Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Sick of this.
Sick with this.
Sick in this.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Plum.

It is Boxing Day. I still don't know why it's called this.

As for Christmas, all I want to impress is the sense of awe that we're celebrating a baby born to die for us, to save our lives, God suffering and dying that we might live in the most incredible expression of Love the world has and ever will see. It's so simple, but so beautiful. One of my friends replied to a Christmas text with simply, "you too. I'm so glad Jesus came!" which made me beam ridiculously. It is, after all, good news. Rather. I wish I lived with this knowledge at the forefront of my mind every day!

I'm in a thoughtful mood, which should probably by anesthetized until after the relatives have been round today. I'm going to make mulled wine.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Torn.

I've just stupidly epitomized my life in one minute. Turn on laptop. Pray for my heart to be protected so that I can sleep. Proceed to blatantly follow facebook links to stuff that's just going to keep me up all night thinking. Why? Stupid girl. Why? All the time I'm doing this! Saying God, help me get out of this! Help me focus on you! When all I do is turn away. Every day. I'm so annoyed at myself. I despair. Gah!

What am I doing with my life?

Don’t wake me. I’ve fallen asleep. Don’t hate me. I have no relief.
This burden is shredding my soul. This cycle is out of control.

And You call me as your friend, as I drive these nails again. I’m falling into You.
You call me as your friend, as I break Your heart again. I’m falling into You.

In a darkened room, this pain is complete. In my selfish tomb, I smell the defeat.
Why do I medicate? Why do I go back to the things I hate?
There’s something broken in me - I must be soaking in my apathy.

And You call me as your friend, as I drive these nails again. I’m falling into You.
You call me as your friend, as I break Your heart again. I’m falling into You.

All who are found in this place, come to the ocean of grace.
And all who have spit in His face, come and live!
And You call me as your friend, as I drive these nails again. I’m falling into You.
(Come and live!)
You call me as your friend, as I break Your heart again. I’m falling into You.
And You call me as your friend - my heart beats once again. I’m falling into You.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Habit.

I've just realised that I've bitten my lips to shreds today. Darn it.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Limit.

Nottingham streets surround me once more. It's been a strange and long day. After deciding not to pack sensibly I went for a winter walk around the Botanical Gardens and took photos of the snow and various beautiful things God made. Admittedly, as I wandered I imagined what it would be like if it was the last time I was there, and I felt the heavy combination of love for a city and despair at a situation. I don't know. I saw the familiar squirrels, friendly as ever, and guiltily smiled at one sat shivering in the snow.

Upon returning, the quietness strikes me as it always seems to. At uni I have music on constantly when I am in my room, even when falling asleep. The radio is on in the kitchen always. Here, I sit with mum having coffee and no sound comes for minutes on end. It's weird. I like silence, I like to sit and wait, but I like the choice. I even miss the irritating banging of B4 above me, although if the ceiling were to bang here, I'd freak out ridiculously...Tristan told me I had a twin brother who the parents put in the loft because he was mad. Another, slightly more noticeable thing, is that the bath has been reduced to 2 taps and a piece of jagged porcelain sticking out of the wall. This distresses me.

I don't know. I just don't know. There's a lot going on in my little, unsubstantial head.

I saw friends tonight. They're amazing, they really are.

Too tired in every way.

Friday, 18 December 2009

I.

Beggar, stranger, alien.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Brother.

"Christ has come from the eternal heart of his Father to a region of sorrow and death;
that God should be manifested in the flesh, the Creator made a creature;
that he that was clothed with glory should be wrapped with rags of flesh;
he that filled heaven and earth with his glory should be cradled in a manger;
that the God of the law should be subject to the law;
the God of the circumcision circumcised;
the God that made the heavens working as a carpenter for Joseph;
that he that binds the devil in chains should be tempted;
that he, who owns the world and everything in it should hunger and thirst;
that the God of strength should be weary;
the Judge of all flesh should be condemned;
the God of life put to death;
that he that is one with the Father should cry out of misery, "My God, My God why have you forsaken me?";
that he that had the keys of death and hell should lie in another man's tomb;
that his head, before whom the angels cast their crowns, should be crowned with thorns;
that his eyes, purer than the sun, should be shut by the darkness of death;
those ears, which heard nothing but the hallelujahs of angels and saints, should hear the blasphemies of the crowds;
that mouth and tongue, that spoke as never any man spoke, should be accused of blasphemy;
those hands, that held the sceptre of heaven itself, should be nailed to the cross for human sin;
his every sense irritated,
with the spear and nails,
the smell of death,
the taste of vinegar and gall,
the sound of curses,
the sight of his mother and disciples mourning for him;
his soul was without comfort and forsaken..." -Thomas Brooks

He understands you and me.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

"Baa".

In true abi fashion, I stormed out this afternoon with the intention of getting as far away from Sheffield as my legs would carry me. I packed a flask of hot coffee, a packet of chocolate biscuits, my favourite fruit, my bible, notebook, a torch, batteries and camera, and headed towards hills. I followed a river, and subsequent streams, and walked pretty much where ever I felt inclined, twisting and turning my way through dense woodlands, open fields and along treacherous roads. About an hour in, I decided to make my goal to find and converse with a sheep. Secretly, I think my true goal was to get completely lost, because I love being lost and the lack of responsibility it offers. Anyway, I wandered, and wandered, and thought, and sang, and smiled and cried and laughed and stumbled and tripped and slipped and slid and looked for sheep. I stroked any dogs that came my way, and then came across a herd of alpacas, which made me overwhelmingly happy. Then I found some very noisy geese, and a beautiful horse which came over to me and let me stroke its nose. I love horses. It's tongue was amazing. Then I found a village, which I'd visited in the past, and finally, after much questing, I discovered a field of sheep. I took photographs all along the way, so these claims will be substantiated when I find my cable...there's one I particularly like of the horse's nose. ((I'm editing this, and hopefully will have managed to put the images on..hopehopehope)) Once I had found the sheep, the sun was setting, and I was about 6 miles from my flat. Problematic, considering that my route had been largely muddy, stony, uneven paths next to streams in woodlands. So I started back. I discovered that my flask (newly bought for uni and unused until today) had a crack in and thus my coffee was not only all over my bag, but also nearing ice-cold. Light was lost in that fluid way that you first think is gradual but discover to be just a prelude to sudden submersion into darkness.

