More Mercy in Christ

‘…there is more mercy in Christ than sin in us… It is better to go bruised to heaven than sound to hell.’

~ Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed

“Let’s not pretend this is easier than it really is. If you want to live a morally pure life, here’s what you have to do: You have to blind your right eye the moment you catch it in a lustful leer. You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile. And you have to chop off your right hand the moment you notice it raised threateningly. Better a bloody stump than your entire being discarded for good in the dump.”

~ Jesus, as recorded in the book of Matthew, verses 29-30, paraphrased by Eugene Peterson in The Message

Shout it from the rooftops! Sing it in the streets! It’s ok to be broken.

It’s not ok to sin. That’s never ‘ok’ because it draws us away from God and causes pain. But it’s ok to admit to being a sin addict and to walk each day one step at a time, by grace. Christ has more mercy than I have sin. Always has. Always will. 

I’m a sinner. I find it really hard to let it go because sin disguises itself so well as not sin. I bring it to the Lord every day, and I struggle with it every day. One day maybe I won’t, but for now this ‘thorn in the flesh'(?) keeps me weak and my weakness keeps me on my metaphorical knees. And that’s the only place I am required to be. So, maimed I am and maimed I will be – one way or t’other – and THAT’S OK.

Let’s make churches what they were always intended to be – a place for sinners. Jesus didn’t come for the healthy but for the sick. If you’re not a sinner, maybe you don’t need church? Churches are supposed to be a place where we can support one another, love one another and build one another up. There is absolutely no place for tearing other people down – and yet that is what we see. Sometimes it is so subtle that it can be missed, but the subtle art of tearing down is often the most deadly. I’m talking when people are shamed. Even a look can shame someone. 

I’ve been shamed, and not so subtly either. So has my husband (including in the form of public ‘prayer’, of all things). My dear friend was shamed, too, under the mask of ‘concern’. It hurt. It really hurt. If we didn’t each already have a deep faith it might even have turned us away from Christ altogether. Not one of these times was this shaming recognised for what it was. And actually neither I, nor my husband or friend, had sinned on these occasions when we were shamed. Shaming of sin should never happen, but the sin on these occasions was certainly not ours.

Why can’t people be their normal, screwed up, sinful selves in church? Why do we have to plaster on the fake ‘Christian smile’? You know the one I mean… Life is hard and the Church makes it harder. Why?

I have worn my shame like a badge – the shame from Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Guilt and shame and shame and guilt and on and on it goes. No longer. Today I will wear Christ’s mercy. Love will be my badge.

 

The One No one Else Wanted

After years of vehemently opposing the notion of pet ownership, Frank acceded to the acquisition of two rescued guinea pigs. This was in 2015. We got the first two piggies in January 2016. A few months later one of our piggies let us in on a secret – a surprise baby! Three months later the mummy died (sniff) and we went to the guinea pig rescue again. This time we came home with another two piggies. One of these had serious health issues and… well, suffice it to say, we have five guinea pigs now, all unwanted by their previous owners, and they’re all in good health, apart from one, but we do our best for him and he’s a contented little chap.

Last September we decided to get some fish. You know, just a couple… Fast forward six months and we have seven coldwater fish and 15 tropical fish, bringing our total pet count to 27. The coldwater fish all have names, but by the time we got to the tropical we were done with that idea! We have a loach called Ken (geddit?) and his missus is Barbie. The goldfish are Elizabeth, Bob and Sue, and the little danio-wotsits are Danio and Philio, after Chip’s favourite youtubers. Danio and Philio live in a micro tank in Frank’s office, and Mr. I Have Forsworn All Contact With Animals Unless They’re On My Plate takes pleasure in feeding them and checking their water.

And then… We got a dog! He’s between 9 and 11 years old and was the one dog at the rescue that no one else wanted. Both my girls said they wanted to get the dog that no one else wanted – and I was so proud of them for making that choice. And bless his little mutton chops he’s a genuine sweetie. We wouldn’t change him for the world. What a blessing!

