Egg custard

application form

lied to mother


fake running

failed breast exam

Hash browns

pay bills

dished dirt


dream travelling

chemo Monday

Spam pancake

empty press

lifeless prayer


feign acting

blankety blank


I wrote this poem as an exercise in the form ‘villanelle’. It one of the few poems of mine that rhymes, I don’t usually like the conformity of form. Alice was one of the people accused and tried for witchcraft in the Pendle area. She died in 1612 at the gallows. In the 1980’s a young punky anarchist from the Pendle area took the name and has used it ever since, she still lives and writes.

Alice Nutter, Both of Them


Men of Pendle, you called Alice Nutter a witch

You hung her from a tree across the fell

And now you folk full of chatter call me a bitch

Though you knew after thrashing with a switch

No witch could she be and could cast no spell

Men of Pendle, you called Alice Nutter a witch

You cause my ears to itch and nose to twitch

As you chatter at my dress and rebel yell

And now you folk full of chatter call me a bitch

You cut her hair and dragged her thru the ditch

Stripped whipped you tried to drown her in a well

Men of Pendle, you called Alice Nutter a witch

All based on gossip and lies from Rose Smith – snitch

We die, we curse you, from the earth we  now dwell

Men of Pendle, you called Alice Nutter a witch

And now you folk full of chatter call me a bitch


What goes on on our surface quite often isn’t what is really happening inside. Like a pond, calm on the surface but underneath teeming with life. Our minds on the surface, get us through the day, reminding us of directions, time to refuel, time to rest. I was reminded of this last night, I had intended to do some editing and hopefully add the “male” story to the “Tattered Affair” I had an inkling of what I wanted to do with it: Empathetic treatment of the male character. Settling down to write after everyone was in slumberland, I couldn’t focus, all my intentions gone and in it’s place giant yawns that were so tremendous my eyes leaked. So I trotted off to bed and slept for a couple of hours, refreshed I got back to it but didn’t finish what I intended, instead drew BrainChain (above)

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6 (NIV)


My brain was reminding me that sometimes it is important to rest. Imagine all the synapses that take place in the head for the yawn to begin. The linking of a nerve to nerve to reflex. A brain is a powerful organ, how many of us prefer to watch the vagarities of situations play out on our television screens about characters that don’t exist rather than vagaries of our own minds.

As Christians our minds and hearts are linked spiritually in a beautiful wonderful way that allows our minds to expand, our thirst to know Christ more, to know but more than know to feel and know. There are no brain synapses and nerve responses to be in this place, no physiological reminders to be with God, to study his word, to burst out singing in praise, to pray, to just be quiet in his presence.

When we have this thirst for Christ, we don’t need the reminders because we just do it, we want to do it, we need to do it, to be immersed in his love. The outside part maybe going through the motions of daily life, travelling to work, getting kids ready, spending time with partners but inside there’s a whole gamut of teeming life. The balance of this, balancing daily chores with spending time with the Lord, what balance. Because that’s the beauty of the Lord. He is with us all the time, he is there when we are jumping for joy and when we face into cleaning the bathroom, he is there when we grieve and he’s there when we are laughing in fellowship. He is there.

If he is there all the time, what a waste to remain like a mill pond, the image I keep getting is that of someone bursting through the water surface and grabbing a huge gulp of air. Let the life that is teeming under the surface burst into the air, show the world the changes God has made in us, when we let ourselves tentatively do this, we can’t stop, the joy we feel is palpable, we can’t hide it, it is obvious and real. I may not have written an empathetically ‘male’ narrative but I learned a bit more about brain activity, links and chains.

Simple Stuff

26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galations 5:26 (NIV)

You have become a Christian, you have surrendered your entire life to God to use you as he wants, no adendums, no codecils, a simple contract. The profundity of this contract is the simplicity.

Skirting around the contract, just signing up to part of it, forgive my sins because I’ll feel a whole lot better after that but I am not stopping this activity or I hear you Lord, calling me to do this one thing but I won’t or can’t do that. Skirting around the contract will never work, you might feel better in a warm fuzzy kind of way but warm fuzzies don’t last. At first you’ll thirst for more warm-fuzzies by attending service regularly, meeting with other Christians, making your own rituals but eventually you’ll feel luke warm fuzzies, and then cool fuzzies and like a leak in the kettle you’ll just leak away. On the way to drifting away you might bring others with you.

