God’s PLACE (Five Minute Friday)

This is God’s place

More tent than temple
Sagging and wrinkled
Uprights creaking
Battered by storms
Battered by life

No Bedouin palace
Of rich draped fabrics
Exquisitely embroidered cushions
And ornate serving platters
Piled high with improbable feast

Just ordinary
Muddied by others’ boots
Too much baggage piled against the sides
Compromising the waterproof shell
One small suspended lantern
Lighting the space
Full of family memories
A temporary home

But God’s place nevertheless

PLACE: ‘a portion of space designated or available for or being used by someone’ (Oxford Dictionary)

https://fiveminutefriday.com/2019/03/14/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-place/

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MORE (working title)

As usual, I’m joining the inspired and inspiring bunch of writers at https://fiveminutefriday.com/2019/03/07/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-more/.

In my head, I can hear this as a song but I’m not musical enough to do more than lyrics. However,  if one of you talented readers could put a tune and arrangement to it, let me know!

Wishing I had listened more
And spoken less
Wishing I had noticed more
And missed less
Wishing I had done more prevention
Designed interventions
To protect you from harm
And sustain you in trouble

Wishing I had done more
Been more
Been better

Wishing I had seen more
Of what you needed
Wishing I’d skilled more
For ease of your succeeding
Wishing I could fix you
But I’m not meant to
I’m not a magic charm
I’m just an arm
For you to lean on

But I still wish I’d done more
Been more
For you

Deep down I know
I’m not meant to be the answer
How can you learn
To be more
If I do it for you?

But I can listen more now
And I can notice more now
And I can see more now
And I can pray more now

Furniture and a SEARCH for More (Five Minute Friday)

There is nothing quite like it: the joy of creating a home.

We’re in the process of furnishing our long-longed for and now much loved holiday cottage. Each piece we place in it, from the small (a delicate net to protect food) to the large (the utterly comfortable beds that the delivery men struggled to carry up our steep, narrow hill), makes it feel a little more homelike.

Some things we have brought from our other home; some are gifts; a few we’ve made or upcycled; some inherited and others bought new. When we need to buy, we are trying to support local businesses, which has led to wonderful excursions as we’ve discovered the treasures to be found in the local hospice shop, antique and vintage emporiums, and art galleries.

This morning, I watched my husband and Simon from Kabula Ltd. (https://www.facebook.com/kabulaltd/) carry six dining chairs and two bar stools up to our little 1930s semi, the latest additions to our seaside home.
We’d searched for some time for chairs that would sit well in our kitchen diner, fitting with the décor and our renovated dining table. I’d pictured something like the fashionable Ercol style but hoped for something a little more original that therefore wouldn’t date. Back in December, we visited an enormous barn in a small rural industrial unit, crammed full of old furniture from house clearances. And here, right at the back, we found a dining set with interesting backs but uglified by thick dust and even thicker dark, almost black varnish, along with some equally dark and wobbly bar stools.

We thought, underneath it all, these might be something like the chairs we had been searching for. We hoped they could turn out to be beautiful.

As we waited for the company to completely strip them and clear varnish them before delivery, I have to confess, I forgot exactly what they looked like. But when they arrived today, they took my breath away. They weren’t beautiful – they were stunning.

Sure enough, under all that age and awful colour, was detailed carving, a lightness of design, and the natural rays and rings of the original tree, each pattern unique to each seat. I barely recognised them. And they looked perfect in our setting.

And that’s the thing about a search, isn’t it? Sometimes we think we know what we’re looking for but God surprises us with something much more: something more beautiful, something more wonderful, something that more than fulfils our hopes and dreams, something better than we could ever have envisaged.

Looking at my life, I know that’s so true in my marriage and my family. Life in all its abundance is what Jesus promised those who love and follow Him – but only He knows the full extent of that. What an adventure to find out.

JUST (Five Minute Friday)

When I first started wondering about how to move from thinking and reading about writing to actually writing, when I struggled to find the courage to share my writing, this is the answer that came to me. I remind myself of it when I feel stuck. Perhaps it will be useful for someone else too.

Just write
Write notes
Write articles
Write thoughts down
Write letters to God as prayers
Write presentations
Write new poems
Rewrite old poems

Keep a notebook with you
Keep it in the car
In your pocket
By your bed
Use your Surface
Jot stuff down
Just write anything

Just write whenever you can
Whenever you have a thought
Whenever you notice something
Whenever time presents itself
Write when you’re ill
Write when you’re clear headed
Write anything
Write now

Just write.

