Don’t you love illegal immigrants?

“Everyone is fearfully & wonderfully made … No one exists illegally, anywhere, ever. God’s favour rests on each single one.”

#Illegal #Immigrant #HostileEnvironment #Love #Community #Christlike #Politics

The Republic of Heaven

A guest post from Rev’d Martin Kettle. Martin is a policy advisor to the Church of England. He writes in a personal capacity.

Christians do not want a hostile environment. We want to love everyone. That means we want to love illegal immigrants. We DO love illegal immigrants.

Because we love them, we don’t call them immigrants, because we don’t like using nouns as labels to stick on people’s foreheads. This person came into the UK at the age of 4 with their family, is now 21 and is now in a detention centre pending removal. Is this prison an immigrant? Someone else has been here since the 1960s, having come from Jamaica: for sure they migrated, but that doesn’t make them less British than anyone else. And of course, ‘immigrant’ is very often racist code for someone who seems to belong to a visually identifiable category of people many…

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The Carpenter

It’s not thursday but here are some beautiful thoughts anyway …

The Woven Word

Isn’t this (Jesus) the carpenter’s son? Mathew 13:55
Isn’t this (Jesus) the carpenter? Mark 6:3

Reflecting on the cross being made from a tree, I became aware of the significance of wood in the life of Jesus. Right from birth, as a carpenter’s son, he would have seen his father, fashioning wood, into beautiful items of furniture, or for use in buildings. His father’s work place would have perforated with the smell of freshly cut wood, such a familiar smell in his childhood. He may have even played with the sawdust, shavings or off cuts. Knowing his destiny from a very early age of 12 Luk 2:49 his father’s work of sawing or hammering in nails, would have reinforced for him daily, the death he was going to die.

When he himself became a carpenter, every nail that he hammered in would have been a constant reminder, that one day…

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Real Men!

Check out this amazing thoughtful post.

The Quiet Space

So Naomi tells Ruth, “Wash and perfume yourself, and put on your best clothes.  Then go down to the threshing-floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking.  Ruth 3:2.  And there in the warmth of the evening, after having drunk and feasted, Boaz sleeps.  In the middle of the night, startled, he wakes up and by the light of the harvest moon catches a glimpse of a female figure nestled by his feet.  Scandalous?  Perhaps even shockingly improper!  But in the unfolding of the love story between Ruth and Boaz, there is a gentle tugging of the heart because something special takes place.  Here in darkness of the night, tenderness and grace happens.  Boaz does not abuse Ruth’s vulnerability but shows that boundaries are holy – that sex is sacred and that genuine love waits.  Boaz, turns to Ruth and says…

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A poem I wrote when I was sad at 2am last week.

I don’t know if I come across like I’m complaining,

I hope not (but suspect so).

It’s just that I’m trying to verbalise how I feel.

Take all the thoughts that are building a bomb inside

and let them explode out of my mouth.

Float away.

Dissipate into the space inside the atoms.

Except,

The problem with letting the words out to mix with the air

is that you still need to breathe.

Lungs decompress, cells cry out for life and so

when you open your mouth.

The words seep inside like a poisonous gas.

 

I try to hold my breath.

 

 

 

 

Waiting …

Hello! Here are some Advent thoughts that I’ve been pondering …

I love Christmas don’t get me wrong – the joy and the family togetherness. Plus getting presents is pretty fun! However, my favourite part of the winter season is Advent. It’s a special time of anticipation. Of waiting and hoping.

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In a way, it’s quite similar to Holy Saturday (the day before Easter Sunday) but better. The disciples after Jesus’ death on Good Friday, didn’t know He was coming back. They were devastated and scared – unsure of what was going to happen next. Being a Christian isn’t always easy … actually, it’s pretty hard most of the time. Faith is difficult when life is difficult, however even in the midst of the worst situations, there is a glimmer of light in the darkness. Advent reminds us that God has an overarching plan of good for our lives and for the future of humanity.

We often read the nativity story by rote. We know the sequence of events & what happens to who when. But at the time, the main characters didn’t know what was going to happen. All they could do was wait and trust in God.

After Mary was told that she had been chosen to give birth to the Messiah (something the Jewish people had been waiting for, for over 400+ years), she had to tell people what was happening, as it’s pretty hard to hide being pregnant! It must have been so difficult to have that conversation – how did her family react when she first told them? Did they believe her?

We know Joseph (her fiance) didn’t & his first idea was to marry Mary and then divorce her quietly at a later date. Which may seem a bit harsh to us in the 21st Century, but in Biblical times, having sex before getting marriage & being an unwed pregnant teenager was a stoning-to-death worthy offense. So it might not seem like it to us, but Joseph was actually trying to protect Mary.

So if Joseph didn’t believe the girl he loved, we can imagine how everyone else in her village reacted to the news! I wonder if they laughed or thought she was lying? Were they angry that she claimed to have seen an angel? Because why would God send an angel to speak to a (probably illiterate) peasant girl from an unimportant family from an unimportant town like Nazareth?

