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Posts Tagged ‘Daily Life’

Rev 3-20Well, it’s been a little while and you can blame half-term and a newly decorated and furnished ‘Office’ [once known as the spare room] for the hiatus.   We got so much done during the break but once you start in one room the knock-on effect can be slightly daunting; one room looking lovely can often mean that three others look like a herd of terrified wilderbeast have just trampled through at speed.

Holiday time when everyone is off can mean that my spiritual life takes a bit of a back seat.  It’s harder to find those windows of silence and the head-space when all around you is busy and requires your attention.   A lovely online friend contacted me about a book I’d mentioned on Instagram and during that conversation she wrote the line, “I have come to realise, though that, for me, all roads lead back to God. It’s like He won’t let me stray too far and pulls me back in if He feels I’ve wandered too far and for too long.”  I know she won’t mind me quoting this here.  We were sharing and discussing our journeys in faith and all the different twists and turns that happen along the way.  The things you try that don’t ‘fit’ or sit well, and the things you try that are clearly from God.  The quote above really made me think and is referring to the constant draw that God has on your soul or spirit no matter how busy you get or how hard you try to ignore it.  I’ve been aware of it so many times.  It’s like someone nudging you gently to get your attention but it’s persistent to the point where it just cannot be ignored; one way or another you have to address it. 

When I’ve stepped away from my faith for whatever reason there is eventually a sense of loss after a few weeks, a sense of something or someone missing.  An emptiness.  I think if you firmly decided to say, ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to God then He’d step back but as it says in Revelation 3:20,  Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.   Notice it says IF you hear my voice AND OPEN the door.  It doesn’t say, I’ll let myself in and make myself at home whether you like it or not, God waits to be invited but boy, can He knock loud at times lol.  There is also a sense of equality to the line, I will eat with you and you with me.  No one is serving, both are eating.  It makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up just reading that.

I really like the idea of God being just the other side of the door, like He’s standing guard just in case you need Him.  I find that really comforting.  He also doesn’t seem to care how many times we stray or doubt, He’s just glad when we choose to [re]turn to Him again.  Luke 15:3-7 tells us the parable of the lost sheep and the rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over the ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.  Our God is the God of second chances, of fresh starts.  He never turns His back on us no matter how long we’ve been away or how many mistakes we’ve made.  Our lives are the eternal story of the Prodigal Son welcomed with open arms, again and again.  

Never be afraid to turn [back] to God.  He is there, waiting patiently and quietly, nudging you gently to let you know that He’s standing guard over your soul, covering your back and ready to hold you in his amazing embrace whenever you need Him.   I think that’s pretty cool personally. 

Hugs

Sharon xx

 


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It’s a Tuesday morning.  School run done and car parked, I hurry up the path to my house.  Key in the door whilst shoving with one foot only to be met by a happy Honey Basset blocking my way in.   Whilst fussing her I’m hit by the lovely smell of fabric softener; clothes drying in the house, too cold outside today for anything to dry on the line.  I walk to the radio left on in the kitchen for the aforementioned Basset, and hit the Off button.  Silence! 

Coat off.  Washing-up away.  Load of washing in and set to wash, all in the space of about five minutes.  I have to be careful not to get engrossed in domestics or, before I know it, they’ve become a procrastination, a means of prevarication, a distraction.  I’ve been doing domestics since 5.45am this morning so everything else can and should wait because I need to pray. 

Matches in hand I head for the lounge to light my prayer candle which sits in my plain but beautiful St Beuno’s candle holder on my altar; I only have to look at it to be instantly transported back to that beautiful place.  I grab this month’s Magnificat and begin.  I stand in front of my altar to pray Morning [Lauds] prayer.  Evening prayer [Vespers] can happen anywhere, in my bedroom, in the car outside school, wherever the opportunity presents itself.  I pray Compline [Night prayer] in bed usually, if I can stay awake.  I am lucky that I have the time to devote to this practice at the moment.  Not working might mean less money but it has the huge benefit of being able to spend more time with God.  After praying I make myself a latte and settle down with this year’s edition of Sacred Space to study today’s gospel.  It’s a time to reflect, to talk to God and just be.  Listening.  Waiting.  [eta Sacred Space for 2019 is out now ~ click the link in the side bar >>>]

Now, in an ideal world every day would be just like today.  However, some days life takes over and prayers are missed or don’t happen at all and that’s just the way it is.  But ideally I like to be able to spend time in prayer every, single day.  Even if it’s just once for a few moments. 

