Blooms.

Blossoms.

Climbing over our back wall we have the most beautiful clematis. Heavy with blooms. White stars glistening in the sunshine and at night eerily blue/white. It is a funny plant. You have to trim it at the right time. If you are like me, memory evades me for the simple things. I can never remember when to do it! Well last year it was late. The garden had to be left last year because of my leg break. Wow – a whole year ago! Time flies! But the up side was the clematis was trimmed at the right time and it has been, is, magnificent. I love it and give thanks for it!

Beginnings.

Something else has started to bloom too. Remember the fig tree? How my tree had lots of green leaves but no colour? How the fruit hadn’t grown? How I was dealing with disappointments? Or not dealing with them? Well God has dug down deep. Deep into the roots. Rootled around. Pulled hard on some pieces. Cut deep to get right in. One by one. Each carefully removed and left on the surface. Not to be left to worm their way back into the root system. Not to be left to walk passed. No. Left to be dealt with for good. I sat and looked at them for a long time. I put them in my bag and walked with them. Mulling them over. Trying to see what to do with them. Slowly, slowly I knew what I had to do.

Decisions.

Each one carefully prayed over. Each one carefully laid bare and all the baggage that went with it lifted up. Lifted high for my LORD to work in. To work with and to help me to forgive. All the disappointment I felt….. let go. All the hurt I felt….. let go. But the main thing I had to do was let God be sovereign over it all. The King needed to be over me. He needed to rule over everything. Every part of my life, not just the things I wanted Him to be in control over. Everything. And as I let go of each part, He pruned. As I let go He trimmed. As I let go He worked within me and flowed through me. He reached out and helped me. Helped me to physically do something I didn’t think I would do for a long time. Helped me to hug. Helped me to smile. Helped me to talk. To talk with my disappointment. To laugh and be at peace.

Bedding in.

Slowly the roots have settled and have started to grow again. Not relying on the surface water. The water that comes and goes. No, to reach down to the life giving water. To drink in His water. To be fed with His word and take on board all that He tells me. What does this mean? It means that my tree has buds on. Buds that are slowly opening. Buds that are slowly blooming. And following the blooms, the fruit. The fruit of His Spirit. His love, joy, peace, gentleness, faithfulness, patience, kindness, goodness and self control. And to see His purpose within it come to fruition.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2 v9.

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A bit of light relief.

It has been a difficult few days so what does a girl turn to, other than chocolate, her sewing machine!! I’ve been finishing some table runners and place mats which will go to the CMJ UK conference. They are for the celebration of Hannukah.

Blue and red table runner.

Lilac and blue table runner.

Four blue place mats.

Good to sit and sew and refocus!.

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Living with disappointment.

   

Sometimes you think you have dealt with something and then ‘booooom’ it pops up again. You think the disappointment you experienced way back has gone. Disappeared. Vam-mooshed. But it is there, hidden beneath all that has gone on since then. There, where you forget it. There, where it is nestled secretly. You think you have sorted it. And in a way you have. You have sorted out the dross and packaging that went with it. You’ve drawn a line under it – physically. You’ve dealt with the people, the place, the actual sharp end of the disappointment. You’ve taken what you want from the experience. The people you love. The people who have stood by you. You’ve sorted through and gently closed the door. Not slammed it shut, but gently closed. Without a sound. Creeping away. Creeping away to rebuild. To reconnect. To move forward. You’re gradually building new dreams. And then something comes along to up-skittle you. Perhaps it is more than one thing. A group of incidents. That is where I find myself. Living with the disappointment.

Putting it right.

Some will tell me to ‘pull yourself together’.  To ‘get over it’. To ‘accept it, it’s happened’. And I have tried. Believe me I have tried. And to a certain extent, I’ve succeeded. I’ve started a course. A qualification. A qualification to let me use all my crafting gifts within the social care network. I continue to volunteer with the elderly, and with dementia people – both young and old. I’ve been sorting through my many crafts to hone them down to the one I really, really want to do personally. I’m not quite there yet, but the WIP (Work In Progress) is slowly heading in the right direction. So I am doing the so-called right things. Finding my path. My new path. A new path that God is quietly, slowly, patiently, leading me down.