"Soon it will be dark and these unfamiliar paths will seem stranger still".

I guess inevitably I'm heading this way: I always go as far as I can my own way, pushing boundaries further and further, disregarding responsibility and sensibility and wisdom, looking for what I've set my heart on, and when it gets dark, I'm far, far away from where I really need to be. I start walking back, and I trip over rocks I can't see, I slip down muddy slopes. I follow my whims for as long as I can pretend they're all that matter. When I have to come back to reality, when there's somewhere to be, I've only made it harder for myself.

This is obviously just a metaphor, inspired by some pondering as I wandered back tonight, because thankfully, my journey was relatively peaceful, and I had cleared the most of the darkest woods before night really fell hard. A good spontaneous walk. If my maths is right, it was about 13 miles. Yesterday through trips to the station and random wandering, I accumulated about 13 too. 26 in 2 days. These are what we call 'Sheffield legs'.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Prodigal.

I've just watched a program about elderly couples affected by Alzheimer's. This theme always gets me; I've been sat just crying and crying at it, because it's so sad, and so beautiful, and the tension between these is like a new colour in the soul. It's this selfless, pure and honest love that's given despite not being recognised, reciprocated or recieved without abuse. Knowing that nothing may be given in return, they still devote their lives to the person they love. It's just amazing. I guess it always makes me think of how God loves us, even when so many of us so much of the time don't know Him, see Him as a stranger or worse, and give so little back. How he gives us everything including Himself and does for us what we're unable of doing ourselves. He loves. And loves. And loves.

I want to live a life of selfless love.

The program is here, should you have 38 minutes and 45 seconds to witness something inspired by God's heart: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00pdv0w/Wonderland_Series_2_The_Alzheimers_Choir/

It also talks about music's role in combating dementia etc, if that intrigues you.

Yes please Jesus.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Organic.

Well, this week the desire to leave has been stronger than before. I've tried hard to combat it, to put down anchors. I went to CU Monday, a cell group Tuesday, hall group and text-a-mince-pie yesterday. All of these were really good, and useful, and what I want to be doing. But I still woke up feeling rubbish today. All I know is that this is something I can't get out of alone. But God is good all the time (all the time, God is good). He never leaves or forsakes. And He works through everything for the good of those who love Him. I pray that he would teach me, mould me, change me, and rather than make it easy, "just allow me to endure it". By the skin of my teeth it seems, but He's got it covered more than I know. I sometimes hear myself saying, "I don't know how much more of this I can take"- but God interrupts before I utter it, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9).

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Stumbling block.

Throw me into the sea!

I feel like filth. In church before the preach and worship there was the usual call to give up distractions, burdens and that which holds you back, to give them up to God now so that you can move on to grow in Him.

I broke when I heard my name.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Cisterns.

I didn't understand my lecture today, (or maybe there wasn't anything to understand), so I sat and pondered for an hour. I've been thinking about value quite a bit recently, and how much I put on what, how much I think should be put on what, and why these numbers don't match up.

In my seminar we discussed essays, and when people found out I hadn't started reading yet, they looked fearful...but something quite cool is that I don't mind. I'm not at all worried. God's really good, and hasn't yet let me down. Academics mean nothing to me aside from an opportunity to glorify God, so it's really not something to get too stressed about. Good times? Yes. Yes!

Anyway, so on the theme of value again, I was thinking about consumerism (as this I think was part of the lecture) and it made me laugh sadly how fickle we're capable of being. The lecturer was talking about how new fashions came about in the 1600s and how people would try to emulate what the aristocracy were wearing/eating/doing. How they got their sense of status from what pattern was on their new china-cup, and how every time a new design came out they'd have to have it. I may not buy china-cups, but there's always something. In the west we're such a consumerist society, always looking for things to fill our lives with, and as soon as we get what we want, we set our heart on something else. Perpetually. I collect sand on which to build my house and put it in a bucket with a hole in the bottom. It just slips straight out again, and leaves a trail behind me as I walk no where in particular.


When heaven meets the earth,
We will have no use for numbers
To measure who we are and what we’re worth.

When Heaven meets the earth,
We will have no need for mirrors
To tell us who to be
And where we fit into this awkward point of view.

I set my heart on You.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Machiavelli.

It's a humbling time. I'm 2 days behind on essays according to my schedule and thus will unfortunately be working through nights again. I tried so hard. But like I said, it's humbling. I have no choice but to trust. I know the lesson I'm learning is that my plans aren't what count. But it's so darn tricky.

In more positive news, text-a-toastie was great last night. Once again loads of people with genuine questions, and an amazing heart of people wanting to serve and meet them. God's good, and He loves cheese and bread. Also, excitingly...I guess we have a house for next year. I saw it today and it is really rather wonderful. The best student house I've seen actually. The bedrooms are great sizes, and they all have a fireplace. We can have candles! So we've emailed the landlady, and it's reserved for us to sign the contract any day now. There was another group who saw it before us, who wanted it, and it's such an answer to prayer that we were favoured. Serious provision. It's also at the top of Conduit Road, commonly known as the steepest hill in Sheffield (which is rather mountainous at the best of times). So we're getting fit too. It's good to know we've got it...even if I'm still imploding about staying here.

I smell an all-nighter in the IC creeping slowly nearer...