I have a friend who is teetering on the brink of doing this and I don’t know what is the right approach. I’ve covered the basics, I have prayed and asked for guidance, I have prayed for the friend, that they may see with their heart the truth of it. I feel very sad to see them drifting away. Am I judging them? No, I have watched the process from the sidelines, in a disconnected way because we are all on our own walk. In the last couple of weeks the distractions of a heart hardening have caused them to hurt people around them. 

That’s what we do. When we are not on the solid ground with deep roots and something happens we lash out, we defend our position, we make ourselves feel we are right, we are the on the moral high ground. That’s when we need to get down on our knees and tell God what is in our heart, ask God for forgiveness for all the things that are hardening our hearts, Lord soften my heart, open the eyes of my heart so I can see you more, I can see the change that can be made.

For a sect that was disbanded centuries ago,there’s a lot of Pharisees in churches. It is difficult when you come up against the legalese because when you have been changed by the grace and mercy and love of God there are no rules, it is a freedom, a freely given freedom which means there’s now stuff you do and conversely stuff you don’t do not because there is a rule but because to do otherwise would be against every fibre,every molecule, every atom of our body and soul. You can’t drift way if you have truly signed the contract. Sometimes the people who are only signed up to a partial contract are the Pharisees, waiting to be offended, waiting to be hurt so they can justify their position.

So I have a friend who is drifting away and I see the Pharisees hovering and I see a bunch of other people who see this playing out and I do nothing, why? Because that is what I feel the Lord wants me to do in this one situation, because I am not conceited in thinking I can change either group. I pray often but I don’t worry. I keep healthy in this unhealthy environment, I keep praying

The profundity of the contract we have with God is it’s simplicity, don’t overcomplicate it. You want warm fuzzies – buy a hot water bottle cover (and a hot water bottle!)

Thinking about Thinking

 6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Mark 2:6-7 (NIV)

The scribes were thinking, they were thinking with their hearts so there was no intentional malice, they were doing their job, the job of thinking with the heart’s discernment. We are all called to think, to think about God, God’s word, other people, but more than that we are called to think and plan. Think how does God want me to be and do it, think what is this passage telling me about my life, what do I need to change, where is there need in God’s people, do I have anything to match – time, resources, prayer. If we think only with our mind we will get in knots, a verse in the bible could turn into an accusatory idea, not because it is but the mind, being full of logic can’t compute it. Like putting a 2 in binary code. “computer says no, brain says no” But when we think through the heart “we get it” We might get it instantly or it might take us days, months, years but eventually we get it. Meditating on God’s word really helps to understand scripture. When I was younger I travelled with one book, a tattered school King James bible, firstly because if it was found at home it would be thrown out and secondly because away from home I always intended to be immersed in the bible, so I could “get” what my Christian friends had. There were barriers, it was in a language I didn’t understand olde worlde English, I went about it like you do any book, start at the beginning which leads me to the next barrier the begetting. That’s where I stopped every time. And finally the real barrier – I had no idea how to understand – my brain said ‘No’. I had no concept of praying before reading until I joined the bible study here on Wednesday nights. Of opening the eyes of my heart, no concept of that at all. So I might as well have picked up my little red book instead and brought it with me for all I ‘got’

The scribes were thinking, but even as the thought was being formed Jesus knew it. He knows us, he knows what we say and do, he sees our ‘good works’ but if they are done without heart, if our thinking is duty rather than love, Jesus knows. When the phone rings and the whole house groans because they know I’ll be caught up in someone else’s drama for an hour do I answer out of duty or love. Love always, that person needs to be heard, their problem or issue needs to be aired and if I’m the only person on this earth they trust then my household can breathe in and out on it’s own for an hour. When three or four people as often happens have the same idea, do I answer the phone for the fourth time with the same love. Yes, because once I didn’t I let it ring and there was an effect, nothing dreadfully dramatic but an effect none the less.

So think, but think with your heart, think in love, because it is amazing the way thought processed change. There’s a technology term ‘fuzzy logic’, my husband thinks I’m suffering from it because I can’t give logical directions to my house, I don’t know how many houses there are on my road unless I name them one by one. What he doesn’t realise is as I name each of the households I pray peace for them, of course I could remember how many houses there are, it’s only a one digit number but I prefer to pray the names of the people. Fuzzy logic allows machines to think like humans, but machines for all the emotions we put on them can’t think like us because they’ll never know the saving grace of Jesus, they’ll never feel the healing power of the Spirit wrapping around us and they’ll never understand the words of the Bible in their heart, because they don’t have one. They can think but the precious gift we have been given of a heart that can think. They’ll not have that!