Generation of Joy


Is joy born, generated or created? Does joy exist only as one of the emotions? Or does joy exist in its own right and then, a ‘window’ in our soul opens and we perceive it?

I think maybe at least sometimes, it surprises us, thus our perception is that it exists in ‘kairos’, which we suddenly enter, apart from ‘chronos’.  C S Lewis’s  Narnia Chronicles illustrate the reality of truth as being independent of chronological time. I don’t really ask in order to introduce some philosophy on joy, rather, to explore common ground. Is this an experience you can relate to? – Being surprised by joy? C S Lewis wrote a book about it and he seemed to think so. Common ground.

I was not feeling especially joyful as I gathered poppy petals to press in the stream of pleasant jobs there are in preparing for a wedding. I have referred to this preparation time and why I’m writing about it, in previous posts. I felt simply calm, perfunctory as I laid the petals out after collecting them, onto papers where they’d be pressed flat under a rug between sheets of paper. Quietly, with a cheeky wink of innocent mischief, Joy came in, as a sister might, and sat on the floor beside me. The colours of the randomly laid petals were intensely beautiful, regulated in spacing to maximise the available pressing area. But there was an explosion in my senses that sparked a memory of an art exhibition of filmed explosions of floral arrangements. The exhibition was called ‘Flora’ and held in the Arts Centre in Aberystwyth in the summer of 2016. Common ground there is in simply exploring juxtapositions of flowers, their colours and how they impact us, disassembled, or even exploding!

I am preparing for the moment in a few weeks when these petals will be showered over a newly wed couple. It will be an expression of joy shared, love poured out with the blessing of family and friends when we, as parents, will let go of our respective ‘children’. Simultaneously, two individuals will be joined as a new unit. We will be illustrating joy with the tumbling of broken flowers.

Although this will be the end of the poppies in their natural form, the joy we celebrate when we throw a confetti of petals is for the marriage itself and what will be generated by this union. Parents in letting go of one child receive back two, with a different set of boundaries and responsibilities towards the couple from those that they relinquish as their son and daughter marry. The new couple will be exploring, evolving, generating new responsibilities and boundaries, and assuming some existing relationship ideas,  as their marriage strengthens. I anticipate it will be blooming marvellous, if  at times, a tad messy!


Reject or Project?


This is another of my social experiments!

That’s how I used to see what happened if…. The ironing pile grew bigger or diminished    when labelled as a numbered ‘social experiment’,  Another example might be the bowl of uneaten breakfast cereal left on the kitchen work-top. Either you skivvy on and on, picking up all the things that nobody wants to deal with or you let everyone know that you’ve noticed and all you’re doing about it is seeing what they think their role might be when action is required… What were the results of these experiments? The ‘collective consciousness’ (to borrow a phrase from Nicholas Wolterstorff, I think,) of the family was “The experimenter’s tolerance level is less than ours. Do nothing (usually for months, if not years) and she will move the bowl of rotting ‘rice krispies’ herself.” The thing I learn’t from the general body of these experiments was not to do them. The tension and objectionableness of waiting for a positive result wasn’t worth the price it would have cost (me) to have dealt with the ‘test material’ e.g. unwanted cereal, unposted phone bill payment, pile of THEIR-clean-dry-folded-and-ironed- clothes-not-yet-put-conveniently-in-their-drawers-for-THEM etc! To accept that (I am) the skivvy; the person who wants to establish minimum standards and maintain them while nobody else is bothered either way would have been the less painful course of action.

What is this experiment about, then?

I want to explore, and to embrace rejection. ( Like I want to dive, ever again, into deep, clean, cold water, so pure and so uncompromising in its iciness that surviving and breathing through the shock of it consumes every neurone of consciousness) Could this be a project more worthy of pursuit?

What I’m recalling here is that rejection HURTS! Why do it?

