Monday, 29 July 2013


'For you are God,
and you don't miss a thing'. 

We drive a lot at the moment, Beth squashed into her car seat and distracted by cornflakes in a box, the Ukrainian summer ambling part (the Lada doesn't rush) and it is beautiful. It's also time to think. I've been mulling a lot lately about if God is good or bad - really, really, if we stop saying pat answers and making excuses for the Old Testament bloodbaths and the crusades and all that, if we're honest. Is he good? 

He is Him self and that's somewhat epic because of that whole he is the source of all and any intelligence thing he's got going on. You know, that whole being God thing. I wonder what that's like. 

I think for me one of the most challenging things about this faith is the tensions.
Is God here hugging me when I cry or is he off moving galaxies? Yes.
Is he one God or three persons? Yes.
Is God simple and easy to understand or endlessly higher than my intellect? Yes.
Does he want to punish sin or would he forgive a rapist? Yes.

Is he a judge or a loving daddy? Yes.

Lately I've been learning about how God loves his kids - kind of predictable because we fairly recently had a kid but all those sermonators weren't lying. When you have children you learn about God as a dad.
Sorry but i'm going to veer off into stupidly in love with my daughter territory for a minute. She smells so good that I think I could get high off her cuddles, she is so delightful that even when she's being a little git i'm proud of her 'strength of character', she is perfectly and wonderfully made. Everything she does is this ridiculous achievement that I call John in to see and also anyone within a two mile radius. You're welcome, world.

And I know all that stuff in the Bible about God being a good father but he's so big that surely that's a technicality, a formal relationship conducted mainly in a study or a library and then back to the nanny we go?

Obviously He doesn't let me stay there in my thinking. When me and B are rolling around in a giggling ball or when she's tickling daddy or when we're learning to rub noses and I could stare cross eyed at her face for hours
that's when a little voice whispers
'I feel this way about her too. And about you.'

Which is more than my silly heart can handle - I understand the logic, the relationship that we have with God because of Jesus, we're part of the family but to think that God wants to stare cross eyed into mine? That he is super excited about what we do? That he laughs when we laugh? That he invented rolling around giggling? That whole 'check out my boy Job' conversation, I see a proud dad there. And hens with wings for Jerusalem, that's a mummy metaphor. It's all through the Bible, this thread of us as his kids like gold running through humanity's story.

So loving daddy? Yes.
The judge. Yes.
Still good? When we talk about hell, judgement, discipline, punishment, Holy...still good?

Some beautiful friends gave John the Bethel Loft Sessions DVD (it's worship music and it's pretty and they've got some token hipsters in there so I feel quite cool watching it, get in) and there's a song all about how God knows us so intimately, like a dad. So far so la la la. There's a line that says 'You are God, and you don't miss a thing'.
I know it's meant to be about ourselves but I found myself sobbing over a girl that I've come to care for, she lives in an orphanage and I felt something of what God the daddy feels when he see what is being done to his children. He is God. And he doesn't miss a thing.

That should scare us.

He doesn't miss a thing. 

Our cheap clothes made by slaves?

He doesn't miss a thing.

Our fuel burning the earth?

He doesn't miss a thing.

Our selfishness,
our global disregard for others,
our willful ignorance,
our personal selfishness?

He doesn't miss a thing.

When we leave our lovers? When we break promises we never had the guts to make in the first place?

He doesn't miss a thing.

Children trafficked for rape? Children dying from runny poo? Brides burned alive for dowry?

He doesn't miss a thing.

He is God.
Because he is a loving daddy, he cares what I do to his other children, and he will not raise feckless sinners. He protects me from my sin but he also protects everyone else from it too.

So a judge? Punishing sin? And still good? I reckon so.

To repeat myself: He is God. I wonder what that's like.

Don't have to wonder, can see it, have been shown it, in Jesus. Loving to the point of pissing off many people who would like a more religious messiah thank you very much, loving enough to be completely inappropriate socially (that's my excuse), loving enough to get really angry at sin. Loving enough to take the worst results of sin - torture, loneliness, betrayal, injustice, despair, death - loving enough to say 'it's on me' and then to actually take it on yourself? To judge sin and to take the place, to take the punishment of the sinner? Justice is done and yet...I walk free. 

Turns out, being God will get you killed.

So a loving daddy or a judge? Yes.
It's basic stuff but it still blows me away, even without the cross I could happily understand his goodness. With the cross? The question becomes
'loving daddy
or judge
or astoundingly determined to win us, completely merciful and ridiculously lavish?


Tuesday, 9 July 2013

You know you're a very bad missionary when...#2

You know you’re a terrible missionary when:
1) You check face book every 4 minutes. Your husband calls notifications ‘reds’ and every time you log in you compete over who has the most reds. It is always you.
2) You get pulled over, again, by the Police, for not understanding the Ukrainian highway code, again.
3) Your husband tells the Policeman that he lives nearby. What he actually says translates as ‘I am a house’.
4) Said Policeman tickles your husband’s upper inner thigh and lets him go free.
5) Everybody in the whole world loves buckwheat, apart from you, you mainly eat chocolate.
6) You communicate with your house guest via google translate, so when you tell her that if she likes she can hang out in her room and relax or that you are going to be a bridesmaid what you actually say is:
‘You can be alone in his room’ and ‘I am looking for a bride’.
She is alarmed. You do not blame her.
7) You have produce. So much produce. Ukrainian soil literally spews forth produce.
8) Your toddler overdosed on cherries and did some truly terrifying nappies for you to change.
9) And blackcurrents.
10) And apricots.
11) You have a freezer stocked with cherry sauces that you will never use.
12) You panic about all the produce and try to make jam. This happens.
13) All the women in town are gorgeously, gloriously tanned. You are British. You are not tanned. You look like Edmond Dantes on the day he escaped prison.
14) Everyone you see (not usually the men) are wearing stunning maxi dresses.
You shop for maxi dresses.
There are no maxi dresses.
Where are the maxi dresses?
15) You shop every week in second hand clothing shops, and you love it because it’s all the stuff you couldn’t afford in England! A little bit mucky! With some holes in it!
16) You make John lemon meringue pie – the meringue goes wrong because you didn’t know to grind the coarse beet sugar in a coffee grinder (which you don’t own) and you forgot to prop shut the dodgy oven door with a chair. Still, the lemon bit was delicious.

