The finished product? Hopefully?

My time of sitting in this chair is hopefully coming to an end. Hopefully? Don’t get me wrong. In some ways I have enjoyed sitting here. Enjoyed looking out the window at the world as it goes by. Enjoyed sitting and writing to you. Enjoyed  – finally – getting some crochet and knitting done.  But ‘hopefully’ getting to the end of the week and having this ‘pot’ removed. So, as you can imagine, A and me are on count down! Four more scaling the stairs on my bottom. Four more hopping-s down the stairs. Four more mornings when I gaze at the shower with longing. Four more days of sitting in ‘the chair’. 4, 3, 2, 1, FRIDAY!!!!!

I’ve not been on my own over the last six weeks. Apart from friends dropping in to say ‘hello’, I’ve been able to sit with my LORD. He’s really used this time and made me think. Made me acknowledge various things. To sit up and take note. To take on board correction. To take on board and move forward. Even today I’ve had to stop short and say ‘Okay – think first!’ I’ve had a quick look back at my musings this morning. Key themes coming to the fore but all linked together. ‘Individuality’, ‘being part of a team – a cog’, ‘resting’, ‘white space’, ‘listening’. All interact with each other and WILL interact with each other!

But today it is ‘Plans’. Plans to make. To mull over. To adapt. To tweak. To gently let go of and run. To become the finished product? Maybe.

I have started looking at and reading Proverbs with a group of friends. Each one of us finding a verse or verses to take into the day ahead.  Proverbs 19. A group of sayings. Not promises. Thoughts to apply to our lives. Not all in one go. Not to fill your mind up and panic. To gently look at and apply in a commonsense kind of way. Some seem contradictory. Saying one thing in one verse and then the opposite in the next verse. But that is not the way to read them. The first verse may be right in one circumstance. The second, in another. They are to make you think. They are to make you acknowledge your common sense and do the right thing. Your God given common sense.

Two verses spoke this morning. Verse 20 and verse 21.

20 Listen to advice and accept discipline,
    and at the end you will be counted among the wise.

 21Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Listening to the advice. Yes I have been listening and been corrected. Gently. In a caring manner. He always corrects in a gentle way. But yes, I’ve been listening. And now the time is coming to the point to make plans. Not big plans. Little plans. Plans in bite sized pieces. Plans that are achievable. Plans that are not pressured. Plans that will let me grow within Him. Plans that acknowledge that I am a cog in His plan. Plans that acknowledge the individuality of me. Plans that have ‘white space’ built in, so that I can hear the whispering. Space to work with Him. Space to listen and acknowledge Him. My LORD. And yes, although these plans are in my heart, it will be His purpose, His big plan that is to be prominent. I know it isn’t going to be easy. I know I’m going to want to throw all the balls into the air and run with them all. Everything that comes my way. That’s me! But I’m going to try not to run with them all. Carefully. Gently. One at a time. Listening. One step at a time. And say ‘No’ to some things. That will be hard!

So is this the finished product? Or is it a WIP? A work in progress? Hopefully the latter. With the white space for Him to alter and mould me. For Him to guide. To follow His plan with His help.

And blogging? Yes this is one of the plans. My blogging has altered and come a long way over this six weeks. I can’t think God doesn’t have my blogging in His plan for me. It won’t be every day. Hopefully once a week. But we will see. For now, rest. Rest with Him. Rest with me and discover your mini plans. Hopefully.

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Calling.

Calling. A word that means so many things. We ‘call’ someone when we phone someone. We ‘call’ round for someone when we are going places with them. We ‘call’ someone when we shout out a ‘Yoohoo!’ to try and attract their attention. We ‘call’ someone or an object by a name. We ‘call’ someone when we perhaps think of something not nice about someone. All different angles of one little word. Is there any wonder that the English language is so hard to learn and understand! But there is another aspect of the word that I want to look at today. A word that covers the idea of vocation. A calling. A whispering that starts you thinking. A whispering that gets louder as your thinking takes shape. A whispering that gets so loud as you realise that yes, perhaps that is something I could do. A whispering that gets louder and louder as you take it on board. A whispering that becomes a calling. A call of yoohoo I’ve got your attention. A call that says yes, come on then, come with me. A call that is positive and needs action.