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Hug.

For a moment Your heart's in mine, and I fall on my knees, and ask you to leave it there.

Last night I dreamed that someone incredibly special to me had died. It was horrific. All I could think was that we'd wasted so much time focusing on the wrong things, how there was so much more we could have been doing, that we'd missed a chance and how futile everything was that we'd worried about before. I've never been so upset about a dream.

We love because He loved us first. I can't get this out of my head. Sometimes I feel like I'll explode with this incredible love inside of me, sometimes it's joyful, sometimes it's painful, but it's always amazing because I feel it and know that this is an echo, fainter and weaker, but an echo of the love that God has for us. I called the person from my dream this morning and told them that I loved them. I got the sleepy response, "Well...that's kind of weird". Which was amusing. But it didn't matter, all that mattered to me was that they knew. I had to tell them, because I couldn't bear the thought of something happening to them without knowing. Isn't this what God does every moment of our lives? Because He loves us so much that He's cut up about the thought of anything happening to us. He calls out that He loves us, and we turn around and say, "Well...that's weird". Or "Well...I don't believe You". Or, "Well...cool, You carry on, just don't harass me". I want to give a better response. Love I feel for people consumes me, how incredible that this is just an imperfect version of a love more amazing and pure than my little heart could truly grasp.

God, take all of me, don't leave a thing, don't let this be it. I don't want anything that's not You. Take me on my word, I mean it. I'm Yours.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Three posts in one day.

I am absolutely horrible. Green is not a good colour. This is ridiculous- I know I'm bad but even I was surprised at how predictably selfish I am. Ack. Ack! Sort me out.

Child.

"Are we going to go through this every week?"

Feedback.

It's amazing when you realise suddenly that God cares about the little things in life. I spent 4 days (which was actually 2 weeks) deciding which essay question to do for paths, worrying about not knowing anything about the subjects and importantly not being able to get ample books...eventually yesterday I "felt" the renaissance question...went to the library, couldn't find the most important books, stress, got 7 others to be reading in the mean-time, blah, looked up this morning and realised that the two token history books I brought with me from home to look credible as a history student just happened to include one of the core texts I need, randomly bought from a charity shop. I've never looked at that book. Provision! Good times.

So now I have 8 books to read today.

And what church will I go to this evening?

Friday, 20 November 2009

Soul.

What an unproductive day! Awful really. I'm drowning in apathy.

Soon I will talk to a good friend.

After that I shall meet another.

These two things make me smile.

This weekend is the Become student network weekend away (this is the student work of both KC and Philly). I should be there, but am not. Alas.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Bourbon.

I've been doing a fair bit of writing recently, mostly when I'm tired or too full of thoughts to concentrate on work. I've not finished any songs, but have the potential necessities to create a horrific Frankenstein of a song, made from mismatched limbs, lines and jam. I've been feeling curiously, and commented earlier when talking about writing, that my life is full of refrains, but no verses. And, much like when I'm waffling aimlessly in essays hoping to stumble over a mark somewhere, I suddenly realised that what I was saying was more true than I thought.

Tonight is evidence potent and fetid enough to satisfy any dispute- life, my life, I'm damn certain sure others' lives (for we all fall short, no?), can be sometimes ruled by a recurring line, a repeated lyric. Something we always find ourselves singing. Maybe it's a habit you just can't kick. Maybe it's a mistake you just keep making. Maybe it's depression. Maybe it's lust. Maybe it's a promise of a new start that I make every day/week/month that I thought I'd never have to make again. Sometimes we break out, start singing a verse, because verses are progression, but refrains come back around- naturally. And above the power of being held in that line almost is the fear of it coming back again. Maybe you notice the chord pattern shifting that way, more minors falling into place, a crescendo of drums... I don't know. But I know the fear of things coming back can be as debilitating as when they're playing havoc with your life. It stops you from taking risks, stops you from living in the potential that you have. Refrains...seem to be a slippery phenomenon, sliding into place in the song at any time. Sometimes almost unnoticed, refrains are playing throughout the verse. It makes me feel sad and a fraud that whilst I grow and progress through life, the same lines are sung in the hidden depths of my life that I'm ashamed of.

That's no way to live. But. If refrains are the immovable objects- God is the unstoppable force. But Han Feizi, this is a paradox, neither, according to the laws of physics will triumph. Except that God created physics and the laws of the universe bend to His will and His will is that we don't live trapped in refrains, and His perfect love drives out the fear of them. To repent, in its original Greek, is to change your mind, as in the way you think, be renewed in your mind and step out on that. Break with the refrain, get God's help and live out the promise of His faithfulness. I say 'you', because I'm shouting at myself. I'm sick of falling into the same muddy holes over and over. Bizarrely, I think I'd rather that I fell into a different one each day, because at least I could look back at what I'd gotten out of before, or what He's gotten me out of before, what refrains I didn't have to sing any more, and see progress in my life pointing me towards refinement.

And of refinement- well. Recently, I've prayed to be changed so much, and so quickly, with such tenacity, such stark contrast to how I've been living, thinking, failing...and I've come away from time with God running on new strength of character I've claimed in Him at 50000mph. And I've tripped up so spectacularly in the space of a week, like seriously one of those amazing falls where you feel your legs just aren't quite listening to your head shouting "abort! we're going down!- abandon ship!" and then you can see yourself flailing around as in slow motion you careen towards the low low ground...on which there's probably dirt of a vicious kind. Because, it's not about the big change all of a sudden. "It's a constant process this is, growing you into the person you're to become." I'm going to borrow a quote, I hope that the person won't mind, but I've tried paraphrasing and it can't be said any better, and when I read it I was just like, yes- that's what I've been trying to fashion into a coherent sentence:

