prodigalmomma











{April 6, 2013}   Look again at the familiar…

Luke 9:10-17 – Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

10 When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, 11 but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.

12 Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.”

13 He replied, “You give them something to eat.”

They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” 14 (About five thousand men were there.)

But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. 16 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. 17 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

Luke 9 was part of my Bible reading this morning; I was struck by a familiar story – the telling of the feeding of the five thousand.  It made me think of what God can do with little things, and with situations and I feel a blessing from the story.  It sounds like an implausible/ impossible situation – to be utterly truthful I’m not entirely troubled by the did it actually happen or did it not argument… it’s the deeper meaning of the story that moves me.

What the story (which is told in other Gospels also) conveys to me is that…

  • God can take what is given/ presented to him, however small it may seem and do amazing things with it.
  • God can do the implausible/ impossible – so though it may feel as if something desired/ dreamed about will never happen, if it’s part of God’s plan then it will happen.  (And on this one remember Jeremiah 29.11… “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” The Message)
  • Jesus was practical; he and God were/ are just as concerned about your physical needs as your spiritual ones… but God desires you also to be equally concerned about the spiritual as the physical – a challenging thought as I wonder where the balance is in my life.
  • God expects us to consider/ look for and act on present problems/ needs/ concerns in life – we’re not to go to God wanting a ‘magic wand’ solution… think also about your strengths/ gifts/ abilities which might be useful in the context… just do it!  (Here I think about children in my class pulling a strained face and declaring “Miss, my pen don’t work!” I usually comment on the grammar then ask them, “okay, what do you need to do about it?” – perhaps that’s what God may say when we go to Him in prayer… perhaps I need to listen for that response more!)

Read a story you’re familiar with… what new insights do you find?

Live life



{August 28, 2012}   A photo a day… #2

Seems I have ‘beginning-of-term-itus’ and following the cleansing of the boudoir / office / child’s play area we tackled the washing of my car today.  It’s been overdue a wash – prior to going on holiday there was never quite the moment (bucketing down with rain does not exactly inspire me the get out there with the car shampoo!)

The scrub aftermath

It’s one of those moments where I begin to think “I get where my mother was coming from” when I realise the satisfaction I get out of an orderly (not spotless – my family doesn’t do minimalist), every thing / paper / book has a place and it’s actually in it.  The car looks shiny, and looks loved.

I think perhaps it was also the activity of doing the cleaning & clearing out which I enjoyed, some strange catharsis in clearing out old papers (some from when I was in the process of applying for teacher training) and a feeling of “I’m beyond that stage now”.  Those things that sent me round the bend (tackling the minefield that is moving from benefits to student funding) are now just a memory… somewhat serves as an aide memoir regarding things that I consider currently trying (DD is in the ‘why’ phase!!!) one day I’ll be past them also.

There’s other things that I find harder to step away from, a song, a thought, a time of year can all throw you back into the midst of things, so I’m going to try and remember the moving-on feeling from clearing my room, and thoughts of preparing for new adventures (as in washing my car).

The joyful thing about car washing when you have a child is that it is not a solo activity – we had great fun with the hose, bubbles and sponges (seeing who could do the loudest squeak on the bodywork of the car today!)  Things that seem too mucky to deal with alone can be lightened with the help of other people.  Again, the big divine dig-in-the-ribs where I’m reminded that I’ve/we’ve not been asked to do this alone… we’re made to live in community with others, and involve the divine in those relationships.

Do you need to ask a friend or a relative to ‘grab a sponge’ and help you with the muddy bits?

What do you see?

2 men looked through prison bars… one saw mud – the other saw stars…



{August 27, 2012}   A picture a day… #1

New term is fast approaching – as for me I’m investigating the teaching of phonics this year as a move of key stage means that will play a bigger part in the daily routine.  Also DD is beginning her school career… so it’s a time of new beginnings.

Inspired by a wordpress blog I’m seeking to stimulate my blogging activities with a photo-a-day; some I’ll snap myself, others I imagine I’ll find in papers and other media which catches my attention.

An urban photo…

I’m organising my room to get myself ready for the new term; it always seems to look worse before it looks better.  I’ve also gone through my wardrobe (rather ruthlessly I might add) ditching (to go to the charity shop) those things that I pick up … look at… then place back in there.  Why do I do that?  Am I the only one?  Anyway, I’m sure most of it will find happy homes where it gets worn again and a charity will gain in the process – win win.  There’s something rather sad about a piece of clothing, or a pair of shoes / handbag which doesn’t get used… I somewhat feel it’s depriving it of a purpose.

