real, he had seen him.  When each character embraced their brokenness, belief was found shortly after.  If we hide from our pain, we don't need a healer.  If we hide from our faults we don't need a redeemer.  If we hide from the fact that we are lost, we don't need a saviour.  Children naturally look to their caregivers when they are hurt, they are always conscious of the rules for behaviour (even if they don't always follow them) and they don't often go far alone.  As Jesus said, we would do well to be like little children.

"Then He called a child to Him and had him stand among them. “I assure you,” He said, “unless you are converted and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child—this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  "  (Matthew 18:2-4 HCSB)

But what of the little children that we never get to meet, the ones who never get the chance to grow up?  From the evidence in the movie, they go straight to be with Jesus and my heart knows they are happy there; but my heart is broken that families are missing little ones who belong to them.  I cried for the babies I knew that had gone straight to heaven, and later I realised that I must have siblings waiting to meet me there; maybe I have a sister!  Maybe, I wasn't really alone when I went out.

I believe that heaven is for real.  I believe it is closer than I think most days.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Quieting - Whitespace Thursday

He cried and raged and blamed me and told me about all his terrible thoughts about me.

I hadn't committed a crime against him, I had simply said no to the thing he thought he wanted most of all.

I went about my business as he vented his feelings, then when I grew tired of his shouting I sat down beside him.

I invited him to crawl into my lap and he did.

He kept talking, he kept complaining.

I kept holding him and tried to gently correct his angry biased thinking.

Then I closed my mouth and tried to simply let my presence do the talking: my arms wrapped around him.

The impulse I had was what the Lord wants to do for us.

When we are angry, complaining children that didn't get our way.

When we're telling him that it "wasn't supposed to be this way".

When we try to bargain with Him.

When we want to throw Him out of the picture, and no longer bother having Him in our lives.

But at the same time, we're crawling into His lap in prayer.

And all He wants to do is

quiet us with His love.

(Zephaniah 3:17)

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Friday, May 02, 2014

Mess - Five Minute Friday

My house is a mess.  I don't like when it's messy but I apparently don't hate it enough to do anything about it, so it's still a mess.  The legos are no longer in the kitchen though - this is a wonderful victory.  Legos and kitchens don't really go well together.  Instead the lego are under the new loft bed.  Loft beds are a very good invention, except when you are trying to put sheets on the loft bed and have to climb up to do so.

I am now seriously wondering whether Emmet's double decker couch idea (from the Lego Movie), may in fact be awesome.  Especially the storage facility under the seats - that was a really good idea....!

In the meantime we will make do with the loft bed and completely inadequate storage, and probably continue to live in a mess.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A mirror for the surface, or the soul? -

Joining with the She-lovelies this month on the theme of mirror.  What does it mean to you?

I normally don't look in the mirror much. I don't usually wear make-up. Occasionally my reflection is so frightening that I apply some for the sake of others, but most of the time, I just shrug and figure I'll do.  I walk my kids to school with my hair unbrushed and often my daughter's is too. I prioritise getting there on time, over grooming, achieving both seems untenable at this time.

Looking in the mirror feels weird to me. I am more of a cerebral person than a sensual one.  I can be tactile defensive and most of the time I am surprised that I have a body and forget that it's what carries me in my mind around.  Sometimes I catch my reflection after I've been at a social event and I'm horrified by the idea that while I was talking with people that they saw me!  It's as if my idea of myself and my physical self don't match.  I've no idea what I think should be different about my body or my face but they just somehow feel wrong a lot of the time.  Especially my face.

I recently rediscovered a song that puts this feeling into words. It was a relief to discover that I'm not the only one who feels this way, although I do still wonder if it's a peculiarly British trait.

"When you feel a little tatty and unhappy with your face. Let it [love] breathe into us, and put you back in place"  (Let love speak up itself - The Beautiful South)

I found it encouraging that the answer to that feeling is love.  Feeling tatty is probably a symptom of not feeling loved.

I have a daughter, so I desperately want her to feel loved and also to protect her from the dangerous worldly messages that surround the female form in the public domain.  I want her to be happy with her body and how she looks but also not to be too hung up on her appearance.  So far I've used a two-prong strategy that consists of:

(1) never letting the word 'fat' pass through my lips.

She is five years old so she has learned the word from other sources but so far it has no judgment value in her understanding - it is not synonymous with bad.

(2) I tell her she is smart and beautiful.

