7/7 or 2?

Seven times 7 we are Biblically told is the number of times we are to forgive those who have caused us harm.  Was yesterday’s date of the London bombings a hidden message? Or is it simply another date of terrorism, another shattered city, shattered families, shattered hearts.

For me, like 9/11, I remember where I was on 7/7.  It was more intimate for me because I was still living in London at the time, and my ex-husband and I had officially divorced just 2 days before.  I held two jobs; one as a classroom assistant at an primary school, and the other part-time job was in the Burns ICU in Chelsea & Westminster Hospital.  The moment the news came through, I was obligated to leave the school and become part of the disaster plan that kicks in in an emergency at a government hospital.  While I was prepping a ventilator in the Burns ICU, I grabbed a moment to text Andrew, to at least see if he was ok.  I knew he was working in Central London at the time, and just wanted to make sure he wasn’t hurt.  He was in the tunnel a couple of trains away from one that had been hit.  The London Underground crew escorted them off their train and back to the platform and exit stairs.  He was going to be ok.  It was a relief, and I commented that he was supposed to be in the twin towers the day of 9/11, and then 7/7!  He’d been given a third chance!

What do we do with second chances?  Aren’t we given these through small and big events? A conversation, a divorce, cancer, an act of terrorism?  Why do we subconsciously think we will get another chance? If we have something to say, shouldn’t we say it now? If we have something to do, shouldn’t we do it now? If we have someone to forgive, shouldn’t we do it now (and again, and again)? Or do we blow it off, thinking it’s not that important, it will go away or come again?

What are you doing with your second chance, or even the first and only one most of us are given?

in Down & Out

Lent is over with the celebration of Christ is Risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Now the season of Pentecost begins.

Easter provides us the glorious wonder & grace of the gift of new life – the old shell or the old self cracked open and broken through to arrive at our new selves, our new creations.  We are given new hope, new faith, new life in Christ.

I seem a tough egg to crack.  How many Easters have I celebrated now?

I feel many years ago I ‘hatched’ but I’m wondering if I have only been ‘peeping’ as they call it in the process of chick hatching.  I see this ‘breaking through’ to newness as an annual Easter experience for me.  But I seem to not ‘dry off’ and move into my new self to explore my surroundings, just like a chick!  I want to be even more adventurous in my trust in Him.

Those chicks swing right into action with not a worry in the world.  And Easter and worry don’t go together either.  This Easter, I am warmed by the comfort of His Easter ‘down’, knowing our God has given me the pure and eternal connection to Him.

I cannot go into Pentecost, and the season afterwards, worrying.  He reminds me again in today’s reading: How much more are the lilies of the valley, the birds of the air, all cared for?  They are all sorted and I am perfect.  I am perfect in Him.  All the concerns for my day will not separate me from the perfect care He promises me.

In gratitude and faith…

Hot & Palmy

A couple of weeks ago the Gas Company red tagged our last working wall heating unit.  That coming week’s weather was mild.  The next day, Dave got his pension payout cheque.  Yes, not a sound idea to prematurely withdraw it, but what a timely blessing.  A week later we not only had to replace the one heating unit, but both units in the house!  That weekend was freezing.  What deep joy being warm at night and on getting up in the morning.  In fact, that Palm Sunday morn was indeed a hot one!  I was overheating, but I was happy.  I even cooked & baked for breakfast!  Dave safely avoided commenting about the latter.

It’s amazing what we can live with, and what we can live without.  We’d lived without comfortable heating for a while now and simply got used to it.  How much worse off are so many folk?  It’s difficult to complain about what isn’t truly uncomfortable.

At the start of Lent, I thought this season would be an uncomfortable one for me, where I’d go through withdrawals (to the point of delirium tremors) of not buying, not having, of letting go, not being able to want, anything!  But, like a cup of warm Rooibos tea, I’ve been filled with warmth and satisfaction, not just from our new heaters, but from the curiosity to enquire deeper, to focus more intently, on what happened to Jesus in the days up to his betrayal.  For the first time in a very long while, I have dwelled almost every day with the disciples and their Master, heard their voices, looked at their sandals, brushed against the cloth of their coverings … and even denied my Lord the wakefulness, honesty,sacrifice and devotion a loving King so richly deserves.

Christ washed their feet.  If my humanness allows for just this weekend, I want to fearlessly and humbly hand him my feet, so I will be washed of all doubt in completely surrendering to him, relying on him.  He has given us so much more than just a heater.  For I know one day I will sit with him in Eternity, where the temperature will be constant & just right.  But how much more I have now, just sitting and gazing at him.

Fields & Caves

On a few occasions, when I’m either about to fall asleep at night or when I wake up from a nap, I feel closely aware of my beating heart. It maybe from a premature beat which makes it beat harder, even pound in my chest. My mind doesn’t wonder if there is something wrong, but instead, I have this deep awareness that one day my heart will no longer beat. I will no longer think. I will no longer be. 

It’s ok if something is wrong. Really. If there is something physically wrong with me, I will fight. That’s what Poles do! What I’m chiefly pointing out here, is that it’s ok if something is wrong outside of my physical realm. Without a wrong, there wouldn’t be a right, like a negative charge there’s a positive charge.

My husband and I are and example of opposites, and that opposites attract. He’s the bat in the cave, swaying from its damp, cold ceiling, and I’m Pollyanna swinging her wicker basket, picking poppies in the field, stopping to bask in the warmth of the sun. Poor guy didn’t know what hit him when I walked in his front door from the desert! Thank goodness he only writes about vampire stuff and isn’t one, because opening those curtains and blinds would’ve burnt his skin and melted him to his couch!

