Valentine’s Day Prayer

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“We pray today for those in love, those off love, those in between. And for those who are lonelier today than other days.
We pray today for those whose frozen hearts cannot love & those who feel so unlovely that they can’t love themselves.
We pray for the elderly man gazing today at a black and white photograph in a silver frame of a wedding in another time.
We pray for the the mum, who quietly bought herself flowers yesterday. And the boy who dared to send a card but didn’t get one back.
King of love come comfort and forgive us this cheap, gaudy, desperate, isolating thing we have made of you. Amen.”
Pete Greig – Valentine’s Prayer

One of our pastors shared this on Facebook. It’s awesome.

Marriage support – Care for the Family

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“Every marriage is different, but all marriages experience ups and downs – there’s the romantic times when the sun seems to be always shining, and the tough times when winter seems to have set in for good. We want to support you in your relationship whether you are preparing to get married or have been …”

Source: Marriage support – Care for the Family

QMUL RELEASES PACE DATA – Graded Exercise Therapy Bogus Treatment for CFS/ME

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This is such landmark news for people with ME/CFS. This backs up what patients have known all along… militaristic Graded Exercise Therapy (GET) makes us worse not better. This doesn’t mean that we should stop moving but that pushing through the pain does not work for us. Pacing is more effective. It also partially explains my current prolonged muscle relapse as pushing is what I did through my house move – push through pain and warning symptoms. Thank God for the people out there who campaigned to get this data released.

http://www.meaction.net/2016/09/09/qmul-releases-pace-data/

 

Praying for Healing Isn’t Enough

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Praying for our health isn’t enough. I’ve learned that we have to pray to God to be shown what we need to change –  how our thinking and behaviour need to alter, no matter how painful the execution of those things may be.  We need to meet God halfway and take responsibility for our own part. But sometimes we need God to show us what those steps are.  

Just vaguely praying for healing for ourselves and our friends, for example, in Life Group, which is what we do a lot of, isn’t enough. We need to get specific. 

 

Letter to My Illness

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ax1h5dLast night of I wrote a letter to my illness.  It was full of expletives.

Among my sentiments were the words: “You are not here to teach me a lesson or humility.  You are not my friend.  You are a ridiculous ragbag of pathetic symptoms.  Go **** yourself, you miserable, mitochondria-disrupting loser.  You think you have won.  But the person I was before you stuck your poxy neb [nose] in is still within me.”

I continued: “Yes, that child who could run like the wind, the one who could dance all night, the girl who could run from the nightclub in the dark to her home in minutes, the one who called walk miles and miles, up mountains, across moors, around London.  How dare you disrupt all of that!  You robbed me of my life with of my husband, of children, of experiences, of opportunity, of peace.”

Sometimes I just don’t know what God is playing at!

(There was more but this gives you a flavour. I found the writing therapeutic.)

I then listened to the hate-filled but cathartic ‘Sorry’ by nu-Guns n Roses on my headphones and scribbled down some pertinent lyrics. The whole song suited my mood and situation but here are the first lines:

“You like to hurt me
You know that you do
You like to think
In some way
That it’s me
And not you”

 

 

Happy Divorce Day!

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One of my church friends is celebrating his first anniversary of remarriage today. This couple seem to live the perfect life!

I am happy for him but his announcement on Facebook and loving words to his wife reminded me that today is the second anniversary of my divorce! Cruel irony.

Yesterday, though, ex and I went to the beach. He had come from neighbouring country for work and our shared care duties. It was lovely. We got on well and it harked back to other times. I was sad that I can’t walk much (still undergoing the muscle relapse from hell) and sad that his new wife is very sporty and active.

I say to God, “Why have you abandoned me?” It’s just not fair!

Ex has changed a lot. I am sure he smiles and laughs sometimes but I never see that abundant laughter and joy on his face now. Maybe he saves it for others or other times. I don’t know. Maybe too much has happened to him for that.

 

When God Makes You Wait

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amusement-park-438419_960_720Just having that extra night at Celebrate Recovery has shortened my week which means I have less energy to do other things. CR makes for quite a long evening but it is helpful.

I’ve decided that as God is making me wait here in this town due to the ridiculous house move delays I can use the time to go to this more local church where Celebrate Recovery is. In this way the waiting becomes useful.

If I had moved to the next town 6-8 weeks ago I may not have started the course as I would have been busy settling in and trying to forge a new life for myself there.

