In my opinion, which I don’t claim means much in a world of more than 7 billion other people, Russell brand could of almost done something brilliant. I hold the deeply offensive idea that not voting is not the necessarily the most irresponsible act of laziness and selfishness. I actually do vote but only strategically generally somewhere between Labour and Liberal Democrat depending on who is more effective, because dare I say another deeply offensive idea that frankly there doesn’t actually seem to be much difference between them, for purpose of avoiding a Conservative Government. Conservatives I believe are a little bit like Communist, bare with me, idealistically they could be brilliant but as Communism has shown us we clearly know that it doesn’t work in real life. But to return to the path I started down, I’ve got mental space for thinking about active alternatives to not voting, which Brand didn’t. Whether Brand is actually full of hot air or not I don’t know but that’s what he gave us. I’m not going to question his intelligence or call him stupid cause it’s not clever and it’s not nice, and I don’t know him…not that that should change whether I call him stupid or not. He said don’t vote, it’s full of corruption and they marginalise and ignore the poor, well yes I don’t dispute that in fact I passionately believe that, but that’s actually all he said…oh yes and the bit about a spontaneous revolution that he had no intention of leading or even suggesting any ideas to how it might or could possibly work. So a lot of nothing but almost a whole lot of something.

So way back when I was writing a dissertation about knitting and it’s ideologies, as you do…obviously, I came across Peter Kropotkin. I’m not going to claim I’ve read lots of his work, a lot of the little I did read I didn’t quite get. But what did get me was his idea of Mutual Aid, which he talked about in the context of evolutionary ideas. Mutual aid lead me to come across the idea that through voting and having centralised government we have socially abdicated our responsibility for others in our society who are in need of ‘aid’. Pause a minute to let that really, really sink in before you jump to our social/individual defence. Simply the homeless person sat on the high street, the struggling single parent down the road, the isolated elderly person round the corner, the severely learning disabled young person who lives next to your friend…the list could continue…are all the centralised powers problem. We voted and gave them the responsibility of sorting the problems out. So we have a whole host of Services to aid people. But I have this crazy idea that what if I didn’t vote but instead reclaimed my responsibility by personally deciding to make an active attitude change…it is my problem. Not just an intellectual reclaiming but a getting my ‘hands dirty’ kind of responsibility. What if the struggling isolated single parent had a network of friends and other people and other parents supporting them offering a listening ear when they are ready to crack, pick up the kids from school when everything clashes, some groceries when the’re ill, a friend to chill out and watch a film with, would they need so much help from an over stretched, over pressured, under funded social services? We have a host of Services that are all over stretched, underfunded, understaffed and something needs to change…

You see my point. 

And you don’t have to not vote to make this change, obviously! But what is keeping you accountable to your new reclaiming of responsibility? Maybe just maybe it’s the angry and disgusted ‘you must vote’ people who might be convinced you’re not a lesser quite so offensive excuse for a human when they see your action…

crop

It’s odd writing this post when it’s been so long since I’ve updated this blog. I could be writing about the fact I am 4 months away from getting married or that again I am in a different job which has been another step forward in being allowed to be who I was created to be in my work place. Instead I will talk about how since having being effected first hand by someone who was addicted to watching porn and ringing sex lines I have never been the same.  Although much of the damage done from being in such close proximity to such an addiction (so much of the effect of porn is felt by the individual who is addicted and I wouldn’t want anyone to feel I wasn’t recognising this or being uncompassionate towards this, especially if you happen to be reading this and you yourself our addicted or struggling with it) from it has been healed, I don’t expect I will ever be the same in my view point. I am so thankful to my future husband for his part in that healing, his kindness and gentle love have done so much to restore my trust in relationship and shown me what love really looks like (I won’t be offended if you want to wretch).

It has taken much of the time of recovery to realise how deep the damage was. Over time I could see how my self-worth, self-esteem and identity were badly effected. It also opened my eyes to how simply and easily addiction can begin. It has left me with a real sensitivity to sexualisation, which is so common in our culture, whether it’s to sexy underwear brands producing teen ranges or to the number of pointless sex scenes and sexual nudity in films. And this sensitivity reaches so much further than just porn directly. My sensitivity is with much of popular culture sexiness and how can it not when I have been effected by it’s more extreme side effects.

