What I’m Giving Up For Lent

via Daily Prompt: Conquer

When the extension lead burnt out this morning so did something inside me.

Within five minutes I knew that the world could be made right again as long as I made sure that the water boiler for the tea wasn’t plugged into the same socket as the sound system next time, as long as I told each person how to hold the microphone correctly so that it wouldn’t make funny noises again, as long as I made sure that the contrast between the font and the background on the PowerPoint was high enough to read on the little projector screen, as long as each person knew exactly what to do and when, and we finished when we said we would, and nobody interrupted at any point to share some love or encouragement for the long, weary hours between now and next week.

“When everything lives up to my expectations all will be right with the world again”, I reasoned. (or at least right with my little part of the world) Continue reading

The Gift of the Lament

Tonight one neuron collided with another in my brain opening up a couple of old wounds plus one or two new ones all clamouring for attention. Thankful for an empty house, I put my current favourite lament song on repeat and took some time to grieve.

As a Mercy-oriented person, worship is one place where I am free to fully unpack all of the feelings I haven’t had time to deal with and bring them to my Father in their raw, unfiltered glory. In coming undone before Him, He somehow brings all the pieces together to form a new composition.

I wonder why modern worship music shies away from laments. Continue reading

What’s the Story? Coffee at No. 115

I am no coffee snob. I don’t turn my nose up at instant coffee. Arguments over Starbucks versus Costa versus hipster little one-off shops are lost on me. Don’t get me wrong- I like a gorgeous freshly-ground coffee but more than that I love a good story.

It is the story of my friend sourcing farmers in her homeland to import coffee to London and start her own cafe in Fulham that inspires me to support her venture.

It is the story of a similar project in Ethiopia that produces 500g bags of coffee (beans/ground) for €20 here- with €16 of that €20 staying in Ethiopia- that intrigues me (my brother’s friend bought a bag for each of his family members for Christmas this year).

It is the friendships I get to build with the staff of the coffee shop around the corner from our church that sees me ordering there early on a Sunday morning.

Today, I got to be part of another story when my Mum brought me to 115 Georges Street Lower, Dun Laoghaire.  Continue reading

A Truck Drove into a Bunch of People in Berlin and I Don’t Really Know What to Think Right Now

Last night I hung on live news reports about a truck driving into a Christmas market in Berlin and waited for my Berlin friends to mark themselves as “safe” on Facebook. Today, even with assurances of my friends’ well-being, I went grocery shopping but forgot to take my wallet with me. I studied but didn’t take much in. I read through the same email several times to make sure I was reading it correctly before replying because my mind was spinning.

I didn’t know any of the victims. I’ve only set foot in Berlin twice. One of my best friends lives there but is currently on crutches and unlikely to visit a Christmas market this year.

I would love to write a redemptive, moving post about this (my friend wrote a fantastic one here), but it’ll take several days for me just to figure out what I actually think and feel. Right now I’m just gasping for breath in a swirl of disconnected emotion.

And there isn’t just Berlin, which I feel actual connection with. How can I feel moved by strangers in Berlin when there is so much going on in other parts of the world- in Aleppo, Kinshasa?

2016 has been a strange year: Brexit, Trump, the increasing polarisation of politics, of ideologies, of people. Increasing intolerance and suspicion and refusal to even speak to those on “the other side”.

People are becoming increasingly dominated by fear, moving farther and farther from the Gospel value that perfect love drives out fear, moving farther and farther from the God who is love.

People cry out for answers, for justice. People cry out to government leaders, to the internet, to the world, to each other, to do something, to make it right somehow.

Yet we don’t cry out to the One who not only hears but answers. We don’t cry out to the one true Judge who has the clearest perspective and will one day have the final say.

Don’t get me wrong! I’m not saying that He answers how we want or expect Him to! That would make Him like a vending machine, subject to us, or like a slot machine, subject to random chance.

I wrestle with the fact that some people died yesterday and others live.
I wrestle with the fact that other attacks have been thwarted but this one slipped through the net.
I wrestle with the fact that attacks like this one have been carried out in the name of God.

But I want to wrestle these things out with God, not without Him. I want to take my questions, my doubts, my fears to Him. Whether or not I receive the answers that I seek I choose to cling to the hope that His perfect love does drive out fear. Whether this happens in the eventual wrapping up of this portion of time in the day of judgement when He makes everything right or in the gradual, stumbling outworking of it in our hearts and into the people around us- I choose to trust Him.

Let Me Lend You My Roar

The door swung open. I didn’t even realise that I’d found the key.

She sidled up to me at the end of the day and told me how much it had meant to her, that little text message with a scripture verse and a “you can do all the things this week!”

All the weeks I’d been trying to find a connection point with her and in the end it was a tiny, almost throwaway act that forged it. It unlocked her. It unlocked her group of friends, who seemed impenetrable from the outside. Continue reading