Mending the Net

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Everybody’s making love, or else expecting rain

Alright, so it’s official. Men still surprise me.

With women, things are easier – there’s an air of an edge about quite a lot of female relationships I encounter (“Does she look better than me?”, “Do men find her more attractive than me?”, “Am I at least smarter than her, with her perfect legs??”) but, as women, we tend to be aware of its existence and generally it’s easy to see what’s fuelling it: I find myself looking through lots of girls to the root of their ambitions and desires.

Men? Yes, it’s generally pretty simple to do there too, I think.

Yesterday morning, reader, I was surprised by a man. My socks, had I been wearing any at the beginning, would have been royally knocked off into the stratosphere by the end.

I haven’t been sleeping well recently. This is no great surprise to me as I have never really been so good at the whole “being asleep” deal. My mind ticks and tocks over and over, making it difficult to slow down, let alone get near to stopping. Recently, however, nightmares have been rearing their ugly heads and it’s not unusual for me to wake up breathless and wide-eyed as a deer caught in the headlights.

Imagine my surprise when, having fallen asleep after 1am, I woke ten minutes before my alarm for no good reason that I could find. Fair enough, I thought to myself somewhat blearily, I’d better get up then (since I have a lecture at 9am). On goes both my dressing gown and morning play-list, into the en-suite I stumble for a shower and the fulfilments of my morning’s personal hygiene regime.

Consider the scene – curtains still firmly shut, I sit down at my computer to check my emails, towel wrapped around dripping hair, considerably larger towel wrapped around soggy me. Suddenly I hear a noise. What on Earth? If I was at home I’d think a slate had fallen from the roof… but no, is that stones? Is someone throwing stones? The noise came again, twice more. Should I open the curtains and have a look? I might ruin someone’s romantic morning, but it’s something I’d like to see – very Romeo and Juliet! I wonder who’s throwing stones at whose window? Immediately I was wondering if anyone living near me had a secret admirer that I knew of.

My mind was drawing a blank so, gingerly, I peeked through between my curtains. Taking in what I saw, I pulled my head back and blinked profusely. That done, I looked again, and the same scene looked back at me or, rather, a good friend of mine from my course smiled and waved at me, then motioned stairs with his fingers. Still in shock, I nodded. Throwing my room key, tied on its pink ribbon chain, around my neck and my dressing gown tightly fastened around the rest of me I didn’t feel exactly ready to face the day, but it would do for now. I stepped through my doorway, out into the hall, and from there I opened the main door of our level of accommodation to my friend.

In he came.

“I couldn’t sleep,” he says, by way of an explanation. And it must’ve been true, as he lives two buses and a train’s journey away from here – over an hour away, I’d guess. The time, by now, was 7:40am.

What happened after that will take more time to tell than I can spare just now: suffice to say that it was nothing rash. Fear not, I shall take up the tale later on.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Tears of hope run down my skin....

- Remember -
- Josh Groban -

Remember, I will still be here
As long as you hold me in your memory

Remember, when your dreams have ended
Time can be transcended
Just remember me

I am the one star that keeps burning, so brightly,
It is the last light to fade into the rising sun

I'm with you
Whenever you tell my story

Remember, I will still be here
As long as you hold me in your memory
Remember me

I am the one voice in the cold wind that whispers
And if you listen you'll hear me call across the sky

As long as I still can reach out and touch you
Then I will never die

Remember, I'll never leave you
If you will only
Remember me

Remember me...

Remember, I will still be here
As long as you hold me
In your memory

Remember, when your dreams have ended
Time can be transcended
I live forever
Remember me

Remember me
Remember... me...


I heard this song today and immediately my heart filled with love. Whether it was consciously written about Jesus or whether it was the subconscious Spirit of God flowing through the pen, I don't know. But doesn't this just scream our Saviour at you?

Friday, September 08, 2006

Luck may have died and love may be cold, but with You forever I'll stay

Do not boast about tomorrow,

for you do not know what a day may bring forth.

