Tuesday, November 27, 2007

expectancy vs. expectation

Great post on having expectancy rather than expectation:

Thanks Wes for the heads up.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Inward shaped spirituality

A quote from Simon Holt's blog - I so agree:

As a teacher in spirituality, I am well aware that much that goes under the name is almost entirely introspective—an invitation to hunker down and contemplate one’s spiritual navel. At its worst, this spirituality is self-obsessed, chronically disconnected from the world and its needs, promising much but demanding nothing.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It's in losing your life you find it

I've been thinking lots about what it means to lose your life, and in the losing of your life to find it. Alongside that I've been thinking about how you can't get "something" by seeking it - it's just by and large not how the paradox of life works; especially not the paradox of the kingdom (which I think is all of life in it's fullness anyway). But it IS most definately a paradox because it's not that we shouldn't seek and work hard at things but it is that generally the things that matter the most come as bi-products in a sense, but certainly can't be "achieved" by striving for them and them being our end goal. I guess in many ways because the things that matter the most are external focused, not in a way that we don't matter or that it isn't to be cherished but that it's not "for it's own sake".

I've also been thinking of the various "tools" we use in life and how they can help or hinder us in this process. One tool that I have been using this year a bit which I do think has significant value in lots of cases, The Artists Way, I reckon for me this year has unfortunately rather than helped me walk on a journey of losing my life and in losing my life finding it, put me more in a place of seeking my life. Let me reiterate I don't think it's the tool in itself - but I do think a combination of factors has meant that for me this year this tool has been something that rather than helping me live more fully has helped me focus on myself unhelpfully.
It reminds me of needing to carefully choose the tools we need, the spiritual disciplines we need, and to continue ensuring they are things that take us in the direction we are wanting to go, ensuring that mixed with what else is happening for us they are helping us really become more shaped in the paradox of the kingdom.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Williamstown beach - how nice!

Spent a lovely afternoon at Williamstown beach - lovely gorgeous Melbourne day. I was there with the 22 month old twins who I am friends with (and their mum!) - and was very fun. Were joined later in the time by a few others for fish and chips at the beach - all lovely, relaxing and muchly refreshing.
I've been thinking lots about how big self-help/self-actualisation/self-improvement is in our society, including our Christian world - and especially about how much I have given into this culture over the years. It's so easy to start seeing it as if it's the work of the spirit. It is in some ways a fine line - although in others it just is so different that there is no way the two could be confused. I think God does use stuff from these fields to help people be more whole but the question for me is what's the driving force behind it - being caught up with ourselves or being caught up with God.

I was asked the other night what it would mean for me to find my life by losing it, particularly in relation to this stuff, and I really do think that it is one of the key questions of our time, particularly for some personailities. What does it mean to give up on our path of self-improvement, look to God and let him shape and mould us. What does it mean to truly seek first his kingdom and not our own?

The outward stuff might look the same - eg. you might explore personaility types but it would be out of response to God rather than to further yourself. One such time for me recently was feeling strongly that it was good to buy a book about losing a parent when I was in New Jersey - this led to reading this book on the place between New York and Seattle and to one of the biggest life defining decisions of my life and has profoundly reshaped my relationship with God - yep that has the hall marks of a God led reading of that kind of book.

But my life is not about me - it's about God; and everything in my life needs to be shaped around that; that is where I believe true life is.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

First time I've ever been called blazze, I reckon!

Point proved - I can't even spell it!!!! (how do you spell blazze?)

First real day back at work on Monday - I have energy, more than I've had for years, and I'm relaxed as anything. A good friend who I work with commented "I love your energy and your blazzeness". As I was telling another friend about it last night - she said "since when have you ever been blazze" - that's about right.

Something is very different. It's a Barb I know, and who a few people know, but not many. and that's who I feel like is the main Barb at the moment - I like it. I hope that Barb can stay. She cares passionately, but is also realistic about life, is extremely able to flex, loves life, throws herself into life, is able to relax fully. But do watch out world, while that Barb parties harder than ever, the energy in that Barb also means much can happen!

Stay around that Barb!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Advent Calendar

Inspired by some stuff we did at Solace Sunday stuff last week I have just done the content and activities of an Advent calendar for some kids I'm close to - and I've had a ball! May well expand it for some others - and maybe adults as well.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Strength in Vulnerability

We had vestry tonight. We do believe we have the best vestry on the planet! My fellow warden keeps me quite happy with cadbury mint chocolate of some variety - but that's not the only reason why vestry is so good! There are many but even that's not what I wanted to write about.

