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homesick

“I’m homesick—longing for your salvation. I’m waiting for your word of hope”

Psalm 119: 81-82 (the message)

When I settle into the couch, after a long day, with a moments silence, there is a discomfort I sense, that cries eternal. This morning I woke at 4am with anxious thoughts swirling the drain. I tried to go back to sleep, but I have learned in such times, it is useless to try and tell my already tired mind what to do. I have learned it is best to move one emotion, with another emotion and to get up and walk around the house, even though my legs betray me.

So I walked and with a quiet whisper I asked the darkness “God what is it that you are wanting to whisper in this moment of darkness?”

A digging on ancient wells, to sacred places, that my mind has walked over and over across many decades. A quiet place of contemplation that allows his perspective to mark mine. Often it is not one of clarity (although sometimes the direction is starkly evident), mostly its just a knowing and a comfort that reminds my soul not to worry once again.

There is a place within us all, that is rarely talked about at coffee shops or school canteens, it is a depth of knowing that once dug into cannot be contained. There is a ocean of peace awaiting discovery.

And the longing that sits within the veil of success and performance, just behind the nods of approval from loved ones and friends, it is a homesickness that calls us deeper. It draws us again and again if we dare to listen.

“I’m homesick—longing for your salvation. I’m waiting for your word of hope”

As I dive into these places of longing, I remember the birthright of my salvation. It is a place of peace and authority, strength and fortitude.

At the beginning of 2020 I wrote three sentences from this sacred 4am secret place and yesterday once again I was reminded of the courage God was inviting us into for a strange and complex year.

Seek his presence over perfection.

Seek courage over certainty

Seek his ways over the worlds.

1st Jan, 2020

With a little perspective I now know why these words were whispered into my heart at a 4am, digging wells moment. A place of clarity and peace, amid the rubbles. You see 2020 has carried with it the birth pains of a world in chaos, but my personal world has been ravaged, by the diagnosis on May 25, that my Dad has a terminal illness.

He has motor nueron disease, and although this disease can be slow for some, its path cannot be mapped or measured. And his path is a ferocious one.

In three months he has lost the use of his legs and arms. Moving him from his 5 bedroom home, close by his favourite coffee shops and the beach, was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

This week I took him out for a day date for churros and indian curry, but sitting surrounded by crowds of people feeding my 69 year old Dad, was both a privilege and deeply painful.

Every day, there is a new challenge, whether it’s the COVID season and the complexity of caring for our elderly, or managing his bills, pain medications and frustrations. My parents are divorced, so there is another layer of difficulty and the list continues.

And then I come back to Psalm 119, as I have been across this season.

I am drawn back to this ancient well to search out the artisan spring of peace and comfort awaiting.

I remember the words of CS Lewis when he sings to my soul reminding me that…

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud.

CS LEWIS

Dig again my dear friend.

Even if the season is a tiring one.

Dig again my fellow sojourner.

Even if the task seems insurmountable.

Dig again.

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meditation: the cry of my heart

This illustration is from the COVID UN campaign on Unsplash.
“In this pilgrim way, I meditate on your name all night”
Psalm 119: 55

Album to listen to whilst reading today’s blog from Psalm 119: Stay the Course

We all meditate.

Whether you like the influence of the word or not, in fact, you’re doing it right now. There are words flowing through your veins. There are beliefs that are carving either flowers or dark valleys in the crevices of our minds. These sacred pathways fill our hearts and lives, it is a pilgrim way. Each thought meditation and an offering, our life’s work of worship.

“I meditate on your name all night treasuring your revelation. Still, I walk through a rain of derision, because I live by your word and counsel.”

Psalm 119: 55-65

Some days my meditation becomes my undoing. I think I need to have it all perfect, to take the next step towards finding the rest my soul longs for. Rest, rest, rest you seem so distant. In a season of so much disruption, how does my soul find its rest?

I have found this place is an eternal Jerusalem, a place of pilgrimage and meditation. When I find myself worrying through the night, I just start to repeat scripture, that reminds me of the power of my meditation. When I worry, my heart starts to become hard with the weight of the challenge. It sits heavy on my chest. As I start to reframe those pathways, I remember the beauty once again.

