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Business as usual

26 May


Isn’t there something comforting about the term ‘Business as usual’? Everything is happening as it always does, as you would expect. Work, planning summer holidays, nights out, the same old banter and tensions. Nothing too exciting, nothing too awful – predictable and comfy.

So on the one hand, I like it. Life throws at us all sorts of challenges, twists, turns and unexpected crises. We have all had the phone call that changes everything, or a shock that quickly redirects our path – and at these times we can often yearn for good-old ‘business as usual’. 

But on the other hand – the term presents such a huge challenge to us. We want to live radical lives of abundant generosity that reflect the Father – but how can we if we hold onto the comfort of ‘business as usual’?

On a conference this weekend, I heard a statement that has prominently echoed in my heart and mind ever since. Here it is..

“Unless something disrupts business as usual, business as usual is how we will live out our life”

What happens to you when you read this? Where does your mind go? My mind goes straight to the verse in Matthew 10:8: “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”

So what bridges the gap between ‘business as usual’ or healing the sick, praying with other Christians for your workplace and family or seeing healing and revival
Supernatural living that’s what! Not just praying supernaturally, but living supernaturally.

This mandate that is handed to us, this commission, this request to pray, heal, deliver…what can we do with it? How can we walk forward in supernatural living without resorting to our default of ‘business as usual’?

We need to push into our relationship with God. Pray for ourselves, for one another and with one another to be filled up to overflowing with the spirit. Only then we will leak the fruits as well as gain a new confidence and zest for the word. Only then can we live out of an overflow rather than tire ourselves out trying to fulfill a mandate that wasn’t intended for the ‘natural’ life anyway. 

So what will it be? A risky, radical, God soaked life? Or simply ‘business as usual’?

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Bake my dreams

27 Sep

Waiting is hard.

If you saw the ‘Great British Bake off’ you will have seen bakers crouch eagerly at their ovens, watching their creations slowly rise (hopefully). All impatient for the moment that the alarm buzzes and they can nervously take out their cake to face the scrutiny that awaits.

It’s all in the baking!

If we were to skip the process, even shave off valuable minutes or in some cases seconds, then the results could be completely different. The result would be either an odd looking cake, or a rather sore stomach.

The bakers are caught in this odd tension of wanting to get their cake out – aware of each second that ticks by, whilst recognising the importance of what happens whilst it’s in the oven. It can’t be rushed by turning up the heating dial (why I end up with burnt rice), or quickened by stolen glances (the culprit for my pancake flat cakes).

I find myself in this funny tension in life sometimes. You know, when you have dreams, hopes and goals that you have held for weeks – years – decades maybe? Sometimes the passion and excitement can be too much to bear, yet you know you have to wait.

It reminds me of being a child in the run up to Christmas. That sense of anticipation and excitement, the irritation at seeing all those unopened doors on the advent calendar that are getting in the way of me and my Christmas day.

I want it ‘NOW’

But if I had had my Christmas when I had desired it (probably before the calendars even hit the shelves), then it wouldn’t have been the same. The weather wouldn’t justify a cosy open fire, the presents wouldn’t have been wrapped, there would be no seasoned Christmas pud, or hope of snow.

It’s in the waiting that these things come about.

Not just any waiting – proactive waiting.

For if we were just to sit and wait for the things we hope for – we may risk not being the person we need to be when we get there.

A little part of me wants to click my fingers and be 4 years down the line where I am really able to use my skills as a therapist and see lives changed, and people freed and empowered. But – if I was if I was there now, right this very second – I may be more damaging than helpful. I wouldn’t have the knowledge and the skills needed that grow through time and learning.

It would be like taking the cake out of the oven early.

Sometimes waiting isn’t inevitable. Sometimes our inactivity is the only thing stopping ‘it’ from happening. We can be the barriers to our futures, our dreams. We can spend our lives waiting and devising new ‘as soon as..’ excuses. Waiting for our lives to start.

Become the change, the movement. Be decisive. Your decision to move could be the decision that changes the course of your life.

~
Start that business
Make that phone call
Schedule that doctor’s appointment
Take that trip
Have that difficult conversation

~

When circumstance requires a wait – don’t sit still. Grow, challenge, and develop into the you that will make the wait even more worthwhile.

Bake.

For in the oven happens a miracle. A flurry of chemical reactions, a busyness that the eye cannot see. A critical process.