OOPS!

But then, you hit a patch of weeds. Of overgrowth. The path narrows even further and you have to tip toe through it. To hold the hand that is guiding. Or to lose your balance and tumble. To hook your foot in the tangle. To pull up some of the layers. To come face to face with that disappointment again. To realise how deep it went. To re-live it, – again. To grieve the loss. In full. People, place, the consequences and impact of it all. Is that wrong? Is that a bad thing? Some would say ‘Yes’! You have to forget and move on. But I’m not like that. I have to work through things again. That is the way I’m made. Frustrating for on lookers, I know. Hard for those who care about me. Who love me and support me. And will help me through it all again. But there maybe another reason why it isn’t always a bad thing to do.

Treasures.

My bible is very precious to me. It is God’s Word. It is how He speaks to me. How He helps me through times like this. How He puts out His right hand firmly to help me through the narrow bits. And through studying it you begin to heal  and understand His guiding. Today with Steven Furtick I have been studying Luke 13 v6-9. ‘Dealing with disappointment.’ Three short verses.

The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree.

And He told this parable. A man had a fig tree that was planted in his vineyard. He came looking for a fruit on it and found none. He told the vineyard worker, ‘Listen, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it even waste the soil?’ But he replied to him, ‘Sir, leave it this year also, until I dig around it and fertilise it. Perhaps it will bear fruit next year, but if not you can cut it down.’

The whole passage says a lot about being disappointed. About being disappointing. About being dysfunctional. But it was the ending that spoke. ‘Leave it this year also. Let me dig around it, fertilise it. Perhaps it will bear fruit next year.’

Trees.

Picture a huge tree. It is growing well. Making lots of leaves. Strong green leaves. But something is missing. The fruit is not there. The blossom has not flowered. It is just a mass of green. Now I like green, but I love colour even more. And my tree has no colour. No blossom. So there is a problem. I have tried all sorts. Developing a new branch. It has grown so far and then stopped. So I try again. Grow and then stop. Every time there has been no blossom. Where do I look to sort the problem? In the roots. Deep down in that hidden place. Deep under the layers of living. Deep, where you have buried that disappointment. Just like the vineyard worker, the roots of my tree need healing and to do that I have to dig around them. To accept my disappointment. Not to deny it. To deal with the root cause, not the leaf symptoms. To dig deep and fertilise it.

Fertiliser.

Think about what fertiliser is! Chicken droppings! Cow manure!! Rotting stuff. Smelly stuff. What happens when it is applied? Growth. What are disappointments? Messy stuff. Hard stuff. Maybe smelly stuff. So when God allows disappointments to happen and come back, maybe, just maybe, He’s applying that fertiliser. Maybe He’s digging deep. Maybe, when the disappointment returns, He has needed to add a bit more fertiliser. So He digs deeper. “If you can, –  learn to see that what He’s doing while He’s digging, is not to make you die, but to make you fully alive. He digs because you are worth it!” (Steven Furtick). Once He has dug deep and nurtured you, He allows the living waters to flood in. Waters full of His grace and mercy.

In the vineyard.

We are all trees in His vineyard. All full of potential and purpose. All being tended and nurtured in the soil of grace and mercy. All being anchored to help us through those difficult times. God is waiting to see what we make out of disappointment. He is waiting to see what I do. I can only make something if I stay in His presence. To read His Word. To praise in His glory with everyone near by. To be grounded in His grace. To grow in His grace. To be fruitful with His love, joy, peace, gentleness, faithfulness, patience, kindness, goodness and self control. And to see His purpose come to fruition.

So when next I have this overload of disappointment, I’ll know, God is just adding a bit more of His special fertiliser!

With thanks to Steven Furtick.

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Thank You!

Hello everyone, thank you for dropping by. The words have run dry so I’ll be taking a break, but feel free to have a good look in the archives. God bless. Alison.

