Monday, 29 July 2013

Mind the gap

When gaps appear in our lives they can yawn empty as chasms.

Where is the next big thing coming from?

Isn't it time for something new?

Well, maybe, maybe not.

Sometimes the space indicates loss, missing things, opportunities, relationships.

Even a tiny gap in our teeth can feel huge with tongue exploring round, never mind the cavernous emptiness when a loved one leaves or passes away.

Hearts ache and bleed their loss.

I've been living what feels like a lifetime in the gap, in the waiting-room between the here and now and where I want to be. And it hurts. Maybe you're there too.

When dreams fade and reality kicks us in to touch, when all we have is the memory of what we perceive as normality, then it may just be the time to look at the in-between life differently.

Between sickness and healing.

Between pain and purpose.

Between desire and destiny.

Between confusion and understanding.

Between valley and mountaintop.

Between this world and the next.

What if we could see the gap between where we are now and where we want to be as a learning experience?

If we could stop and savour the moment, right here, right now.

Feel the pulse beat of our own hearts slow and steady to match His.

Find grace and find God.

For He's already here.

Arms wide open. Ears attentive. Heart and senses finely tuned. Voice ready to whisper His wisdom.

He is ready to receive us whenever we pause long enough to notice.

Yes, even when we build walls to close those gaps - walls of resentment, ignorance, pain, confusion and shame.

God's love still seeps through the cracks and empty spaces

Even as we rail and resist the dull and the dry and the downright boring.

Even as we race to fill our lives with anything or anyone, spurning the painful places we dare not venture into.

Dreading the dark and quiet of our own lives.

A thousand unanswered questions on our lips and no time to wait for a reply.

He'll fill those in-between spaces and all our empty places if we let Him

Each day offers us such spaces. 

Resting places. Opportunities for openings.

Breathing stations on the way, if only we could see them as such. 

They are potential grace glimmers, soul savers and survival stopgaps.

Life has many slow, mundane moments. Room for pauses. Listening places where wisdom can be imparted.

The ordinary can become extraordinary depending on our attitude.

"We were made to wait, to long for things unseen. This is the place from which dreams and desires come. It's a place of trust - and we find it not in the resolution, but the incompletion" ~ Jeff Goins 'The In-Between:Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing'

My friend, you and I will find that in-between the mess and muddle of life a message to share is developing.

In-between our tests and trials a testimony of God's grace is shaping itself.

Here, as we are now, between living and dying, every moment counts. Nothing is wasted. God uses every crumb.

I'm still struggling to fully embrace the in-between life as hope deferred makes the heart sick and waiting for life to improve or change can feel like an eternity.

But I want to learn to enjoy the in-between existence because it's where most of our learning and growing take place.

Faith is stretched. Trust develops and grows. Patience can have its way in producing perseverance and endurance.

And perhaps we can learn not to mind having gaps in our goal-getting, pit stops in our progress or spaces in our schedule. 

Will you join me in attempting to live well in the waiting-room places of life? 

We can share and encourage one another to stay strong, live mindfully, be present in the moment and maybe enjoy the journey more because of it. 

How do you feel about the pauses in your life?

Have you found ways to savour the moment?

You can read more on embracing silence here

Or think about savouring the moment here

Please feel free to share in the comments below. I love to hear from and reply to you.

The book quoted from above, 'In-between:Embracing the Tension Between Now and The Next Big Thing' is a new one by Jeff Goins, author of 'Wrecked'. 

It's a beautifully written, semi-autobiographical account of learning to live well in the in-between spaces and places of our lives. And in doing so we may even discover our true calling.

Jeff speaks with a great deal of insight, wisdom and wry humour. It's a powerful, pacey read, full of anecdotal experience to back up the helpful information shared.

I highly recommend it as a truly helpful and informative read to encourage us to make the most of our journey of life and faith.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Beauty in brokenness

Welcome to Five Minute Friday, a great creative exercise which yields surprising richness in a short space of time.

This is where we write from the heart as words pour out as water, spilling on to the page with no worry about over-thinking or perfection.

