Friday, 30 March 2007

Only human

Today, I had a bit of an epiphany:
I am only human. (How old am I?!?! Yes, ok, it's taken me nearly 33 years to come to this conclusion. I don't know, maybe that's not actually too bad going...)
And, no, I'm not really coping.
Life is hard going, my kids are extremely demanding, my relationships are under strain, and my health is less than perfect.

So, after the post I wrote about a month ago about going it alone, I've started taking my tablets again - on the doctor's advice obviously...
I have surrendered, and realised that, just for the time being, I need the extra help and support of the antidepressants. It's not a failure, and my life's not a failure; on the contrary my life is amazing! But right now I just can't cope with extreme highs and lows. I need settling down, just a little...just for now...and find rest in my creator's embrace... 'For my yoke is easy and my burden is light'.

Blogging and worship?!?!

A while back, Paul was asking some very probing questions about what blogging means to each and every individual. You can read the post in full here; this has fuelled a very interesting discussion which I for once have felt able to take part in...Let me share with you a little of my part in the discussion, and then let me expand a little more. Because, yes, you've guessed it: I want to talk about worship again!!

Paul: I'd love to hear your thoughts, please, on:
what is a blog to you: is it like a church? is it community? something else? and in the light of that:
do you feel that you have responsibility towards those that you interact with online - if so what does this means for you in practice? Do you think the Bible, or Common Sense or just Plain Manners says anything about how we should behave towards one another when we engage in 'community' online?

Mrs W: For me, my own blog is a bit like an extension of my home, another room almost. It's also an extension (or an expression) of my devotional life, another creative outlet for worship...
Paul:
I'm intrigued, how do you see your reflections as part of your worship - is it the act of sharing in spirit and in truth? is it in the writing/expressing? the seeking/longing? I love the idea so would love to hear more how you see this?

Worship is a complex thing yet it is also so simple. It is really just about how I live my life, and whether the way I do this pleases God, and blesses His heart. And I see this as involving every nook and cranny of my daily existence. It's not simply about music/ singing/ and any other artistic expression we may engage in on a Sunday in church.
I love the way Andrea is constantly seeking to find beauty in the mundane (you can find an example of what I mean here!) - to me, that is also worship. Why? First because that's an acknowledgement that God is and wants to be intimately involved in the small things, in the details of our lives. And acknowledging this is, in my view, an act/ an expression - of worship. Second: to see beauty where most people would only see ugliness is a choice: it is choosing to involve God in the small, mundane, sometimes messy and ugly stuff of our lives. It is, in effect, putting Him at the centre, and that, to me, is worship.
So let's get to this thing about blogging being 'an extension of my devotional life', and 'another creative outlet for worship'... I desire to place God at the centre of everything I do, everything I say and everything I think. And I sincerely want my blog, here, to reflect that desire and be a place of transparency, where God is at the centre of anything I post. I am so keen to make it as beautiful as I know how...which to me is another way of expressing my love, my worship, to Him. Finally, by writing about my various experiences of life as a mother, a wife, and a daughter of the King, my longing is to help others to see that God can help us be victorious in each of our circumstances.

I recently came across a definition of worship which is exactly in line with everything that I want my life to be. It happens to be in the Bible...the best book of all time:
"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. This is your spiritual act of worship" (Romans 12:1-2a)

So, here you have it, it is not a comprehensive answer by any stretch of the imagination, but it'll have to do, for now!

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Corners of my home

(As inspired by the lovely Andrea, who has a beautiful blog with some gorgeous photos and many inspiring, godly thoughts on the nitty-gritty of life as a mother...See here also. This concept was originally started as a Flickr group, where 'Corners of My Home' is described as "a place to share the favorite little spots in your home-the spots that make you truly feel something-joy, peace, whatever it may be. It doesn't need to be a literal corner-perhaps just a nook or cranny or object." )

This is, hopefully, the first in a series of little snapshots of my home, corners that I like to go to, to be refreshed, to rest, and get away from the busyness of life. And this picture shows our 'garden room', a new-ish addition to our house. It is a truly delightful room, with a real sense of the presence of God and His peace. No TV, no toys, no children are allowed here, and it is also where we play music, have our 'cell-group' meetings, and entertain 'guests'. I love this room, and am thankful for it...

Saturday, 24 March 2007

Just having some fun :o)

You Are a Life Blogger!

Your blog is the story of your life - a living diary.
If it happens, you blog it. And make it as entertaining as possible.

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Longing for greater intimacy with my Creator...but how to tell Him?

