Laurie Penney Writes a Letter to a Disabled Reader, New Statesman.

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"Attack-Attack-Attack" - NARA - 513888

“Attack-Attack-Attack” – NARA – 513888 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

http://www.newstatesman.com/laurie-penny/2012/12/you-are-not-scrounger-letter-disabled-reader

This is a brilliant letter (click on the link) and sums up how I feel. This government hates the disabled. Hates them/us. I truly believe this. We are detritus as far as they are concerned. People joke about them being Nazis but they are – they just cloak their hatred. Anyone who does not believe that there is a war going on between the haves, the privileged, and the dispossessed  is deluded. It’s always been like this but recent years have made it clear: the war on welfare, the banking scandals, MP‘s expenses scandals. And nothing changes.

I can’t bear people who buy into this ‘everyone’s a scrounger’ mentality. I think, yeah, wait until YOU are in need. You might end up with an ICI – invisible chronic illness – not something obvious to the passerby. Maybe that day will never come but it might. You just never know what is going to happen. Not everyone has the luck to have a great family behind them (I am lucky, I do have support and have had more in the past) – or to have had a good start in life.  You might get one big surprise when you lose the respect of ‘society’ cos you can’t work down the proverbial coal mine.

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Buffers Against Suffering

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Big Heart of Art - 1000 Visual Mashups

Big Heart of Art – 1000 Visual Mashups (Photo credit: qthomasbower)

Pastor C’s talk on Sunday was on sin and also on suffering. The suffering part really got to me. Tears were rolling down my face and when the service was over I had to march out and have a proper cry in a secluded place before going back in and talking to Pastor W, who is familiar with my woes, poor man.

Pastor C was very clear that we are NOT going to avoid suffering, none of us. To live is to suffer, it seems. But he did say that God provides buffers. I like this. I started thinking about buffers. Sometimes I can’t see them and all is bleak. (I wasn’t always like this – it’s just these last 6 months or so.)

Buffers:

  1. A phone call or text from a friend
  2. Noticing something beautiful in nature or architecture
  3. Music
  4. Art
  5. A community activity
  6. A word from a friend, family member or stranger that changes our way of thinking or seeing things
  7. A good film, book or TV/radio programme
  8. Pets
  9. Family members
  10. Laughter
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As the somewhat dreaded Valentine’s Day approaches (dreaded? How I quite looked forward to this day as a Smug Married) I found fortitude in this post…

ON THE WAY

Valentine’s Day is fraught with mixed opinions and emotions. The skeptics deride it as a money sapping marketing ploy. The singles dread it as it feels like you’re walking through a city centre wearing an ‘I’m a failure and I’m frustrated’ T-shirt with everyone staring at you. The forced embracers reluctantly do something for their loved one as to avoid the ‘dog house’. And I am convinced there are some who genuinely love it and use it as a way to demonstrate their love.

It caused me to think of how often we cheapen the meaning of ‘love’. An overused word. An abused word. A precious word, in many circumstances, robbed of its meaning…

In The Fifth Element, Leeloo, gets to W in the encyclopaedia. Probably the most powerful scene in the movie is when this perfect being – a god, really – looks at war, and we see flashes…

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Lust Versus Love, According to Rob Bell.

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Love heart

Love heart (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

On lust: “Sex becomes a search for something they’re missing. A quest for the unconditional embrace.” 

On love: “Sex is the expression of something that’s been found – an overflow, a culmination of something a man and a woman have found in each other.”

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Sex God Changed My Life

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Cover of "Sex God: Exploring the Endless ...

Cover via Amazon

It’s not often that I read a book that I would describe as life changing but I would venture to say that Sex God by Rob Bell is one. Its subtitle is Exploring the Endless Connections Between Sexuality and Spirituality.  I hope to come back with more

thoughts on this book but in brief, I loved pretty much everything about it.  It’s brilliantly written. Yeah, he uses a few techniques that are a little ‘poppy’ but he does it well. He writes with genuine passion, real depth, and feeling. He clearly loves people too.