I was recently struck by how different my feelings are towards normal sexualisation of culture is when a number of friends said that they were going to do pole dancing for fitness but without the intention of performing. For me personally I can’t in my mind separate pole dancing for fitness and pole dancing, while I understand others can, and pole dancing from porn as both offer a visual sexual interaction through performance. But the question that I am left asking myself is do I see to much connectedness in these things or actually is it a good thing? My issue is not with sex, I look forward to it but the normal-ness of sexualisation whether it’s products we can buy or our bodies, male and female, it can’t be escaped and it’s so public. Has it really not gone too far when young girls feel the need to be perceived as sexy? Is it really not a conversation that can be had without it being wrongly assumed I am a prude or just hate sex?

Oddly I find myself writing this post when I actually don’t feel so chirpy and happy…yet maybe this really is the time when I need to write it. To be reminded even on a not so great day that God has been working Himself more deeply into the ‘tapestry’ of my life. Since last time I wrote a post many things have greatly changed. I guess what you could say that greatest change, the most sudden change…[the other changes have kind of snuck up on me]…has been moving jobs. I have now moved from the nightshelter and moved into the floating support team, of the same organisation, as the Workshops Supervisor. The workshops happen in the day centre so currently this is where I spend the vast majority of my time. I have these fantastic moments of realisation where I wonder how I even got here. I am getting to be creative. I’m getting to bring new ideas into being and I get to bring my ‘heart’ and vision into the role. What excites me is the opporuntity my new role gives me to encourage and facilate opportunites for people to take hold of their lives again alongside the other support workers and also through creativity help them to realise more fully who they were created to be. I can very much see presently I am in a ‘work’ place that allows me to be what I AM made me to be and also how it complements and opens up opportunity for the dreams that I hope to see come into being in the future.

Part of the joy of being in this new role, I am sad to say, is no longer being at the night shelter. I say sadly, as looking back I struggle to think of good times there. I struggle to feel like I had any positive impact on clients lives yet I can see how I have developed professionally and my current role is massively benefited from my previous experience there. By the time I left I was pretty well drained out, there was nothing left to give. I was left feeling battered and bruised and as I settle into my new role this is feeling more and more like a distant memory…like a pain that is beginning to dull, it still hurts but it’s not so sharp anymore. I am beginning to feel creative again, I’m making things, I’m keep my room tidy…[massive deal…ask my Mam!], the dishes get done, I am rebuilding friendships after months of being the absent party due to many late and sleep shifts every Thursday and Friday night. It’s exciting but the pain still has to be dealt with, my drained heart still needs to be refreshed and refilled…and unfortunately it’s never as quick as you want it to be.

Something that my time in the night shelter did mean which I ‘ve almost touched on above is my absence due to my  previous ‘unsociable’ hours and there was nothing I could do about it. And as lonely and difficult as it was at times at church which is where I know the people I know in Watford from, I think it pushed me into realising how miserable the edge is. It’s not really a feeling that has completely gone and I came to thinking today that I don’t want it to because if it does will I still be drawing people in the church family or would I get to comfortable? I’m pretty sure I know what the answer would be hence I don’t want the feeling to go. At work on the toilet there is a prayer…

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people. so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

It’s the Francisan prayer of discomfort. And that’s it really truly how I want to live life. So I think my dissatisfaction is two fold, in one way it’s the answer to this prayer. It’s a dissatisfaction that helps me to be the person I want to be. The person who doesn’t see people on the edge and leave them there, the person who helps people to feel like part of the family so this disease of loneliness can’t get such a hold on our church!

But in another it’s a bit of me wanting it all to be about me…I want MY lovely, fun and…the most dangerous bit…easy life…this is the dissatisfaction that I don’t want because this isn’t what I really want life to be like. I want a life marked by I AM’s story not mine! Yes life with I AM is fun and exciting and enjoyable but it’s an adventure and adventures aren’t easy. Easy is a desire that takes me away from the adventure I’ve been called to and not towards.

