FMF – VISION

Today I write again for the Five-Minute-Friday writing challenge.

One thing I am growing to love about this challenge is the fresh spontaneity of association and all that flows.

This week’s prompt is VISION

Go –

Confession time.

One of the games I have played as long as I remember is eye-games. I like to stare at images and shift the gaze or close my eyes to transfer the image as a negative into a different space… Have you done this? It is especially good with light and dark shapes and images that somehow fix themselves onto the retina or whatever it is?

The other game is closing one eye and scanning the positions of all within my field of vision, then swapping eyes and looking how the view has changed. I used to try measuring the difference of shift too and seeing if it always matched the distance between my eyes.

Silly games, but they fascinated me. (they still do!)

photography view camera photographer lens hand blurred focus sun sunset sunrise lake concept

What we see depends so much on what we are looking for and what we have already been looking at. If I have been sketching, I see perspective, light and shadows; if cleaning photos with ‘photo-shop’ software, I would find my mind’s-eye cleaning up the blemishes as I walk along the streets…

When I spend time consciously in the presence of God, I tend to see my world from a heavenly perspective and approach it with hope and compassion.

When I read the Word of God, I see its application in the conversations and events of my everyday…

When my focus is on myself, my troubles and concerns, the weight drags me down.

When my focus is on the burdens and injustices in the world, these are the only things I see.

It is imperative that I bring my own concerns, the burdens of others and the injustices in the world to the throne-room of God. When I see the enormity of the power and love God, I see everything back in its true perspective.

In today’s world there is potential for information and sensory overload and overwhelm.

So choose what to focus on, choose what to switch off and keep your eyes on Jesus.

Stop.

There’s a great song there, and it is swirling my brain as my next ear-worm, I hope it keeps me focussed today –

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His Glory and Grace.

My Anchor

this is such a beautiful poem by Fay Ann – so beautiful.
I love the shape and ebb and flow of the rhythm and psalm-like quality – wading through honest lament and returning to eternal hope. Be blessed.
Thank you Fay Ann

The Inspirational Room by Fay Ann Swearing

As always thank you for reading. I am truly grateful that you stopped by. Feel free to like, share, leave your thought or reblog. Until we meet again in this space…much love and blessings.♥♥♥

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Abuse of power

This is not my normal post and not something I want to watch, but if you do not know, please watch this video and pray for our brothers and sisters in Shanghai, all over China and in all parts of the world where power is abused.

Please pray for God’s Kingdom to come and for all men and women to know the love and laws of God and thus to know peace and joy.

Lord have mercy.

April thanksgiving blossoms

April thanksgiving blossoms

Magnolia blossom in Newstead Abbey gardens

As the daylight hours lengthen, the trees bloom and flowers burst out, my heart sings, refreshed and delighted:

Blessed be God forever.

I praise Father God for His unfathomable love, that He would want to save a wretch like me!

Thank you for calling me, choosing me and equipping me, and this precious reader, with quality seeds to sow and for all the subsequent growth, blossom, fruit and the harvest in our lives.

Blessed be God forever.

I thank God specifically today for all the fruit and answers to prayer during April.

That S achieved grade As and has blossomed during her time in the school.

That S finally wrote his article.

For all the families blessed by the 2 weeks of lunch-club over Easter and for all the amazing volunteers. For your faithful provision for this.

For the opportunity to bless 3 special people and to celebrate their birthdays with them.

For the creative ideas for the Sunday School lessons and great tasks to do with my own grandchildren too.

For the beautiful liturgy of the Easter Triduum, the opportunity to enter into it all and the rich revelations and blessings that came from it.

For my new Saturday volunteer.

For opportunities to bless specific S, E and J with a cuppa and a welcome in the shop.

For sorting out the upcoming weekend that I was unaware needed fixing.

For introducing me to new bloggers through the FMF community.

For other opportunities to grow relationships and connections with the beautiful people you have put in my life – for each one of them, family, friends and passing acquaintances – I am truly so gratefully delighted.

Thank you that I can bring their prayer requests to you and you answer those prayers.

Blessed be God forever.

For saving H in the accident, for sending the right people to get the van out of the ditch and for him still not missing the ferry!!

Thank you for S and those others who have said they will come to the banquet.

Thank you for leading me to the right counseling course and for opening that door and a place becoming available.