Because love travels with the rejected through to wherever that journey leads. Not to is desertion. Ask any soldier or a hero or heroine of your choice. I recommend the story of Naomi and Ruth, off the top of my head. And we have all travelled that route whether we wanted to or not. As the object. The Reject.

Now how does that feel?

Go on recall it. Unrecognised? Misunderstood? Undignified? Have you since thought of what you wish you had said? Restored your pride with a flourish? Better that you didn’t.

This is just a random flow of exploration. I recall a letter I had from a conservation body. An organisation I had catalogued in my mind on the basis of a few random experiences, press releases and so on. They were demigods. I had an interview to work for them. A dream opportunity. You’ve probably guessed! No I didn’t get the job, but instead of thanking me for considering their post a worthwhile way to spend my time over and above raising my 18month old, they sent out letters saying that nobody had been selected for the post because all interviewees had been of such a low standard that they would have to readvertise. Well they failed to reach their objective as much as their interviewees did, then, no?

Ridicule. Age 8 or 9. I’ve seen it happen and experienced the withering scorn; public humiliation of a child because the teacher failed to see the vision as expressed in the work of the child who failed to see the unspecified expectations of the teacher. That is just abuse of power. Milstones round their necks! The millstone? Hewn from self-importance.

Sounding a bit familiar, now. Isaiah 53. I have drunk in some of the verses therein. Tears of relief and grief the chaser. Because whether we beleive in HIM or not, we believe in what he stands for here. The misunderstood, rejected (by fools), noble, worthy, loved and accepted (by Wisdom) one. Why so familiar and so loved until we are the ones who are blind and despise and mistrust? We repay rejection or misunderstanding with the same rejection. We are guilty. We are too small and feeble to accept, to embrace, to resore. By the same token that we did it to the least of one of these, when we fed or clothed or gave them a drink of water, did we not also when we rejected one of his little ones not also reject him? If he has given citizenship to any, who are we to turn them away at the city gates of our hearts, if our hearts are indeed his territory? That is why he had to do it himself, take the rejection so utterly upon himself. Ultimately, in his house, with many rooms, there is a place for all who accept him. We will not have any just objection to their presence!

The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone. Of this same, many roomed mansion?

Was it not so smooth and regular as the other stones? Did it go against the criteria of good stone selection according to the guild of master masons? In accepting how good are we at running with the unfamiliar, the irregular and the non-conforming?

To be rejected is to be at the frontier of redemption. It still HURTS.

This is an ongoing project.

I have listened hungrily to a song by the blessed ‘Rend Collective Experiment’ hoping to have a reality transfusion for some people I love from this truth into their lives, as yet an unanswered prayer;

‘ My Future hangs on this,

you make preciousness from dust,

please don’t stop creating me.’

Are we in our ‘seeing others as dust’ mode or have we seen their unique and stunning preciousness yet?

Visit To Newcastle

Re: The two things you asked me, Tidge:

Firstly: What was I praying, Sunday night?

I had just spent the whole weekend having a tour of your new life; an ‘open day’ view of Catie in Newcastle. OK, yes, it had it’s glossy aspect; I didn’t have to attend a lecture and do one of your assignments! Nevertheless, we had a taster of the places, the people, the number of things you do, and how often, hearing of the many mornings a week getting up early to go to prayer meetings, amongst other regular slots. It wasn’t hard to imagine the late noisy nights in hall, at the other end of the proverbial candle, as you gigglingly returned the broken table leg to it’s hiding place in the kitchen cupboard. We did muck in with cleaning up  ‘polystudent festidensis’  in the communal area! This experience admittedly being considerably more rewarding, on meeting some of your flatmates, than the Damien Hirst ‘installation’ we viewed earlier in the weekend.