Proverbs 27:1 NIV

On Tuesday night, at 10:53pm, I got on the sleeper train from Cornwall to London. I traveled on it until reaching Paddington station at 5:05am. Alone, I walked through the passages and corridors to the underground platform I needed to get across London to the next National Rail station where, at 6:16am I set off on another train to the coast of Kent.

Now, that might seem a lot of information, inconsequential to anyone but me and mine who were praying for my safe passage – but it’s not inconsequential information to God. Jesus sat beside me on each train and He showed Himself to me on each of those trains.

Let me tell you about the first instance on the journey.

The prudent see danger and take refuge,

but the simple keep going and suffer for it.

Proverbs 27:12 NIV

When the train stopped at Plymouth station in the middle of the night, there was a commotion…but wait, I’m getting ahead of myself, let me set the scene.

It was a well lit carriage, mostly one person on every 2 seats, with their bags/coats/food on the seat next to them. On the seat in front of me was a man, mid forties, watching a portable DVD player with headphones in so as not to disturb anyone. Behind me was a girl about my age, also with headphones on. Across the aisle were mostly empty seats. I was quietly listening to some music on my MP3 player (yes, I too joined the merry band of headphone wearers!) and trying to nap when we stopped at Plymouth station in the middle of the night.

There was a commotion. A large man, reeking of alcohol and smoke, with an enormous backpack came down the aisle of the carriage and talked loudly to a woman who, though also heaving a large backpack, did not worry me as much as the man had. She seemed to be trying to calm the man down.

Stone is heavy and sand a burden,

but provocation by a fool is heavier than both.

Proverbs 27:3 NIV

The woman sat down in a non-reserved seat, but the man refused to join her as the seat did not have a table. Further up the carriage from me, on the other side of the aisle, the man woke up a boy who had been sleeping since I boarded the train and sat down in a reserved seat next to him. He told the boy, “I’m sitting next to you, ok?” and then proceeded to pick up the boy’s luggage and move it about, telling him it looked as if it had been about to fall down. The boy asked him to leave his luggage alone.

I was getting worried and scared. This man seemed to be the kind that my mother warned me to cross the road to avoid. I was feeling unsafe. “Oh Lord, please let the ticket inspector come through this carriage – please deliver me from this fear. I ask Jesus to accept my hand into His: please help me.”

Within a minute, the ticket inspector came through and the man argued with him a lot, voice raised and eyes blazing. He had no ticket. Didn’t know where he wanted to go. Didn’t have any money to buy a ticket. He was kicking up a real fuss. It would have scared me even more than before if I hadn’t asked God to help me already. I knew He sent the ticket inspector to help me. The inspector was calm and spoke in controlled tones, the man was getting more and more agitated and I was perhaps the only young lady in the carriage not shrinking back into her seat.

Better is open rebuke

than hidden love.

Proverbs 27:5 NIV

The ticket inspector asked him why he was on the train if he didn’t have a ticket, nor any intention, inclination or means to buy a ticket, in genuine concern, it seemed to me. The man looked at him and laughed,

“Because I wanted to. What’s wrong with wanting a free ride?”

“What, sir, is right with it, is what I’d like to know. Would you please come with me, you’ll be leaving the train at the next station.”

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;

someone else, and not your own lips.

Proverbs 27:2 NIV

The man was escorted from the train by the inspector, when the inspector returned through the carriage I said “Thank you” to him, my heart in my words and eyes as I looked at him. He looked shocked and then smiled and said “I was just trying to follow the best example I ever learned about each Sunday.”


I napped on and off for the rest of the journey, gospel music soothing my ears and the unfamiliar sounds of the carriage away.

No matter how inconsequential you might believe your life, your schedule, your day-to-day routine is – God sees. He knows and He hears your prayers. He certainly heard mine and He sent a good man to save me from fear.

Praise be.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The art of offering cutlery: forgiving past yourself

He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.

Colossians 2:14

I had large chunks of doubt in my teenage life-soup.