Having seen some photographs of ‘urban life’ in the weekly photo challenge I was inspired to snap this, I love the way all the hangers appear to be3 spilling out of the room; you can also see work folders, cuddly toys, cds and (though I gave up alcohol at Easter and haven’t returned) aging bottles… kinda seems to be a reasonable expression of a young working urban mummy…

Enjoy the pic, I’m diving back into the heap to sort it out a bit more!

Hanger escape!!!



{August 26, 2012}   Stand up, Stand out

[Please be aware this blog post discusses allegations of rape and sexual assault]

It seems that interesting things occur in the news while I’m on holiday and away from blogging facilities – last summer I sat in a cottage in the middle of the Sussex countryside watching parts of London be ravaged and burnt in summer riots.  Open-mouthed we watched scenes which seemed best placed in a blockbuster movie, or at least in another country viewed on the news. 

This summer in another rental cottage and watching the bizarre Mr Assange popping out of the window of the Ecuadorian embassy (described by one paper commentator as looking like the John Inman character from “Are you being Served?”

Image

Julian Assange is described (courtesy of Wikipedia) as is an Australian editor, activist, publisher and journalist. He is best known as the editor-in-chief and founder of WikiLeaks, a media website which has published information from whistleblowers. The site acts as a conduit for worldwide news leaks, with a stated purpose of creating open governance.

While I support a person’s right to peaceful protest, I am somewhat bemused by those supporters who gathered outside the embassy to hear Mr Assange… he is accused of sexual assault and rape… sexual assault and rape… it needs to be said twice as it seems that many have forgotten this in light of charges he may face in the states relating to his Wikileaks site.  Yes, I realise his claim of asylum is related to his fears of extradition from Sweden (where he faces charges of sexual violence) to the USA.  I imagine that his fears are not without substance on this account, however the fact remains that these are very serious crimes he is accused of. 

Regardless of what may happen in the future, surely this man ought to stand trial for the things he is accused of?  If he is not tried on these accounts what does it say of the modern world’s attitude towards sexual crime?  We have heard what Galloway’s repugnant thoughts are, rape is poor sexual etiquette – after all the woman (allegedly) said yes the once, so that (according to Galloway) covers all subsequent times… so that would mean that rape within marriage is okay… but wait a minute  it isn’t, it’s illegal Mr Galloway.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/aug/20/george-galloway-julian-assange-rape?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

Since the initial comments, George Galloway has sought to ‘clarify’ his initial comments… but they seem to me to smell of the original intent, doubting the women’s accusations on the grounds that they had apparently previously had consensual sex with Assange… so that returns to the original argument about ‘yes’ the 1st time not meaning ‘yes’ for everytime.

These are accusations and allegations, they have not been proved and I I’m not declaring Assange either guilty of the crimes, or the women guilty as liars… but these are serious matters which require looking into.

As for the other allegations against him, they need answering too – for if he believes so much in what he has done through Wikileaks then surely he would want a chance to make his argument? 

That reminds me a little of those who lovingly counselled against my studying Theology at university as through doing so I would “lose my faith”… my argument at the time (as it continues to be) is that if something is right, and is the truth then it stands up against any amount of argument, criticism and opposing ideas.

What do you need to stand up for?  What arguments and ideas are you willing to put to the test?

Are you ready to challenge yourself and those around you?



{August 9, 2012}   Not a tame lion…

Jesus Walks on the Water [John 6.16-21]

When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them.  A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.”  Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.

The second part of the passage discussed at church last Sunday.  The idea of Jesus walking on walking and calming the storm – we’re not on strange territory here, the story is well known… but possibly poorly understood…

These two ‘stories’ combined are ones I know well – I knew about them from Church as a child.  Though as we broke away and discussed and shared ideas I don’t think I’ve ever really examined it as I did then.

Facing a storm… the thought hit me personally.  I remembered the sudden cold sickly feeling.  I tapped out a couple of texts asking for urgent prayer as I made myself a cup of ginger tea and attempted to pray myself.  Horrible strangling feeling of emotion from just a letter.

I took the request to the church family book also; looking back on it all I feel so lucky to have the sort of church family around me that I can share these moments, and requests with them.  THAT is what Church ought to be – come as you are.  Church isn’t church when it issues dictates like ‘not if you’re homosexual’ ‘not if you’re a female leader’ (or someone tainted by a woman… oh yes, that’s the language that’s been offered up within the continuing struggle towards female bishops in the C of E!)

