Sweet Sleep

When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24

 
What is it about getting older that makes you love your bed so much? 10 years ago I would have done anything to stay up late, to go out, fill every spare second… Now, I practically long for my bed in the evenings. Am I just getting old?
 
I made a comment to a friend the other day about the fact that I think I am having a love affair with my bed. It just sounded a bit wrong…! But seriously I am. Is this just since being ill? I don’t know, maybe it’s since having kids, maybe it is just getting older (hate to admit it) but I really need my bed. I aim to be in bed by 9.30 of an evening, giving me half an hour to read before putting my head down. Yes that’s 9.30pm. 9 bloomin’ 30. I mean what??? I went to bed at 9.30 when I was 14, not 37… And I love it, I don’t go under sufference thinking I really should go to bed now. I love it. I love snuggling up under the duvet, especially when it’s cold enough to put on the electric blanket. Yes that’s right, I own an electric blanket. And before you throw any kind of ageist jibes at me, I tell you, try it for yourself, It is utter bliss getting in to a warm bed… :)
 
I have no idea where this post is going… Maybe I shall write a series of posts on the joys of getting older, except that implies some sense of acceptance ;) 

RIP My Granny

Well, the inevitable finally happened. My Nan passed away last night. This is the best photo I could find of her – taken at, yes you’ve guessed it, our wedding, 10 years ago…

I am thankful that I spent quite a lot of time with her in the last few days. Friday she was obviously going down hill but I was still able to talk to her. Then overnight they had to call in the doctor, so I went in again on Saturday and spent most of the morning with her. It was lovely to just be with her and as she was sleeping a lot I just prayed over her and annointed her with oil.
Yesterday I chose not to go in as it has been a pretty exhausting week and my mum and her sister were going in anyway. Then I heard this morning that she had passed away late last night.

And the funny thing is, last night as I went to bed, I was praying for her and I just had a picture in my head of Jesus taking her by the hand and helping her out of bed. She was much younger looking and agile (!) and he led her out of the window (odd I know..!). So I kind of expected her not to make it through the night. And I had that picture about half an hour before she actually died.

I am sad, but at the same time I know it is a blessed release for her. I thought I was fully prepared for her dying and how I would feel, but I still feel a real sense of loss. Visits with her haven’t always been enjoyable or pleasant as she has made it perfectly clear how she feels about being in the home, but it still feels strange that I won’t be going in to see her again. And I mourn the fact that I only really got to know her in her 90s. But I do thank God that I had that at least.

The one thing I was worried about was that she would be by herself at the end, but in actual fact the home called my mum and so I know that she, my Dad and my Aunt did arrive to be with her at the end. And she also had 3 nurses with her, one of whom is a committed Catholic and had been very close to my Nan, so I am so thankful for that.

Thank you all for your kind words and prayers over the last few weeks and months as I have shared on here what she has been going through and how I have been feeling. I really appreciate it. You are all lovely :)

GRRRR blogger

Is anyone else stilll struggling with blogger issues? I am so tempted to follow Lesley over to word press. I sometimes can’t log in and what’s even more annoying is that I can’t comment on lots of blogs. It keeps asking me to log in and when I do it just asks me again. and again. and again.. Can anyone help?

In the meantime: some comments that I wanted to post… which won’t make much sense by themselves so if you want to know more they are linked…

@ Talking Christian
what a great picture, thank you :) I am so struggling with a close relative who I am building a bridge to, but they are just not building their side! But I feel encouraged by your post. thanks..
@ The Pink Sheep  So sorry you are still looking for somewhere. What a sad advert for the CofE. Maybe you should start your own? (And I’m only half joking…)

@LLM calling  Love the idea of a book of affirmation. Go for it… And I reckon blog comments count just as much!!

@Mad Priest funniest post I have seen relating to last weekends non-rapture!

@Vernacular Curate  Love the idea although I am  slightly dubious about whether this was just a ploy to put a picture of a semi-clad actress on your page ;)

@ looking deeper  yes I comepletely agree!! Things just aren’t as exciting when someone tells you. Also I think in terms of learning you remember so much more when discovering something for yourself!

@Revd Lesley  Totally sympathise. Strops always worth it – better out than in – as my nan used to say.  I find throwing stuff helps.. ;) Really hope you are abel to return to work soon, praying for you. xx

In the meantime if you are unable to comment on mine, please feel free to email me:

red :)

E V I L…?

Ok. So… today my VC (vocations consultant) asked me about what I felt about evil. What do I believe in? What is evil? She was quite persistant and I found myself slightly floundering. I do believe in a real and evident force of evil and also as in an absence of all good. My VC said to me, ‘do you think that your actions (we were discussing my past) were as a result of a force of evil acting on your life or do you think that was partly out of your being human?’ ( or something along those lines anyway).

Hmmm….

good question…

If I said yes to the first bit, that would imply I don’t take responsibility for my own actions. That would imply I think people who commit evil acts are not responsible for their actions. That would imply that none of us are responsible for our actions because it implies that either a force of evil, or a force of good (God) is acting in our lives.