Since we got the dog we also acquired two rabbits, also rescued. The dog and the rabbits are beginning to come up to condition, poor things. Fluff has found herself a horse and two ponies to look after, too, in return for a ride or two. So we now live in a menagerie. Life is messy and chaotic but occasionally quite beautiful. And always, always funny.

Free

orange and yellow petaled flowers

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

When [the mind] is so full of thoughts and ideas about the way things are and the way things should be, the mind lacks the flexibility and openness to see the world in a new way. Perhaps it lacks the capacity to see the world at all, since its view is filtered through a rigid mass of beliefs and concepts.

~ from Insight: Clearing the Mind by Mark W. Muesse

(from The Great Courses lectures, this one included free for Audible members)

 

Life is filled with ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’ – and you know what? I don’t think they come from God at all. Jesus never said ‘you ought to…’ Jesus said ‘do’. He warned against doing things for the wrong reasons and He didn’t trip people up with guilt. Ever.

C-PTSD thrives on guilt and shame and I’m not playing that game any longer. It’s never-ending, it’s pointless and it sucks the life out of you. Jesus said:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest(renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 Amplified

or, as Eugene Peterson put it:

“Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”

Matthew 11:29 The Message

Speaking of which…

Does the wheel keep her going, or does she keep the wheel going? It’s like a dance between the moon and the tide. The perfect metaphor for the unforced rhythms of grace (because that’s the way my mind works. You’re welcome). 

 

Walking on Water

‘…it is more worship to God to behold Him in all than in any special thing… the fullness of joy is to behold God in all…’

Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love

…the angel of the Lord appeared to [Moses] in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed… God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then he said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ He said further, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord said, ‘I have observed the misery of my people… I have heard their cry… I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them… So come, I will send you…’ But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go…?’ 

…Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you”, and they ask me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ He said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “I am has sent me to you.”’ 

Extract from Exodus 3:1-15 (NRSVA)

 

Jesus [said], ‘If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, he of whom you say, “He is our God”, though you do not know him. But I know him… and I keep his word. Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad.’ Then the Jews said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.’

John 8:54-58

‘I AM’ is the English translation for the name of our God. God IS. And if, as Julian says, it means more to God for us to see Him in all things than in any one particular area, what does that mean for daily life, whatever our circumstances? Doesn’t it mean that this day, this breath itself, is a miracle?

I need to know this on days like today, when it almost looks like the battle is already won. C-PTSD grabs me and shakes me like a wolf tearing into its prey. It feels beyond my control. I am just a tight ball of blood and pain and fear. But I have something precious. Jesus gave me Himself. He knows full well all those tumbling feelings of pain and fear and worthlessness and He breathes into the dark, gaping holes and whispers, “I AM”.

And I know that I don’t have to be afraid any more. The storm doesn’t go away, but I take His hand and we – well, we walk on water. Together. One step at a time.

Struggles… and Balm

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my help and my God.

Psalm 42:5,6a NRSVA

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder sucks. Its most insidious symptoms are toxic guilt and feelings of worthlessness. They are, in every sense of the word, crippling. Frankly it’s a miracle that I even get out of bed, if I’m really honest. Mindfulness meditation allows me to settle into the present, knowing my full humanity, my full made-in-the-likeness-of-God self.

I can b r e a t h e.

In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

1 John 4:10 NRSVA

Self-compassion has allowed me to begin to love myself as a parent loves a child. I am able to see myself from a godly perspective – through the prism of Love. God has no desire to beat me up continually over my flaws – on the contrary, so why do I do it to myself? God loves me. I am redeemed. I am no more than anyone else, but I am certainly no less than anyone else. I don’t need to know any more than that. So I wrote the following, to remind myself – and maybe you – of what it really means to be a child of the Most High God:

You are a child of God, beloved and precious. Christ paid the price for you to not be shackled by sin. He loved YOU so much that He paid with His LIFE. This doesn’t mean that life is (ever) easy but it DOES mean you are no worse than anyone else – and if Jesus says you’re forgiven, what in heaven’s name are you beating yourself up for?

