Tag Archives: change

All about change

August seems like the perfect time to send a holiday postcard, so here’s one from the week my family and I spent traveling through Shropshire, Cheshire and the West Midlands on a canal boat.

Water doesn’t like to slope, so when the great engineers who built the canal systems encountered a landscape that needed to be climbed, they built amazing water-filled lifts called locks. Each lock is a chamber with heavy gates at each end which can be filled up or emptied of water so that the boat can rise up or lower down to the level of the next stretch of canal.

To fill the lock you use a turning handle to wind up heavy paddles in the gate which let water into (or out of) the chamber at a tremendous rate creating a huge amount of noise and splash. We quite enjoy working the locks but there’s no denying that it’s really hard going! Pushing the gates open against the weight of the water, closing them again, winding up the paddles, waiting for ages for the lock to fill then pushing the gates at the other end open is slow and heavy work, but it’s amazing to witness the extraordinary power of all that water moving from one place to another.

And it’s necessary: without these powerful level-changers it would be impossible to travel through the ups and downs of the British countryside.

I’ve written before about the seasons we go through in life, being a child, being a parent, being a parent of children who have grown up, living in one place or another, working, retirement…

Often it’s the shifts between seasons that are the hardest to deal with. The parts where you’ve said goodbye to what was, but haven’t really stepped into what is next. Those times, like the minutes that the boat is in the lock, can be turbulent, a bit scary and slow in passing.

The locks reminded me this week that change, even good change, like getting married, having a child or starting a new job, can be really hard work.
Like traveling through a lock, there is a cost to change which is measured in effort and in unsettling turbulence but there is also a sense something incredibly powerful is going on somewhere below the surface. The other hung it’s reminded me is that change is also really necessary if you want to continue on with your journey.

I often describe myself as being change-intolerant, a natural settler. But I also really want to keep pressing onwards towards what’s ahead and like water, life doesn’t slope, so there are bound to be locks ahead.

The challenge to me is to willingly step into times of change, to accept the turbulence and scariness with faith, because I’ve realized that even if the only way forward is through locks, that’s the way I want to go.

Remind me of that when I’m complaining about it ūüôā

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Gappiness

This is my beautiful nearly-six-year-old’s new smile. ¬†Gorgeous isn’t it?

I’ll admit though, that when she ran to me yesterday, yelling with excitement that the wobbly front tooth was finally out, I did have¬†a little moment of grieving for that pearly toothed little-girl-smile that I will never see again.

And then, before I knew it I was wondering what her big teeth will be like: Will they come through straight and strong? Will they look too big for a while in her little mouth? Will she still look like my Katie?

I was stuck there for a moment in an emotional whirlwind, caught up between grief about what has been lost¬†and worry about¬†what is ahead…

And then… she smiled!

…And I heard God whisper ¬†“Gappiness is just so beautiful, isn’t it?”

And it is…

A long long time ago, when I was an architecture student, we spent a month or two talking about¬†liminal spaces: porches; walkways; vestibules; corridors; thresholds; all ‘in-between’ places. We talked about how important it was to help people realise that they are making a transition, to sense that a change is taking place, and to prepare them for space they were about to experience.

I often remember those lectures as I see people around me passing through liminal life-spaces, passing over the threshold between what was and what will be, moving and adjusting from one season to another and travelling the gappiness in between. It helps to recognise the liminal spaces for what they are: temporary places of rest, or refreshment, or preparation.  Gaps where God can prepare us for the next season.  They will pass.  And although they can seem awkward or uncomfortable, they do have a beauty of their own.

Kate showed me this morning that she can just see the tip of the new tooth poking through… before I know it she will have her big-teeth smile… but it will take a while, and for now, I’m going to lean back¬†and enjoy the gappiness.

gappiness

Emerging : about change

Every now and again something happens in your heart or your life which is so significant, so major, that you know that nothing will ever be quite the same again.

Sometimes, in just a few days or¬†moments, your life can become so different that for a while you find yourself¬†out of step with the rest of the world. “How?” you ask yourself, “Can everyone else’s life still be so much the same when mine has changed so radically?”

Sitting here I can think of six moments in my life when I have felt this really powerfully: ¬†Asking Jesus to be a part of my life; getting married; the births of my three children and then the death of my Dad. ¬†All of these things have so profoundly affected me on the inside that I have struggled to understand why people around me can’t see or sense or be a part of the revolution that has taken place. ¬†I’ve felt a bit detached from the rest of the world for a while, and I haven’t always understood or awarded myself the grace that I needed.

