Bon Fire Light

Last night we as a church family walked up Brimmond hill in Scotland and had our pick of firework displays all around the city.  It didn’t matter which direction you looked we could see a display!

The kids loved it as did the big kids. It was pretty cold! But really it was perfect weather conditions to see the splendor of the city celebrating Guy Fawkes night!

 The walk to the top only took about 25 minutes and some other savvy people were at the top too. We lit the way with glow sticks, glow in the dark balloons and fairy light lanterns. We were also lucky enough to have a wee camp fire and toast marshmallows !

A huge thank you to everyone who helped organise the evening, donated supplies and helped me carry the sleeping bags, wood and of course set up the evening!

Sparkler Selfie on the hill
Mini Firework over our city

One of the fun things we did aside from traditional sparklers and hit chocolate was paint with light! Hope you enjoy the photos! It’s not always easy to write backwards! Here are some of our light paintings – enjoy!

Light artists
The SBC light artists
Shedding some light, shame the g is back to front :)
SHEDDing some Light ! Haha

Jesus is our light, he said so himself! As christians when we follow him we never walk in darkness! 

John 8:12 Light of the world
John 8:12 The light of the world

Off Track..

When writing my blog posts, if I make a mistake I just tap away at the delete button and correct it. Simple.

If I am painting and I make a mistake I adapt that mistake and use it to evolve the painting. Less simple.

When fixing my car, if I make a mistake it requires more knowledgeable assistance. This is costly and complicated.

The key thing in all is acknowledging the mistake! Next comes evaluation, what to do with the mistake? Ignore it. Perhaps I should start over or gloss over it. Maybe use it?  And so action comes next. Erraddicate it’s exsistence or incorporate it or ask for help. The choice is mine to make. 

In any walk  of faith, mistakes happen. By mistakes I mean sin. Willful disobedience. If you are a Christian you know the rules, because they are laid out for you in the bible. And if you are a Christian, chances are you know when you have sinned. Acknowledging your sin, can be tough not to mention a bitter pill to swallow, but it is the first step to repentance. We are going through the  Set Apart series in church at the moment and it is exciting! It challenges you to evaluate you, without comparison.

When I neglected to trust I, I veered off the track and wrote the rambling below. I had started reacting to my own situation rather than trusting in God and His promises. 

Looking inward and assessing yourself is uncomfortable!! Searching within for the mistakes you called part of your character; for example: using your past as an excuse or letting current circumstance justify your reaction (“it’s just the way she is”), is the surest way I can think of to derail your faith.

Letting your mistakes define you is the ultimate mistake. It exposes and weakens you. The enemy constantly lies in wait, you are tiring yourself out for the attack. You start telling yourself all kinds of lies and slowly but surely you believe them. Things like resentment, jealousy, apathy, fear, self-loathing, shame, pride and hatred start dominating your feelings. It is a heady cocktail for the wrong kind of vulnerability.

I know that I I said at the beginning how I cope with my mistake is my choice and even in sin that remains true. Sin and lie to yourself about it, see where that gets you. Sin and repent and see where God gets you.

Remember, God is faithful! But, it is a choice, a personal choice. If you stumble and fall or willingly divert cross-country style that’s ok, because devine roadside assistance is free and available anytime you need it.  His mercy is new every day.

No matter how much I try  

All I do is cry

My tears unrelenting 

My soul ever repenting

I fell so empty and hollow 

Where is the path I chose to follow?

The cycle goes round and round 

I’m troubled and bound,

I’ve deviated off the track

I can’t see a way back

The fear overwhelming

These myths need dispelling

I so wanted to be the change, 

To proclaim His wonder in the strange

To call myself His daughter

I’ve tasted living water

A voice within shouts “FLEE!”

Another whispers “Come back to me”

“Only I can see you free”

Shadow Boxing

Shadow Boxing

I recently mentioned I was going through the terrible twos in my What does God sound like? post. I faltered in my faith, and pretty much isolated myself ironically to try and minimise the damage it caused but really only amplified it.

