This Life

The difference between the things you do without any need to push yourself, or make any kind of effort of will, and the things you wish you could get round to but somehow never manage, is just the way you represent them in your mind.

~ Julie-Ann Amos, ‘Install Self Discipline’

Self discipline is an important part of a healthy adult life. When you have been abused you can grow up with problems with self discipline. The negative beliefs about yourself can overflow into every aspect of your life. Self discipline is a means of self control, and if you have had your boundaries removed by years of abuse, it can be extremely difficult to recognise that you can do things on your own, that you are competent and able to make decisions.

When I was first a single mother, although it was hugely cathartic to be ‘set free’, all the responsibility seemed overwhelming. I was slowly drowning. God reached into the miry pit and rescued me. He brought me to Celebrate Recovery and to church. He brought my dear husband to me, and me to him. Through the six years of our marriage, He has continued this (necessarily slow) healing with gentleness and compassion. All I have had to do is be willing. This is the working of grace.

Now He is preparing me for the next part, whatever that may be, by helping me see my flaws with clarity, and the ways in which I need to change. Change continues, by grace, and I grow more and more in love  with my Saviour. I could not even stand without Him. I marvel at what He has done! This life is a miracle.

How is God working in your life? Do let me know in the comments.

Boundaries

emergency

Another trip to Accident & Emergency last night. I’m sure all parents can relate. We used to go several times a year because at least one child would have injured themselves falling off a skateboard, jumping off a swing, or hurtling down the stairs. I wonder if children in families with restricted television go to A&E more often, statistically speaking, than whose for whom telly/social media is unrestricted?

It wouldn’t be so bad but the nearest A&E is a 30-40 minute drive and it wears me out, so no church this morning (also 30 minutes away). Fluff’s friends, Pippa and Caitlyn (aka The Twins), came with us because they were already with us for a sleepover, so it made for a rather raucous rabble entering the hospital (in a way that only 13-year-old girls can be). I was glad, in some ways, because they kept Fluff entertained and even carried her from the car to the hospital entrance.

Fluff and Chip did their first ever show jumping yesterday afternoon and Fluff’s horse stood on her foot. When the foot turned blue and swollen later I didn’t want to risk not going to hospital. But I really miss it when we don’t go to church. We didn’t go last week either because Fluff was at Pippa and Caitlyn’s for a sleepover and I had to pick her up.

If you have children, do you sometimes get the impression that your role is chiefly that of general dogsbody and/or chauffeur? My life seems to exist as a sideshow to that of my kids, especially because I end up wearing myself out doing it all, so have no ‘spoons’ (see Spoon Theory) left over.

So what are you going to do about it? That’s what I’d like to know… ~ Paul Simon

Christ calls us to be servants, and this is why I do serve, but I have begun to wonder if I am actually indulging my children in my ‘serving’. So I have ordered a copy of Boundaries with Teens: When to Say Yes, How to Say No by John Townsend, who also co-wrote the life-changing Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life. The latter should be required reading for anyone who has experienced abuse or co-dependency, or who grew up in a dysfunctional home. Many who have not experienced these sorts of problems don’t realise quite how much ‘self’ is lost, or how incredibly damaging that is. I didn’t even know that I could make boundaries between myself and other people before I read this book. I had the vaguest idea because I’d heard other people talking about it, but because childhood abuse (particularly sexual abuse but not exclusively) robs the victim of personal boundaries, people could impinge on me with impunity and I didn’t even know they were doing it. No wonder I ended up in an abusive first marriage. I just thank God that He eventually put a stop to it all.

‘Boundaries…’ is full of sound, practical advice and the authors are devout Christians so each part is linked to the bible and the wisdom within. An excellent and life changing book, I also have high hopes for the ‘Boundaries with Teens’ version.

Fasting

I need to have a ‘fast’ from the internet. No blogging, no random youtubing, no news-reading, no online shopping, no nuffink for the duration of November. Why? Because I had a setback, health-wise, and it’s been getting me down. After some thinking and talking to God I realise that maybe this ‘setback’ is not really a setback. Maybe it’s just my ‘thorn in the flesh’.

…I was given a… physical ailment… Three times I prayed to the Lord about this and asked him to take it away. But his answer was: “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me. I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

extract from 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (GNT)

Like I say, I’m beginning to think this is actually a way to keep me focused on what’s most important – to help me keep my eye on the goal, as Paul wrote elsewhere. I do have a tendency that, when things are going well, I am so determined that they will stay well, or I’ll achieve whatever I set my mind to, that I end up denying the fact that I’ve been so unwell in the first place (which is ridiculous considering this illness – Myalgic Encephalopathy – has been part of my life, on and off, for well over two decades) and that I’ve had to face so many enormous emotional difficulties what with all the traumas, etc. In conclusion, then, I need to take some time to refocus on my health, my family, my marriage, my home, my studying and, most importantly, on God. It’s part of spiritual discipline, I suppose, in the sense that ‘discipline’ and ‘disciple’ come from the same root.