Here are links to reviews of the book: http://blogcritics.org/books/article/book-review-sex-god-by-rob/  and http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sex-God-Exploring-Questions-Spirituality/dp/0007487851

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No, No, Nancy For Me.

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English: Cell 18 door detail, old city jail in...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many women from church went on a Nancy Goudie Spiritual Health Weekend this month.  I wasn’t able to go but even if I had have been in a position to I am not sure I would have. Bonding with the women would have been great but I cannot take to Nancy Goudie. Not that I have met her, so that’s a little unforgiving, but I have read two of her books and her magazine, Spiritual Health, and I can not stomach the constant self-promotion and non-stop product pushing.

Now, as someone who has connections with PR (me, that is) this is a strong reaction to have against someone who seems to understand marketing, as she clearly does. But for me, Nancy Goudie teeters on the brink of making herself, the messenger, more important than the message. No doubt NG would say that she is not the messenger, God is. Well, if that’s the case, pipe down, lady, about your products.

I must say, though, that I found reading about the work her organisation does in young offenders‘ institutes and secure units for children as young as 12, very impressive and inspiring. I used to mentor young offenders myself. It was brilliant, though exhausting.

Perhaps the proof is in the spiritual pudding and if I was to go on one of these weekends I might feel differently. I don’t think so, though. A friend, a longtime Christian, said she found the product placement something of a turn off too.

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Internalizing the Rejection

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"Journal of Universal Rejection" cof...

“Journal of Universal Rejection” coffee mug (Photo credit: Tilemahos Efthimiadis)

Something I read in The Journey from Abandonment to Healing keeps coming back to me. One of the people interviewed in the book says: “Who will keep me now? Who will want me?”  This is exactly how I feel.

It’s been a tough day. Really tough. I definitely have not felt that I have a heavenly Father who looks after me. I wish I had that certainty. I’ve felt forsaken.

I talked about some of my troubles with my ex today. This is not something I do as a regular thing but today it seemed right to let him know what was going on with me. It helped and he was a good listener, but it does not help to know that he has got the better life he wanted with someone else. I know I need to detach from him but he was my best friend as well as my husband. Anyway, I went back to the Abandonment book, which I first read in 2010 or 2011 and reread the section called Stage Three: Internalizing the Rejection. It totally helped.

These two statements were key:

Rejections past and present merge

Even apparently insignificant losses raise questions about our self-worth

So I have spent the last hour listing all the rejections and losses I have suffered, past and present. I started from about age 5 and went up to the present day. So far I’ve reached 75 losses or rejections! 75. You would think this would depress me even further. It hasn’t  It has helped me to understand why I am struggling so much with the loss of my marriage, nearly three years after the implosion. The marriage ending is one big bomb on top of lots of other bombs from the past AND I am still subject to losses and rejections in the present that are impacted by the loss of my marriage. It’s a complex web.

Fortunately, Susan Anderson, the author, has a strategy for helping to overcome the rejection. It’s a long, hard road but I guess I’ll try her recommendation.

Another pertinent point she makes: being rational, telling yourself affirmations, does not help during this ‘internalizing the rejection’ process. (She does not mention prayer.) This is why it is frustrating when a certain friend, says things like; “I don’t think you should feel like that. It just didn’t work out.” That’s a massive oversimplification of a long-term intimate relationship.

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Living in a Family: The Life of Joseph

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As in the Joseph featured in Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. The theme was ‘living within a family.’

Felt quite sad tonight as the others were talking about their larger families whereas I am an only child. I talked about my step-father (who died last year) as being a major influence whereas some of the others talked of people who were spiritual influences. Having said that, step-dad was very accepting and very liberal, when he was younger, and he did set me on a journey and spent hours talking to me (with my mum) about life, how I would grow and how I would move away from them, and how this would be natural.

Perhaps I should stop moping about being an Only and be thankful for the things that were great about it.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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The Burden

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big couple of woman and man in red

big couple of woman and man in red (Photo credit: epSos.de)

Even though your relationship is lost to both of you, the one who was left carries a far greater burden of emotional pain than the one who did the leaving.