Pray, I hear you ask?  Why would you do that?  It’s not Sunday, you’re not at Mass so why?  And this is a really valid and sensible question and one I’ve asked myself a lot over the last few years.  Why do I feel the need to pray daily?  Have I always done so and does it do any good?

First I feel the need to explain that I am driven to pray every day, it’s a need, a desire, almost a necessity.  If I don’t do it I miss it, something just doesn’t feel right, I feel empty and a bit lost.  As I said before, prayer doesn’t or can’t happen every day, some days I’m just either too busy [not always procrastinating with domestics but running errands etc] or quite simply too lazy.  I don’t give myself a hard time if I don’t get round to it because that’s pretty pointless.  However, I have the intention to pray every day; morning, evening and night with Mass thrown in if I get there.  It’s an act of fidelity.  The definition of fidelity is:- ‘faithfulness to a person, cause or belief, demonstrated by continuing loyalty and support.’  Prayer is me being faithful to God.  As I said somewhere else, it’s a bit like being married.  You are faithful to your husband or wife because you love them and you [want to] show that love through acts of fidelity which can be anything from a hug, a loving word, a gift, washing the dishes…anything done in love for another.  So, back to the question why do I pray?  Because I can’t not, it’s that simple.

Have I always done so?  No, absolutely not.  Certainly not in those early days but in the last few years it’s become a habit that I can’t break.  It ebbs and flows according to employment and commitments but it never completely stops.  It really is a way of life now and is vital to maintaining my faith and my relationship with God.  As my faith has grown and matured, so has my prayer life.

What isn’t always obvious to those ‘looking in’ is that this relationship is a two-way thing.  I am faithful to God and He is faithful to me.  “For the son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matt 20:28 NIV  I’m not sure what I feel about Christ serving me [that was actually a question in last Sunday’s gospel study] and I suspect that’s a post for another day, but in any event this is relationship of equals.  I can sense that all of the time.  I show up and God is always there, never late, never awol, constant and reliable.  He comforts, strengthens and guides me.

Does prayer do any good?  Hmm well that’s tricky and I can only answer for myself and from my own experience.  Firstly, it doesn’t do any harm that’s for sure and it can be very cathartic.  I try to keep a journal of personal intentions and people/situations that I pray for and I can honestly say that I often go back and find that 90% of them will have been answered.  I also find that during unstructured prayer or silent contemplation I often receive the answer to a problem or have a sense of peace about an important decision or difficult situation.  It’s nothing tangible but it’s undeniable and it’s happened too many times to be a fluke.

So, who can pray?  Well anyone obviously.  Those of faith or of no faith.  There are no qualifications required.  Anyone can talk to God, anywhere, at anytime about anything.  It really is that simple.  You don’t need all the structure and books that I use.  I use those things to keep me focussed and accountable but I also have unstructured times when it’s just me and God.  Prayer is not a ‘one size fits all’ thing.  It’s unique to each person to pray as they feel.  Sometimes, it’s just a word thrown heavenwards.  An arrow prayer launched towards God in a moment of desperation or difficulty.  It’s quite simply a conversation with God where you get to say what you want or just sit and listen with the ear of your heart.  

God bless. . .

Sharon xx

You might also like this previous post = “What is prayer?”

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between-you-and-god1

So, following on from yesterday’s post about church and possible reasons why people do or don’t attend, I thought today I’d write a little about my relationship with ‘church’ and how that has changed over the years.  Yesterday’s post might make some people wonder why I go to Mass [church] at all if I rarely find or ‘hear’ God there so I thought an explanation was in order.