For providing for this.

That my presentation event was not cancelled, but went ahead and was successful.

For all your help preparing the material and for giving me Your peace, so that I could deliver the material.

Thank you that I even sold 2 paper copies of the book and made some lovely connections at the centre.

Lord, I am so grateful to You that I no longer feel the need to run away and hide – from You or from anybody.

For Psalm 139 and all the truths therein.

Thank you for Your faithfulness to me and Your great patience and mercy every day of my life.

That You know me better than I know myself and yet You still love me.

That You are my HOPE and my Healing.

Blessed be God forever.

Lord, I thank You for answering each of those specific and general prayers. Let me never take You for granted or forget all that You do for each one of us – that You care for those that we care about.

What were you grateful for during April?

Tortoise or Hare?

Five minute Friday writing prompt – FAST

I am slow coming to this prompt, as I had a very busy last week.

Go

This is a word that describes what I am not! In the tale of the hare and the tortoise, I am the tortoise. That said, I don’t mean that I win, or run a better race, but that I simply do not do anything very quickly at all. Fastidious could be a better word to describe my processing; I am usually thorough, persistent and concerned with getting it right.

I know it is not good to compare oneself, but we often do and I particularly notice when I am around people who do work fast and think and act quickly. My best friend was one of these – I would find she had finished a job before I had understood what the job was. And she always did a very good job! It used to bother me, but I accept it now.

On Saturday I had another example of a comparison with a person that could be described as ‘fast’. She described herself as ‘new to writing’, but had started ‘having a go’ with writing at the start of lock-down, two years ago. She amazed me by not only having written and published a novel already, but also having written and published not one, but 30, novellas!!! How is that even possible? But it is, it was and I hope she continues to get joy and success out of her writing.

I take my hat off to such people. My first book took me eight years to write and publish, and this second one has taken six years to date (and still counting, as it is still in its editing/re-writing stage).

But we are, thank God, all uniquely blessed with very different talents. Speed is not one of mine.

Another meaning of ‘fast’ came to mind this morning, as I thought about this prompt, as today is a ‘fast-day’ for me. It is also not something I am good at, or something I look forward to or enjoy; but it is something I have been doing in obedience for the last 18 months or so – it is another one of those disciplines that I do in faith and at the end of it, I am always so happy to have done it.

That’s all I can write, because my 5 minutes are up, and, as I say, because I do not do anything very quickly.

Tortoise or hare, do not compare,

just keep on keeping on,

plodding or flying,

until you get there.

Five-minute-Friday: Writing prompt: Run.

Five-minute-Friday: Writing prompt: Run.

Go –

I would like to have written about how I love to go running – but I don’t! It hurts my knees, so I don’t do it any more.

But running away is something I have done plenty of in my life.

When things were a bit too much for me, I would run. I would escape. I would be an ostrich and run and hide.

The amygdala is a part of the brain that is thought to control or deal with the strong emotions – fear, anger and pleasure – and it is that which is said to be responsible for the basic responses to big fear – the fight, flight and freeze responses.

I am not a fighter.

In the throes of actual confrontation of fear, I would freeze, but then, on surviving that, I would plot my way to run.

I have often ran away from intimate relationships, but really I was always running away from my own thoughts and true feelings.

My feelings were what I felt most compelled to run and hide from. They were what had me most in fear of falling apart.

I am so grateful to say that I am no longer like this. By the grace of God and a long process, I no longer need to run or hide.

I don’t hide from my own truth now. I have faced those Bogeymen! I still have fear sometimes, but I face it, knowing I am safe in the here-and-now presence of God.

And I am so thankful that I cannot hide from God. It says somewhere in the Psalms – where can I run to and hide? If I go to the edges of the world or the bottom of the sea, You Lord are right there.

I am so happy that I cannot hide from my loving Father and I am so grateful that He also pursued me when I tried to hide. I praise God for His never-ending patience, mercy and active loving of all of His creation. I thank Him for His promise to never, ever leave me, no matter where I go!

Stop.

Aren’t you grateful that you cannot hide from Him?

Five-minute Friday – Deny: Foot washing?

I sort of want to cheat today, because I have been burning to share a thought with you that has been floating around my heart for a few weeks, but was right back with me in the beautiful Maundy Thursday liturgy last night.

