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Posts Tagged ‘Spirituality’

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I have just rewritten my Faith page.  I read it today for the first time in months [possibly years] and realised that it was convoluted and out of date so now there is a new version if anyone is interested.   Either click the pink link here or the ‘My Faith’ tab at the top of the page.

Love to all who visit here.

Sharon xx

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So, it’s Valentine’s Day and for the lucky ones among us it’s a day to share with those we love.  For me it’s not just a day to celebrate the romantic love I have with my husband, it’s also a day to tell my children that they’re loved and anyone else who I know who might need a loving message.  Let’s be honest here Valentine’s Day is not a great day for everyone.  Not everyone has someone in their lives to share today with.  We’re not all happily married or in a relationship with someone special.  We don’t all have children to love or family that we’re close to. 

It’s a good time to remember that, whether you have a faith or not, God loves you.  He loves you today, tomorrow and for all eternity.  You don’t have to earn His love because it’s unconditional and freely given through grace.  I’m always rather in awe of that . . . so I thought I’d share it with you today.

Wishing you all a blessed Valentine’s Day xXx

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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It has been a long time.  Life has moved on.  I have moved on.  A few times I nearly deleted this blog, but then. . . . I just couldn’t quite bring myself to.   I am back at work, albeit it very part-time.  I provide lunch-time cover at a school for children with severe physical and learning disabilities.  It’s rewarding and humbling.  You think you’re having a bad day and then you realise that your worst day is a hundred times better than their best day.

Ethan is half-way through his second term at our local Catholic Senior School.  For the most part he’s enjoying it and has [according to his tutor] transitioned really well but the step-up in homework quantity, compared to Primary School, has taken some getting used to.  I’m sure he’s not alone in that challenge.

Si has also got himself a new job.  His night shift at a local distribution warehouse has been cast aside for the dizzy heights as an IT Consultant, a job he did for fourteen years back in the days before he worked in education.  The hours are so much better and so is the money.  The whole nights thing is not conducive to family life or having any quality time together.  Made worse to be honest by a truly ridiculous off-duty rota that included far too many single nights off.  Anyone who’s worked nights will appreciate that a single night off is about as much use as a chocolate fireguard……!!!

My crochet continues on at a steady pace.  I’m not churning out a project a week, or even a month, but I enjoy what I do and I’ve got three projects that are all going to be finished within the next few weeks.  A shawl, a pair of socks and a blanket.  I’ll post photo’s of the finished articles when I get there.  I have however, finished Ethan’s Cosy Crofter Blanket and the photo’s of that are at the head of this post.  The perfect finishing touch to his new bedroom.

There is big news on the Faith Front and this has been one of those subjects that I’ve spent a while deciding whether or not to write about/share.  The thing that finally swung it was that I myself would have liked to have a found an article like this when I was trying to discern my religious path.  Interestingly this is not something I’ve shared much in real life apart from a strictly need-to-know basis.  It feels a little boastful and overly pious to make this public but hopefully it will help someone else.  So . . . . . .

At the latter end of 2008 [before I became Catholic] I found the wonderful community of Turvey Abbey where, for many years, I walked the path towards becoming a Benedictine Oblate.  A time of formation ensued towards taking the vows of Stability, Conversion and Obedience.   For all sorts of reasons I never took that final step to oblation.  All I can say is that it never felt quite right.  I love Turvey and the community and I still love going there, in fact it’s probably one of my favourite places on this Earth to worship, but I felt that God was calling me elsewhere.  However, it’s taken me a very long time to discern where that might be.

Somehow I felt that God was asking me to make private vows….promises just between Him and me, not attached to a charism or a community, just a way of aligning myself more closely with Jesus and hopefully bringing some of His love to all the people in my life.  Easy you’d think huh?  Hmmm well in reality, not easy at all.  Firstly, it took me a while to find out anything about private vows [we’re not talking consecrated vows of chastity, poverty and obedience here] and secondly what would that/they even look like?   With the blessing of the Turvey Nuns I gave up the Oblate path and decided to focus completely on Private Vows, asking God to guide me.  I devoted the whole of Lent 2016 to this cause not really expecting much to happen in what is after all just a few short weeks.  A good starting point seemed to be working out exactly what the vows would be.  Clearly I’m a wife and mother so chastity or the eremetic life were out of the question.  These would have to be vows that challenged me yes, but that would also fit around my family.  I also felt that they would have to benefit everyone [without exception] who touched my life.  These are not vows to benefit me, they’re for the benefit of my community, they’re to bring the face and love of Christ to all.  So, with much trepidation and the loving support of Sr Yvonne who is the Vicar for Religious and the Pastoral Administrator of my parish, I moved forward in faith and prayer.  Over the coming days words soon made themselves clear….Obedience, Simplicity…and ???  That last one was illusive to say the least.  One day I was dusting upstairs with the TV on in my bedroom and I suddenly heard the word, ‘Caring’ and I knew instantly that was the last one.  I’ve no idea if it was from the TV or God but there it was, loud and clear.  So I had them all ~ Simplicity, Obedience and Caring.  I wrote posts on Simplicity and Caring when I was discerning last year so you can read a little of the thought process behind them if you’re interested. 

I have not yet made these vows but, as we approach Lent 2017, I know that the time is right to move forward with this and I will be sure to share how and when that happens.  The one thing I do know is that it will be very private and simple.  If you pray keep me in your prayers, if you don’t, think of me kindly as I make this amazing journey into the arms of God.

God bless.