Today's prompt is:'Broken'


Broken Image

Seeing a mirror image
flawed, imperfect
drowning in brokenness

where we see cracks
 you see courage
where we see flaws
you see a flood of forgiveness
where we see holes
you see opportunities to fill

our woundedness 
mirroring your own
as you took human flesh

our brokenness 
like your body
pierced and torn
wearing our darkness
corruption within

and now we lift eyes 
still hesitant to view
ourselves afresh in you

for you see 
beauty in ashes
hope in despair
joy in grief
through pain

and you bring 
of all we have lost

broken lives
minds and bodies
can be healed 
and made new

let love embrace
let grace repair
all broken places
we despair of 
ever being mended

seeing in the glass 
darkly here
until you lift the veil
reveal the glory
your light within

make us whole again
let us know that
renewal, hope
and healing is here

if we only look
away from ourselves
and up to you
the Mirror 
of our wholeness


You are very welcome and warmly encouraged to join in.

To stay in touch with my posts you can follow on Twitter, subscribe by e-mail, or find me here on Facebook.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Being set on fire

It was one of those days.

Trouble and strife slipped in uninvited. 

It waits on the threshold of our lives and sneaks in where cracks appear in our defences, our walls are weak with vulnerability, our armour rusty from lack of use and a space is created to enable access.

I was laid weak with weariness, further depleted by infection, drooping with fatigue and more sleep-deprived than usual due to nights made hot and heavy with heatwave and frequent tossing and turning.

Going about my normal morning routine of assembling coffee when it scalded hot, found its way on to skin covering forearm and hand, splashed over dress, legs and feet, seeping and scorching.

It's one of those rare, usually manageable tasks I am capable of with M.E.

Weakness and fatigue make kettles and coffee pot a danger zone I don't consider too much when drugged with exhaustion - just the time when I should.

Stilled by shock, having already alerted my OH of my debility a minute or so before as a pain spasm made me wince aloud.

Now, he heard a new urgency in my tone and came running.

He dealt with floor and hob while I ran limbs under soothing cold, pausing only to remove clothing and footwear.

Cold ice packs applied in rotation to stem the fire searing my right arm and left hand, which caught the worst of it, closely followed by aloe vera and lavender gel to soothe and aid healing.

Spills were mopped up, clothes changed, sandals wiped, coffee put in front of me as I tried to bring cup to lips with shaking hands.

Sitting stiff with nerves tingling painful, smarting senses alive, I felt washed with gratitude that the damage was less than anticipated and my momentary lapse in concentration was treatable with first aid at home rather than necessitating a hospital visit.

Here was God's grace in action in preventing worse trauma.

And as I sat with throbbing, burning pain, I thought of how easily we can bring stinging pain to another life by ruining of reputation, slander, misunderstanding and gossip. Scalding deep. Wounding.

We may also know someone who specialises in doing that to others. I do. She's a near neighbour who takes the concept of 'neighbourhood watch' to a whole new level.

Seemingly oblivious to her own faults and failings, she exaggerates and freely points out those of others. Or it may be your property that has flaws (real or imagined) which she reminds you of regularly while ignoring her own.

I'd never thought I had enemies until I realised that one who irritates and annoys me (rather like a stinging nerve) can be counted as such. 

She makes me (and my OH) flare up, see red and feel heat rise within.

We may even harbour people like that under our own roof, perish the thought.

So this neighbour from hell...(literally?) ...well, certainly a great provoker and irritant...has made life very trying at times. 

Her words may set other lives afire in the wrong way but she is just as needy of the cooling waters of grace as anyone else is, maybe more.

And it's so often the case that their own unhappy lives or painful situations can drive people to try to destroy the good in others.

They can become self protective to an alarming degree. Seeing faults in all around yet none in themselves.

We too have tongues lit like matches that can set a forest alight when we speak inadvisedly about others.

A word out of our mouths can heal and bless, or by our speech we can ruin a reputation, turn harmony to chaos, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it.

Jesus asks us to give a drink to our enemies if they thirst (and who doesn't thirst for the living Christ even if they are unaware of it?) and to be light for others.

This is not necessarily how we would respond instinctively. We tend to fear that which feels strange to us. Yet we needn't.

Because all of us are reliant on the saving grace, deep forgiving love of God and the transforming power of His Spirit working to change us from the inside out.