As part of my work at CMJ, the office gets requests from people for research. For someone like me, to dig and delve into the archives and discover an amazing life. Often the research is kick started by someone looking into a family tree, and discovering that the life of a Great-great-great Grandfather moved about not just around the UK but globally. Family trees have fascinated me since A and I started looking into his tree. The names of people set you thinking. How and why a certain man or lady was given a certain name. One of the ladies in our tree was given the name Elizabeth Snow Pick. Snow! It isn’t a surname. We found another lady in the previous generation called Snow Pick. But in calling that lady Snow it made it easier for us to look back and find the family. Another name was Wortley. An unusual name. Not a name you can visualise someone being called. It conjures up an image perhaps of a country person. But that may not be right and we have no way of knowing. But I digress.

These people moved around. Moved a round the English country side. Traveling up to Lancashire from Lincolnshire via Derbyshire and back again. We don’t exactly know why. All we know is the ‘Dad’ worked for the railway. Perhaps they moved with his job. Something we take for granted today. People often move for their jobs. Something we can do with relative ease. Bundling things into lorries, vans and cars. Carrying everything with us. But back in the 1800s you didn’t just pack everything up. Transport was harder. Things had to have a reason for you to keep them. You would have walked with your cart. It would have been hard going and a long journey. Today it takes about two to two and half hours to get to Preston. Then it would have been days. So if your family went a broad ….. well WOW!

CMJ has a history starting in 1809. Joseph Frey, William Wilberforce, Lord Shaftesbury, and even the Duke of Kent (Queen Victoria’s father) had a part in it’s beginnings. And along side these men of standing were the ordinary people.The people who did the work on the ground. I have been looking into the work of Samuel Farman. An ordinary man. A man who went as a student missionary out into the world. Who left everything and traveled as a ‘young’ man into the unknown. He set sail in September 1829 to take up a position with the Reverend Nicolayson in Malta. He went on to Tripolis and Tunsia. Constantinople and the then, Palestine. He had nothing but a whisper which grew and grew. Grew so loud that it became a calling. A calling to take the Gospel of Jesus out to the Jewish world. But which also included those other people who were looking for something to fill that hole. He traveled around spreading God’s love and peace and message about His Son. Speaking in synagogues and groups with individuals. With the individuals he felt God call him to speak to. Showing the Jewish people their Saviour. He could speak in Hebrew. How do I know? Because he left behind a journal. A journal which we still have in the archives. A journal carefully recorded in the Jewish Intelligence. A journal accessible to you and to me and to his family. It is to this journal that I have turned, to answer the questions asked. To make the Samuel Farman a person. A Great-great-great Grandad who picked up on his calling. Who listened to that whisper. A person to lead and inspire. A person to look up to and go wow! A person who stepped out in faith. Going into the unknown to follow the calling of Matthew 28.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

A calling that is given to us too. Perhaps not on the same grand scale but there. I have had the time to sit and be passive. To think and work through lots of musings with you. To recognise that my time had been too busy. Too full on. Too much of trying to be everything to everyone. And in so doing missing the mark. I read an article shared my a friend, about having that right balance of work/life. It spoke about having the ‘white space’ in your life.  Being creative (!) that poked me hard. When you design something it is important to get the white space right. Thinking about what is left out as well as what you put in. If it is too ‘busy’ on a leaflet, people switch off. They don’t engage with what you are trying to say or invite them to. And our lives can be like that as well. Too busy that we don’t engage with anyone properly. We rush from one thing to another. Forgetting to leave the white space. The space to interact. It becomes squeezed. That quality time gets smaller and smaller until eventually it is gone. And the whisper which was once so loud has diminished. Got quieter and quieter. Quieter to the point of not hearing that calling any more.

So what am I learning here as I sit? I’m going to take that white space and try and keep it. Yes I know I will be busy, because that is me. But not too busy. Just the right amount. So if I hear a whisper I can whisper back to it and be guided into the calling for me.

Rest and find your whispers.

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Struggles.

‘Things are sent to try us!’ Struggles.

It is four weeks now since I broke my leg/ankle and overall I have been okay. I have been content to sit and read. To sit and write. To just sit! No crafting. Just sitting! But there have been moments when I have gone ‘Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!’

