When focus stops me seeing the changing world around me.

March 9, 2015

Developing on my process of where I am 5 ½ years after Mike’s death, let me chat about “what do I focus on?”

Whilst I was spinning out of emotional control, trying to make sense of life, trying to get a bearing, I found great comfort from grief & pain. I know, that may surprise some of you but it kept me close to Mike. Whilst I was doing that, it could have prevented me from seeing the evolving Redemptive Story. At that point, I would say that is natural and not denying my humanity. To be focused on the Redemptive Story would have shown emotional instability. Of course the very first words I said to Kathy was “I don’t believe they will find anything wrong with Mike, God took him!”. If you have not read Kathy’s book “Breadcrumbs in the Storm” then please get a copy. There you will see in the proceeding months how God revealed Himself to us through “amazing God-incidences”. Here for my integrity I have to add, some people were concerned in the first few months that we were too “spiritual”, i.e. in denial. Our good friend and founder of our organisation, George Verwer, heard about the concern and asked to have a day with us. We so enjoyed walking along canals and eating good food with him. At the end of our day he simply said “I believe you have the gift of faith”. I had no idea what that meant so over the next year I did a study on faith. I brought my many pages of notes down to one statement: “faith is believe with legs on it!” Faith is very much linked to focus.

Scientist have come to the following conclusion after some tests. “When your environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus. The clutter also limits your brain’s ability to process information. Clutter makes you distracted and unable to process information as well as you do in an uncluttered, organized, and serene environment.” I would suggest, that a dramatic event is “clutter”, it occupies our minds 24/7.

Watch this short video and hopefully you will see my main point.

Now it does not have to be a significant event in our lives that stops us seeing change around us. The point here is that what I focus on is what I see. If I focus on the bad, I see bad. If I focus on the good, I see good. If I have filled my life with “clutter” or an event outside of my control brings “clutter” then I will most likely miss change around me. This is why its important to “Jump out and look in”.  We may not like taking time to be analytical or reflective, but it can allow understanding and if we choose, course correction. So we mentally jump out of our current situation and ask simple enquiry type questions. As I did that and continue, I see a larger picture being revealed, I see His Story coming into view, I see the positive, in fact jaw-dropping good events in people’s lives happening. Of course I also saw and see new pain and heart ache in other’s , but that too was/is positive as I stopped focusing on self.

The reality is we do tend to focus in and we miss the change around us, only to wake up one day and wonder why the world around us in unrecognisable. So whilst I focus on one aspect, it does not correlate that other aspects are not changing in front of my eyes, its that my brain is not processing the change. Hence the feed back is not there and I lack cognitive enlightenment and then I may well of missed some amazing God Story. Its also true that over the years we allow “clutter” to build up. Unfortunately it often takes radical change to clear it out, incremental change does not motivate us!

So 5 ½ years on, I see some wonderful changes, growth, new beginnings, levels of new maturity, opportunities and on and on, in people’s lives that have had contact with Mike’s story through our story but all in the context of The Redemptive Story. How can I focus but not miss seeing that change that is simultaneously happening? There are the two realities, the human story and the Redemptive Story. I cannot tell you one in isolation of the other, that would lack honesty. There has been swearing and praise, sadness and joy, tears and laughter, confusion and clarity, fog and blue skies.

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The jumbled world of relationships

December 27, 2014

We have so many relationships in life, more than we realize.  Are you like me and sometimes hear yourself thinking “Oh I must get with that person” or “We should have those people over for a meal”.  Nothing wrong with that, its normal and right. For many of us, the image on the right represents our behavior when it comes to relationships. A few years ago I realized that my personality type gets energy from social interactions. I enjoy being with people. But I also found at times the feeling of “being a butterfly”. With a large group of people, we can flutter from one person to the next and not have any depth.  When my world was turned up side down and inside out, I saw very quickly relationships in a new way, through the model of concentric circles. It put value, order and purpose to those relationships. It also brings realism to just how many meaningful relationships we can have.  I recommend going through the process of identifying who in our lives is in which circle. Also, think through where your friends and family would place themselves in your circles!

