A bee in my bonnet

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know I am passionate about community.  I love the concept of community, I know the benefits of living in community, I believe it is important. But not present, not evident a lot these days.

I was at a park yesterday with my boys and a few extra kids.  We were having a lovely time and then I happened to look up and see a bunch of people I knew.  It was quite a large group – a mixture of Mums, a few Dads and a whole bunch of kids.   I knew them all, enough to say hello, enough to be facebook friends with the Mums, but not enough for the friendships to have ever been more than a ‘hello’ and a few pleasantries. Very pleasant pleasantries mind you.  From where I sat it looked like the group had a bit of free play, and then corralled the kids back to another area of the park where it looked like they were participating in some kind of organised coaching session, with a couple of the parents taking the lead.  How wonderful.  What a neat summer vacation thing to do.  What a great way of burning off some kid energy – play with a purpose.  I mean that with all sincerity.

But as I sat there, and wished they would look over and see me, and say a hello to me…..I also wished and hoped that they had some of their neighborhood waifs and strays with them. I hoped they had picked up some kids from some non-Christian homes and were loving on them. I hoped that they were being ‘Jesus with skin on’ to some frazzled/ worried/ in a pickle/ not knowing which way to turn or just plain lonely Mum/ child.

That is what I wished, as I sat there wishing that I was part of that group. Wishing  that my kids would have nice, decent, buddies to play with.  That my nine year old would actually be invited into someone’s home for a sleepover- someone that I could trust and know he would be safe.

Community is lovely.  Community is awesome and creates security and lifelong bonds that can never be broken.  But community has to be outward looking – community has to be constantly seeking out and reaching out and being there for others.

Hear my heart – just because I have longed to be a part of this particular community (that my example comes from) and it hasn’t happened, doesn’t mean that this group of people are NOT reaching out to others.  I am not judging them or criticizing them, for I don’t know all their actions and heart motivations.

When Christian community happens, something special with an undeniable God factor is present.  Last week there was a terrible, horrific incident in my town.  I won’t go into the gruesome details – but – through the simple sharing of one’s faith a few years ago, someone from our church had made a connection to someone in the affected family, and so our pastor was called on to help out with the memorial service and our church helped out with some of the logistics and I’m sure gave financial aid and much needed support to the affected family.

Love.  In action.  Outward looking.  Being there to meet a need.  Not turning a blind eye when others are hurting.  Being a listening ear.

It starts with the simple. An offer to pick up a kid from school when a Mum is sick.  A phone call or a note to say ‘I’m thinking of you’.  A meal when a family is busy/grieving/ sick.  A smile to your neighbour.  The returning of their trash can after it has been emptied.  A batch of fresh cookies.  Small acts.

But it is the small acts that speak volumes.  And people remember.  And people will wonder what you’re on about.  Why you are different.

Community.  We all need it.

‘By this shall all men know, that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another’.  John 13:35.

Advertisements

Joy for Mourning

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the
oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that
they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he
might be glorified. – Isaiah 61:3

  It was the worst of times.  Never before had I been so physically ill, and then so emotionally spent.  We wonder if this event triggered the start of my celiac disease, but we’ll never know for sure.

  Thrilled to be pregnant, to be providing a sibling for our firstborn, I didn’t mind the constant nausea and constant throwing up so much.  You do what you have to do, to get the result you want.  Weight fell off me.  The couch became my resting place, day and night.  Counting down the days until I would be in the clear, and have more energy to be more present for my family.  Just when I thought that it would be safe to announce the news to friends and family, just after a new trimester had begun, we were faced with the news of loss.  Of emptiness.  Of deep, deep sorrow.  There was no heartbeat.

  Faced then with an awful decision – should we wait for my body to expel the lifeless form of the child itself and risk needing a D&C anyway because of the chances of infection, or should we go ahead and schedule the D&C.

I wanted neither option.  I wanted the weeks and months to progress – my dreams and hopes to be fulfilled.  I wanted to Mother again.

But we chose the operation.  As much as I was aghast at the thought of having the baby ripped from me, and scared silly at the thought of my first general anaesthetic, we chose that option.

I remember farewelling my firstborn for the day – aching to just hold his little hand in mine, to seek comfort from what I already had. I remember the awful blue gown and the plastic underwear.  The procedural questions and the signing of my rights.  The little white pill to help me relax.  The tears when my husband was not allowed to come past a certain point.  Sitting on a hard bed, my boney butt aching, just wanting to be living another life.  I remember being wheeled into the green and metallic room.  My arm sticking out at my side, being poked and then counting backwards……10 9 8.  It doesn’t just happen on tv programmes.  Then the waking up, all of a sudden, tears flowing right away. Not a woeful ‘poor me’ cry, but that deep sobbing,’ my heart is aching’ cry, that gutteral from the depths of my being cry.  I remember counting down the hours until my husband could pick me up, being wheeled in a wheelchair down to the hospital lobby and then out to the car.  I remember being glad that I wore black trousers that day, so that the leaking was not so obvious.