And if it takes an encounter with near boiling liquid (as happened to me) to make us more aware of His grace, then God can use any and everything to help us to live and love more as Jesus does.

I am healing. Recovering from the shock I had. A wake up call of sorts, perhaps? A warning to keep my guard up against the enemy of our souls? Maybe.

Whatever it was, I am grateful for the lessons it has taught me. There is so often a blessing to be found the other side of a brick wall.

I don't know about you, but I want to be set on fire by God's Spirit, to blaze fierce with His love and compassion, burn bright with His grace rather than be consumed by irritation, anger and frustration or become burnt out and weary of well doing.

Let us lay down those things that consume us which will one day be consumed by God's purifying fire.

Let us lay hold of the soothing, calming waters of grace and sprinkle, yes, even pour and flood them on others; be a river, an outpouring to refresh and heal wounded souls.

Over to you:

Have you struggled to get on with challenging people?

How has God taught you about His grace in surprising ways?

This is part of the 'Grace Notes' series where areas of God's grace are noted in our lives, revealed and shared. Do feel free to join in with the comments below. I love to hear from you! Thank you.

To stay in touch with my posts you can follow on Twitter or like my Facebook page

Friday, 19 July 2013

Where I find a place to belong

Welcome to another Five Minute Friday writing exercise where we spill forth words in 5 minutes flat and watch them fall with no worry about perfection, over-thinking or marinading.

Today's prompt is:'Belong'


Where I belong

Childhood didn't fit
 with illegitimate
writ large across my life
until they did the decent thing
 and became husband and wife

Mind and body abused,
unwanted, neglected and
used, so I escaped
into words

wrote out my heart
longing to belong 
as friends proved fickle
to this extrovert-shy 
child heart looking 
to be a part

one of the crowd
not stand-out alone
when face and form didn't fit
selection for a sporting team

and being accepted
remained a distant dream

I gave all I had
yet secret things
remained locked up

with feeling sad 
and bad in my own
and others' eyes
no athletic glory
nor academic prize

and yet I yearned
to be accepted
just as I am

Then a Voice 
whispered close
drew me in 
with cords of love

 and forgiveness 
for my sin
full acceptance
and understanding 
of everything
my life of pain 
and mess

Now unfurling 
as plant to sun
with tendrils of trust
leaning close 
to Father's heart

the One True Place
where I belong

in His embrace
lifted and held
each day by 
fresh outpourings
of love and grace

with fears 
of being an outsider
no longer holding sway


Linking here with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday. You are very welcome to join in.

To stay in touch with my posts, poetic and otherwise, you can subscribe by e-mail, join with Google Friend Connect or like my Facebook page.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Why silence can speak volumes

Silence is anathema to many. 

Living in a continual buzz of noise and wall of sound have become the norm.

Many people cannot read or study without at least some music on to accompany it.

Having continual beeping technological machinery around us has become so commonplace it barely registers.

We can almost fear silence

It feels alien. Uncomfortable. Weird.

I used to feel that way. Any distraction was welcome. 

Anything to drown out the thoughts in my head that reminded me of a past I longed to escape from.

Keeping busy, busy, busy, was life to me.

Attention to spiritual things was perfunctory at best. God lived in a box marked 'Sundays only' and my bible sat gathering dust like the mould in my mind.

My inner life remained dry, empty and sterile, but the outer one was as full as I could make least on the surface

All was brought to an abrupt halt when I succumbed to M.E and life as I knew it came crashing down.

Now there was time and quiet space to focus on what really mattered - knowing God intimately and addressing the painful issues from my past - and nothing else to hide in.

These days, I crave quiet (and dark) as welcome companions to ease stimulation on an overloaded, weary brain and nervous system that can only tolerate a fraction of what is perceived to be 'normal' noise and interaction.

Though we all need space just to be rather than to do so that we can rest fully in mind, body and spirit.

Sometimes we just have to deliberately switch off for our sanity's sake

You may ask:What happens when we do? Doesn't the silence itself drive you mad?

Actually, because of the general hub-bub of life going on around us, silence is far from free of sounds.