Naively I always thought that people of faith just went to church and that was that.  Easy!  They might attend a church they always went to with their family or they might find a new one if they moved, but either way it seemed pretty clear and straightforward.  Hmmm lol the reality turned out to be a little more tricky than that.  To recap I received my Calling in June of 2006.  I didn’t live in MK then, I lived out near Banbury, in a little village called Sulgrave.  For three years after my calling I remained purposely non-denominational.  Partly because I was unsure what the next step was and partly because, in the May of 2007, I moved to MK.  Once here I tried lots of churches and denominations on for size.  I’d mostly worshipped in Anglican ‘pointy spire’ churches as a teen and in my twenties, which encouraged me to give that a go here.  I also tried the Quakers, the charismatic evangelical Happy Clappys and the Baptists.  All were lovely, all were welcoming but none felt like Home.  

2008 found me still without a spiritual home but there had been some defininte and persistent nudgings from God towards catholicism which horrified my mother who was a lapsed, pre-Vatican II, cradle Catholic.  Taught by nuns and raised in “fear for her immortal soul with the distinct possibility of burning for all eternity in the fiery pit”.  You can see her point but I felt things had possibly moved on by 2008 surely?  They had indeed, I found an amazing Priest in Fr J, told him I was a divorcee and he told me, “God meets you where you’re at” and before I knew it I was attending Mass every Sunday and yes, finally I felt I’d found my spiritual home.  During the Easter Mass of 2009 I was received into the Catholic church, it was beyond wonderful!!  My mother didn’t attend. 

All sorted you’d think wouldn’t you?  Well things change, priests you didn’t realise you relied on so much move to another parish.  You listen to dogmatic people and read dogmatic literature which tells you that divorced catholics aren’t allowed to take Holy Communion.  You doubt yourself and before you know it you’re not enjoying Mass anymore.  You stand there feeling a fake and a fraud.  You try a new parish and all seems fine but eventually Mr Nagging Doubt comes back and starts pecking away at you again.  Let me be clear, no one in my parish ever said anything negative or unkind to me, it was all about my own self-doubt and feeling like I should ‘come clean’ which is ridiculous given that I’d ‘come clean’ at that very first meeting with Fr J.  Admitedly there were some priests that I felt wouldn’t have given me the time of day but, for the most part, all the clergy were lovely and supportive.  What I didn’t realise was that this was between me and God, not me and the Church. 

Fast forward to 2017 and the death of my mother in the July followed by the life-threatening complications after my surgery at the end of October, and suddenly there were more emotions flying around than I could deal with.  I certainly wasn’t up for the weekly self-imposed emotional torture of Mass.  So I stopped going and the certainty about my choice of denomination plummeted.  Not so much a crisis of faith, more a crisis of denomination.  If anything, my faith and relationship with God improved rapidly and drasticly once church was removed from the picture.  That was when I realised that church, instead of enabling and facilitating my relationship with God, was actually hindering it massively but I didn’t understand why and was still too all over the place emotionally to even begin to work it out.

In early 2018 I went back to a few of the denominations I’d tried before.  I also went to Mass very occasionally, but never in my own parish, only where no one would know me.  Nothing felt right anymore and I was very lost at this point and quite sad that I’d got it so wrong.  In early June ’18 I found myself on the St Beuno’s website looking at retreats, I still can’t remember what prompted me to do that. [my photo’ at the head of the page is one I took of St Beuno’s at sunset]  It was one of those moments when everything aligns; I had the money, despite it being close to the retreat there was still a space, it fitted with Simon’s schedule, I bought the very last train ticket for that day…it just all fell into place effortlessly.  Clearly meant to be. 

That weekend was truly fantastic and marked a huge turning point. I would do it an injustice to try and talk about that here so I’ll save it for another post but suffice to say I had an amazing Spiritual Guide in Helen and I left there feeling back on-track and with a promise to be put in touch with a Sr who lived locally to me here in MK so I could talk further about my issues with attending Mass.

