Only a week ago I was reporting a good day, how I had renewed energy and felt that I was making progress on the depression front. Today has been almost the opposite; I have felt tired, lethargic and extremely negative,it would have been easy today to send off a batch of e-mails pulling out of projects and responsibilities. I may still do that, but I don't want to do so on the back of what has been a very bad day, instead I will take a fresh look at everything tomorrow.
I have discovered that there is a big difference between withdrawing and asking for help and I want to get the balance right. Bad days and more surprisingly good days are a feature of depression, I am learning not to make snap decisions, but always to sleep on things and see how things look in the light of another day. It is too easy to either take on to much, or to withdraw from something that might bring life....
As I write this I am watching a BBC documentary Across the Andes- Beyond the Boundaries; it is following a group of young disabled people on a 3 week trek where they are pushed to the limits of their endurance. I am struck by their indomitable spirits and their tenacity- they have grown and flourished, laughed and wept together.....and more than anything, they have not given up.
I have had a bad day, but I am not in the mood to give up...God being my helper....I will not give up!
Welcome to your irregularly scheduled Fifth Friday Five, hosted by will smama and Songbird! Since will smama is preparing for a joint garage sale with her parents, and Songbird's church had a Yard and Plant Sale last Saturday, we have five enormously important questions we hope you will answer:
1) Are you a garage saler?
Simple answer- no- not really, but then they are only just beginning to take off in the UK, jumble sales were very popular a few years ago, but they were often an excuse to get rid of junk! It will be interesting to see what happens as garage/ yard sales increase in popularity.
2) If so, are you an immediate buyer or a risk taker who comes back later when prices are lower?
I'm always one for a bargain, so I guess I'd wait, unless the object was just too tempting!!!!
3) This is the real #3: What's the best treasure you've found at a yard or garage sale?
I haven't found any treasurers yet, , but my daughter found a good 200 year old violin in a school store cupboard- it turned out to be a good one- does that count?
4)If you've done one yourself, at church or at home, was it worth the effort?
I've never done one!
5) Can you bring yourself to haggle?
Well I have done on other occasions so I guess the answer is yes!
BONUS: For the true aficionado: Please discuss the impact of Ebay, Craig's List, Freecycle, etc... on the church or home yard/garage sale
Ah Freecycle;now you are talking.... my living room furniture and current refrigerator came from Freecycle, as did all of Jo and Jon's crockery and pans etc for University! We have given away cat food, a caravan and school uniform through Freecycle! It is a great idea, I love it!!!
The unofficial family photo 2007, sitting on our freecycle furniture!
Reading the lectionary passage from Isaiah today I was struck by the phrase the arms of God arm laid bare (vs. 10). This passage written to a nation in exile calls them to look for signs of God's work and love amongst them, for signs of the kingdom to come, God's arm laid bare was a sign of strength to the nations….and yet what could be stronger than the depth of love that caused Jesus to give up the glories of heaven for the cross? Such love I cannot ignore, and truly such love I cannot comprehend. Like many people I am trying to escape the image of God as judgemental tyrant, and hard task master, the image that I am discovering is a human construct rather than a God given vision.
I wonder sometimes whether it is easier for us to deal with the task master, declaring him cruel and difficult, than it is with the one who reveals his love for us in so many different ways if only we had the sensitivity or receptivity to receive that love? Nancy Ortberg in her book Looking for God reveals how she was so overwhelmed with the love of God for her one day that she called out for the revelation to stop, she was watching her two young girls playing in a park and felt overwhelmed by love for them:
" Almost in that same moment, when my defences were down and I was flooded with intense emotion, God sent a tsunami that completely blindsided me. He whispered to me, And that's just the tip of the iceberg as to how much I love you.
Now I realise that most people would be grateful to have an experience like this and would probably respond really well. But for some reason my heart just didn't seem to have enough room to accept this message that God was trying to give me. My mind didn't seem to have the capacity to understand it. In that one sentence there seemed to be more goodness and grace than my body could contain.
And it was simply too much to take in, so I said aloud, "Stop!".
With that she gathered up her girls and left the park, running from the love of God revealed with such intensity. Nancy believes that most people would have responded well, I believe that we wouldn't, and wonder how many of us would and have run from a revelation of intense love unable to bear the intensity of it! We are able somehow to understand the arms of God laid bare in power, but those same arms laid bare in love are beyond our comprehension, how could we possibly be loved that much?
And yet the truth is that we are. We are loved and precious to the God who knows us inside and out, he wants us to love him and one another, and we can if we are open, for we can love because he first loved us….
Perhaps it was this love that Charles Wesley was asking for in his Hymn "Grant me the faith":
Enlarge, inflame, and fill my heart With boundless charity divine, So shall I all strength exert, And love them with a zeal like Thine, And lead them to Thy open side, The sheep for whom the Shepherd died.
Enlarge and enflame our hearts with your love Lord, this is our prayer.
I fear my blogging has been rather flat lately, probably mirroring my mood.... today I drove to Chesterfield and back to collect Chris, he is coming home for a week before going off on an evangelistic mission trip. The drive was horrible, heavy rain and thunderstorms made visibility poor, slow moving traffic ( because of the poor visibility) made the journey almost an hour longer than usual.
Chris however continues to challenge me, he is enjoying studying at Cliff College, finding the study inspiring. Despite suffering several health set backs through the year, and currently suffering from bruising and sciatica he was bubbling with enthusiasm; he has been reading the works of C.S.Lewis, and is excited by the depths of spirituality and theological insight that Lewis has brought into his world.
Chris has every reason to give up, to sit around and feel sorry for himself, but he does not. I am grateful to him for reminding me that sometimes God calls us to look beyond our circumstances, to reach for him in our pain and confusion and to dare to believe in his plan and purpose afresh.