My prayer has been shaped (through this same fiery furnace) from a previous plea of, "Lord, please finish this process as quickly as possible and let me on my way" to a more desperate cry, "Lord, I want the purest of refinement. Please take as much time as you need to rework and reshape my heart. Whatever you do, please finish the process fully and completely - just allow me to endure it." - Chad Johnson

That's all I have to say really. I'm very, very tired, and it is now nearly 2am. I have slept very little for 2 nights, and after watching Dr Who today I am scared of my bathroom. I received my first assignment back today and did well in it, but have decided that grades are farcical because my tutor commented that I obviously understood the arguments of the history book I was reviewing, when in fact I only read half of it because I gave up due to it being jibberish to me. I am a fraud, and now feel guilty and will endeavour to read the book fully. Contrary to their generally negative press in this entry, I'm really happy to have a couple of refrains down, and wait expectantly for their accompanying verses. I've eaten I think my free 50% extra mass of bourbons whilst writing this. I have 3 essays to write. God is good. I'm not even joking, because of Dr Who I'm still sat here just to prolong the time before having to turn off the light. Falling asleep to worship music tonight.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Bleat.

Tonight I tried taking a step towards resolving the problem I've been having with settling at church. It did not go well. I was hoping for encouragement, welcome and reassurance. I got betrayed, belittled and questioned. I spent a good long time crying, because the thing I've been accustomed to leaning into seems to just move out of the way lately. Things I expected once to help me and secure me, just aren't doing. Thus is the futility of placing hope in earthly things. Let me learn a lesson from this please! I know God doesn't step aside, doesn't leave and doesn't forsake. Praise where it's due. He's amazingly good, despite how infuriating His plans are. I'm still blessed with incredible friends to keep me on track, for which I'm grateful. There have been joyful moments tonight, and live music to accompany them. But I'm sad because I will not be going to church in the morning now, and I want to so badly.

In other news, I bought milk from Spar. It was reduced to 27p, and I thought "milk, that is cheap, success, I shall drink luxurious and extravagant amounts and have joy". Then I noticed as I picked it up that it had information about goats on the side. On closer inspection it turned out to be goat's milk. I contemplated this and thought, "my prejudices must be holstered, it is milk and it is cheap, it will be as cow's milk, I shall drink luxurious amounts before the close use-by date, and there will be joy". When I got home, I poured a luxurious full cup. But as I took my first gulp, all I could think was "this came forth from a goat". A picture of a goat flashed in my mind's eye. "Goat juice". It tastes of goat. Every subsequent swallow has strong White Post Farm smell flavouring. It is mildly foul. The aftertaste returns periodically over at least 7 hours, so far. I feel that the logical thing to do is to conduct an experiment, and thus will endeavor to buy goat's milk every week, and determine how long it takes my body to become desensitized to it. For I am a student.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Oh hard day. God's good. I'm tired. Facts.

I achieved nothing today. I walked to the IC to get a book which resulted in me getting rained on and I don't even want to read the book. I have not started the essay I was supposed to finish. I have not listened to a harp. I have not read. I did finger-paint, which saved an abomination of a day slightly. I also devoured an entire ice cream roll...although I have not yet decided if this is a positive or negative event.

Rob remarked, "this is the sort of day when you just want it to be night so that it's over faster". This struck me internally as quite sad...I thought, "but there's so much to live for today!", new grace, new freedom, new life. Incredibly, it's another day that we're allowed to live and another day in which we could walk up to a stranger in the botanical gardens and ask them if they know God loves them enough to die for them. Or another day we could pay for some one's laundry. Or another day to bask in God's goodness and sing praise. Maybe people will see that days are incredible and not wastes when we start living.

Become.

I have just found out that the deadline for applications to study abroad is the 1st of December. That is little more than two weeks away. Knowing myself, two weeks is not time to practice discernment. Rubbish. Rubbish. Rubbish. This could be catastrophic.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Steam.

So.

I've been back to Nottingham for the first time since leaving. I found it mildly amusing that I spent most of the time last year running to Sheffield to escape Nottingham, and this week I ran to Nottingham to escape Sheffield. Oh how the tables have turned. But they keep on turning. "Home" was hard, and thus I fled back once more to my university, earlier than people expected. No where is safe it seems. Alas. I run so much I could be easily mistaken for a coward...

I feel oddly incorporeal. In Sheffield I've made a silly but successful attempt at living without being. I float around having no impact, affecting nothing, influencing no one, satisfying my call to be here in the most sickly weak way, physically but not noticeably so. How insulting is this? It's like I'm apologising for my God's actions, appeasing Him and His call, but ensuring that in doing so I don't have to rock any boats. I can't fool God. I haven't been here for 9 weeks. I haven't been here at all.

Going back to Nottingham, I tripped over who I used to be in the silence.

I know that I'm not one to settle anywhere- I get too restless. It can come across as irrationality sometimes. Really, I'm just really open to possibilities and prompting. I don't believe in impossibility. Why should I? So I'm thinking and praying about what is wisest to do in the near future. To stay in Sheffield and charge through, or to go away for a year to grow alone and let dust settle in my absence.

Importantly, there is a year to grasp before then.

So the conclusion: I'm here. I hope, I'm really here now. I'm taking steps towards existence. Come and live! I'm going to try and not let politics of the past hold me back. Come alive! God can deal with those barriers. In His strength. I hope. Time will tell if I trust enough. I want to.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Falling.

I just don't want to be here.

Alas.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Stagnation.

Briefly.

I have a curious habit of talking to strangers and getting myself into trouble. This week, I have done this twice. The first time, I got talking to a man by a lake before my seminar who far too often insisted on kissing my hand and/or cheek. This made me feel horrible. The second, last night, I had been walking around and started speaking to this guy who offered to sell me weed. I told him he didn't need to sell weed, that I wasn't going to buy any, that my boyfriend (who always pops into existence when I'm talking to strange men) wouldn't like me to meet up with him, and despite his efforts at persuasion, I would not hang around to help him sell. I did give him some chocolate. He did follow me up the road. It was late. Admittedly, I got nervous. After a dramatic few minutes, all is well.