There were carrots of hatred, potatoes of fear, leeks of abuse… oh but the stock was faith, the water was hope, the chicken was me. Though there are more vegetables, usually, than chicken in chicken soup you’ll notice that they don’t (often) get featured in the title.

It’s just chicken soup.

Sure, there are vegetables there, but though they’re important ingredients that help make the soup what it is, it is chicken soup. I’m the chicken. My sins, my doubts, my fears – the things I find hard to “deal” with, yes they’re important, but they don’t define me. They’re not who I am, they’re actually forgotten about when I think about my self-soup. My hope is in there too, surrounding me, making me palatable and useful, and my faith brings the best flavours out of me. When it comes down to it, I’ll be known as chicken soup.

Without God I wouldn’t be soup at all, I wouldn’t be warm on winter nights and comforting to the lost and unfortunate. I guess I might make a mediocre salad and, though some people kid themselves that is good enough – it really isn’t.

Personally, I feel little surprise that soup kitchens can offer solace to those not yet stepping through church doors. We’re all ingredients, we give each other cutlery and say “Dig in!” every day of our lives, do we give God the same chance? Ah, because we’re not perfect, and we can’t let the big perfect guy up in the sky see into these hearts that we are ashamed of because we stole lipstick/did drugs/were mugged/kissed the wrong boy….

How selfish that we have to forgive ourselves , not feel guilty, or other people have to forgive us so we stop feeling guilty. Why is it not God’s forgiveness we truly crave with all our hearts? These imperfect hearts of ours. Well, let’s get this straight – God knows they’re imperfect and, you know what, He loves us for it. He’s our Father and, sure, He wants us all to walk the path he left us a guidebook for, He wants us to help others down that road too – but if we mess up, He still loves us. He loves us all the more for coming back home to Him after our mess ups. He’s that kind of guy.

So why not pass Him a spoon?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Just beneath your skin where the light does fall

There are footsteps that make my skin crawl: there are times I seem to catapult from this body into a place full of fear and anticipation. These are times that I sometimes foolishly let cloud my thoughts - that a few moments of folly, temptation, murky memories of atrocities mar me insufferably. That my existence is one of pain and hardship and, I admit that I have grappled with this word on more than one occasion, cursed.

The word curse always brings me to Job... it's not as if the Bible is bereft of cursings, they feature mightily, but Job is where my heart is called to when I try to apply the word to myself in any way.

Resentment kills a fool,
and envy slays the simple.

I myself have seen a fool taking root,
but suddenly his house was cursed...

...For hardship does not spring from the soil,
nor does trouble sprout from the ground.

Yet man is born to trouble
as surely as sparks fly upward

But if it were I, I would appeal to God;
I would lay my cause before him.

He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
miracles that cannot be counted...

The lowly he sets on high,
and those who mourn are lifted to safety.

He thwarts the plans of the crafty,
so that their hands achieve no success.

He catches the wise in their craftiness,
and the schemes of the wily are swept away.

Darkness comes upon them in the daytime;
at noon they grope as in the night.

He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth;
he saves them from the clutches of the powerful.

So the poor have hope,
and injustice shuts its mouth.

Job 5:2-3, 6-9, 11-16 NIV

Oh those words speak to me in ways I can't even begin to describe. Just think about them - there is nothing in this world that we can truly call our own except sin and trouble, that's what Eliphaz is saying to Job! Our sins come from ourselves, they are not down to anyone else. Jesus died to save us from the ultimate truth of this knowledge - He washed us clean with his blood so that now when we sin (which we are all bound to do) we only have to admit it and ask forgiveness.

God is so mighty - He won't let those who seek to harm, the evildoers, the crafty win out. He is the one with the higher plan. Even in our darkest moments when we question "Why has this happened to me? How is God letting this go on? Doesn't He know how much I love Him?" - He still has that plan of His, you know. It's still there. He is always looking for hearts open and willing for His use to further His work.