Be the cake in the oven – not the one sat on the side waiting to be put in. Focus on the present, live in the now but in knowledge of your future – live your life story.

If I you were to pop a polaroid picture, a snapshot of my future as it could be, into my hand right now. I might say – wow! THAT is what I want, I will do whatever I need to do to get there, to live that, to be that change. No matter how long, hard, high the mountain top experiences, or low the valleys will be – it will be worth it.

So, bake my dreams.

And I will try my hardest not to waste my time staring at the oven.

I don’t do English food

26 Sep

Right,

We have just had a lovely couple over for the weekend. Hence lack of post yesterday.

After a two hour walk in Chislehurst woods,  inclusive of full enetertainment – seeing my husband attempt to relive his childhood days – unsuccessfully. He got stuck up a tree.

Anyway, we come back to a very belated lunch. Rumbling stomachs call for something very Sunday-ish. Warming and English.

‘Bangers and mash’ was batted around. So off to Sainsbury’s we went.

Us girls made ourselves at home in the kitchen whilst the boys played with jump leads and cars (I know) utilising almost every single pan to hand in the way that British cooking seems to require.

You know what? I’d totally forgotten about the delicious warmth that comes with good old English food! i’ve prided myself in welcoming my hubby home to all manner of cuisines. Indian (his roots), Italian, Moroccan (tagine – my favourite), chinese…

Because the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach right?

And the more complicated food – the bigger the love?

But, after knocking up a waist band-groaning lunch of sausage and (leek, garlic & red onion) a field worth of potato, I’ve suddenly realised how tiring it is attempting to be a live-in food artisan.

As a girl who feels that following a recipe is ‘cheating’, i’ve attempted to, most evenings, design my own cullinary surprise. Never of course, being able to replicate it again, and probably (if i’m honest) not quite wanting to admit the odd mixture of store cupboard ingredients it contains.

So, i’ve rediscovered good old English food. And the stuffed lethargy that follows. Now I have that post sunday lunch slog that demands the sofa and constant replays of past episodes of Come Dine With me.

Right now I’m attempt to peel myself up from my horizontal postition and head to church, musing about the week ahead…

My husband has a week of pies, trifles, potatoes and puddings to look forward to.

Me? I look forward to kicking back whilst he battles with the  aftermath – a kitchen full of British washing up.

Tie me up in a bow why don’t you

24 Sep

Tie me up in a bow! (Kim Cattrall for Baileys)

So, I’m starting big school today.

A Masters in Psychotherapy & Counselling. And very excited I am too. Pencil case – check. Pink folder – check. Geeky tin-foil packed lunch (because fees are darned expensive)- check.

After a whole summer course studying counselling & psychotherapy techniques, I felt challenged. And we all know I love to be challenged!

My question is…

Why, as humans, do we love things tied up in bows?

I’m not talking about presents wrapped in shiny paper and tied in sumptuous bows (although I do love them), i’m talking about life.

Maybe it’s just me.

So, I’ll make this personal.

Life is messy right? The t’s aren’t always crossed, and the i’s most certainly aren’t always dotted. Which makes me wonder quite where my discomfort in unanswered questions, and general confusion comes from (for it is what life is made of right?).

I am an organised girl – I file away my bank statements in the right section of my ‘House ‘stuff” folder. I have birthdays written down in a ‘birthday book’ and my filofax only stays at home when I do. I love to-do lists and I most definitely love the yummy satisfaction in crossing off the done items.

I wish I could cross of the things of life-

Issue with friend. Tick. Sorted.
Worry about family. Tick. Sorted.
Think about moving flat. Tick. Sorted.
Life plan. Tick. Sorted
~
The thing is, life is full of grey areas, journeys, loose ends, uncertainties. It can be turned upside down with one phone call, one prognosis, one sentence. It is full of things we can’t prepare for, ‘hold our horses’ for.

So, I have worked out. The battle I’m fighting is against perfectionism. A common battle. Maybe yours too. Perfectionism is the desire to meet high standards and the propensity for being displeased with anything that is not perfect or does not meet these extremely high standards.

The funny thing is, we are often the ones setting these standards.

When you aim for perfection, you discover it’s a moving target.  ~George Fisher

Not many things in life can be tied up in neat red bows and filed away in a drawer marked ‘done’. Complete. I should know that. I love people – I love working with people in their incompleteness, their messiness and their undone-neness. But the thing is, I don’t have set these standards for them.

I set them for me.