Of late I seem to have been borrowing others' words a lot, to express what is on my heart. ... And while I make no apology for it, I suppose all I can say in my defense is that I have run somewhat dry - why is it that they can put into words seemingly without much effort what I am struggling to even try and make sense of for myself?! I suppose I have to be thankful, humbly borrow, and confess once again that I am not perfect.
So, here are the lyrics of a beautiful song by David Crowder, which recently has been echoing my heart's ache for more closeness with God, my desire to pour out my whole being as a sacrifice of worship to Him...
Take my heart, I lay it down
At the feet of You who's crowned
And take my life, I'm letting go
I lift it up, to You who's throned
And I will worship You Lord
Only You, Lord
And I will bow down before You
Only You, Lord
Take my fret, take my fears
All I have I'm leaving here
Be all my hopes, be all my dreams
Be my desire, my everything
And I will worship You Lord
Only You, Lord
And I will bow down before You
Only You, Lord
And it's just You and me here now
Only You and me here now
You should see the view
When it's only You
Copyright 2003 Worshiptogether.com Songs
Words by D. Crowder, M. Dodson, J. Solley, M. Hogan
Music by D. Crowder

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

WOW...!!!!


I am blown away by God's goodness...
Why?
Just 'because'...
(Do I need a reason??)

Through the exhaustion and weakness of the last few weeks, I have been granted little glimpses of God's glory and strength, and I just want to testify to that. It helps, of course, that today, the sun is shining in a spotless bright blue sky... And I feel loved, cared for, special. My heart is lifted, and for now I can truly say I know how it feels to 'soar on eagle's wings'! Thank you my Lord!
(more later)

Sunday, 11 March 2007

"For our petty fears of loss You have in keeping a greater gain than all of which we dreamed..."

A few months ago I discovered, on Miriam's recommendation, a wonderful little gem of a book called 'Streams in the Desert', which is a collection of daily devotional readings pulled together by L.B. Cowman, who by the sounds of it was (is??) an awesome woman of God .
And I can honestly say today that so far my faith has been challenged and nurtured by it! Of course it would, and never will, replace God's amazing Word, but through it, every day, I have been nourished and blessed. I would sincerely advise anyone who finds life 'hard work', busy and a struggle at times, to hurry up and get a copy; anyone who finds themselves frequently weak, weary, parched will be hugely built up by the anointed wisdom that is there in every page.
Today, I felt I had to share a few lines, as I was blown away by their relevance for my life, in general and right now..."Weeping inconsolably beside a grave will never bring back the treasure of a lost love, nor can any blessing come from such great sadness. Sorrow causes deep scars, and indelibly writes its story on the suffering heart. We never completely recover from our greatest griefs and are never exactly the same after having passed through them. Yet sorrow that is endured in the right spirit impacts our growth favourably and brings us a greater sense of compassion for others. Indeed those who have no scars of sorrow or suffering upon them are poor. (...) Sitting down and brooding over our sorrow deepens the darkness surrounding us, allowing it to creep into our heart. (...) But if we will turn from the gloom and remain faithful to the calling of God, the light will shine again and we will grow stronger. J.R. Miller"
To me, this felt like confirmation that my responses to every sadness that I have ever had to go through have been right. Here and here you can read a little bit of my story...

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Darling

Three posts in a day...Does that make up for the lack of writing in the past few days??

I need to get something off my chest:
This side of heaven, I am nobody's "darling", apart from my husband's!!!
I hate the way many people have of using special, intimate terms of endearment in such a lighthearted, careless fashion.
One has to respect a certain etiquette in relationships. I don't much like the word "etiquette" but cannot think of a better one, so for the time being, it'll have to do.
My husband calls me 'darling', 'love', 'Rach', and so on. Whatever he wants to call me, as long as it is nice and edifying (!!!) he has my unspoken permission to call me, because I am his, and he is mine. And he understands me and what I like to be called and not.
Close, intimate friends who I would say are my 'equals' (in terms of age, stage of life, emotional giving and receiving, etc), have the right to call me 'Rach'; some call me 'honey', or 'sweetie', or 'lovely'... but none of my really intimate friends call me 'darling', because there is an understanding, again, of what is and isn't appropriate. And for me, being called 'darling' by someone who isn't my husband is actually quite offensive.
I'm sorry if this comes across as brutal, harsh, ungracious, unpleasant, or downright nasty...
I guess my patience is being tried by various situations at the moment and the stress levels have risen almost too high. And this post is simply a reflection of how I am feeling and responding to some of the things going on in my life.
I would like to write more on relationships at some later stage, and on my struggle and strivings to put boundaries in place in order to protect myself and those who are dearest to me.
I am beginning to see how crucial this is, and how I have so often failed, in my life, with the result that, many times I have found myself in situations which I've not known how to get out of, because of lack of boundaries.
But for now, this is a boundary I am sure of: please, don't call me 'darling' unless I am married to you...

beautiful, thought-provoking, life-speaking words

death and thinks life,
losing and thinks winning,
tragedy and thinks opportunity,
brokenness and thinks humility,
accidents and thinks purpose,
coincidence and thinks destiny,
despair and thinks hope,
poverty and thinks wealth,
wealth and thinks poverty,
failure and thinks success,
the seen and thinks about the unseen,
history and thinks God's story,
science and thinks God's laws,
psychology and thinks Christ's wisdom,
anthropology and thinks God's image,
astronomy and thinks God's heavens,
the human body and thinks God's dwelling place,
war and thinks man's rebellion,
the cross and thinks everything made new,
truth and thinks Jesus
(this is taken out of the Purpose Driven Life devotional for today)
I am challenged....

what's going on??