But the bible says we have free-will.

Do I think that I drank too much, took too many drugs, or acted like a total idiot (polite word..), because the Devil/enemy/Satan/your preferred choice… was guiding me to it. Well no. and yes, well, no, err….

So where do I stand?
 I completely and utterly believe that there is a force of evil at work in our world. Whether that is a human-reaction as a result of ‘the fall’, or because we are all inherently sinners, or because there is a little man with horns and a pitchfork hanging around, I am not sure. I am quite prepared to accept that Satan in the bible is merely the personification of that force of evil, but then I’m not sure I am convinced of that either. I believe that people can be influenced by this force of evil, yes, and occasionally to great extremes. but can one ascribe all bad stuff that goes on to that force of evil? Because that really does mean we are denying our own actions and not accepting blame or responsibility.

I am not sure where I draw the line. When I was in my dark phase I was able to recognise that what I was doing was very destructive (to myself), but it didn’t stop me doing it. I didn’t feel able to. and would I have wanted to anyway? After I’d taken one step it was a slippery slope to the next step and the next and so on. So do I believe that the first step was a result of evil tripping me up, pushing me in that direction? well yes I guess I do, but at the same time I recognise it was my choice to take that step too. So in a way I guess I am talking about temptation. Does evil put temptations in our way, knowing that we do ahave free will and knowing exactly what temptations will work best on each individual? well, yes I reckon so.

1 Peter 5:8-9 says this:
 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings..

In this way I think this is what evil is like, it’s just hanging around, just waiting to trip us up and if we go far enough, to devour us.

I cannot believe in God as goodness, without believing there is something else. Because how can one explain away evil acts and suffering without it? It’s all very well talking about free will, but why do humans use our free will to do ‘wrong’ or evil if we are made in Gods image? If one does not accept the fall theory than where does that come from? If God is a sovereign God, God of creation (and I’m not even talking about THE creation here), a God who has the ability to speak to us, guide us, hear our prayers, then he is not resposible when bad stuff happens. So where does it come from? And I am not prepared to believe in a God just in names sake, who can’t hear us or guide us or speak to us, or change things, transform people, which is what it would mean to me if I accept that there isn’t a very real force of evil in this world…

Am I any clearer on what I believe then? umm…. perhaps not…

Being a rebel in the church…

Is being a rebel ok?

I’ve beeen worrying recently about my specific calling. I don’t mean the ‘into ministry’ bit, but the actual specifics, which for me are about change/reform/trasnforming the church from the inside (in a completely non-arrogant way…) But after a few rather un-inspiring meetings with ministers and others I was feeling very down cast. What kind of chuch will I end up in? Will I be forced somewhere I don’t want to go? How much choice do I have? What are the options available for an evanglical woman in this diocese? (limited I have been imagining…)

But I know my calling is about change, I am someone who pushes boundaries, a natural rebel and probably (!) have an issue with bowing to authority.. However at the moment I seem to be doing a lot of hoop-jumping and having to ‘tow the line’ so needless to say I have been a bit despondent…

But yesterday I met a rather fantastic Vicar, who I won’t name, who was so encouraging and told me to protect my calling, not let anyone take that away from me. He inspired me in the way he does things in his church (I think he would probably admit he is a bit of a rebel..) and in fact sounded a bit like me. It was such a pleasure to meet someone like that after the recent negativity. I cannot repeat all he said for fear of getting him in trouble, but needless to say he just made me feel that it’s ok to be a bit of a rebel. Not in a ‘I’m always going to do my own thing’ kind of way, but just in recognising what God is calling me to, which may not always be all that popular…

I have my last meeting with my VC tomorrow (all being well and she doesn’t add on anything else to do..) and I had been wondering about postponing, for fear of what might come next, but now I feel refreshed again and full of optimism for what God has in store for me. So thank you, nameless Vicar, you don’t know how much of a difference you made :)

Having a ‘moment’

We’ve just started a course at our church called ‘Lifeshapes’ which I am helping out with. Last week we started with a dinner all together, and a brief intro to the course. One of the things talked about was ‘Kairos’ moments, kairos meaning time. The Greeks had 2 words for time: Chronos – from which we get chronological, as in timeline. Kairos refers more to ‘a time’, like ‘the time I went to…’. So, an event that happened once at a particular time, and used to refer to significant moments in our lives, turning points for example, and in this case, what God teaches us in those situations.  So, we were all asked to come next week prepared to share a ‘kairos’ moment from this week, whether large or small, the implication being that if we look, actually God is teaching us in so many situations, if not all….