And also I seem to have found myself a wonderfully handsome best friend who biased as I may be is wonderful, and i can’t help being excited by him…ta much God. [I promise that is the last of it and I won’t be gross and say anything else…ha]

So I had it all figured out, I was going to passionately love living out who God created me to be in Cambodia for a while and till I went I was going to endure not having community, stick with my job so I could save to leave. I also had decided, more accurately got so down hearted I’d given up, the idea of starting a business that was to be a ‘voice for the voiceless’ going by the name of Another Way.

There seems to have been a problem with that, a big I AM [the first name God gives himself that he tells people in the bible] sized issue. This feeling started to trickle to the surface as I started to have found myself with out planning or trying having a place in something that is starting to look like kind of a community… somewhere I get to question and wonder about how life is done and could be done…I wasn’t expecting it or looking for it but it seems to be here and along with it a sense of that maybe I’m running away to Cambodia if I go in September has come.

I was chatting to a guy at work who is from the Isle of Man and is married to a woman from Pakistan…and he said something that probably hit the nail on the head when I talked about what I was thinking which is I don’t like consumerist, individualistic, capitalist culture I don’t think it makes people happy I don’t think it sets people free and I don’t think it looks anything like how Jesus or the new testament early Christians did life [which as an aside I think sounds pretty balanced in there community that did lots of being with each other and no one had need because the family of believers looked after those inside and out of there community]…and in this conversation of voicing dislike for culture this guy said that there’s something more pure about doing good stuff in other countries, it’s less complicated and it’s easier to see in another culture the bits that you’re not ok with and aren’t going to buy into. Basically it’s easier to be who you were created to be in another culture…[disclaimer: I mean as a westerner being in another culture, if I was say an Indian woman in India I am fully aware that the same culture that gives me freedom as a westerner would not give my ‘Indian self’ the same freedom] In understanding that it’s clear how mucky and hard it is to be counter cultural and not get drawn in and find yourself having to question or weigh up what and when it might be making compromise for the sake of this culture telling us to is really really hard.

The long and the short is that for now the adventure is here, I think maybe it will always be…I’m sure there will be to-ings and fro-ings but at the bottom of it I get really sad when I see how broken our culture is even though the consensus seems to be that we’ve got it more right than most. I had gone with the leaving it behind because it looked easier to be somewhere else and easier to see a place for me ‘to be the change I wish to see’ than be where it’s all just a bit hard.

In the past God has been a little more gentle in leading me to the adventure and in recommending here is the place to be I don’t see it as less of an adventure I think it’s more…it won’t look so typically adventurous…there’s a super market down the road…but the horizon is as unknown to me as Cambodia. Yet this time I’ve found it harder [a lot] and less exciting to be lead back to the adventure which primarily tends to have a lot of unknowns and a lot of trusting that I AM is in fact I AM [that IS the adventure]. Maybe it was that in dangerously asking God to mature me that meant that I have been given the ingredients for exactly that …things are less gentle and more sudden and I don’t feel prepared for this… well hello there chance to step up to the maturity growing plate your not a nice easy comfortable option are you! What has my response to that offer been…it’s taken me a while to even realise it’s there and recognise the opportunity…well of course it’s been to scramble around in the dark trying to grasp at anything that looks like me getting the control. It has taken me have a really odd dream where the content really doesn’t matter but what made it mean something was that just before I woke up I found myself saying to someone in the dream when I was surrounded by opportunity to be free and creative that ‘please just tell me how to do my job’ because in the dream I was so frustrated that I didn’t know how to do the job, I was overwhelmed by needing to know how the job needed to be done so that I wouldn’t fail or get something wrong. I woke up realising that in the dream the ‘job’ had put me in the place but the job was already irrelevant and redundant but what if offered was wonderful and creative and unknown…it’s a dream so it’s a bit jumbled but what I go away from it thinking is stop trying to have control when you’re not meant to have control. Simple it may be but being it will not be so easy. I know myself well enough that in this bit of the adventure where I will have to step up I will have many moments of scrambling in the dark thinking control is what will make it ok and when the only safe place is trusting I AM. I AM is not worried He is sat on his thrown in complete power and not in the slightest bit worried.

