Thursday, 30 December 2010
I think its a very telling time, of who you are as a person. Whether you are looking happily into the future (optimistic) or thinking about the time and year just gone (more pessimistic) or i could just be over analysing it to much.
But I remember someone telling me a few years ago, that it is the biggest time of the year for suicides. Now I don't know if it ever was, or still is true, but I can totally see why this seems true. The advertising world would have you believe everyone is having the best time in the world,
parties, celebration and such jolliness is being had everywhere, by everyone and you are the only one not included in this.
I remember reading a book by Nick Hornby called 'Long way down' whose central characters all met on a roof top on New Years Eve and were all going to jump off the roof. The book chronicles the hurts and pains they are wanting to get rid off by that final solemn act. (It does sound depressing, but it was brilliant, I think Johnny Depp brought the rights to be made into film, but I never heard anything since).
I think I look back and think 'I could of done more' whether that be 'prayed' 'danced' 'freely gave'. And feel down for all the people who are looking into the dark bleak future and think 'I now have to do this alone' I feel for them and then it gets rubbed in their face by the Asda advert on telly...
What I am trying to say is, this time of year can really cut people up, but they feel, they need to shut up vocalising their pain for fear of spoiling the waitrose advert style party people try to create. Which in the end adds to the awful statistic I mentioned.
So whether you are at a party living it up (and I am not knocking you if you are, you own that dance floor) or whether you are going to sit in front of the telly and watch a movie with the family, or whether you are on your own, alone and scared. A New Year means springs on its way and the small buds of growth will start to begin.
So whatever you are doing. A party for 50 or a party for one, enjoy it and know you are loved by the creator Abba.
Thanks to all who have listened to my insane ramblings over the past months..
Happy new year...
Wednesday, 29 December 2010
(Coventry Cathedral ruins)
I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.
Today I was at Coventry Cathedral with a friend, and we came across some art that was to do with forgiveness and reconciliation (can't remember the artist or find him on their website). But there was one piece, that represented Auschwitz and it punched me in the stomach , emotionally speaking . In the canvas was Hair, Spectacles, Shoes and other artifacts. We started chatting about that amount of hurt and evil one man and his ideals could inflict on the world and asked ' If we could go back in time and kill Hitler, would we ? for the sake of saving so many Lives.'
Its a question that makes me uncomfortable, but what astounds me, are the stories you hear, of people who were actually there, prisoners in the camps being physically able to go up to their prison wardens who killed their friends and family in cold blood and say truly 'I forgive you' .
This blows my mind. I find it hard to forgive over the small things, so to me this seems mad, that amount of pure grace and love, it seems inhuman , unnatural to me. Then I remember its because it is. Only through Gods peace and love could I even contemplate that amount of love to a person who's hurt me so much. I have to remember that God forgave and forgives me (daily), so I have to do the same to other people.
I remember the prayer that is said in Coventry Cathedral quite a lot, it might be the Peace prayer, and I think of Anne Frank, a young girl who even in such horrific circumstance's saw past the dirt and focused in on the good in people...
'All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,
The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,
Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,
The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children,
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.'
Would you Kill Hitler? Would you Be able to forgive ?
Sunday, 26 December 2010
i knew a girl called claire, our friendship started when i knew of this ultra amazing girl but never imagined that someone this good could be real, then... then... i met her. a shy girl sitting opposite me in cafe renroir, i couldnt quite believe my luck when i finally met the girl whom i was named after (thanks tom) my dreams were shattered until ibiza 2010- wow all those times we messed about, chatted and cleaned. the promises of a wonderful friendship were made and then after a quick visit to NI when i made her work like a dog, i was never to hear from her again! sad times ; claire wherever you are....My friend left this on my facebook page and I love it and wanted to share our story.....
Tuesday, 21 December 2010
The light doesn’t come from the lampstands. The light comes from the oil lamps themselves. The stands merely make the light more visible. Therefore, the lampstands are a good picture of the church. We don’t produce the light, we simply display it.
“A lamp is not light in itself, it is only the instrument of dispensing light, and it must receive both oil and fire before it can dispense any; so no Church has in itself either grace or glory, it must receive all from Christ its head, else it can dispense neither light nor life.” (Clarke)
Monday, 20 December 2010
The 'Bright Young People' from the 1920's.
Right now, I am in my pj's and looking at the snow outside, and thinking how can it possibly get any colder.
I always find the best thing to do, as our country shuts down with the crazy temperature, is to shut down also. Staying in, if I can, with a book is one of my favourite things to do in winter and as tonight is suppose to see the coldest temperature in england ever. I am planning to do just that.
