The Hardest Friends to Have

there are ‘friend requests’

there are regular see often friends

and there are faces I know or have known and I hover above the request button wondering if I should press send

and the ones I see irregularly, you know in supermarket isles and other places

and there have been words left unsaid for so long that it seems hard to go back to the place and say them now, like searching for a scar from childhood chicken pox – it’s there somewhere but will finding it and revisiting it even change anything now?

The friends or lapsed friendships with people who’ve I’ve let down

and isn’t it so much easier just to keep moving and make the new friends who think you are funny, who have seen the ‘show reel’ of your life and are currently impressed, who like your style… the ones whose birthdays you haven’t forgotten, the ones whose phone calls you’ve managed to return, the ones who you haven’t had an all out disagreement with or said that awful thing that hurt them so personally….

those friends who you’ve let down, who’ve seen you at the worst of your worst, and weren’t married or related so didn’t have to stick around, those friends who’ve challenged you about your behaviour, who’ve told you that you hurt them….

those are the hardest friends to have but given grace and humility and forgiveness – on both sides of the fence

those can be the best of friends

the ones whose acceptance is complete but who will not be complicit to allowing you to be less than you can be

those with whom you cannot fake perfection because they have so clearly seen your imperfection

it’s humbling to stay relating to the ones you’ve hurt – harder I think than the ones who have hurt you – because you have no upper hand you are simply an imperfect person who is trying to love them the best you can and are sometimes too selfish to even try that hard.

but oh the sweetness of their encouragement when they can see the good despite the bad, and they can, in abundant grace, share that with you – not because you deserve it but because they are generous

may we all have those hardest friends and may we all find strength to extend radical grace to others remembering perhaps (in my case anyway) that that line is much shorter than the line up of those I’ve let down.

those friendships are the picture of the sweetest grace that says
even though you denied me, 
misunderstood me 100 times, 
couldn’t stay awake with me when I was totally downcast, 
even though all of that and more, 
you I will call my friends, 
you I will give my peace, 
and you will be my people called to welcome in others, 
I will align myself with you and call you my own

and who can even begin to understand a friend, The Friend, who loves us like that?

And we are invited to this: You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. Matt 5v48b

What I Fear from Praise and Criticism

This sharing …

it is wonderful and enlarging and diminishing and terrifying.

What if I say something and misled? What if I offend? What if I am wrong?

What if I am a clanging cymbal that drowns out the deep quiet of His love?

It stops my heart with hope for the moment where you know his love, his welcome, his embrace.

And when I am complimented I feel this fear rise up and whisper – you won’t be able to sustain this, you’ll run out, your words will eventually expose your lack

and when I am challenged I feel this fear rise up and whisper – you think you know something and look you know nothing, you have offended, you have become a stumbling block to someone coming in, you have been weighed in the balance and found wanting

And shouldn’t I recognise that whisper? Shouldn’t I know that giving up and giving in, and hiding in my shame and fear is a victory for the wrong side?

Hiding is always a loss – whatever the reason that drove me there.

Can I hear above the churning and the tightness – my grace is sufficient in weakness, perfection is not what makes you capable, I will never, never run out – there is always more of Me.

And I am suspended in a place of contradiction where I know I see in a mirror dimly and I will get it wrong and I am still learning but I am driven forward by this fierce desire to encourage, to be generous, to share it.

So I live with contradiction. Called to humility and generosity.

Giving it all while knowing I am so, so limited – this is the place of freedom – and I sing to myself it is well, it will be well.

I want to be both careful and careless – to know I am limited, to live with abundance.

Whatever the whisper that shuts you down 
– praise or criticism, the response or the silence, accolades or rejection – 
may you know how to still your heart beyond the cheers or the jeers and hear the Voice that calls you out on the water 
and may you risk it all and toss your feet over the side of the boat and fix your eyes on the face of the faithful One who calls you.

On Being Known

When you watch the ‘after reports’ when there has been some awful unexpected act of violence in a community and the neighbour says ‘he/she seemed like such a nice person, always kept the garden in order, collected our post when we went away. I guess we didn’t really know them’.

And Jesus has this sucker punch line where he’s having this conversation with people as time draws to a close and he says ‘I never knew you.

I have to be honest and say that is one of those bits of the Bible that gives me the shakes. How can I be sure?

Lately I’ve felt reminded about those lines of Jesus and those neighbourly responses.

It’s about being known, not about knowing.

There are lots of people who know me – I’m kind of loud and hard to miss at times.

But there aren’t as many who know me. People whom I am known by.