True to her word I had an email from, and consequently a meeting with, the aforemetioned Sr M who was just lovely.  Such a down to earth, compassionate lady with a super twinkly smile.  Very intouch with real life and she put me straight very quickly.  What the Catholic Church teaches and what happens in reality and practise are not always the same thing.  Reading a lot of dogmatic literature can be damaging.  My relationship is with God first and foremost and the church second.  The church teachings and the recent papal apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia clearly state that it’s down to your personal conscience regarding receiving Holy Communion at any time.  In my heart I think I knew all this but it was so good to hear someone actually say the words.  I felt lighter suddenly.  We also discussed the possiblity of Mass and, at her suggestion, I would try a different parish still close to me but not with people that knew me, a fresh start.  It also offered weekday Mass which was super handy for me as Sundays are often homework heavy and, if Si is on-shift, that just leaves me to help Ethan if he needs some support.  I do like a plan!!

This feels like the perfect place to leave part one.  I will carry on tomorrow. 

 

Sharon xx

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A day with Doris. . .

As most of you readers will know Storm Doris has hit the UK today.  What’s a bit of wind and water I thought [don’t go there]?  There was the usual howling around the house last night [Doris, not my husband] but then we live in an end of terrace house so that’s a regular occurrence here.  I love lying in bed in the dark listening to the wind or rain, it’s rather exciting.  This morning all looked fine, a storm in a teacup I thought, literally.  However, as I stepped outside at 6am in my nightie to go to the bin, Doris blew my nightie right over my head!!  Possibly I’d underestimated her.  Good job my neighbours don’t get up early lol. 

The trip to school was fine, just a bit blustery but the trip to work was a whole different ball game.  The car was pulled and buffeted at every gap in the hedge or break in the trees.  I could feel Doris trying to pull me off the road.  At one point something blew against the side of the car, I didn’t see it but it gave me a fright as it hit with a huge bang.  When I checked there was no damage and nothing to see in the rear view mirror so I’ve no idea what it was, some bit of flying debris I expect.

At work I was in the nursery kitchen and suddenly the huge skylight window above me just took off, blown right out, leaving us with the rain pouring in and the wind howling through the room.  That cut short the school day for our little ones, so their parents were called to collect them as soon as they’d finished eating their lunches.  Our little trampoline in the nursery garden also decided to relocate itself in the hedge.

The drive home was a ‘two hands on the wheel at all times’ event.  Doris had certainly upped her game.   Arriving home, I opened the garden gate and a scene not unlike Armageddon met me ~ it didn’t actually look like our garden.  Stuff everywhere, bins blown open and contents strewn, flower pots all over, the lids from the worm houses were blown off, shed door banging and Ethan’s basketball hoop had taken a nose dive into one of the bins.  Poor Honey was watching me from her bed looking mighty worried at what had obviously taken place in my absence. 

I’m meant to be out at a bible study group tonight but I’m probably going to give it a miss as I feel I’ve been lucky so far and I’m not going to push my luck with a fifth trip out.  On the plus side I’ve made some headway with my sock knitting in the last few days.  The evidence suggests that I’m a novice knitter. . .

. . .and here it is.  Using a 2.5mm small circular needle and Stylecraft, Head Over Heels 4ply sock yarn in the Eiger colourway we appear to have the beginnings of a sock.  All is going well so far and I’m loving knitting.  I’m knitting everywhere and at every opportunity ~ whilst cooking supper, in bed, whilst waiting outside school, when I should be doing the housework, knit, knit, knit. . .it’s addictive!!  After years of wanting to knit and months of wanting to knit socks it appears to be finally happening and it’s not as difficult as I thought it would be, so far lol…..  I’ll report back when there’s more sock to see.