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What do I consider treasure and what do I do with my treasure?

October 22, 2013

What do I consider treasure? Is this just in the physical or can it also be in the abstract? I realised that “Mike was my treasure and he has gone on ahead”. Over the past couple of years I have contemplated about life events that are “mile stones” and I ask myself the question whether they define me or ruin me, whether I can use them for a greater purpose or whether they paralyze me. Whether I see them as “bags of gold” and use them to invest or do I just bury them and neither see multiplication or addition.

The Parable of the Bags of Gold

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

As a family we have decided to give our story, our pain, our weakness, our ordinary to Father God and ask Him to use it for His Kingdom. I wonder at times how God can use a simple ordinary family who live in a simple ordinary house in a simple ordinary road. But we have story after story how God has taken our little treasure and given us opportunity for multiplication and addition.

I want to encourage others with their stories and treasures to not be paralyzed by grief and pain but with tears and confusion see what Father God can do when we come to Him and ask Him to use our treasure for His Kingdom.  What gives me such a buzz is to see the way God uses what I consider treasure and use it to help others. What I consider gold, others consider to be worthless, I have seen God take the worthless and make it priceless! Go on get that treasure out!

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Break-out or break-in

July 23, 2012

How many of us want to break-out? We are caught in a cycle of behaviour, an unwanted circumstance or may be even an un-healthy relationship, but try as we might we cannot break-out of it. We have tried endless times, had success for a while and then find ourselves back there again. Or we are locked in a paradigm that wont allow us to view a wider vista of life.

Mark Stibbe, the previous vicar of St Andrews, Chorleywood said “it’s a revelation our children need”.  Eric Mataxas in his outstanding work on Bonhoeffer wrote “Thus the philosopher-and the theologian who operates on a philosopher’s assumptions-chases his own tail and gazes at his own navel. He cannot break out of that cycle, but God, via revelation can break in”

The amazing part about God’s revelation is that so often it’s a simple change in perspective not a change in physical circumstances. Jesus claimed to be “The Way” “The Truth” “The Light”. What I want more than anything is for God to reveal Himself to me. To do that I invite Him to break-in to my mind-set, my activity, my life……and then I wonder, do I really want that. He did that when He took my son, the pain for the gain is great. I want Him to break-in, I want to experience His love, grace, mercy, glory in tangible ways. I want the power of that break-in to be so strong that I no longer need to break out because I recognize “if the son sets you free, you are free indeed”. That’s my passion for those attending Mysterious? on Sept 8th.

The question is what price am I willing to pay for Him to break-in?


God’s perspective is crucial

August 9, 2011

August 1st 2011....two years on.

 
My perspective on life, and death, is limited. Two years on from August 1st 2009 I see and understand more than I did in the confusion, turmoil and disorientation of the initial aftermath. I still don’t have clear precise answers but I have “more light” than I did two years ago.
 
I view life through my lenses, from my perspective, but as I have walked with God this path, as I have read His words in the scriptures, I have seen, although through scratched lenses, His perspective. At first it was hard to focus through the tears and pain but as time has passed, emotion settled, the picture He paints becomes clearer.
 
God has walked Kathy, Akila, Laura and I through the shock and grief of Mike’s passing. He has revealed to us new truth’s about Himself, ourselves and His eternal purposes for Mike. His perspective is vital. If I did not believe that, then I too would wear black to the funeral, I too would see Mike’s death as such a tragic event.
 
So as I take the principle to see God’s perspective, I ask what, not why God. I look at th e longer term Kingdom unfolding of events. My best mates business going into administration does not make sense, when he his brother and wife have given so much money away to brilliant causes and individuals. Yes there is the reality of the business environment, but would not God want them to keep pouring funds into so many charities! His perspective and time will reveal the bigger picture, although we may have to wait until heaven to see it!  Both the apparent good and bad are all used to bring out His purposes.

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