You’re ok. One step at a time. One day at a time. One foot in front of the other. Jesus is right there with you as you go. So stop beating yourself up and get on with living.

Life is a gift. Every breath is a miracle.  What had to happen for the confluence of atoms to become molecules, for the molecules to become living cells, for the cells to form a hugely complex organism – for the universe to create YOU? You’re a miracle. You are God-breathed. This is cause for celebration.

 

There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole

There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.

Sometimes I get discouraged, or think my work’s in vain,

But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again...

~ traditional spiritual

 

So let’s stop chasing self-esteem and start being compassionate to everyone, including ourselves, as Kristin Neff so eloquently explains in this video.

The only negative thing about this video is that for the speaker one of the most difficult things in her life is the fact that her son has autism. For me, the fact that my son has autism is really the least of the horrible things that have happened in my life. In fact, I don’t consider it as ‘happening’ to me at all – he’s the one with autism, not me. I’m his mum. It’s my job to be there for him. Why on earth do we presume we have the right to a ‘perfect’ child? Our Westernised, consumerist mindset is beyond crazy, especially when it comes to our own children. Ugh. I am so glad it is not possible to diagnose autism antenatally, as is frequently done with Down’s Syndrome. Anyway, I digress… The video is in many other ways excellent (and I’m not criticising Kristin – just pointing out something about our culture) and Kristin Neff’s audiobook Self-Compassion Step-by-Step has been hugely beneficial for me and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is struggling, whatever your reason. And perhaps I should recall the words of Edith Eger, Holocaust survivor and author of The Choice – there is no hierarchy of suffering.

See also Positively Powerless by LL Martin (blogger at Enough Light) for what the problems are with the self-esteem movement and an unhealthy emphasis on positivity and the consumerist mindset, particularly within Christianity. God is not a slot machine. The very notion is appalling… but that is a post for another day.

The featured image is from By Deror_avi – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36512852

 

 

Why Did I Choose my LGBTQ Children over the Church?

I recently learned that not one but two of my children experience same sex attraction and do not identify as heterosexual. The last time I was at church a man, one of the deacons, stood up and spoke against the ‘spread of the homosexual, anti-church agenda’. My kids don’t have an agenda; they’re just kids. A fortnight ago I asked the pastor to meet with me to discuss whether our family would be welcome to worship at the church. Trying to be gracious, I also said it was probably better if I resigned my membership and found a church closer to home. The pastor ignored the request to meet and agreed that it would be better to find a church closer to home. He didn’t respond to other issues. I was left deeply disappointed. What I got was… just fluff. Like a politician, it was carefully worded, but it didn’t actually say anything of substance. I had had respect for this man. Now, well, not so much. Will we find a church more locally? I don’t know. I pray, as I have always prayed, that Jesus is the centre of our home.

So why did I choose my children over the church? Because I’m their mum.

‘A Guest,’ I Answered, ‘Worthy to be Here’

 

‘Miserere mei, Deus’ is based on Psalm 51. It was composed by Gregorio Allegri, transcribed by a young Mozart and sung here by the incomparable Tenebrae Choir.

 

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin.

 For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
 Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
    and blameless when you pass judgement.
 Indeed, I was born guilty,
    a sinner when my mother conceived me.

 You desire truth in the inward being;
    therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
 Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
 Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.

 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and put a new and right spirit within me.
 Do not cast me away from your presence,
    and do not take your holy spirit from me.
 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and sustain in me a willing spirit.

 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you.
 Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
    O God of my salvation,
    and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.