I am going through a weird time at the moment.
God is doing some stuff, but I am really unsure how to quantify or express what is going on.
I am not asking anyone here to tell me or explain, but I just want to record some things, in a bid to try and make sense of them a little more.
I love my life: I love my God, I love my husband and I love my kids. I love my church, I love my friends, I love God's creation, and - dare I say it?? - I love myself...
And yet, I am really struggling.
Why?
There is too much going on. Although, is it really too much?
Oh boy, where do I start?!
I have been trying to come off my antidepressants... I started taking them shortly after Ben was born, as I was having a really tough time. I was in a dark dark cloud the whole time, and, frankly, life just didn't feel worth living! But I now recognise that this depression had been hanging over me for way longer than I was aware at the time, and God subsequently allowed me to have some sessions with a wonderful therapist. Although she wasn't a Christian, my sense of God healing me and peeling back layer after layer through those sessions was incredibly powerful every time I went, and I can say for sure that He dealt with a LOT of stuff and took away a lot of my pain: stuff and pain that went back years and years.
Today I am in a place of incredible freedom and joy, and can really testify to God's power at work in my life so far. Yet this is an ongoing process, one that is likely to go on for the best part of my life. And I am greatly aware that another season of healing is about to begin for me. I am quite nervous of how I will cope without any extra artificial chemicals in my body. But I am so ready to step out and 'test the waters'...hand in hand with Jesus.
Before I continue, I really need to be very clear about something. I am very willing to say that without Phoebe's help or the tablets, I would not be where I am today. God in His wisdom, chooses to heal us in lots of different ways and one of thoses ways is to work alongside and through health professionals and medication; I get extremely angry (although still find it hard to actually confront face to face) with Christians who tell me I shouldn't need medication, or seek help from health professionals, for matters of the heart/and any kind of mental health dysfunction. If you know you have some form of mental problem, you should never hesitate to get help from those who God has gifted with special understanding and insight into these things, including people in churches who have a known ministry in this area, as well as those mental health professionals!! Who are you to think you can manage on your own?!?!?! Or drag other people - just anybody - down with your own problems when there are people you can see who specialise in dealing with your problems??!?!?
Rant over - for now (can you tell I'm wound up?!)
The other reason why I knew I needed to go to someone who was a professional was that I felt I had a right to offload to her, and that this wouldn't become a burden to her, because that was what she was paid to do and what she had spent many years training for:
a) I would hate to think that I was being a burden to anybody (unless they were a very close intimate friend who was also willing to share her own struggles with me and it was a two-way reciprocal thing)
b) also, unless I was sharing something with someone about myself with the express purpose of helping them and building them up, for me there would be no ground for doing so.
I hope this is not confusing or upsetting or annoying for any of you reading this, I feel I have not made myself as clear as I would have liked regarding the above, and although I feel very strongly I am not always good at conveying my feelings in writing or verbally. Please feel free to feed back, but be gentle with me...!!
OK.
Now where was I??
As well as trying to weane myself off the tablets, and therefore trying to cope with the inevitable side-effects this brings, there is lots going on in my life which is causing great exhaustion...and strain, and making me feel slightly overwhelmed and unsettled. Some (-all??) of what is going on is to do with God pruning, refining, cleansing me, and Him preparing me for greater things, a new adventure? I am excited by the knowledge that He is at work in my life, but it is not a comfortable place to be.
I don't want to get too specific right now, but I can definitely say that in areas such as time management and boundary-setting, I am having to reassess what is right for me and my relationship with God, for my family and my marriage. And there is a fierce battle raging within and around me, for who/what should have my heart, my time, my energy, my attention, etc... This battle has, I am sure of it, really affected my mood in the last few days and weeks: my patience is short, my energy is low, my sleep is not as restorative as it should be, and I feel often physically achy, nauseous, not 100%.
However as I said before, all of this is accompanied by a deep sense of peace, joy, wellbeing and of God being at work in me.
Enough said, this is so convoluted and long-winded that I think I have succeeded in confusing even myself!!
I will finish this by saying again that my God is Good, He is faithful, and He never puts us through stuff just for the heck of it. He has a plan and His plan is Good. I know that my God is full of grace and wisdom, and I gladly surrender my ways to Him, because that is the best thing to do, it is the only way.