I tend to scribble, a friend calls it poetry, to get the negativity out my system. I call it my ramblings. I ‘rambled’ during a service one Sunday during the start of the service and it is below for you to read.

What is mind blowing about this, is that what I thought it was about and what it actually was about were too very different things.  Sharing it with friends, they gave me their thoughts on it and I saw the hidden truth in it. I was disappointed with God!

I’m sharing it with you because, so often we fight with ourselves. Making mountains out of mole hills.  Believing the lies we tell ourselves over and over again. Going it alone, instead of with Him. The fight is already lost if you are alone! Fact!

I’m on my knees
My knuckles are bloodied and bruised
I see my opponents boots
Dancing in front of me

I strain to hear the bell
I just need some respite
To be safe in my corner;
I barely hear the countdown

I refuse to lose and heave myself upward
I stumble and collapse again
The count down continues
My vision blurs with black and white

Suddenly I’m standing
And, I hear the bell;
The relief is immediate
I stagger to my corner

I sit and gasp for water
Only, all I receive is a punch!

A warm trickle reaches my lips
I taste of iron and recognise it.

I’m dazed and confused, I can’t understand
I’m safe! I’m supposed to be safe
I haven’t heard the bell
I’m still sitting down

I glimpse the referee again
But he seems far far away
I see the next blow in slow motion
I’m knocked off my stool

I claw at the ropes to right myself
As I rise up, I realise I’m being helped
I squint into the face helping me
I look past their shoulder

I see my attacker
I’m shocked , and lose all strength
Attacked by my own inner circle; betrayed
The crushing revelation

The roar in my ear dulls
I realise I’m cacooned in black and white
I rest my head on that collar
Tears mingle with coagulated blood

No wonder I’m losing
Almost blinded by the fight
To the deafening count of defeat
No counter move to make

The bell rings loudly
I register this bout is done
Thankfully the referee called it!
I may have lost the battle
Only to discover the war is won.

Dropping the Mask

Two years ago I was new to the fold (again). My creativity was encouraged and put to use at several women’s events at my church. I created a masquerade mask, having spent time in Venice for Carnival a few years back it seemed logical to me the mask should be ostentatious, glamourous and secretive.  As I got involved in the aim and requirements of the gathering, the conception of the mask made me think alot about social media, about projection, about being real.

Below is the mask I created for the event. I specifically used peacock feathers for the bird has an element of pride associated with it. The pearls and diamantes have a deliberate fakeness about them. I picked copper to signify how malleable our identity is to change when we personify a chameleon who has no identity! It was also key for me to keep the eyes looking hollow, I hoped to convey the despair we see when the mask is firmly in place. This was my take on the masks we put in place to hide who we really are in the mirror. The eyes are the window to the soul -right?

Fasçade: what are you hiding from?

We all create our own masks, then we project it and live out the illusion. We cover up the scars and wounds that we think define us. Take that well known social media site where “likes” are said to validate someone’s worth; as they see it. I know that I have been judgemental of a friend who dares to be honest and  actually post how they really feel! Initially my response is caring acknowledgement and a ‘comment’ or private message  a of support. However, several real posts more and I get annoyed or “like” without actually reading the whole thing! Guilty! I don’t want to have to deal with it. By ignoring them I suspect I am helping perpetuate their hurt when I really think it’s in their best interest to not indulge their dare I call it self-pity.  For  the majority of people it is about projecting the good and great in their lives. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! I just question sometimes if it is an authentic or projected reality. And sadly that is because I do not have a friendship of depth with that friend.

Then there are the forward/repost if statuses! I intensely dislike them; A: because I watch too many TED talks on algorithms, as it’s probably a marketing ploy/phishing scam/something to increase my inbox, or B: because I find being told to do something or appear heartless (my perception) annoying and I would rather not be annoying to anyone else. So I scroll past. Yet again by ignoring the post I feel I am perpetuating rather than solving the problem.