Oddly enough as I returned to India to say goodbye [when I left India in May I had been expecting to go quite possibly back and live there…which is no longer the case.], the 5000 or so miles I had travelled lead me to realisations that I probably otherwise wouldn’t have stumbled across back here in England.

Being back in Lonavala at first I found myself overwhelmed by a sense of lonelyness. It is hard to be unaware of being alone when you’ve spent 5000 miles and the best part of a day travelling alone. It hit me especially hard as I am only too aware that in September/October time I plan to go to Cambodia for at least 5/6months but I’m hoping closer to a year. This again like India will be a lone adventure, I won’t be going as part of a team or travelling with anyone. The plan is to go and work at an orphanage and start to explore and realise some of the hopes and dreams growing hidden away in my heart. As I felt overwhelmed by this feeling of being alone and especially of again being alone, I started to be reminded and reassured that in fact I’d rather be struggling and living than sat back in England static and ignoring the adventure…to not be living the adventure that I’ve been lead to would be pretty destructive to my spirit…I’d be a shadow of who I was created to be. I was reminded of a tagline that I used to like when I was younger from a brand called No Fear which was ‘I’d rather be dead scared than dead bored’. It struck a cord and woke me up to the promises of God. He hasn’t created us to be alone, He has created us for relationship, to be His people, to be part of His church bringing His kingdom…as I let this overcome me I can be confident that there will be a time that I will be rooted in a we, a group of people with whom I will be able to see and be part of a WE that is seeking Gods dreams being fulfilled, His Kingdom coming.

This is not to say that I am not very blessed by the wonderful friends that are in my life. They were very much present in my first days of struggling in India as I emailed and messaged them and they supported me…It was them who helped my temporary blind eyes to be seeing eyes. But something I had been feeling but it took the prayers of a friend to give the feelings words was her picture of me as a plant currently in a pot and with roots that were filling up the pot, I was a plant that had purposefully not yet been planted. This picture helped me to firstly voice the feelings that had been burdening me and frustrating me [a little bit like feeling like you’re banging your head against the wall] before going to India and secondly as I faced my fear of being alone in India to have something to hold on to. I am able to be content with now and also re-inspired to be patient because I know that my hope is in a safe place.

Apart from all the working stuff out in my head which was a blessing to have I had come to India for a purpose. The purpose I had when I booked my ticket was still that of a regular to-ing and fro-ing between England and India, but as time pasted and I didn’t get the visa I had asked and hoped for and I found myself excitedly waking up to Cambodia my purpose arriving in India was to say goodbye for I don’t know how long. Everything else aside there was one person who I had come all this way to say goodbye to most. This person was Jwona [in the picture above] my wonderful beautiful friend who has a smile that lights up the room. My friend who I can still only say a few understandably words to yet it is her who cried as we sat hugging each other knowing we would have to say goodbye. This is such a hard goodbye to say because beyond the obvious language barrier there is many other barriers to are staying in contact the most obvious being that she lives in a slum and has no access to the technology that is the lifeline for me to those who I am separated from on other sides of the world. She will be able to be kept updated as will I by a friend Rex who works at the local YWAM base who has been our interpreter and he will be a third party communicator. But the reason Jwona will never be forgotten by me nor cease to be my friend whether we are in contact or not is that she will always been in my heart. I don’t really care how cheesy this sounds but it’s true. Jwona has forgiven me for not knowing when or if I will see her again because by the grace of God she has been able to start to glimpse her worth, in a culture that does not bestow this precious gift upon her, by an odd white girl who can barely ask her how she is that has travelled thousands of miles for only a short time for her. I thank God that I am blessed to call Jwona my friend, she is unforgettable and I long for her to know the God that brought us together and placed her in my heart.

I also in my time in India got to see Tabitha again! For those of you who don’t know her story I’d recommend reading some of my older blog posts. Tabitha is a happy bouncy healthy one year old who is a story of hope! Society had it out for her, she is the third daughter of a poor family and is alive by the grace of God. In the midst of her desperation at her situation Tabitha’s mother almost took medication to end her pregnancy but God had other plans. I hope that Tabitha will bring hope to her nation, that she will grow up and be a force for change bringing righteousness and justice to her people. So much of what I see in India seems hopeless but her little growing life is full of potential that has been ordained by God who is greater than any nation or the darkness that hides within in it. And I am so thankful to have the chance to see her and see how well she and her sisters are doing as her family grows in their faith.

