Sunday, September 19, 2010

Joy and a Holiday...

Sunlight and shadow flicker on my eyelids, head back on the rest. The train glides down the track, descending back to the city. Bliss curls up through me, swelling to fill my chest. That I am at this moment. That today has allowed me to wander slowly through it. To sit and let it seep through my cells and my soul. To stand and shout my joy to an attentive God-with-me. That paradoxical straight-righteous God who bent himself to breaking, so he could iron me out. Me, all excuses, defensiveness and pretensions. Jesus, none of these.

Now, to see a flash of blinding joy, a glory beckoning almost undoes me.
Yes. Possibility is here. We can, with this spirit coursing in our vessels, do what feels impossible and turns our hearts to lead. This cross and resurrection tears down strongholds, implants new hearts. It can transform the unchangeable, intractible. I am lifted from a shroud and planted fresh to flourish.

It's not rocket science, she says. The rightness of it hits me. The daily, the patience, the serving, the participating as I am renewed. It's not complicated, or secret. Just humbling.

I was encouraged by spending Friday night and Saturday at wkc (Women's Katoomba Convention)

Going on a family holiday for 2 weeks, so I'll be blogging again in October.
See you then. :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I hate disappointing people.

Most of us do. I don't want to be the one who couldn't deliver what was needed. Sometimes efficiency, big picture decisions and 'the way things are done' trump really being there for someone. And I let people down. I have to say no to what a distressed person is asking me because my job only goes so far. I can't stretch it any further.

I cannot clearly express my failure to a colleague. He thinks I'm being too precious, his teasing, mildly facetious 'You're too worthy," just makes my cheeks redden. I am trapped in this 'feeling sorry for...' and unable to do what is being pleaded for.

But I don't want to be the one who hardens my spirit, so that I can escape this not being enough. Inadequacy or helplessness can give birth to heart hardening. It's so easy to reflect..."If I can't fix it then that problem is not a real one, or worthy of my effort." And the next step is to dismiss and ignore, to avoid painful dilemmas.

And for some stories in an acute mental health ward, being in there is not enough. It will not bring solace or rescue. It will not heal a soul scarred by abuse, repeated abandonings or self-loathing scored deep. That sort of healing comes slowly, a winding, wearing journey, needing companions who walk patiently alongside.

I disappointed her. She ran away because I did not give her one request, the one I could not grant. She couldn't hear anything else I said because I abandoned her again. Yes, I know I'm just a page in a story written long, but my wish was to be different. Sadly, I do not have armour or a thoroughbred, and gallant rescues are beyond me.

But as I write, I see that I will be hurt by not rescuing, by disappointing. The hurt comes of not protecting with hardness. Not becoming blase or cynical. I can avoid disappointing by never getting close and never really listening. Safe, to some degree efficient, but lifeless.

There is a call to soft-heartedness that hears pain spoken, and does not shut it out. There's a call to see needs and not be able to meet them. To be broken by that failure, but to see that hope lies in rescue way beyond what I can do.

At Holy Experience, Ann has written about her trip to Guatemala with Compassion. I encourage you to read these posts - Sept 9, Sept 10, Sept 11, Sept 14, Sept 15. She has captured the call to soft-heartedness lyrically.

Linked with Emily and Ann

holy experience

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Spin and Zoom

Prompt  #1 - SPIN

I love rides that go round and round. The spin is a chance to look and wave again and again...

This photo is linked to

Prompt #2 - ZOOM

and 2 more from a post last week...

Kelly gives a great reflection on zooming in on the detail. The challenge I find is to keep my hand steady. The picture depends on holding my breath, and sometimes leaning on something, so the picture has clarity. It's a photo that requires me to stop and really look (and have a few attempts).

Monday, September 13, 2010

Knowing how to party

Some opinions are fashionable to have. Often they are about parenting, and they usually involve judging how other people manage it.

In the past few years, I've had a variety of conversations about kids birthday parties. Some have involved tongue-clicking at the amount of money so-and-so spent on a jumping castle or a fairy or a clown or a cake. I've prided myself on my children knowing they are loved by my every-day actions rather than their birthday party or present budget.

This week we went to a birthday party at a fun park. I know my friend spent lots of money on it. I also know that this was the most powerful way, my friend knows, to tell her son, and her friends and family, that she loves them.

I might not think that her party was a wise use of money, and I might even have ethically sound, biblically literate reasons for doing parties differently to her.

