Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Six Things - Sarah Garwood

Sarah Garwood is 48 – eek don’t tell anyone – ooh, I just did. Despite her obvious quirks she is an out and out Christian with nothing much in her heart except Jesus, Jesus and more of, yes you guessed it, Jesus. Sarah lives with her 13 year old son Sam who loves chocolate, friends, climbing and archery (in that order!).

Sarah (who also loves chocolate and friends and watching Sam do the climbing and archery) has been on a divergent career journey, which began in pursuit of an equity card and has established itself in consultancy and assessment with a little B&B on the side. On this epic journey, she had a good few years in the leadership of Holiday Bible Week, which was both hugely growing and humbling, crafted through our purposeful God. Her heart now would be to use these combining experiences to work with Christian organisations and get them free and moving to be the hands and feet God calls them to be.

One thing that's always worth getting out of bed for
These gloriously sunny days and the promise of a 2011 sun tan!

One thing about yourself that often obstructs you
My unwilling feet when they don’t go in the direction they ought!

One thing I've learned the hard way
You can’t go over, under or round life’s trials and you definitely go nowhere if you stand still – so you’ve got to go through them.  How hard can it be to walk through treacle, a hailstorm, a shower of arrows or maybe all three at the same time?  I’ve only got one answer to that ‘Ouch!’  (Yes, I’m afraid the ‘Ouch’ always comes before the ‘Aaarrr’)

One thing that gets under my skin
Hopefully melanin for that sun tan rather than one of the arrows!

One thing I'd love to change
Places with someone in Bermuda – anyone out there up for it?  (Anything for my feet to extract themselves from the treacle.)

One thing I hope for
The coming of the Kingdom when the Son will always shine and there’ll be no more trials for anyone to wade through!

Six Things is a series of micro-interviews with interesting and creative people,
in which they’re asked to respond to a standard set of six prompts.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Turn, turn, turn...

I have recently been listening to the excellent album The Man Who by Travis and especially the track Turn:
I want to see what people saw
I want to feel like I felt before
I'd like to see the kingdom come
I want to feel forever young
I want to sing
To sing my song
I want to live in a world where I belong
I want to live 
I will survive
And I believe that it won't be very long
If we turn, turn, turn, turn, turn
Then we might learn
So where's the stars?
Up in the sky
And what's the moon?
A big balloon
We'll never know unless we grow
There's so much world outside the door
I want to sing
To sing my song
I want to live in a world where I'll be strong
I want to live
I will survive
And I believe that it won't be very long
If we turn, turn, turn, turn, turn
And if we turn, turn, turn, turn
Then we might learn
Turn, turn, turn, turn
Turn, turn, turn
And if we turn, turn, turn, turn
Then we might learn
Learn to turn

As I listened to this wonderful song it spoke to me in so many ways - belonging, seeing, living, growing - but the refrain to turn, turn, turn really resonated with me. If we turn - look at things differently, consider changing our views, engage with one another - turn to one another then we might learn, so learn to turn.
Beautiful and moving - give it a listen

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Beer Commercials

I am always attracted to adverts that send themselves up, using humour to promote their products. The Austrailians do this so well especially with their beer commercials. Here are two I have enjoyed, cheers!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Are you a work completely done?

On Sunday at church we sang the great song Completely Done which is a lovely song full of truth of what God has done in and for us how we can trust in God completely.

As I sang it though I found the opening phrases - What reason have I to doubt? Why would I dwell in fear? - tripping me up.

Why doubt and fear? As the room sang I thought there are probably plenty of people doubting or fearing something and they lots of valid reasons. The questions in the song seems a little lame. There are plenty of reasons to be fearing for ourselves or our families now or into the future - finances, health, jobs etc.

Also, is there anything wrong with doubt? Isn't it better that we are honest with ourselves and even with God. Isn't doubt just the one side of the coin and faith is the other. Aren't the Psalms full of doubt and faith with faith triumphing, but would that triumph happen without the doubt? If we don't allow ourselves to doubt and question ourselves and God how can we really grow in a balanced way? Show me someone who has never doubted - that would be a scary fanatical person.

