Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Victory Lap

Yesterday afternoon was not great.  It was a weather thing.  And a hot stuffy room thing.  And a room full of people thing.  And an every window open thing that made no difference.  And a boiling point thing. And an eruption thing.   And then an overflow of heated words thing.

Whoever had the nonsense to say “words will never hurt me” obviously hasn’t come across some of the words that were spoken yesterday.  After the torrent of words ceased to flow, the speaker picked up his bag and left the room.  

I wasn’t asking for the moon.  Or the stars.  I wasn’t being unreasonable.  It was just a simple word puzzle to aid revision of some interesting ideas we had been discussing over the last few weeks.  I’d even provided the pencil. 

The pencil and the puzzle never really came in contact with one another.  The brain never really engaged, and head rested gently on the table.  Eyes were closed.  There was no sign of life.
Touching his shoulder was much like pressing a detonator on a bomb. 

I remember a visiting speaker talking about stress management.  She brought with her a bottle of coke or some such fizzy concoction.  She talked us through a typical “bad” day.  With every unkind comment said, or target not met, or every time the photocopier jammed, or cup of coffee spilt or toe stepped on – she shook the bottle just a little.
“Do you want to open the bottle?”

I was on the receiving end of someone else’s shook up bottle – and the lid was off.
I can never just shake these moments off.  I run the incident over and over in my head, trying to come up with some scenario that didn’t end with angry words and a storming out of the room.  I look at faces of other people, higher up the management scale, to see if they think I could have handled it differently.  The boy, apparently, is a nice boy and nice boys don’t do that kind of thing.

I wasn’t up to my usual body stretching class at the end of the day.  The invisible bruises were throbbing.  I went home and made a cup of tea.  Rather than perform an autopsy on the afternoon, I  opened my Bible.  I have been reading slowly through Jonah and felt myself to be a tossed into stormy seas with no whale in sight to rescue me.
My soul was seeking comfort and solace and I found myself reading the last few lines of Isaiah 40. As I read the phrase “they will run and not grow weary,” the picture came to mind of a Olympic medal winner with his country’s flag draped around his shoulders running a victory lap.

Running the actual race and running a victory lap are very different kinds of running.  There are times when the faith walk is the race – with all the training beforehand, and the speed and the stamina of running the race.  Other times we have to run the victory lap – we have to remind ourselves that the medal is already won for us.  We clothe ourselves not in a country’s flag but in the robe of righteousness given us by God.  It’s not the national anthem that is blasting out of the speaker – but the applause of a whole host of witnesses in the heavenly relams.
I will not say my way is hid
Or that You do not see
I will not say You close Your eyes
To things that trouble me
I know…I’ve heard, Creator God
A truth that will not die
Times when the world would wear me down
This is my battle cry
Strength and power are mine to claim
I fix my hope in You
Refreshed, I soar and run and walk
I'm blessed in all I do

Sunday, May 20, 2012

What Is God?

My friend Jeanni shared this mediation with our fellowship last Sunday.

What is God?

1)    God is a spirit – infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His Being

I am who I am and what I am – this is My Name forever.

Ex. 3:14

Never and nowhere will God cease to be: never and nowhere will God change.

2)    God is a spirit – infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His Wisdom.

…and the wisdom from above is first of all pure; then it is peace-loving, considerate and gentle; reasonable, full of compassion and good fruits;  it is wholehearted and straightforward, impartial, steadfast and sincere.

Jas. 3:17

Never and nowhere will God cease to be: never and nowhere will God change.

3)    God is a spirit – infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His Power.

You are the One,
O Lord my God, who covers Yourself with light as with a garment,
who stretches out the heavens like a tent;
who lays the beams of the upper room of His abode above the firmament,
who makes the clouds His chariot,
who walks on the wings of the wind.

Ps. 104:2-3

Never and nowhere will God cease to be: never and nowhere will God change.


4)    God is a spirit – infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His Holiness.

Who among the gods is like You, O Lord?
Who is like You –
majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?

Ex. 15:11

Day and night they never stop saying,
”Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God
Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”

Rev. 4:8

Never and nowhere will God cease to be: never and nowhere will God change.

5)    God is a spirit – infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His Justice.

The Lord reigns forever;
He has established His throne for judgement.
He will judge the world in righteousness;
He will govern the peoples with justice.

Ps. 9:7-8

Never and nowhere will God cease to be: never and nowhere will God change.

6)    God is a spirit – infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His Goodness.

One generation will commend Your works to another;
they will tell of Your mighty acts.
They will celebrate Your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.

Ps. 145:4, 7-8

Never and nowhere will God cease to be: never and nowhere will God change.

7)    God is a spirit – infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His Truth.

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.
We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only,
who camefrom the Father,
full of grace and truth.

Jn. 1:14

Never and nowhere will God cease to be: never and nowhere will God change.

As it was in the Beginning,
Is now,
And ever will be,

Friday, May 18, 2012


Small of size
Large of leap
High jump champion
Of the insect world
I know how
To nail your feet
To the floor
Take away the
Empty space above
Let you
Bang your head
On the lid of the jar
Pain discourages
And you stop

Small as a mustard seed
Large as God’s promise
Mover of mountains
In the heavenly realms
The enemy knows how
To nail your feet
To the floor
Take away the
Word from your heart
Let you
Bang your head
On uncertainty
Doubt discourages
And you stop

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Vending Machines

We have a vending machine at work.  It just serves a variety of bottled water – still, sparkling and various flavours of both.  Not that far from the vending machine is a water fountain with an ever-present puddle around its base.  Bring your own bottle and it costs you nothing.

