Wednesday, 28 April 2010
Yes, that's me (but don't focus on me) looking perplexed because a man in drag dressed as Princess Peach with very defined calf muscles had just sprinted past me, squealing. And yes, that is Waluigi hot on my heels. Legendary.
Monday, 26 April 2010
Challenge / Condemnation
Conviction / Comparison
I have a hoody with this word on it. I adore it because it's like being labeled. If I could have my life defined by one word, I would always pray it would be Love. Yes please.
I don't really like running with people usually...I tend to go at night when no one can see me. But something I absolutely adore about events like the half, with 5000 runners, is the atmosphere of support and encouragement, between competitors and the public. It's just lovely. I managed to find some people dressed as Mario characters, jumping around in great costumes, encouraging people and making them laugh as they ran. They made me smile so much that I decided to just stay near them the whole way round. It was great. So much fun. When I'm fit enough to do a full marathon (roll on September) I'm going to do halves and be that joyful factor for other people.
Saturday, 24 April 2010
Run Sheffield Half Marathon.
Read (5 books and 5 articles).
Finish reading...in order to
Write 2000 word essay for the following morning.
Read 'The Tempest'.
(Monday starts somewhere soon after church). This is going to hurt.
I was thinking this morning about that little visual aid where two hearts of paper are stuck together with prit-stick, and then pulled apart, making them rip a little onto each other. Then they go and stick themselves to another heart, and rip even more, until there's nothing discernibly like the original hearts left, just lots of damaged remains.
Why would you take me at my word?
Don't you know your heart is of more worth?
The world's a dangerous place. I watched a woman get pushed repeatedly to the ground last night. I watched her and a man screaming in each others' faces. I'll tell this story another time, because I might just break if I try to process it now. But isn't it sad how people hurt each other, when we're meant to be together? First thing God says is bad in the bible, "It is not good for man to be alone".
Anyway, I saw the sun rise this morning, as if to show me how it's done.
Friday, 23 April 2010
Got to a literature lecture to realise that I'd left my notebook (with 3 modules worth of notes) in the IC...so I ran round there to find it and missed King Lear by Marcus Nevitt. Then I cut my losses, got books out and headed home to read before getting the train at 4.40 to Manchester to see Joshua Radin in concert and meet some friends. Bus to train station. Sat on train. Got out book to read for essay. Quite content, waiting for the journey to begin. Sudden realisation. Gig tickets. Still on my bedroom desk. The train begins to churn into life. Whack book in bag, hope ipod stays attached purely by headphones, run. It's moving. It's an old train. I got the door open. I jumped off just before the platform disappeared. Action girl. Taxi. Flat. Tickets. Taxi. Station. Chase taxi. Retrieve cardigan. 1 minute until the next Manchester train leaves. Platform 2C. Run. Sprint. Sprint. Sprint. Jump. I am on the train. My bag is not. In a beautiful Indiana Jones-esque moment, I dived through the closing doors of the train, but my bag remains on the outside. I am stuck. Pulled through by charming gentleman.
Muppet. I need to stop losing things.
The gig was okay.
I think I'd like to live in Dore, Hope (how lovely to say "I live in Hope"), or the place beginning with G that I've forgotten in between them, at some point. And I am craving the peaks.
Anyway, God's good.
Tuesday, 20 April 2010
I'm not sure where to start with this. I suppose yesterday will do. I had the privilege of running across Dave Saxton in Coffee Rev in the union at around 8 minutes past 12. This obviously lit up my day. I then, conscious of the vastness of workloads to be faced in the day, purchased a brie panini for lunch. I explained to Dave that I would take it upstairs to the gallery, where there are usually fewer people, and fewer windows visible from outside. I went upstairs. Joyfully I spotted two more wonderful people, waved, passed them, headed to the secluded area, but it was full. Someone on every table. I bottled it. I left the gallery. I re-entered and tried again. I walked round the room, past empty chairs, and back out with a sigh. I returned, gave Andy Acheson my panini and sat down to read. I'd been up working since 5am. I'd consumed a piece of toast at 6.30am. I was weak and shaky from lack of sleep. I then didn't eat until 7pm when I was forced to by someone I trust.
