Isn’t it great when the bills are all paid, there’s food in the house and petrol in the car. At that point it doesn’t matter if you’ve five cents or hundreds of euros left over: the sense of contentment is the same. Life however rarely gives us these moments and we scramble each month as each new bill appears. We forget on payday that in three weeks the phone bill is due and we splash out on a new pair of strappy sandles (for men insert whatever it is you splurge on).

There are times when the money coming is not more or equal to the money going out, there is no sense of contentment there.

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.” Mr Micawber says in the Dicken’s novel ‘David Copperfield.’

We are called to be good stewards, good stewards of the earth and it’s assets. If we do not look after our financial affairs prudently we are dissing God. Everything we have is his, we are just minders of the estate. If we are wild with abandon in monetary matters we are not being good stewards.

fed back into life’s river

Yesterday I was immersed in writing, I wrote on three blogs that I own and had been invited to join another blog. In all seven pieces were written and it felt good. The imagination, heart and mind working in unison to create work that people then read and commented on.

People were reading my stuff, for so long I hid my writing, I hid my everything, not just under a bushel but under an entire landslide. The worst thing imaginable would be someone reading it. Now I welcome peoples’ comments, I encourage people to feedback, I anticipate bad reviews, I suppose I expect bad reviews because that is my normal. People don’t “get” me so why would they get my writing. It is an extension of me.

The great projector in my life was given a poem to read. “I don’t understand random lists like this” was the feedback. The poem was my baby I began to defend it’s honour, my honour. Within seconds of beginning this defence, I folded. “Well you may not “get” it.” was my eventual response. I left it with them, I don’t need to defend my writing. It is what it is. Some people will see a random list or a few bug eyed sentences and the great projector, of course her poetry, her freaking everything is better than mine. If we were men, she’d p**s better than me. There is something very freeing in knowing this, if you can’t win a p**sing contest with someone don’t enter the race. I gracefully retire.

There’s a guy in the States hates my writing, comments freely on my abuse of scripture, my position of a female writing does his head in. I should be at home (I am) caring for my family (I am) and not doing man’s job. It is the man who should write about scripture. That’s the guy’s position, he wholeheartedly believes to the very core that I am wrong and he is right. I spent time looking at things from his perspective and then I asked another American guy’s opinion. I am certain the original guy did not attempt to look at things from my perspective or ask another female from Ireland their opinion. I would not enter into a discussion with him as I have seen bigger and better humans (men) chewed up and spat out by the rhetoric of similar guys to this. I don’t defend.

There’s a woman in the world who loves my non-fiction and hates my fiction. She “gets” my point of view on scripture and she says it adds to her own understanding. She doesn’t “get” my fiction, she doesn’t believe people live like that in rural Ireland. She has her opinion and I don’t defend.

As I write more and more, the “voice” I am writing is becoming clearer. It is distinct in the fiction, the non-fiction is most definitely, without reservation, me, but the fiction is no longer the cathartic needy unhealthy me, I am able more clearly to delve into the character as a separate entity to me, to give them emotions and feelings that I have never had, to give them motivations I would never have and to give them differing levels of faith depending on their circumstances.

There are a few people who offer genuine critique, for example, story great but ending is fanciful. This is great feedback. The bare bones, the skeleton of the story is good but the ending needs work on. This is good feedback. I have discovered since I started reviewing other peoples’ work that to start with a positive before moving on to any negatives is likely to be accepted by the author. Works for me.

Tomorrow I head in for critique of my recently delivered sermon, as I have had positive feedback all week I guess it is time for the negatives. I know some of them already, I totally said the wrong word at one point and had to try and catch it before it fell and failed miserably. I was visibly and audibly nervous which did not go away so the entire thing was done with a shaky voice. My hands, that I had trained in the week to move at certain times stuck together in front of me. I am no orator as I am now and where I would have to put myself to be that person, to harden myself, or steel myself, I lived for many years with immense barriers around me, an entire castle and moat were surrounding me and my hardened heart. My heart is now soft and I will not backtrack just so I give a performance. Does that mean I am defending my delivery, not at all, I know it wasn’t great. I don’t defend, I am open to criticism.

how much more “love” can I take?

“Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” Proverbs 17:9 NIV

The daily Bible readings have all been about love recently, surrounding St. Valentine’s Day and have continued into this week. Are you not fed up of talking about love? Is all this love is in the air stuff getting you down? Do you have love in your life? Is the situation you are in so bad that all the talk of love is making you vomit?

God loves us, he loves me and he loves you, the same, equally, no matter who we are or what we’ve done, he loves us. It is not the soppy red heart love of valentines, nor is it the lust filled love of youth. It is a pure love, a love of a parent for a child in the purest sense, the awe and wonder of a new parent looking at the little hands and the little feet of the baby that has been produced. God feels that, each time one of us becomes a new creation he looks at us and smiles, “I created that!” He is so overjoyed when we accept his love.