Anyway, some things struck me.

First, both of these guys said the same thing, "I think you could help me". The lake man wanted me to get him off drink and go to church with him. The drug dealer said "I think you'd be good for me, a good influence". I said, "I'm rubbish".

This I think is sad in two ways. First, that I was telling the truth.

Second, that I'm willing to bet that neither really wanted help.

And I'm thinking, where is this harvest? Where are these people thirsting? Why do I find only falseness and manipulation? If I were a guy I would have met that dealer. So frustrating.

This is very incoherent, probably because I've been reading for 15 hours. About fish in the enlightenment. Electric fish that don't in fact help hemorrhoids at all. Shocking. Literally. Disenchantment essays are due in Wednesday which meant I had a surreal experience of the IC late on a Saturday night...dark and dingy, energy-saving lights flickering where needed...I found it slightly sinister to drift into people so quietly and regularly in the occult section. Weird.

Anyway, the point is, Agape is on tonight. Agape is showing Jesus' love to students in and out of clubs through talking, giving out water, praying and generally looking out for them. It goes on every major club night in the week, 12.30-3.30. Tonight being Halloween, it's an exciting one. Even more so than usual. Lights in real darkness. I haven't done agape yet this year. I want to, but I'm held back, just like I am getting into a church...resultantly, I'm considering studying in Canada next year. So tonight I'm once again sat alone, praying over people doing what I should be doing, wishing I was. Where is the harvest? Where are the thirsty people? They're there! ...Where am I?

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Lily.

This Sunday just gone I went to Philly church on my own in the morning. (Yes, I am still church shopping. Ack.) It was nice, very welcoming, babies everywhere making me smile...anyway, during the preach a testimony from the week was given, and it made me cry. Here it is:

So, the youth worker (I think he was called Tom) from Philly was walking through town, and passed a pub. As he passed the pub, he got a bad pain in his knee. A few minutes later, he walked past the pub again, and again his knee hurt inexplicably. He looked in the window and saw a man in a wheelchair, and felt that this was a prod from God to pray for the man. So he went in, explained that every time he walked past the man, he got a pain in his knee, and asked if he could pray for him. The man was quite indifferent, but agreed. He explained that he had been in a motorcycle accident 2 years ago and had been paralysed from the waist down ever since. He unstrapped his legs from the chair and turned back to his pint and friends, and continued talking to them as Tom prayed over him. After a few moments, the man said, "hey, what are you doing? My legs feel hot". Tom smiled, "that's cool, don't worry. Sometimes when God's doing stuff like healing you'll feel heat. It just means God's working". So he kept praying. A minute later, the guy shouted, "No! Stop. I don't mean my legs are mildly warm, I mean they're hot. They're burning. They're on fire! It really hurts!". Tom stopped praying sharpish, slightly concerned. The man was rubbing his legs, batting them as if to brush burning embers off, frantically. To do this more effectively, he stood up out of his chair. His friends stared open-mouthed. Tom stared open-mouthed. The man remained stood, realised what had happened and shouted, "Holy -!" Something I wasn't told what.

God is awesome. And present-tense. And life-changing. And compassionate. And ready to meet people in pubs.

Something I don't get is why healings aren't on the news. Somebody was resurrected in Exeter this summer. Who knew? People get healed every Sunday at probably hundreds of churches. Yet the majority of the nation would dismiss this. I wonder if that man from the pub knows Jesus yet.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Heavy.

This week might kill me.

***But it probably won't.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Censor.

Honesty is on my mind.

I love people. And I love relationships with people. Not romantic necessarily. But intimacy, I think, makes love so much more than that accepting, non-judgemental, help you out if you're in need but leave it at the superficial, thing that it can be...or that it can be given as a name for. But for intimacy we have to be honest, because if, say, I go round censoring what I say, throwing out this image of myself into the world that I want people to see, acting perhaps not how I would if there were no expectations to live up to...if people like me, they don't. Not really. They like who I think they'd like me to be. Where's the satisfaction in that? Bar the self-congratulation of fooling everybody successfully for another day, reaping the esteem and acceptance of people as reward for a perpetual charade? I personally think we're all great actors sometimes.

I would love sometimes, for people to be truly honest. I would love for people to cry, just burst out, when they feel like rubbish. Instead of smiling. I would love, when people are happy, for them to sing. I would love a generation of people to stand up and say, "I don't have a clue what life is about, and it's scary". I would love an answering crowd to shout, "I think I've found what you're looking for". One in twelve students at UK colleges have suicidal thoughts. But everyone is so concerned about being just as normal as everyone else, that few say anything, and remain feeling alone and hopeless. Honesty threatens our pride, our reputations, but if people opened up, if people were real with each other, more things might happen. Real issues might get brought up. Real prayers might be prayed. Real lives might be changed. Real relationships and real love.

Or we could keep acting.

To quote Damian, "Like communism, it's a nice idea, but it's never going to work".


My heart lives in my mind. I'm that person who confesses undying love even when there's no hope of it being returned, because that's just how I feel. If I hear something horrific on the news, I'll cry at the radio, because if something breaks your heart I say let it. React. This morning I watched a video of 2 baby ducks hatching from the same egg, and smiled for 10 minutes because it was just beautiful. The other day, I was sad, so I emptied all the coins out of my purse into my bag, walked around campus and pretended that I was a pirate and the jingling noise was my treasure. I smiled in my mind. I also said "arr" when got bumped into in the shop, and this made me smile out loud, but luckily they didn't know why...because honesty is good but I don't want people thinking I'm mad now. I have my limits. I won't tell people when I'm really sad. I won't tell people when I feel miles from God. Even now, I'm thinking how I don't want people to know that these things even occur in my life- should I delete the last sentence? Crazy.