 O Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
 For you have no delight in sacrifice;
    if I were to give a burnt-offering, you would not be pleased.
 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
    rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
 then you will delight in right sacrifices,
    in burnt-offerings and whole burnt-offerings;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar.

                                                                ~ Psalm 51 NRSVA
   

 

The first step in becoming a follower of Christ is recognising my own depthless misery – my sin. I can’t turn back time. I can’t undo any of what I have done. I made the chasm between myself and God. Me. Why? Because I do stupid, hurtful things, selfish things. Christ alone was perfect, and He alone took the stain of sin upon Himself, so that I might not have to be separated from God. I deserve none of what He gave, yet because my Creator knows me, and loves me, He brings Himself to me. What love is this?

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,

Guilty of dust and sin.

But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack

From my first entrance in,

Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning

If I lacked anything.

“A guest,” I answered, “worthy to be here”:

Love said, “You shall be he.”

“I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear, I cannot look on thee.”

Love took my hand, and smiling did reply, “Who made the eyes but I?”

“Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame

Go where it doth deserve.”

“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”

“My dear, then I will serve.”

“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”

So I did sit and eat.

~ Love by George Herbert, circa 1633

 

2018: My Year in Books

red chamber

My favourite book of 2018: The Red Chamber by Pauline Chen

I read 148 books in 2018. Phew! Lots of children’s books. I think my daughter is right when she says I am going through a second childhood. Hurrah! It’s part of the healing process. Especially in the absence of any actual therapy (cheers, NHS). Jesus made a point of the importance of being childlike so I figure I can’t be too far wrong.

It’s worth adding that as well as these, I read the bible: a chapter of the Old Testament every day and a chapter of the New Testament every day. When I get to the end of either, I begin again. Also, when I get to the end of The Practice of the Presence of God, I start again. I’m clearly a poor apprentice in this area as I need to immediately begin again as soon as I have finished, which means I have read the book more times than I can count, but I’m not stopping any time soon. The Practice of the Presence of God, written 400 years ago, is about living life with God always on your mind and in your heart – basically a practical guide to living out the Gospel, from an ordinary person’s perspective.

I’m currently enjoying reading Charles Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby, Rachel Held Evans’ Searching for Sunday, Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Confusion, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little Town on the Prairie, Lucia Capacchione’s Recovery of Your Inner Child and Margaret Walker’s Jubilee. I’m also listening to a series of lectures entitled The Story of Human Language by Professor John McWhorter, which are absolutely fascinating. I’ve long had a penchant for linguistics and McWhorter is an excellent teacher for the layperson.

The Great Courses lectures are a wonderful resource for anyone wanting to broaden their horizons with talks from academics. I have previously listened to The Science of Mindfulness by Prof. Ronald D. Siegel, An Economic History of the World Since 1400 by Prof. Donald J. Harreld, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy by Prof. Jason M. Satterfield and about half of America and the New Global Economy by Prof. Timothy Taylor.

Drumroll, please. Here are all the books I read in 2018, courtesy of Goodreads:

CF – Books aimed at children under 14

NF – Non-fiction

F – Fiction aimed at 14+

Titles with links are my favourites of 2018 (new-to-me) books.