Other things one can buy from a vending machine, like crisps and chocolate, were discussed but dismissed as not conducive to a healthy lifestyle.  So, it’s just water.

A newspaper article last week stirred my imagination.  I hadn’t really thought one could be so creative with vending machines.  A cupcake vending machine seems to be all the range.  Opening times at bakeries are no longer an issue with a machine servicing the sweet tooth at any hour of the day and night.

Apparently it doesn’t stop at cupcakes.  Mobile phones, gold, shoes and bikes are also “vendable”.  You can even get does of heroin substitutes in a prison if you have a pin number.  Amazing!

Yes, we want things quickly and we want things at any time.  We don’t appear to want to wait.

The last items on the vending machine list were crockery.  The journalist suggested that access to crockery might be useful in stressful situation – you know, those moments when you would like to break something and someone’s neck is not really an option.

I thought of the extra cleaning up that the janitors would have to deal with if we had one of those vending machines in our workplace. 

I have never thrown crockery before.  I have dropped it accidentally.  I used to have recurring nightmares set in a school canteen where I would have a tray of food and the tray would always slip from my hands and crash to the floor.  The scene would repeat itself over and over.  No matter how firmly I held on to the tray or how carefully I placed items on the tray for equal weight and balance, the tray would always fall. 

My only real foray into stress release strategies in my early teaching days was to wait until the end of the day, when the classroom was empty and in that space between pupils leaving the room and cleaners arriving, I would write swear words on the blackboard and then rub them off quickly!  What I couldn’t say to a person, I could at least write it, and even though no one else read it, it was as if it was spoken and acknowledged in some way.  It helped.

I don’t write swear words on boards anymore, and given the opportunity to smash crockery, I would probably decline.  It’s not that I don’t get angry or stressed – I just try to deal with it in a much more effective way.

God allows me to take it to him.  We sort through all the rubbish and see if there isn’t a lesson or two to learn or a strategy to employ that produces less anger and stress in the first place.

I’m still wondering though if there isn’t a case to be made to management for the cupcake vending machine!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

The Days Ordained For Me

Someone at Faithwriter’s has started reading through some of my early poems and commenting on them.  This means that I get an email every so often that doesn’t relate to anything current but something written 7 or 8 years ago.  As I read the new comment, I find myself also reading the old ones.  One of them advised me to collect my poems together and publish a book.  Thanks to the generosity of my church family I have the resources made available for me to do that.

I would be lying if I didn’t say that I felt under pressure – which is not a bad thing.  I didn’t realise that I had so many poems.  Collecting them together, arranging them, editing them and producing something that someone else would want to read – I always knew that was going to be a big job.

I made a start last weekend.  Most of the poems are on a flash drive and I have started looking through them.

I wish there would be an audible “ping” in the ear when I come across a poem that should make it into the book.  That’s not happening.  I haven’t yet reached the stage of agonsing over a poem. 

I also made an attempt at editing.  Some poems don’t need to be touched.  They say exactly what I want them to say with the right choice of word and meter.  Others need a more serious overhaul.    

The Pencil written a couple of years ago, fell into that bracket.  Here’s the new version.

The Days Ordained For Me

The days you have ordained for me
Are written in your book
If I could wield the pencil, Lord
How different things would look

I’d bypass tears and sorrow
en only days of smiles
I’d write of glorious victories
Avoiding toil and trials

My days would burst with laughter
And nothing would go wrong
No bruising disappointments
Just light and lilting song

You’d soon reclaim the pencil
And show me days of pain
You’d trace the stains from teardrops
And lovingly explain

There’s treasure in the trials
And strength forged in the fight
And through the days of darkness
You’d be my one, true light!

It was based on Psalm 139:16.  I like the new version.  It is much tighter and I like the meter.  It doesn’t mean, however, that the poem makes the grade.

I was reading it through, again. 

“The trouble is”, said God, “That’s not what you would write at all.  Yes, in all likelihood you wouldn’t write days of tears and pain.  No one would.  Yes, you would avoid disappointments if you could.  Yes, there would be days of laughter and singing – but most days, if you wrote them yourself would be days of routine.  You might write about getting to grips with the ironing pile, or finally mopping the kitchen floor.  A pile of marking, a set of reports written

“Think about every to-do list you have ever written.  That’s you writing the day for yourself.  Even if you included a few “spiritual to-dos” like having a quiet time or really connecting in prayer – it’s still…earth-bound.

You wouldn’t write – “Go and find a ladybird and watch it climbing up a blade of grass” or “Make some cupcakes and take them around next door.”

“Your days, if you wrote them would be days of doing things that have to be done, or need to be done or ought to be done. 

“Your days, when I write them…they have some of those things too – the “have to be”, and “need to be” and “ought to be” done.  But sprinkled in among those things are a few “you probably don’t want to do this but it’s good for you” things and “you probably don’t think you can do this but try it anyway” things and a “you are really going to like this” thing.

“Your days, when I write them, are the best days you can have.  Even the bad days are the best days when they are shared with Me.”