Category: Five minute Friday


In a bid to avoid the winter blues I booked a holiday to Spain. The weekend before I left, I visited a church, where people were also visiting, who had links to a church in Spain, in the next town to where I was going. The randomness of our meeting, made me sure it had significance. I flew to Spain on Sunday, making it impossible to go to the church, but I noticed that not only did they have a weekly prayer meeting, but I would be visiting the week of their Woman’s meeting.

On Monday I made the 25 minute bus journey from Banelmadena down the coast to Fuergirola to The Ark. Sadly I saved the wrong time into my phone, so I arrived as they were coming to an end. They had paired up with women they didn’t know, prayed for them and then created a card with the words and pictures they felt God wanted them to share with their partner. I was sad to miss out, but was so blessed to have spent a short time with these prayerful, prophetic, creative women. One of the other ladies to prayed with me. She knew that she knew me, suddenly she realised we had been on holiday together 10 years ago!!

On the bus home, I sensed God say,”this holiday is for Jesus”. How strange I thought, surely that’s what retreats and Oak Hall holidays are for!!

I returned to The Ark on Wednesday for their prayer meeting. We had an amazing hour and a half, worshipping and praying as we felt led by the Holy spirit. There was freedom in that place. At one point I felt led to grab a red and gold flag and dance…I asked permission before I did…but after the meeting the pastor actively encouraged me to use them if I was coming to the service on Sunday. A lady prayed that God wanted to break strongholds in our mindsets, and in depression and anxiety. I wondered if that was a word for me and asked the lady who brought it to pray with me afterwards. She organised for me to go with a member of the church for theophostic prayer, where God showed me the lies I’ve believed from when I was young and spoke His truth instead. I’m choosing to believe Go’s words – I am loved, I am special, I am beautiful!! What an extraordinary visit!!

How does one worship when the brain chemistry is all wrong, and you feel like you are down in the depths…

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Yesterday I was able to partake in 2 acts of worship that worked for this place I find myself in, but were opposite ends of the scale…or perhaps just 2 sides of a coin. Words and no words. 

First I spent time with a friend praying through the evening prayer for the day…we prayed through the liturgy, the psalms, the old testament and new testament readings, the Lords prayer, the collect for the day, our own prayers for people and situations. The rythmn of prayer, joining with others around the world who are sharing the same words, words based on scripture, words given to you, when your brain can’t formulate the prayer itself. Praying together, taking a line each, when alone you, you might just have given up. 

Then driving out of the city with other friends, we visited a church which had soaking prayer. To sit or lie, resting in God’s presence, focusing on the music and my breathe, leaving space for God’s Holy Spirit to drop scriptures into my heart, words of encouragement, words of truth and hope, pictures too. Halfway through a hand was laid on my shoulders as someone drew near me and blessed what God was doing. What God was doing, my weary mind didn’t have to do anything, just rest in His presence and recieve, be filled. 

Two ways to pray when your mind is foggy…yet God works through both…and amazingly yesterday both had this verse of encouragement…

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

(Isaiah 43:1-2)

Tonight is my last night at the vicarage, it’s my last night being mummy to a gorgeous black Labrador.

Its been a really hard fortnight. Starting after a week off sick with antidepressant withdrawal and while my parents were visiting. The dog immediately setting off my asthma so my peak flows were at 50% meaning i went from no asthma medications straight to a blue and brown inhaler and oral steroids!!

I’ve felt low, I’ve felt suicidal. I’ve been in tears. I’ve felt well and truly unwell. Plenty of time lying on the sofa in front of the TV.

My workplace has moved offices and my car wouldn’t start. The alarm has gone off while i was out. I’ve rescued kids from A&E when their mum needed treatment, occupying them and feeding them. I’ve driven to the neighbouring city (about 20 miles and a journey I’ve only done once before). I’ve been cooked dinners and cooked for others. I’ve learnt to make scones. I’ve had a pay rise.

I’ve woken up to the dogs timetable, scared head would soil the cage. I’ve dealt with his ‘accident’ following munching too many apples. I’ve picked up poo and observed his toileting habits. I’ve given him his meals and played with him in the garden. He’s sat on my feet and wagged his tail against my legs.

Now in the last 24 hours, I’ve filled the fridge, hoovered and started to clean. Tomorrow I will make their dinner, clean and washing my bedding. I’m scared it won’t be clean enough, that I’ll put things in the wrong place, have eaten something i shouldn’t have and that they’ll still be able to feel dog hair on the floor. Then I’ll disappear before they arrive, aware that they don’t really want other people in their home, their private space and that i was the only option left to look after the dog. The last resort.

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My Story is imperfect. To me its a story of failure. Failing to get the grades. Failing medical school. Failing assignments. Failing placements. Failing to get a job after graduation. Failing to be confident in my profession. Failing to recognise workplace bullying. failing to stand up to the bullies. Failing to defend myself against accusation. Failing to stay strong…falling into depression. Failing to stay put, instead running away from my home in a ‘foreign land’ to friends who loved me. Failing at my job, ultimately leaving for the sake of my health. Failing to work the hours, failing to get the graduate salary. Failing to stay in touch. Failing to keep my home tidy. Failing to find a husband. Failing to come off antidepressants (just for now!)

But with God all things are possible. He can take my failures, and use them for his glory. He can use my story to encourage others. My story tells of God’s faithfulness and love towards me. I can trust he has already written the rest of my story…and my story fits neatly into a page within His great story.