So I am challenging myself. To leave things undone – to find peace in the questions, the unanswered, the unfinished. If we were all complete, tied up in bows, what would we learn? We would be unteachable, unshakable, unmovable.

Surely – nothing that is fully complete – is fully real.

I want to be authentic, real and…messy if needs be. We are all broken in our own way, but the most interesting people are the ones not afraid to admit it! And the most inspiring – are the ones that aren’t afraid to show it!

I love the metaphor of a cracked clay jar full of treasures. I imagine seeing glimpses of the bright jewels through the cracks in the mundane dusty clay. Without the broken, marred surface – you wouldn’t see these rich jewels.

I want to be like this.

So, i’m going to go against my natural desire to round off this post, to finish, to tie in a big red bow….

And here I end.

Shut up Anna!

21 Sep

There are some things in life that just shut me up.

I can be thinking, chatting or in a daydream, yet when I come across certain things – i’m stopped short. Captivated. I have been caught staring, brow furrowed at odd items just because I’m enthralled at the complexity or beauty of it.

Let me share my current list with you-

I have just rediscovered these gorgeously, sweet (and very in season) fruits. My first memory of eating figs was at an uncles house. My dad plucked one from the large, heavy tree in the garden and handed it to me. I remember being intrigued by its tough, purple brown skin and suspicious when I was told that I could eat it. Since then I have munched my way through many a dried fig – but fresh ones had dropped right off my radar!

Until last week! I stumbled across a fruit stall in Covent Garden whilst whiling away a lunch hour. After a few seconds musing as to what these odd purple fruits were, it clocked!

Off I went with a fresh fig in a crunchy brown paper bag.

I stopped walking after taking a bite, just to observe the hidden beauty of the fruit. What colours are concealed within the dark, boring skin! Intricate strands of burnt orange and red, flecked with sweet yellow seeds.

Since then, I am having to stop myself at 2 a day. I can report that as it stands, no colleague has yet commented on my excessive fig habit.

What can I say about peacock feathers?

I mean look at them.

If you want to see a girl spellbound, put one into my hands and I will just stare in amazement of the colour and the simplicity of the design. How do they grow like that? How does each separate strand produce such an array of stark colour that lines up so perfectly by the strands beside it?

Has any human managed to produce something so incredible?

Just like in yesterdays post. The night sky, like the clouds, evokes a similar reaction in me. A feeling that I am so small, that we as a human race know so little. The sky is such a mystery to me. So much beauty, such incredible beauty, and yet so few will ever see it. For more pictures taken from the hubble spacecraft, click here.

As I stepped off the sea plane onto our Maldivian honeymoon island, I couldn’t speak. After spending my life not quite believing postcard pictures of paradise beaches sent by gloating holidaymakers, there I was – stepping out onto a piece of paradise.

I would lie on a sun lounger staring silently in awe at the beauty around us. What a contrast to the city I live in – pure and completely unadulterated. And here, I sit at my desk in central London, wondering whether it was all a dream.

Like the night sky, here’s another stunning world that exists away from our eyes. The colours, designs and breathtaking variety of tropical fish silenced me (not that one can talk much when snorkeling). I couldn’t believe the ‘finding nemo’ world I had found myself in.

Standing in queue in Boots once, I remember staring at a woman’s pregnant stomach. Although at risk of being carted out the store, I continued to stare, enthralled by the miracle happening within her body.

It’s like our world is a canvas, painted on by the most incredible artist with a palate of incomprehensible colours that no human could ever mix, match or combine. When I begin to consider that a thousand forests could be formed from a single acorn, or think of the incalculable myriad of stunning butterfly breeds (that were seemingly created – just because!), I am silenced.

When we see something beautiful, stand on the edge of the vast Grand Canyon, watch the gushing water of the Niagra falls. When we see the swirling, paintbox mix of the northern lights or snorkel the great barrier reef..

How can we be unchanged? How can we think that we know it all, did it all, can do it all? How can we think it all ends with us?

We are creative beings, powerful, knowledgeable and capable of producing breath taking artwork. But for me, nothing,  nothing can compete with the handiwork of the creator.

Accident Schmaccident.

Why clouds make me uncomfortable

20 Sep

Isn’t there something incredible about just lifting our eyes and looking to the sky?

I don’t do it often enough.

A canvas of colour, an ever-changing mystery that transforms regularly from the mundane to the breathtaking.