Oh well, our kid is cute.

Monday, 1 July 2013

garbled today

Here she is, splashing about drinking rain water and ignoring mummy and being so naughty and so completely excellent. And yes, that is a rusty bucket. And yes, she got sick. Well done mummy.  

Commence bloggity blog:

Music is just the best thing. Sometimes I listen to these earphones and wish that these fingers of mine could create the experience that we get from those songs that grab your soul and soar somewhere more beautiful, more right, more home and more adventurous. I wrote once in my God book (journal, diary, prayers, private blog with more terrible poetry than I permit myself to publish on the internet) the following:
'God, make me like the exciting chords'.

You know what I mean? Those notes that make your chest thump, the bits of the good songs where your hands fly around and you change a little bit inside.

I've never been into the kind of music that's ever so clever but ever so dull - if you can't turn it up loud and have a good time you may as well turn it off. And go sit in a beige room drinking lukewarm milky tea and wearing boot cut jeans. In 2013.
Music is a taste of God - it's to be inside who he is, to experience something spiritual that everyone can feel. Living with Him is meant to be outrageously, astoundingly exciting. He invented the exciting chords. He is when the beat drops and the room roars and the world shakes.

If I know one thing well, it's Christianity.
I've done church a lot, 29 years worth. 

Some of it wasn't very exciting.

One of the things that hurts the most when you're following Jesus is how the media portrays you. It feels personal, and you have to breathe and remember that it's not. You follow Jesus so by default you're part of a religious group and the people that hate tend to shout loudest and they get heard and they get caricatured and then, alarmingly, you're a Christian so you're judgmental  ignorant, two dimensional, cultish, uneducated, emotionally unstable, bigoted, prudish, perverted, simple, outdated...many things.

All of that stuff I can take because it's a load of crap - we're all of us on this globe messed up and some of us are Christians. Jesus loves us all and he's not messed up, he's doing pretty well actually and he can carry us home.
The thing I can't take is the perception of Christians as boring.

Maybe because it's a little bit true?

I used to be bored, I got funneled through GCSEs and Alevels and I did some weed and a lot of drinking and some praying and some Bible studies and I kissed some boys and was bored bored bored but I didn't know it because I wasn't awake yet.

And then this little thing happened called faith hitting me in the face, I suppose that God touched my hand and I came alive. My heart has been overwhelmed with joy and with pain so many times - my joy in His presence, and sometimes His pain when I pray for the world that He loves. There is no going back, there is no retract, there is no other option than to keep living this even when I feel nothing for months when I turn around and see Him there we go again. Feelings and choices and determination but all of it ignited by Himself meeting myself. Those eyes.

And it's not just the experiences or the feelings or the heart stuff. My brain knows his character because of the Bible and because I pay attention during sermons and because I've studied this stuff and because of the stunning things around me but so often I have found myself bewildered by the boringness of our lifestyle as Christians. HE IS WHEN THE BEAT DROPS, people. He is the one who now laughs in the face of death, who turns over the tables and stomps about shouting at us and scooping children up out of the dirt. He is the one who offends all the proper people who deserve heaven because they're oh so righteous. If he was here in your town right now i'm pretty sure that if you wanted to follow him you'd find yourself walking into places that no 'good Christian' would go near. Where's the last place you would go to find someone and rescue them? Who do you judge? Who offends you?

Religion is a death dirge and it sounds ugly. Too often we sound ugly and we don't look much better.
He invented dancing. That's one of my favorite things about God - that no matter how we leap or fling or thump about...he did it first and he's doing it bigger. We've got glow sticks but he's got galaxies.

And the thing i'm trying to explain is stuck inside my chest and it's late and I've got to sleep but I think my point is that we're too religious and we don't want to dance with God. 

I think we should try it.

I know that my life isn't boring, I am often drowning in the difficulties of what i'm trying to do/ survive but i'm not bored. I haven't been bored in years. We were worshiping (sacrificing goats and pigeons, that kind of thing) at home the other day and it  hit me that this Transition Home could destroy everything I love. My marriage, my family, my relationship with God, my sense of home. I am so vulnerable from here on out and I am utterly terrified.

When B was born I struggled so much with how much she needed me, with feeling like I couldn't love her like she needed me to, I hated being depended on that much and I resented losing my personal freedom. It took a while for my heart to stretch to fit her in all snug and safe and now i'm asking, actually asking for that process to happen again. But harder this time, for so many reasons, it is going to be so much harder.

Because today I got on my knees and asked God to make my heart bigger so that it can fit more girls inside it to love them like I love Beth. Which is a lot. 

This doesn't feel like a boring song. It feels pretty epic.
So to conclude: I think that God is epic and that we should all learn to cha cha cha.

Good night. xxxxx