But actually I could hardly concentrate on what was said last week and I will explain why in a moment, but it occured to me that what had happened was actually right there a kairos moment. So this is what I will be sharing on Thursday:

Last week, in the quitest possible moment of the evening, (seriously like pin-drop moment) my stomach chose to gurgle very loudly. Now I am not talking an average stomach gurgle, this was literally seismic, unnatural in its volume. really it was freakish. And in that moment I was overcome with embarrassment, I just did not know what to say. I am sure I turned bright red, and from then on I just sat thinking, please don’t do that again, please don’t do that again, oh what are people thinking…?  Which in hindsight is ridiculous, I should have said something witty and forgot about it, but I was too embarrassed! and instead I found myself stewing on it…

Anyway… God has been teaching me about ‘fear of man’ in the last few weeks. I am someone who is very confident, happy talking in public etc and yet since being ill I have found myself feeling very anxious in certain situations. On top of this, I have some stomach issues. I don’t ike talking about them, for the same reason, I get embarrassed.  I am lactose-intolerant which is fine if I avoid lactose but at the same time even when I don’t eat it my stomach can act in odd ways at times, including gurgling (although not freakishly loudly until now…!) I hate this. really, I hate it. It stops me doing stuff I really want to do. And what I have been realising over the last few weeks is that this is about the fear of man. About being embarrassed in front of people, not really about the condition itself. So as I sat last week, wallowing in my embarrassment, and not really listening to the teaching, I was giving in to that fear – what if it happens again? can I leave the room? what will I do next week? what are people thinking?  And this is exactly where I have been with the illness, making decisions about where I can go and when, on the basis that I might feel ill, or get sick. Rather than being honest and saying, ok I want to go to this event but there is a chance I might get ill, and if that’s the case I’ll come home…

I guess this all sounds a bit nuts so I don’t know if I am explaining it well… but the point is that God, through various things over the last few weeks and particularly the stomach gurgling incident, made me realise that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what people think. IT DOESNT MATTER WHAT PEOPLE THINK!

I know I have written on here quite a lot about being ill but not many people round here actually know. I am not good at accepting when I am weak and I hate that I can’t do stuff, so I just don’t talk about it, because I can’t accept it. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me, or, as I have said before, to be defined by being ill. So writing on here about it all has been very therapeutic…

seem familiar…?

I just saw this on the ‘Esperamos’ blog of Andrew Tweedy, (based at St Georges, Barcelona). I came across his blog in one of those friend of a friend blog things – you know when you click on a blog then click on a link off that and so on…
This clip just reminded me of the old me, always in a rush, incredibly impatient and very tetchy… I am transformed, but still bits of the old me creep in occasionally. And the thing is, so many of us are like the guy in this clip. We forget to look beyond our own world, beyond what we have to get done that day and where we have to be in less than 10 minutes, and beyond getting the kids to school on time and with all the right equipment for that day and beyond the bills, worries and problems… We forget so easily that other people are going through exactly the same and completely different issues in their own lives…
The world does not revolve around me…

Pride: good or bad thing?

Pride is a funny thing isn’t it? Life teaches us that we should be proud of our achievements, but for so many Christians the word ‘pride’ has a sense of doing things in our own strength, not recognising where God is at work and taking the glory ourselves.

So is Pride always bad? For example I might say to my children, ‘I am so proud of you’ when they do something particularly well or act in a loving way, or one might say ‘take pride in what you do’, meaning, I think, to give things one’s all, and to do ones best, so that we can feel we have done a good job (or something to be proud of…) But… at what point does pride in something one has achieved become ‘prideful’ or too proud?

As a Christian I look for God in all that I do, and I recognise the talents that he has given me, so if I do something well it is something to be proud of, but also something to give God glory for… I don’t mean in a false way, (I wrote about the difficulty of accepting compliments a while back) but in my heart I know where my talents have come from and so I feel joy that I have achieved something using those talents I have been given. does that make sense?

My experience is that the more evangelical view is of Pride as being something we should avoid, but I think I would challenge that, so long as we recognise where our pride should be directed. Love to know others thoughts on this…

The challenge of teenage philosphy students…

Ok, so I need some help, or advice. In a  few weeks I am going to a local schools CU to speak. The age range will be 14-18 I think. I have to chose a clip from a film or TV and then speak about it relating it to faith somehow. I’m slightly nervous as half of them are philosophy students and frankly I have no idea what compartment to put them in, in my brain!

So anyway,  I think I’m going to look at ‘Glee’ which my own teenage daughter is rather obsessed with… Some weeks back there was a plot line where one of the students saw the face of Jesus in his grilled cheese and then ended up praying to this ‘grilled cheese-us’ for completely inappropriate, but hilarious, things like getting it on with his girlfriend…  I think this might be a good programme as it seems to be de-rigeur viewing for lots of teens, it’s contemporary and the episode looks at lots of aspects of spirituality, in a kind of teenage way… but I’m worried this might be a bit too basic, especially for the older ones. I’m always amazed how much my kids can understand, particularly in terms of Christianity, so I don’t want to ‘dumb it down’, but at the same time I need to reach them all at a time which is usually down time for  them (lunchbreak) and the last thing they need is a theology lesson…
Thoughts anyone?