Joan Aiken – A Necklace of Raindrops and Other Stories, CF

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, CF

Black Hearts in Battersea, CF

Night Birds on Nantucket, CF

Louisa May Alcott – Rose in Bloom, F

Eight Cousins, CF

Good Wives, F

Little Women, F

Elaine Aron – The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You, NF

Jane Austen – Persuasion, F

Pride and Prejudice, F

Northanger Abbey, F

Lauren Bates – Distraction Addiction, NF

Mary Beard – Pompeii, NF

Katie Berry – 30 Days to a Clean and Organized House, NF

Enid Blyton – Five on a Treasure Island, CF

Five Run Away Together, CF

The Amelia Jane Collection, CF

Hollow Tree House, CF

Five Go Off in a Caravan, CF

The Folk of the Faraway Tree, CF

The Valley of Adventure, CF

Mary Elizabeth Braddon – The Christmas Hirelings, CF

Jo Brand – The More You Ignore Me, F

Charlotte Bronte – Jane Eyre, F

Emily Bronte – Wuthering Heights, F

Frances Hodgson Burnett – The Secret Garden, CF

A Little Princess, CF

Little Lord Fauntleroy, CF

Jessie Burton – The Miniaturist, F

Nora Carroll – The Color of Water in July, F

Father Gary Caster – The Little Way of Lent, NF

Jung Chang – Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, NF

Pauline A. Chen – The Red Chamber, F

Agatha Christie – Murder in Mesopotamia, F

Toby Clements – Kingdom Come, F

Clara Cannucciari – Clara’s Kitchen, NF

Susan Coolidge – What Katy Did, CF

What Katy Did at School, CF

Jill Cooper – How to Get Organized, NF

Penny-Pinching Mama, NF

Patricia Cornwell – Post Mortem, F

Richmal Crompton – William the Pirate, F

William’s Happy Days, F

Just William, F

William Again, F

Carolyn L. Dean – Bed, Breakfast and Bones, F

E.M. Delafield – Diary of a Provincial Lady, F

The Provincial Lady Goes Further, F

The Provincial Lady in Wartime, F

The Provincial Lady in America, F

The Provincial Lady in Russia, F

Monica Dickens – One Pair of Hands, NF

Berlie Doherty – Abela, CF

Arthur Conan Doyle – A Study in Scarlet, F

The Sign of Four, F

Andrew Eade – Coldwater Fishkeeping, NF

Edith Eger – The Choice, NF

Grace Foakes – Four Meals for Fourpence, NF

Neil Gaiman – The Sleeper and the Spindle, F

Coraline, CF

Norse Mythology, F

Lisa Gardner – Catch Me, F

Fear Nothing, F

Right Behind You, F

Look For Me, F

Elizabeth Gaskell – Ruth, F

Wives and Daughters, F

Cranford, F

Lewis Haas – The Basics of a Healthy Vegan Lifestyle, NF

James Herriot – All Creatures Great and Small, F

Let Sleeping Vets Lie, F

Elizabeth Jane Howard – The Light Years, F

Marking Time, F

Laila Ibrahim – Mustard Seed, F

Eowyn Ivey – The Snow Child, F

David Jackson – Don’t Make a Sound, F

Kevin Jackson – Mayflower: The Voyage from Hell, NF

Julian of Norwich – Revelations of Divine Love, NF

Judith Kerr – When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, CF

The Other Way Round, CF

A Small Person Far Away, F

Jeff Kinney – Cabin Fever, CF

Choderlos de Laclos – Les Liaisons Dangereuses, F

Brother Lawrence – The Practice of the Presence of God, NF

Ursula K. Le Guin – A Wizard of Earthsea, F

Bonnie Leon – To Love Anew, F

C.S. Lewis – The Horse and His Boy, CF

The Silver Chair, CF

Patricia MacLachlan – The Sarah Plain and Tall Collection, CF

More Perfect than the Moon, CF

Katie Davis Majors – Daring to Hope, NF

Imogen Matthews – The Hidden Village, F

Anne McCaffrey – Dragonsong, F

Thomas Meehan – Annie, CF

A.A. Milne – The House at Pooh Corner, CF

L.M. Montgomery – Anne of Green Gables, CF

D.L. Moody – A Life for Christ, NF

Jill Murphy – The Worst Witch, CF

Rebecca Musser – The Witness Wore Red, NF

Nujeen Mustafa – The Girl from Aleppo, NF

Kristin Neff – Self-Compassion Step by Step, NF

E. Nesbit – The Phoenix and the Carpet, CF

The Magic City, CF

Five Children and It, CF

The Railway Children, CF

Trevor Noah – Born a Crime, NF

Amanda Prowse – My Husband’s Wife, F

The Art of Hiding, F

Weina Dai Randel – The Moon in the Palace, F

Ruth Rendell – Simisola, F

