Tag Archives: work

Fresh eyes in dusty London

16 Aug

As I meandered through Picadilly Circus at lunchtime yesterday I came to a large group of people blocking my path. After 3 years of living in London and working in tourist-laden Covent Garden, I have learnt to walk like a Londoner. This usually takes on the guise of walking at a speed most people would label ‘an awkward-looking-run’, and adopting a face that tries desperately to say “I live here, I’m in a rush, and don’t you dare approach me with that clipboard”.

So, used to darting through tourists (I haven’t knocked over any small children that I know of), I am usually unfazed by huddles of people, or men stood for hours on end covered in gold paint. But this crowd yesterday intrigued me. Instead of rushing on, I had a little nosey look and quickly realised that I had stumbled across the new M&M store.As a big fan of those little chocolate dots of heaven (as you may know from another one of my blogs), I just had to see what the fuss was about.

For the next fifteen minutes I became a tourist. I browsed the store, excited at the tall rainbow arrangement of M&M tubes that reached the ceiling. I huddled around the man, with a group of children, finding out how to fill our cellophane bags with colours of our choice. After laughing at some ridiculous M&M memorabilia (M&M spatula or toothbrush holder anyone?) I dispensed a few pink M&M’s and headed to the till to pay my 53p (the cashier laughed at my paltry portion)

The thing is, yesterday I saw London with fresh eyes. It reminded of my first visits when everything was so exciting; it reminded me of why people love to visit its vibrancy and multiculturalism. But most importantly, it reminded me that we need to see things with fresh eyes sometimes.

I love helping on Alpha, and I love leading a Post-Alpha home group. Not only because it’s so wonderful getting to know people and being a part of their journey – but because its amazing to be around people who see God with fresh eyes. Their passion and excitement is infectious and can reawaken our desire to spend time with God.

Sometimes our faith can get tired. Maybe you can find yourself resenting the fact that it’s hard work. You might have lost that spark, that amazement and desire to spend time with your God. Perhaps you are moving out of duty rather than passion.

So – just as I have found a new, re-appreciation for where I live, let’s pray for fresh revelations of Jesus. Fresh passion for our faith, fresh desire to read the bible. Fresh eyes. Not just reminders of what captured us enough to devote our lives to following Jesus, but to re-experience that in a whole new way.

Isiah 43v19 says ‘I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland’.

Pray that for a fresh outpouring of God on your life. Pray with others, join together and make this your prayer for your life, campus, church, family and workplace– to see streams begin to flow, new springs, new dreams, new zest for your relationship with God and with life.

 

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When the rug is pulled from under your feet

14 Jun

“We aren’t going to be able to keep you on I’m afraid”. That sentence came from my boss last week as he explained that they wouldn’t be able to work around my new university placement. Part of me had braced myself to hear this – it was expected – I felt peaceful. The other part felt like the rug had been pulled from beneath my feet as I held back tears at the thought of losing a secure job that I loved. Questions flooded my mind – how will I afford my course fees? How will we pay the bills? How on earth will I find a job to fit around my clinic hours (I’m a trainee Psychotherapist)? Will we be able to stay in our flat?

We have all had moments like this. A phone call or an email that sharply changes the direction of our lives or our plans. I remember being told at the age of seven that my sister had a cancer –  in that moment life as I knew it was to change forever. Many of us have have been the receiver of a simple short sentence that feels like a punch in the stomach or instantly finds us asking huge questions about life and scrabbling for new coping mechanisms. They can find us running to God, or away from him in confusion. 

I have had five simple words in my mind for the past few weeks – I think God has been preparing my heart for the uncertainty of what is to come.  He does that sometimes – he paves the way, prepares us. I want to share them with you in the hopes that they too can be written on your heart – Nothing takes God by surprise

So what do we do in the face of uncertainty, unanswered questions, shaking foundations or circumstances that simply don’t make sense?

1- Know that God has not been taken by surprise. He has gone before you, he has paved the way, you are not walking on untrodden ground. I find such comfort in the Psalms 139 v 5 which says ‘You hem me in, behind and before. You have laid you hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty to attain’.

2 – Be still and know that God is God (Psalm 46v10). When you study the Hebrew translation of this verse, it translates to ’cause yourself to let-go, to become weak’. Let go of your own plans, your own desire for control on the circumstance, and ask God for the strength to trust in his all-sufficiency, his all-knowing, his love for the detail. What a testament to all those around you, when they see you calm in the face of a storm thanks to a peace that surpasses all earthly understanding.

3- Trust what you know of God. Reflect on the ways he has intervened in history (your own history and biblical history) and share faith boosting stories of when God has more than showed up.

So, I am trying to live this out right now. Oh I have moments of anxiety and fear – wondering how this awkward looking jigsaw is going to fit together. But a calm peace quietens them as I reflect on the fact that my God is able to move mountains, and he has faithfully got me this far!

It’s all testimony in the making.

Watch this space – he’s gonna pull it off… again!

 

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’?

