Windblown

John 16:7 (Amplified bible): But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you].

O God, gracious One.

How often we look to You for help; to aid us in times of difficulty and confusion.
And we seek Your comfort; when life is rough and rocky.
We ask for Your strength; to carry us through our weakness.
And for You to intercede; in the battles, big and small.

You sent the Holy Spirit to do all these things.

But that is not all.

You are love. Unflinching, gritty, determined, patient, forgiving love. You love us with abandon. And all You seek from us is love in return. You desire our hearts, just as we desire meaningful relationships from those we love. You created us for this beautiful purpose. And You sent Your Spirit to us, so that we could know You, and be with You.

It’s rather too easy sometimes to forget this. To forget that You are right here and you are longing for us to be one with you. Although You are right here with us, we often wander…caught up in the winds of the world, like feathers in the breeze or leaves scattered in a gale. You never leave us. But, we forget to just be with You. Our minds and hearts adrift.

O God, I remember now. And that’s all it takes.

Here You are.
Anchoring my mind.
Nourishing my soul.

 

Jenni Craggs

A song that reflects my feelings here:

Bobby McFerrin’s “Rest/Yes Indeed”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P38-DUKB-Zk

http://bobbymcferrin.com

 

 

The journey to knowing yourself

Search me, O God, and know my heart; point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Psalm 139:23-34

I often think it would be wonderful to be eighteen again and know everything. But now I am 37 (how did that happen?) and I seem to be ever more aware of how little I know of the world and other people. But what I do seem to be getting better at is knowing myself. I think the journey to knowing yourself is one of the most difficult journeys of emotional and spiritual maturity, but when we can really face our honest fears and access our emotions — to process, rather than act out unconsciously — I think we become closer to being a Christ-bearer in the world.

My journey toward self-awareness has been aided by many tools, but one I have used recently is a little wallet card published by the AA for  a ‘daily personal inventory’.  It provides a list of possible ‘liabilities’ we might need to watch for, and a list of ‘assets’ we can strive for. It’s pretty simple, and it didn’t jump out as useful to me when I first read it. But I thought I would give it a go for a few weeks, and I must say, it has been a completely new, and uncomfortable, journey of self-awareness.

I have been trying to write about these things in a journal, and have really struggled to be honest when writing them down. How quickly I tend towards self-justification!

Now, I don’t think we need to be tearing ourselves apart and condemning ourselves here. What I am interested in is becoming braver and more honest with myself — in order to really understand my behaviour and practice a small change. For example, noting when I am being insincere, and taking a small step towards being more straightforward. Asking myself, what is it that I fear when I am insincere? And, what would take this relationship to the next level? While I feel vulnerable being straightforward, I can acknowledge my efforts to be a little bit more straightforward than before, and to notice the positive effects this has on my relationships.

As I have practiced this daily inventory, I have learned new things about myself, and experimented with different behaviours. Is this something that might help your journey to self-awareness?

Kelly Dombroski blogs at www.throwntogetherness.wordpress.com.

Wanting, Waiting, Hoping

For some time now I have been praying for God to tell me where I should be: to show me the way forward, for me and my family. I’ve wanted, so much, to feel or hear God urging me in the right direction; to have a direction.

Days have passed. Weeks and months. Trials have edged their way into my life, and the life of my family, threatening to unravel parts of us, pulling at loose threads. I have waited, hanging on to the threads but not knowing what to do with them. Unsure if they even belong together anymore.

So daylight spills into night. Darkness descending as I pray, and hope, that perhaps tonight God will speak to me in a dream, clearly and undeniably setting before me the path I should walk. Weaving the way before me…

Each morning I have awoken more or less the same, though no more enlightened.

But the Lord doesn’t always speak to us how we expect or hope.

A  few days ago, it was like somebody dropped the sewing pattern into my lap. As if they handed me a map with my own personal destination stamped brightly in the middle. And I realised that God has been speaking to me about this, often, during this time. I could almost picture God laughing gently at my sudden piecing together of the puzzle. Now she gets it.

It took a number of snatches of conversation, snapshots of memories and snippets of experiences converging to bring me what just might be a wonderful revelation. A colourful tapestry for my soul, layered and meaningful.

This journey has brought me more inspiration, understanding, fellowship and conviction than a dream, destined to fade with each passing night, probably could have done.

So I thank God for a lesson in faith and patience, and for knowing me better than I really know myself, and speaking to me in ways that touch my life more deeply, more abundantly than I could have asked for or imagined.