It is imperative that she knows deep down in her bones that these are not either/or categories. I always knew I was smart: there were report cards and parent teacher meetings that evidenced that for me.  I did not know I was beautiful and I still doubt it no matter how many times my husband tells me.  Those words could have been my kryptonite so I am thankful to God that even when a boy said them to me, and I heard them for the first time, it simply gave me a little hope rather than taking me captive to a desire for compliments.  I probably still err too far in the other direction as I treat most compliments with severe suspicion but I suspect that's the Brit in me too!

What is helping me most in accepting that there is a possibility that I am beautiful is that I believe with all of me that my daughter is the most beautiful girl in the world and it turns out that she looks a lot like her mother.  Therefore, I must have some beauty.

For a while I made a habit of looking in the mirror, not at my appearance but to stare into my own eyes in an effort to see into my soul. I often find eye contact uncomfortable, and sometimes even this exercise of looking into my own eyes made me feel uneasy. For months when I did this, all I could see in my eyes was great sadness, even when the rest of my face tried to hide it.

Now when I look in the mirror, and feel 'a little tatty', I remember to look into my eyes, beyond the surface appearance of things to the soul reason for how I feel about myself.  A wrinkle or two, or a white hair, might make me sigh a little, but if I feel despair, I know it's not because of how I look - I need a mirror for my heart, not my face.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Brokenness - Faith Jam

The Princess wonders if you ever broke something when you were a child?  What did you do with it?  Did you take it to your parent, confident that they could fix it?  Did you hide it in fear, knowing that you would be blamed and punished?

Did you ever break a bone in your body and have to be helped while it healed?

Princess Morag does not have a memory of a broken toy, or a broken bone from childhood.  It is hard to pin down exactly what was broken.

Something was broken when she needed to hide her emotions.  Something was broken when she gave up trying to communicate.  Something was destroyed when she was finally rejected.

Maybe what sums it up, is the phrase sometimes used for the family in which a couple is divorced: a 'broken home'.

Princess Morag comes from a broken home.  She was sixteen, and she felt shame.  She leaned on her friends, and hid from the others.  She thought for sure that everybody knew but in reality it's likely that few knew and few cared - that's called high school!

When she met Sir Rianus three years later, she met a kindred spirit.  He knew.  He came from a broken home too!

Fifteen years later, the Princess is trying to keep their home intact.  No more brokenness, that's the goal.  A few cracks have appeared that's for sure.  But she's striving for the happily ever after ending.  It's much harder than she thought it would be.

In her broken home, the Princess gave in to despair.  In her brokenness, the Princess was silent.  In her brokenness, the Princess was rejected and left alone.

At Easter-time, we remember Jesus in distress at the garden of Gethsemane - he pleaded with his friends to stay awake with him but they were blind to his emotions as they slept.  We remember Jesus being tried for crimes, taunted and beaten and though he was innocent, he remained silent.  His body was hung on a cross and he died (though his bones were not broken).  He was buried alone in a tomb.  In all of these things, Jesus appeared weak, but really he was strong beyond belief.

He followed his path, and beyond the grave He showed us victory.

What does the path to victory look like?  Often it looks like a lot of brokenness.  Crawling through days of depression and despair can take strength that belies the sight.  Somehow keeping going, because of hope.  Because of faith in the unseen.

If the source of brokenness can be invisible, so can the source of strength.  Like it's counterpart, it comes through words and actions and inaction.

Words of comfort and encouragement.  Actions of kindness.  Choosing not to criticize or mock or shame.

Jesus came fulfill Isaiah's prophecy.  He came to bind up the broken-hearted.  How will you help him to do that today?

Thursday, April 03, 2014

My cross - Faith Jam

My cross is invisible
Constructed of the things never done,
Never said,
Not even begun.

How can you blame someone
For something they didn't do?
But when that omission
Was excruciatingly painful,
Whose fault is the wound in you?

Is it my fault, for all my expectations
Or yours for having none of yourself?

Relationships don't work by magic
An occasional loving glance or a daily kiss.
It is so easy to be in the same room,
And at the same time, completely miss.

You don't notice my sighs,
My words simply waft away
Unacknowledged, unheard
They fall to the ground.

I think of them like paper airplanes,
they are strewn everywhere,
but they are completely invisible to you.

Sometimes, when the conditions are right,
You catch one and even send one right back
But then you are gone again
The air traffic tower is closed,
The landing lights switched off.

Where am I to go?
Who will hear me?
I go to the same place as the psalmists,
They understand.

I look to the mountains,
I look to my God.
Who hears all
And sees all
And knows me inside and out.
He knows my words before they leave my mouth
He knows my heart before it spews out the good and the bad.