I’m kind of¬†in that place again this week.

Last week, at a crazy-beautiful¬†conference in England, Father God revealed to me a little bit more of who he is, and then a little bit more of who I am, and before I knew it, another revolution had taken¬†place in my heart. ¬†I’ll get to writing and painting about that soon (when the dust has settled) but for this week, I need to take a¬†‘wing-drying’ moment.

You see, I read this morning about this butterfly, a monarch, which after hatching out of its cocoon, sits for an hour or more in the sun, allowing its wings to dry and become strong.  This moment of rest, of warming, and of taking stock speaks to me really powerfully right now.

So often I experience a revolution in my life or in my heart, and I expect myself to be able to be up and out and flying straightaway.  Today I think Jesus is telling me to wait a while, to let my wings dry out, to get used to my new shape.  This picture is permission to rest in him for a moment or two before I launch out again.

 

And that’s good… There’s going to be a lot of time for flying.

 

Imagine my surprise
when I emerge from the struggle
the beautiful revolution
the inner rewriting
with wings..

Still reeling
but knowing
that one day soon I will stretch out
into what I've become
and fly.

But till then
I'll sit here
in the light and the warmth of your gaze
and let you tell me again
who I am.


butterfly2

reflect greens

 

 

It’s¬†always good to rest for a while in the warmth of the Father’s gaze. ¬†Make sure you take a moment today to ‘sun yourself’.

 

For your Journal:

If you’re not in this place right now, ¬†store up the thought for the future… Decide now that if and when it happens you will give yourself permission to rest and to ask God to shine his light on your wings.

If you are in this place, go easy on yourself. ¬†Write a letter to God in your journal about the change that you’ve just been through. ¬†Take the moment to say goodbye to what you were before and to stretch out into the new thing you’ve become. ¬†Absorb the light of God’s presence in whatever way works best for you right now. ¬†Be blessed x

 

Spacewalking: life in the wilderness.

I watched the movie ‘Gravity’ last night, have you
seen it? I rather enjoyed it in a heart-in-my-mouth sort of
way. There’s a scene in it where a space-suited hero is drifting,
cut loose in the vast emptiness of space, alone and helpless.
And I suddenly thought, “I know what that feels like”.

Don’t get¬†the wrong idea, I don’t have a secret previous life as an astronaut¬†(!) but I have had a ‘spaceman’ time in my life,
a time when all the things I did, all the things I knew, all the
things that made me feel ‘me’ were emptied out and I felt as
adrift and powerless as the untethered spacewalker in my
picture.

I often think and write about the seasons of life. Seasons of light
and darkness, seasons of
celebration and of grieving, seasons of
work and seasons of rest. I love this from Ecclesiastes 3:1-5
(NIV)

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them

It tells me that this change from one season to another is a normal part of life.

My¬†spaceman season was one of the hardest I’ve walked (or floated!)
through. In fact, it was less of a season and more of a space
between seasons – a wilderness.

I live in Nicosia, Cyprus, a city¬†that has been divided for more than 40 years. The South is¬†part of the Greek-speaking Republic of Cyprus and the Northern half¬†is in the area occupied by Turkey since 1974. The city’s two¬†halves now have very different peoples, cultures
and languages. It is possible to walk through from one
side to another (with your passport), but to do so you have to
leave one ‘side’ and walk through the ‘buffer zone’- a gap of
about a hundred metres of emptiness between the two sides:
abandoned streets and buildings, layered with 40 years of
dust. No one lives there and no one goes there. Nothing happens
there.

My ‘walk’ from being a ‘normal’ person living in the UK
to being an expat person living in Cyprus felt very much like
a walk from one half of this city into the other. Eventually
I ended up in another place, with new friends and a new
understanding of what God is calling me to do. But for a while
there I was trapped in the emptiness of the buffer zone; in a
nowhere-space between places.

If you’ve been there,¬†you’ll know how hard it is. There are lots of things that can¬†happen to cause an¬†emptying, a time where God strips away roles, tasks or¬†relationships that have filled your time and given you a sense of¬†purpose. There is a sense of grieving for the ‘place’ you
have left behind and uncertainty about what the place that lies
ahead will look like, and about how long it might take to get
there!

