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Archive for October, 2008

I think officially autumn is my favorite season, if not purely for the brilliant splashes of colour around the place, then for the dark nights and the chance to curl up on sofas with cups of tea and read books under blankets, for the crisp blue sky days full of possibility and the ever closeness of the Christmas season. To quote Mr Plass once more:

“When I’m in heaven, tell me there’ll be seasons when the colours fly,

Poppies splashing flame, through dying yellow, living green

And autumns burning sadness that has always made me cry, for things that have to end.

For winter fires that blaze like captive suns, but look so cold when the morning comes,

I love the way the seasons change.”

Here are pretty autumn pictures:

In other news, tomorrow we move into our new house, I’m looking forward to not being a nomad anymore, although something has just clicked in my brain to warn me from ever getting too settled here on this earth. Eternity seems so out of reach for much of the time but these times of having no fixed abode remind me that this world is not my home. As beautiful and wonderful as it is, it is still messed up, it is still in rebellion against it’s Maker, there is still so much more to come. There will be a day when our tears will be wiped away once and for all time.

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Dear Diary. Pt 568

This week has been an ‘interesting’ week. I’m not entirely sure I’m going to go into all the details here on this public space, but suffice to say our Landlord has been through a pretty shocking and horrible event in the last week. Grim enough to ensure a few journalists turned up on our doorstep last weekend. And horrible enough for him to phone on Wednesday morning and ask us to leave the house so he could have it back. You’ll understand how grim his week has been when we said, ok we’ll be out by the weekend. There is no legal reason for us to do that, we have a contract until December. But it’s the right thing to do.

Wednesday then turned into an interesting day. After the chat with our Landlord we headed straight to the pages of rightmove, and lo and behold found another house that met our needs, which is frankly bizarre as it took us about 3-4 months to find the house we are in, 4 bed places to rent in our area just don’t come up. So we phoned the letting agency, looked around the house and the wheels are in motion to move in at the end of the month. If you fancy praying that would happen please do.

Thursday involved many forms filled in, a trip to Guildford to ask my Dad to be the guarantor of my rent, the realisation that I’m now fairly jobless and homeless, packing up my life once more and attempting to fit the contents of our house into one room so that we can pick them up easily when we move to the new place.

Today I move back to Hove, Actually. So for another week or so this blog will be correct once more in it’s titles. Mostly we’re fine, we have places to stay, the advantage of this body of Christ thing again. We’re still loving each other in the stress and meh God’s pretty much given us a new house in a better location with 2 bathrooms 🙂 . I’m not sure my brain can cope with His goodness as it’s blowing my mind right now. I’ll keep you posted on any further developments.

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One of the solutions is to dance frantically around to this song with some good friends. Others might favour the prayer/trusting in the Lord approach, but you know, both are good. This from day one has been our house song. Everything is really going very wrong, but we’re so happy, so happy…

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Being broken is hard. Being broken means I will hurt the people I love most, being broken means I can’t contain it into a nice neat box of manageable items and experiences. Being broken means I will hurt you. It will manifest itself in ways that aren’t polite or helpful. Being broken means I will not ask for help and shout at you when you try. Being broken means I will do this time and time again. Being broken means I can’t contain my mess into nice manageable chunks and being broken means that’s what I hate the most. Being broken means I don’t want to break and make a fat mess all over the place. Being broken means I want to show that I have all this sorted out. Being broken means I hate receiving because it means you have seen that I am broken.

Loving me is hard, loving you is hard when we are together with our defenses down, this is costly, this is painful, this involves facing the reality that we are not perfect. That we are in fact broken. I’m tired of pretending I am not broken but I find it hard to know how to express that in ways that don’t splurge my brokenness all over people, mainly because that’s my pride again, not wanting to get in the way in case I alienate all around.

But that’s the reality of this life for all of us. We are all broken and messy, we are all called to take each others flack as the broken pieces of our lives shatter and shard into all around. We live in a mess of pain and confusion most of the time. We can pretend no more. The best thing about this body of Christ thing is that we absorb each others pain and mess, that we share it around, that we family each other in these times. I’m ridiculously fortunate enough to know the unconditional love of my family. It’s a rare thing in this world. I love being able to cry and rant and rave at them (they might be less enamoured with this than me:)), I love turning up at their houses and being able to cry on them and know their tears with me. And I love being in this family in my house where we do the same, we strop at each other, we cry with each other, we’re learning the ways and means of the unconditional love of our Father as he teaches us how to live His ways in His family.