The Journey from Abandonment to Healing, Susan Anderson. [Berkeley, 2000]

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Getting to Know You

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Friendship

Friendship (Photo credit: vinodbahal)

You must take time – whether that’s in getting to know a same sex friend or a potential partner.  This is something male friend stressed to me months ago. No matter how wonderful a person might seem it takes a few years before you know if this is going to be a lasting relationship.

My longest friendship stands at 31 years and counting. That’s my best friend and he is… yes, a man! We met at school and though we only see each other once or twice a year we talk on the phone every week.

Perhaps the fact that we are not in each other’s faces all the time helps but I also think it’s simply that we know each other so well. After my ex, my friend knows me better than anyone, even my mum! We spent ten of the 31 years living 12,000 miles apart, me in the UK, he in the Antipodes,  but the friendship endured.  We have seen each other’s lives torn apart by various partners or illness or death.

There are women I like via the church and with whom I becoming friendly, but it takes time. Maybe I should reach out to them in a non-threatening way? No-one wants to foist themselves on someone but you regret letting a potentially good friend slip away.

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Silence is Golden

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Carmelite Monastery - Carmel, CA

Carmelite Monastery – Carmel, CA (Photo credit: Axe.Man)

I found this info the other day about a Carmelite order in a town near me where they offer silent retreats. I’d be interested in investigating this. A Mon- Fri retreat with once a day guidance from a spiritual ‘mentor’ costs £150 inc evening meal. Pretty good, I’d say. You can also just go and stay there. 

“T is an ideal location for those seeking a quiet place for rest, reflection and prayer. It is especially suitable for those wishing to get away for a few days on their own in an atmosphere of silence and stillness.
Residents are welcome to join in the programme of the house during their stay, but many prefer to arrange their own pattern. Spiritual accompaniment is available, but it is best if this is requested beforehand so that we can ensure someone is available.
T has four single bedrooms, a modern kitchen and a comfortable lounge opening out onto the garden. Our residential wing is self-catering, but we provide breakfast cereals, milk, coffee, tea, bread and butter. We are within walking distance of shops, cafes and a delicatessen supermarket. All bed linen and towels are provided.
Three of our rooms are on the ground floor, and one upstairs.
We ask for a contribution of £25 per night.”

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Doubting Prayerwalker

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Doubt/شک

Doubt/شک (Photo credit: mohammadali)

Felt sad tonight after church. This sounds bonkers but I felt slightly paranoid, like people were looking at me and thinking, “What’s she doing here? She’s not a Christian!”  I have no evidence for this belief/feeling at all; I’m  being oversensitive.

Maybe it is a reflection of my own doubts and the newness of my journey. Sometimes it is overwhelming.  I don’t even know exactly why I keep going to church. Something seems to be taking me there, though, and I do seem to feel better for it in some way.  I don’t feel I am using it as a crutch though. I’m skeptical enough to be aware of my actions and to question what I hear. I lived with an atheist for 23 years so I have got his voice in my head quite often also.

Since I have become single again I am spending a lot of time finding out who I am, who I want to be, and what I believe – not just religious-wise but in all ways.

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“Don’t Follow Me, Follow Jesus,” as Peter Kay Once Said

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Peter Kay comedy masterclass at University of ...

Peter Kay  

 (Photo credit: University of Salford)

I think it was in his guise as Brian Potter, owner of the Phoenix Club. (Phoenix Nights, Channel 4, UK). But seriously, I’ve only been blogging for less than a week and I’ve already got some followers: Cole Ryan, Just After Words and Lila. Thanks for your interest.

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Repentance

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REPENT

REPENT (Photo credit: eyPeter)

Yeah, repentance is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. It’s a purposeful turning away from a behaviour or habit or even an attitude, a willingness to let go, submit to God and start again.

I am not saying I am an absolute horror or or anything but there are things that I regret, things I have done or said. In fact, I think regret is a very valuable emotion/entity. I don’t trust people who say they have no regrets. That’s so VAIN and shortsighted, IMHO. How can you learn without regret? It’s a no-brainer.