So, by Sunday evening, I felt I’d built in my mind, a well illustrated resume of your first term and a half at university. It was impressive. I compared the wholesomeness of your student life with what mine had been at roughly the same time. There was no comparison. I had a quick ‘fast forward’ impression of both our lives, and of mine since, as obviously, I have a lot more years on record! Suddenly I recognised that I could ask for more potential to be fulfilled and released, in my life. It was the starkness of the contrast, having seen myself at 19 and then you. So I just wanted to have more readiness, higher expectations of myself and life, less worry that I was unworthy, inadequate, rubbish…more grace outworking, more reliance on Jesus and therefore resiliance. I was celebrating all that God has been able to pour into you and through you, all the life that has flowed and all the rhythm that has been swelling the glorious heartbeat of heaven. This probably sounds crazy to you but I don’t know how else to put it into words. I was celebrating and yet suddenly dissatisfied with what I believed to be consequences of my broken and confused eruption from a sense of powerlessness, being passive, having an ignorant acceptance of the inevitable to insecure, somewhat rejected but nevertheless independent existance. I had such a long way to go, didn’t I? And I am glad that God has brought me this far. Yet I believe there is still much more! Life is full and I am very blessed, but during that worship I suddenly wanted to live more! So I placed all that before the cross. The past is dealt with, no more tears over that, at all. What I put before the cross was my whole history as a context, as if it’s a sealed unit. My now also, and myself. ‘Take me all: I want transformation beyond what is humanly possible.’

I have filled out what I actually prayed because when sharing this with another, so much more qualification and explanations seems to need to be given.

As I said when I was summoned by Mark, we sang the line…”my life is in your hands”… I was all the while participating fully in the worship. So I knelt down, because it was like a compassionate..”OK, I hear you,” from the father.

And secondly: What was prophesied over me?

Mark saw an annointing on me, and said he had seen it from the beginning of the evening. He saw the word ‘Deborah’ over me. He saw that there is a ready warrior in me, and related the example of Deborah agreeing to lead the Israelites into battle when a man would not go. So Israel was delivered into the hands of a woman that day. He saw that the specific area that I would stand against was the occult. I would not be alone. He saw it was as if I was walking down a hill and witches and demons were fleeing, and I was surrounded by angels who would protect me. (Quoted about the angels who encamp around the righteous.)

When he said these things I was not too grateful! I didn’t really want to have to go any where near the occult! Such a ready warrior!!! However, I will let it sit in the scales of my spirit and let it be weighed before the Lord. He prayed that whatever was not of the Lord would be forgotten. I think the bit about being a warrior is probably true. I have a spirit that becomes indignant for the things of God, especially his people and especially if I think they are getting spiritual attack…so….

Then I heard from Jenny, (I am grateful that God gave Jenny sight of my broken and softer side). She saw me in God’s hands. (C:) His hands were cupped all around me. The picture became even softer than that. As if I was in a womb, so fully surrounded and in such a place of sanctuary and safety and protection. It speaks into my spirit of acceptance as a wanted child also. Very healing.

So these are your questions answered. I hope that I have explained well to you, especially the first bit, but I fear the first bit will get a bit lost in translation.

Free top up

It was the night before last when I went out to pray and run again. The Chippy was very good about me leaving only a short while after he came home from Cheshire, he was even pretty cool about having to cook his own supper after the long drive.

The going was harder on 2 meals of chips! I made too many the night before when Ian came for supper so I had half the left overs for lunch and the same again for supper! Still, I didn’t seem to take much longer and it’s great to just have the time to be before God, to praise him, as the stars begin to twinkle and the farmers are driving home after their last chore, squeezed in during the last hour of daylight.

I began intercession with Cara and Timothy. Asked God to show me what he has on his heart for them, and I think one of the answers was himself, his loving ever present fatherhood. Knowing their circumstances, this should seem obvious! Anyway, I prayed for all the foundational important understandings of a father to be given them, at the right time, gently and certainly. Thanking God for his amazing love, understanding and wisdom. He is so infinitely good. So I prayed that they would look to him more and more as they grow and learn to know him, be dependent on him…just carried on in that vein for a while, had a great sense of the importance of his presence in their life and how beyond my words his love for them goes!

