Tag Archives: rest

Diving for Treasure

“Just throw them in one more time Mummy, pleeeease!”

I’m on holiday, so I spent the morning throwing diving toys into the pool over and over again. ‘Treasure’ for my six year old mermaid to retrieve from the bottom of the deep.

After a while I observed a technique developing. I would throw all the toys in at once, and instead of diving in immediately, my sweet sun-bleached mermaid would stand on the edge of the pool and wait for a while, looking.

Of course I asked her what the pause was for,
“Mummy, you have to wait for water to stop being wiggly before you can see where the treasure is… then you can dive for it.”

The water of my soul has been a bit stirred up lately. A load of things have had my mind busy. not bad things on the whole, but there has been a lot of end-of-term activity, a lot of summer things that need planning and a few slightly stressful jobs lurking at the back of my in-tray, and the water has become churned up. The treasure that I’ve been looking for has been difficult to see, like colorful smudges on the bottom of the pool.
so I heard God speak to me today – you really need to let the water settle.
I went back to the pool later, when the mermaid had gone inside to eat watermelon and watch High School Musical for the hundredth time, and it was still. Every toy was as visible as if it were already in my hand.

Stillness matters.

But for me, it doesn’t seem to be enough to just say ‘be still, my soul’. I actually have to do something to pull all those stirrers-up out of the water or at least to stop them thrashing about so much… So I did what I know how to do, I sat down and wrote a list of the things that help me find stillness.

Going for a walk, or a long swim
Listening to certain kinds of music
Writing a list of all the things that are stressing me, and then praying about each one.
Reminding myself that stillness isn’t a reward for those who are super good, or super spiritual, and that it is not, therefore, out out of my reach.

On building a swing

Building a swing is the easy part, the trick is in knowing where to build it:

1. Strength.  Find a tree with a branch that is strong.  You want to be able trust this swing, to completely relax in it, and that means it needs to be well able to bear your weight.

2. Space.  Make sure there is room to move.  There needs to be space to swing out ahead and space to swing back behind you while all the while you actually stay anchored in the present.

3. Perspective. Tie your swing somewhere very high up. The higher the branch and  the longer the ropes, the higher you can swing. And every time you do you’ll be able to see the landscape around you from an entirely different perspective. Truth revealed.

4. Shelter. Choose a tree that will give you shelter from the sun, there will be days when you need it.

5. Joy. As well as building your swing, make sure you take time to enjoy it. Give yourself permission to play – have fun.

Strength, space, perspective, shelter, joy.  All things to look for in a swing, and in a friendship.

For me this is a picture of what friendship with God could be like.  It isn’t always, but it could be, if that’s how I choose to build it.

I don’t know which thing you need more of in your life today: Strength to carry you, space to breathe and move, a new perspective on your circumstances, shelter from the heat or the storm or just the exhilarating joy of freedom to play.

Whichever it is, it is in God’s hand, and he would love to share it with you.

You only need to ask.

Let’s build a swing.

tree with swing

P. S. I love this comment from my friend David (incidentally, the first person to tell me I should write, many years before I was ready to hear it):

“I would add – a friend to push you, to get the swing going and to keep on encouraging you to go higher”

If you find one of those friends, you have a treasure. Choose to be around them!

a moment’s peace

I wonder how many times a day I wish I could have a moment’s peace and quiet?  Not just from the actual noise of my family, but from the things-to-do, worries, good-ideas and other thoughts that constantly spin around inside my head.

My life is inside-and-out noisy.  Good noise mostly just now, but I know from the past that grief, pain, anxiety, disappointment and not being very good at saying no to things can also cause different kinds of overpowering ‘noise’ that I eventually become desperate to escape from and utterly exhausted by.

I said I would write for the next few weeks on some of the ways that having a relationship with Jesus makes a difference to my life.  If I had to answer the question ‘What difference does it make having Jesus in your noisy, cluttered, slightly out of control life?’ – this is the picture that comes into my head:

My life is like an LP being played at full volume on the record player my dad gave me when I was 9 years old.  It’s loud with no pause button and I mostly love it, but every now and then, I come to God desperate for some respite, and for a moment he carefully lifts the needle from the record and holds me there, out of the noise.

recordplayer2

And those moments- of peace, of restoration, of rest – I could no longer live without.

The peace of being lifted out of the noise is not just silence… it’s a stillness, a quietness of heart that somehow enables me to hear the pure, clear song of heavenly places. The voice of God that can so easily be drowned out by the clamour of our everday lives, has the power to lift and restore us, to reset our perspective and slow down our anxious hearts.  Hearing it, allowing it to wash over you, leaning back for a moment into God’s arms and listening to the song he sings over you, is inexpressibly beautiful.

And after a little while, sometimes just five minutes, sometimes a bit longer, he gently lowers the needle again and the music begins to play in more or less the place it was in before. The noise resumes, but now my heart is better able to deal with it.

I know that each of you who reads this are living different, complicated, unique lives.  The noise you might need to be lifted out of might be very different to mine.  Loneliness or boredom can be just as deafening as busyness is.   However, I’m equally sure that there is noise that you need to be lifted out of and away from once in a while.