This is another idea I have been left inspired by [don’t worry you’re almost there not much more to read ] which is the call to Nations. When I booked my ticket to India I didn’t deliberately intend to be there for the Arts Gathering [a YWAM conference that happens all over the world specifically for artists…in the wide sense not just the painter sense] but thankfully it did. I was at the Lonavala Arts Gathering last year which was an inspiring time and even meant that I got to be part of the first ever Arts Gathering in Nagaland which is in North-East India. All of which have been great times to receive teaching that specifically speaks to the artists and acknowledges how we were made to reflect the ultimate creator who is the source and root of our creativity. One of the speakers was called Hans who with his wife runs a dance school called Alive dance in Norway. Hans was talking with a passion about Nations not just individuals but dreaming bigger than little change, dreaming of whole nations being sheep nations and not goat nations [Matthew 25:31-46]. This gave new meaning to the verse’“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.’ for me and my understanding which had polarised my view of what I was reading as I read the bible. Before this point the bibles talk of nations had passed me by. Reading the prophets I’d find inspiring bits that have spoken to my life or inspiring verses that give me hope in the light of brokeness of our world. But my vision for seeing this change or my response is little by little instead of praying and acting on dreams that seek to see whole nations change and be set free. The prophets were speaking to whole nations, not just me and my journey of faith, I’m not sure that’s something we easily understand or see in English or maybe even Western culture. My dreams have never dared to be this big but in understanding a little more that the passions God has placed in who he created me to be [the same applies to you] are for His purposes but somehow I’d missed the massiveness of His purpose and plans. So it is not new for me to be excited by who God created this funny wandering strange girl that I find myself to be but it’s new to me to be excited about how big the vision that we have been called into is. So in understanding that I’ve been created for His purpose and glory I’ll be making sure I’m not scaling down any dreams or passions instead I’ll let God be in charge of the scale and not just the direction from now on. And now the hard bit…to turn this inspiration into action because I’m tired of being inspired and letting it come to nothing!

 

Well hello there 2012, it was evitable (spell check I hope you know what your on about cause I don’t) that 2011 would be followed by 2012…so here we are.

2010 ended and 2011 started about 4hours into a 33hour train ride from Delhi to Bangalore. Honestly it was very unimpressive in fact as new years go it won’t be memorable for anything other than pretty miserable. But it in no way was an indicator of the year that came to great me. I’m not sure 2011 can easily be described in it’s significance of the life of Kathryn Jane so far, other than that’s really what it was. I would go as far to say it was a coming of age. It marked a turn from preparation for adventure to the adventure. Till that point life was a mere glimpse of where God seems to be leading me, the urge for a life of adventure was there but there had been important lessons to be learnt in who God had created me to be, His call on my life to love Him as only I was created to do…as it is also for you. A simplistic notion of calling yet it sits well with me…I don’t want to find that I have passed life by, missing it by earnestly wasting it all searching for a ‘sign’ written in the stars or a massive pointing finger. I’ve been given a ‘heart’ to be my guide.

2011 was ‘immeasurably more than I could imagine’. God breathed life into the His word’s that till that point it had been my hope for a future I could do nothing more than trust it existed because I couldn’t see it. On the last day of 2011 I found myself stood [paddling] in the sea looking out into the waves that disappeared into the night with no idea literally or metaphorically what was coming but overwhelmed with how amazing Yet as 2012 begins I don’t feel sure of much in fact I’m pretty I’m not sure what to expect at in the slightest. Exciting but today I find myself scared crying out to my Father to hold me tight and close. There is a fear stirred in me because I know my own weakness…I’ve found the weak link in this epic adventure and it’s yours truly. The song ‘Arms of Grace’ has a the lyric ‘How many times have you found me wandering in the rubble of yesterdays hope’…’it’s not the first time I’ve been in this place’. I will need to many times, daily, run into the arms of grace that do not give up on me that this song speaks of. I don’t think I’ll stop being amazing by that grace, I don’t think we can. 2012 will be full of that fear but I am reminded of a phrase used by an extreme sports brand ‘I’d rather be dead scared then dead bored’. It somewhat captures my heart, not boredom but the desire for life to be vibrantly alive. Part of that comes from having no idea what the year while hold. I don’t want life to be all sorted out and planned out, to me that feels pretty dead. Yet I am blessed to know wonderful friends who this is the opposite of the truth in their lives and for them I rejoice in that, our God doesn’t do a ‘set dish’.