Family isn’t limited to blood or upbringing. We’re part of family here and now and that’s one of the most profound things about being a Christian. It’s not about the rules, not about the religion, not about saying the right things, not about looking good in this world. It’s about being part of the best family in the world. Where we are dearly loved everyday. Where we weep and rejoice with each other, where we share in the mundane and the deeply profound, where we laugh, hold hands, pray, watch tv, shout at each other, insult each other and deeply deeply love each other. Because we know we are loved by One better than all of us. And so we look out for each other, we lay aside our own interests. We often joke in our house that we are married to each other and sometimes that’s what it feels like, we do things to support each other, to hold each other as more important than what I want to do right now.

We can do all of this, it’s no mere desire for utopia, it’s way way better than that, it’s admitting we are broken and loving in the reality of that. Because One man did so much more than that for us, One man became broken so we could be whole. One man gave up the glory of heaven and died for us, one man poured himself out for us. There isn’t any other better expression of love than Jesus. His is the path we follow each day, that rejection of self and commitment to the people around us.

And that’s the battle we will face until we stand before him. Choosing each day His path. Each moment, His path. Saying sorry when we hourly get it wrong, accepting his crazy beautiful love again and again and learning the tone, rhythm, feel and directives of the family of God.

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Epilogue

Hmm. I realise that the below post may come into the category of ‘wallowing’. I’m not sure. You decide. I didn’t intend to wallow. I fully fully fully agree with posts like this. The conclusions there are brilliant and on the good days I deeply embrace not moaning on and on about singleness and am meh, you know pretty content without the conventional family, kids etc, I love my housemates, I love the way we family each other, I love my church and I love my married friends and their uber cute children. I wish I had more married friends and I love being part of their lives in whatever way is possible. I love hanging out with my mates who are together, with Anna and Johnny, Mark and Roz, Phil and Katie, Laura and Alasdair, Ben and Debs, Kathy and James. I love them. I love being part of their lives. (point made I feel).

I think my point below was to show my workings of how I struggle to get to the place of contentment. Too often there are two approaches to singleness, the arggh moaning approach, woe is me, it’s hard and pants etc, or there is the get on with it approach, the being content, the embracing of life, the enjoyment of the single life, cos believe me there is SO much to enjoy about it. The thing is, most of us who are single live inbetween those two positions.  I want to express that, to show that being content with singleness isn’t putting the plastic smile on or pretending that all is ok, it’s something to fight for, and the fight will involve all the emotions below. My conclusion is pretty much the same, I’m here in this amazing house trying to love 3 people and do the good works God has in store for me, I am content. I might not get married, I might not have kids, I am content because there is so much more to come on the new earth and I can be part of the radical transformation of the idea of family as I live in the body of Christ here on earth. I need not be lonely and sad and woe is me because I share in this body. I need not wallow because God is better and looking after me.

That’s a conclusion that can only come through the struggles of the previous post. That’s why it’s there. To encourage those of you who are tired of the answers you feel you have to paint on your lives. You don’t have to paint them on, but there is a greater wonderful truth to live by, a fighter who is your lover and friend who calls you to go through the mire and to win contentment and joy because of Him. It’s not an easy fight but it’s the fight from the question to the answer. There is a myriad of emotions to battle with, self pity to kill and circles to go in as we seek to live out the reality of the answer.

And in another afterthought. This is the problem with some of modern Christianity, we jump to the answer way too quickly, in our discussion of life, in the solution to the struggles, in the good advice we want to give out. People come with problems and we give answers. It’s probably the mr fix it generation we live in. But that can leave us thinking, hang on does that answer really work? As the person giving the answers we can feel content and happy knowing we have done something. But it’s really not about us. It’s about the other person, about sitting with them in their pain, walking with them on the path, suggesting greater Truth to them, waiting for the Spirit to convince them of that Truth, exploring the massive space between the question and the answer and  being ok if it takes years to get to the answer. We are too impatient in our care of each other. We need to slow down and take in the huge silences, trusting the One who is King of those silences.

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It’s Monday morning. Monday morning in our house of communityness involves getting up (yes even in the unemployed state it is possible to get out of bed before 7am) and sitting in a room with 5 other sleepy people attempting to communicate with their Maker. That doesn’t involve a lot of chanting, wishing, spells and other things that the former sentence originally conjured up in my mind. We opened our mouths, talked and there you have it, we communicated with the unseen world. Which frankly is bizarre. The most constant battle in my mind this weekend has been with the seen and the unseen. If there is more to this world than is in front of my eyes, more that I can see, touch and experience right now then there are dramatic and life changing consequences to how I live my life on this planet.