The Old Testament says it this way…

GOD, your God, will cut away the thick calluses on your heart and your children’s hearts, freeing you to love GOD, your God, with your whole heart and soul and live, really live.

Deuteronomy 30: 6-7

Proverbs says it this way…

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4: 23

The New Testament writers describe it this way…

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14: 27

In this season, where things look very different, where we are questioning safety, we are immersed in the trauma of societal change…

The cry of my heart is to walk lightly through these days of deep change. To love extravagantly and to believe the best in others. I can only do this when I change the meditation of my every day. Reframing the way that I think, worship and speak.

Let’s remember what we meditate upon and its impact on our every day. Let’s meditate on that which brings life, truth and hope. Let’s meditate through.

And the gift of Psalm 119, in this season, is that it has been calling me back to the beauty of words written so long ago in the Bible and their relevance in my life today.

What are you meditating on?

Amanda’s latest book Dear Creative Self launched at the end of Febuary 2020, you can buy a copy here today.

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Disturb us, O Lord.

“The insolent ridicule me without mercy but I dont budge from your revelation. I watch for your ancient landmark words, and know I’m on the right track.”

Psalm 119: 51-52

The word insolent makes me feel like a naughty little school girl. She has her bottom lip extended, arms crossed and resigned herself to sitting in the corner. A picture of someone who refuses to listen, to the wisdom of someone in authority. Someone who is late on purpose, passive-aggressive over emails and digs their heels in saying there is only one way.

Someone who creates dissension on demand, as quickly as the latest Netflix series is released.

Drama,

Attention,

Lights,

Camera,

Action.

Then when the conversation is in another court and a gathering comes to listen actively to the metanarrative around a fire, they hang a do not disturb sign firmly on their front door.

Our culture has created insolence as a marker of influence in a generation that seeks attention and approval more than ever before. If I can rage against the machine and align myself with rebellion then maybe I am living a life of purpose and legacy.

Ridicule has become the tool of the rich and famous, to belittle a history that is often misunderstood. It is a tool that thrives in the dark web of the subversive culture found online.

Yet I stumble, awkwardly across places of wisdom. Stories from those who ripped off their bras in the ’60s and sung wild songs of rebellion about Jesus. People so in love with the person of Christ, that a softening of their narrative became their calling cards around a table.

Ancient landmarks, movements of worship and adoration where we learned lessons or did we?

This is the power of perspective and the metanarrative over decades and centuries, in comparison to years. We believe that we are the only generation to believe with radical rebellion that things can be different.

Or are we?

The Bible draws us to places of justice and rebellion across thousands of years, not just decades and asks us to lean towards perspective rather than rebellion.

Psalm 119 has been asking me to slow down in my anger and to reflect upon the wisdom of my responses. This is an ever-growing dissatisfaction, a yearning to be disturbed.

Sir Frances Drake, an adventurer (essentially a legal pirate) wrote this prayer as he departed Portsmouth on the Golden Hind to raid Spanish gold on the west coast of South America. The context of his occupation makes me shake my head, at the poignancy of these words and the need for disruption and perspective.

Disturb us, Lord (1577)

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,

We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

AMEN

Where have we become insolent rather than disturbing the status quo?


Start a conversation in the comments to reflect on this conversation with Amanda.

O’ Captain disturb us in ways that we would lean in to learn from the wisdom of ages, rather than the pride found in our own judgements.

O’ Captain disturb us to remember the heart and vulnerability of humanity, in those times when we want to ridicule its behaviour.

O’ Captain disturb us when we think we know better and more. Help us to sit humbly at tables with the silenced and forgotten, to bring peace with every meal.

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Remember

Remember dear heart, remember.

“O heart remember,
Remember what you said to me. These words hold me in bad times.”

Psalm 119: 49-56

My sister celebrated turning 40 this week. It feels more real than when I became this age myself. Maybe shes my little sister and if she is that old, then perhaps I am even older, which is genuinely terrifying.

We sat together as a family celebrating her turning of age, and we sobbed. My dad is not doing that great these days, and it’s hard to recalibrate our hearts amid the tragedy. Then I read Psalm 119. It has been my balm in this season of so much transition.