But I better be careful about how I treat her love-gift to me and my family. Because how I respond to her generosity and her desire to celebrate (both biblically mandated ideas) needs to be with love and grace.

I better ask myself whether my high ideals and small-l liberal opinions on child-rearing are a key component of want I want to show her about faith in God. Or do I want to celebrate with her in the way she has graciously asked me to join her.

I am challenged to make sure I'm living Christ-like principles, rather than middle-class principles.

I thank God for my dear friend, who loves to be generous. I thank God for her delight in seeing kids having fun, and her delight in giving. May he help me to show his love wisely and graciously.
I thank God for a trip on the Ferris wheel, unanimously voted the best thing we did all day.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I celebrated my birthday this week. Spring is perched on the windowsill, peeping in under the early morning blind, and pulling me outside to pick early peas - sweet, snap and snow. Winter lassitude is lifting and I'm hoping winter grumpiness will follow.

Spring reminds me of reading this reflection on consciousness and being born again. I am drawn to the idea that as we grow in new understandings, as our fellowship with and delight in God grows it is an experience of new birth. It is like the freshness of God's mercy each day. It is the memory of new steps in faith, or times of deeply knowing God's faithfulness, that I look back on like birthdays.

The circling journey of years is a way of reminding us of where we have come from. Of course, there are joyful and sorrowful reminders, but both are enriched by presence of God-with-us. And somehow, each time we pass that memory milestone it is indelibly marked by the new visits as well as the old.

I don't pretend to understand God and why he has made as he has made. But sometimes his wisdom is so apparent, when we can see its fruit in encouraging us.

Monday, September 6, 2010


I have some climbing I need to do - figurative rather than literal.

When it comes right down to it, I'm just putting it off.

If I don't get it done then I won't find out that I've failed. I've embedded myself in other pastimes that are more fun, less demanding and let me be comfortable.

Is it the voice that whispers, "I'm not good enough?", right behind my ear? A chance question or overhead comments on my lack can set that refrain cycling overtime. Tears in my eyes, embarrassing. The lie I'm believing - that I need to be good at everything - that I am God.

No. It's just that I'm putting off wrestling with the monster (externalise it, turn it into a battle). I need to grit my teeth. I need to gird my loins. I need to pull my finger out. Otherwise, in a year or two's time, I'll be sitting here in front of this screen, writing incidentals, reflecting on the life I'm too mealy-mouthed to get on with.

Go on. It just needs to be done.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Happiness - is it too much hard work?

I get an email in my inbox at work every Monday from Dr Happy. I am impressed by him - he writes positively, encourages people to take care of themselves and lead balanced lives. He has tips for being happy and stories about appreciating life and what we have.

But I have started deleting it without reading it. I can't handle any more positive psychology!

I do want to be happy - let me explain that further - I want to be contented with my life and enjoy the people and happenings around me. I want to be optimistic and encouraging and find joy in the everyday.

But I don't want a list of 27 things that I need to complete (or avoid) in order to be able to tick off 'happy' in my 'achieved for today' box.

Pursuing happiness, as a goal, is the one thing guaranteed to make it unachievable. This is my theory, and I admit the hypothesis is probably unprovable. Happiness is actually the product of pursuing something else. Pursuing happiness is self-focussed, and shifting focus from self is a key step to becoming happy.

John Piper, talks about Christian hedonism. That we should pursue pleasure (happiness), but in God rather than in ourselves. And this will lead to happiness based on a trustworthy, faithful God who loves us and made us to find joy in glorifying him.

Happiness as a list of 'to-do's just weighs me down.

Happiness as a meeting with the god of grace, where he touches my life, all its minutiae and ordinariness, and tints it heaven-like. Now that is the happiness I seek.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.
Ecclesiastes 3:11-13.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Weakness that allows room for God

Sometimes what I set out to do, just doesn't go to plan.

When life is good, and I am cruising, the deviation from plan slides into place and I barely need to change gear. I absorb the impact.

When I am stretched already, I lose the room to accomodate and flex. There's not much 'wiggle room'.

I am discovering that it is in the second state that grace becomes more intense. Realising that I am not good enough, that I can't handle all that I am asked to, is deeply uncomfortable. It often makes me cry (in the most inconvenient places). But the uncomfortable realisation also brings the deep rest of knowing that God wants to do his work in me, through me. My inability allows God the room he is patiently waiting for.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

O God, I beg two favors from you;
let me have them before I die.
First, help me never to tell a lie.
Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!
Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.
For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?”
And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.
Proverbs 30:7-9