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

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{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…



{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.

 

 



{February 7, 2012}   Like a Movie…

Matthew 24:1-24

My daily reading seems to come across like a script for a Jean Claude Van Damme movie; I read it aloud to let those words sink and it almost seemed as if I should be reading it in that big booming voice as found in the trailers for action thriller films.

This is the sort of passage that I want to point to at moments when it is suggested that faith is a lovely fluffy blanket or opiate to keep ‘reality’ away.  This is reality, it’s far more disturbing than what we see on a day to day basis.  When faith and commitment are treated as an optional extra it’s a dangerous error to be making.

And… I have stood in that place.  I don’t need God.  I can stand on my own two feet.  I’ve got my friends and family around me.  It’s in those moments we need faith more than ever.

Newsboys – “I am Second”

False prophets: It seems we don’t have prophets in the biblical sense anymore, people going around in sackcloth all beardy and munching on locusts.  No, the media has taken that role – I think television has taken the role of the prophets.  The LAB comments that these false prophecies might be… “God wants you to be rich… Do whatever your desires tell you!”

Eddie Izzard in a sketch comments on the advertising industry, particularly how many items are marketed with the implicit line of “buy this and everyone will shag you” Once again it’s these false promises and false realities that perpetuate society (and people suggest I’ve got my head in the clouds as a follower of Christ!)

The consequence of buying into these false prophecies and promises is severe “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” (Matthew 24.12) Love will grow cold.  Now whatever your beliefs, we can agree (hopefully) that love and compassion are a vital part of society.  If we lose love, what are we left with?  If we let it grow cold the world would become barren.

The remedy for this loss of love?  Now it is warned that love grows cold when our attention is on ourselves rather than others, so let’s reverse this!

One way is by writing to those persecuted for their faith, or to those in positions of power who might raise their voice for good.

Get involved by looking at Release International or write to your local councillor and MP regarding something close to my heart, cutting of funding for charities helping those who suffer domestic violence – see about the cuts here

What do you think are today’s false prophecies?  How can we guard against them?  How can we prevent the cold from rising?



{January 31, 2012}   Blind Ambition

Matthew 20: 17-34

I confess as a parent I want the absolute best for my child; I want her to grow up and continue to have the joy for life and learning that she currently has.  I hope that she will make good choices.  I pray she will come to be in a relationship with Jesus.  I want her to be full of kindness and compassion, and to have good survival skills when she faces disappointments and set backs in life.  I hope that I, and the rest of our family & friends have provided strong roots for her, which will allow her to grow into an amazing woman.

I want all of this so badly that I can picture it in my mind.  I can see all the possibilities opening up before her… I don’t want to miss a thing!

These are my ambitions for her and I don’t see anything wrong or harmful in holding wishes for the future for our children, and our friends’ children.  But this reading from Matthew (when I read it again using the Life Application Bible) looks at exactly this area… parental ambition…

Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom. (Matthew 20:21b)

I have mixed feelings about this request; 1st feeling is she displayed absolute faith – the kingdom belongs to Jesus, she faithfully accepted Jesus’ position.  The notes in my Bible encourage me to look further at this though – what were her motivations?  Perhaps she sought glory for her sons, perhaps (though on the surface demonstrative of faith) this mother had missed the point of Jesus’ ministry.  She was blinded by her human ambition.

Jesus modelled a different kind of leadership; Jesus demonstrated servant leadership – washing the feet of his disciples (John 13:11-13), submitting to God’s will first through his baptism (Matthew 3.13) and finally ultimate submission on the cross (Matthew 26.39 and John 19) – this was leadership without seeking glory.  Jesus represents here an amazing example to us all – How best to lead people.  The example of sevant leadership can be useful to us in any field; I particularly it’s role in parenthood, in teaching, in family life – what other areas might it be useful in?

At the completion of the section; the theme of ‘blindness’ is tackled again…

Jesus stopped and called to them.  “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.  “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”(Matthew 20:32-33)

The LAB (Life Application Bible) comments on this passage…

These blind beggars could see that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, while the religious leaders who witnesses Jesus’ miracle were blind to his identity, refusing to open their eyes to the truth.  Seeing with your eyes doesn’t guarantee you seeing with the heart.

I quoted because this section really hit me…

  • what do I / you allow get in the way of believing?  (What’s your blind spot?)
  • do I / you ever in your actions get in the way of people seeing Christ?
  • who / what do I / you submit to in life?
  • when we / I lead do I present a servant model of leadership… or an authoritarian one?

[on a side note]

I am loving getting more into the Bible and really unpacking it, and thinking as I write – this is the way I find it easiest to operate.  Sometimes I just jot ideas / thoughts and pictures down on paper and in notebooks, other times I blog it.

I blog because I had a bit of a deep think about whether or not to continue to be on social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook (on twitter I am @prodigalmomma ) as there’s some truly negative and ‘not uplifting’ stuff out there… and to be honest I find it all-too-easy to be drawn into the sillyness etc.  but I wanted to continue putting positivity out there.

I am not an authority, or a theologian – just a follower of Christ who’s trying to navigate her way through life… and life, I’ve found through bitter experience, really does go downhill when I’m not stuck into the Word regularly.



et cetera