I read somewhere, I forget where, that you shouldn’t ask someone how they are unless you are willing to hear the truth.  So now I don’t ask people “how are you?” Unless I genuinely have time to listen. I’m not sure if this makes me rude or aloof or both!?!? However I feel that I would do more harm than good if I encountered someone and made them feel worse just because I’m going through the motions of saying hello. Keen to know your thoughts on this; comment below if you have any.

I digress.  Back to the mask. The mask was designed to be an interactive piece. You can see the flip side below. So here is my logic: the words inside the mask disappear when the mask is in place. However, they still remain. Embedded in the skin. You can cover it up but you cannot remove it. When the mask slips, and it always does… be that due to the heaviness of the situation or the method used to subdue it (substance misuse) or a rare moment of reality or someone; then the scars become visible again. They hurt and diminish strength.

Fasçade: what scars lie behind your mask?

In those moments of weakness, desperation, it can go either way. You could get help or spiral further. The hardest of these is of course asking for help. Admitting you are vulnerable. But you need that vulnerability to get help. It is never easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is. Authentic relationships need vulnerability. They need honesty. They need communication.

Help, in this construtive form, comes in many guises. Therapy, friendship, pastoral care, medical help and all because an authentic relationship was established. A trusting relationship that is a safe space.

Getting help with whatever you going through is incredibly brave. I salute you. But, can you imagine having peace too? No more residual hurt to upset or destabilise you? Being able to talk openly about it without shame? To not hate anyone who contributed to your suffering? Can you?

Well if you can’t the only tried and tested way I know of to heal, truly heal, is to be saved. If you can find a grain of sand space in your heart to let Jesus in then you can have healing and peace. It won’t be easy and it requires said vulnerability, honestly and communication.

Your true identity will be revealed to you in Him. No more masks required. No more hiding. No more fasçades. The scars will still be there. Be certain of that, but, they will only serve as a reminder of where you were and how far you have come. If you fall over and reopen a scar, worry not! He has got you! Just hold on tight to your relationship with Him for your life really does depend on it!

Thanks for reading this post on how my mind takes on an artwork with purpose. All thoughts and feedback welcome. Be blessed and take care of you!

Lastly, I’m thinking of and praying for all affected by and in the path of Hurricane Irma. Be safe, I pray all see God in the aid, volunteers, in the communities locally and internationally pulling together, in one another as survivors. I’m thankful the people I know in the area (4 couples) are safe. May help be given financially in aid and in prayer. Amen.

Shut up and swim!

image

Had a chat with a new friend this week who gave me the title for this post! It is a Greek saying. It made me smile, it rings loud and clear at this moment in time.

Just like my initial journey during the Dream Chase; I am at a place where quitting seems like the best option for the team and me. I have a habitude for conflict and discord. I am intolerant of people’s behaviour. I abhor conflict, so would rather remove myself from it. Dealing with it head on is my preference, but I keep thinking that would solve nothing. So here I am ranting on WordPress.

Now these are all my flaws!! They are all about my perception of the evolving situation. Perceptions change,  and it needs time to. I CHOSE to chase the dream and to be here in Greece; yet, again I find my internal conflict reoccurring quit or ‘shut up and swim’.

The last time I was in these shoes, I chose to ‘shut-up’ and it worked out despite the hurdles. Last time, the conflict went away. The relief was immense. I didn’t have to decide. This time there is more at stake. My livelihood for one. My fledgling career I. Yachting, my career development, my sanity and the list goes on.

But the stupid thing is :- I am not a quitter. I am no martyr either. If anything it makes me more determined. Why?  Because I remember that I give people the power to  make me feel inferior (Eleanor Roosevelt said that). And that is just idiotic on my part. Did I mention I am intolerant of them too?

I pray most days for patience and tolerance. So naturally I am faced with the situation to practice these qualities. That rocking sense of humor from above. I am missing home and my fellowship time. I have digital connections to home, it just isn’t the same.