Some reading this may know the reasons for this behaviour. Shock horror, since I was about 13 I've been really frightened of eating in public. Today is a day of change and thus honesty is only appropriate, because I want people to know what's changing and why. Basically, I was slightly chubby as a teenager. Not awfully so, but enough to make me feel self-conscious. I've never been drastically bullied about it. A few names here and there. I always laughed it off, especially when mum would make comments (she calls me 'biscuit face'). She doesn't mean it harshly really. I hope. Anyway, it progressed. I stopped eating at school. I'd throw my lunch away. At college I just didn't buy anything for the first year. I wanted no connection to be made between myself and food, as if I could make people believe that I in fact never ate, and thus could not physically be overweight. Eventually I became comfortable enough with about 3 friends that I could eat a small lunch at college. On my own, I failed miserably. I once tried to overcome it in my own strength, bought a panini on the day when all my friends were away over lunch...but I ended up hiding in the toilets. This is not dignified, this is not proud. Oh, it'll be interesting to see if I publish all of this.
Needless to say, the same continued. At uni I forced myself to eat in the kitchen for the first few weeks, with these new (lovely) housemates I didn't yet know. I would not let them know what issue I had. So I did it. Cooked. Ate. Washed up. Then casually walked back into my bedroom, shut the door and cried.
Some days were better. I could manage a sandwich at lunch if I went to a park away from the busy, people-filled concourse. Some foods, too, were better. Lettuce, sushi, anything obviously healthy. But not anything that draws attention - therefore apples, spaghetti and anything repetitive like crisps were off the cards.
This all sounds quite crazy. It's really not as strange as it sounds. I was just really self-conscious, nervous, frightened of being judged. What is weird is that people are allowed to feel that way- what kind of society gives off threats of judgment based on appearance? I am sorry for my part in it and for crediting it enough to let it affect me too.
So yes. That explains the events that transpired and resulted in Andy getting a panini. I hope he was blessed by it regardless of its origin!
So, I've been pondering recently. This year so far has brought me so much closer God, which is beautiful. I've been challenged to start living out what I know. Not rules and regulations, but relationship and identity. God's love is so vast and multi-dimensional and extravagant. He's king and father and bridegroom and brother and friend and servant and judge and defence...it could go on. It will. But, what does that make me? Loved. Saved. Adopted. Betrothed. Beloved. Daughter. God wants to be close! I can't understand how He feels about me. Perfect love full of endless grace.
Jesus prayed this: "I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." (John 17:23). God says He loves us the same as He loves Jesus. He wants to be that close. Mental. So it seemed to be worth looking into what implications this has. Who am I in God? This is a big subject (even though I am so very small). I guess this'll be covered in a few blogs at various points as I try to wrap my tiny head around the most epic thing in existence. For now, I'll just say that this book, and this verse, has been following me around for a while now, quite blatantly. Song of Songs (yes!) 4:7- "All beautiful you are, my darling. There is no flaw in you".
First, "no flaw"- we're perfect. Sinless through Jesus, unstained, unblemished. And I like the idea that God thinks we're beautiful. He made us, he'd know. People know that I've been ill for a little while now...mysteriously. In the weeks preceding my scan last week, this verse was whispered to me so much. Being aware of the chance of there being something wrong with my body was really disconcerting. It made me feel a little like damaged goods. But God gave me this verse. There are no mistakes. There is no blemish. However I am, it's a beautiful creation because that's what comes when you have beautiful creator that has the ridiculous idea of making you in His own image.
Anyway. To explain why this is connected to my fear of eating. I was thinking about marriage (another time, I'll expand. I don't like to dwell on it but I love thinking about it). And about having kids (my own, fostered, adopted, who knows), and bringing them up. I can't wait. I absolutely adore my family. I love them like crazy. They're not Christians. I pray they will get to know the God I know. Something my heart burns for since finding Jesus, is having a family of myself, my husband, our kids, and Jesus being at the heart of us, our house, our lives and relationships. I can't describe how much I desire this. I was thinking how some of my friends have such similar giftings and spiritual characteristics to their parents, joyfully. Then I thought, if I'm given the honour of bringing up men and women for God, would I be happy if they were similar to me? Obviously not in every way, they'll be their own people, unique and amazing. But something that I felt really strongly was that they must know that they're perfect and all beautiful. And I will live that truth in my life so that they'll have a better chance of knowing it in theirs. My daughters will grow up knowing that they are flawless. My sons will know that they are accepted.