Our own hamster wheel of thoughts also tends to keep whirring round regardless.

Choosing to focus on hearing from God in the silence is rather like seeking the right radio wave frequency to listen to the station of our choice instead of the ones we don't want to hear.

And in exploring silence, we come to a place where one thing speaks loud and clear as we come face to face with ourselves and all that we are.

Which is quite an uncomfortable feeling.

"Silence is the discipline that helps us go beyond the entertainment quality of our lives" ~ Henri Nouwen 'Can You Drink the Cup?'

Without words, entertainment or other distractions, there is nothing to hide behind and we are left alone with our true selves:our raw, wounded, vulnerable humanity.

Although that feels scary, we can still breathe easy, feel safe, and rest secure in the fact that God knows us inside out and loves us just the same. He longs for us to reach out to Him.

We cannot linger in the light of God's presence and come away unchanged, whether we perceive it or not

As we spend time with God, His words and thoughts seep in, refresh, cleanse, wash over our mind and bring the peace and strength we need to be helped, healed and made whole.

Even our creativity is enhanced by silence or quiet, meditative spells.

Idea are allowed space to surface and spill into the conscious mind once we relax enough to let them flow freely.

And God has so much He desires us to hear if only we allow Him space to talk with us and listen for His still, small voice

Silence (or simply being quiet for a spell) is as much for our sakes as God's.

It enables us to more easily tap into who we are and what makes us tick.

We create a clearing for deeper questioning, thinking and dreaming.

We start becoming more fully human and fully alive as we begin to notice both our interior and exterior world and hold them in equal measure without one drowning out the other

I have to confess that I have found it hard to balance all the various elements in my life and successfully carve out a sacred space in a busier environment since returning from my retreat.

Sinking back into routine is all too easy. 

Reassuringly, God waits to meet with us in the mess and mayhem of our normal existence, right where we are in muddle and busyness, noise and distractions.

He knows our schedules, the ways in which we feel stretched and harassed and how hard it can be to snatch quiet moments in the day, and He longs for us to surrender it all to Him.

And as we practice His presence, in tiny moments or longer, it signals our awareness of His provision and our need of Him

The benefits far outweigh any potential disadvantages.

May I encourage you to have a go? It could become a new habit.

You, too, may find that you begin to crave peaceful times alone with God and that silence does, in fact, speak volumes.


Here are a few books that I've found helpful. You may like to try them too. They're all available from Amazon. Just click on the links to find out more.

'Jesus Calling' by Sarah Young
'Into God's Presence' by Liz Babbs

Over to you:

Have you ever deliberately pulled back from your usual activities and sought quiet/silence?

How did it impact your life and walk with God?

Or maybe you are considering doing so. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Thank you.

Linking here with the lovely Ruth Povey for the 'Letter to' series. This week's prompt is:'Letter to explain'. You are very welcome to join in. 

To stay in touch with my posts you can subscribe by e-mail, join with Google Friend Connect or like my Facebook page.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Celebrating a man and a marriage

Nobody really knows the inside story of a relationship apart from the two people involved in it.

Our marriage certainly didn't look like a marriage made in heaven from the outset.

I had a troubled, dysfunctional childhood, my parents were divorced and my future mother-in-law clearly disapproved of her son's choice.

We had only been dating for a few months when he proposed to me.

The look of shock-horror on her face when we announced our engagement was testimony to her feelings and a deep concern to me and my fragile self-esteem.

For I came from the wrong side of the tracks and was not the wife she'd envisaged for her youngest son. My background was predominantly working class and impoverished. I was also a loose canon spiritually  as I came to faith in a Pentecostal church - horrors for a staunch Evangelical such as she was.

And I was a young woman carrying far too much baggage from her past. Altogether an unsuitable choice, apart from the fact he clearly adored me ....foolish boy.

Plus, we married in indecent haste (in her eyes) and really should have waited until I'd completed my nurse training and he had secured gainful employment after leaving university.

But we were young, deeply in love, full of optimism and enthusiasm and committed to making this work.

As we said our vows (the old-fashioned kind), little did we know how taking one another 'in sickness and in health' would lead to far more years with the latter than the former.