Sharon xx

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Normal viewing is resumed. . .

frothy-coffee-timeGood morning lovely people.  Well it’s Monday and it’s all back to work and school. Good bye half-term, hello routine.  There’s nothing like a quick slap round the face with a bit of normality to bring you down to earth.  When that alarm went off at 5.50am all the cosyness of last week just instantly vanished.  How does that happen??  Even the cats looked a bit shocked when I strolled into the kitchen at silly o’clock this morning. 

The sun is actually shining here in MK and I’m nursing my usual frothy coffee whilst chatting with you guys.  Today holds normal stuff and I’m a girl of routine so it’s easy [if unwelcome] to slide back into the daily grind of early rise, school run, domestics, early lunch aka late breakfast [the downside to working from 11.30am to 1.30pm], work, home, school run, homework, supper ~ you get the idea I’m sure.  There’s some comfort and familiarity to be found in those mundane, routine events and I thrive on it even if I don’t always like it. 

So, I have a load of wet washing that needs some attention and some dry washing that needs relocating.  I might, if I’m feeling super brave, wash the kitchen floor ~ a week of regular traffic has taken it’s toll, ewww!!  Supper tonight will involve mashed potatoes, sweetheart cabbage and a steak pudding so I might prepare some of that before I leave for work. Whatever you’re doing today I hope you find some joy and value in it.  Have a lovely day!! 

Sharon xx

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Today’s title is actually ‘stolen’ from a lovely book by Joyce Rupp that takes you on a daily journey of spiritual growth.  I’ve had this book since the week of guided prayer that I enjoyed in June of last year.  My Prayer Guide, Margaret, suggested it to me as a means of something to continue with after our time together had come to an end.  Over a period of six weeks Joyce uses the image of a cup in its various guises to teach us something about our spiritual selves and our walk with God.  The open cup, the broken cup. . .  you get the meaning.  I bought the 1997 version of the book second hand because I loved the cover and the woodcut prints, but it’s available in a lovely new version too and I’ll put the links to that at the bottom of this post.  I didn’t actually use it last year but I picked it up a week or so ago and it’s been part of my morning ever since.

Part of the joy of this book is that you have to choose a mug or a cup to travel with you, I have a thing about mugs 😀 .  I chose the cup that I use the most, my ‘Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte’ mug. wuthering_heights_mug_new2_grande It’s not the prettiest but it is my favourite and it’s the one that’s with me most often when I’m praying and spending time with God.  I was sitting this morning with my chosen cup [full of lovely frothy coffee I might add] after my prayer time and reflecting on today’s entry which is about what the cup can teach us.  In the past I have often felt that ‘life’ got in the way of my relationship with God.  That having to leave for work or do the school-run were distractions that, quite frankly, irritated me because they disturbed my link to the divine.  As I looked at my cup I realised that although it has sides that contain and hold my spirit safely, it is also portable, allowing me to transport it with me into my daily life.  Influencing what I do, how I think, how I react.  Touching all those who enter my life, however briefly.  Faith does not have to be reserved for those quiet and often brief moments alone in prayer, at church or in the car.  Faith is ‘portable’, a 24/7 gift that is infinite and omnipresent so it doesn’t suddenly stop when we leave the house or speak to someone.  I know now that I was wrong to feel so frustrated by the interruptions of ‘life’ coming between me and God, because my life IS my relationship with God and it’s meant to be shared.

Blessings to one and all.

Sharon xx

Links as promised . . . I am not sponsored by any of the products linked below.

The Cup of Our Life, 2012 ed ~ Amazon.com

The Cup of Our Life, 2012 ed ~ Barnes & Noble

The Cup of Our Life, 2012 ed ~ Amazon.co.uk

The Cup of Our Life, 2012 ed ~ Eden.co.uk

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Sock update. . .#2

Stage one sock 1

We have, what appears to be, the start of a sock!!  I’m really pleased with it so far and the pattern has been really simple to follow.  See THIS post for the pattern.

It’s been a lovely  Bank Holiday weekend.  Lots of birthday meals out and time spent with family.  I’ve consumed far more than my fair share of chocolate too.  I hope you’ve all had a super few days and enjoyed the extra day if you got the Monday off too.

Sharon xx

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