Outside the family too, I should point out. As someone who knows the flipping amazing good news that Jesus has saved us, I want to proclaim his love and acceptance and freedom to everyone I meet, in my words and in my actions. Let's live this love. Let people see the changes.
Therefore, I'm so done with this fear. Perfect love drives it out, after all. So, with the help of God, if anyone wants to go out for a meal, do it. I guess I should selfishly ask too- forgive me. Don't judge me for the mistakes I've made or the way I've been- celebrate with me that I'm not that girl any more.
This is not my usual kind of post. There's more to say, but this is mammoth long already, and I still need to read for a seminar in 7 hours.
So yes. Thanks Jesus. You change lives. They change others. Yes please.
Monday, 19 April 2010
I adore the fact that I'm sat in my room at quarter past twelve at night working on an essay that many people would tell me is very important and I'm alone and there's no music on and I'm just overwhelmed to the point of tears because He's all we need and He loves and He saves and He delights. Moments like this are perfect. Moments like this are when God is genuinely meeting with us where we are.
Here is a song. I like it. When it kicks off, 'the drop' as Club One would proclaim when teaching 11year olds to rave, my word it's glorious. I play this on the guitar and once I start I often won't stop for some 20 minutes. Bask in His presence, ask for it, enjoy it. Because you know, He does.
Sunday, 18 April 2010
Wednesday, 14 April 2010
I was told by someone that if I needed anything afterwards they'd be there. They're not, and this makes me sad.
Alas. Never mind.
Tuesday, 13 April 2010
Anyway, in the shower this morning, God spoke to me, which is always great. He challenged me to think through the miracles I know Jesus to have done, which obviously is a few in the gospels probably adding up to about 10 days out of 3 years of ministry. I know so little. He's done a lot. He's still doing them today. Anyway, I was thinking about a friend I talk about this kind of stuff with, who is cynical about God healing when medicine could do the trick. Or about God doing smaller stuff, like caring about study grades or providing opportunities to reduce spending at the store by placing offers ahead. This does sound silly in some ways. But I was pondering, and have decided that God's really big. Like, ridiculously, and He's more powerful than I know. Not only that, that's not good enough, He's not more powerful than I know, He's perfectly powerful. There isn't any hint of a lack of power in Him. He can do literally anything. This means that He has the perfect perspective. Whereas we see things in this hierarchy of importance, God doesn't need to.
At New Wine, I'm always knocked off my feet by the faith of the kids I work with. It's so humbling. Indescribably so, it's such an honour and blessing. I see why Jesus loved children and said we should have faith like them. It's honest and innocent, untainted by cynicism that experience pretends to demand in us. Verrucas are not glamorous, but when you see 8 year olds gathered around shouting because they've just seen some disappear on a friend they're praying for, it makes you think. They don't see their problems as too small for God. They pray with such such passion for a sore throat to be taken away, and would pray with that same passion to see someone raised from the dead. Because they haven't been told that God's not as big as they think yet. He can do it. They ask. And they receive!
Jesus knows how we think. Look at Mark, when He forgives the sins of the paralytic man and nobody believes He could possibly do that. So He heals the man physically too, because if He has the power to do one, He has the power to do another. How often do we doubt God's power? Sorry, do I doubt God's power? I don't honestly even know if that's the problem. I think I know God can do anything. After all, He forgave all the rubbish I do, which is no mean feat. And He has defeated death. And He has healed. And He has calmed storms just by telling them to "be quiet". I believe all this. I think the problem is that we question whether He wants to do these things for us now.
There isn't one occasion (as far as I know) in the gospels of Jesus refusing or failing to heal somebody (excepting Jairus' daughter...who He does then raise from the dead so I think can be let off). Jesus was filled with compassion. His life and His death screamed it. Look at God, look at His character, and it's constantly one that loves His people with unquenchable love. He sent His son to die a terrible death for us, so that we could know Him. Why, oh why, would He do that if He didn't love us? There's no question. So, when we go to pray for stuff, I'd like to remember more how much He's given us already. He's generous. And if He can do all of that, healing a burnt finger or caring about how we feel, is not outrageous, except for the fact that He's ridiculously good.