I live in a culture that believes, more than ever, that we can have everything we want right now. Snap your fingers and behold, there you have it. I’m not sure when we bowed to this lie, when we lived so fast that we left ourselves behind. I live in culture that wants to experience everything right now, that derives meaning from all that we have experienced. (btw I’m not saying this as if it has only just occurred to me, obviously this is the case, I’m not offering out a new social commentary, merely picking up on the bleedin obvious in front of our eyes).

Time and our use of time is now a commodity, if you have the money time is there to be molded by you, influenced by you, you are in charge, nothing happens which we cannot control. We are our own lords and the thought that someone else might be in control, might be settling a different agenda is frankly a little ridiculous. Oh we pay lip service to this notion, but really, this is my life, my world. my time, my priorities, my agenda, my Saturday. And I’m wondering, what is so wrong with that? What is so bad about that? But does our lack of contentment, constant craving for more and more stuff, our refusal to be happy unless we have one more thing/relationship/job/high come from our problem with time? Do we really control our own time? And does that really bring the meaning, satisfaction and sense of wonder that we want it to?

But what if this is not our world? What if time wasn’t ours to play with, to master, to control, to manipulate and distort? What if all that is in front of my eyes isn’t what this world is about? What if there was someone else in charge? Would I want to follow them? What if they claimed to offer eternal time, time that goes beyond this world, time that offers life beyond our greatest fear?

I’m fighting with that notion right now. I want there to be more than this, but do I want that because I don’t have things that I really want right now? I don’t have a perfect house with a perfect relationship and a family on my doorstep. I cannot tell you how strong the ache is for some of this stuff. Part of me knows that there is more than this, that perfection can only be found beyond the grave, that we are waiting to be brought home. Part of me thinks these longings for perfection indicate that I am made for somewhere else, for a better world than this, for bluer skies, for deeper intimacy, for tangible joy. But am I just trying to make myself feel better about my lack of obvious things in this world? I have no job, I have no relationship, I have no house of my own, I have no discernible anchors in this world. And so is my longing for heaven a wish fulfillment? A way to deal with lack in this world? Or is it the natural desire for more? Built into me at birth from my knitter as he worked on me in the womb?

But there is this thought that makes me suspect my suspicions. What if I had those things, if I had family up the road who I could see each day, if I had a husband, kids, a lovely house of my own? I would still be me, I would still mess things up. The darkness would still be there, the pain would still be there, we would hurt each other and we would not be shielded from the brokenness of this world. I’m not saying this to prove that life is better without this stuff, it’s not a reason not to get married, have babies and buy a house. I’m not trying to justify my lifestyle to make myself feel better (well I probably am but that’s the way my brain works so go with it eh.) It’s just a warning to my soul to not long for perfection in circumstances but in something else.

And that is the question of this Monday morning. Is there more than this? Can I freely live in that knowledge being ok with not having all I want in this life? Is there more to this world than getting what I want all the time? Is it ok to be 30, not having anything you thought you might at this age? Is it ok to live for a time beyond this one and strike out for home deeply loving all around you and calling them to the journey? I want to, I want to, I want to. But these questions pull at me and drag me down again. I want to fly free from them, love well, accept the circumstances around me, trust in the One who has my times in his hands. I want to stand up and breathe the deeper, clearer air of Truth. This valley fog hangs so low at times.

(afterthought. which should not be an afterthought. “birds have nests, foxes have dens, but the hope of the whole world rests upon the shoulders of a homeless man”, there is someone who knows what this road is like…and I know, I have an amazing house, church family, friends who care, parents who love, I am ridiculously blessed.  It’s just what do you do with the questioning voice that wants more? Is that more just a reflection of our time and culture or is it a reflection that we were made for more, and that more is to be found in something other than immediate circumstances?)

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October

Just because today was the perfect start to Autumn. Crisp air, blue skies which the clouds had been scraped from, crunchy leaves in the park where I ran this morning, and I played this song.

“October
And the trees are stripped bare
Of all they wear
What do I care
October
And kingdoms rise
And kingdoms fall
But you go on”

Kind of appropriate at the start of my second month of unemployment. I’m reminded that my times are in His hands. Today is what matters, tomorrow can take care of itself. But in today I am called to live in the tone set by the future. Today is shaped by what is to come.

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