Having just seen today’s writing prompt, I will attempt to put the ideas into words and make the reflection fit the title –

Deny

Having loved his own who were in the world, he [Jesus] now showed them the full extent of his love.  John 13:1 (NIV ‘84)

Go –

Jesus had spent 3 years of His life with this band of individuals, who had witnessed many miracles, hugely radical teaching and had seen and experienced His compassion, forgiveness and love for them, but also for complete strangers. They had seen Him show equal love to male and female, healthy and sick, lepers, cripples, beggars, the immoral, the swindlers and hypocrites.

But He had loved them, forgiven them, healed them, taught them patiently and constantly denied Himself in order to fulfil His mission.

He had shown them such radical, unconditional love.

But there He was, in the room in Jerusalem, knowing He was about to suffer and lay down His life… He prays for His disciples present and all of us; He shares the passover meal and settles the promise of the New Covenant in His blood and continues to teach them, but the it says:

he [Jesus] now showed them the full extent of his love.  

He then took off His outer garment and wrapped a towel around His waste, got down on the floor and one by one He washed their feet, telling them to do likewise.

What blows me away is how big a deal this one act was.

He even washed the feet of Judas!

But it was not about washing feet!

And I asked myself: What is this act of complete humility to me? What would be my unthinkable act of service?

I remember years ago, when I became a carer for my mother, saying “I’ll do it until I have to start wiping her bum!” Of course, as that time came I shifted the boundaries as my love grew.

What act of denial, forgiveness, generosity, sacrifice or service would be beyond me?

What are my limits of love? Of course my love is limited, but the more time I spend with Him, the more it grows.

What would I refuse my Lord, who denied Himself and gave up everything for me?

Stop.

What about you? Is there something you would deny to Him? He loves you none-the-less!

Book Tour Review. ‘Burrowed’ by Maressa Mortimer.

Burrowed, by Maressa Mortimer – fresh out this month (April 2022)

BUY HERE on https://vicarioushome.com/ or on Amazon

This must be the first time I have read an entire book in five sittings!

This gripping adventure is billed for teens and older, but as an adult I was gripped by the plot, full of intrigue, mystery and a weaving of relationships and challenges.

Set in the fictional island community of Ximiu, our heroine, Jasira, the daughter of the Governor and a budding detective, discovers a plot to undermine the island’s way of life.

Maressa Mortimer has created a world that has challenged the status quo and put women in power. Her matriarchal world has risen to the challenge of making sacrifices to create a sustainable way of life and future.

The author cleverly approaches some very topical political themes and issues: sustainability, radical green solutions, gender/power inequalities and stereotypes, democracy, exploitation, propaganda, science, genetics and over-population. Her characters grapple with the complexities of change and the practical considerations of forcefully implementing any system.

The relationships between the characters are a forum to explore issues of trust, compromise, team-work and courage, as they learn to face their own strengths and weaknesses to overcome forces larger than themselves.

I take responsibility for the thoughts that came up in myself, but I found myself making many parallels and comparisons with political issues and the contemporary world’s approach to the environmental and climate crisis.

For me, the book reminded me of many themes that disturb me about a move towards a more authoritarian political climate.

I was reflecting on human-trafficking and the exploitation of weaker communities and our pilfering of resources to serve the richest.

I considered the gender inequalities throughout the world and how male and female can have such complimentary qualities, that working together can create a harmonious world.

I saw parallels in media propaganda and the blind acceptance of rhetoric (despite the evidence and their secret resentment) and how the ‘sheeple’ often police the authoritarian agendas, believing that it is ‘all for our own good and for our future’.

I found myself considering possibilities and ways to address climate change that maybe did not involve such drastic measures and sacrifices; that perhaps need not let the ‘baby out with the bathwater’.

I saw a world where we inadvertently let ‘science’ dictate policy and let ‘green sustainability’ become the new religion, with a focus on animals and the environment at the expense of human life.

Burrowed also brings the reader on a journey of growth through choices, courage, risk, sacrifice, justice, loss, disappointment and faith.

Emotionally, I worked through the grief and anger that God does not always say Yes in answer to our prayers. Sometimes God seems far away and when we have to deal with grief, pain and injustice, it can feel like God is either unjust or uncaring. Jasira has to process her own response to disappointment and grief, but I was left with hope in the goodness of God and that, though life can sometimes be hard and grieving is dry and grey, that surely ‘this too shall pass’ and we can re-learn to trust, to love and to hope again.

