Monday, 21 March 2011
Trains, Touring and Tulips
Apologies for the much over due post-- I find that every time I sit down to actually write something, I get carried away in my thoughts and it turns out to be more run on sentences and stories than anything else! However, with no obligations on this Sunday afternoon, I have opened my windows, lit some candles and cozied up on my bed to finish writing this!
Now, where to begin...
As I mentioned previously, I had the wonderful opportunity to spend last weekend with a friend in Norwich. Well… a small village outside of Norwich called Matishall. The train ride out to the countryside was absolutely stunning— I spent the majority of my journey looking out the window, lost in a day dream and an overwhelming sense of peace. There is something about the countryside that puts me at ease, it calms my nerves and reminds me to slow down. Part of me feels that while wanting to soak up all that London has to offer, I’ve almost forgotten what it means to 'be still and know that He is God'. Having been given two hours to simply sit and ride through the rolling hills of England was such a blessing and helped me regain that piece of myself. Here is part of my journal entry on the train ride (remember my thoughts tend to be a bit discombobulated- so bear with me):
As I take the train through the green pastures and rolling hills, I find myself day dreaming of the beauty of Your majesty. The open land awaiting cultivation- awaiting new life and growth. The more I think about this concept- the more I question where I am in life and how these fields and crops pertain to me, right now.
I’ve been told that Lent is a time of renewal, a time a restoration and change. I can't help but look out the window upon the acres of crops before me, and think about who is harvesting them... Who is providing care, and helping them grow? The more I contemplate this, the more I see it unfolding into my own life. How am I harvesting my own heart? How am I helping it grow? What am I pouring into it each and every day? What am I filling my life and thoughts with? And as a result of it all-- What type of fruit am I producing?
In order to bear good fruit and share in the fruit of Your Spirit, I must begin to make a conscious effort of filling myself with Your love and drinking from Your cup. It’s time that I begin saturating myself in Your presence, God, and harvesting the crop of my own heart... starting with the roots- with what holds me together.
In the season of Lent, there will be a change. There will be growth. The roots surrounding my heart will grow strong and I will bear good fruit. That is my goal, my commitment.
While many are giving of specific things, I choose this lent to give my time, effort, and intention to You. Taking a step out of my normal routine, and sacrificing one thing in particular- I will try my best and make sacrifices as they come. Rather than finding the many ways to distract myself, I choose to read Your Word. Instead of indulging in gossip and dramatics, I choose to listen with grace and mercy. Rather than receiving with greed and selfishness, I choose give- joyfully and abundantly. In times of hurt and pain, I will not partner with anger and rejection- but seek Your heart of love and humility instead. I will not be burdened by doing these things, but instead- I will find joy in the sacrifice.
If I'm being honest with myself... is this going to be all the time? No. Am I going to screw up? You bet. But, what this time and these challenges will teach me is to try and become far more conscious of who I am, the things I do and the words I say. Thanks to Your grace, God… that’s absolutely ok. I have come to terms with the fact that I will fail You. I always have and always will. I will break my promises and I will make mistakes. That's because You are God, and I am not. I believe that when those times come, You will forgive me, You will look at me with tender eyes and say, ‘Get back up my child and try again. I believe in you and the heart you have. Even when you make mistakes, in all those times you fall- I will never lose hope, never lose sight of the woman I have created you to be. So—as I believe in you, Lindsey, I ask you to believe in me. Believe in my love, believe in my forgiveness and believe in my grace, for it is yours. Always and forever.’
Looking back out the window, at the crops in the distance- I try to envision them in the eyes of the beholder (the farmer in this case). As he looks upon his fields, he is able to smile- knowing that he has reaped exactly what he has sown. That every seed planted was worth it. Every day of labor and discipline, was worth it. Each drop of water and ray of sunshine has contributed to the growth of his fields. Over time and tender care, the crop has grown.. slowly but surely- it has changed over time. Eventually bearing good fruit, because its roots have been made strong.
This is my hope and plea for the Lenten season. May I reap what I sow. And may I sow a wonderful harvest for You, God- pouring into the roots of my very being and making them strong... Cultivating a change in who I am and who I want to become.
I know that may have been a little 'deep' for some, and I'm sorry if that's not what you expected! However, if I'm going to use this blog to share with you my experiences... this is one of them :)
Earlier this week was St. Patrick’s Day-- I must admit, I started my evening a little bummed that I wasn't home celebrating Ireland's patron saint with all of my friends and family (did you know that green beer and Shamrock Shakes are considered to be an 'American' thing?). Feeling a wee bit down, I decided I might as well take a stroll down the road and have myself a Guinness in honor of St. Pat.
