Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bother is good

She's sorry to be a bother.

How do I answer? That she's not a bother (my desire to calm and reassure). Or that she is a bother but that's what we are called to. To bear one another's bother-ness.

She is loving me enough to let me bother.

Another apologises for the tears she sheds over coffee. Sorry to talk about the depression or the failure or the overwhelming lostness. We tell her that it is joy to be real, to know her search and that she lets us talk about God and his comfort.

Why all this delicacy? This hiding from pain? This pretence?

People hidden but longing to be noticed and their wounds salved. Sad, that we go to such trouble to be OK and to not make trouble for people. Sad that inside we are trembling and teetering on tears, and comfort seems such a bother.

We are the disciples of the one who bears burdens and soothes the weary. The more we do that for each other - the more we allow the bother in, and let the bother be OK - the more people will be drawn to this family. Because we are real and we let each other in.

Monday, November 29, 2010


It's time to get ready!

The web is buzzing with Advent ideas and resources (and competitions). I am inspired that we can find all sorts of creative ways to remember and celebrate the story of God's love for us. (It's a birth story that's never been trumped at any playgroup or mothers' group I've been to).

We made advent calendars in our family church service yesterday. In my mind, they looked much more orderly, but I am growing to love their cluttered chaos. Each numbered shape has a short passage to build up the Christmas Story over the 25 days. This is craft for amateurs (ie. me).

The shapes were prepared before-hand and the kids worked together to collect them and tie them all together. And everyone took home a calendar to use this advent!

number 25

And I am keen to join the Advent Conspiracy... Here is the 2009 promo.

And a place to shop online...


Friday, November 26, 2010

Now and Not Yet.

I turned from teens to twenties looking forward to later. The later of being confident. The later of being competent. And the later of being known, cherished. Perhaps I wished for a later me - a more defined and comfortable self. I reached and softly yearned but it lay beyond grasping.

Sitting on a bus, one day, I realised that I could do whatever I wanted to do. I watched the streets tick past that I could explore, if I wanted to. My chest was filled with the cliff-edge realisation that I, alone, chose and lived it out. The flooding of exhilaration and trepidation, and my life crystallised, in that moment.

We hang in a tension between the surrounding now and what's to come.

'Enjoy the moment.' Awareness of current experience and mindfulness anchor us in reality. Future dreams and aspirations draw us on. But how to ration myself to both? To be content with now, but also look for more to come?

I resist investing time in future gain, because it steals 'now' moments and sensations. Am I as gloriously free  as I felt that day, or am I a slave to the present?

Illusionary freedom is doing whatever I want. True freedom blends now and then, and I live each one in the reflection of the other.

A longing for future gain, or heaven, does not dull the taste of now. Instead, it enriches today with purpose and direction.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What makes a leader?

Is a leader defined by the way people follow them? If the following is faltering and small and broken, does that mean the leader is no leader?

It seems logical to say that we can recognise good leaders by the success of their ventures and the loyalty and commitment of those who follow. And perhaps we can.

When a leader has charisma, single-mindedness and strong vision, we are drawn to them. It is easy to respond to their call and to follow. Does that mean leaders should be charismatic, single-minded or committed to a particular defined vision? Can the more prosaic, the broader thinkers and the inclusive among us lead? Would God expect it of them, or call them to it, or gift them for it?

I am asking these questions out of confusion. I do not know the answers. I am resentful of those who criticise leadership or vision, but do not want to follow, support or encourage their leaders. I am afraid they are right to ask for more, yet dread their narrow view of leadership.

Jesus said,
"But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave." Matthew 20:26-27.

Jesus, whose leadership embodied a clear-sighted vision of servanthood and spurned the cult of personality and celebrity.

What happens when the serving, humble, (self-doubting) leader is called visionless? When he is so unsupported that he decides to give up on leading as something he is unfit to do? Can you teach and pastor people without leading them?

Is it cynical to say that the leaders we aspire to are the ones that talk themselves up, the ones who build personal profiles and mega-church ministries? Do we judge leadership by fruit or by heart?
Perhaps their fruit shows their leadership gift, or perhaps we are just not so different to the world in how we see value in people.

I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Poem, by Eugene Peterson

Blessed are those who mourn

Flash floods of tears, torrents of them,
Erode cruel canyons, exposing
Long forgotten strata of life
Laid down in the peaceful decades;
A badlands beauty. The same sun
That decorates each day with colors
From arroyos and mesas, also shows
Every old scar and cut of lament.
Weeping washes the wounds clean
And leaves them to heal, which always
Takes an age or two. No pain
Is ugly in past tense. Under
The mercy every hurt is a fossil
Link in the great chain of becoming.
Pick and shovel prayers often
Turn them up in valleys of death.

from, The Gift, by Eugene Peterson.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Catalog Poem


Gone from the window, sheer drape gently sweeping.
Gone from the table, leaving no reply.
Gone from my lap, slipping down, turning, running.
Gone. Wisps of farewell.

