Halloween and other things…

I’m in danger of ranting here, but I’ll try and get a grip a little bit…

I’ve seen so much rubbish in the way of ‘opinions’ over the last week or so on some topics such as Halloween, abortion, alcohol, transgender/sexual issues that it’s really starting to get to me… I’m beginning to think I should really limit my viewing of social media…

Firstly, Halloween, this is always a funny one with Christians. But the latest is to claim it as a ‘Christian’ invention…try reinvention. And it isn’t, not really, unless people celebrating with haunted houses, huge macabre parades, images of witches, zombies, dead people, celebrating ‘Samhain’ (look it up) doing ‘fun’ Halloween games which are actually occultic means you are celebrating Christ. It’s a full on Halloween fest over here especially.

I think one of the reasons I’m getting wound up is that I am sick of Christians making excuses up to do stuff they really shouldn’t be doing and then getting mad that they’re being ‘judged’. Or, that somehow your kids are ‘missing out’ if they don’t take part?!! I’m not going to quote scripture about the occult, but it’s clearly wrong to celebrate darkness when you have the light. And before the ‘you’re giving Christians a bad name’ people arrive, no, we are not afraid of Halloween, we give sweets out if people call round, I’m all for alternative parties if it gets people off the streets, we don’t go around with a permanent disapproving puckered look, we just know, that the way it is celebrated is not of God. (if I ever change my mind I will let you know, but it’s unlikely). Also, all this about evangelism/getting to know the neighbours opportunities, I’m all for them, but I don’t particularly think it’s an any better opportunity than at any other time of the year.

Interesting fact, as opposed to all the comments I’ve read from Christians who seem to think it’s ‘just a bit of fun’ and want to do it. I used to celebrate Halloween as a non Christian, I loved it, I loved dressing my daughter up, putting blood all over her face, doing the turnip, which then became a pumpkin when it all went posh.. then, when God saved me, I gradually just naturally grew to hate it. I take that as a natural Holy Spirit progression and am going with it. Also, for all the ‘it doesn’t lead into the Occult, it’s just a bit of fun’ people…do you really know that? It doesn’t lead to experimenting when children are older? it doesn’t lead to the opening of young minds to the darkness? I am going to be open with our kids as to why we don’t like or celebrate it and talk about the origins etc as they get older. But celebrating it? I don’t think so. Hopefully, they’ll realise fun doesn’t have to involve doing what everyone else is doing.. They’ll hopefully also understand that there are powers of darkness and people who actually enjoy dabbling in them, practicing them and they are not to be entertained. They’ll hopefully also understand at the right time, that God is all powerful and far more exciting than this..

I know this post will not be liked by some, and I understand that, but frankly, I’m past that. I understand the ‘celebration’ but am very fed up of Christians just going with stuff that they may not be called to go with. Redeem it, change it, whatever, but don’t claim it as Christian as how it currently is. We are directly responsible to God for ourselves and our kids, just think and pray before you act, that’s all I’m really asking…. Stop thinking about how the world perceives you and think about God and what is actually important. We are not called to be cool but to be obedient and to love God with everything we are and have. I also know we are all ‘works in progress’ but the comments I’ve seen are mainly from so called ‘mature Christians’. And no, this isn’t legalistic…

Amen!!! I could go onto the other topics, but I am stopping there….

It’s nearly winter again!

It’s absolutely beautiful here at the moment, cold, but beautiful. In December we will have been in Ireland for a year.

There’s loads to do in the garden and a load of strimming, the last cut before the winter. It’s become apparent that doing all the strimming as well as working full time and doing lots of other stuff in the house, is just too much for Chris, time wise as well as physically, so I’ve volunteered to be chief strimmer (I love doing it) and Chris has fitted me into the harness and shown me how to use it. I’ve only done it once so far, but am raring to go. I need to make the most of rain free days. It also feels really good to do something physical.