For me it comes back to Psalm 139… God knows you, sees you, loves you…

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good [Genesis 1.31]

It didn’t happen immediately, but God calmed me, then the situation.  That shaking, twitching feeling of anxiety creeping about in my insides and all around was removed… it felt as if I could breathe again.  And the situation itself has calmed.

Looking back on it I can almost audibly hear – look, that was me, I was there, I was always there, I’m right here, I will always be there…

I know I’m not promised an easy route… but I will be prepared.

A friend mentioned to me during our discussions about “not telling God how big your problems are… but tell your problems how big your God is”  we all agreed a little cheesy BUT it hits home, we’re not sent into this world alone and without help, we have it in bucket loads…

HOWEVER, we need to ask – He won’t charge in guns blazing to ‘fix’ life, we have free choice… I wouldn’t want to be a puppet controlled by something (been there… done that…) He waits to be asked, and invited – sometimes not doing exactly as expected…

Not a tame lion

[Mr Tumnus] After all, he is not a tame lion.

[Lucy] No… but he is good

 



{August 4, 2012}   Personalised learning…

For my MA assignment (just on the proofing stage – whoo hoo!) I have been looking at the area of providing more personalised learning.  An interesting discussion to investigate, if you have the inclination – all about how to navigate a national curriculum aimed at giving all a general range of skills & understanding  - yet getting to know each o0f the students in order to ensure that they have equal opportunity to access the curriculum.  I have not just been discussing children identified with SEN, but taking the broader view that each child has particular needs, they’re all individuals (fearfully & wonderfully made)

Psalm 139:14

The Message (MSG)

13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;

      you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.
Last Sunday at Church (whilst I was still waging war on this 6,000 word piece) we were thinking about God being everything you need, you need nothing else.  God knows what we need and is fully capable of providing.
wow… Wow… WOW… Does that fill you with ‘wow’ as it did me?  I was sitting listening with tingles running up and down my spine as the message from John 6 v 1-24 was unpacked and explored.  This is the story of the feeding of the 5,000 – which is one of those rather well-known passages that I (sadly) do not feel I gave enough time or thought to previously.  This story echoes events that happened in the time of Exodus, when God’s people were wandering about in the desert … there was food from heaven provided.  When we are sent on a mission, God doesn’t forget to pack the bags with what we need (I was reminded of this thought as I prepared the marmite sandwiches for DD & myself for a day out).
The story of the feeding of the 5,000 is told in all 4 Gospels… it’s a key bit of text.  The boy provided barley bread and fish – this for the day was fairly bargain basement stuff.  But look at what God did with it!  All those people fed AND baskets of leftovers… God doesn’t provide us just with what we need – but provides an over-abundance of it!  God can take the poorest gifts to do amazing things… just think of that the next time you start believing lies “you can’t do that!!! what have you got to offer??? That Mrs Moops would do a much better job of it!”
(hmm that’s something I need to think on…)
God can do wonderful things in the people you least expect  - the world could be denied a miracle by what we don’t bring.
We sang this; and again I am thinking of the complexity of leading a group of people.  And this is the picture of God all along, Christ the shepherd, Jesus as Rabbi, God as Father – these are leadership roles, ones that require intimate knowledge of that/those whom they lead…
…it’s really really hard to know a large group of people that intimately, to know how best to talk to them, or to know when they don’t need words, to know when someone needs a smile or a “well done” message – but God does this, he provides completely personalised learning / leading because he knows us so well.  
The story in John continues to discuss Jesus walking on water and calming the storm… but that I feel needs an entry of its own and more prayer reflection from myself – as the theme kinda touched a raw nerve… so more in our next!
(by the way – loving all the comments and interaction, do carry on sharing blogs and bits that may be of interest to others!)


{July 26, 2012}   Summer is here…

Guard your thoughts and words.

It’s hot, finally the rain has been ‘shooooed’ away and we have some sunny weather.

School term is finished and I’m cracking on trying to get an assignment towards my Education MA done.  If I pass I’ll hopefully be moving on to dissertation next academic year.  I’m about halfway through the 6,000 word slog – and today actually feel like I’ve made some progress.  I love doing the reading, and trying out new things in my practice in the classroom, generally seeing how I can engage these children better and encourage them to explore this world around us… but it’s rather heavy going to pull all the thoughts, notes and highlighted ideas together and turn it into some sort of coherent piece of writing.  Blogging is a safer space for me, my writing style tends to be a conversational one – great in emails, letters, postcards, blogs… just about EVERYTHING other than academic writing (which is what I’ve set before me as my personal task).  I can meander through topics that grab my attention in a blog, muse over them and spit out my thoughts in any fashion – although I do try to see that they make some sense (dear reader).