“Remember what you said to your servant- I hang onto these words for dear life.”

Psalm 119: 49

Sitting in a lounge room last night on a writers retreat with my dear friends, we laughed and laughed remembering. There is something so cathartic about this art of remembrance that helps us to find our way again.

Some days it’s hard to remember the promises we knew so potently from a season that’s passed. It is often in these days that it is hard to hold on to the person you used to be and stay true.

Then I remember,
I remember His faithfulness,
I remember His constant truth,
I remember.

God, you stay constant in a world that is full of movement, loss and transition. Please help me to remember. Could you help me to release that which no longer belongs in today?

It’s a new day. How do I lean towards that spacious place of knowing?

It is an opportunity to release the old ways of thinking but also to remember the faithfulness of days passed. I am honouring that which I can not change, staying present to the places that call me towards peace in my today.

What do you need to remember amid your current stories?

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He Is Able

“Then I’ll be able to stand up to mockery because I trusted your Word. Don’t ever deprive me of truth, not ever – your commandments are what I depend on.  Oh, I’ll guard with my life what you’ve revealed to me, guard it now, guard it ever; And I’ll stride freely through wide open spaces as I look for your truth and your wisdom.”

Psalm 119: 42-46

Our world is writhing in pain; one could say it is in labour pains. There is no easy way to say it, and there are no fast solutions. It is both/and. Have you ever thought something was black and white and then a perspective shifts, changing everything?

Lately, I have been reading and re-reading the same Psalm and finding present tense inspiration from its poetry from centuries past.

“Then I’ll be able to stand up to their mockery. Don’t deprive me of your truth.”

Psalm 119: 42 (the message)

I have walked alongside the pain and the after-effects of bullying for a few years with one of my children. It was something that one could laugh off quickly, but the reoccurring isolation and loneliness have been longlasting.

Social Media has felt like that same childhood battleground. Name-calling, shaming and public debates, outlined with the premise of activism. Each side brings misconduct, abuse, and the violence brings with it pain. Their voices cry out, desperately asking someone, anyone to listen and heal their grief. We desperately want to walk into the wide, free, open spaces of liberty and truth, but we struggle to apply the truth of commandments in our every day.

I often see activists, so passionate in their pursuit of the truth, but they petition with arrogance and lose sight of the voice of the person they are advocating for.

It is both/and.

Shame pervades every letter typed on a screen, shoulds, could, what-ifs and didn’t you know.

You haven’t posted!

What you have said is wrong, didn’t you know that?

That statement is patriarchal, sarcasm inserted.

That empathy is disempowering.

Activism does not give you the right to shame and mock another person’s perspective. When we access our advocacy from a place of hierarchy we forget that the education and understanding that we have, comes from a place of privilege.

You see, there are no quick fixes or words that aptly describe the problem that has been a problem for the whole existence of humanity. It is an oppression problem. It is a justice problem. It is an inequality problem. It is a distribution of wealth problem. And every single one of us contributes to the meta-narrative.

Until we all acknowledge our role and part to play in this supply chain, no transformation can begin to occur. And unless we sit in the seat of the learner and listen to one another’s stories, then how can we possibly bring change that is sustainable and long-lasting?

It all comes back to the foundation of trust. I have been learning change the way that we relate to one another and each of our lived experiences. These building blocks of trust within relationships and complex times have helped remind me of the importance of different perspectives to build empathy.

SPEAK UP WITH INTEGRITY– Are you actually living what you are posting about?

LISTEN TO HEAR– Are you listening to speak or hear?

VULNERABILITY BUILDS TRUST– Are you able to honestly share your own failures?

SHARE INFORMATION FREELY– Do you reveal all your sources and the places you have to gain insight from?

EMPOWER OTHERS– What is the agenda behind your advocacy? (Is it to make yourself gain or another?)

We all long for peaceful, wide-open spaces free from oppression but guard your heart, my dear internet friends. Question your motives, speak up for those who have lost their voices and do everything you can to sit in the seat of the learner rather than the one with all the answers.

I am learning that He is able, despite all of our complexity and pain. I want His ways above my own. I want His truth, above a filtered one. I want to see freedom come with peace in its path.

How are you building trust in this uncommon season?