The strimming is actually the glamorous bit though, because there’s a load of weeding to do too, in the flower garden and where my veg patch was. It’s on your hands and knees in the wet, wet, soil type weeding, whilst keeping an eye on the kids. I did a bit yesterday, but I need to do a lot more. So it’s one of those just do it, make a choice to enjoy it type jobs really. You can learn a lot from gardening

In the house, It’s been bank holiday weekend this last weekend (yes we get an extra one) and Chris has almost finished tiling the dining room floor. He’s spent about three days on his knees, as well as a full weekend a couple of weeks ago and has done such a good job. It’s going to be so good practically and it’s going to look brilliant when it’s finished. Interesting fact – we chose the same quarry tiles that we had in our old house. We felt it suited the cottage, it was built around 1900 which was also when our terraced house was built.

Doesn’t look very glamourous from the photo, but life isn’t about looking glam..! (wait til it’s cleaned up too.) Chris is really good at doing work like this.

There’s loads I could have spoken about, so much has been going on in both Ireland and the world recently…but I’m choosing today to focus on the house because it’s been so long since I’ve updated and because the topics have probably also been done to death elsewhere…

On a separate note, I’m going through a reading phase, in the past couple of weeks I’ve read ‘The heavenly man’, ‘Run, baby, run’, and ‘God’s Smuggler’. There’s no words really, reading real life accounts about people who’ve put their lives in God’s hands and what he has done. Reading about Brother Yun, in the heavenly man, the suffering (and potential death) and his willingness to face it for Jesus. Andrew going behind the Iron Curtain and the trust in God to provide and protect, Nicky Cruz, who was so messed up, a bloodthirsty gang leader, becoming God’s and then following him, reading about his redemption, hearing his journey in a truthful way… Straight forward, non frothy, real faith and a willingness to do anything and experience anything for God. Breathtaking.

When someone dies…

Another one I’m not sharing on face book etc. I don’t think…

I’m currently sat here watching ‘the great British bake off’ with my youngest. Eating salted peanuts and feeling a little sorry for myself. It’s quite nice really. I’ve got a cold, so I’m allowing this today…

Anyway, doesn’t life get thrown on its head when someone dies? I don’t know if it’s the same for most people, but I’ve found, particularly when my dad first died, it throws up all sorts of thoughts. Some of the main ones for myself were regarding life and stages of life. How bizarre and short it actually is and that we are going to actually spend most of time in eternity, not here. So why are we here? I’m not going to answer that one other than there is purpose, of that I’m sure. We are made by God and for God, of that I am also sure and He is a good God. It’s a funny old life. But there are joys everywhere as well as sorrows.

I started looking at my kids and thinking about how my dad had once been their age (and wondering what he was like) and then at ourselves and thinking, he was our age too… then looking at the children again and thinking, they’ll probably be old one day, they’ll die too, and it’ll pass so quickly, even if it doesn’t seem so at the time. Also, how we all have to die and go through that process.

What is life about? I can tell you now, it isn’t about eating and drinking and what you can get out of it in a selfish, all about us sense. That stuff, even me sat on the sofa eating peanuts, doesn’t make us happy. It’s allowed and it can be nice and food can most definitely be a joy and a blessing…but It’s not what we’ve been made for…we are made for God and by God. And until we come to Him we will always try and stuff our lives full of things and ‘causes’ in search of our meaning.

Life is short and unpredictable. Live your best life, seek God, seek His will and His way. Seek out the good that He has for you, the talents He has given you, seek beauty. You were made you for a purpose. Be the you He made you to be. Don’t be anything else, don’t waste your time trying to be someone you are not. You were born to be you. Simple is good, remember that. The only way you can know you is through your creator.

He loves you.

Personal

This is quite a personal reflection/prayer and I’m not sharing it anywhere apart from here. It’s just something I wrote this morning to God. I often write to God. I find it works well for me.

I miss my dad, Lord.

I see his face, his presence, hear his voice, and I want him to still be here.

Its not right that he isn’t here (in my finite mind).

Please can I see him again in heaven? Please.

I miss him so much.

I wish I had a letter from him.

I wish I’d known him better.

I wish I’d loved him better.