Tonight as we were praying I had what is becoming a fairly normal experience for me. But it is now happening very regularly as opposed to what it has been over the last few years - on some occasions during more "ritualistic, liturgical" communion. Now it's happening most times I pray - especially in a "set aside" way, by myself or with others. The experience is hard to describe. Certainly on the verge of tears starts the description. Immense tenderness also helps the description along. Deep vulnerability that sees all of me and embraces me speaks towards it. I've been known to describe it as being in the same realm as the knownness and vulnerability of sex. Deep knownness and knowingness - that's getting close. It's an amazing experience that leaves me very tender everytime. It was my experience tonight, and last night during communion too - a special, very intimate time that leaves me feeling very raw, tender and vulnerable and loved, embraced, challenged and held.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Life is good

It just is :) Said with a very satisfied, content smil.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Being away and being home

It's been lovely to get back and be able to choose what to do for the first few days and not need to run back into life ... and recover from jet lag at the same time! On Wednesday I had lunch with a good friend and went for a long walk and talk with her. A good friend and the topic of conversation was something that does fit into a "work" category for me - but the relaxedness and shared excitement about what God's up to in her made it so refreshing for me too. It was a gift for us to have that time which we rarely get in that kind of way (even though we speak extremely regularly!). Yesterday in many ways was a whilwind of people - but loads of fun (and proves to me that I'm in a different place to wehre I have been for months, if not longer). After a morning of being on the net and at home (up from 6am due to jet lag), I went to mum's place and sorted through some business and stuff with dad - we got a fair way which was excellent, bathroom all cleaned out now, it's amazing what excitement comes as each next thing i done, and it does feel like we are on the home straight now. Good time together and productive. Then I dropped in at my old workplace and talked a bit about my trip - very fun. Then coffee with another close friend - touching base on our last few weeks; most excellent. Then off to Carlton for a mentoring time with someone - again a great special time. Then home for a while, space and a few phone calls and then across the road for dinner and to catch up with another good friend before she heads off for a week or so. I'm so conscious of the richness of my life in so many ways and the ace people in it: people here and people along way away.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Friday in the air

Last Friday I flew from New York to Calgary via Seattle. If you look on a map or you know your geography - that means I flew over the Rockies twice in one day; another amazing experience. It was a gorgeous, clear day and I couldn't believe just how flat it was and then these sudden huge rises ... an amazing sight. And the snow on the mountains too was beautiful.

Amazing colours

North-east America/South-east Canada in the Fall is one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The scolours while I was there were just stunning. Tracy, my friend who got married on 20th October, has always wanted an Autumn wedding ... as someone who grew up in Bright the colours of trees in Autumn have always been special for her. She couldn't have asked for the trees to be more beautiful than they were at the cottage where they got married. The reds and goldens were just amazing ... As we were up at the cottage in the week leading up to the wedding preparing for the day we watched the trees turn even more over those few days - so that they were just spectacular on the day of the wedding. It was a risk to have a wedding at a cottage in Canada on 20th October but a risk that you couldn't have asked for a better return on! As well as experiencing these colours there - I drove with tracy's parents down to Syracuse in the States and then got the bus from there down to New York - the colours of the trees and the beauty of the landscape that you see off the Interstate 81 is amazing - and I'm told that's boring compared to what you see off the major road. Simply breath-taking stuff.


I spent an amazing time in St Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. God and I wrestled long and hard - and surprise, surprise he won! I was telling the story of this wrestle to the person I was staying with - and the subsequent consequences that led to a further invitation from God that I was struggling with and she said some words that stopped me in my tracks and had me wrestle some more for the next 24 hours - "it sounds like you are in a place of willfulness rather than willingness; willfulness being the complete opposite to the surrender of willingness". Ouch but so true. God worked some more in me and in the silence around the dinner table the next night worked in me to bring me to a place of willingness.

Home now

So it's Thursday 1st November and I got home from Canada/America on Tuesday. It was a great time away and great to get some perspective on life and just have a break from normal life ... and amazing to see more of the world ... and great to spend some time with close friends ... and of course as is normal on these kind of things some quite significant moments.

I'll write some separate blog entries on different aspects of the trip over the coming days.