Now to the One being able to do exceedingly above all things that we ask or think, according to the power working in us – Ephesians 3:20

Jenni Craggs

 

Lingering in the rain

Lingering in happiness

After rain after many days without rain,
it stays cool, private and cleansed, under the trees,
and the dampness there, married now to gravity,
falls branch to branch, leaf to leaf, down to the ground

where it will disappear–but not, of course, vanish
except to our eyes. The roots of the oaks will have their share,
and the white threads of the grasses, and the cushion of moss;
a few drops, round as pearls, will enter the mole’s tunnel;

and soon so many small stones, buried for a thousand years,
will feel themselves being touched.

New Life Resolutions – Post Easter Reflections

Every year, at Easter, we Christians celebrate freedom. Freedom from the sin that bound us and kept us apart from God, and it is rightfully a big deal in the Christian calendar.

“If we have been united with him [Jesus] like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that out old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.”  – Romans 6:5-7 (NIV)

And I think this is a wonderful thing to celebrate, freedom from the sin to which we were enslaved! Yet every year, I find myself questioning the way we celebrate Easter – namely, chocolate.

The chocolate industry has earned itself a bit of a reputation when it comes to its production methods. Some of the methods for farming the cocoa bean include child labour and slavery. Easter eggs also produce a lot of waste, as tinfoil can only be recycled in New Zealand if it is clean (and let’s be real, how often do we ever have clean tin foil?).

For the past few years, this thought has been niggling away in my head. I’d feel the occasional guilt for indulging in chocolatey treats knowing that there are more ethical options out there. But guilt is not a good long-term motivator. Guilt can be overridden with excuses, or numb consciences, especially in this global industrial era, where we are so far removed from the methods of production. Instead, we need to be motivated by our faith, and be held accountable.

As my understanding goes, sin damages three fundamental relationships: Our relationship with God, our relationship with each other, and our relationship with the Earth. Just have a look over Genesis 3, where God explains to Adam and Eve the consequences of their sin. Often I find the latter two seem to be forgotten over Easter, with our focus only ever reaching our restored relationship with our Creator.

This year, I decided that I only want to consume fair trade chocolate and coffee. I am not claiming in any way to be a source of moral superiority – I made this decision the day before Easter Sunday, despite having thought about this for a long time. As I write this, there is a bowl of marshmallow eggs sitting on the kitchen table that I would really like to dig into. But I won’t. For me, this is an everyday change I can make that can maybe help me begin to restore these other broken relationships, strengthening my relationship with God as a result.

Often we make resolutions over the New Year. Why don’t we make new life resolutions as well? The Easter story is one of transformation, so let us live in a way that shows we have been transformed.

What does it mean to you to be emancipated from slavery to sin?

What’s one way you can help restore your relationship with other people?

What’s one way you can help restore your relationship with the Earth?

 

Emily is a Trade Aid enthusiast and writer who currently studies at University of Auckland. She blogs fortnightly at https://emilyontheinternetblog.wordpress.com

Rest, dear one.

Christians can be really fearful. If you have been brought up that you are saved by what you believe, then what you believe becomes a matter of angst and a territory that must be defended because the stakes are so damn high. What if you believe the wrong thing?

Let’s just remind ourselves, today, that we are invited into a relationship with God, to participate in the flow of the trinity, to lay down our burdens and rest with the great healer. You don’t have to be right. You don’t have to know everything. You can just be, in the presence of the One who is mystery, love, spirit in us.

Kelly Dombroski blogs at www.throwntogetherness.wordpress.com

‘Distorted’

“I have inherited distortion.

And so have you.

It manifests differently,

I am red, you are blue.

I am tainted and blood stained,

No identity, I’ve lost my name.

To be unveiled is what I fear.

Revealing sin that I hold dear.

It lingers, dances on my skin.

Touching, tasting, pleasure exploding from within.

It’s mine and mine to keep.

Stronghold destined for eternal sleep.

Not in Holy places I dare roam

I know that Heaven is not my home.

 

Its for real, this distortion.

And it keeps me from His portion.

But You call my name, so intimately.

And it speaks of my life and my history.

A language of intimacy only I can discern,

I didn’t have to beg or earn.

 

You pursued me with an overwhelming grace.

You emptied Your cup of mercy when you took my place.

I am overwhelmed by this radical love.

So I thank you oh God who was sent from above.”

 

  • Mel Hennessy lives in South Auckland with her husband & their three sons. She is very thankful for her wonderful whanau. She love to explore themes around personhood and identity

He is risen

The day where everything changes. Where our hope is planted.