Five Minute Friday are a community of bloggers who write on a one word theme for 5 minutes every Friday and then share. Find out more here: https://fiveminutefriday.com/

CONFIDENCE (Five Minute Friday)

It’s a long old road, the A303, especially at night, and even more so after a hard day’s work. In the darkness, only a few familiar bends and county boundary signs, first Wiltshire then Somerset, mark progress on the route west.

We talk, letting the weight of the week drop from our shoulders, leaving it to fend for itself on the roadside, as we travel. Or we quietly listen to music; sometimes Premier Praise Radio pushes us along or an audiobook melts the miles away. But tonight it’s a jazz compilation on Spotify, mainly Miles Davis.

Absorbed in a sense of increasing relaxation and wandering possibilities for the weekend ahead, my husband’s smiling voice interrupts my thoughts:

“It’s ok. You can dose off for a while if you want. I won’t mind – I’ll take it as a compliment.”

I know I can. I have such confidence in his driving and his ability to keep me safe.

But I don’t. I know he’s tired too. So we talk – about our hopes and plans, the road conditions, what we’re going to eat at Exeter Services when we stop.

And on we go.

Five Minute Friday is a weekly writing prompt blog link-up. You can find more inspired posts here: https://fiveminutefriday.com/2019/02/14/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-confident/. And I couldn’t resist sharing a great song on the same topic, Confidence by Sanctus Real: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=KA9kSBv1QrI

 

BREAKING NEWS

Just wanted to share with you that I shall now be a regular contributor to the Association of Christian Writers blog MoreThanWriters http://morethanwriters.blogspot.com/.

My first post will be on Thursday – Valentine’s Day – and I take the significance but not necessarily in the direction you’d think.

If you’ve not come across this blog before, which looks specifically at writing, reading and being a Christian, I’d recommend it. And if you want to read more from me, check it out on the 14th of every month.

I’m really excited but also a little nervous so please pray for me (and the other contributors) too.

Unlikely Foundations (FIVE MINUTE FRIDAY)

Ash and seaweed – it’s not exactly an appealing combination is it? It might work as a face mask but it’s hardly a recipe for life.

Or is it?

Let me introduce you to Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, one of the world’s newest islands It was formed when an underwater volcano sent up ash into the air, which settled and interacted with seaweed to build a completely mew island about four years ago. Now it’s home to flowers, owls, and terns.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-47153797

Strange and wonderful how such an uninspiring, even off-putting, mix can, in the right circumstances, be turned into something amazing and life giving. Even the plant life is down to bird droppings.

It gives hope for us all.

If this is what Nature can do with ash, seaweed, and guano, think what the Creator God can do with mess we and our lives seem to be made of.

WHERE DO NEW WORDS COME FROM? (Five Minute Friday)

I had this (title) phrase circulating my head like a child asking its mother where babies come from! So, although it’s taken me much longer than 5 minutes to work out some of the potential origins for new words, this poem is the quick result of those studies. It probably needs more work but, at the moment, it fits the Five Minute concept. And for those of you who, like me, enjoy etymology, there’s a list of an example for each line at the end.

WHERE DO NEW WORDS COME FROM?

Birthed in foreign travels
Tasted in unfamiliar cuisines
Adopted from other cultures’ concepts
Broadcast across the international internet
Manufactured in developing technologies
Transferred from one use to another
Amalgamated from parent terms
Civilised from slang
Borrowed from a name
Evolved through time
Out of the primaeval soup of a writer’s imagination

(EXAMPLES:
1.hammajang – a Hawaiian term for ‘in a disorderly or shambolic state’
2. bunny chow – a South African curry served in hollowed out loaf of bread
3. ikigai – from the Japanese used to indicate the source of value in one’s life or the things that make one’s life worthwhile
4. facetime – a video call using the internet
5. vape – an alternative to smoking
6. chair – noun or verb: the person running a meeting or to take charge of the meeting
7. burkini – a swimming costume with maximum coverage; a combination of ‘burkha’ and ‘bikini’ 
8. dench – excellent
9. Dylanesque – in the style of Bob Dylan or his songs
10. chopsy – in the 1960s this meant ‘having prominent, fleshy jowls; jowly’; by the 1970s we have the Welsh meaning of someone who is ‘inclined to talk a lot, especially in a rude, insolent, or belligerent way’; and in 1980s the musical world refers to (especially jazz) performers ‘displaying or characterized by technical virtuosity’, which comes from chops (1966) meaning ‘a jazz musician’s skills’ (itself derived from an earlier sense meaning ‘the power of a trumpeter’s embouchure’).
11. brillig – from Lewis Carroll’s The Jabberwocky in Alice in Wonderland, where Humpty Dumpty explains it as “four o’clock in the afternoon — the time when you begin broiling things for dinner.” )

Jane Austen and Me (Five Minute Friday: CONVENIENT)

It’s not convenient trying to be a writer in the midst of other, just as important, commitments: a full time job, voluntary work, a house to look after, a family to care for. Even this blog post has been interrupted already by a furniture delivery!