Gone to the sound of laughter in the garden.
Gone with clatter of running in the hall.
Gone to the scraps of re-conversation.
Gone, I follow senses, thoughts, more.
Gone, I sit.

Linked to TheHighCalling.org with

Storm Lights

There is a heart and mind broken-ness that separates him from the world. He searches for help where he knows he'll get rejected. In desperation. His, mine, ours.
He cannot still himself to listen because the terror is so loud. And then he hurts himself so that someone will listen to him.

His anger (someone calls it spite) stumbles me today. On facebook, my "inner bird doesn't feel like chirping". And I lightly turn from disappointment, return to love and tight-gripped welcome home hugs.

But he sits, enveloped. The anger, disappointment, rejection, fear and alone-ness. He cannot escape. Only numb and blame and rage.

If he could collect himself. If he could turn to God in desperation. Would this be his prayer?

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Why are you so far away when I groan for help?
Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer.
Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.   (Psalm 22:1-2)

Would he find himself here?

But I am a worm and not a man.
I am scorned and despised by all!
Everyone who sees me mocks me.    (Psalm 22:6-7)

Extreme tortured pleas are answered. If they are made. But what of the one who does not know to make them. Are they instinctive?

Who can bring the lightning flashing in his deep, dark night?

lightning at night

Monday, November 8, 2010

Jesus lives here.

Jesus lives here.
What do you think of this for a church vision?
Can we be a gathering that makes this phrase happen?
Yes. Let's do it...

What do you think?

God's love

This post from Cathy at Women Bible Life had me excited today, as I read of her realisations about God's love. I firmly believe that it is as we understand and know God's love more, that his spirit works in us.

That as we experience being truly loved
( not with "edited, flat, hollow, superficial, fluffy bunny, impotent love", but with robust, sacrificial, nail-pierced, death-conquering, all-seeing, gracious, merciful, marrow-deep, present in all circumstances love.)
we are transformed. We participate in God loving the world because he can love through us - perhaps this is being filled with the fullness of God. And he can do the unimaginable - show us real love and then empower us to love that way, too.

So thanks to Cathy for this verse, what an encouragement.

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:19-20

Friday, November 5, 2010


I've written a post about having a child with a mental illness. You might be interested to check it out, over at Circumstantial.

When I consider how I would respond to the news of a child of mine having a major mental illness, I am ashamed. I realise how perfect I hope my children's lives will be and how unrealistic this is.

 'togetherness' at three

because the glint of mischief in his eye matches the hesitant smile in hers.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Life follows certain patterns. Walter Brueggemann called the pattern of life a script, (via John Mark Ministries and Soupablog). Scripts are shaped by our experience and socialisation, and we are drawn towards safety and happiness.

From infancy, the world gently nurtures us into the script. TV whispers selfishness and consumerism into our ears. Society fosters dissatisfaction and the need for power. We are mentored to seek fulfilment in achievement and recognition. We live it and barely question.

Then, the counter-script. A life which is not characterised by safety, 'happiness' or the world's values. The central character is God, rather than ourselves. The journey of faith is to gently disentangle ourselves from the first script. To relinquish its shaping and disengage from its values.

For each of us, there is a choice between the wide gate and the narrow gate. The narrow can be painful and uncomfortable. Sometimes our line of sight is obscured as we seek to understand where we are headed. The script gets messy. And elusive. I am tempted to domesticate the new script, right its upside-down-ness, tame its wild abandon, tone down its sharp-saltiness.

So its hard to give ourselves wholeheartedly to the new script. The world script is just comfortable and it takes so little effort to participate in it. I want to put a dollar each way, even blur my allegience. Ambivalence is wanting to run both scripts simultaneously.

Ambivalence (am-biv-uh-luhns)
  1. uncertainty or fluctuation, esp. when caused by inability to make a choice or by a silmultaneous desire to say or do two opposite or conflicting things.
  2. psychology. the coexistence within an individual of positive and negative feelings towards the same person, object or action, simultaneously drawing him or her in opposite directions.
When I am angry, I would rather stew, and ruminate than forgive and encourage. I want to (self) righteously show another person their faults and failings. I want to withdraw my grace and teach them new ways (my ways). Is that the script of sacrifice and reconciliation, or the script of  "he's making a list and checking it twice - he's gonna find out who's naughty and nice" ungrace?

It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. 
(Romans 7:21-25. The Message)

I long for purity of heart, that I might see God more clearly. Bring it on.

Thank you (and yes with Ann at Holy Experience),

that Jesus can and does

that ambivalence will end

that we will see God

and that we already do.