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Monday, 30 January 2012

A bit of a blip

A bit of a blip in the self-image department yesterday.

I don’t know why I am so vulnerable to the perfectly innocent question, ‘What do you do?’ Is it pride? Is it dissatisfaction? 

I don’t really believe that a career title that earns money makes you a more worthwhile or better person. I don’t really believe that if I’d sold the books I’ve written to a publisher, that would justify the time spent writing them. The time was justified because of the way it developed my thinking and my faith.  

And yet that question often sends me into a downward spiral of thinking I may have wasted hours of my precious life writing, cleaning or gardening. I never think hours raising kids was wasted. 

Memo to Me. Develop a strategy for turning that question into an opportunity for declaring something about the Kingdom of God. Some people have a passion for physics, or for art, or for literature. My passion is God. 

His love for me is so precious. His guidance has been there, never as clearly as in an email or a voice from heaven, as I would choose, but there just the same. 

May I convey my passion for God passionately. Today. Or at least, the next time I get asked, ‘What do you do?’

No more blips, please. I’m getting too old for that.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Should I keep writing?

A spring in my step this morning. Friday. I’ve kind of been longing for Friday, not because it’s the last day of the working week, but because it is the first day of the working week when I have been able to stay home, out of a car, away from any meetings – good or bad. 

I was full of plans. A few tasks to mop up which I’ve been intending to do for awhile. Yuck stuff. But then, I thought, I would take time to try and reinvest in whatever writing career I ever had. I’ve just been too easily distracted these last months. I’ve not been writing creatively. I’ve hardly written any proposals or articles. I’ve not researched anything or challenged myself in this area at all.

I’ve been distracted. I’ve been wondering if my writing years are over. After all, they weren’t very successful, in a worldly sense. Yes, I turned out three books which I think have merit. Yes, I’ve had a fairly regular outlet for magazine articles. 

But it’s all been a push. It takes energy. It takes imagination. It takes sheer hard work. It takes hours.

And it takes self-belief. And for me, a belief that it is what God is calling me to spend my time on. 

I feel like the little boy with the picnic lunch. I have a picnic lunchbox size gift for writing, but I want God to take that and feed the masses with it. 

So far, he’s not done that. And I’m stagnating. Time is flying by. And I’m not writing.

Well, I’ll go walk the dog. Maybe I’ll find inspiration there. Maybe God will tell me to put away the lap top and go find something else to do. 

Or maybe He’ll give me an idea. Encouragement. Confirmation that yes, I was born to write.

Whether or not it feeds the masses. It may just feed my soul. And maybe that’s enough.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

The stark beauty of scores of years

The Hill of Fare has disappeared behind damp drapery. In the foreground, trees denuded for winter twist their frames skyward, and for the first time I notice how graceful and strong many of those frameworks appear. 

I prefer the early frill of spring buds and new leaves. I love the lushness of summer foliage. I drink in the beauty of the autumn, leaves glorious and vibrant before falling to the ground to moulder and decay, leaving those bare branches stark against the sky. I’ve left it at that before. Endure the monochrome of winter before the sun begins to linger longer and tease the sap to rise, the leaves to bud.

But this morning was different. Shades of grey, black, brown and white – oh, and a very dark green – blend in a cold symphony of colourless tones. Cold, and yet breath-taking. Colourless, and yet there is richness and depth there, too. And the tangle of branches, usually hidden but now laid bare.

I appreciated the grace and strength of those branches reaching heavenwards. Three seasons out of four I am unaware of that grace and strength. 

In our youth-oriented culture, we are encouraged to appreciate the beauty of the three seasons of life which are full of colour, energy and vitality. And yet, what beauty there is in the old gnarled hand, which has worked and served for a few score years. What strength there is in the sinewy body, now reduced to a slow step aided by a cane, but which once brought pleasure and help to others. What wisdom and love are etched in each wrinkle on a wizened face.

Set off against the damp drapery, the strength of the stark trees was unmistakable. Do we fail to appreciate the beauty of age because we compare it to the beauty of youth, instead of appreciating it against the canvas of eternity? Many of our elderly friends will soon disappear behind that damp drapery into a wonderful eternal life, which remains hidden from view to us below.

May I encourage and love every older person I meet from now on, and learn life from one who has walked ahead of me.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

You are my Daughter, whom I love

It’s funny how often it happens that the reading I’m doing for my Bible study group overlaps with my personal reading or the topic in church or whatever. I guess God is trying hard to get me to hear sometimes.
What I suddenly heard loud and clear just as I was about to go to sleep last night were the words, ‘You are my daughter, whom I love’. We’ve been going through Matthew in church and that was the topic for the service last Sunday, as well as follow up discussion Monday night, with the obvious gender variation. I’d noticed Monday night that the Father had commended the Son before he’d even done any public ministry. He loved Jesus for who he was. 

And suddenly as I drifted off to sleep last night, those words seared into my mind. He loves me for who I am, not for what I do. Wow. That blows my mind.

Then this morning I did my Bible study for tomorrow morning’s group and guess what? It was reading about Jesus’ baptism again, this time in Luke. Again the words, ‘You are my son, whom I love...’

But even more than that, if any more is needed. Whenever I feel confused about my identity – am I a writer or a wife or a mum or a housekeeper or ...? Am I American or British? Etc – this is the bottom line. I am the daughter of the King of Kings. 

Wow. Why stress over any of the rest of it? What more is needed?

And the great thing is, I am nothing special. He says these astonishing, life-changing words to everyone. It’s just that so many have grown deaf and disinterested, cynical and lacking self-worth. 

So if you’re reading this, open your ears, and your heart. He’s speaking to you, too. ‘You are my daughter/son, whom I love.’

Tuesday, 24 January 2012


Having coffee with a dear friend I’ve known now for probably nearly twenty years. We rarely meet up – she has her challenges and I am just busy. Her birthday just passed, so we will have our own quiet celebration, sharing joys and woes, reminiscing and looking forward to good things to come – travel, weddings and winter Olympic bids.

Coming by the house just before I leave, however, will be Don’s sister and their friend of a lot more years than twenty – they all grew up together. No doubt as they share coffee they will also share joys and woes, reminisce and look forward. 

Friends are such a gift from God. We should carve out more time to spend with them. Relationship is what life is all about, not tidy houses and gourmet dinners. 

Getting the balance right is not easy. Getting the balance between spending time with God alone, or in groups of like-minded folks praying or studying the Bible, and spending time hanging out with friends and family, or doing good things in the community, is not easy. 

I doubt if we ever get it exactly right. Just have to pray and go, or not. And trust God to use my little offering to make a difference in someone’s life today.