This picture is a promise to each of you.  Although the record will probably not stop turning, and your own noise may well still continue for a while; at any time you can call out to him,  and God will lift you out into this place of peace.  He will hold you so that you can lean into him, he will whisper to you in the stillness,  he will sing his song of love over you and he will restore your soul.  And then… he will put you back into your noisy world, but with the stillness of heaven in the centre of your heart.

The Bouncing Ball

In case you don’t know (having had the sense to avoid all sing-along movies for the last eighty-nine years) the bouncing ball is a little animated dot that bounces brightly along the words of a song to keep the sing-along-ers in time (and on the right word!)  It says – THIS IS WHERE WE ARE – PAY ATTENTION.

In my extensive research 🙂 I read just now that when the bouncing ball began life in September 1925 it wasn’t even animated, but a studio employee bounced a tennis ball on a long stick merrily along the words of My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean. Wikipedia even tells me that on the latest sing-along version of Disney’s Frozen the little ball has become a bouncing snowflake… *shudder* As if there can be anyone left in the world who doesn’t already know all the words…

Enough history… I don’t think God gave me this picture this morning so I could celebrate 89 years of sing-a-long movie technology…

The ball is all about focussing your attention on what needs to be done right now, on what is happening right now.  As I said – THIS IS WHERE WE ARE NOW, PAY ATTENTION.

It helps avoid confusion between that and what’s coming next, or what’s just gone. And it makes you keep a steady time.   Someone put it there, on purpose, to help you stay in the right moment.  And let’s face it, the whole thing sounds better if the vocalists are in time with the music!

To follow the metaphor, I am the kind of person who rushes ahead to the chorus instead of letting the verse play out. And although the chorus often has a better tune, the words of the verse are nearly always more interesting.

But the message I’m hearing through this week’s postcard is: Focus on the now. Don’t get distracted by the just gone and the not yet. Learn. Keep time. Find me in the present.

So that’s what I’m going to try to do.

I’m cheating a little because I wrote this poem for my very first post… but I’m all for recycling… and since I seem to need to hear things more than once, I’m going to assume that it might help you too…

I search for you:
I strain ahead to look for you
to see where we will go together
Longing to know, longing to be there, longing to see
and I just glimpse your face through the mist.

I turn around to look back
at the place I saw you last
felt your touch, saw you move, joined the dance
but it's gone.

and yet
when I open my eyes
I see you are with me now

bouncing ball feat

What about you? What is God saying to you through this picture? Do you need to rewind or fast forward to get your focus on to what God is doing now?

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

 

An invitation

“This picture is an invitation.”

I lost count of how many times I said that over this last weekend.  I was sharing postcards – pictures with a message – with the many lovely seekers-after-truth-and-comfort who visited our booth at the local Mind Body Spirit Fair.  And as I shared the pictures I’d painted, I kept hearing myself say that phrase: “this picture is an invitation”.

And I suppose that many of the pictures I paint are just that: An invitation to trust; an invitation to step out; an invitation to surrender; an invitation to love and be loved;  an invitation to ask for more…

This one is an invitation to come and ‘be’

A bench sits in a shady part of the garden.  It’s a place of peace, rest and friendship.  It’s a place of quiet and of conversation.  It’s a place for you to meet with Jesus.

Have you been there lately?

Sometimes I get so busy with life that I forget to retreat into this place of quiet with Jesus, forget to do the one thing that restores my soul and enables me to keep up the busyness.

Sometimes I’m so ashamed that the garden that is my life has become overgrown and messy that I put off inviting Jesus into it until I’ve had a chance to tidy it up a bit.

How foolish am I, that I am so busy trying to make my garden look pretty that I forget to take the time to sit down and have a cup of tea with the master gardener that is waiting for me?  How crazy is it that I stand alone, fighting to hack back the weeds with my bare hands, while Jesus stands behind me holding a scythe?

 “I’ll be with you in a minute Jesus, just let me deal with this first”

 

Here’s the news:   Once you’ve invited God into the garden that is your life  he is always there.  He is always ready to sit with you on this bench, to listen to what is on your heart -however ugly it might be- and to speak and to pour out forgiveness, restoration and love into your heart.  He is waiting.   And he already knows about the mess, the corners of brambles and weeds; he even brought a spade.  But his priority, his heart, is to take time to be with you.

 

So you don’t have to invite him in, and I suspect you can’t keep him out, but you can refuse to listen to his invitation to join him in this quiet corner.  You can be too busy, too distracted, too tired or too ashamed.  There might be a hundred and one things you think you need to get done first.

But hear the invitation he is speaking to you now:

 

come to me

 

I wonder if it would be even better to not wait until I am aware of how weary and burdened I am, but to come today anyway….

… and when you come and make time to sit on that bench,  I think he says something like this…

come in poem

 

bench

 

 

reflect greens

 

If you’re reading this post, and thinking that you’ve never invited Jesus to be a part of your life, never known the closeness of a friendship with him that is like sitting on this bench in a garden with him, please find someone who knows him and ask them how.  They will be so happy to talk to you about their friendship with him.  And if you don’t know anyone to ask, drop me a line – I would LOVE to tell you more…

 

For your Journal:  (it’s great to process things with God on paper – I can heartily recommend it)

How does this picture of a bench and the idea of sitting on it with Jesus make you feel?

What things in your life distract you or hold you back from spending time alone with Jesus?

What do you find hard about making time with Jesus and what things could you do/ put in place to make it easier?