When I'm invisible to you,
It feels cruel
It's torture but you can't possibly know what it's like,
Because you're wired differently
Your hurts are of another kind.

I know I've hurt you.
And knowing that hurts me
But I don't think you'd get that
It requires true empathy.

That's what's missing
What is killing me softly
But I realise that in a way it's more comfortable for me
To hide in the shadows and not really be seen

When we're naked and one
I tremble not just with passion, but fear
It's then that you 'know' me
But I wonder how much you care.

Do you long to know me,
Or just to be satisfied?
We are completely united
but still disconnected.

If my eyes meet yours,
I can't handle it either.
We're oh so different,
but then sometimes we're peas in a odd pod.

My cross is not unique,
there are others like us.
That knowledge comforts me
Makes me feel less alone.

I've got to the point
Where I can thank God for my cross
When I ask him to help me
I now know He will.

This is my life,
The past, present and future
To carry this cross so it can fit me for heaven.
Sometimes painful, sometimes gloriously noble.
It was made for me.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Wounded - Faith Jam

As part of the visa process for the new realm, Princess Morag had to undergo a physical examination.  One of the requirements of this physical, was to show the doctor any scars that she had, for them to be documented.  With slight bemusement at this unexpected request, the Princess opened her shirt to show the two open heart surgery scars, and then stretched her waistband far enough in order for the c-section scars to be visible.  The princess supposed it must be important for the government of the new realm to have a record of identifying marks.

The first heart surgery was when she was three years old so the princess has no recollection of her body before the wiggly worm of her scar was a main feature from collar bone to the end of her rib cage.  A mere four years later the second scar overlapped the first in some places, but was a lot straighter.  It snakes down slightly right of centre; nestled in her adult cleavage, it adds a slightly eye-catching effect.  Her scars are noticeable as they are keloid; when they were new in her childhood they were bright red, now they have faded to pale pink.  Although she did get a little frustrated as a teenager when the top of the scar was the last part to fade, the princess rarely bothers about what it looks like as her scars are simply part of her, a silent witness to her survival.  The mechanical heart valve implanted in the second surgery is the not so silent witness.

If her heart surgery scars were an indication of a new lease of life for the Princess, her c-section scars indicate literal new life.  A son and a daughter in consecutive years.

The government of the new realm have a record of Princess Morag's scars, presumably to confirm her identity - their record could one day be used as proof that she is indeed, Princess Morag.  What does a scar prove?  That once there was a wound.  In the case of Princess Morag's scar, those wounds were produced intentionally, using a scalpel, in order to bring ultimate healing to her body and new life from it.

But what of the wounds that Princess Morag has suffered that cannot be seen?  The scars that are not visible to the eye.  All of her life the princess has been asked about the scars on her chest (the other ones don't normally come up in conversation!)  She has always been happy to engage in conversation about the resolution of her congenital heart condition.  But even after that part of her broken heart was mended, her heart has been broken many more times.  A cardiologist could do nothing to fix these other wounds.  She has required a different heart surgeon.  His name is Jesus.

Jesus has scars.  Thomas said he wouldn't believe in the resurrection until he saw the marks and Jesus was happy to oblige when they were standing face to face.  (John 20)

His wounds were born of violence, but his scars bring healing.  As the princess has so often encountered, scars beg to be explained, they provoke curiosity.  Not only about how they came about, but why.  The princess can simply say, 'my scar is from open heart surgery', but really people want to know the story behind that; they want to hear the story of healing.

The princess has told her children of how they were born.  She was willing to be cut open for them to be brought safely into the world.  She is not especially brave, but she loved them and longed for them to be born.

The story of the scars of Jesus follows the same lines:

  • Despite his wounds being evidence of his body's defeat, he was restored to life - his is the ultimate story of healing.

  • And his scars are an invitation for you to be born again.

They tell the story of a Father, who loved the world so much, that he sent Jesus to us.  That he would suffer many wounds and die with his hands and feet nailed to a cross and rise again with scars from those wounds that don't just speak, but shout of healing and new life.

What visible or invisible scars do you have?  Were the wounds intentional and wrought for good?  Or were they caused by painful, violent circumstance?  Is the wound fully healed?  Is the scar almost invisible, or like the Princess's raised and obvious?

Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.     Isaiah 54: 4-5

Thursday, March 20, 2014

To stay or go? That is the question.

I think it was summer 2009, the Princess and Sir Rianus got back from a trip to the new realm and were taken aback by how the world seemed to shrink once they returned to the realm of the old.  Their car was tiny, so was their apartment and the small people were growing bigger by the minute along with their stuff that seemed to multiply every time backs were turned.  Time was ticking by on the visa Sir Rianus held, and it was fully expected that the process would be problematic and expensive just like every other renewal.  So, how about making a different visa application?  One that would take the couple to the new realm permanently?  They discussed it, and concluded that it would be a good idea.