How to maintain the tension between all these responsibilities? How to prioritise and allocate the right amount of time and energies to all these different callings? Am I being directed along a new path towards less of one and more of another? Am I being given a practical lesson in learning to delegate?

I love my writing. It’s where I feel most ‘me’. But sometimes I wonder if I am being self indulgent and neglecting others by spending time on it. I don’t believe I am meant to be a fulltime write (at least, not at this moment in my life) but how do I get the balance right?

I’ve recently finished reading Lucy Worsley’s ‘Jane Austen at Home’ and it’s been encouraging to discover than an author of such international renown composed most of her novels in between domestic duties and in the midst of family life.

Hers was not the entirely genteel life we traditionally envisage of a Georgian lady. In her younger days, her family took in boy lodgers as scholars and maintained livestock in the grounds of Steventon Rectory to supplement her father’s earnings. We know from the exchange of recipes between Jane and her female friends that she was ‘hands on’ in the kitchen. And then there were the duties involved in nursing sick relatives, making clothes and household linens, as well as the constant pressure to be useful and convivial to those she relied on for financial support, and frequently having to relocate.

Although she had a treasured writing desk (more of a sloped box than the substantial furniture item we’d recognise), she had no separate study to write in. She made small ‘books’ of paper, handy for scribbling in tiny script whenever she had time, often during social gatherings of family and friends.

Writing did not fit conveniently into her life.

Being a Christian isn’t very convenient either. And sometimes the demands that God puts on us, the circumstances that He allows into our lives feel overwhelming, beyond our capabilities of time or energy. It would be so easy to give up or just let our standards slip a little.

But when I reach the end of my own strength, when I am backed into a corner and crying out to Him at the unreasonableness of the weight of the demands on me, that is when I am forced to rely on His resources instead of mine. Inconvenient? Yes. Humbling? Yes. Utterly reliable and trustworthy though? Absolutely.

‘When I am weak, then am I strong in the Lord,’ as St Paul put it.

In Jesus’ topsy turvy kingdom, I have to remember that if He is calling me to something, He will provide the time and the energy and the means to do it. And His approach is so much more flexible and creative than mine, so much better in the long run, however inconvenient it seems at first.

And if Jane Austen, a devout Christian herself, could write masterpieces in the spare moments of her other duties, what could God achieve with me?

Kiss It BETTER (Five Minute Friday)

It’s the time of year. The drop in temperature, the icy wind, maybe even the ongoing lack of daylight had all served to bring on the familiar.

“My lips are sore,” I complained as I got in from work, the dryness and chapping having become painful by the end of the day.

“Here,” said my husband, before I could open my lip salve, “let me kiss them better.”

Suddenly, I was in one of those moments when time freezes and simultaneously plays the present in slow motion along with a hundred memories: my mum kissing the dressing on my knee after I’d fallen over in the playground yet again; my grandmother kissing the top of my head after another bout of tonsillitis-induced vomiting; me kissing my boys, on so many occasions, as I promised them that the pain of illness or injury or heartache would come to an end.

Sometimes kissing something better really does work. Research has shown that kissing and physical affection releases oxytocin, which modulates inflammation and promotes wound healing, as well as reducing anxiety, and promoting bonding and a feeling of wellbeing. It counters stress hormones and rebalances our immune systems.

And then I am reminded of that old hymn, ‘Here is Love Vast as the Ocean’, with one of my favourite lines as it refers to the crucifixion in these terms:

‘And heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8YOPj5TnUM

So Jesus’ death, reconciling us with God, bringing us back into His arms of love, was His way of kissing us all better.

It’s lovely to be back with the Five Minute Friday community of writers with the first link up of 2019. For those of you who are unfamiliar with them, we’re an international bunch of Christian writers, who respond to a prompt word with 5 minutes of flash-writing each week. You can find out more here: https://fiveminutefriday.com/