Knowing how God sees us and what He has done and is doing for us, helps us overcome our doubts and fears - but lets not condemn ourselves for being human. Indeed I am sure there will be things in our future as yet unknown that we will fear and doubt and God will use those situations to hopefully move us ever deeper into relying on Him.

The other observation I noted was the phrase "what you complete is completely done". The song I believe is referring to our salvation and becoming a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17) and when it is done it is completely done nothing needs to added, worked for or earned. I agree wholeheartedly with this but wondered how many people felt completely and wholly a new and perfect creation? Or do we look at our physical self and wonder how much of the old has gone and new has really come?

It made me think about the creation of a person. As i understand it when a person is born (maybe even when they are conceived) within that person is everything they need to grow up and live their life. Obviously they need shelter, food, teaching etc. but nothing needs to be added to the creation, to the physical body. So our salvation into Christ is similar, when we choose to follow Him and He comes to live in us, in an instant we have everything in us to be Christ-like. All we need is time, care, teaching, and food of the spiritual kind. But no one needs to add any extra salvation hoops for us to do so we can be kitted out with all the necessary equipment to be able to be in Christ.

But do we feel like these perfectly complete people? I would suggest that is a rare feeling. I believe we need to know Christ and to know that we are in Christ in our day to day lives to truly see this, for it to become our reality. And maybe we can only know this when we have feared then believed, when we have doubted and then had faith again and again. As we see the fears and doubts of the old are going we can sing knowingly that the new has indeed come.

Wherever you or I are on the our own faith journey it is good to sing this truth to ourselves even if we don't see, feel or know it at present.

Friday, 10 June 2011

The Straight Story

I recently watched a wonderful film called The Straight Story by David Lynch one of the great movie directors of the modern era. There is a scene in the film where the main character (Alvin Straight) is in a bar with an another elderly man he has met on his journey. They sit and talk, sharing something of what they each went through in the second world war.

As they talk their voices choke up and tears roll down their cheeks. They each tell their story, they listen to each others story. They have been through the pain of war but they don’t try and sympathise they just sit together. You sense the release in being able to share with someone who just hears and understands.

It is truly a beautiful scene, I was blessed by it but in a small way it betrayed a sadness. There is a sense they have held these feelings for decades unable to share them or speak them out. These old men came from a culture where men didn’t share and that was that. Is it so different now?

Yes we are more comfortable with people sharing struggles & issues but whilst they aren't frowned upon and told you shouldn’t do that we can be very quick to tell people to sort themselves out. Not directly to their face no but subtley by telling them, "Yes, I know I have that problem and I did ..." or "You mustn’t think like that" and variations on these themes. Even our response as Christians can be very quickly, "Oh, I'll pray for you" or a little more pointedly, "Have you brought it to God in prayer?"*

I was talking recently with a friend about a sudden bereavement I had learnt of and he shared about learning of a close friend who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He told me it took him three or four days to call as he didn't know what to say. Isn't that it, our problem is we always need to say something. Is that what people want? Or do they really just want to be heard?

So do watch this film the next time it is on, it is slow, simple and so beautiful.

* before I am declared a heretic let me just say - prayer is good and bringing our situations to God is the best thing we can do and we often need reminding of this, but if we only do these things are we really loving one another? We need to be with one another and know that we are being heard and held

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Gibberd Garden

Recently my family and I visited the Gibberd Garden in Harlow.

Sir Frederick Gibberd produced a wide variety of architectural and landscaping projects, including Heathrow Airport, Liverpool Catholic Cathedral, Regent's Park Central Mosque and the landscape design of the Kielder Reservoir and in 1946 he was appointed master-planner for Harlow New Town. From the 1950s he started to develop this garden.

It is a wonderful garden, a great mixture of planned and eclectic jumbled up spaces full of sculptures and objects which Gibberd loved so much.

Although I have been to the garden several times there are still things to discover, sculptures I haven't really looked at before, views and spaces I haven't noticed.

The other thing this garden gives me is that sense of hidden peace. You can get the feeling of being hidden away, for a few moments you are in another world. This hidden world is full of quiet wonder and the reflected glory of creation both of nature and the hands of men and women.

It is a real oasis on our doorstep, I encourage you to check it out.