So it’s hot, I’ve been plodding my way through piecing together this assignment and then I go to pick up DD from nursery.  Her sunhat went missing (although named) at nursery and still hasn’t been found… now I somewhat object to providing things (as we are asked to do), naming them (which so many parents seem not to… why is it the children who habitually lose stuff whose parents don’t name things???) and then they go missing.  Well I was hot, and a bit anxious (DD has had bad virus thing and is still rather snuffly) and I had a rant at the nursery worker…

I got home and realised it was so not the appropriate thing to do; a) not a good example of how to treat others before DD and her friends, b) it wasn’t an uplifting kind thing to say and c) ranting wasn’t going to make the sunhat magically reappear… so I went to bed that night feeling rather ‘heavy’ and vowed to myself to apologise.

I find saying sorry hard, anyone in my family would attest to this fact – in my head (however ridiculous this may sound) it feels like backing in or giving up.  But I did it, I picked up DD today (who’d had a wonderful day having water fights – lucky thing!) and immediately found the worker and apologised… do you know what – it felt good.  It felt good to accept that I’d done something silly, I’d recognised that fact and I’d considered the effect it may have had on another…

This may seem like “Apology 101″ class – but for me this is a big step!

I’m suddenly reminded of that bit from the end of “Mean Girls” Look from 7.14 of this video - essentially she’s talking about how putting someone else down doesn’t raise you up, making another person feel bad doesn’t make you feel good and acting in that way doesn’t help you in the situation.

In this heat particularly, it can be easy to let tempers fray, words get said which are thoughtless… so think about them all a bit harder… think about encouraging someone, complimenting them or simply being someone to listen.

Can you be like balm for someone in this heat?

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways!
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.
In simple trust like theirs who heard
Beside the Syrian sea
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word
Rise up and follow Thee.
O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity
Interpreted by love!
With that deep hush subduing all
Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call,
As noiseless let Thy blessing fall
As fell Thy manna down.
Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess

The beauty of Thy peace.



{July 3, 2012}   A different thing…

You did a different thing… that is a rarity…

Last night I watched the new BBC drama “Blackout” with Christopher Ecclestone.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I tuned in as the trailers looked interested and I find that I rather like the quirky style of Mr Ecclestone.  I’d encourage you to tune in on BBCiplayer.

So C.E. plays this rather unlikeable local councillor; he’s shown using a prostitute and drinks heavily throughout most of this opener (including behind the wheel).  There’s some shady dealings going on between him and someone bidding for a council contract (papers are photocopied late at night, brown paper envelopes, more booze and all that sort of thing.)

Then (bizarrely) he does something utterly out-of-character, something which others call heroic… though he himself shies away from this term, which oddly made me think of “but who do you say I am?” [Luke 9.20 / Mark 8.29 / Matthew 16.13-20]

Following on from this he wants to do better, to be a better man – he wants to do away with the bs of contemporary society (focusing here on local politics).  Similarities with Christ’s attitude to the bureaucratic Pharisees?

Can ‘bad’ people do ‘good’ things?

Can God use ‘broken pots’? [2 Corinthians] (thanks to Momma for this thought!)

And the line spoken by the nurse which I opened with… being / doing different makes us a rarity… makes us stand out… how comfortable am I, are you, standing out like that?



{July 2, 2012}   Everyday God

a poem / a prayer … I felt inspired this evening…

 

God…

I want to praise you for the everyday.

I believe and know that you can offer me awesome signs and wonders, but today I am content to stretch out my arms and call you “daddy”.

There are days when I feel broken by my past, and there are moments I want to weep or rage over the sadnesses I see in the world around me.

But I see angry tears on your face too… so I know you understand.

Today, I praise you for getting up in the morning, praise you for cuddles with my daughter, praise you while I get on with the laundry.

Thank you for bouncy tunes on the radio, I think I see you smile as I try to sing along!

I can hold back tears of happiness as I wash my child’s hair, uttering tacit blessings all over her – thank you for bathtimes.

Thank you God for those funny pictures, uplifting quotes or happy news shared by my friends on Facebook… Daddy, do you hear me when I ask that their hearts will come to know you?

God, thank you for clean pj’s, something good to read and a comfy place to sit.