The Chippy, whom I don’t pray for as thoroughly as I should, because I get complascent, taking his welbeing for granted. This is so wrong, and then I want to pray big amazing incisive prayers but I don’t seem to know what..I should ask God why this is…Note to self next prayer run time. Did the perfunctory prayers, trusting God to ensure he gets what he needs despite my deficiencies.

Seems much easier to pray for the Cherub and the Tidge. Flows easily with their horizons so wide and their lives before them. Just keep them passionate for doing your will, Father, keep them so close and right in the centre of the fountains of heaven’s blessing, by their own choices to honour you, obey you in service and gratitude for the life you have for them. Thank you for their close friendship and and guide them as they enter these new chapters in their lives. Let them know your closeness all the time.

Prayed for Marianne, asking for her to keep looking at the truth and to know your freeing power. Prayed that the enemy would not be stealing her inheritance and freedom in Christ. Prayed for her to have good friends around her and to find strength and mercy each day. Break the circle of destructive thoughts in the name of Jesus. Be the lifter of her head. Thank you for the woman of God you see, Lord when you look at her, and for your delight and joy you feel when your eyes are on her. Truth and freedom and release, God you have it all and so want to give it to your children! Amen.

Did a fairly quick naming of other little ones before God, but focused especially on Louisa and Polly and their parents. Asked you to help them see you are not just a nice polite old God pleased with good, well brought up children and not very interested in the scruffy ones that swear and live in rough areas! Oh Thankyou God so much for being so utterly wise and loving all people without our human blinkers. Please just day by day show us more deeply how you love and what you are like. Thank you that Louisa and Polly have shown an interest in church and Lord, make that a radical thing in their lives, not a pleasant ‘now and then’ diversion.

(Typing this up is harder than the actual praying of it, but it’s really good to have to remember what I prayed and it serves as a pointer to me next time I pray.. so I’m glad I’m doing it, if only for the mental discipline by which praying is improved.)

Praying for Shadrack, Sophie and Shona was easy enough and to the point. The crucial thing is to remember them and not grow tired of praying for them, even though I’ll probably never see them or the way God answers the prayers. Except when I get to heaven.

I named others too, remembering their parents and asking for your guidance and blessing. In particular, Lord, for a ministry for Demitri. (This may all be my idea but at least it gives me something specific and I’ll trust you with the answer…he might become a boiler repair man but you would still use him for amazing work in your kingdom if my prayers for him are answered!) I love your Grace, my amazing God! I pray for Demitri and have such a desire in my heart that he grows up to be a mighty man of God. I know that my maveric tendency could be a total block to this prayer being answered and so I keep having to ask God to ‘search my heart’ and know/reveal any unrigteousness or perversity there and warn me. However, if I focus on the fruit and not the accusation about why I’m praying for this, I can desire it for the purest of reasons, and this I choose to do, my God and KIng…use him and grow him and set him on a course of true goodness. Sovereign Lord, use the promices and prayers of all who have stood in your house and made them, to allow your love and influence to guide, save and keep this boy as he grows. I prayed for him to get into university and a good Christian union and hey presto :D…but I really know that this is like watching a small child rehearsing a cute but silly little play to impress its parents! God knows his plans and purposes for him and I say ‘Amen’, God’s way and will be done in his life, only use him and let him be one who plays his joyful part in bringing in the Kingdom.

As ever, prayed for Joe T Shuster: Play it again Sam! Oh yes, and as I was praying for that ministry and that church, I don’t know if it was the endorphins kicking in because I was running, but I started saying ‘Rock that town’, and very quickly I was praying for the whole nation to be rocked and for new stuff to happen and revival! Had that theme of God coming and shaking and rocking people, hearts, communities, specifically and generally, all the way home. It was very enjoyable and spiritually encouraging which was in sharp contrast to how knackered I was feeling running up the hill past the old sunday school. Well, ‘staggering’ would be a nearer verb to use! Good old Joe, though. He’ll be doing his bit in the rocking of the nation. Halleluya!