Linking up with Lisa Jo Baker

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So I spent last week on a silent retreat, checking my phone and all the feeds on it only twice a day. Then the chaos, my thoughts and feelings got too much…a choice between running away, staying in bed (which I then couldn’t cos the builder needed to work in my room) or making a concession to myself that I could use my phone, check Facebook and twitter as much as I wanted, text my closest friends to ask them to pray or to rant about how awful I felt.

Problem was…by the end of the day my phone broke, not just broke, it died. I have since had an enforced retreat from the connectedness a mobile phone gives you. Since last week, my phone refuses to turn on at all. And I don’t mind the peace and quiet, there’s something positive about only being able to be contacted via Facebook. It’s also when I realise just how much we rely on our smartphones – a constant link to Facebook, twitter, blogs, emails. Connecting to others, letting them know how we are, that the train’s delayed. A monthly calendar, an agenda, photos, a way to download podcasts. Without a phone or an internet connection its easy to feel invisible.

First my phone broke, and I was breaking. I finally broke when my 3 out of 4 trains on my journey were delayed and I had no way of contacting my friend to inform her of my new arrival time. The train managers let me use their phones to call, but when my final train was also delayed and customer services wouldn’t let me call, I broke, the tears flowed, and then I had to remember how pay phones work.

Me – friends that love me, returning home and discovering more about God’s love for me is healing my brokeness.

My phone – visited phone A&E today, is currently in the Clinical Decisions Unit, and is looking likely to be sent away to the inpatient ward. Perhaps in a weeks time I will have a phone again.

What does it mean to belong?
Am i in…or am i out?
Is belonging reality…or just what i understand in my head?

An easy one…family…I belong…whether i want to or not.

But how about church?
So often I’ve felt i didn’t belong, invisible, a magical doer, but not accepted just to be.

As a teenager, us church kids somehow got overlooked as they worked with teenagers who had joined from outside the church.

As a student, I wasn’t an impressive enough christian to be invested in. Always feeling on the outside in each church until one day someone told me I was actually in. The reality and my perception were totally different.

So today as i head off on retreat, i hope to rediscover who i am, what God thinks of me and where I belong in His big story.

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I’m ordinary.

But God sent his son down to earth to die for me…

So He could stand in my place, take all my sin upon him, die on a cross and create a way for me to know and be known by the Father…

So I could be filled by His Holy Spirit…

And take ordinary me and make me extraordinary…

So he can work in my life to do ‘More than I could ever ask or imagine‘.

So he can use me, His MASTERPIECE (no longer ordinary) to do good works that He planned before I was even born…

So that although I may look like a clay jar, there is treasure hidden within me…

So I can carry the God colours and God flavours into the world.

So that I carry the fragrance of Christ to the dead and dying…

So He can take His amazing God story, and my story becomes a couple of pages in His book, in the missing pages between the end of the New Testament Letter and the Book of Revelation.

Thank you Father God for taking my ordinary life and making it significant and extraordinary. Help us to write our pages in your big story. Amen

Beautiful….

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God wants me to know I’m beautiful, inside and out…in fact He even inspired my parents to give me names meaning beautiful eyes AND beautiful.

Yet i don’t feel beautiful…

Outside I’m just normal, not ugly, just normal.

Inside though, i am so not beautiful. I’m a mess. I’m sat here in church and my friend has just handed me the wine saying,”the blood of Christ which He shed for you because he loves you very very much.” “well He must have been crazy”, i reply. Why would the son of God come down to earth to die for me, so that God could have a relationship with me…I’m not beautiful, I’m not worth it.

I’m having a wobbly week as I’m coming off antidepressants. Another friend prayed for me and felt led to tell me that i still have a place in Gods big story, that I’m not discounted despite how i feel.

I guess my friends are standing in the gap for me, speaking truth over me, when i don’t feel able to grasp Gods truth for myself, they see my beauty, my gifting, my potential and point me to truth.

5minutefriday

 

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The pressure builds, yesterday my manager said I’m not meeting the targets, today he hassles me for an email that has been posted, but hasn’t arrived. I struggle to put together my training session ready for tomorrow, trying to work out what to include and leave out, without clear guidance on what he wants. Suddenly I decide to check if he has a projector and laptop arranged. I ring him up – you haven’t ordered one…what, who does training without a PowerPoint presentation, projected on a screen. Obviously we come from different generations. The tears start to fall. I get off the phone and text an old colleague –  I wish you were here still for a coffee, not coping today. The colleague next to me suggests I go for a walk, get some fresh air. I’m in no state to return to my presentation. I walk round the building, discover a green space I never knew, a bench in the sunshine. I ring some friends until someone picks up. I don’t want to dump my loser self on others, yet I know I need to hear that friendly voice. Half an hour later I get off the phone, the tears still fall, and my nose is running. At least I now see why this has been triggered, by speaking it out, I discover I have too much on my plate this week and I’m tired, not just the work stuff but a talk for church to write and a report for the members newsletter. I change my task for a while, praying God help me through the day, as my friend suggested. I get through the day, get home, and curl up in bed with a trashy book…

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Joining with Lisa Jo Baker

5minutefriday

 

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Imagine a God who hears our prayers and answers them in a way we can see, a tangible way.

Imagine a God who heals. Who hears our cry for healing, the acute, the chronic, the terminal and heals.

Imagine a God who knows our dreams and fulfils them one by one, a kiss of love from heaven.

Imagine

Yet although God can do more than we could ask or imagine

We don’t see answered prayer, lives healed, dreams fulfilled.

Thankfully we have a God who can cope when we ask WHY??

He’s ok with our discouragement. He’s understands when all we can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Prayers, healings, dreams…nice ideas by those on the stage…but how do we have the faith to continue to ask…as we live in the now and not yet…?

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Joining with Lisa Jo

5minutefriday