Regular reader of this blog may be familiar with Christopher's story, if you haven't read it, and would like to you can read Christopher's story by me here, and Christopher's story by Chris here.
I t has been a holiday weekend here in the UK we enjoyed good weather on Saturday and finished the day with a BBQ both Em and Jo were home and it was pleasant evening. Sunday and Monday brought strong winds and bad weather, for the second year in a row Market Festival day was canceled, we usually set up a prayer tent under the name of Soul Space on the Carnival site, I had prepared much of the material although I was not going to be responsible for setting it up this year.
All in all as a holiday weekend this has fallen rather flat, and yet that is OK, yesterday I chilled out, read some books and watched a film, I would have liked to attend a worship service in the evening, but with the only local option being a Civic Service for Festival week I opted to stay at home, there would have been too many people present and too many questions to answer, and I don't feel up to that yet.
Today's lectionary readinghas spoken to me deeply about God's care and desire to bring restoration to his people. The depths of this care are told through feminine imagery, of a nursing mother, and life bringing creator, images resonant with birthing and nurture. As I acknowledge my need for rest at this time I struggle with myself to be open to this loving nurturing God, I want to be strong and to be capable, and I am not, instead I must respond to the invitation to draw deeply from Her wells of wisdom and comfort, to fall upon the strength of God in my weakness, to know that even into this cracked vessel she longs to pour her glory and riches.
And so my Bank Holiday prayer- is come Holy Spirit, come with grace and gentleness, come with fire and challenge, only come, for I need your life giving sustaining love, without you I am nothing.
A week ago I called in on some friends I haven't seen for years, only to arrive just as Ted was being taken to hospital in an ambulance. I spent a little time with his son Ray ( a long time friend of mine) and his wife Jean. Later that day I dropped a couple of cards in before we left Essex and set off for Norfolk again.
If I'd arrived half an hour earlier I would have been in the way, half an hour later and I would have missed them; sometimes I think that our God who stands outside of time organizes the small details to perfection! Today Ray phoned me to say that following two difficult operations his Dad died this afternoon.
I am glad that I called to see them, that I left cards and made the effort to get in touch, I believe that God had laid them on my heart at just the right time....and I am pleased that for once I listened and responded to her promptings.
The motion will be debated at the next meeting of the general synod in July
A traditionalist Anglican has said he will continue with a campaign for the Church of England to work explicitly to convert Muslims to Christianity.
Paul Eddy, a lay member of the General Synod, has come under intense pressure from bishops to withdraw his plan.
But he has secured enough support for his motion to be debated at the next meeting of the Church's ruling body.
The motion calls on the Church to proclaim Christianity as the only route to ultimate salvation.
Mr Eddy, who is training to become a priest, has been denounced by some Muslims, but says the Church can no longer avoid hard questions about its beliefs....
.....he goes on to say:
"Both Christianity and Islam are missionary faiths," he said. "For years, we have sent missionaries throughout the whole world, but when we have the privilege of people of all nations on our doorstep, we have a responsibility as the state church to share the gospel of Jesus Christ."
Let us pray - for better exam results and pupils who know what day it is
By: Alexandra Frean
Students sitting exams who think they do not have a prayer have been given a message of hope: they do now.
Mindful of its mission to bring divine inspiration to all corners of modern life in these testing times, the Church of England has published a series of prayers online to help students and teachers to cope with exam stress.
Students may find peace in the prayer that gives thanks for “stories in the Bible that show us that being worried and afraid are common feelings”. They may take heart at the appeal for divine intervention “when things seem impossible”. They may even find the inner grace to “celebrate with all our classmates, families and friends as they fail or as they succeed”.
However, they are less likely to find reassurance in the prayer for teachers that begins: “I don’t suppose you have time for this, Lord”, which laments the tendency of pupils to forget “things that normally they know, like their names and the date” and ends with the words “at this moment they really need your help”.
Today has been a good day so far, and I feel that I need to record that fact; I have been signed off from work for the last few weeks with stress related depression, for the first week I slogged away at an MA assignment, missing the deadline even with an extension would simply have prolonged the agony! The next week I spent moping about, tripping over myself and not knowing what to do... this week I have sensed a gradual improvement, a slow return of energy and interest in life... I have done some gardening, enjoyed cooking ( which had become a real chore) and even tackled some much needed household cleaning! I have also read two novels: Joanne Harris's Lollipop Shoesand Barbara Kingslover's Animal Dreams. The key has been doing things as I want to do them and have the energy to do them, and trying not to feel guilty about the things left undone!!!
So back to today; I had a lie in, pottered about the garden sweeping the patio and setting two hanging baskets, then did some shopping for a BBQ this evening ( making the most of the weekend before it rains tomorrow!) Both Emma and Joanne ( daughters) are home so we will enjoy the evening together. As I was driving to the supermarket I found myself enjoying the scenery, reflecting on what a beautiful place Norfolk is, and how fortunate I am to live here.
Along with all this busyness the most wonderful thing has been that I awoke with a song in my heart, and that song was a song of prayer and praise, this was echoed for me in the first part of todays lectionary reading:
1-2By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.
3-5There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
(Romans 5: 1-5 taken from The Message)
Tomorrow rain and strong winds are forecast, the weather like depression is prone to change, but like the weather depression has its warning signs. Today has been a good day so far, and I am pausing to thank God for it, as I pause I also pray for the aid operation to Burma, conscious that while bad weather here is a nuisance, in Burma the rising loss of life will rise further... and I pray that the relief effort that is now allowed to go ahead won't be too little too late.