Really knowing someone is actually not always to be desired. My husband knows me – he knows how I get upset and worked up about little things and how I refuse to deal with compost because it’s icky, he knows some of the things I worry about that are ridiculous and time sapping, he knows me and he chooses to continue to get to know me….

he has come to know me truly as he has patiently stood beside me when I am being most unreasonable

he has come to know me because I have trusted him with the least attractive parts of me – I have chosen to take the leap of letting him into my fears and frustrations and fallenness.

It is possible to be married, or in a family, or a best friend to someone and for them to only know part of you, it is possible to hide away a million things about myself even in very close proximity.

The act of being known requires a giving of myself, the whole of me.

This act of allowing myself to be known by him, and some other beautiful people, has brought me great freedom, it has brought me peace, it has nudged me further towards wholeness, it has unburdened me.

I want to be known by Jesus but that doesn’t come from a performance based Christianity, it doesn’t come from weekly attendance at church, or giving, or writing, or knowing how to act like a Christian, or anything done in the public arena.

I become known when I unburden myself and I say, see this mess I’ve been carrying around? I know you know about it but I want to show it to you. I want you to see all of me. I am desperately worried that you will be disappointed in me but I want to trust you and I want to be free to be known by you and to know you and it’s too hard to hide this mess any longer.

The act of being known requires generosity

allowing the One to have an access all areas pass

and what will I find when I come out from hiding in the garden to walk with him in the cool of the evening?

I guess I will find I become known and I will being to know better the love I so desperately want.

Being known is uncomfortable and confronting and freeing. I want to be known.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 1 corinthians 13v12


Does creativity matter?

Does it have any special value in the world?

Isn’t it essentially a selfish activity to be doing some hobby when there are people starving/people without hope/ people with broken hearts….?

it matters, it matters, it matters

Creative people use songs, stories, pictures, gardens, art works, installations, baking, poetry, colour…. all of those things and more to declare the things that need to be declared.

– to call to action
– to give hope
– to create an escape
– to stand alongside
– to communicate across language barriers
– to grieve
– to celebrate
– to build community
– to protest
– to teach truth
– to express things for which words, cliches and platitudes fail
– to make us laugh
– to connect us to others
– to declare the beauty of the One who made it
– to grieve the brokenness of current reality

Sometimes it hurts my heart to think about the creative voices silenced by the lack of safe place, for creative voices dulled by lack of exercise, for creative voices silenced by self-shame.

I long to see more communities of individuals claiming their creativity – owning it without shame and without pride. Claiming, exercising, using this gift we are given to be to be able to pierce holes in the darkness and let the glory shine through.

I am going to write more about creativity. I want to invite you on the journey to engage your own creativity to declare glory and to engage your faith more deeply by exploring it creatively.

Would you pick up your little pin/pen/paintbrush and will you use it to make a hole in the darkness and let the glory shine through?

Maybe you just need to give yourself permission to value your creative gifting again. Do that today.

Let’s not be about doing it as we’ve always done, let’s realise the untapped, unvoiced, uncharted territory of creativity in us and use it to tell a story that someone needs to hear.

Together shall we create without preconceptions about what Christian creativity might look like?
shall we be limitless and abundant?
shall we be generous?

A Word for Now

I love that when I am at my most feral, full of my own ambition and pride

when I am hurt and slighted

when I disappointed and angry

that He will still speak

like a gentle breeze that calms a raging hurricane of emotion

simply a word from Him and I can be undone

and as that word is spoken into my heart from the pages of His Word I am taken with the weight of my own wretchedness and I am given hope at the same time. Sometimes it is like walking in the centre of a contradiction this journey

 – ever more aware of how far I am fallen

— ever more reminded that I am precious and loved beyond measure

loved by a God who will not let me stay in this state – a true parent that is committed more to the final state of my character than the current state of my comfort

… but in it all remembering I am dust and treating my raging with gentleness so that this bruised reed will not be broken

Today I was given this

Be here – the king is wild for you. 
Since he is your lord, adore him.
ps 45v11

Wild for me – that is where I want to be today right in the centre of his wild love where no arrow can do more than graze away a little more of my self-centredness. Here is where I long to be where my wounded-ness is so painfully obvious and yet I can express it without fear.
Does it blow your mind that the King is wild for you?
Wild about you?
this king, this is the one I want to adore with all my ability.

BTL – Trust

This week’s reading was about Abraham offering Isaac – such a powerful and somewhat perplexing (to me) reading. How did Isaac respond to being offered as a sacrifice – how did it effect his relationship with his Father?

Was his trust like Abraham’s? Was his peace with him?

In a later reading for this week there is a challenge to offer ourselves to righteousness. It feels kind of the same thing – this reckless trust.