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Sleep Reversal Means I Miss Out

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sleeping deer buck

 (Photo credit: jonnnnnn)

One of the most frustrating aspects of my illness is that my sleep patterns are awry, especially in WINTER.  This means I always miss the morning service at my church, which is in the next town from me, because I can’t get there in time and I feel so lousy in the mornings anyway.

This is hugely frustrating because it’s the main service of the week, in a nice location and with time for coffee and chat afterwards. If I do go to a service it tends to be a night, a smaller affair, and not as sociable. But, there you go. I can’t fight my symptoms, only try and manage them as best I can. I don’t suppose God minds when I go, but I do.

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Speechless by Michael Jackson

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It’s a hymn, isn’t it? The music is very hymn-like also. From the Invincible album, 2001.

“Your love is magical, that’s how I feel
But I have not the words here to explain
Gone is the grace for expressions of passion
But there are worlds and worlds of ways to explain
To tell you how I feel

But I am speechless, speechless 
That’s how you make me feel
Though I’m with you I am far away and nothing is for real
When I’m with you I am lost for words, I don’t know what to say My head’s spinning like a carousel, so silently I pray.

Helpless and hopeless, that’s how I feel inside. Nothing’s real, but all is possible if God is on my side

When I’m with you I am in the light where I cannot be found It’s as though I
am standing in the place called Hallowed Ground

Speechless, speechless,
that’s how you make me feel Though I’m with you I am far away and nothing is
for real I’ll go anywhere and do anything just to touch your face There’s no 
mountain high I cannot climb I’m humbled in your grace

Your love is magical, that’s how I feel…But in your presence I am lost for words Words like, ‘I love you.’ “

Speechless (Michael Jackson song)

Speechless (Michael Jackson song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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My First Life Group

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Managed to get to my first Life Group session tonight. Fortunately I had met all the group members before and some are quite good friends already so it was not too daunting on that front.

I loved it! The session was based on Luke Chapter 5, verses 17 – 26, (Jesus Heals a Paralysed Man). Our discussion focused on breakthroughs, compassion, obstacles, continual prayer, reaching out to others and noticing those who may be alone, or ‘hidden’ -even within our own church.

I have to say that people have been overwhelmingly welcoming to me. Admittedly, I did know people through the divorce group, but even so, strangers have welcomed me. In fact, I found it rather shocking at first that complete strangers would be so friendly  – and I hail from one of the friendliest,  least pretentious towns in the UK so heaven knows what a ‘soft southerner’ would have made of it all!

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I liked this article about choosing a church. I was talking to my friend, SB, (via text) and we said that although we don’t always agree with everything in our church we feel that this is the place we are supposed to be.

I said: “It’s like any relationship or friendship. You don’t always agree but you don’t just walk away. You need stickability.” I can’t remember if it was Liz Babbs or Carolyn Leutwiler who talks about not becoming a ‘church consumer’ but there are people who do flit from one spiritual ‘home’ to another. Maybe that is needed for some people but there is a danger of treating going to church like going to a supermarket – and again, a lot of concentration on ‘what’s right for me.’ Maybe it’s best to just settle down with one place that you feel comfortable with and see how it goes. We’ll see.

ON THE WAY

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Someone asked me recently about choosing a church when moving a new area.
Here are some of (my personal) tips for choosing/finding a church.

It needs to be unashamedly Christ-centred and Christ exalting. If they talk more about themselves, their denomination and their projects – rather than Jesus – it’s not good sign…

It needs to Biblical – holding on to the authority of Scripture. Preaching and teaching God’s word vs. human ideas or ideals.

It needs to be Spirit-led – ministering in His power rather than just running activities.

It needs to be missional – reaching people with the Good News of Jesus, both through word and deed. The Good News incarnate into our communities.

It needs to love people and value community – rather than just having a life based on attending services like a gig. Small groups are a sign of health in this.

It needs…

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