It puts things into perspective, reminds me that there is more to this life than the me-centered world that I live in. It acts as a metaphorical kick in the backside. It reminds me that my world is not the only one. In fact, it reminds me how small I am. How very, very small. How insignificant, vulnerable and temporary I am.

So why would I want to do this more often? Why would I want to glance up to a sky that reminds me of my fragility, and my morality? It’s uncomfortable revelation, but it changes the way I see things, the way I live.

I want to be challenged.

How would our world change if we each took more time to look at the sky, feel the uncomfortable feeling that comes with knowing how small we are, and how temporary. Would we live for different things? Live our lives in different ways? Not wait until our death beds to utter those famous words –

‘If only…’

Would we live more intentionally?

I have memories as a child, of sitting on the garden bench with my Dad during thunder storms. Watching the lightening fork down to the ground.

Beautiful and terrifying.

Proof of the truth that we are living in a world that is more powerful and unknown than we comprehend. We are not all there is. We can only explore, document and ‘know so much’. We will never fully understand. We are small.

Is life really lost by dying? Or is it lost second by second, hour by hour – those days that we haven’t truly lived, but let slip away. Just another day. Maybe days could mean more than just another page of a diary, a crossed off square on a planner.

There are a million ways to waste and lose a day. And not a single way to get it back.

Many of us are waiting for life to begin.

When I move home. That’s when.
When I get married. That’s when.
When I have a baby. That’s when.
When I have paid my debt. That’s when.
When I retire. That’s when.

What if our only real obstacle, for living. Really living. Was our choice to wait.

I want a Kingdom perspective, a heaven bound life. A day that counts, changes something, someone. Somewhere.
I want to use my gifts, talents and passions to LIVE. Really live. I want to be challenged and moved. Out of selfishness, short-sightedness, closed-mindedness. Out of letting life slip by, gifts unused, untouched. People unchanged.

So, every day this week. I will look at the sky. And I will be challenged, and hopefully changed.

Because, in the end, the way we spend our day, is the way we spend our life.

I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of (Jesus)

Love for a murderer

17 Sep

Right, now here’s a tricky question for you.

Could you love a murderer?

I was trying to find loopholes in my little philosophy – ‘To be known, is to be loved’. Exceptions to the rule. Terminally unloveable – as known as they could be.

And for a minute, I thought I had one – or three.

Murderers, pedophiles, wife-beaters.

I mean, they are pretty sky high up there on my ‘bad people scale’. We have a national anger for what they do, and a fear that they may strike someone we love, or first-hand effect our lives. They are at the centre of stories that shock nations, generate billions of pounds worth of press and bring up all sorts of horrible feelings at their mere mention.

But

Could I love a murderer? If I really knew a murderer, and understood him. Could I love him? What if he had murdered a member of my own family?

Can you vehemently hate what someone does, and love them at the same time?

I believe that we aren’t as we are, because we simply are (yup it’s a  bit of a tongue twister, read that again!). That closed mindedness angers me. We are all mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers.

Someone to someone.

Known by someone.

Understood by someone.

And all with the potential to do the most horrific, damaging, news-worthy things.

We can get hurt, very messed up and painfully damaged. And as my Mum tells me –

Hurt people

Hurt people.

~
Our deepest fear, is not that we are inadequate
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
Marianne Williamson
~

So could I love a murderer? If you took me to death row, and gave me time, lots of time. Time to talk, time to find that story that everyone has – the one that could reduce you to tears. Time to counsel, to understand, to know.

Really know.

To find that place at the very core of someone where it all went so drastically, damagingly wrong. To peel back the layers of hurt, hate and hopelessness. To look beyond.

To forgive?

Maybe.

I have been uncomfortably challenged by these incredible, confusing, life-changingly inspiring stories. People forgiving abusers, murderers, terrorists. And abusers, murderers and terrorist’s stories of forgiveness.

So grab a cup of tea, a biscuit (preferably chocolate) and a comfy chair. And flick through these stories, be challenged – and maybe even changed.

Theforgivenessproject.org.uk

These word’s are Anne Marie Hagan’s. Her father was hacked to death in front of her when she was only 19.

‘Forgiveness is not permission. It doesn’t mean that you agree with what the offender has done, or that they had a right to do what they did. Also, forgiveness cannot be conditional on remorse because that would mean we can only forgive those who are sorry. Forgiveness is recognizing that the offender is a human being who is deserving of kindness, compassion and love despite the harm they have done’

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.