Fast forward a year.  The initial visa application was accepted but the second part would require evidence of  new realm income.  As yet, the job search had not been fruitful.  Thankfully, there was an automatic extension of another year.  So the plan was still to go, but first there was staying to do.  Princess Morag was getting uncomfortable.  The plan was to go, her heart was trying to move forward while her body was stuck in the same place - not ideal.  In the tension of waiting, and that place of unknowing, she felt like she was paralysed and in pain.  In retreat from relationships, because what was the point if they were leaving, she foolishly let her feelings build up.  Until past the tipping point she sought and found some help.

Months later, even when it was looking like the 'going' was going to happen, her counselor suggested she didn't retreat from relationships, perhaps she should actually reveal what she was really feeling?  This was a revolutionary idea to the Princess.  She was so used to people reacting badly when she shared her feelings, she thought by hiding them, she was protecting her relationships.  But these friends she had made, these precious souls who had been by her side in all this uncomfortable staying time.  Maybe she could trust them, maybe that was a good idea.  So, she tried.  And it made all that staying worth it.  Because those friendships were deepened to a point that even though she was leaving, even if she had to go and leave them behind the connection would remain; although obviously not in the same way.  She could no longer pop round for coffee, and find a hug and a listening ear.  But she could skype and call and know that in essence not much had changed despite the geographical gulf between them.

Now the Princess is facing another season of staying/going.  The going prospect is not quite so many thousands of miles away as the old realm is from the new, but still a significant move.  And she faces the same issues with how to handle friendships.  Once again she tried retreating with the same ill effects on her soul.  She still needs people.  In fact, living in uncertainty makes friendship even more precious.  Knowing that the day of going is coming, makes each day you stay more important.

The only way to stay with sanity is just to live each day as it comes.  The only way to not worry about the going is to concentrate on God's promises.

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."  (Matthew 6:33-34)

The princess was recently reminded to stop trying to control the uncontrollable.  She is at the mercy of circumstance and that means, she is really at God's mercy.  That's where she wants to live permanently anyway, no matter what roof is over her head.  So to trust, to have faith, to do each day well - that's what every staying one more day ought to look like.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Crowd - Five minute Friday

I had my first panic attack because of a crowd.  I couldn't breathe properly and what was supposed to be fun, really wasn't.

You can get lost in a crowd and sometimes that seems like a good idea.

Crowds and children, now there's a bad mix.  The airport was crowded, people were bustling and I was barking.  "Stay close, keep your suitcase out of the way".  They seemed so small, they could so easily get lost.

There's only four of us, but this is a small apartment.  Today I am blissfully alone, but come tomorrow, it's gonna feel crowded in here.  Sometimes that drives me crazy and sometimes it is beautiful.  Proximity is a powerful bonding agent.

The streets will be crowded, and we'll be there for the third time.  In this isolated place that we currently call home.  The horses and mules will pass by in the parade and it will seem funny once again, that I actually live in the Wild West!

Five Minute Friday

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Remembrance - Faith Jam

I remember the pain.  It was driving me.  I wondered at the strange things that tempted me, that had never previously held any attraction.  I marveled at the way my pelvic bones jutted out and my stomach was flat, almost concave when I lay on my back.

It made some sort of sense.  There wasn't enough money; I had no appetite.  I filled my stomach with coffee and then there was no room for food.

I filled my mind with judgement and bitterness and then there was no room for compassion.

I mused my way through my memories of life, and found many reasons for the pain.  I wrote some of them down.  I allowed myself to see: it wasn't me.  The disappointment was not unfounded.

Now that I had physical distance, I had perspective.

What I craved, had always craved, was impossible.  It was hard to accept.  A tough pill to swallow.  Is that what was stuck in my throat?

But the craving wasn't the problem, it was seeking satisfaction from the wrong source.

I knew He was the answer, but I didn't know how to make that work.  Months before I had confessed 'I've looked to everyone for love, except directly to you' and now I needed to take that further.  Once again, I came tearfully, and told him:  'I want to trust you, Lord, but it's hard for me'.

He helped to make it easier, I read scriptures that appeared directly relevant to my life and seemed to come alive.  It took time, but the pain started to ease.  I let some people know the truth of how much I was struggling.

I don't want to forget that process.  It was like birthing pains, my fight to come out of the chrysalis.

