faith

When Love is an Ocean

July 20, 2017
Love is an Ocean - Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen for She Loves

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand
– Oceans, by Hillsong

I sat on the wooden floor of the church meeting room, surrounded by the gentle chattering of my colleagues on the course and looked at the blank piece of paper in front of me. We were meant to be creating a symbol to represent this past year of formation in Spiritual Direction. Everyone else was busy drawing, writing, cutting and sticking. I wasn’t sure where to begin.

I flicked through the magazine in front of me and stopped on a picture of a beautiful seaside view, maybe somewhere in Italy or Greece. The water was a dazzling sparkling blue and drew me in.

I thought back to my appraisal session with my tutor. I’d started telling her I felt disappointed with my performance that year. I’m normally the one who does all the extra credit. I read all the books, I go above and beyond what is expected. It’s for the enjoyment of it, yes, but it’s also my way of controlling the outcome. This is how I make sure I don’t look silly or (God forbid) ignorant.

Instead, this year I have skated through on the bare minimum. Scratched words in my journal on the train on the way home to my sleeping family, a tiny handful of books read in small snatches during nap times in between hanging up the next load of laundry and making sure I’d remembered to pay the council tax bill. I’ve felt stretched thin this year, trying to keep up with this course with two young children and a house move on top of that.

I was disappointed, I told my tutor. And yet, as we reflected further together, all I could remember was the stream of illuminating experiences and learning and aha moments. I thought this would be like everything else – I get out only what I put in. God instead surprised me, again, with abundance. I came with a few loaves and fishes; God laid out a feast for me. I had just a cup of water, but God made it an ocean.

 

Read the rest of this post over at She Loves Magazine.

When have you experienced God’s abundance when you expected scarcity? How has it changed you?

faith, motherhood, She Loves Magazine, Writing Elsewhere

Is an ordinary life enough?

June 15, 2017

I realised with a start today that we’re already a week into Ordinary Time, that big empty space on the Christian calendar that falls between Pentecost and Advent. I’m not sure I like ordinary time. I don’t know what to do with this uninterrupted expanse.

I’m used to the gentle spiritual practices of Advent and Lent as we wait and prepare, the constant awareness of those seasons. I love the celebration of Christmas and Easter, with their colourful decorations and joyous feasting and loud singing. Pentecost is one big party and the Baptisms always make me cry. And if I’m allowed a favourite, mine might just be the mystery and magic of Epiphany.

These seasons and days are a loved and needed pattern to my year. Until we get to this week and there are just months of lazy summer and busy autumn until Advent Sunday finally rolls around again. I worry that without the structure and instruction of the calendar, I’ll drift away into the same emptiness that engulfs my planner, forget to keep my eyes and heart turned to the One who showed me what love looks like.

Maybe the deeper truth is that the idea of Ordinary scares me a bit. I don’t want ordinary–I want extraordinary. I want a life bursting into fireworks, days that light up like mountain-top beacons. I grew up singing anthems at massive Christian youth rallies that proclaimed I’m going to be a history maker in this land. Ordinary is not what I was promised, not what I promised to become.

 

Read the rest over at She Loves Magazine today. Do you struggle with feeling like your life is much more ordinary than you ever imagined? What do you do to remind yourself that everything is sacred?

faith, She Loves Magazine, Writing Elsewhere

The beauty of holy wandering

May 12, 2017

I’m two weeks into life in our new neighbourhood, and slowly getting to know my way around. Each morning I strap the toddler into the pushchair and encourage my preschooler daughter onto the buggy board, and out we go to explore.

We practice getting lost. It’s something I learnt sometime around two moves ago, when this now-tall girl was just a baby needing to be walked to sleep each afternoon. I got quickly bored of walking the same few streets, and so I started to branch off, without a plan of where I was headed. I started getting purposefully lost: a right turn instead of a left; walking down the side street instead of sticking to the main road.

Getting lost is the best way I know of discovering wonderful new things. My kids and I, we’ve discovered new parks and playgrounds, we’ve found beautiful old churches hidden behind new housing developments, overgrown nature reserves on a dead end street, fascinating Eastern European delis and Indian bakeries on unfamiliar corners.

Letting myself become physically lost requires a degree of courage (and a strong battery on the phone in my bag!) Getting spiritually lost feels much more uncomfortable, but I am learning how to turn down those interesting-if-slightly-sketchy-looking side streets of belief.

I have been walking the main streets of belief for decades, with barely a step out of place. It is familiar and easy and seemingly safe, but it is also so unvaried—nothing changing, no new vistas to inspire, no new sights or relationships to challenge.

It doesn’t make sense to get lost—that is the prevailing wisdom of our culture. Stay on the path you know, because what if you never find your way home again?

Read the rest of this post over at She Loves. I’d love to hear from you, how does it feel to head off the beaten track of your spirituality??