Thankfulness

As my friend Matt Crossman so eloquently put it recently:

“Thankfulness is the soil in which pride does not easily grow”.

These last few weeks, I am learning a lot about what it is to be thankful.

Deeply, richly, painfully, on-my-knees-unable-to-form-the-words thankful.

Irrespective of how I feel or what my circumstances are, I have much to be thankful for; the things and people in my life, but more importantly the fact that I have a life and that life has been saved.

As Simon Peter replied to Jesus, ““Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life”.

Where else would I go? Where else would I want to go?

Mud is our friend

On Saturday Ets and I had some quality boys time which naturally involved getting messy in the great outdoors!

We packed up our trusty steeds and headed off to Afan Forest Mountain Bike Park in deepest darkest Wales. There we hooked up with Ross, Ets’ mate who bears more than a passing resemblance to Russell Crowe.

Here we are assembling our bikes. Ets hard at work on his Specialized. My DB M30 on the left and Ross’s Santa Cruz beast on the right.

Despite the weather’s best efforts to prevent us from getting excited about the ride (i.e it rained all day, hailed violently, thunder, winds etc) and the fact that I was very muddy indeed, we set off for the first of 2 trails to be done that day.

First off we decided to do Whyte’s Level -a breeze of 15km of climbing and some fast downhill.

On the left is Ets taking it easy at the top of the climb. It also happened to be during the only part of the day that it didn’t hammer down with rain.

You can also see Ross on the left taking it easy after doing the climb -mind you he needed to as he was riding a downhill bike which was twice as heavy as the bikes Ets and I were on!

After much larking about going downhill very fast (Ross was outta sight before we knew it) we returned to the Afan Centre for a quick break and some well earned food.
Ross departed at this point leaving Ets and I to tackle the fearsome beast know as “The Wall”.

The Wall is 23km of fearsome climbing and it has got its name because that is what you hit trying to climb it -pain like you would not believe! With the mud and the rain, it made it virtually impossible.

The views from the top were pretty nice but as Ets and I were so knackered at this point, I don’t think we appreciated it as much as we should have done!

But what a great day it was -Ets and I returned to the Centre after 5+ hours in the saddle, sore in leg and back, coated in mud to find: the power spray to clean the bikes wasn’t working and the showers weren’t working either -so it was a shower in the sink!

We rewarded ourselves with a cup of tea and nice sausage sandwich from the cafe before returning back across the Bridge -content in the knowledge we had had a productive day and ultimately we learnt that mud is indeed our friend!!

I want to be…

I want to be a person who risks everything on Jesus.

A person who doesn’t just talk about being radical and following Jesus, but who makes decisions that would indicate that I am a radical following Jesus.

I want to be a person who lives completely for others, disregards expectations and remains obedient to that rumbling deep in my spirit.

I want to make calls with my life where if Jesus doesn’t come through I’m screwed.

I want to be the kind of person who at the end of my life can look back, and even though I may not have had a lot of “stuff” or money in the bank, I can honestly declare “what a ride!”.
That my life was full of experiences and incredible relationships and I have story after story of God coming through in all sorts of crazy and not so crazy situations.

I am called to leave the world better off because I poured out my life for the glory of Jesus.

Resurrection

Last weekend was the Vineyard house party and as some of you were no doubt aware, it was a very powerful time for me.

To be honest, there is no other way to describe how it was for me other than that God took me completely apart…

Every single part of me; my heart, my mind, my spirit.

It was like a major operation. I cannot describe the pain I was in. I cried virtually without ceasing from Friday night to Sunday morning.

It was if every single day of pain, depression and sorrow of my 32 years was being drained from me –actually it was exactly that.

So many people prayed for me; Grace & Charles and Tazz & Anna-Marie were especially wonderful.

In the midst of being at every meeting and being face down on the floor feeling completely overwhelmed, something in me broke, my recent feelings of apathy and self hate, my feelings of anger and frustration at church and at God were replaced with a sense of something that I have never realized before:

That God loves me.

Simple to say, and hard to believe that it has taken me the whole 14 years of my faith to come to that simple place but I can finally, really say it: God loves me. And the thing is, He is showing me how much he likes me too and that is amazing.

There seemed a simple response for me –so on Saturday afternoon, without any fuss, without any show, Matt and Becca baptized me in the pool.

When I came up, I knew everything would be different, everything would be ok, and that no matter what I do or don’t do, no matter what I think of myself, God loves me. That is all I was created for and it’s all I need.

Since then, I can honestly say I have had a peace I have never had before. I have realized how much my thinking about myself has changed in the last few weeks. I still get moments when I feel wobbly or feel crap about myself but they are fleeting, they no longer occupy much of my thinking like they use to.

I can look at myself and say I love myself and I like myself too and you have no idea how freeing it is to be able to say that after such a long time being like a prisoner in the dark. I suddenly feel free to cry out when I am in pain instead of forcing a smile through it because I think its just payback for my sin. And free to worship not because I am ‘working off debts’ but because it’s a simple thing I can do to show God love.

For the first time in my life I know I’m going to be alright.

For the first time in my life I know I am healed; I have to continue to walk in the light of that healing.

For the first time in my life I am safe in mind and spirit and finally, truly living for God.

For the first in my life…

I am me.

Noticed

God’s been doing some mighty stuff in my heart over the last week or so. Its been pain like i have never experienced before but its healing pain…..

I have been listening to a song this week by the wonderful Mutemath – who a few of you will know are my absolute fave band.

The song is called Noticed and the lyrics sum up pretty well how i have been feeling:

Careful when you open
It’s easy to be broken
In the strangest fashion
You start a chain reaction

When You look my way
Something’s pounding away
And I wonder if I ever felt this before?

And all this time, oblivious
To what You make so obvious
I can’t believe I never noticed my heart before

And You are reaching
Something that is beating
I can’t believe I never noticed my heart before
Over and again
Racing out of my skin
I can’t believe I never noticed my heart before
At least it was never until I noticed…

You and Your ways
Capture what I’ve misplaced
In the perfect fashion
Just watch my heart’s reaction
This point of view
Is nothing that I’m used to, but I
Won’t close my eyes
‘Cause they’re on to You

And all this time,
It was staring me blind
I can’t believe I never noticed my heart before