An ode to the man who didn’t ask

23 Sep
Sitting there
Lounging
On the pavement
Against the wall.
Your concrete sofa
Your chaise longe
~
You sit reclined.
Legs outstretched into my path.
Exhuding an
Atmosphere of regality.
This is your street
~
You breathe through a
Smouldering cigarette
Not bothering to
Pull it from your lips.
Denying yourself the London air,
Ash threatening to fall on your
Marked jacket.
You don’t mind
~
Your outfit
A dusty street man’s,
Mismatched and well worn.
3 pairs of trousers
Rolled carefully to different lengths
A strange rainbow of colour
Against the grey of your pavement
~
You stare.
Moving only your eyes
As people open shops
Beginning their working days.
Fueled on good nights sleep and steaming coffees.
A different life
Ruled by ticking clocks and ringing phones
~
I wonder
What is going through your head?
Maybe nothing,
A simple fog of morning sleepiness.
Maybe jealousy or intrigue
At the lives of passers by.
Or perhaps bemusement at our complicated existence
~
But I sense a disconnectedness
A blasé
An unaffectedness
That says
This is my world.
You live yours
~
You do not ask of me,
Or speak
Or look
As I expected.
You don’t interrupt the moments I spend
Seeking my key
An opportunity to request change or food
As many would
~
Did you even see me?
Notice me?
~
I am touched by the irony of this
The lack of exchange,
Aknowledgement.
Confused.
You have turned the tables
The un-noticing
Becoming the unnoticed
~
This is my world
You live yours

Vertigo heels in the early morning

14 Sep

You stand there. Awaiting the green light, that familiar shrill beep. I see your feet first. Sky high, black, vertigo-inducing heels. I wince with memories of painful soles after nights of dancing, piggybacks home. They must hurt.

It’s 8.30, a Tuesday morning. Too early for aching feet and blisters.

Your legs, slim and pale, blemished with greying bruises, lead to a baggy jumper. Masculine, long and oversized, covering your shorts or skirt. I can’t tell. You must be cold. I see your tattoo covered hand, intricate black cobwebs of ink, a spider somewhere perhaps. Delicate work that must have taken hours. And hurt.

As you move the hair from your face I see another tattoo. Scrawled, black cursive writing spells the word ‘silence’. I don’t want to stare, not obviously.  So I battle the hungry temptation for a prolonged glance at the words on your neck.

I want to make sense of you.

For me.

Your head is held high with a confidence that rivals any I could ever pretend to have. An air of self-assuredness that I can almost tangibly feel beside me.

I wonder how someone can look so naked and exposed yet exude a hiddenness.

‘Look at me, want me’

‘Keep away’

Time allows us to stand for a moment longer. I wonder whether my fleeting thoughts and judgments echo those standing with us. Have you even been home? Do you stand on street corners whilst autumn leaves fall around you, signaling the coming end of another year?

It’s okay to cross.

As you pace ahead, comfortable in your sky-high, patent heels – my heart skips a rushed beat and my judgements lay scattered on that pavement.

I see, tightly held in your hand, the small, grasping hand of a child. Four or five, bright blonde hair and admiring blue eyes. Walking beside you in his neat school uniform, dragging a sparkling silver scooter.

‘Green man Mummy’

You head up towards the school. You in your vertigo shoes, with your big round eyes, and your son oblivious and comfortable beside you. A mystery.

Taking on the world.

And keeping it out.

All at once.

And me? Silenced by irony in my sensible clothes and boots. Hushed by stark contrasts, confused stereotypes. Covered and comfortable. Evoking no questions but with hundreds on the tip of my tongue. A breath away. Off to work,

Neither taking on the world.

Nor keeping it out.

Maybe I shouldn’t have looked

14 Sep

I sat opposite a man on the train home last night. I looked at him.

Living in London, you get used to not looking people in the eyes. It’s a shame how I can share a carriage with someone, yet retract into my own little bubble – my paper, my iphone, my music, and get off – not having taken a second to look and think about those around me. To recognise them, acknowledge them. Sometimes I wonder if I could sit opposite a friend and not even know.

Anyway, last night I took a second to look at this man, in his suit, with his big briefcase. Hiding under his hat. And I saw these big, sad eyes.

A person.
A story.
A history.
You hold so much
Under that ‘travelling face’.
Journeying with me
The equally unknown.
Yet we share a space
Air
A stare maybe.
~
So I glance.
Your eyes are sad.
You purse your lips
And lie back in your hat.
A mystery.
~
What are your dreams
Your thoughts
And hurts?
Who knows you.
Really knows you.
What do you want with this life?
Are you mad at what it’s offered.
~
You have gone.
~
Home perhaps.
Alone?
I imagine you stepping slowly
Slouched with those sad eyes
~
Who are you
Travelling man?
As unknown to me
As I am to you.
We shared the space
On this train.
A moment.
A few stops.
~
But your eyes,
Heavy and softly glazed,
With what I imagine as
Unshed tears.
Will stay with me a while.