Obviously, we know why, that because Mary was going to marry Joseph it meant that Jesus would be born into the ‘House of David’. Something foretold by the Prophet Isaiah over 700 years before.

Side note: there is quite a lot of debate about whether this and other Messianic prophecies actually point to Jesus as the Messiah, but I’ll let you research that on your own & come to your own conclusions. See http://ow.ly/xHsw30hmRNU. 

I wonder how Mary felt. Did she doubt herself? Was she scared? During those difficult nine months, how did she cope from day to day? All she could do was wait for God’s plan to unfold and trust that He would fulfill His promise to her.

Waiting is hard. Whether we are waiting for Christmas or waiting for an answer to prayer; the fear, frustration & longing are the same. In the moment it’s hard to see God moving in your life, and it’s only later we can look back and see what God was actually doing.

So hold on tight, all of you who are in difficult situations, waiting and hoping and longing for an answer to prayer. Hold on tight to the promises of God, and If you don’t know what God has promised, why don’t you ask Him?

God sent His only son Jesus to be the hope and light of the world, a promise that things were going to change. That He was doing a new thing (which you can read all about in the Gospels.)

Before returning to heaven, Jesus told His disciples that He would be coming back – He promised that though the world would continue to be difficult and dark for a time, there was light at the end of the tunnel.

Unfortunately, he didn’t specify when! Matthew 24:36 says “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the son, but the Father only.”

So we wait, and as we wait, we remember that God who sent His son to earth to die for our sins, has promised to come again in glory. We cling to that hope and trust that the light of the world is with us, and dwells within us in the meantime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I started writing: the story (so far).

Think back to 2014 – what were you doing? I was living in London with friends, single & loving it, settled in a great Church and to top it all off, I had a job as a paediatric emergency nurse that I loved.

I was also coping with a chronic migraine condition – a chronic illness that is characterised by 15+ days of migraine per month; but I was still able to live my life. It wasn’t easy juggling awful migraines, shift work and a social life, but I got by. I had great friends, an awesome Church and a wonderful life.

Then *SURPRISE* plot twist!

One day at the beginning of January 2015, without warning, I woke with excruciating constant pain in my abdomen, and it hasn’t gone away since.

I was admitted to hospital twice within the first month, but despite investigations and tests, no cause could be determined. It actually suggested at this point that it might be neuropathic pain (malfunctioning nerves in my brain & body), but unfortunately you have to rule out all other possible problems before getting to see a pain specialist.  I saw the surgical, gynae and gastroenterology teams before finally having my first appointment with the local Pain Team in December 2015.

During that difficult year I had to leave my life in London behind and went back to live with my parents in Essex; I was too unwell to work and unfortunately couldn’t afford the rent on my London flat even with some financial help. I was on large daily doses of morphine among other drugs in a futile attempt to control the pain & life was a daily struggle. I was distraught at the thought of having to leave my flat, job, and friends behind. The idea of moving back in with my parents & having to make new friends felt like a horrible step backwards in my life as an independent adult. It was a pretty rough time.

(I’m so thankful to God for his guiding hand, and for my amazing friends and family who loved, supported & prayed for me through that awful time.)

I felt isolated and alone. I became depressed and had episodes of suicidal ideation. No matter how hard I prayed, no matter what the doctors tried – nothing seemed to control the pain or make me feel better and I felt very very sad about my life and about my future.

Now, an important thing to know about me is that I am generally a pretty positive person, and so during this terrible time I tried so hard to be optimistic. Not always successfully! But I persevered. Life was (and still is really) a strange mixed up combination of happiness, sadness, anger, despair, joy etc. ALL AT THE SAME TIME! #chronicproblems

What I’ve learnt on my Chronic illness journey is that it’s better for me to focus on the good things in life & blogging helps me do that. It’s the small things that count, and sometimes if the only good thing about a particularly day is that I got out of bed? I consider that a VICTORY!

Focusing on the small victories in my life made me reassess what really mattered. I might not have great health but I do have a loving family, access to clean water, a safe warm roof over my head, #Jessthecat to cuddle, the NHS, my wonderful friends, Church community etc.

Obviously not everyday has been or still is 100% good, it’s taken time, patience, determination and lots of help from God to get to this point. Thankfulness is a way of life – something you have to practice to get good at.

Now it’s November 2017 and I’ve made so much progress. Despite the pain not being controlled as well as hoped, and migraines still being a nuisance; I’ve learnt to cope with it. It’s taken a lot of time, patience, good drugs, therapy, prayer and gentle exercise; but I’m still going! I even take fewer pain medications to manage on a daily basis now, which means I am able to do so many more fun things (although I still nap an awful lot)!

I have a part time job as a Digital Content Manager, am getting married in April 2018 & genuinely really enjoy my life. It’s not gone exactly, or at all, how I planned … but that’s OK. I’m happy anyway.