So my mother-in-law was probably right to be at least a little bit doubtful that this union would go the distance.

Even though she was basing her reservations on the knowledge she had then, not on what would happen in the months and years to come.

My Philosopher husband would have to call upon supernatural reserves of patience, perseverance and endurance to cope with the life we had waiting ahead of us.

Not one that either of us signed up for.

But our reality, nevertheless.

Fortunately, my mother-in-law and I became close over time and genuine love and trust eventually bloomed between us. She was a tremendous help and support when our first son was born and she absolutely doted on both grandsons, as they did on her.

Now, as my husband and I celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary, I do so with a tribute to the wonderful man I am so privileged to be married to.

For I wouldn't be half the woman I am today if he hadn't stuck by me and continued to pour his love into my heart and life - as he still does every single day.

Here's to you, sweetheart, beloved husband and greatest friend....

My beloved

My beloved is like no other
He is chief confidant, encourager,
best friend, counsellor and lover
He has become house-husband
carer, chef, chauffeur, gardener,
joy bringer, helper and life sharer

My beloved is like no other
He takes broken confidence
trust and low self-esteem,
tenderly gathers the pieces
and patiently reveals
a scene, picture of wholeness
the best I can be in God's eyes
though pain and sickness conceal it

Laid out before him
my fractured heart, body and life
are now objects of beauty
become companion and wife
as he looks at me with Christ-eyes
of compassion, understanding and patience
enough to cover all trouble and strife

My beloved is like no other
in his desire to see me healed
from the chains of the past
and the part he has played
in bringing to pass the day
when a new me is revealed

Meanwhile, he gives and loves
unselfishly, requiring only
that I respond with the best
of my limited ability
as body, mind, every part
gladly submits to his love
which fills and overflows my heart

And if our marriage didn't look as if it was a match made in heaven, we have relied heavily on heaven's resources to keep it going.

There have always been three people in our relationship. It has been greatly enhanced and strengthened by placing our lives, faith and trust in God. 

He never leaves us nor forsakes us and a cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

Without God's presence, input, enabling and equipping we wouldn't have made it past the first year, never mind get this far

He gives us love for one another every day, plus a continual outpouring of grace to cope with tough times.

I know I have been amazingly blessed in the husband that was chosen for me. I am eternally grateful to him for sticking with me and to God for giving him the faithfulness and patient endurance to do so.

And, just as a closing thought, I'd like to encourage you to be aware of the important relationships in your life and consider how much God has blessed you too. 

It may not be a life partner or children, but each of us usually has someone influencing and impacting our lives in a positive way.

If you do, then it is good to tell them how much you care about and appreciate them being there for you. You don't have to wait until it's an anniversary or special occasion.

How about today? 

PS:Just in case you were wondering:
  • The rings pictured are a replica of our own wedding rings when shiny and new
  • My beloved's photograph was taken on our wedding day
  • This post is one of the "here's one I made earlier" variety prepared in advance, left to marinade, stirred, seasoned and served up on the appropriate occasion
  • A printed copy of the poem made its way into my husband's card this morning

Linking here with Missional Women Faith Filled Friday. You are very welcome to join in.

To stay in touch with my posts you can subscribe by e-mail, connect with me on Twitter or like my Facebook page

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Journey of life and creativity

As we travel through life we also make a spiritual and creative journey that alters over time with our own growth in knowledge and experience.

My life and creativity have been inextricably linked; there have been brief seasons of plenty, overshadowed by many fallow times too.

As I reflect back, I can see surprisingly rich pickings in experience as gold glints all the brighter through the murky detritus of dark places.

If you had suggested to me, only a few years ago, that good things would come out of bad, then I would have found it hard to believe you. All seemed lost and hopeless as I battled demons from my past.

But here I am now:sharing my story, hopes, dreams, lessons learnt in the dark nights of the soul, and revealing grace glimmers shining brightly throughout it all.

And I share, as always, with the objective of encouraging you to believe that you too can walk through painful times and come out the other side  - not necessarily unscathed, but able to trace God's hand at work keeping you safe, loving and protecting you,  and never leaving or forsaking you, no matter how it may feel.