The War Room, Lent, Day 15

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War-Room-Table

We had a film night at church tonight. We watched the Christian film, The War Room, which I had never seen. (Hence, it was NEW to me).

I did enjoy it but found its lack of subtlety difficult, and as my friend, JH, said, the ends were all very neatly tied up, rather unrealistically.

I found this review from The New Yorker interesting: http://www.newyorker.com/culture/richard-brody/the-sanitized-christianity-of-war-room

No Pills and Thrills for Me, Lent, Day 13

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After the Celebrate Recovery  session tonight I went to one of our fast food outlets and instead of scurrying back to the car I sat and ate at a table indoors and watched people passing through the town. It was around 10pm.

A lot of them looked like they were heavy drinkers and I did think that some of them might benefit from Celebrate Recovery! Mind you, you have to be willing to encounter Step One – Denial – to  begin CR.

Town at night is not a pretty place and I thank God that despite my own sometimes torturous issues I don’t have  addictions to alcohol, drugs or similar.

 

 

The Quiet Worshipper

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Though a garrulous person in every day life when it comes to church services I am a quiet person. I do love to sing but I don’t feel any need to proclaim my devotions in any other way. I keep everything pretty low key. Quiet. To do anything else at this stage would feel so false.

In a similar way, I mentioned to Ex once that I was going to a baptism  “You’re getting baptised?” he asked, incredulous.
“No, of course not. I’m going to see a friend be baptised,” I added.

As I discussed with male friend, B, some months ago, you don’t just go and get baptised like it’s some fashion statement. B said it was akin to getting married; you do it if or when you feel it is right – if ever.

‘Celebrate Recovery’ is Not Just for Addicts

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Speaking of things that don't quite deliver on their promises...

I went to my first ever session of Celebrate Recovery this week. It’s a Christ-centred 12 step programme for anyone with ‘hurts, hang-ups or habits’ that are holding them back in life.

I’d been thinking about going for a while and a guy from my divorce group suggested that I give it a go. A lot of people think it’s just for addicts and alcoholics but that’s not the case. Anyone who’s battling with various issues (and who isn’t?) is welcome. Some examples would be: perfectionism, debt, guilt, divorce, anger, abuse, insecurity, gambling, anxiety, emotional abuse and other abuses, overspending, coming form a dysfunctional family, grief – plus lots of other things.

I realised that I do suffer from some low self-esteem issues emanating from childhood, my long-term illness and the divorce. Also, I think I have a tendency to co-dependency. Not like I used to but it could still be an issue. I know I am not experiencing as much joy in my life as I used to and these things are barriers to joy or freedom.

Not sure how much I can commit to the course (it runs for a year and some people go for many years) but I’ve at least made a start.

 

Unchained Melody as House Sale in Jeopardy

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Faith House, Tufton Street, Westminster

Faith House, Tufton Street, Westminster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The chain for my house sale and flat purchase is in a state of semi-collapse. Solicitor’s secretary has tried to calm me down! Situation: My buyers’ buyers withdrew their offer. (My buyer can’t purchase my house until he’s sold his.)

Fortunately, he already has another 4 viewings at least on his house this week (complicated, huh?) and the chain could be reinstated.

I feel permanently thwarted in my efforts to move on from the marital home. First my dad died, then I had major health probs, then surgery, which took months to recover from, then all the work involved to get the house ‘sale ready’. All this while coping with an as yet incurable chronic illness.

I genuinely feel like some malevolent force is keeping me prisoner in this house. It’s pathetic. And if any soul tells me “it’s all in God’s plan” and that “he has wonderful things in store for me” I shall either commit hari kari or scream. Loudly.

I am tempted to think that faith is a load of bunkum. But then I meet people for whom faith is a real, solid entity. Are they just deluded? I don’t know. My faith is shaky.

The One Whom My Soul Loves – In Pursuit of Woman

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Pursuit of Equality

Pursuit of Equality (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite the fact I believe I am unmarriageable I have not been without male interest, even in my ‘celibate by choice’ life. Most of these men are not Christians but they are good men.

There’s SAL, who lives far away and is not safe emotionally but who seems to be fond of me. MAGS, who is the nearest I have to a soulmate, but who is not emotionally available and who does not want a relationship with me – and I probably don’t want one with him. WM seems to adore me but I am unsure about him for various reasons. Even SRP has been attracted to me at points, I believe, but he is unsafe. And TCG seems to like me too. Only WM has actively pursued me over many months.