Thank you for being there in the everyday, thank you for hearing my chatter alongside my petitions and rants, thank you for the signs and wonders… but thank you for the quiet peace and contentment.

Thank you for not being my Sunday best, but for being my working week.

AMEN

 



{March 20, 2012}   Grace & love – His story

Cos God’s so passionate about the planet that he donates his one and only Son.  Whoever invests their life in his Son doesn’t die, but gets limitless life.  D’you think God sends his Son to slam people down?  No!  He sends his Son to liberate people. [John 3:16-21, The Street Bible, Rob Lacey]

I have a few differing Bibles, often I find that looking up a passage I know well in a more traditional Bible in a differing one can shed increased light on the passage.  I think most of us raised in the Church are familiar with John’s tagline of “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son”.  On Sunday I was reminded of the fuller meaning of “world” as John wrote.  John’s Gospel was written in Greek, the word in the original being “cosmos” and more accurately might be read, “God so loved EVERYTHING that he gave his only Son.”  That thought kinda pulled me up short, and offered a challenge (as the Bible frequently does!) about my attitude to those I disagree with.  I cannot get my head around those who hold views that I find objectionable, and ultimately I find myself struggling with the graceless way that people (even those within the wider Church family) convey those views that they hold.

This amazing expression of God’s love reminds me and challenges me to get a hold of the bigger picture of divine love.  Yes, I’m sure he loves us in Church, singing and praying, meeting to pray with others all the “holy” stuff… but he loved and loves us completely and utterly… he loves us in the mess of it all…

Newsboys “Rescue” from their THRIVE album

You guys were spiritual corpses murdered by the mess that ran your lives.  You went with the flow; you weren’t going God’s way, so you let the boss of the spiritual underworld dictate your every move like some Mafia godfather.  We all did it: we merged in with the crowd, pumped our bodies with whatever our dark side fancied at the time.  We were as brainwashed as the rest of them and wound God up big time.  But God loves us so passionately he gave us some slack and let the Liberator resuscitate our spiritual side that had been throttled by our mess.  Free, no charge, a gift – God’s OTT generosity is what’s straightened you out, sorted your lives, brought you back to life (like he did with the Liberator), and now were sitting right next to our Liberator Jesus in heaven.  Why?  So that he can brag about our lives, show us off as prime examples of the phenomenal value of his freebies, use us as exhibits A-Z of his generosity to us – just cos we’re connected with the Liberator Jesus.  What’s straightened you out isn’t down to you.  There’s nothing you’ve done that’s sorted your life.  No, it’s all God’s generosity that’s done it; you’ve just taken him at his word and even your ability to do that comes direct and free of charge from him.  If it were linked to how you lived, you’d end up shouting your mouth off about how brilliant you are.  No, we’re God’s masterpiece, his tour de force, his piece de resistance.  Liberator Jesus qualifies us to be made from scratch to make good things happen, things that his planned already for us to get stuck into.  [Street Bible, Ephesians 2:1-22]

I find that Church, God and Jesus are frequently in the press for (what I think) are the wrong reasons… it’s as if the world wants to force us to the point of obscurity by squeezing us into a little box of ‘minor details’.  Grace is the heart of it.  It’s mentioned 4 times in Ephesians 2.1-10 (NIV)!  Grace, love, justice, and mercy are the bestsellers in the Bible, over and above the other stuff!

Ephesians in general is a book that hits a chord with me; loving me in the mess of it all – it takes me back to being at the foot of the cross.  He loved me when I felt I was unlovable.  He found me when I was hiding.  He waited for my return every time that I ran away.  Jesus resuscitated my spiritual side when I was drowning.  Ephesians conjures up an image of myself, pregnant, with no real idea of or hope of a positive future for myself or my unborn child.  Ephesians takes me to a very dark place in myself…

…but it is a glorious and a triumphant story.  A story of hope, and of mended relationships, a story of a new life, new dreams and new opportunities… it is HIS story, it is as if his copyright is stamped all over my life so there’s no doubt, no one can steal the image.  God asserts his right as author, creator and artist.

I try to start each day with a little prayer; sometimes I feel guilty over not being one of those who gets up an hour early to meditate and pray – but this is me, and he’s my dad… so I guess he gets me!  I say a prayer that asks Him to give me the compassion, the attitude and the grace to be like him as the day unfolds.  Sometimes the words change, depending on what the day is likely to bring… but the sentiment remains the same… not my will, but Yours.

 

 



et cetera
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