It’s easy to be at home and be a good Christian. It’s not so easy here, alone. 3000 miles is a long, long way. My faith is not in crisis,  but my dream is. The invictus games reminded me “teamwork makes the dream work”.

One of my colleagues described my faith as a weakness. I disagree, and can see how I would indeed have less conflict in my life without it but I remember why I can back to God and I feel peace again, therefore still strongly disagree with them. The problem is not my religious belief it is the values and standards I hold dear and expect in others.

Yes I will have bad days and type out my resignation. Yes I will have great days filled with laughter and enjoyment. In 6 months time, I will wonder at the end of my Greecian Summer why I wanted to go home at all! I know I can’t control the behaviour of others but I can control my own.

I need to learn how to stop wearing my heart on my sleeve. Vulnerability is a good thing,  however too much makes me moody and unapproachable.  I ostracise myself from the good people and things in my life.

I chose to be a member of this team, I chose to be more tolerant and patient. I chose to try daily to try to be what a Christian should be. I chose to live by the standards and values I learned to live by but importantly to be less judgemental! And I make no apologies for the person I am but I do apologise for shutting down, and for being a ‘mare’ when I can’t be all the things I chose to be.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:5&6

To be honest…

TBH, a prefix so commonly used it even has its own acronym. I have used it and heard it more over the last few years, and it made me think ‘why do we use it’? Do our conversations with one another have a built in level of deciept or distrust or censorship requiring us to clarify when we are telling the truth? Is the truth not a given?

To be honest, brutally honest, is a concept reserved for a utopian existence. I think perhaps we are emphasizing our openness, or expressing our passion on a given topic, whilst at the same time conveying a lack of confidence in the interaction taking place due to self-censorship. I feel to be honest is now associated with negativity and criticism. It alienates and offends. When being honest you are perceived as confrontational. It is far removed from the virtue it is intended to be.

In a world dominated by social media, we rarely want to see or hear the truth. It makes us uncomfortable and irritated. To express your thoughts and feelings is socially unacceptable. Not mention the repercussions it comes with! We have all heard the expression “the truth hurts”…

It can hurt your friendships, working relationships and have lasting ramifications. This blog has been stagnant for a long while because I have imposed a publication ban on myself. The Dream Chase has been successful, I am currently in Greece living the dream. I have however published nothing on the journey that got me here because I genuinely thought that it would offend someone!  the modern world talks about free speech.  Having talked with other people, it appears not to be a mirage.  Writing about your life and experiences will offend someone, a fact! 

Since I have been out here though I have realised I’m not the only person who feels the need to self censor. When you decide to blog, it is about your opinions and thoughts, and feelings. You take into account the repercussions of family, friends, colleagues, employers and the judgement of strangers and self sensor! Is there a tactful way to write about the less favorable elements of your life without incriminating any of the above? Do you need permission to talk about your life as you see it? Are the perceived fears relevant it you commit and publish for the world to see?

So many questions. I don’t have the answers but welcome your thoughts if you are reading this. Writing this has made me wonder if the ‘white lies’ we use to nuture our relationships with are acceptable? Why? Because – the bible commands that we do not lie, to be honest, a lie is a lie; right? Also, is self-censorship unhealthy? Life goes on irrespective of the truth. I personally, prefer the direct approach, however, it has no always worked out. Hence the censorship. Life is more agreeable without the honest truth.

I find this moral conundrum interesting and note that it is not confined to Christianity. Really the lack of the whole truth is based on interpretation and perception as well as influence. We tell white-lies to prevent hurting the feelings of the people we care about. We tell them so we do not damage further the person, situation or outcome. The boundaries are shifting constantly. I don’t think life gets to be black and white. Hence the existence of white-lies.

I’m not sure I will see the ‘honesty utopia’ in my lifetime, but if we cultivated an honesty culture (like we have with quality, health & safety) we could actually be honest with each other. Practice honesty with respect and tact to cultivate authentic relationships that value your words when you speak.

I leave you with my favourite quote from an unkown author:

It s funny how everybody considers honesty a virtue, yet no one want to hear the truth”