Monthly Archives

March 2016

1 In Blog

And So the Wind Blows

Today I had a conversation with my mom, I tend to have difficulty accepting the good advice my mom gives me. Bless her, she has more patience than I ever will, despite the fact that I drag my feet and want to put my hands over my ears and yell “la la la I can’t hear you” at the top of my lungs (it is a good thing that she is a kindergarten teacher). But she does offer good advice, once I have stopped yelling and started to let her words sink in.  She told me that I need to have some positive thoughts, to try and enjoy the physical place that I am in. Today I took a walk to a beautiful spot here in St. Andrews by the sea, East Sands, the weather was outstanding–the sun was out and the wind was blowing.

I called my mom after this walk and was ranting, that is when she gave me the advice of trying to be positive and embracing where I am. I then went inside the library and wrote something about East Sands and it made me reflect on the beauty and peace that I find there. Today was an incredible day, chilly but absolutely stunning, the beach was full of people walking their dogs, picnicking and enjoying the sun. I reflected on that amazing view in the library, continued some unfinished work then packed up and walked home (it is still sunny out because our time finally changed!! Hallelujah!). As I walked home I didn’t put my earbuds in and listen to music, instead I started to listen to the wind. How it rustles the trees and bushes as it blows through them, how it gasps as it whips through the air and how it whistles as it blows past my ears and through my hair.

I am currently practicing making myself write, I have no clue if you care about how the wind sounds–but I do. It almost seems as if the wind has a personality and persona of its own and from my faith I know that it does.

John 3:8

“The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

As I walked home rather than be annoyed with the wind I let it accompany me and tell me things I wouldn’t ever hear if I hadn’t allowed myself to listen. It seems a bit strange to listen to the wind but somehow cathartic. It is like in Pocahontas, the Disney movie, where she sings “Can you paint with all the colors of the wind”? As I walked home listening, hearing and feeling the wind I thought of this question; maybe the wind will always be colored the blue of the sea, the blue of the sky and the green of the grass and maybe it will always take me back here to Scotland–no matter where it follows me.

At home we get really satisfying thunderstorms, with thunderclaps that will shake the windows and lighting flashes that light up the room but thunderstorms don’t really happen here, instead there are wind storms. Sometimes late in the evening here the wind will be so loud that you can feel the building shake and hear the roar outside, and in some ways it is comforting, different but still satisfying. Maybe that is what Scotland is meant for me, especially in the spiritual sense, something very different and yet at the same time still satisfying.

Who knew the wind could be so wise?

May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Peace, Joy, Love and Blessings–Margaret

 

 

 

 

 

0 In Blog

What You Can Find in the Dark

Happy Easter! I hope that this post finds you, wherever you may be in your faith journey. I know I have posted a lot recently, but I figured that I was not the only person in the dark or struggling. It also is therapeutic for me to blog, it helps me think through and process my emotions and I think the way I am going to get through this darkness is by digging in, being honest and sharing.

This is the first Easter that I have spent away from my family, and needless to say, it was hard. I woke up and I felt sad that I wouldn’t be at my home church where Easter is a big deal and in the place that I feel God’s presence in a way that is indescribable. I went to Church, it was of course different, but it was good and in some ways familiar, singing three of the same hymns that I have sung since I was a small child and celebrating Jesus’ triumph over death. But it isn’t at church that I found the connection to the resurrection that my heart had been seeking, it was in the book that I have been reading, Learning to Walk in the Dark. Barbara Taylor offered my soul peace and comfort in the midst of the dark saying: “new life starts in the dark” (Taylor, Learning to Walk in the Dark, p. 129). She points out something most people, including myself, have never thought about the resurrection: “If it [the resurrection] happened in a cave, it happened in complete silence, in absolute darkness, with the smell of damp stone and dug earth in the air” (Taylor, Learning to Walk in the Dark, p. 129). New life happened in the dark and happens in the dark: “whether it is a seed in the ground, a baby in the womb, or Jesus in the tomb, it starts in the dark” (Taylor, Learning to Walk in the Dark, p. 129).

I never thought about this, but Taylor laid it out for me so clearly, and my heart rejoiced. I have come to recognize, through the guidance of Taylor, through allowing myself to embrace the darkness and giving up control that I am finding a healing I never knew existed. Maybe I am so desperate to feel some sort of connection with God that I have made this up, or maybe, just maybe it is God whispering to me in the dark. I am not out of the dark and I am not sure when I will be, but I am learning that I need these emotions, I need to let it happen because I am learning to give up more of myself. These hurts and this darkness I have felt have had me longing for my Savior to come and heal–I have cried out to God in anger, frustration and desperation. I have allowed myself to embrace the darkness and allow God to approach me here and meet me here in the midst of it, and Brown was right–you start to realize things that you never could have in the light (Taylor, Learning to Walk in the Dark, p. 5).