Richard Rohr – Preparing for Christmas, NF

Letting Go, NF

Jennifer Roy – Yellow Star, F

Simon Schama – A History of Britain: At the Edge of the World? 3500BC-AD1603, NF

William L. Shirer – The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, NF

Jim Smith – My Dad is a Loser, CF

Ruth Soukup – 31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero, NF

John Steinbeck – Of Mice and Men, F

Noel Streatfeild – Ballet Shoes, CF

David Suchet – Questions of Faith, NF

Sun Tzu – The Art of War, NF

Amy Tan – The Joy Luck Club, F

The Bonesetter’s Daughter, F

The Kitchen God’s Wife, F

Ann Tatlock – A Room of My Own, F

Cynthia Voigt – Homecoming, F

Ann Voskamp – One Thousand Gifts Devotional, NF

One Thousand Gifts, NF

Susanna de Vries – Great Pioneer Women of the Outback, NF

Sabra Waldfogel – Sister of Mine, F

Paul Washer – Ten Indictments Against the Modern Church, NF

Lauren Weisberger – The Devil Wears Prada, F

Tara Westover – Educated, NF

Oscar Wilde – Lady Windermere’s Fan, F

Laura Ingalls Wilder – Little House in the Big Woods, CF

Little House on the Prairie, CF

On the Banks of Plum Creek, CF

By the Shores of Silver Lake, CF

The Long Winter, CF

Little Town on the Prairie, CF

These Happy Golden Years, CF

The First Four Years, CF

Jacqueline Wilson – Hetty Feather, CF

Wave Me Goodbye, CF

John Wyndham – The Chrysalids, F

The Day of the Triffids, F

Pam Young – Sidetracked Home Executives, NF

 

 

Endings, Beginnings

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 

James 2:14-16 (NRSVA)

This was part of my bible reading for yesterday, 31st December 2018. It was particularly striking for me because it seems to be the summation of what God has been speaking into the lives of my family and I.

I’m beginning 2019 with Veganuary, for a combination of reasons. Going vegan is the single best action I can make for the environment. Countless studies have shown this. Here’s a recent one. I also wrote a blog post about climate change a few years back.

Climate change affects the poorest most, so addressing my contribution to this is something I can do that is concrete. I also don’t want to be party to the treatment of animals that takes place on farms and in abbatoirs. It’s violent whichever way you look at it and I can’t reconcile the compassion that I have learned through following Jesus with violence in whatever form. I also have health problems and veganism has been demonstrated time and again as the antidote to so many health problems that for someone like me, I can’t not do it.

We’re also developing a proper financial system for our family so that we can be more responsible and more accountable with our money. Not that we’re exactly irresponsible, but we’re not as mindful of all our assets as we could be. Our income has dropped rapidly in the past few years so it was necessary and long overdue. It’ll mean focusing on the important things.

So I prayed about what should be my phrase or word for 2019 and came up with this:

KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Seems obvious, but Complex PTSD can make things feel overwhelmingly complicated, so this is a real blessing just on its own. Be blessed, friends, in 2019. Lay down your life for Him so that He can pick it up. Shalom.

Lessons

I have friends… I’m still getting to know them. They understand pain and loss. They tell me I won’t always feel like this. They remind me that I have the strength to survive. They promise that one day I will learn to live again. They have introduced me to other people who know what it’s like to not be able to sleep at night. And sometimes, talking with all these other crazies, I feel almost sane again.

~ from Look for Me by Lisa Gardner

Never thought a quote from the very end of a novel by one of my favourite authors would sum up exactly how I feel about the mental health theatre group that I recently joined. It’s good. Progress sometimes feels like going in the wrong direction, but it’s still progress.