Sharon xx

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I went to Mass today at my old church, Christ the King.  It was wonderful.  I felt at peace there.  People spoke to me, people I’ve not seen in months.  They were pleased to see me.  I think I have my answer re that issue.

I have spent alot of today watching The Monastery on my little net book ~ yes, the whole series in one day 😆 .  I kind of slotted it inbetween breakfast in McDonalds, ironing, Mass and family life.  I missed the series the first time around [think I caught the last few minutes of the last episode, typical!!!] and I’ve always wanted to watch it especially as I was called to Christ during the subsequent documentary called The Convent in 2006.  Watching the documentary threw up many things for me.  One being that I cannot believe how far I’ve come in the last four years [religiously speaking].  How much I still quite obviously don’t like myself very much, sad but true.  How little I’ve come to terms with my past or even been honest about sharing that  since becoming a Christian.  Oh, except with God ~ He and I have full and frank discussions about my past but still it sits there like a big wart on my shoulder leering at me.  I am not able to come face-to-face with myself without trying to avert my eyes for fear of seeing that ‘wart’.

I know that alot of my reaction to Si’s revelation last week was due to the fact that his rejection of me just confirmed what I already knew or at least what I’ve managed to convince myself of and that is that I’m not worthy.  Not worthy of marriage, just not quite good enough.  I’m not saying for one moment that he said those words because he didn’t, not even through implication.  However, my internal dialogue tells me this every single day and then when something happens like that you immediately use it as a confirmation that yes, your internal dialogue is right and no you’re not quite good enough.

I don’t imagine it can be easy living with someone who has such a negative view of themselves.  There is an unpleasant fall-out from that.  The things Si said were hurtful and incorrect ~ that much is true.  However, my reaction was fuelled by an unrest deep within me that has been burning since long before Si even came into my life.  Probably even before I became a Christian but it’s far more high profile now that I am one.

I think I have some work to do.  I have to be able to move past this very negative view of myself in order to become who I’m meant to be in Christ.  To be able to reach my full vocation in this life before I can move onto the next one.  I’m not saying I want to feel wonderful about who I am or be full of sinful pride.  However, it would be nice to be at peace with who I am and who I was so I can move confidently onto the next stage with humility in my heart and my hand placed firmly in that of Christs.  This is one part of my faith journey I will be happy to put behind me.

The picture at the top is the Quiet Garden in the grounds of Worth Abbey which is where ‘The Monastery’ was filmed.

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I have recently been set the task of noting the times when I feel closest to God [or alternatively the times when I can’t feel Him at all?].  This task has been at the forefront of my mind for the last couple of weeks and, as with anything that you ‘have’ to focus on, suddenly a huge blank is drawn and God appears to have packed up and left for two weeks in the Bahamas.  Great!!  I’ve been left wondering whether I’m going to have any positive ‘sightings’ to report when I have to discuss this next Tuesday ~ it was all looking a bit negative until……..

….Wednesday just gone [16th June] I had a very early [8.30am type of early ~ ouch!!] appointment at the Breast Care Clinic here in MK for an emergency mammogram.  Now, I don’t need to describe in great detail why I was there ‘cos I’m sure you all know as a largely female based readership.  Do not alarm yourselves, this was purely as a means to rule out the dreaded C before other tests/treatments can go ahead.  So, I arrive promptly and walk into a clinic full of women only to realise that I was the only one there on my lonesome.  Everyone else had their mother, daughter, partner, friend or husband with them for support.  I hadn’t been at all worried until that point but suddenly I was just a bit shaken and wondered for a moment what if?……………

I sat down and as always chose a seat where I could people watch.  I’m terrible for doing that and seem to subconsciously choose a vantage point where I can see everyone in the room if at all possible, be it a pub, restaurant or waiting room.  I gathered my thoughts and cast my gaze around the room.  I was hit by a very humbling scene ~ the room was full of faces filled with sadness, fear, anxiety, trepidation.  From those who came in support there were comforting looks of love and affection, sending quiet courage to those in need.  The silence was deafening as no one really spoke but the silent conversations were perfectly audible and oh so clear.  Suddenly I could see God everywhere ~ in that look of love, that comforting touch of one hand in another, that arm around the shoulder, in the warm smile of the nurse who called the names and in the parting kiss as the women were led away one-by-one for their respective treatments. 

Could everyone or indeed anyone see/feel God there as I did??  Or were they [understandably] blinded by their fear??  For me that fleeting moment of fear as I’d entered the clinic had brought God clearly into view and left me able to see Him making himself available to all those in need there that day.  I was instantly reminded me of this passage from this post

“You see, our problem is that we imagine it is we who have to look for God and so we easily lose heart and give up.  In truth, it is the other way around ~ God is always looking for us.  The mystery of faith is that we pursue God only because God has first put this urge within us.  It is God who gives us the grace to seek him but all along we are being sought by God.”      Bible Alive, Lent 2010: p36

So, I have my answer I think ~ the times I’m closest to God are the times when I actively seek Him because He is always there just waiting for me to [re] turn to Him.  Yes, He is there in the quiet times and those times of perfect, unspoilt beauty such as the first snowfall or a glistening rainbow but, let’s be honest here, it’s easy to feel close to Him then when all around is just feeding your spirit with good things.  It’s in times of angst and difficulty that He tends to be less obvious.  Prayer should not be a last resort when all around is chaos, it should be our first line of defence.  I too would do very well to remember that.

Just to add that I was given the ‘all clear’ and discharged from the clinic.  I left there feeling very blessed and have prayed fervently for all those who quite obviously were not so fortunate that day.  May God be a tangible presence in all their lives.

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