Maressa reminds us that we are allowed to see the splashes of colour in the grey winter, if we refuse to pull up the pretty flowers that appear in the cracks.

Five-minute-Friday: Explore

20:13 Go

I love to explore!

I was in a fascinating webinar last night, looking at the disease that has taken education over the last 30+ years and exploring solutions. One of the attendees suggested that schools allow 20% of curriculum time for children to ‘explore’ themes and questions that interest them – with guidance and facilitation by the teacher, of course.

My own response was – 20%?? Is that all?

I remember a good friend from back in my teaching days in London, who used to regularly ask me at a weekend

“What did the children bring you this week?”

This was because it delighted him that I built almost all of my curriculum around what the children brought to me in the week. If a child has experienced something, it is something that can be discussed, researched, creatively expressed, counted, measured, looked at in every ‘curriculum-discipline’ way. And these things the child never forgets.

But I don’t want to just talk about how children learn through exploration.

I myself love to explore.

My learning style is mostly kinaesthetic, which means that rather than hearing about something, or seeing it, I learn best if I experience it. For me, this is what exploration is – it is the way I learn.

This morning I completed a small example of such learning.

About 18 months ago, A friend bought me a gift of some air-drying clay.

The instructions were not in English, so I kept meaning to look up on the internet ‘how to use air-drying clay.’ I don’t follow internet and YouTube instructions well, so I didn’t do it.

I looked around a few months ago for a ceramics class, but could find nothing in my budget or location.

Finally last week I opened the packet, took out a chunk and began to make something – allowing it to suggest a shape and I made a little pot.

This morning, I took out a range of gouache and acrylic paints to see what would work and I painted it. Trial and error. I explored it and it was such fun!

Here it is.

My finished little pot.

PS: I’ve run over time now, but just to say that I had such fun squidging the clay, that I took the clay to use with the children at Sunday School last week. They concentrated so well on the story I told them and asked amazing questions, whilst their hands were busy exploring the clay. Soon I’ll tell more stories whilst they paint their creations.



My March Joys and Thanksgiving

March Thanksgiving

Spring bursting out along the paths.

I do love March.

March contains my birthday and some clear signs of Spring; plus more daylight hours and therefore the hope of more opportunities to be out and about.

We have had some amazingly hot weather and some crazy snow and hail downpours – truly balmy weather, just as we British love it!

This March I scheduled several very sociable occasions, so I found myself extremely thankful for the connections to wonderful people that have blessed my life.

I had a party for my birthday, a trip away to see special friends, a reunion of great school-pals and the occasion of a funeral thanksgiving service to meet up with memories of special people from my past.

I am so thankful for each and every one of those people and for the value they have added into my life. So grateful.

My word for March, and for most of this year so far, has to be faithful. Not me, but God.

God is so very faithful.

Here again I want to give public thanks to God for all of the visible answers, during March, to specific prayers brought before His throne.

Specifically I thank God for:

Being well enough to go ahead with the party and for all being well enough to attend.

For inspiration to make just enough food to serve everyone throughout the day and not be overwhelmed with leftovers.

For an invitation to do a presentation at a lit-fest in April.

For smooth, seamless train connection on each of the journeys away.

For the timing and honour of being with D at the moment I was needed and for many opportunities to glorify Your name.

That D has a job and home that she loves.

For being able to take the opportunity to meet face-to-face with some great writer friends.

For 3 invitations for food and connection with old acquaintances in London.

For a successful DIY week and mutually pleasant company.

For encouragements for myself as a writer and blogger.

For evidence of real growth and healing of my inner-child and for a great new strategy to help me face fear.

For the great turn-out of love and friendship for the thanksgiving service for a great man of God.

For scheduled catch-up time with L. and film nights with C.

For the celebration of 7 years sober – for Your help every step of the way and for AA and the wonderful community they are.

For healing and refreshing L.

For the deepening friendships in our special ‘home-group’.

For mothers everywhere, but thank you for all the blessings that I have received as a mother and a grandmother – joy beyond words!

Lord, You are faithful.

Psalm 5:3 says, ‘In the morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation.’

Blessed be God forever.

What are you grateful for today?