The pubs on Kings Rd were overflowing with ladies and gents, both young and old- out to drink ye Guinness, sing ye merry songs, dance ye Irish jig and pay reverence to ye beloved leprechauns! I however, found refuge at a smaller pub down the street called, The Pheonix. Although this abode was also filled to the brim, I managed to spot a familiar waiter who pointed me around the corner and to a table outside. The more time I sat and soaked up my surroundings- the more I began to understand the wonderful place I was in. By the time I left, I couldn't remember why I was wishing to be somewhere else, when I knew that I was right where I was suppose to be! I was sitting at a candle lit table on an old brick street in London, reading a book and having no obligations nor anyone else to entertain! When it finally dawned on me, I couldn't help smile... There will be more St. Patty's Day celebrations in my future, why waste the one I have now when I can embrace it?
Prior to St Patrick's Day, I received a message from the church I’ve been attending (Holy Trinity Brompton), regarding a prayer meeting that was taking place in Parliament Square last week. At first I was a little apprehensive about it. After all, I hadn't even been to Parliament to sight see yet, let alone join a group of strangers to pray! However, with a little nudge from the big man upstairs and my trusty pocket map, I decided- why not? So I went.
Looking back on this evening, I am so glad that I had gone and am even more amazed by what I witnessed… First of all, when you exit the tube station at Westminster, you actually feel like you are walking out into London- The Thames River is dead ahead of you, the London Eye to your left, and Big Ben directly at your back. Although the lights were beautiful to see at night, I am eager to explore during the daytime!
When I walked out of Westminster station, I followed my map to where it said Parliament Square was located. (If I didn't look like a tourist before- then I definitely did now.. Trying to read a pocket map in the dark is quite difficult unless it's an inch away from your face!). Surprisingly, I didn't need the map for long... before I knew it, I was approaching a crowd of people- many whom were carrying either candles or glow sticks. As I rounded the corner, the crowd grew larger and larger, until I could no longer see where it ended. (Not quite the 'prayer meeting' I had expected!)
I found out that thousands of people, young and old, rich and poor, full of hope and broken hearted, had gathered in the middle of London to pray for world and national issues. Many were praying for the people of Japan, others for the government, and others for personal reasons. The streets were lined with people smiling and laughing- singing and rejoicing, all giving praise to God. It was both beautiful and encouraging to witness such a scene- so much that I, myself, was moved to join them.
There was a moment as I was walking through the sea of people in Parliament Square, that I felt God in the stillness of my heart saying,"Look around you Lindsey, and be joyful. This is it- the way it's suppose to be! All of my people, as one, calling out for me." It was an incredible place to be and an evening I'm so happy I could experience. I feel that it brought both peace and encouragement to many- It was a reminder of how great God’s love is, how big his plans are, and proof that we are not alone.
Speaking of not being alone-- as I was walking home from Chelsea Potter last night, 'Never Alone' by Lady Antebellum started playing on my ipod. Listening to the words and looking at the moon, I was reminded yet again, that I am never alone. (Yes, I realize I sound extremely cheesy.) But, for those of you who have some time on your hands- take a listen and see how the words speak to you.
Every Saturday, when I get off work- I walk down to the flower shop and purchase a bushel of tulips. It may seem silly, but these tulips mean much more to me than what the little old shop owner thinks. These tulips remind my of Holland, they remind me of friendships, they remind me of loved ones, they remind me of sunny days and laughter, they remind me of home.
As I was putting the tulips in water yesterday, I also began to see how they remind me of myself- the better part of me… the one that longs to be something more. Each morning the tulips bud and bloom- stretching wide their petals, awaiting what the day will bring. Much like these little flowers, I too stretch wide my arms and open my heart- anticipating the hours before me. Although it’s more of a gradual progression for myself- I realize that throughout my time in London, I am blooming every day and blossoming in to the woman that God created me to be. Thank God not only for these tulips, but for the understanding of them as well.
After reading over this post, I'm beginning to think it's turned into a set of "Lindsey's Life Lessons" rather than my adventures! I truly did not mean for it to become a diary! Haha, I promise to get some more interesting stories on here for you soon. I must tell you though, it's difficult! -- There is so much here that I long to share with everyone, so much that I wish I could describe and discuss! However, I'm beginning to realize that I will never be able to fully explain every experience and encounter. I'm learning that some things are meant to be left unsaid. Some are simply meant to be secrets and stories tucked away in the pocket of my own heart.