Then came the conviction:  "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honour God with your bodies."  1Corinthians 6:19-20.

I wasn't honouring God with my body.  I was depriving it of food and telling it that it was unworthy and undeserving and must be punished.  I hadn't been entirely conscious of it.  A 'stress-reaction' was what I'd figured.  But then it dawned on me that eighteen months of stress was maybe too much.  Maybe it was time to stop.

My self-deception was the scariest part.  I hadn't trusted anyone, had been paranoid at times, yet, it turned out the least-trustworthy person was myself?!  

It was the last barrier to complete surrender.  If I couldn't trust myself, then there was no one left.  God could have all of me because He was the only one who would want me, and could do anything with me.  He was the only one who held any hope.

When I didn't eat, I felt faint and weak, I couldn't concentrate.  That was the fruit of deprivation.  My goal now is to be strong: to get physically fit and be strong in my mind and in faith.  Body, mind and spirit are linked, I can see that now.  I was trying so hard to grow in faith, but when my body and mind were weak, that was difficult.  Growing in faith is hard work - it requires fuel.

I remember the anxiety and depression.  I remember my desperation.  I remember that I needed love and mercy and grace and still do.  If I don't remember those things, pride creeps back in along with unrealistic expectations.  I had held myself, others and the world to such sky high standards, it was exhausting.  I discovered layer upon layer of brokenness in my life, it humbled me.  I am so grateful to remember how he redeemed me from that pit.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Journey - Faith Jam

I hate not knowing where I'm going.  It's why I much prefer trains to buses.  When you are on a train, the train has to follow the tracks, there are not going to be any detours (as long as you get on the right train).  On a bus...what if the driver decides to change route...there is nothing to stop him or her from doing so!

It's why I find my life difficult right now.  I don't know where we're going.  I don't know whether we are going to move city/state this year, I don't know if I'm going to find a job. It is unsettling and I don't like it very much.

When change is on the horizon, I feel like the whining kid in the backseat on a long car journey...are we nearly there yet????  If something good is planned, I enjoy the anticipation of waiting but if it is a major change or something less wonderful, I hate the waiting time.

In the church, we practise waiting twice a year.  In Advent we wait in wondrous hope for the celebration of the birth of Jesus.  And during Lent we solemnly wait to remember Jesus' death but then holding our breath just for a few days we are then able to celebrate with joy his resurrection and share in the new life that he offers us at Easter.

Sometimes waiting means to share in the sufferings of Christ.  When I remember the one hundred or so days that I was waiting for my visa, those were days marked with suffering for me.  I didn't know how long I was going to be waiting.  I was homeless.  I was separated from my husband.  I was single-parenting two small children.  And even when I reached my destination, I wasn't going to know anybody there.  It was a long, hard wait.

I lived day by day, I lived by faith, I lived through the words of the psalms, I lived through the eyes of my children, I lived through new understanding, I lived through a period of grief and heartache.  The waiting changed me, it drew me closer to God.  It was another step on the curriculum of learning patience.

Then after the days and days of waiting for the visa, for the passport to be returned, for it to be the day, it came.  Then came the hours of waiting.  At the airport, on the airplane.  But these hours seemed easier.  We were nearly there - we were on the journey - we were limited in what we were able to do.  The only possessions we had access to were our hand luggage (admittedly there was a LOT).  The only space we had were our seats.  The destination was decided, and the pilot was responsible for getting us there and we didn't need to worry about that.  Constrained by those boundaries, I was more relaxed than I'd been in months.  I no longer had the illusion of having to be in control.

The other thing that helps a long journey, like that twelve hour flight with two small children, is to have things to aim for along the way.  We were filling the time getting settled into our seats and checking everything out until it was time to buckle our seatbelts and then we filled the time until it was take-off, then there was meal-time, then (please God) sleep time!!  Knowing that there are pit-stops on a journey makes it less intimidating.  Sometimes the big picture is too big to take in: I was emigrating, but thinking like that made me freak out inside, so instead it was just a transatlantic flight, the same as many I had been on before (except I was emigrating..shh).

If I view my life like I did that journey, I would probably find more peace.  I am not the pilot. I only need a few possessions for along the way (and probably only a small proportion of them in reality - I tend to over pack) and if I stop worrying about when I'm going to get there, I am a much more pleasant travelling companion!

Impatience and frustration are not attractive qualities.  Excitement and anticipation are definitely preferable when waiting for something good.  And if waiting for something that might bring sorrow, I want to strive for a quiet hope; not necessarily that the bad thing won't happen, but that God will work it all for good.

What journey are you on?  What kind of travelling companion are you?