I want to be in this place in the knowledge that I am weak; my life is dead without God. In this place I know where to look to have the confidence to step in to this glorious unknown, as it is only unknown to me and not my Father. He knows my steps, my fears, my hopes and dreams, what makes me tick and the light he has placed within me. If I start feeling strong I’ll be walking towards that dead place in life missing that all that matters is not me but found in God.

So again I’ll say hello 2012…I’m excited to see what you will reveal.

 

The world has been safe from my whitterings for a while but inspired by a friend’s blog I guess well we’ll see where it goes from here. In addition another trip to India makes it even more probable that the frequency of posts will increase.

I look at what seems to be my life and I don’t recognise it. A year ago I was preparing for my first trip to Asia to spend 2months in India and once back I planned to go to Zimbabwe , Rwanda and South Africa. This was meant to be my short adventure before I became a secondary school Design and Technology teacher…but somewhere between being alone travelling in a country I didn’t know and being overwhelmed that I really actually wasn’t going to see my family for 2 months (the longest I’d been away from them and a fact that hadn’t sunk it yet prior to this), and seeing these amazing different places that some how were impossibly familiar to me, I knew I wasn’t going to complete my PGCE course application. 2 months became 5 months and I knew that I had found myself in the middle of a life I didn’t recognise but knew I’d found my adventure.

I’ve always wanted adventure not mortgages or something off the shelf but I thought it would come from sport and yet the sea was always too far away, I couldn’t get easily to lakes or mountains, buildings blocked raging winds, the parks just didn’t do it like the countryside and people around didn’t seem to get how amazing these absent things were. I’m sure these things will have a place in this adventure that seems to be my life but they will not be the purpose or the driving force. My adventure is a journey full of divine accidents. I’m yet to find a more accurate term since I used it to explain my time in India. The divine accident is the coming about of things that have not been really pursued or the original intention was not the outcome, these things have the clear stamp of God. They are no surprise to Him, he created me for them. He has taken this wandering whittering girl and lead her in His ways in an adventure she didn’t even think really existed. She even naively had started to think that life would just be a bit of a let down and it was better not to really hope for things because you can’t fail at dreams you don’t have. I have rarely admitted that to myself let alone anyone else instead I’ve hidden it behind dreams of moving to live by the sea yet was too scared to make it happen.

But that aside the life I dreamed of is here. I have never known what it would look like and I never thought it would look like this…neither could I have guessed or even vaguely guessed in the dark at this direction but frankly who cares. I’m here and I have no idea where I’m going. But in update to the adventure from being in India…2 weeks after coming back I visited a friend and went along to her church. 6months later now her church is my church and she’s off living her adventure  currently in Australia and I’m over 2months in to a new job working with homeless people in a night shelter living in Watford.

And in this time, especially the last 5 weeks, I’ve gone through a time of resenting the adventure. I guess there was a bit of romanticising the adventure queue enter of a number of aggressive, ungrateful, demanding, manipulative homeless guys (the minority not the majority!) and onset the emotional exhaustion and the low low feelings of a lifeless adventure. Yet God does not abandon and with His wonderfully placed people in my cell group and friends the spark is back in the adventure. The life is back in me. The ‘life’ that makes me heart beat faster and the desire to say Lord let me be that when I read the Year of the Lords favour is back. My energy is back. My excitement for the adventure is back. The wonderfully unknown unpredictable at times scary, filled with highs and lows, adventure is where I want to be. Let the Divine adventures long continue…