I have had depression for 32 years. It has often been my constant ‘companion’. Sometimes it has got the upper hand and I have weakened and crumbled. Sometimes this has been my fault. Sometimes it has happened on its own. I’ve woken up and felt flat. Woken and felt that lump. Woken and thought  ‘OK, it is going to be hard today. Push through!’ 32 years of living with someone and you get to know the signs. The ‘look’. The vacancy. The muffled ears. The distant lands. And I know A has been on his guard. Waiting. Waiting just in case. Waiting and in away bracing himself. And I don’t blame him. I’m not easy when my companion sticks it’s head up and says ‘Remember me?’

Friday  I said ‘Hello’ to my companion. I sat. I just sat. Not in contentment. I just sat. I tried to read. It didn’t work. I tried to draw. It didn’t work. I tried to push through. It didn’t work. I tried, oh I tried. Hard. Sitting up straight. Sitting and trying to be positive. I read my bible and I did that! Yeay! I’m not on my own! I’m not sitting here alone. He is sitting beside me. He is holding my hand. Squeeze tight and hold on! Jesus has often sat with me and walked (hahaha!) with me. We’ve gone miles. We’ve talked and He has never left me. Never once given up on me! So I hoped and prayed that Saturday would be better.

Saturday. It began OK. I read my bible and it was OK. I got up and it was OK. I was puffed out, but I made it downstairs. OK. I had my breakfast and then went to sit in ‘my’ seat. THE SEAT! The seat I have sat in for the last four weeks. The seat I have been content to sit in. The seat that on Saturday I felt would swallow me up. The seat from where I look and see this needs doing. See that needs doing. And not being able to do it. The only thing I have in this seat, apart from the stool for the ‘pot’, is my laptop. My laptop that has been my link. My laptop that links me to the outside world. My laptop that brings me news. That brings me questions and answers. That lets me communicate with all of you. My laptop that is 10 years old. My laptop that is dying. How could you let me down when I need  you most? How could you let me down when I am struggling? Struggling to push through. SNAP! Big time! SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! Slam. Finger hits the button. Nothing. Tears. A warning voice behind me. A warning voice I should take note of, but don’t. Should know that is kind and loving, but don’t hear. And there is A, and there are my tears. Frustration, lump. That feeling of sorrow, lump. That hopelessness, lump. That when is it going to end feeling! And following my outburst that feeling of just sitting. The ‘look’. The vacancy. The muffled ears. The distant lands. I tried all day on Saturday to sit up. To take notice. To put my companion away. I managed the ironing from the sofa. A different seat! I managed to read my bible again. A book – no! We sorted my laptop by using a wired mouse. A post or two. I really tried.

Why do I ‘keep’ my companion? Believe me when I say I don’t want to. I have prayed for Jesus to take it away. Friends have prayed for Jesus to take it away. But it lingers. And looking back over the 32 years, some of my closest times with Jesus, are when I’ve had my companion in tow. When the struggles have been in the fore. When I have been in the ‘trying’. For what ever reason, it stays. But it stays hidden away and for the most part controlled. And I’ve always had a lesson to learn.

Sunday came with sunshine. Sunday came with a trip out. Sunday came with church. Sunday came with friends. Sunday came with God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We sang. We prayed. We fellowship-ed together. We sat at His feet and learned. What did I learn? We are often too desperate to be busy. To be doing. To be on the go and therefore to be in control. So when we are stopped. Stopped short. Stopped dead, that control goes. Initially it was OK. I enjoyed sitting and being able to read my bible. Sorting my thoughts out with you. Learning from Him. So that is what I have to do again. Find that contentment. Find the sitting with Him without clinging and squeezing tight. He doesn’t mind if I do, but it isn’t a healthy sitting with Him. I need to sit beside Him, not Him sit beside me. I need to fill that ‘look’ with Him. I need to feel the vacancy. I need to open the muffled ears. I need to visit the distant lands that He chooses. I need to put Him in control. To be ready. Ready for whatever He has next on my plan. The plan that He put together.

So I came home and put my laptop down. I came home and A fetched my crochet. I came home and rested. I came home and thought. I came home and learned to rest in His contentment. Once again I found closeness to Him.