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Round and round.

I was once a teacher. Teaching little ones to not so little ones. Teaching those who wanted to listen to those who ‘shut themselves down’. Closed off their ears. Closed off their minds and stared into space. Lost in their own little worlds. Perhaps because they had panicked and thrown up their hands in horror mentally. Listened to their inner voice saying, “I can’t do this”. “I’m no good at maths”. “This is hard”. And so to retreat to that little world.

To acknowledge this, the schemes of work we followed went round and round. Not covering the same bit of the topic over and over, but revisiting it at a different stage. From a different angle. This allowed those who had listened to explore their new found knowledge a little deeper, and those who had halfheartedly listened to test the water. To take down one of the veils. To punch down a brick in that carefully constructed safety wall. To peep round the corner. Just a little. Just a glimpse. And then step by step the attitude changed. From recognising a small part, to knowing that small part. And in turn, growing just a fraction. Building up confidence to walk a bit further when the topic came round again. Not as a circle, but as a helix moving up a level.

I’m finding that God works in the same way. Bringing us His truths time and time again. Altering the angle. Encouraging us to peep. To glimpse. To alter our attitude. To recognise Him walking and talking to us. Matthew 14;25 – 33, when Jesus walked on the water and encouraged Peter to do so as well, is one such passage. I’ve written about it here . I’ve mulled it over and over every time it has appeared. I’ve listened to songs about it – Oceans bu Hillsong. I’ve peered at it from many angles and I hope I have taken on board something each time.

The passage appeared again today. Just at the right time – as always! Just when I needed a boost to take the next step. To put one foot in front of the other and step up. Just when I needed to hear Jesus say, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” v27. To note from the passage, that He didn’t just idly say it. It wasn’t just a throw away comment. No, He never does that – but to note that as soon as He heard the disciples cry out in fear, He immediately spoke to them. He immediately spoke deeply into that fear. And again, when Peter began to sink and cry out, He responded immediately to Peter’s fear.

There are two things which I will take from this. Firstly, as I recognise my fear, my fear of what’s next, I have to speak out to the LORD. I have to turn to Him. And then as He responds to me, I have to accept that response. To move on. To move up. To move together. And then to follow the next bit of my path from the LORD.

Matthew 14:25-33 

25 Around three in the morning,[a] He came toward them walking on the sea. 26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost!” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 Immediately Jesus spoke to them. “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s You,” Peter answered Him, “command me to come to You on the water.”

29 “Come!” He said.

And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strength of the wind,[b] he was afraid. And beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out His hand, caught hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 Then those in the boat worshiped Him and said, “Truly You are the Son of God!”

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Masks. Hiding. Sharing. Journeying.

“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

How often do you wear a mask? Perhaps you don’t. Perhaps the need is not there. Perhaps you are so strong in yourself that it is a thought too far. But then again it may be just around the corner. Something that you always have in your ‘hand’. At the ready. Just in case. Just to be on the safe side. A comfort blanket. A comfort blanket that can be installed safe and sound. A look down followed by the look up. From frown to fixed smile. From ‘I can’t’ to ‘I’m trying’. Probably trying too hard. And noticeably so?

Why?

Why do you place the mask? Why not let the real you speak out? Why not go public? No, because that involves explanations. That involves being honest. That involves letting someone in. Becoming vulnerable. To say that, ‘I can’t’, out loud. To crumble. Because to go ‘there’ and acknowledge ‘there’, is a painful way. Behind the mask is safety.

Safety.

Safety from whom? Safety from the outside? But also safety from yourself. By putting the mask in place you gain control. Control over your thoughts. Control over your feelings. Control over the how, and the when, you deal with the things you have to ‘sort’. Thoughts and feelings are private. Only given out to others when you tentatively say OK to someone who you know will care and not judge. Someone who you know will be there whatever happens. A friend. A true friend. A friend who is always there for you. At any time. In any place.