I don't know what the solution is really.

I'm relatively happy today, to be [truly] honest. My head really hurts though. Ouh.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Sprint.

I've got essays to write (yes!). I am a geek and unashamedly so. I don't care- the stuff I learn is really interesting. We have to do a close analysis of a poem from a selection for Literature. I'm not one of those people who get things straight away, so I chose the poem pretty blindly and only after having stared at it for literally 4 hours did I realise quite how intricately it describes spiritual isolation and depression. Check it out-
I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day.
What hours, O what black hoĆ¼rs we have spent
This night! what sights you, heart, saw; ways you went!
And more must, in yet longer light's delay.
With witness I speak this. But where I say
Hours I mean years, mean life. And my lament
Is cries countless, cries like dead letters sent
To dearest him that lives alas! away.

I am gall, I am heartburn. God's most deep decree
Bitter would have me taste: my taste was me;
Bones built in me, flesh filled, blood brimmed the curse.
Selfyeast of spirit a dull dough sours. I see
The lost are like this, and their scourge to be
As I am mine, their sweating selves; but worse.

It's by Gerard Manley Hopkins. I really like it. I found it amusing that I was all blue and managed to pick a potentially rather morbid poem to dwell on for a fortnight...but the cool thing is that I've been researching allusions and that in itself has led me to read a whole load of the Bible. Yesterday I sat enthusiastically reading out the entirety of Lamentations which is pretty amazing. I reckon God's planned this, knowing that I'd appreciate some extra chance to get into His word about this time. Incredible really. He's good.

It's been making me a little itchy in seminars and lectures recently, that we keep brushing past Christianity everso briskly, and often not in a positive way. In literature, it'll be cynicism in Emily Dickinson about the hope of resurrection...talk of the sleeping dead waiting and waiting as the world spins perpetually on with no sign of a call for them to wake. In history...well, in HST114 it's all religion mixed, confused and saturated with superstition, harsh rituals and graceless persecution out of fear, with rationalisation being considered impossible to reconcile to belief in God. In HST112, it's the crusades, enforced conversion for political stability and persecution of heretics. All I want to do (apart from whack some sense into the majority of past generations) is to tell the people around me, be it 9 in a seminar or 300 in a lecture, that what they're seeing isn't it. That being a Christian isn't about violence and ritual arrogance and enforcement of law and control over society and intolerance of others...but that it's about love. Grace. Freedom. Truth. Peace. And relationship with an all-powerful, all-compassionate, all-faithful God who is jealous for our hearts and who knows each of us and wants each of us to know Him and enter into a true and incredible love relationship. A God who cries for the broken, weeps for the persecuted, fights for the oppressed and dies for the sinner. All I want is an opportunity...and the spirit to take it.

Going to be late for a lecture!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Agua.

Well.

I've been thinking a lot about identity and what defines us recently. Chris Easton's oh so Scottish voice resonates in my mind, "I...am a muppet". My thoughts exactly. First thoughts. Give me a second and I'll reinforce, I'm a child of God. Still a muppet, and worse, but God loves me and made me like Him and everything I am/have/do is down to Him.

To be defined by God...is this different from what I'm saying here?

People define us I guess. We can't stop them. I implode a little when I consider that people have opinions about me...I'm certain most won't be good. I think I'm finding this hard right now... I don't make close friends all that quickly, and I feel a little left behind on the outside. But, I do have one relationship that's lasting and dependable... basically, this isn't the most cheerful revelation in some ways. Sorry. I suck a little bit. But even so, I have a love greater than life in me, and I want to spread it. The jist- I'm probably not everybody's cup of tea...but I'll make one for anyone?

Sometimes I want to get rid of myself...my personality, everything about me, and just be a mirror of Jesus. I just want my life to be an expression of the love that God has for everyone on this planet, and this voice tells me that who I am can't possibly be that. I guess there's a balance that needs to be reached. The rational part of my mind tells me that I was made how I am for a purpose, that my traits are designed for what plan God has for me to glorify Him.

As is probably evident, it's been a rough couple of days. Disturbingly familiar feelings. But, we persevere. I keep wanting to run away, as usual, but won't. "The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."-Exodus 14:14. In some ways it's good, because when I feel rubbish all I can do is give myself to other people, otherwise I feel there's no point in being here. If only I could do that all the time! A life of love, why? Because He loved us first. And how great is that love! that heals, saves, conquers and restores. Rather good. Flipping awesome.

It's raining. I love it. Rain down.

More of You!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Nerve.

Are You kidding me?

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Giraffe.

Trials and tribulations.

Life's good. God's doubly so. Life is also hard. And although it doesn't affect His aforementioned goodness, God can be troublesome...for such a weak one as me. He never promised an easy ride, only that we'd never fall from the palm of His hand no matter how hard we're rocked.

Right now I think I'm in the fire. Or on the ironing board. Or the potter's wheel. Being refined, having those creases pushed out, the dents and deformities re-shaped. I know this is a constant process, that I'll be here until I die, but this time right now I'm feeling it with pressure and intensity. It's hot and heavy and makes me dizzy. Things are hard, I'm discontent and broken. I find myself unable to stop tears flowing at most inopportune times. Sometimes. As I stated at the beginning [of life, of this page], God is good, and this has not and will not change. Parallel to the beautiful brokenness is an abundance of joy. Thus is just one of the paradoxes of life- how immeasurable happiness can live symbiotically to intense longing and sadness- mutually exclusive but at the same time inexorably linked. I need to point out right now that the apple I'm eating comes from a bag of 6 from Tesco and having opted for the cheapest (88p), I'm disappointed to find it tasting explicitly alcoholic. To the linkage- everything that I'm sad about is part of this refining process. Lonely? Rely on God. Unloved? Fill yourself with God's love and pour it out on those around you! Other examples are not so easy to sum up in bitesize portions. Something I will say is that so often I know how I should be living and just don't. Recently I've actually taken action to correct one -yes, only one!- issue- and still I complain! I belong with the Iraelites, grumbling about my empty stomach and burning feet. Why would you lead me this way? What are you thinking? Don't you know it's hard here, I'm not comfortable, I'm famished, I was so much better off before when...oh, wait. Slavery would not be so appealing if our perspective was undistorted. Think about it rationally and this is really a pretty great desert, with grains of grace and freedom. Sure, we're headed somewhere way better, and this isn't by any means ideal, but we're safe and on our way.