I think in my mind I have this list of things that God can do, with the hardest at the top and the little things at the bottom.
- Forgive the whole world [including me]
- Resurrect people
- Remove someone's cancer
- Keep a car running on £5 worth of petrol for 9 months
- Make me bump into someone beautiful on the way to a lecture when I feel rubbish
- That top you can't justify buying in Whistles for £30 being in Oxfam for £3
- Get rid of a toothache
But considering that God is all powerful and can thus do anything with no variation of effort (I sometimes imagine He's got a certain amount of miracle power each day or something, and has to allocate it accordingly), He has no reason for a list like this. As far as He's concerned, we're either asking for His help or we're not. We're either opening our lives to His incredible love and power, or we're not. Why live with this hierarchy, choosing to try and battle all those below number 3 on our own, when we've got a God who died on a cross just so that we could live in the fulness of life that relationship with Him allows? I don't think He would then go for the showy miracles, like some A-list celebrity who only does the prestigious chat shows. He will raise from the dead and He will make the sun shine on a lake just as you look at it because He knows it makes you smile and think of Him.
Having said all of this, case in point, I think I need to ask more. I know I need to pray more. I know there's a whole incredible inheritance that I'm not claiming right now. And I know God's dying to show His powerful love in this world through the big and the small.
There is the question, then, of why prayers for healing aren't granted. People ask me why He answers some prayers and not others. I believe He answers all, "yes", "no" or "wait". I don't know why some people are healed and others aren't, why some are raised from the dead and others aren't, why some people feel despair and never get out of it, why situations don't always get better as soon as we start praying. I just don't know. I do know that God has a plan, and it is perfect, and in all these situations, He is in control, knows what He's doing more than we could, is just, and He works them for good. It's our job to ask, and trust, and listen.
This is really long! I'm so sorry. I was just thinking.
I've just watched a video about Haiti, one of the poorest, most devastated nations. About how in February this year, amidst the rubble and starvation and death, the president called for 3 days of fasting and prayer, and the people came and cried out to God. How amazing is that? Such hope. Apparently there were 3000 recorded cases of people giving their lives to Christ in those 3 days. And 101 of them were voodoo priests previously.
And earlier (this does not flow) I went for a run. I got lost. I ended up running through a bad area, with lots of sirens. It was dark. I didn't want to go back through that area, so I kept going, and then the pavement disappeared and I was in pitch black woods. Then I got really scared (I am scared of woods at night) and I jumped out of the woods (about 5 metres above the road) into a main road, and sprinted across 4 lanes of traffic to get away from them. Scarier areas followed. I cried. I prayed lots. And I realised that with all of the stupid things I do in my life, I should, by rights, have died about 15 times over. But I haven't, which means there is still more for me to do. So I'm going to go and get on with it.
Monday, 12 April 2010
On the brightside- today I was wandering around uni in my free hour, and bumped into many beautiful people which made me smile lots. And I've made a friend in the organic food shop...which is strange.
Thursday, 8 April 2010
She wisheth port, where, riding all at ease,
She may repair what stormy times have worn,
And, leaning on the shore, may sing with joy
That pleasure follows pain, and bliss annoy.
Possession of thy love is th'only port
Wherein my heart, with fears and hopes long tossed,
Each hour doth wish and long to make resort,
There to repair the joys that it hath lost,
And, sitting safe, to sing in Cupid's quire
That sweetest bliss is crown of love's desire."
And then hold me, hold me here in Your arms until I start to cry because I WANT TO CRY but I just can't seem to do it on my own...I've been teary eyed once recently but not even enough for a drip down my cheek.
There's just hurt in my soul which needs to be purged so hold me here in this hugging pose until the pain is flowing from my eyes and nose".
Anyway, back to reading. I'm locked in my room because I'm scared of being in the apartment alone. No one else is back from the Easter break yet.
Monday, 5 April 2010
Other than that, I can't breathe, and I'm trying to fail quietly so that mum won't wake up and ask me why I can't breathe and expect me to answer whilst trying to breathe. Lungs eh.