For our part, the accepting of his love, in asking him to take over our entire lives, when we surrender all to him, and accept that love, the endless love that is poured into us, filling us up and overflowing, not in a wasteful way like “the magic porridge pot” but in a useful way. That is the love we have to share. That love is the love that is not offended, does not become bitter, keeps a heart soft. That love is pouring from our every pore and we have to love, we can’t hate, we can’t detest, we can’t abhor, we can’t loathe. We can only be vessels of love.

I have been blessed to know someone who exudes that love, there were no words recently that could have expressed how much gratitude I had for this person and then there was a public moment and I was able to impart in a small way how appreciative of this person I was, their love was so great that offence could not be taken and not only that but they gave more.

I know in my heart that the situation will not be spoken of again, the email deleted, the conversation by phone, not overheard by anyone. The loveliest thing is I know that my story will not become a story to be shared in gossip. I am part of a community that seems to have time limits on confidentiality so that in five years time a story that was told in confidence then becomes part of the community knowledge. So this kind of confidentiality, I am grateful and appreciative of.

A relative of mine is a heroin addict, they live in England and no one around me knows them or their business. I love them from afar, the relationship is a little tense, but the love is there. Imagine my surprise when some random guy here uses my relative as a case study. Is it gossip? To me yes, but to the rest of the audience it was an anonymous case study. 

I read extensively, other people’s blogs, books, magazines all from a Christian perspective and sometimes I think confidentiality is a forgotten skill. Again this week I was reminded of this thought as I was reviewing a secular memoir. There were some very cruelly drawn characters and the person writing it may have felt a cathartic release but at what expense? How would those characters feel portrayed as they were? Does it matter if that is indeed the totality of their personality? Yes it does, everyone has a redeeming quality and we must focus on that.

There are some positively prickly people in my circle of friends, some mix like oil and water, but oil and water will come together in an emulsion with the addition of a little egg. Maybe that’s what we need to find a little egg yolk in everyone that can then bind us together in love. Looking at the things we have in common, the love of God, focussing on that rather than the negative forces that keep us from being bound. If we are truly living in the light of the Lord, if all we are is for his glory, love will win, every time. 

“Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” Proverbs 17:9 NIV

Love again

For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.” 1 John 3:11 NIV

There must be some reason why love is mentioned throughout the Bible. From Abraham and Sarah, Ruth and Boaz and Elizabeth & Zechariah there are love stories that have God as the central character. God is Love. Percy Dreamer wrote in his hymn ‘God is love, his the care, tending each, everywhere,’ God loves each and everyone of us, the same, equally. We, then, as a result of this glorious love then share it. As it says in 1John, We should love one another

Is there someone in your life, or has been pivotal in your life that you have felt that love, have felt a love that is not earthy or lustful, is not in any way human in it’s root. The love that makes you want to know more about where that love comes from, how to have some of that love.

Remember the love-ins of the sixties and early seventies, that was bunches of people who wanted that love but they looked to each other for it instead of having God as the central core.

Only with a relationship with the Lord can we share this love, only with that love within us and surrounding us, like swimming in love can we share it. We have to experience it first, and once we have it transforms us so that we are love. 

Love is one of the fruit of the Spirit, and for a long time I thought these were things you aimed for and fell short of and then aimed again. I did not realise that when I was at my most vulnerable, when I surrendered my entire life to the Lord that these were then given to me freely. 

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galations 5

The beautiful fruits of the Spirit are the most succulent of fruits, there is a depth to the flavour of them that is not tasted in anything else. There are layers and layers to the understanding of them, each day new insights come, perception is forever changed and sapience increased. The simplicity in the words of the Bible is seen, instead of riddles and conundrums.

There are and will always be things that remain in the mists of unknown, and that’s okay. It is in the not knowing, not understanding everything that keeps it fresh, there is always something new to discover, to peel off the coverings and be like a child seeing a butterfly for the first time. That sense of wonder, of incredulous wonder. We can only imagine how much more there is to discover.

It is not like a jigsaw puzzles with a few pieces missing, there is no Gestalt theory that helps us fill in the gaps. There are gaps and we have to leap, jump over the wall, with faith and know that the Lord, who knows all, will allow us to know what we need to know in his time.

Our love of the Lord and his love of us creates a relationship, if we then love everyone there is a veritable web of love surrounding this planet. If everyone on the planet felt this love and shared this love, peace would reign.

Try it, share the love of the Lord with everyone and watch it transform you and those around you

Love III

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him 1 John 4:9 (NIV)

Has anyone loved you enough to sacrifice themselves for you? If they have, and I know there are people who have pushed themselves in harm’s way to allow another to live, then you have been loved.

God sent his only Son to this world, to live with us, as one of us, to become a living sacrifice for the entire human race. Because he beat death we can be in relationship with God.

Isn’t that awesome, we can be in relationship, through Jesus. We are loved and we are commanded to love each other because of that love. It is not a hard commandment to follow if you keep your eyes on the Lord, feel his love surrounding us, breathing out of our pores, radiating from our eyes, brimming up in our heart. It is like the magic porridge pot of love. We can do nothing except love because our entire being is alive in love.

The love of the Lord is within and around us, our love for him can never reach the epic amount of love he has for each of us equally.  His love just pours out  and we have to respond, we can do nothing else but respond to this love, this gracious merciful love. Thank You Lord.