When we sin, our wrongdoings, our temptations that we let "win" - these matter. They fly upwards, just like sparks do! Sparks! They that jump out of the fire and burn - it's unexpected as to the exact moment that they jump, but we all know that if there's an open fire, there are going to be sparks jumping around. What we don't know is when... but guess what? God does. He knows. And by the death of His only Son, it's already forgiven! My gosh, what a statement that is. We only have to own up to it, and BAM! the slate is clean.

We are such a prideful species that we actually have more trouble forgiving ourselves than God has with forgiving us. And it's so awful of us, it really is. God actually sacrified His Son for us to save us from all this, and what - we can't forgive ourselves for things we do wrong? Was Jesus' death not enough of a show? Was His blood not enough to wash us clean? What pride.

Giving your life into God's keeping, trusting Him completely means that, yes, your faith may be tested; just think how strong you'll come out the other side. It's happened to me more than once, and I've survived through God's grace. I gave Him my soul and He lent it back to me. So I have to take such good care of it now, it's like a library book that I don't know quite when to return yet, but I know that I will know when it is time.

And as for cursed - like God would lend me anything cursed!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

All the redemption I can offer is beneath this dirty hood

“You can hide ‘neath your covers and study your pain, make crosses for your lovers and throw roses in the rain, spend your summer praying in vain for a saviour to rise from the streets…"

Oh Mr. Springsteen, what images you paint me. Thunder-Road, what a tune. It's on the Bruce Springsteen album I had playing in the car earlier. No, I don't technically drive. I intensely dislike driving, in fact. It terrifies me. Big time. But my theory test certificate runs out at Christmas and I feel that I should at least attempt my practical test once before then. I first started driving lessons to please my father, now it's to please my fiance. Go figure. Why am I not pursuing it with my whole heart looking to serve God? Maybe that's why I get so scared, I'm not letting Jesus sit beside me.

Oh Jesus, please guide my prayers from my heart to God’s ear. I implore you not to let these months pass by in vain. I know your plan for me is wonderful and I give you my trust entirely. I pray that I can open my eyes truly to better see and travel my path with whatever transport you see fit. Through you.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Devotional - "How to dream"

Conflicts -

How to dream. When are dreams too big? Pulled in more than one direction. Enemy snatching thoughts. Acting on impulse.


How to dream

Read: 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfil every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.
2 Thessalonians 1:11

When I was a very little girl, my mother and I would go to my grandmother’s house and pick blackberries from her garden. Later that day we’d start the process of making them into a preserve. “Why can’t we add fishfingers, Mummy? I like fishfingers.”

“Not in jam, you wouldn’t, sweetheart.” My mother would smile at me, but carry on stirring the sweet smelling pot of bubbling fruits and sugar.

“But I want fishfingers in it!”

Luckily my wonderful mother knew that fishfinger and blackberry jam was not the way to go, it would have been a terrible waste of food and time. Not to mention the fact that I might have actually wanted to try the stuff, even asked other people to. Yet at that moment I truly believed nothing would fulfil me more than a fishfinger and jam sandwich. What’s more, it’s as true today as it was back then. I still have these wild ideas, these things I selfishly crave. I still feel the urge to throw caution to the wind, and not immediately consult the Word, in my excitement. I sometimes feel I want to be swept away by events. But we don’t really know what we want. We think that we do, we think that the day we stand up and “take control of our own lives” is the very best and most important day of those lives. But it isn’t. The day that each of us stands up and accepts Jesus Christ as our Saviour, our Lord and salvation, that’s the day to really smile about.

I don’t always remember to glory the Lord. Before I make decisions, I don’t always stop to ask Him what He wants me to do. I’m working on it, though. The last time I made a fishfinger and blackberry jam of my situation I hope truly will have been the last time.

Lord, please help me to raise my choices to Your ear, to let You make the decisions. I know that it’s Your plan I’m following, You want my life to work out well even more than I do. By asking for Your help I am not showing weakness, instead I give glory to You and the trust I hold in You.