To struggle:

strug·gle

/ˈstrəɡəl/

verb

  • 1. make forceful or violent efforts to get free of restraint or constriction: “before she could struggle, he lifted her up” synonyms: fight, grapple, wrestle, scuffle, brawl, more

noun

  • 1. a forceful or violent effort to get free of restraint or resist attack. synonyms: fight, scuffle, brawl, tussle, wrestling bout, more

Contentment;

con·tent·ment

/kənˈtentmənt/

noun

Struggle, the opposite of contentment. Rest in Him and be content. Oh and yes, crochet!!!!

  

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Psalm 121

Pictures today. Creative Passport challenge

      

 

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Teaching and learning.

 

 

How do you learn something? Do you learn by rote – saying something over and over again? Remember the times tables? Who learnt the ‘tune’ before the ‘words’? Do you commit to memory a favourite verse by simply saying it over and over again? Then can you remember the chapter and verse, and more importantly the context? Is it the same for an action? How do you learn ‘how’ to do something? Is it by repetitive actions? Doing it over and over again to make the  action second nature? Wow, what a lot of questions! But something that effects us all.

Having been a teacher for a number of years in the 80’s and 90’s, I’ve tried lots of different techniques to help those in my care learn. What works for one doesn’t always work for others. What works for number and maths, again doesn’t work for reading and language. Little ones learn a lot through play. Games and role play. Fingers and thumbs. Apparatus, big and small. Underlying it all, the right environment. Peacefulness, being content, at ‘home’, trusting those around us, caring for each other and thing, bright and crisp. Classrooms in most of our schools are like this. It is a happy place and if you are happy you learn.

 

I am a visual person. Colour plays a big part in the way I learn. My head – poor head- is full of little pictures! Sitting there. Waiting to be triggered. Waiting to spring into action to complete a task. To help someone. To bring memories back to the here and now. I am also a logical person. If you do this and this, then that and that will happen. I loved numbers and art at school. Creativity is full of numbers. God’s world is full of numbers. It is a creative world. A world He created. Logically. Planned with precision. With colour and form. The right number of wings on a bee. The right colours for a Chameleon. Beautiful. Bright and crisp. Made to bring us peace. To help us to be content. To help us feel at ‘home’. A place where we can care for each other in a trusting way. An environment where we can sit and learn at His feet. Somewhere we can play and learn. Somewhere we can turn to Him, and smile, and say, ‘yes’. A place where we can be happy in our hearts because we know He is there. There from the bottom of our hearts. Filling it to over flowing. And in so doing we share. Share the things that the ‘best’ teacher we have, wants us to share. Giving us the means, the actions, the words to share. Actions that we have learned from Him. True actions. ‘Right’ actions and words. Words to bless both the giver and the receiver. For He only wants what is best for us.

So come into the ‘best’ classroom going. It is all around us. Creative and logical. With seats waiting to be filled. Spots waiting to be filled at His feet. Eager hearts open to His words. And freewill to say ‘Yes! I want to learn. Yes! I turn to You. I’m listening. Teach me as you taught those before me. I’m here!’ Be blessed.

 

 

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Perseverance.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!”

This was one of my Mum’s sayings as I grew up. When I didn’t get the mark I thought I would get, at school, she would say, “Never mind. Read the comments and learn from them, and then ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!'” My school life was one of ups and downs. I suppose most peoples’ were the same. In the area where I lived we had grammar/high schools and secondary modern schools. I was fortunate enough to follow in my brother and sister’s footsteps, almost twelve years later. They were the first in the family to go to a grammar school and then onto University and College.  I didn’t sit an eleven plus. I went on my teacher’s recommendation. Amazing really when I didn’t always see eye to eye with my last teacher at the Junior school. There were eleven of us, nearly half the class, who went that year and I loved it. I was in a class with my friend who I started Infant school with, and I found the work interesting and challenging. I wasn’t at the top of the class but I wasn’t at the bottom either. Some subjects I struggled with, some I just lapped up. Just a normal beginning to a secondary school.