I’d like to tell you about how marvellously I¬†pressed into God when I was floating in space… but honestly?

I spent most of my first year in the wilderness confused,
frightened and very, very angry. It took me a long time to
turn and lean on Jesus.   When (about 14 months in) I eventually
calmed down enough and was able to ask God about the blank
sheet of emptiness, he showed me something very beautiful.
wildernessRight down in the corner of the blank sheet, I saw a tiny seedling. Something growing, something completely new. And I realised that the clearing, the emptying of my life had made space for new things
that there would never have been room for before.

Eventually I learned to look at the emptiness of
my wilderness and see it differently.

Instead of endless, terrifying¬†nothingness (like my spaceman picture above), I began to¬†see it as a blank sheet of artist’s paper on which God could¬†‘start again’ and paint something entirely new. The
emptying, painful though it is, makes room for a re-filling.
As my perspective changed I saw that emptiness is full of
potential, of endless possibilities. When you start to see it
that way, it’s just about possible to surrender to it, and maybe
even to embrace it.

 

This is something I wrote which sums¬†up some of the things I learned in my wilderness. I wonder¬†what you’ve learned in yours?

wildernesspoem small
wilderness
reflect greens
For your journal: If you’re in a wilderness of¬†some kind or another, write God a letter… tell him what it feels¬†like to be in your wilderness. When we’re angry we often’punish’ God by not speaking to him. Break the silence!

Song¬†of songs 8:5 asks “Who is¬†this coming up from the
wilderness leaning on her beloved
?”

What can you do in your wilderness to lean more on Jesus, so that when you come up out of it you will still be leaning?

The Way God Moves…

OK, I’ll admit it… ¬†God doesn’t always act the way I expect Him to. ¬†His timing can be wonderful and it can be extremely¬†frustrating!

It seems to me that in the kingdom of God there’s a lot of waiting and a fair amount of suddenly. And the suddenly-stuff would often fit in neatly under the heading of¬†not-quite-what-I-expected.

We often expect our progress towards the things God has promised us to be step by step in a straightforward direction, like the pawn on a chessboard. ¬†But perhaps it’s more normal to be a bishop!

The pieces on a chess board each have their own unique way of moving.  The pawns mostly move one step at a time, forwards.  The bishops on the other hand can move right across the board (diagonally) in one move.   They often spend most of the early part of the game not moving, but can go from hiding at the back to the thick of the battle in an instant Рsuddenly.

So I’ve painted a chess-bishop this week for all those sitting on the back row wondering when God will use them and how. ¬† And for those who have heard God’s call on their life to do something, and yearn for a step-by-step obvious route to get there, but don’t see the ‘pieces’ neatly falling into place.

I went to see a school production of the musical ‘Joseph’ last week. It was great, but¬†a really odd piece of the music got stuck in my head (still there). Sung by the narrator to Joseph, hopeless, in prison:

‘strange as it seems there’s been a run of crazy dreams, and a man who can interpret could go far..’

I feel like God is drawing my attention to something here…

The line marks the moment when Joseph, alone in the prison, is about to be asked to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. ¬†It’s the big turning point in the story: ¬†It looks as though Joseph is as far as he can be from the promises that God gave him and yet there is barely time for a shave and change of clothes before he stands before Pharaoh interpreting his dream. ¬†In a matter of hours Joseph goes from prison to power, from hopelessness to walking out into the promise God had given him all those years before.

Joseph had years and years of waiting and then a ‘suddenly’.

I hate waiting. ¬†Patience is a fruit I’m yet to grow much of. ¬†But I know that I shouldn’t abandon his promises for me and my family just because His timing is not what I’d expected. ¬†So, when I am trying to work out how God could possibly give me the things I have heard Him whisper, ¬†I’m learning to remember that it may not be step-by-step in a straight line that I get there.

It might be suddenly.

 

waiting
impatiently
for a moment in battle
unwillingly
hidden
away
struggling
painfully
with unresolved promises
fighting to hear
what you say
desperately
hoping
I've not been forgotten
fearfully 
wondering why?

and  then  suddenly

Bishop FB

 

If you’d like to take this further,¬†why not meditate on and pray through Psalm 40 1:3.

Or write down in your journal some of the things God has promised you, but that you’re not walking in yet and ask God to help you to wait for them with faith.