He likes to live on the edge. He claims if one hasn’t lived on the edge, one hasn’t lived at all. He applies this philosophy to money too. I on the other hand am careful, counting and ready. I thought I lived by faith, but after living with his beliefs, I think blending our combination of approaches would bring faith as powerful as a mustard seed.

This past week has been a tough one for us. Dave has lived in his mystic world and I’ve been intently focused on our marriage world. It’s been tough because we care and more deeply than that, we have an indescribable love that could only be between a squeamish, light-loving, fashionista Pollyanna and a typical cave bat.

Yes, it is indescribable. But I know the source of that love and grace is from God.

And it’s only God’s love and my love for God that matters, in every moment, of every day, and in every circumstance.

I’m not always solely right. Dave isn’t always solely right. After this intense week of rights and wrongs, we come together with truths. It’s going to take some effort, but by the ease of our love, our opposite natures will continue to attract, keep our connection.

For starters, this morning Dave & I are going outside in the glorious sunshine to build a raised garden bed.

Agony

Have I every felt anguish?  I can’t recall even using the word agony at any point in my years of journaling, whether in sincerity or as a cliché.  Maybe I experienced it when it felt like my chest was being sawn open with the realization my first husband Andrew and I were no longer going to be.  But I had done so much for him.  Had I in fact surrendered myself to Andrew, a mere mortal?

Those first symptoms of agony are squeezing me, making me feel I need to move around, even leave.  I never thought I’d feel them again.  Who am I to think that over a period like Lent I could make the small sacrifice of my feelings, my desire for earthly wares?  I can blame the suffocating presence of ‘Merican consumerism for starters and go on and on.  It is my duty to sacrifice, and show that I love my Lord and Savior. But that makes my eyes focused on me, trying to develop my personal holiness.  I’ve become overly concerned about the way I look, where I live and what I say & do, all to not offend God, bring glory to God and be of use to Him.

This is a deep battle, far bigger than I had imagined it would be.  I am of no use to Him.  I haven’t and cannot be dutiful.  The big question and almost unfathomable task is how do I be of value to God?  How do I come to know the difference between the two?  I sense there is a difference, and smell doom as I haven’t found it up until now, almost 30 years into my faith, I never will.

What are the things I can give that are of value to God?

Mary of Bethany did something amazing even though it was considered daft and a waste.  Maybe therein lie the secrets to what is of value to God.

Mark 14: 3-7

While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 

But I see, Mary had to first leave what she was doing, go up to Jesus, and give of her perfume.  The whole perfume, her whole self, apart from all those around her and what they would think and say of her.Oswald Chambers once wrote: Once we are totally surrendered to God, He will work through us all the time.To those who have had no agony Jesus says, “I have nothing for you; stand on your own feet, square your own shoulders. I have come for the man who knows he has a bigger handful than he can cope with, who knows there are forces he cannot touch; I will do everything for him if he will let Me. Only let a man grant he needs it, and I will do it for him.”   ~ The Shadow of an Agony

God does not give me overcoming life, but life to overcome.  And love conquers all fear of me being afraid of failing to cross to the other side of value vs use.

Preserved

Up until yesterday, it’s probably been the first time I can say I’ve been truly hungry.  Thankfully, I was never starving but a hunger that has only highlighted how spoilt we are, for availability and choice.  Carbohydrates in good quantities did satisfy but I craved greens and a tomato!  Today I had homemade pickles on a veggie burger.  YU-UM!!!!

I worked hard at making my hunger a one for God only.  How Christ went without food and water for 40 days in a desert, I don’t know.  I cannot complain.  And have nothing to complain about anyway!

And, I’m content in ALL circumstances! 

Matthew 6: 25, 26 … well known verses

Do Not Worry

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are yo not much more valuable than they?”

And I have to remember his promises, and how he HAS already delivered.  No matter what the bank balance, I’ve never gone naked, hungry or without a roof.

The key now for me is not just to experience this during Lent, not just a brief awareness.  I will be like a young cucumber.  Just add a few pure ingredients, like focusing and listening, and all that I learn and soak up, preserved indefinitely so I can be a sweet-sour pickle, always ready for the banquet of our glorious King.

Pickle & Stretch

Just a little history …

As a kid I never dreamt of being something, let alone a nurse.  When I did know, which was around the age of 15, I embarked on  the medical nursing adventure. By mid high school I had to make the hugely significant decision whether or not to keep one subject/course – Art.  My dad made the decision for me:  you’ll starve if you pursue art.

So, I pickled & jarred my creativity and put it away in a storage cupboard deep within me.

Back to present day…

My husband has encouraged and supported me to let go of the nursing crutches.  I had loved my time in nursing and then slowly it became a sickness, something I wanted cured.  And with each passing birthday, I thought I was too old to dream and aspire to something different.  Without realizing it, different was already here.  Along the way I have had brief flashlights shining on the other jars of joy in my soul cupboard.  With nursing aside, I have pulled these jars out.  I have found my creativity again and am savouring of its sweet flavour.  It makes me feel healthy and alive.

And God said, “Arise from the dead…” and to the man with the withered hand, “Stretch out your hand.”

Have I been dead while walking the life of comfort and security with a steady income?

If I stretch out my hand, will I be healed of holding on to all that crippled my soul, stopped me from holding his hand to walk purely with him and not the ways of the world?

I want to see what he does.  I want to hear more that he has to say.

I want to see what I do…