Anyway, when I was little, there is no way to link this to anything so don't get excited, when I was little, I loved colour. I still do. I especially loved highlighter pens, because the colour was more vibrant than my regular felt tips. One day, my parents came upstairs to find their magnolia (always magnolia) bedroom...jaundiced somewhat. Florescent yellow higlighter pen had been used on the walls, the numbers of the phone, the stripes in the radiator... when asked about the source of this neon wonder, I did the only reasonable thing at four years old and sharply identified my brother Tristan as the culprit. I don't know if it was the guilt in my eye or the fact that I'd drawn around my reflection in their mirror, but my lies were not swallowed. I can't remember how I was punished, or how they got it all back to magnolia, but I can remember that mum didn't let me have highlighters for literally years.
The point is, that I am an English Literature and History student and sometimes I have to highlight things gosh darn it. But every time I pick up a highlighter I remember kneeling under the windowsill and improving the radiator. What's worse than highlighters is black marker pens. Sharpies! My word. There is nothing like a clean and new black marker. Now, if I am bored and a pen is to hand, I literally throw it across the room to remove the temptation. It's not that I get weird urges to draw on my legs normally, just if the temptation is there. So it gets lobbed.
What I'm stupidly skirting around is that I'm thinking about temptations and vices and where to put them. When I revise for exams, I get distracted by my guitar. So I put it in the corner. I find myself playing it five minutes later. I shut it in the bathroom. I soon find myself admiring the acoustics of the bathroom. I resort to putting it under my bed, because I fear going in my bed because I always drop the lid and nearly break my arm. Some things need to be not only put down, but thrown as far as possible. Some things need to be put places that we can't see them. I'm often amazed at how far my body will go when it wants something. I decide not to buy biscuits at uni so that I won't snack and become a circle. But you know, if I fancy a biscuit, I will apparently walk to the store at 2 am in pouring rain for a pack of cruddy digestives. I cannot be trusted. My right hand doesn't know what the left is up to, and the left is up to something that's going to get it chopped off one of these days. So there's a thought. Wouldn't it be so easy if life were that simple, if something causes trouble you just threw it away, without affecting anything else? Yes it would. But it's not.
And I think some complications are on the way. Typical really.
Saturday, 3 April 2010
At one point tonight, I had to pass a group of 'youths' who started running ahead of me, hilariously. Two dropped off soon enough but one boy ran alongside me, laughing...we had a chat, I asked him if he'd like to run the whole ten miles with me, and he too slowed very soon. I felt like Eddie Izzard but less fit and not nearly as adept at walking in heels. Then at one point a man was cycling in the other direction to me on b*stard road, and I prepared myself for some lewd remark. He shouted "respect to you" which made me smile on many levels. The second was most fun. Anyway, the point is, it's these random nice people and moments (like the man who stared at me crossing the road then smiled in a really lovely way from his car when he realised, or the man who shouted "have some motivation dear!" from his doorway) which make my day beautiful.
And now there are brothers around, 1020 calories to regain, a bit of Del Toro's finest work to date on TV...it is a good night.
Friday, 2 April 2010
"The beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair" ~ Relient K, 'Be my Escape'.
“From childhood we are taught how to succeed in the world of ungrace. “You get what you pay for.” “The early bird gets the worm. “No pain, no gain.” I know these rules well because I live by them. I work for what I earn; I like to win; I insist on my rights. I want people to get what they deserve.
The more I reflect on Jesus’ parables proclaiming grace, the more tempted I am to apply the word atrocious to describe the mathematics of the gospel. I believe Jesus gave us these stories to call us to step completely outside our tit-for-tat world of ungrace and enter into God’s realm of infinite grace.
If I care to listen, I hear a loud whisper from the gospel that I did not get what I deserved. I deserved punishment and got forgiveness. I deserved wrath and got love. I deserved debtor’s prison and got instead a clean credit history. I deserved stern lectures and crawl-on-your knees repentance. Instead, I got a banquet spread for me.” ~ Philip Yancey,"What's so Amazing about Grace?"
It's completely ridiculous. It's prodigal to the point of hilarity. It's extravagant and unreasonable. The maths of grace is all wrong. What an impossible, nonsensical and beautiful God.
It's true that it's done. It's finished. Love hung on a tree to pay the price for my sins, your sins, all sin in all of time, so that we could come before God perfect and blameless, not to beg for undeserved mercy but to thank Him that He already gave it. Not as slaves but as beloved sons. I could sing of this forever. I don't deserve it.
(Interestingly, I was born on Good Friday 1991).