A special friend.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

And in that knowing the mask can come down. You can relax as you let Jesus in, to lift the load and help you sort through it. Bit by bit. Tangle by tangle. To learn and rethink the way you react. The way you take on a comment. A piece of your life. A sheltered way that is shared and made easy as you carry the load together.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:29.

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Diaries, Plans and Blank Pages.

What do you have new each year that is crisp and clean and ‘oooo’ ? It may arrive in January or maybe in September? If you are in the academic sphere it is probably the latter. But does that make a difference to how you use your diary?

Form and Function.

As I have moved through life, the form and function of my diary has changed. At Primary School it didn’t really exist! Life was free and easy. “Can I go and play now?” “Mummy, when is tea, I’m hungry!” “How many more sleeps ’til Santa comes?” Every day felt like every other day. Yes I went to ballet! – I know…… you don’t have to say it….. Yes I went to Brownies and Guides. Yes I went to stay with aunts and uncles. Yes we had visitors to stay with us. But these just happened.

Secondary School was different. The all important time table arrived with subjects, form time, social time all factored in just so we could function as a unit. Through these you got to know what was happening on a certain day, and whoa betide you if you forgot you gym kit, or brought your French book instead of your German book. Uniforms appeared. Satchels. Pencil cases with everything in. We became a unit. A group of girls! Oh yes it was an all girls school. (In fact, I was at an all girls school from the age of 7!) But I digress! This timetable became an important part of life. The list became part of my life because of it. Lists for each day. Lists for each subject. Lists for everything! I do love a good list!!

Gap Year- s.

At Uni the timetable continued but in a different way. There were gaps. Gaps for private study. Gaps for tutorials. Gaps for rowing/ coxing. Gaps for shopping. Gaps for coffees. Gaps for the bar – a pint of coke for 10p. Yep, it lasted all night too!! The timetable was fast becoming a diary.

Life and Listening.

Adult life appeared the moment I left the safe environment of Uni. The timetable became a slim long line diary I carried around in my bag – oh yes I was a proper young lady! The days were taken up by employment. The teaching day started at 8 in the morning and finished, at school, at 5.00, but started again after tea. Social dates were few and far between. If I wanted to do something I had to make sure things were covered. The weekends became special. Coxing had to go – something I was good at! But it clashed with my church fellowship. The food shop was fitted into the odd half hour. Bus trips into town for coffee and browsing were once a month. Oh that diary looked beautiful in January/September. Crisp, and scribble free. But……

Family and Fun .

With the arrival a someone else into my life, the diary got bigger! Times for just me, became times for him, and then times for me and him! We had to get our heads together. Weekends were still special. Our church life together, became bigger as we became more involved. Week night meetings began to appear. Teaching started to be longer at school and less at home. And then the BIG bombshell! A little one appeared and the diary disappeared for the ‘Family Calendar’! Mum, Dad, Toddler, Together. Supply Teaching. And LISTS! We all lived by it. For 18 years. No 19 years! And when toddler became a young man and moved away the ….

Filofax Appeared.

Pages for this. Pages for that. Sub dividers, ruler, pockets ….. well it was my dream diary! I’ve had my Filofax for over 15 years. 15 years of bliss and control. Organising my life this way. Organising it that way. Slotting a note in here to make sure I do something. Slotting an agenda in between this date and that date. Information at my finger tips. And that is the crux of my thoughts – control with lists.

Control. Who’s?

Having made a big decision last week, I now find my diary is empty. And that is scary!! Giving up something I have been clinging to was one of the hardest things I have had to do. But I knew deep down that God wanted me to do it. By giving it up I was releasing my control. By giving up I was saying OK to what ever comes next. OK to Jesus being in control. OK to Jesus taking the reigns. Easy to say. Hard to do. Yes I still write my lists. Every night. I have done for years. But they are full of things that do not go into a diary. My diary is blank and will be blank until Jesus points the way to something. Something that I know is right for me. Something that I can grow into because it is out of my comfort zone. Hard as this last year has been, I wouldn’t be here at this stage if it had not happened. Making big decisions. And eventually moving forward to a full diary again. Resting with my LORD.

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