My word talk about stream of consciousness.

Patience, Iago.

In other news, I bought climbing shoes today (using 2 weeks' worth of food budget). I usually wear a size 6. They are a 4.5. They are also shaped like a claw, so that my foot goes into cramp when I put them on. I cannot wait to try them out in the morning. Time to be humbled!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Change.

So, in true student fashion, I returned home at 4 am last night. The CU was running "text-a-toastie" in which people in the accommodation could text their preferred flavour and a question about Christianity, and expect a free toastie and conversation to arrive at their door imminently. It was quite amazing. I stayed back to cook toasties ready for dispatching by the others and pray for them. 6 toastie makers going constantly from 11pm-2am means a lot of people are searching for answers in this town. And the stories people came back with were encouraging. God is moving, and for a change we're moving with Him.

One of my history modules is on The Disenchantment of Europe in some area between 1570 and 1770. I think. Anyway, it actually is really interesting because it's all about what people believed, why, and why it changed. It makes me wonder why I believe what I do. There's so much that I just seem to accept and integrate into my world-view without really thinking about it. So I keep drifting off in lectures to ponder life, the universe and everything. I was doing my first bit o' reading for quite some time today in the IC, eyelids sliding precariously shut for alarming amounts of time, when odd phrases jumped out at me, "the Reformation once again assumes a critical role in effecting the development indicated in the title, a key symptom of which was the reconceptualization of religion itself as a set of internalized dogmas rather than ‘a ritual method of living ’." Now, I'm deceptively bad at history, so may well completely misunderstand this, but God knows how my mind works and how I'll take it- Sometimes I think I'm in a "ritual method of living"...I live life with these sets of morals and rules, but perhaps more out of habit than zeal. If I thought about it, I'm sure I would act the same, but with a greater understanding of the purpose and effect, and I think this consciousness is actually a really important aspect of life. Otherwise, there's no meaning, reason or rhyme. Just a clanging symbol, out of time and echoing discordantly. So, all in all, I'm asking myself, "why?" quite a bit. Why do I believe? Why do I live how I do? Why does it matter?

God is good. So good.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Descent.

Last night I went to watch the SutCo production of Paradise Lost. Based on Milton's poem, the play depicts the fall of man and battle between Heaven and Hell. I sat with Dave on one side and a stranger on the other. Halfway through I was surprised by tears flowing quite freely down my cheeks, silent and fearless. It's natural to want to shout to Eve and tell her not to do it, not to ruin the bliss she has, not to believe what the devil says, not to disobey God...but as they acted the scenes it was like looking into a mirror. I saw myself walking with Adam, swearing reliability, failing. Myself, with others, promising integrity, failing. Myself, in all things, making wrong decisions to disobey God. If I were Eve I would have done the same, and had I heard a young woman crying out to stop my hand...I would ignore her pleads- and often do. What killed me most was how Adam got dragged into equal misery, how something as beautiful as their pure relationship was made into a vehicle for destruction of their perfect life with the creator. That's just cruel. And again, the mirror of the stage showed me my own part played.

Praise the lord that He's slow to anger and abounding in love. His grace is prodigal. I think it's amazing. Really really.

Church shopping commences tomorrow. I have not been to church in 2 weeks. I'm craving. Oh my word! I am excited.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Fever.

If I gave a voice to everything that has happened, that has touched me, that I'm feeling, thinking, wanting, the people I've met, the sheer vastness of this past few days, well, my keyboard would disappear, my fingers would bleed and the depiction would still fall short.

My head's a busy place right now.

I guess this is the biggest thing I've ever done for God...bar the old giving back of the life He saved. It's the most clear instruction He's ever given me (or at least the clearest I've heard, which is more likely)...and so in that sense it should be easy- I've found there's no arguing with God in the end...though obviously I tried like a stubborn mule.

And now I'm here I'm so glad. Why? This is a city that is going to be rocked to it's very foundations. The feeling of hope, expectation and potential, is so strong. Walking in the street I can feel God's presence hovering like a cloud, pouring out of people. Amazing. Imagine, if we were to give Him full reign. If we were to listen and act. If we were to open up this box that God's constantly shoved into and lived in the awesome power of His love. I've already heard incredible stories of healing, salvation, transformation. In bedrooms. I'll be honest- I'm not there yet. I'll lay hands on people, I'll follow a holy nudge...but fear still sits with faith, and there's something strange about that combination. But I think that this is the place I need to be to overcome that fear and live in faith. I really can't wait.

So, that's the incredible stuff, in short. There's a lot more, but I'm exhausted. Walking back and forth from my residence (which is incredible- you can see for miles out of the lounge and squirrelly grass from my bedroom window) to the campus is hard-going, especially when you're the most disorganised person in the world and constantly forget necessary forms at home. I queued for 3 hours today. My knee is shot. And the old fear of eating in public makes getting the necessary calories tricky. Ah well. I can't keep up with my flat-mates...I went out with them on Sunday night but since have done other stuff (they're wonderful, it's just I'm an old woman). I spent a while last night on the bathroom floor, admiring the porcelain of the toilet bowl. Praise the lord for the healing promises.