 I felt so anonymous yet so obvious.

Then it was time for the healing.

That’s part A of my story.  It was awful.  It was hard.  It was painful.  It was sad beyond sad.  BUT.  Don’t you love God’s BUTS?  However grammatically wrong they are – they are significant – BUT God was there.  There was a part B of this story.

When I was waiting to be wheeled into the operating room, a woman came to sit with me.  She said her name was Joy and she was a student, doing a midwifery course.  She asked if I minded her sitting with me, and we exchanged small talk, and then she walked with me as I was wheeled in.  She was allowed in the operating room, and I saw her face, and then I didn’t.  She wasn’t around when I woke up, and I didn’t see her for the rest of the afternoon.

A few weeks later when I was thinking about the whole ordeal, I was remembering how appreciative I was, to have her there, how her presence had brought me some comfort.  I wrote ‘Joy’ a thank you card and then rang the college that her course was through, to get her last name.  They had no record of a ‘Joy’ doing their course.  I thought maybe she had been attending another course, so I sent the card off anyway.  But then the thought came to me.  What if ‘Joy’ was actually an angel?  What if God had sent her to be my comfort when I needed it most?  I’ll never know for sure – but it is my opinion that she was an angel.  I was mourning, yet God had given me Joy for mourning, in the best way he could.  In the presence of someone that could just be by my side.

So often when we are going through ‘stuff’ we feel so alone.  We’re not.  We are never alone. We have everything we need through Him.

A challenge

The level of hunger we have for a desired outcome determines what sacrifices and changes we need to make, to reach this outcome.

Yep.  That’s my challenge to you and to myself at the moment.

Everyone knows that saying…the one about if you keep doing the same thing, then you’ll get the same results.

If you want to change something, then you will, if you’re hungry enough for it.  Sometimes that means learning a new skill, developing a new habit, getting rid of some pride, trying a new idea, being open to others thoughts, advice and opinions.  If you’re hungry enough – you’ll do whatever it takes.

What are you hungry for?  What are you going to do to get it?

Second chances

I love that we serve a God of second chances.  And third and fourth and fifth chances.

I recently had the pleasure of spending some time with someone who has gone on a real 180 degree turn, for the better, with her walk with God.  Her whole demeanor has changed.  Things weren’t always so rosey for her, as a result of some bad choices and paths she had taken.  But God.  God was always there, and when she was ready, she took her second chance.

I love it.  I love how we serve such a big God.  Always waiting.  Always there.  Arms wide open.

Second chances.  They are there for the taking.

Hmmmmmm.

This is my second attempt at writing this afternoon.  My first attempt was scrapped when I realized I was writing out of frustration and anger.  Not a good place to be.  But a very real and hard place.

 

So why the doom and gloom?  Basically I think I’m just a bit fed up.  And now I’ve just had the ‘ah hah’ moment.  Thanks God – now my priorities are right and now the words are flowing.  Funny how that happens huh?

I was feeling cross and upset because of misunderstandings and tricky relationships.  I’ve got a friend that I’ve been really trying to connect with, trying to encourage and trying to be there for.  But it hasn’t been reciprocal, and the encouragement I’ve given hasn’t been taken as simply that.  Encouragement.  So I’ve been sad and hurt, and even judging.

I tweeted this earlier this week – Sometimes people aren’t really asking for advice, they are asking to be told they have done the right thing. Tricky when pride gets in way.

Tsk tsk.  I know.

But you know what I haven’t been doing?

I haven’t been praying.

I haven’t been asking God for more love, more of His ways to reach this person, and more of her heart to be open to change and taking on advice.

 

So that’s what I’m gonna do.  I don’t have all the answers, and I get super frustrated when I read stuff on the internet written as though others are the experts (because the internet has a sneaky way of enabling all of us to take on an expert persona – when perhaps – we shouldn’t).  But I do know someone who is an expert and someone  – make that – Someone who does have all the answers.  I can’t take away pride – but I know Who can.

Instead of frustration, I’m trying prayer.

Instead of hurt and pain (I hate that I am such a relational person!), I’m trying prayer.

Instead of taking things personally when messages get lost in translation, I’m trying MORE prayer.

Maybe that could be your place of help with any tricksy relationships you have at the moment?  Just maybe.