As time went on, the subjects got harder and I struggled. Enter Mum and her saying “If at first you don’t succeed, try,try again!” Bless her! I started to find myself at the bottom of the class. No matter how hard I tried, compared to everyone else I wasn’t great. It could have been soul destroying without my Mum, and Dad too! We would sit together and work through things. When I broke my arm, my Mum wrote my essays as I told her them, in her beautiful copperplate writing. As I learned the topics for exams, which we had twice a year, she would test me by asking me questions. If I struggled with a topic, like logarithms, and she couldn’t help (Mum left school when she was 12 and went into service) Dad found someone who could. Then when I came home with a percentage of 60% and a place of 27/27, she would praise me and say “We’re proud of you for getting the 60%. Don’t worry about the place, but if you’re disappointed remember, ‘If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.’ And I did. Going on to train and become a teacher. Then in turn telling my little ones what my Mum used to say to me, ‘If at first you don’t succeed try, try again!’

My Christian faith has been a bit like that too. Up and down. Not quite getting the theology. The long words. The ‘Pre-millennialism’, the ‘Post-millennialism’ and the other ‘ism’ that goes along with this.  The jargon that the academics latch onto. The cloaks that they put around the topics. Nope, struggled with that one. But gradually God has opened my eyes and my heart. As I have read His word the theology has been put into place. The simplicity of His word, which has stood the test of time, has opened up. I have read and re-read passages. I have ‘tried, tried again’ and bit by bit I’ve understood not to read too much ‘into’ the Word. Take it as it is – the Word God breathed. I’ve tried to let Him lead me. Let Him explain it. And slowly He has. Enriching the faith I have in Him. Enriching my life step by step. Following His lead. For God showed an example of perseverance. An example of patience and perseverance  with His people.

I have been reading the Old Testament, and time and again the Israelites got it wrong. Time and again they turned away from their LORD. What did the LORD do? Waited and spoke to them again. Turning them back to Him. Walking with them. Watching them gradually go their own way, again! Waiting for them to turn back to Him. Showing His patience and perseverance with them. Yes He got angry and frustrated but He never gave up on them, and He still doesn’t.

Okay, my perseverance isn’t in that league. I only have a few people to think about. A small family, which includes me, to pick up and walk on again with Him. The crashes are not so major, although they may seem major at the time. Our faith has brought us through lots of ups and downs. Together we have worked things out. Reading God’s word to help us work them out. Taking comfort from what is written there.

In the book of James, he writes in the opening chapter,

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

And again in 2Peter,

“..make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

He is telling us ‘If at first you don’t succeed try, try again!’ Building on what we have and know, to possess all these qualities. But not just to have as a tick list. Got that. Done that. Using each one to enrich the next. For you add to your faith, goodness; you add to your goodness, knowledge; you add to your knowledge, self control. Each one ‘in increasing measure.’ Each a God given gift. A gift, because He helps you at each stage. And in that list is perseverance. Perseverance added to self-control. God showed great self-control with the Israelites. And in that self-control showed His perseverance. What an example to follow.  And if we follow that example look what we are given. Qualities that ‘will keep me and you from being ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ’, ‘so that we may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’

Be blessed and ‘If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.’

 

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Firsts.

Today is the 1st of June. The first day of the summer meteorologic-ally speaking. Hopefully the sun, that is shining today, will continue to shine over the coming months as people take their summer holidays. The first day of my new challenges. The first day of my Creative Passport. The first day of this month’s bible challenge. The first day of merging the two! Exciting!!

So, what do I have to read and do.

Creative Passport is a strange one. I would never have thought of this one. “Write about your boss or coworkers at work. What are their personalities like?”

Oooeerr! At this point leaves come to mind for one lady – she’ll know who I mean. Red, yellow, orange, green, purple. You think of a coloured leaf and it is there! Dependable is another word, for lots of the staff. Caring, loyal, smiley, pink also come to mind! Intrigued? Well I think that is as far as I’m going with that one. I’ll just keep you guessing.

Rachel’s Bible is to read Psalm 127;1-5.

Psalm 127

A song of ascents. Of Solomon.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
    and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
    for he grants sleep to[a] those he loves.

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents in court.

OK. Have you got that? What leaps out? What challenges and speaks? How to merge? How to build up a page? It’s form? It’s colour? Words? Or pictures? Or both? Together building a form that speaks volumes to me. To you? Possibly. Here goes…

All at the ready, steady, paint!

CMJ UK  1809-2017.

Alex, John, Alan, Paul, Janey, Jane, Steph, Mark, Pat, Chris and David.   Good friends. Good laughs. Good together. 🙂

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