All in all, I love Sheffield. Lots. It's a shame that my heart keeps getting broken out of the corner of my eye, but we persevere.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Back-up.

I'm slightly conscious of the fact that I'm a reserve. Something's amiss, but is it the situation or my perspective of it?
So, I'm getting hurt (in a detached sort of way) by the fact that someone I care about only comes to me when they're lonely and can't get their fix of companionship anywhere else. I'm there 24/7 ready to do whatever, just be there, seriously ready to love. Every now and then, I'll get a text: maybe a quote, a lyric, sometimes just one word that I know has a story somewhere in their day that maybe I'll hear, maybe I'll have to imagine or work out myself. Sometimes an invitation, "How are you?" to have a relationship for 10 minutes. And for those 10 minutes they're the most important person to me- I'd drop anything I was doing to talk back and be close for those few moments. I still know that 99% of the time I'll continue to wait, silently, ready, just hoping to hear from them again...but it doesn't diminish the desire I have to know them. I know that they may ignore me most of the week, sometimes more, but I'll still be overjoyed when the 10 minutes comes round again, and it'll be worth it. And I think this, and can't help but recognise that God's love is so much bigger than mine, and so much stronger, unconditional, faithful and perfect. And He's there 24/7, every minute of every day of every week, month, year, wanting to love us, wanting to be in a relationship with us, wanting us to come back, remember Him and spend some time. I know I live my life getting my fixes from other things sometimes: friends, work, sports, my word even TV sometimes out-competes the Lord of Heaven and Earth for my attention with its mindless flicking from one repeated sitcom to another. And if I'm getting miffed about my friend only talking to me when his other mates aren't there to distract him, how much more hurt is God's heart when the child that He gave His son to die for only turns to chat for 4 minutes before she falls asleep mid-sentence?
It may be an exaggeration. I pray throughout the day, one-liners, I try to remember God in my life and show Him through my actions. But I get sad for my friend, when I think of how much love he's missing out on. And I get sad when I can't give it. I think God feels this, but multiplied by about 6billion. It needs to change.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Faithful

I'm rather excited!

Over the past week or so I've really begun to grasp that God's plans for me are indeed, for me. What I mean is that up until this point I've easily lost heart and felt self-conscious, or let people put a damper on my path, or felt like I'm infiltrating in some way something that I was not supposed to be in...my head knew this was silly but my heart couldn't get over it. But now, I'm claiming these plans. It's all for God's glory, and so anything I'm told to do is fine. Better than fine. It's incredible! So after results I felt I'd earned my place at uni in some way...but there's so much more to it than that. I know God's been sorting everything out ahead of me- results, friends, finance. I'm to be in Sheffield, like anywhere else, not because of my efforts or my decisions but because of God's amazing grace and His unfailing plan. These are exciting times! Not to mention, on Wednesday morning I flitted over to T-street for 747 prayer and got a beautiful prophecy which I trust will come into importance over this next 3 years.

Claimed! Booyah.

In other news, I'm running the Great Yorkshire Run tomorrow morning with Dave and have no idea how it will go!

I need to buy some pans!

Saturday, 29 August 2009

No.

I am not satisfied.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Desire.

I wish I dreamed of worship more often. And I wish I hadn't woken up this morning. Because it had the potential to be eternally beautiful. I guess that's some kind of glimpse of heaven...and now there's an echo of that desire to sleep forever and live in my dream of thousands of people singing out to God, all hearts personal to Him but together as one...but it won't be a dream one day.

I wish I was closer to God. I wish too much.

Really would like a hug tonight. Fluffy PJs are a mediocre substitute, but cosy all the same.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Favour.

I've had this refrain in the back of my mind the past few days. It comes from a time a couple of months ago in a really good week during my exam period. The reason for my fond recollection of that week is that it was '747' as Laurence described. A text woke me up at 7am each day giving encouragement, some scripture, and general spurring towards consciousness and time with God. On the Wednesday of that week, I got up extra early and traveled to town for a prayer meeting at Talbot Street in the early hours. During that meeting, we were praying for each other and one of the girls prophesied over me that I would "find favour", and the contexts mentioned were with God and with those marking my exams.
Now, I don't believe I've done anything to warrant God's favour. Issues of faith and deeds arise perpetually. I refuse to dwell but will affirm that God is incredibly faithful, merciful, forgiving and patient. For this I'm thankful. God has poured out blessing after blessing on me these past couple of months. Following a really pants time, I found myself surrounded by beautiful people and incredible experiences that showed me a little bit of how God loves us. I can't wait to see more.
As for the other favour finding: my exam results literally make me want to cry thanks to God, not because they're good so much, but more just because everything I was really worried about, and the exams I felt most weak or exhausted in, turned out fine. Better than. Kind of like when Jesus took the loaves and fishes, turned something normal into something supernatural...but not only did He do enough to feed the people, but to have more left over afterwards. Like just a prodigal display of power. He can do so much more than we ask or imagine.
I want to start asking. I want to start imagining.
I want my heart to be ready when I leave for Sheffield. I want God to have full reign in my life. I want my life to be an act of worship.
(I used to hate the word "want". It made me feel sick and shameful, like a spoilt child such as Angelica from the Rugrats. But I'm learning that we're designed to want some things. To refuse to say I want it would be to lie and deminish its worth.)
Who will go?

Monday, 10 August 2009

Been aware for a while now that my heart's not as hot as it should be. I think about it every day, but haven't yet changed my ways. Is this rebellion, laziness, faithlessness? I hope not. I've come to the point where I must face what I know- I've been called, and if I carry on this way, I will regret it later. I want to go into the next year running, heart on fire and fearless. I want to see incredible things and know God in every moment.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Steps.

First entry- I'm not really here yet, and I'm not sure if I ever will be.