Being family

Church is family, I guess it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty ok.  I have my real, biological parents as part of the bigger church family for the past 10 years, but it wasn’t always the case and I did a lot of being substitute Christian parented for a long time.  I’m so grateful to the men and women who gently modelled what stability and a solidly rooted life should look like.  And who taught me that one enormous looking road hump doesn’t necessarily mean the entire road is going to be like that! I needed to learn that – it’s a good skill to have, either for driving or living.

I’ve learned over the years that I am hard on myself.  And that puts me in the vulnerable position of having a totally shot internal compass.  I find responding to sermons really hard!  I want to be obedient to God and don’t know how to evaluate the challenges presented.  I have asked God in the past to teach me through other people, through his word and through the holy spirit because being challenged can kick off a critical chain of dialogue internally. (Usually to try harder, which I know isn’t the truth) I have found that the voice of Jesus doesn’t sound like the stuff in my head – it’s a clear, fresh water, airy bright morning kind of voice and it’s always ok to hear, listen and take action.  Jesus as far as I know doesn’t nag – just sometimes brings the conversation up again.  Which is why I have a verse of the year – it’s reminding me that God “will quiet me with his love”  – which I need to hear as often as I can – which I guess is why it keeps cropping up in things I have listened to.

Thankfully I find church teaches me in lots of creative ways!  Often (suprisingly) through the children’s stuff and all the visual aids our church churns out – sheep you can stick on your computer screen, little post it notes, pipe cleaner crosses, and mostly in the general interactions and love which remind me that although I don’t have kids and won’t have a partner I am still wanted.  I love church!! (Usually) It has to be said that it’s easy to forget that when the worship is a little too family oriented, and I have things I won’t talk about  because I think I will bore for England.  I have to go home sometimes and remind myself just how fortunate I am to have a big family who do daft things that make me hugely fond of them.

 

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Sleep – The Final Frontier

Well, I liked the title.  It’s rare that facebook is helpful, or provides something even a little life changing.  But last week there was a very informative video clip by someone who is a professor/author on sleep.  And his little video covers how to get a great nights sleep.

All of the information I should know – I am a sporadically dreadful sleeper whose brain will not shut down at night! But practicing what I know is hard work – especially when it’s less than comfortable.  The idea is to go to bed at a consistent time – not a problem, avoid screens – ok I can cope – but getting up at weekends the same time as in the week – that’s 6.30am on Saturday and Sunday?  That’s less exciting.

So far I have done it for one week.  I’m sleeping – just waking every 2 hours, which is progress. Apparently, your brain gets used to using bed as a place to be awake and think.  I’m good at thinking so that’s not helpful.  I’ve even managed to dream – which is odd for me – Dad and I are people who don’t dream – or remember them!!

The positive benefits are that I’ve done early morning ironing (not my favourite task),  getting to costa at 7am on a work Friday – to celebrate sleep and the weekend and a ridiculously early long walk today. Tomorrow I’m hopefully off for a swim. I want to try reprogramming my brain so I can sit down and chat to God in the morning – I am struggling with tension and not being able to sit still – my job contract ends in 6 weeks. I suspect the same approach is true – being there, going back to praying through “Celtic Morning Prayer” as a nice basic framework.  I will see if it works.

 

Reflections on Luke (4)

“Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. Take nothing for your journey,” he instructed them. “Don’t take a walking stick, a traveler’s bag, food, money or even a change of clothes.  Wherever you go, stay in the same house until you leave town.”

Jesus comment reminds me of one of my favourite “feel good” books.  The two mad men below decide to cycle from Lands End to John O’Groats.  They start out dressed splendidly as the book jacket suggests – the problem is not only do they have no clothes, they also have no bikes. So they have to blag/discover/swap/trade. They can’t spend money – they are happy to work for their accommodation but they are relying on “the kindness of strangers”  It’s a fun book – laugh out loud funny – I learned it’s never wise to microwave your underpants.  The strange combinations of clothes they end up wearing and the odd meals they eat, the weird and wonderfully generous people they meet make you proud to be British. Their family do secretly sabotage their plans by planting a bag of chocolate on a passing stranger to donate to them…..oh and the bikes are dreadful…

Jesus sent the disciples out without even a clean spare shirt – though I am sure they didn’t start out on a freezing day in just their underpants.  They too would have been totally reliant on the kindness of other people. They had no means of defending themselves – no staff or walking stick.  Totally, utterly poor.  Which I guess is the antidote to the spiritual riches Jesus has just entrusted them with.  I find the idea of being that dependent and vulnerable terrifying. I’m finding it hard enough to be temping, feeling more than a little precarious with regard to day to day income. I am so impressed that Jesus sent them out trustingly poor, what a challenge to my own desire to have everything wrapped up and organised.  They really did have “treasure in clay containers” – ordinary men’s lives extra-ordinary power and authority

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Reservoir 13

Getting to the train station early is a cunning plan.  Because it allows a little browsing time in the WH Smith bookshop.  So for my trip to Portsmouth I resisted the gaudy sellers and opted for an old book club favourite – Jon McGregor.  His book “If no one speaks of remarkable things” was a lovely read; the sort of super observant prose that I would really love to have the skill to compose.  Understated, a little bit like building a layered cake of details.  So this is “Reservoir 13” Ostensibly it’s about the disappearance of a young girl from a rural village.  I won’t plot spoil, but he kept me guessing and reading all the way through.

His style is to build up a picture through repetitive rhythms and observations of nature – the round of the seasons, the plant and animal world – but also the growth, slowing and change in the human lives.  Someone described it as cold and forensic – I can see what they mean, but the little pictures of people and village life burn themselves into your mind.  It’s both a frustrating (you need to read it to find out quite why it is so annoying!) and satisfying read.

It is the antidote to fast paced thrillers – which I love.  And yet it seems highly addictive.  I needed to wade through, noting the repetition of detailing which builds each picture – and the variations within that picture.  Which makes you page turn back to where you remember it occuring before to see what has changed. I need to read it again.