Today, I am sharing some of my life and creative journey by participating in the writing contest 'You Are A Writer'  held by 'Positive Writer', Bryan Hutchinson - you can click on the link to find out more.

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart" ~ William Wordsworth

Becoming a Writer

As an eager child offering art or verse, my parents were indifferent, cold or worse
so I hid my work from prying eyes, indoctrinated as I was to secrets and lies.
And hidden they largely remained, with nothing ventured and nothing gained.
Though I scribbled in diaries, on paper and card, I had to try really hard
to believe anything good of myself at all when writing was seen 
as time-wasting scrawl in the minds of parents, siblings et al.

Senior school English gave me a thrill as the only subject I felt capable
of nailing down or succeeding at will. So I wrote stories
shared on the grass during lunchtime soirees as time passed 
with giggles, unwrapping of sandwiches and teenage yearnings of love
 voices hushed and stilled, and content lapped up by friends
 eagerly listening to each instalment from me.

Taking courage from true love's embrace
no longer feeling so shy or shame-faced
my poetry was shared and aired in a minor public place -
a church magazine, a lover's gaze - while I blushed grateful
to be on the page. Accepted at last as a writer of sorts
with words flowing freely amongst my cohorts.

More years of hiding the light and turning away 
as my dysfunctional past began to hold sway
in my life and my head, leaving no space
for creativity to flourish, be expressed, or embraced.
Too much pain needing addressing lie close at hand 
and no more years hiding my head in the sand.

Now older and wiser - at least I hope so -
I've experienced healing of emotions from letting go
and releasing everything I can be into God's hands
as the best for me - just as He planned.
And thanks to Jeff Goins, for his inspiring book 'You are a writer..' 
stirred deep, made me pause, reflect, take a second look.

Reviewing juvenile scribblings and poems penned
unleashed desire to start over again with writing and publishing 
my work on a blog, though much of it's written through an M.E fog.
Learning to let go of perfection, learning to love the craft
daring to believe and say (in wonder), "I am a writer"  
  even before compiling my first book draft!

The words, "I am a writer" do not sit easy yet or roll blithely off the tongue. Rather, I tread warily in this brave new world, aware that they could be sharp stones to catch myself on, trip me up, stumble over and cut me open - revealing the full raw vulnerability within.

I also tread secure in my small corner invisibility, daring to speak with such audacity only because the One who beckoned me on this journey also accompanies, encourages, anoints and equips every step of the way.

He leads and I follow with hesitant, tentative step, knowing in my heart that this is an act of faith as I walk Ezekiel - like, marvelling at how God breathes life into dead things. He calls those things which are not as if they were, and wants me to believe it too.

So I take His hand, strengthened by His voice of wisdom directing, leading and guiding my creative journey as He does the rest of my life.

If you are wondering whether or not you are a writer, may I encourage you to just do it? Pour your heart and soul out in words, in offering, and dare to share them

One day, we will read and be thankful that you did. And so will you. Writing is cathartic, releasing and freeing, as well as a valuable contribution to life's rich tapestry of experiences.

The world needs to hear and receive your creative voice too:in words, poetry, prose, through art, music, craft-making, home-keeping, sewing, baking - however you want to express it, the sky is the limit -  simply enjoy creating as you were created to do.

You may have been seriously discouraged, derailed and disappointed by other people's responses, your own low self-esteem or lack of confidence. 

But you don't have to stay stuck there.

I am living proof, in the Autumn of my life, that it's never too late to start again.

Your reach may be large or small, with an appreciative audience or none at all.

Once you recognise you have the spirit and soul of a writer then you need to write,  regardless of who pays attention or not

So do have a go.

Resurrect those dust-laden drawings, painting, poetry, prose, that creative urge; give them a good shake down and tell yourself, "Yes, I am a writer/poet/artist/creative person", and go create, my friend!



What hinders or helps the expression of your creativity?

How can you begin to enjoy being creative once more?

Please feel free to join in with the comments below. I love to read and reply to them. Thank you.

This post is also part of the 'Journeying' series that started here. There will be more on that topic to follow soon.

To stay in touch with my posts you can link up via Google Friend Connect or subscribe by e-mail. I would also love to connect with you on Facebook  or Twitter