Luke 23: 5

“The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.'”

My dear sisters and brothers, rejoice for he has risen! I want to wish you all a happy happy Easter!

May the Peace of our Risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, be with you all. Peace, Joy, Blessings and Happy Easter–Margaret.

 

0 In Blog

In the Dark

There are moments, glimmers and seconds where I feel something being laid on my heart–but they are fleeting and if I am not quick to act they disappear. The desire to use those moments of inspiration are gone and then I end up doing the same thing that I was doing before–ignoring God, hiding and refusing to try. A dear friend advised me on Wednesday to simply blog about being unable to blog, so I took her advice and sat down and wrote, despite the fact that it felt like it took everything I had and was trudging through heavy sludge. I wrote and am now writing again. I have no clue if any of this is good but I am writing, trying to learn how to be faithful without feeling the presence of God.

I am currently reading a book by Barbara Brown Taylor, Learning to Walk in the Dark, Taylor digs into the concept of darkness and dark times, a concept that we usually try to run and hide from. As humans we tend to avoid the darkness and the emotions or places we have determined dark, and by default labeled dangerous. But Taylor provides a look into the dark, both the physical dark and those “dark” emotions, and asserts that we cannot function without both light and dark. I am a person with many emotions, I have always been an emotional creature and I see my younger cousin act in similar ways as to how I acted when I was her age and even how I act now. I cry at anything, it can be happy or it can be sad–tears are a normal thing for me to shed. I have had my fair share of joy and my fair share of disappointment and heartache, I have also experienced depression (fortunately, with the help of my wonderful family, supportive friends and a counselor I came out from that depression). But I think within the society we live in and from what Taylor has said–we have labeled certain emotions as “dark” and have given them a time limit as to what is appropriate for you to feel. This is not a way for us to approach these emotions, sometimes you have to let yourself feel the feels, I personally have to be careful not to let them take control and push me down the rabbit hole but I am still allowed to feel them. Taylor talks about how the dark has opened up another way of receiving God: “I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light” (Taylor, Learning to Walk in the Dark, p. 5).

We don’t like talking about the dark and we don’t like being in the dark, but there are times when it is unavoidable. I bought this book at Christmas, but it was recommended to me long before, I purchased it with the intent of reading it over break in an attempt of calming my fears of returning to St. Andrews after the spiritual warfare I had experienced. However, I did not manage to read it before my return, so I squeezed it into my bag and brought it with me. I figured at some point I would need to learn how to walk in the dark, that walking only in the light was impossible and I was right.

There is an expression that I have used many times before, “I feel as if I am in the dark,” meaning, I have no clue what is going on. That is exactly how I would describe my present circumstance, I am in the dark, I have no sense of direction, I am simply wandering and hoping that I will take the right steps to move forward. I am sure many of you are feeling this way right now, lost, confused and in the dark. All I can say is you are not alone, I am right here alongside you stumbling through the muck and mud hoping to find solid footing soon. It is scary, the dark makes me uncomfortable–but I think that I am where I am meant to be. I have been avoiding God, running and hiding and it finally got to a point that the other shoe dropped and I ended up in the dark, mostly due to my mindless running and hiding. Now I am in the midst of the dark and am not entirely sure how to get out but I don’t think I am meant to get out. I think God is meeting me right here, right now in the dark, knowing I have no other option but to face him and turn to him. I never expected to sense a purpose for the darkness (other than to scare me) but I believe that I am experiencing some sort of healing. I am allowing myself to feel the feels, the darkness is not comfortable but I have to learn to meet God outside of the light. I am reminding myself that all circumstances come together for good (Romans 8:28).

Taylor says that step one of learning to walk in the dark is “to give up running the show” (Taylor, Learning to Walk in the Dark, 15). I am tired of trying to grasp control. My dear friend told me, a few months ago, that she felt as if God was telling her “open hands.” I think that God used her to tell me the same thing: open hands to receive what God wants me to receive, open hands for God to take what God needs to take away and open hands for what needs to remain to remain. Ultimately, I know and deep down I do trust that God wants to give me the best, and maybe the best is not what I have in mind. At this point I am so confused and I am too tired to run anymore, too tired to fight against it anymore–it is time to “give up running the show” (Taylor, Learning to Walk in the Dark, 15) and to let God have rightful control.

My sisters and brothers, I hope that God meets you right where you are whether you are in the dark or the light. Keep moving, no matter where you are, just keep moving forward. Tomorrow the season of Lent ends for us and we will celebrate the tomb’s emptiness and rejoice for he has risen! And maybe I won’t be in the light personally tomorrow, but I will rejoice for Christ will have risen–and I know that we will get through this difficult spot and our relationship will be even stronger.