Despite all this I feel I have not yet met “the one whom my soul loves.” Do you think I will know it when I do meet him or are we blinded by our own hang-ups, fears and prejudices?

Baptism is Like a Wedding Ring

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English: The photographer's wedding ring and i...

English: The photographer’s wedding ring and its heart-shaped shadow in a dictionary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And the pastor said: “It’s all about allegiance to Christ.
Baptism is like a wedding ring. It’s the outward reality of an inner experience. If you feel that you are a Christian it is a natural progression. It is serious and you should do it if you’re convinced, not under pressure. Did that help?”

Yeah, it did.

Baptism of Fire

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King Guthorm is baptised.

King Guthorm is baptised. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had a query about baptism – adult baptism – and approached one of the pastors. I wrote:

“Okay,” I said, “these baptism services – is one baptised as a Christian or as a member of [our church denomination]?

I don’t have any problem with our church denomination and read the handbook quite regularly – but I’m not sure about standing up in front of the people at our church and declaring myself – at this moment anyway. Also I see getting baptised as serious as getting married. I want to be sure I am in this for the long haul before doing it. (and to do it for me and God not to please the pastor or impress my church friends, y’know.) I’ve been through such a lot of changes these last few years I want to know I am on solid ground before I do much these days!

There are things I encounter at our church that make me want to throw up my hands in a sort of laughing frustration. I could tell you some of these things (maybe I will some time) but for now, the question is ‘Who am I obeying?’ when I am baptised with our church – God or people?”

Read the next post for the answer I received.

Love Poem Creeps Me Out

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Platonic friend just sent me this poem. How on earth do you respond to this? I mean, is it meant as a message? Is it just ‘sharing’. God knows? And he’s not telling. I have responded by saying that it is not my scene. I even used the word ‘creepy’. I would not have even sent this to my husband. A well  seized upon song lyric is more my style.

Here is the poem:

“Yes, yours, my love, is the right human face.
I in my mind had waited for this long,
Seeing the false and searching for the true,
Then found you as a traveller finds a place
Of welcome suddenly amid the wrong
Valleys and rocks and twisting roads. But you,
What shall I call you? A fountain in a waste,
A well of water in a country dry,
Or anything that’s honest and good, an eye
That makes the whole world seem bright. Your open heart,
Simple with giving, gives the primal deed,
The first good world, the blossom, the blowing seed,
The hearth, the steadfast land, the wandering sea.
Not beautiful or rare in every part.
But like yourself, as they were meant to be.”

Edwin Muir

Download: It’s Not Just a Festival

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It was the Download Festival this weekend in the UK, a rock festival attended by thousands. I wasn’t there. I’m completely immersed in stuff to do with the house and house selling. It sounds like fun from the outside but it is dull. And immensely tiring.

Yesterday my gardener guy came. He’s a Buddhist – and a dedicated one at that. He is very inspiring, not just because of what he says but because of how he is.

Anyway, I’ve had to miss church and Life Group this week and feel somewhat cast adrift with out those touchstones. Thank heavens for the DOWNLOADS though.

These are the downloads our church provides every week – each sermon (we call them ‘messages’) is uploaded on to the church website for our listening pleasure. I’ve just listened to Pastor 3. It’s not quite the same as being there but these downloads are extremely useful and help with your spiritual journey and keep you connected to the church itself.

We are lucky.

Thessalonians 2 – Our Life Group Notes

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Firm Foundations: Our Encouragement

REFLECTION: remembering the main points

  • Our Encouragement: 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12: how to persevere through adversity
  • Theological Encouragement: God’s Just, Powerful & Faithful: 5-10
  • Relational Encouragement: praise & prayer: 3-4; 11-12

DISCUSSION: choose one or more questions

  • What are some of the current pressures in your own life as a follower of Christ?
  • Do we share any cultural elements with the believers in 1st century Thessalonica?
  • Have you ever felt like your encouragement has changed someone else’s life?
  • How can you develop a deeper theological foundation for hope?
  • Are there practical ways of deepening the encouragement side of your prayer life?
  • Why do we squirm when we come across passages related to God’s judgement?

APPLICATION: things you/we can do

  • Watch this clip and talk about the power of encouragement: https://vimeo.com/102063076. Dream, think and talk together about 4 practical things you can start doing as a LIFE Group to support each other, weekly, as you face the daily pressures of living as a Christ-follower.
  • Using good resources from http://www.opendoorsuk.org – please spend some time praying for the persecuted Christians around the world.