Blooming from the darkest days of heart-torn, sky-rent sorrow.

A miracle: powerful, beautiful, touchable. He is risen.

On this day we read the story and “deep in wonder and full of joy” (Matthew 28:8) we say it again: he is alive, he is with us. He is risen.

Watch, listen, and read the scripture below:

[Video from National Geographic (via YouTube). Contents: against a dark background, a time-lapse sequence of colourful flowers opening from buds to full blooms]

Matthew 28 1-4 After the Sabbath, as the first light of the new week dawned, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to keep vigil at the tomb. Suddenly the earth reeled and rocked under their feet as God’s angel came down from heaven, came right up to where they were standing. He rolled back the stone and then sat on it. Shafts of lightning blazed from him. His garments shimmered snow-white. The guards at the tomb were scared to death. They were so frightened, they couldn’t move.

5-6 The angel spoke to the women: “There is nothing to fear here. I know you’re looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as he said. Come and look at the place where he was placed.

“Now, get on your way quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He is risen from the dead. He is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.’ That’s the message.”

8-10 The women, deep in wonder and full of joy, lost no time in leaving the tomb. They ran to tell the disciples. Then Jesus met them, stopping them in their tracks. “Good morning!” he said. They fell to their knees, embraced his feet, and worshiped him. Jesus said, “You’re holding on to me for dear life! Don’t be frightened like that. Go tell my brothers that they are to go to Galilee, and that I’ll meet them there.”

 

  • SUSAN WARDELL is a Social Anthropologist, Mother, Jesus-follower, Tree-hugger, Muffin Afficionado, and Writer. She lives in Dunedin, New Zealand.

 

The Waiting Day

This is the time of waiting, the time of not-knowing, the time of awkward looks and sniffles, and ‘maybe we got it all wrong’. Jesus – the Messiah – dead and in a tomb.

The scriptures don’t say much about what happened that day. The days between passover and Jesus’ death are filled with details of each encounter. But in each of the gospels, the day of crucifixion ends with the women in Jesus’ life quietly noting where his body is laid. Luke says that they then went home to prepare ointment and spices, then rested on the sabbath according to the commandment.

I wonder what that ‘rest’ was like. I imagine it was not a pious sitting in silent meditation and oneness with God. Impatient shiftings, rustlings, sighs, sobs and a wringing of hands which cannot work or be distracted. The mind over-active, wondering, what? why? how? what now?

It seems to me that a violent and painful death of one’s loved leader and friend would be an unbearable burden for a quiet sabbath day, where the hands must be still and the work put aside. Before video games and facebook and TV could dampen the pain through distraction.

It seems to me, however, that this enforced waiting and contemplation is not an uncommon strategy used by God in calling us into deeper relationship.

Richard Rohr reminds us that:

The surrender of faith does not happen in one moment but is an extended journey, a trust walk, a gradual letting go, unlearning and handing over. No one does it on the first or even second try. Desire and longing must be significantly deepened and broadened.

Perhaps it was this gradual letting go, this desire and longing for something else, was what happened in the time between crucifixion and resurrection. This day of contemplation, of fully feeling the pain and horror and shock and grief with no possible distraction, was not an accident.

You can see where I am going with this. We cannot fully desire and see the resurrections in our own lives,  in all the miraculous fulfillment of promise, without the rock bottom brokenness of our own crucifixions. It is really a mystery to me how in the discomfort and pain of sitting with broken dreams, terrible situations and impossible horrors that somehow our desire and longing for deeper relationship and connection with God emerges.

What is broken for you right now? Are you able to sit with it in painful sabbath waiting, with no distractions?

I pray, friend, that your patient waiting, your full experience of brokenness, your frustration and crucified dreams will dawn into a new day, where you might see the desire and longing of your heart fulfilled in the miraculous.

Kelly Dombroski blogs at www.throwntogetherness.wordpress.com

washing

A bowl

A bowl with brush

A towel

a white towel rolled upSome dirty feet

3 dirty feet

Jesus, are you going to wash my feet?

Jesus, wash it all away, all the doubts about my worthiness, all the uncertainties about my value, the lies that worm their way into my mind, wash them away.

So that I may know and believe to the core of my being that I am loved and that I belong to you.

Infinite, intimate God;
This night you kneel before your friends
And wash our feet.
Bound together in your love,
Trembling, we drink your cup
And watch.

Amen

From: A NZ Prayer Book  (2005)

Christina Baird lives in Auckland, NZ and helps those involved in church introduce change by providing coaching, professional supervision and by blogging  at bread and pomegranates