May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Peace, Joy, Love, Blessings and a Happy Easter–Margaret

 

 

 

0 In Blog

Defeat

I have been unable to blog recently, you as readers most likely have seen the lack of posts–this is due to a severe lack of inspiration. I feel shut off, unmotivated, distanced , angry and homesick–just a few of many emotions that have been going on in my life lately. Yesterday, I received some not so great news, something happened that caused me to flashback to the very dark storm of last semester. Now I am trying to figure out how to avoid going back into the deep dark pit of that storm. These words are hard to write, because I am experiencing a severe spiritual block, one that leaves me questioning every word I write and makes everything a heck of a lot more difficult. This post is not going to be pretty and it might not have a happy ending today, but maybe in the midst of the week we are in, Holy Week, it somehow fits that I feel this way.

I am angry at God. I refuse to sugar coat it and if you are uncomfortable with those words I am sorry, but I am mad with God. I am not running away from him or turning my back against him but God is a person I love dearly but also a person who I am not happy with. For those of you who are uncomfortable with those word and who think that it is not acceptable for me to be mad with God let me ask you this “Have you ever been mad at someone you love dearly?” I do not approach God carefully, not anymore, God is someone I love dearly and someone who loves me dearly–a person who knows the good, the bad and the ugly (trust me there is plenty of ugly in there). There is no point in me hiding things from him, because God already knows me inside and out, I try to come as am: broken and jagged. So I don’t look at God like some scary deity who is going to strike me down–I look at Jesus as my Lord and Savior, as a person who loves me despite the evil in me and I approach him as a dear friend, parent and a Savior. I approach my relationship with God in my broken human way. I fail to trust, I get scared, I avoid contacting God, I come when I need something, I try to be faithful and loyal, I attempt to listen but I am not perfect and so I fail all the time. And yes, I even I get angry with God.

Now I am sure you are wondering why I am angry with God? What could have happened? Well honestly I am not only angry at God but I am angry at myself, I should have been trying to reach out and to develop the relationship but I have found St. Andrews to be one of the most difficult places to do that. Last semester I experienced spiritual warfare, this warfare left me hindered, vulnerable and scared. I was miserable and I truly questioned whether or not I wanted to come back to St. Andrews. Then over Christmas I dug into my relationship with God, I talked to him and I received my second Scotland call, you have to return, you have to go back. I had to be brave and I had to come back, getting on the plane in September was hard but getting on that plane in January was a type of difficult I have never known before. I had one prayer I kept praying over and over “meet me there God, I can’t experience another semester without you.” I have stopped saying that prayer, that is on me, I started to try and control things and left God out, and that is on me. I am clearly in the wrong, and most likely a lot of this is my fault but I just said I was angry with God–not that it was rational.

I feel disconnected, lost, scared, vulnerable with no sense of direction. I have no clue what God wants from me and I can’t hear him. If I could I would jump on the first plane back home, where it is safe, comforting and where I have more of a chance at hearing God (most likely he would tell me to get my butt back on a plane and go back to Scotland). But I have no plane ticket, purchasing one is not an option and ultimately I know that running won’t change anything and that staying is my best option.

Although, I would prefer to not have these feelings, to not feel as if I have been led to Scotland and then just dropped here. I have no sense of direction and it feels as if everything is crumbling around me. In the midst of these emotions came the most fitting image, an image of my Savior hanging on a cross crying the words:

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

Now I know and we all know that God had not forsaken Jesus and we know that Jesus was also fully God in that moment. But the reality is, Jesus was experiencing the humanness of feeling lost and alone, the emotions I am feeling on a much smaller scale. I have no clue where God is, I don’t know where he is or what he wants me to do, the connection is bad here and I don’t really put the work into our relationship like I should. Regardless of the circumstances, I am not the only human who has ever felt this way. As a dear friend told me, I just need to tie a knot and hold on. So that is what I am going to do. God blessed me with a iron strength deep inside, and anytime I get knocked down I get back up. Life keeps swinging but I have learned you just have to push yourself up, dust off your hands and swing back. So I am tying my knot and praying that I can hold on, that I can keep on swinging, that God will come through with his promises.

So maybe this post was a bit dark and a bit sad, but we are still in the season of Lent. Tomorrow my Savior will hang from a cross and utter those defeated words, but on the third day he will rise again, he will be triumphant. Easter is coming, the joy will return, but first the darkness must occur.

May the Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. May you see the light that is coming, but recognize the suffering Jesus endured on our behalf. Brothers and sisters, the darkness is settling amongst us, but the third day is coming–He will be Triumphant.

Peace, Joy, Love and Blessings–Margaret