Right now I am reading 'Vile Bodies' By Evelyn Waugh, it's a brillaint book about the younger generation in the 1920's indulging in their partying , which is quite apt for the party season we are in. Below is a description
Vile Bodies is a 1930 novel by Evelyn Waugh satirising the Bright Young People: decadent young London society between World War I and World War II. The title comes from the Epistle to the Philippians 3:21. The book was originally to be called "Bright Young Things". Waugh changed it because he decided the phrase had become too clichéd. The title that Waugh eventually settled on comes from a comment that the novel's narrator makes in reference to the characters' party-driven lifestyle: 'All that succession and repetition of massed humanity... Those vile bodies..'Do you really want to go out into the blizzard that is out there ? nah.... Stay in and keep warm and indulge your mind with a paperback...
Sunday, 19 December 2010
'Christ's anointing teaches you the truth on everything you need to know about yourself and him, uncontaminated by a single lie. Live deeply in what you were taught.' 1 John 2:27.
Now I love to read books its a serious hobby of mine and as I work in a Christian bookshop, I have an unlimited supply of teaching from all different Pastors, theologians and social justice workers. When I Get a spare second I love to pick up a book and have a few minutes reading on their opinions, but the words above remind me, it's God who is my ultimate teacher. I always remember what Tony Campolo said ' if I have to be taught from either a person who went to bible school and trained and consumed all these resources or a women with no formal training but is anointed and taught by the Holy Spirit I would chose the lady any day.' Its God who opens up understanding for me, He should be my main commentary and concordance on his word.
'Live deeply' I was reminded of 'oaks of righteousness from Isaiah 61 and just love the imagery of a 200 year old tree and its serious roots...
'If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we're obviously lying through our teeth—we're not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another'. 1 John 1: 6-7
I just love the directness of this verse. Again Simple but true. I am reminded of the Ronseal advert' It does exactly what it says on the tin' That's what this verse is to me. Every time I feel darkness tyring to dampen me, disenhearten me, and question me. I should ask for some more of Gods light to sizzle in me and as his Word says ' darkness cannot be where he is'. I totally don't do this enough..
Hope these nuggets speak to you today.
May God anoint you and give you a teachable heart. xx
Wednesday, 15 December 2010
Seriously I love her cooking and its always such a laugh, she usually pulls out her minibar (Pat Butcher style) and starts serving the most random liquid I have ever seen and I waddle home happy and content... ( I am sure Photo's will follow)
Who says Christians don't know how to be sophisticated.... Bring on the random Thai Vodka..
Above are some images of me making a door wreath for my brother. My friend Trina and her mum Carol own a flower shop ( Carol's, Shameless plug) which has turned into Santa's Grotto and its a beautiful place to be, I love going there, just to look at all the flowers and vintage things. They let me go mental and helped me to make a festive wreath from scratch. The finished product is very pretty...
Monday, 13 December 2010
In the last few days. I have had to make a few what would seem insignificant decisions, but on closer inspection, actually are quite important about the way in which I want to live.
I Felt people pulling me different ways and having to turn around and say no, has not been an easy lesson. But I also feel this lesson has had to happen. As people need to know, they can't put me in their box or make me live the way they want. I Felt like I was being asked not to be truely me and as if a part of me was being caged .
Needless to say right from the start, I knew from God, what was the right way to proceed, but doing it didn't come as simple as I would of liked.
I got there in the end, but I feel that in this, it wasn't all about the end decision, it was also about the steps I had to take to get there.
Like the Israelites in the wilderness, God would have guided me to the right decision it was just whether it took the 40 years or the 4.
I Choose the 4 year signposted way...
Happy travelling.. X
Friday, 10 December 2010
Mr. Rosenblum's List: Or Friendly Guidance for the Aspiring Englishman.
I have just started this book and its pretty funny, I love the perception of the english, things like
'' he values good manners. you will find he says thankyou for the smallest service, even for a penny bus ticket for which he has paid. Always apologise, even when something is plainly not your fault- if a man walks into you on the street, apologise profusely.'
Whatever you do or read this weekend
Monday, 6 December 2010
So Its nearly Christmas and as usual the cards and presents are starting to roll in. Now people ask 'Claire want do you need, which I reply ' I don't need for anything but the things I want are...? Now I know, I am truly blessed to not need for anything. Like the majority of people I know. We don't have immediate needs for anything, but there are things we would like,what we desire to purchase.
With this idea in mind I found myself today getting a Christmas check from a family relative and thinking yippee! I Head straight to a certain clothes website to order a hat I have been keeping my eye on , to purchase with a £22 price tag.
