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