So take care. Stay well. Keep on loving Jesus.

See you soon x

Summer Sundays – Glad to Just Be

At the beginning of the year, I came across a blog post asking what readers thought God was saying to them, in as few words as possible. ‘Just be‘ is what came to mind when I prayed. I have tried to let go of worry and stress and anxiety and live up to these words ever since. Paradoxically, rather than leading to carefree abandon, ‘just be’ has actually involved becoming more and more disciplined.

 

Discipline

Origin: From Middle English… via Old French from Latin disciplina ‘instruction, knowledge’, from discipulus (see disciple).’

 

Disciple, noun

‘A personal follower of Christ during his life, especially one of the twelve Apostles.

A follower or pupil of a teacher, leader, or philosopher.

Origin: Old English, from Latin discipulus ‘learner’, from discere ‘learn’…

Source: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com

 

Discipline. Hmm. It’s not what you think.

 

This Christ discipline, I am learning, is a quiet discipline. It is not made of ‘should’ or ‘ought’, or layer upon layer of soul-crushing guilt. Surrender is emotional and physical as well as spiritual (this came as a surprise to me!). It is not until we surrender our life, soul and body that we realise how far we are from surrender. Another paradox.

 

Last night the girls and I took it in turns to read from ‘Heaven for Kids’ and then from ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’. Those of us not reading were absorbed in crafting. I was finishing off a crocheted dance bag for Chip (she has recently taken up ballet) and the girls were making birthday cards for a relative. In the loving quiet, which so resembled the place that surrender has created, we all had a space. We shared. It was peaceful, restful – and I was so, so thankful.

The Un-paving Paradise Project: April 2014

‘A U.N. group of scientists said an immediate push is necessary to halt the worst effects of climate change. Its report showed that it is still possible to contain the worst effects of climate change, but governments must take extensive measures to reduce carbon emissions.’

From Time

There have been a plethora of news reports recently about the need for humanity to dramatically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions or the whole planet is ****** (insert expletive of your choice – this is one occasion where it’s warranted). In light of this, the Un-paving Paradise Project has taken on even more significance. I feel I should apologise for all those years of ignorance, but as one can’t apologise to the planet, unless you live in some sort of weird Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy parallel universe, perhaps it’s better to do something. It’s no use crying over spilt milk, so the saying goes, to which I would add so you’d better figure out how to clean up the mess.

 

In recent weeks I have taken on two new environmentally friendlier habits, prompted by blog posts on My Make Do and Mend Year and Eco Thrifty Living. I have also decided that, having experienced the spiritual discipline of Lent, after it ends next week I would like to continue the little discipline of fasting/abstaining, and I would like to do this alongside practical things to benefit the environment, my health and my family.

 

My most recent eco friendly habits (which are for April and May) are as follows:

It’s a thermos. That’s it.

1) When I want a cuppa, I fill the kettle with approx. 1.2 litres of water. I use roughly 200ml for my tea and put the rest in a 1 litre stainless steel thermos flask. If Frank also wants a hot drink, I boil a little more water and decant accordingly. Boiling the kettle for one cuppa five times over (which is what I would usually do) uses more energy than boiling 1.2 litres and essentially making four to five drinks, even if you only boil exactly the right amount for your drink. Thus the thermos method not only saves energy (electric kettles are big consumers of energy in the home) but also saves £££, especially if you add it all up over the course of a year.

For more information on how using a thermos can reduce your energy consumption, click here.

 

Cows produce methane. Methane is 22 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Rainforests are the best absorbers of carbon dioxide, but they’re being destroyed to make way for cattle grazing. Unfortunately the soil is not suited to grazing so within a couple of years the farmers are compelled to cut down more rainforest 😦 Rainforest is also destroyed in order to plant soya, which is used as animal feed worldwide. Eating less meat sounds like a good idea to me. And to Daisy. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of Daisy.

 

2) My second eco friendly habit is reducing my meat consumption. I have pledged via DoNation to eat meat only if I have not had it the day before. As an adult I have had the great pleasure of becoming lactose intolerant (which is far more common than you’d think – 70% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant, but only 2% of Northern Europeans). Lactose intolerance means I don’t eat dairy because it makes me sick, so on the non-meat days I’m eating essentially a vegan diet, bar the odd free range egg. In reality, because I am trying to eat more healthily anyway, this is likely to mean me eating meat for around 15% of meals.

For more information on why eating less meat and dairy is better for the environment, click here.