I can’t believe he’s dead in some ways.

I suppose that is because eternity is written into the human heart.

Thank you.

Amen.

These are a few of my favourite things!

A friend said quite a while ago now (in May I think) ‘have you listed your 10 favourite things?, it’s a really good thing to do’. I thought about doing it and wrote a couple of bits, but then left it. They mentioned it again when I was last in England, and I thought today, I’ll do it. He clarified it as things you are grateful to Him (God) for – ‘just recall your childlike happy moments. That explanation really helped.

I’ll give a couple of mine, not all of them. Then I’ll tell you what surprised me about it.

1) lying in the sun on the beach/outside with my eyes shut. Listening to the sounds around.

2) wandering around on a nice day, just being, watching, listening.

3) the bedroom at night, when it is dark and quiet.

Simple things, that I’m grateful for and love. There’s many more. Although beef crisps are on there too…. Some are slightly more energetic and there are more than 10. It’s weird but I feel like it’s starting to change my thinking..

What surprised me was it made me really think about what I actually do like/love/enjoy and it wasn’t any of the stuff like Facebook, using my phone, tv. Running around doing activities… Some of which I do, a lot. It probably shouldn’t surprise me but it has caused me to think quite deeply over how we spend our time. When I say we, I’m mainly speaking about myself and the children.

It was a really good exercise to do. Questions I suddenly had for myself were, are my kids being given the opportunities to simply ‘be’, to play, to enjoy the simple things in life. Things that we maybe took for granted growing up, but aren’t always there now. Things like time… with people, with me, and to be by themselves, to explore and experiment, to simply be our/their selves. I also think that sort of lifestyle can open you up to God, hearing Him and becoming aware of Him. I was listing things that I enjoy, simple, lovely things and was aware that I don’t do them very often! So my kids probably aren’t either.

It may look like an idyllic life for the kids here sometimes but you really don’t see the full picture and the TV has been on a lot since we’ve been here. It’s been stressful and there have been periods when it hasn’t been good. (Interwoven with good of course). There are choices to make and we can make good ones or bad ones. How we spend our time is probably a good topic to think about.

It may surprise some, but I’ve been thinking about quiet a lot since we came here. Almost craving quiet times and silence. I love silence, even though it isn’t actually silence, it’s so full, so God filled. So beautiful.

The start of the poem Desiderata kept coming back to me the other week “go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence”. I think it is possible to have a life that is not completely rampant with ‘stuff to do’ and schedules and worry, governed by business (and other people’s business), I really do. I don’t mean people shouldn’t work, or prioritise, or do lists (I really like lists), we should, I just think we could look at our lives differently and maybe look at what is good for us, ask ourselves tough questions on what actually does fuel us and what is good for us and take it from there. How has God made us to be? Make some space to hear what is really important. Just be us. Learn to be in the moment.

God also gives us peace in the midst of anything and everything if we come to Him.

In Philippians 4:4-7 it says this:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

So it seems like it’s a sort of exchange really, tell God everything, ask for what you need, thankfully, in fact when I looked up supplication it said it meant ‘the act of asking or begging for something humbly or earnestly’, and He will give you peace you do not understand. Is that not one of the best exchanges ever?

Bye! Do your favourite 10 things list if you’re so inclined..if not, well, there’s other ways for God to talk to you.

Peace in the storm..

Topical! Hurricane Lorenzo is currently doing the rounds in Ireland. I don’t think we’ve got the worst of it, the West Coast will probably get that, but it is very windy and I watched the rain descend from the hills this morning. I love that part about living here.

Since living here, there have been all sorts of feelings and real practical things we/I have had to deal with that we have found difficult (I can only speak for myself really, (Cathy) but I do know Chris has had different challenges). I’ve mentioned many of them as I’ve gone along on my blogging journey but not all, as some are private. The main ones that I have seen have been that moving somewhere completely different often firstly brings out the worst parts of you in to broad open view….because things that make you stressed/worried/frightened are there and cannot be avoided. If these are then brought to God and submitted to Him, I’ve found that they then change into better areas and God changes you, sometimes slowly, but He does and the situation under His guidance suddenly doesn’t seem as bad.