Now I am such a stingy scrounge, that I never spend lots of money of fashion, its usually charity shops or TK Max, but something about this shop makes me loose that tightness on my purse.
I proceeded to checkout and pressed confirm, but there was an issue with the site, and it did not go through, annoyed I tried again getting more frustrated, and try again. but still the website wouldn't let me do it. Then it dawned on me, I am spending £22 pound on a hat, seriously a flimsy hat.
There are people that I Know who tonight will be sleeping in graveyards because they are homeless and I am spending £22 plus p+p on a hat. ( I think that's why God wouldn't let the purchase go through, he knew how annoyed I would be at myself in a few minutes)
Now I am not saying that it's wrong to spend your money on nice things, but the fact is I just can't seem to justify it. Whats Wrong with me?
I heard this song the other day and a line has been stuck in my head for days ' I throw a twenty in the plate but I don't give till it hurts' (that is a in your face challenge ).
Now I am not saying people shouldn't enjoy money, but I can't get over the fact I am wasting money to buy things to go with my collection of things brought earlier (other hats), when especially at this time of year it's more clear to me than ever, that my world ( and therefore my money) should not be about me!
What will the money go to? We will see. But 4 years ago before I was a christian, this was never an issue. But now as the song above says ' In my world, its not population :me '.
Friday, 3 December 2010
So yesterday morning was pretty chilly on the skin, so much so, that the thought of having to sleep rough in it, is pretty traumatic to me.
With that in mind, on my way to work I decided to buy a nice cup of hot steaming tea for one of the Homeless guys I have gotten to know in the last few weeks. Only to find him not sleeping in his usual spot, which was brilliant cause I hoped he was somewhere nice and warm, but left me with a cup of tea in my hand, that I did not want. So I decided to go and visit the other Big Issue seller that I don't know as well. (my local is Tyrone, he's top class.) Only to find him not there either. So I lifted up a Little prayer to God saying 'help me bless someone with this tea' which he replied 'just walk' so I did.
After strolling around Cov town for a bit, I decided to go under a few bridges and came across these 2 guys arguing, straight away before I got close, I knew they were yelling over whose pitch it was sit and sleep/beg in. I knew I had to give the tea to them, so with baited breadth I strolled over .
The first guy said he didn't do tea, he was a coffee man and scowled at me, but the other guy was happy to take it off my hands. I also had a spare blanket on me (seriously) and he said 'that would be great to have'. After introducing ourselves to each other, me to them more than them to me. I got the vibe that they wanted me to go away, so they could carry on arguing over the pitch, but I knew I should ask them if they wanted prayer. I kept trying to guide the conversation in that direction, but it just wasn't happening. So I bottled it and walked away, annoyed at myself.
Why was it so hard to ask them if they needed prayer, even if they would have said no (in my mind this is how I justified myself not asking them).
If all I have to offer is tea and a blanket then they are screwed, and me as well. I have something more to offer which is eternal and life giving, which brakes all chains on addiction and I need not to but apprehensive about offering it up freely.
I Thought with the journey I have been on in the last few years it wouldn't have been so hard, but it was. I still need to rely on God to make me bold. So next time I am filled to the brim and cannot physically shut up about wanting to pray for them.
We have more than hot tea and a blanket to offer.
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
'Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living.
It was a cowboy’s life, a life for someone who wanted no boss.
What I didn’t realize was that it was also a ministry.
Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a moving confessional. Passengers climbed in, sat behind me in total anonymity, and told me about their lives. I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, and made me laugh and weep.
But none touched me more than a woman I picked up late one August night. I was responding to a call from a small brick fourplex in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some partyers, or someone who had just had a fight with a lover, or a worker heading to an early shift at some factory for the industrial part of town.
When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window.
Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away.
But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation.
Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself.
So I walked to the door and knocked. “Just a minute”, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.
After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80′s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knick-knacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
“Would you carry my bag out to the car?” she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness.
“It’s nothing”, I told her. “I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated.”
“Oh, you’re such a good boy”, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, “Could you drive through downtown?”
“It’s not the shortest way,” I answered quickly.
“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.”
I looked in the rear view mirror. Her eyes were glistening.
“I don’t have any family left,” she continued. “The doctor says I don’t have very long.”
I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. “What route would you like me to take?” I asked.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, “I’m tired. Let’s go now.”
We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
“How much do I owe you?” she asked, reaching into her purse.
“Nothing,” I said.
“You have to make a living,” she answered.
“There are other passengers”.
Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.
“You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said. “Thank you.”
I squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.
I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?
On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life.
We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware – beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.'
By Kent Nerburn..