Do we trust God enough to lay it all on the line?

Or is it easier to apply natural wisdom to situations and to hold a little back. I could so easily have ‘spiritually talked myself’ out of Abraham’s sacrifice. Come now, I can’t have heard this right – Isaac is the son of God’s promise. He wouldn’t want this thing done. For goodness sake he even promised to make Ishmael into a nation and he was just Hagar’s son. There’s no way he could approve of this. I heard wrong, it wasn’t God’s word to me – I was confused, maybe it was evil?... and so on.

In hindsight we know.

In the present we trust.

Reckless trust – that has been my phrase this year.

Trust that takes us to a new country, to a new church, into new endeavours….. maybe it seems easy or stupid or something else.

But some days all we have is trust.

The kind of trust a person exercises when they leap from a plane with only a backpack and silk fabric to stop them dying…. only more so.

Yet I am daily faced with this trust – trusting him to sort out the best for me as I walk with determination in his steps. Trust that he will not let me be overcome by my own sin –

he has rescued and he rescues still

and he will provide what I need

but sometimes I have to head up the hill with only wood and a knife and my most beloved thing/s –  and I need to know that those things – my comfort, my thoughts, my reputation, my finances, a relationship ….. whatever they are sometimes need to be entirely surrendered as lost before I see another way.

and the only way to really give those things up is when I want God’s way more than my own

and the only thing that gives me the strength to do it is reckless trust

and I am flinging myself up that hill with my heart heaving with trepidation but I repeat

God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering

and sometimes I believe it and other times I just go on trust because my heart falters – step, repeat, step, repeat – trust, trust, trust.

BLT – from ashes to honor

I loved the readings this week. I was so encountered by the love of God and the beautiful justice that is his song of love. 

In a place and time where women were overlooked and judged for inability to produce offspring this week we met Hannah, Elizabeth and Mary. Women judged and misunderstood. Women with hearts of gold. Women who knew a God that met them in empty spaces and unfulfilled dreams – women who were given a home in barrenness and whose wombs were filled with life and rejoicing. 

Women who mothered children who would change nations, appoint kings, prophecy of and baptist the Messiah and parent the Saviour of the world. These women outwardly appeared failures to society and there they were doing the unseen work of investing into their next generation.

As a mother I cannot help but be encouraged by these beautiful women.

I cannot help but be blessed by God who notices those who are in the dust – poor and unnoticed – and raises them up. 

God is not, will never be limited by our outward circumstances but we limit him by the bitterness of our hearts toward our circumstances. 

This week I want to come knelt down and poor with a beautiful, broken heart and let Him do his good work.

This is my prayer, these are my meditations as I contemplated these women, those who await deliverance from the ash heap, and our new place at the table, a place clothed in robes of righteousness.

The readings I based this stitching on.

1 Samuel 2v8
He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honour. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.

Psalm 113 v 7-9
He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
 to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. 

He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD!

Luke 1:39-57

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?
For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy.
 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. 

Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
 according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son.

Many thanks to Rachel Held Evans for this invitation to reflect and journey with the lectionary.

If these encourage you and you want to share them, I would love to know, also please acknowledge them as my work via a link. 

BTL – The Ends of The Earth

Apparently New Zealand is geographically as far from Jerusalem as you can get – it is ‘the ends of the earth‘. It is also where I was born and raised. It is my homeland.

This week I’ve been struck by the kind of love that compels someone to leave all that is familiar, safe, and easy and to travel to the ends of the earth for someone they do not know and who may not believe, appreciate or honour them for their sacrifice.

This is the kind of love I want to know and share.

and I’m not there, yet. I want to know that love so fiercely that I am compelled to love others, unknown others even. To live that love so completely that I would give it all so they can have a glimpse of that love. I want a faith that doesn’t feel the need to apologise for itself, one that doesn’t feel embarrassed in case it causes offence.

Because true love is not offensive, true love, humble love, generous love is addictive and speaks to the depths of who we are. True love is the love that lays itself down for another. Love that goes all the way to the end of world.

This week I have been humbled by thinking of the love and commitment those early disciples/missionaries had. That love that lead them to extremes of geography and experience – perhaps they didn’t get it all right, neither do we, but they went with such love it compelled them to courage, mercy and sacrificial generosity.

1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth

This is what I have stitched this week the earth, New Zealand and the tracks of light that made it (not without sacrifice and pain) to demonstrate transforming love – all the way to the

The complete reading:
Acts 1:1-11
1:1 In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Many thanks to Rachel Held Evans for this invitation to reflect and journey with the lectionary.

If these encourage you and you want to share them please acknowledge them as my work via a link. Thanks