It’s really easy to lose perspective too, lose the reason why we are here, to get super submerged in ourselves. But you know what I find, we love God and really want to be submitted to Him and when you love God and want Him to be in control, He tends to work through these things, ungodly though they may be to start with.

I’m being a bit vague, but it doesn’t really matter. I’ve had some really basic things that scared me, such as venturing onto the pre-school premises and getting a place for J, but I did it and it was fine. I got quite scared and wanted to hide for a while when we first came, but it’s starting to change. There are other things that worry me now, other, bigger, things.. but I am learning more and more to submit them to God and to trust Him, because there is no other way basically. I know He is good, I know He is there, I know Jesus died for me and rose from the dead to give me new life and a relationship with God. I know I have God’s spirit, the Holy Spirit to guide me and help me at all times and I know I so often fail, but his mercies are new every single day and Jesus died for every single sin we commit, past present and future. You can have this too by the way, it’s not an exclusive club…

I LOVE this quote a good friend sent me quite a while ago now:

Do not concern yourself with what might happen tomorrow. The same everlasting Father who cares for you today, will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations. (St Francis de Sales).

So true, I have personally found this quote combined with scripture and chats with friends extremely helpful. My life is not my own, I am seated with Christ in Heavenly realms, I was bought at a price and that price was Jesus. Jesus is our peace, nothing and nobody else will suffice.

Another beautiful day

Two things I want to add about yesterday’s blog. I was going to write more on them but I’ve decided not to…

1) Pressure can also be a catalyst to change…therefore, not always bad…

2) Criticism is not the same as truth, you can tell the truth and it is not criticism.. Truth is truth by the way, it is not one truth for you and another for me.. all truth comes from God.

Thankyou, my plan yesterday was to continue today and then go onto a trust post and a couple of others but it’s changed for now.

I think I’ll just share a few photographs from today. We had a look at a little place called Cormongan Pier. It’s literally a few parking spaces, a tiny bit of sand, a ramp and a little pier. From what I can gather, people do wild swimming here too. I can see why, it’s absolutely stunning. We’re meant to be getting a storm tomorrow – ‘Lorenzo’ – so I did wonder if today was the lull. Lough Allen was so still and quiet and beautiful.


Pressure…

Pressure, whether real or imagined is a horrible feeling. And the same feeling I would think, wherever it comes from, and who is to say what is real and what is imagined in this realm of feelings…who, apart from God really I think…

I find there are so many pressures in this world that make me feel uptight and get a ball of squirmy horribleness in the pit of my stomach. (and don’t tell me I’m the only one, because I know I’m not.) I was about to write that there are real and valid pressures such as child rearing and general responsibilities, but I thought again and thought, no! they aren’t actually meant to be pressures, but actually joys. Maybe it’s the perspective that is so often off.

My own pressures that are definitely not of God are (as far as I’m aware, I’m sure there’s more): the pressure of what people think, living up to what I ‘think’ they expect of me, the feeling that I definitely fail on everything all the time (especially parenting) and fitting everything in, whatever ‘everything’ is. I even find in Christianity (and secular) circles that scrolling through say Facebook or Twitter, you get bombarded by what is expected from you and thousands of ‘opinions’. I’ll be honest, I find it very stressful.

The simple fact is, I actually don’t have to get stressed or worried….God’s word (the bible) is explicit in this, but people (including me) so often simply do not help in these matters. We either validate and say ‘oh I know isn’t it dreadful’, or we criticise, especially in the realm of parenting…(in the realm of anything really) and mainly just to make ourselves feel better…or we ignore any feelings instead of acknowledging them and bringing the person or ourselves back into God’s word and will. Please stop. We are not here to criticise and put down, we are here to help. To submit to Christ..

I need to get back into God’s word…who is with me?

This is psalm 119 verse 105. It’s a long and beautiful psalm. I love how honest the psalms are.

See you soon, or at least write soon.

Cathy