Inspiration (5 min Friday)

I’m climbing back on the Five Minute Friday train again. This is where we are given a single word prompt and write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write. 


The word for this week is: Inspire

For me inspiration seems to work best when it is an accidental thing, like cleaning up the back yard because I happened to start by picking up a few things that need to be put away before it rains and hours later I’m still going.

Creativity can happen in a similar way, I do some housekeeping on my blog or am jotting notes or random to-do items in my notebook and begin to let my thoughts wander, with the thoughts flow some words and if I can let the words keep coming without too much editing (I can be an obsessed editor!) soon pages begin to fill and something of value may emerge from the mess of notes. Equally likely it remains just a mess of notes but if that mess was never written down no useful creation would ever happen.

I guess in this way I’m a classic ‘ideas in the shower’ sort of person, once I relax, let my mind wander (and feet too, a walk is always a good writing prompt!) the ideas are able to come. As long as I cling to worries, anxiety, problems to resolve, creativity is hindered. If my body can relax (shower, snooze, walking, gardening are all good mechanisms) my mind may well follow and a relaxed mind is able to find inspiration in the most mundane of places.


If feeling inspired, or curious, hit the five minute friday tag to see more of these sort of posts (much older ones!)

Rant about social media

It is a long time since I have written here, in fact it is a long time since I have blogged at all. I’m not entirely sure why, both inspiration and motivation have been seriously lacking over the last few months.

Whatever the reasons, it has been good to take a break from blogging for an extended time as it has caused me to evaluate this rather odd obsession of publishing personal thoughts on such a worldwide, interconnected and virtually instant medium with little control over who may end up reading it. Most of us who blog have little to contribute in the way of original thinking or profound insights, it is just kind of nice to write and see it on the internet. Yet this applies to the whole phenomenon of social media, of which blogging is simply a subset.

As a form of communication, social media is great. When turned into a profit making device, it sucks. Personally I wouldn’t mind having to pay a small monthly fee to use a social media platform such as Facebook. But I hate ads. They are intrusive and not what I am looking for when I go online. My other bugbear regarding the current trend in social media platforms is the issue of who owns my stuff. If I write about what is happening in my own life, or post photos I have taken, it is absurd and thievery to then claim that content as belonging to the media network.

Am I enough?

This week’s 5 Minute Friday prompt is ‘Enough’

Go:

“It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
(1 Kings 19:4 ESV)

We men are generally supposed to be strong and provide for our families. There is an unspoken but well understood code which prohibits showing or speaking of weakness or insecurity – such feelings should be masked with bravado.

The truth is that I have spent much of my married life and certainly my time as a father seriously doubting if I measure up.

Am I enough of a husband?

Am I enough of a father?

Enough of a man?

We don’t say such things out loud, but the apprehension is always there. Seeing the task before me, I know I do not measure up. Other men earn more and provide better for their wife and children. Other men are more helpful to their wives. Other men are more tender fathers, more consistent in discipline and better at teaching their children about Jesus.

Like Elijah I look at myself and see the truth – I am no better than my father, or his father. Some might reply that “of course you are enough”. They do not know the truth. I know it. God knows it.

I am a failure at what really matters. I am not enough.

God accepts this and He has done what is necessary to make up the difference between my not enough, and what is enough. The difference is Christ. God knows the truth, He doesn’t offer platitudes, He offered His Son.

Unfortunately the world and other people don’t always see this. Where it gets hard is when my wife sees that I am not enough, does she lie to herself? Or does she see Jesus making up the shortfall? Do my children see my faults and then see Christ making the difference?

Sorry, no answers in this post, only questions.

(I overran the stop timer today!)

Whats the story

This week’s 5 Minute Friday prompt: ‘Story’

Go:
“What’s the story?”

I hate those words.

As a kid it usually meant I was about to be busted for my latest misdemeanor and had to think real fast to generate an explanation both plausible and least incriminating.

Even as an adult the phrase causes anxiety like seeing a police car in the rear view mirror. It causes my failings to surge into my consciousness – can I blame not meeting a deadline on something other than my own incompetence?

Years pass, my story gets longer, murkier, messier. The stuff I’d like to have left behind twenty years ago surfaces at inopportune times and mistakes I should have learned from end up repeated. New chapters are written containing a distressing mix of beauty and weakness, love and lunacy.

It would be nice to live even a short chapter in this life without failing, stumbling or stuffing up. Fortunately the Author and Editor has chosen to expunge the bad bits from the new me He is creating.

Stop

Sorry for having been erratic in writing lately, a good thing about 5 minute Friday is I feel less internal pressure to write well – the point is to just write! Have a good weekend those to get to have one (I have to work :-( ).

 

Dance

Five Minute Friday:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat on the prompt: “Dance” with no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

Go:
I am not really given to dancing. Gracefulness is not a description I’d easily wear. At a guess I would probably look like a midget immitation of Peter Garrett if I tried to dance.

The closest I’ve come to being graceful was many years ago when I was a rock climber, control and concentration made something very difficult look easy to others. A faster moving version was skiing, an exhilarating experience of being in the mountains and flowing down their flanks.

Now my moves are less agile, a lot more puffing is involved now as I walk in the freedom of fresh air and only nature’s eyes watching. Still, in such places where no one is watching, my soul still exhalts in God as at least feels like I could dance.

Stop

Expecting God to answer

This week’s 5 minute Friday topic is expectation:
Cute little boy gets a birthday gift from his father. White background.
Go

whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.
(Matthew 21:22 ESV)

I should expect answers when I pray. It would be a lie to say I always do.

Perhaps this is why I pray non-specific prayers in front of my kids, prayers which could be answered by imperceptible progress so it is harder to say definitively whether the answer has been given or not?

Why such difficulty in believing that God will give me what I ask for in prayer? Logically I know it doesn’t depend upon how well I pray, whether I select the right words, or even if I get the theology exactly correct. God, the big powerful One, He gives the answers – it all depends on Him, not me.

Jesus told us what we need in order to receive what we ask for: faith.

Faith, the same stuff which got me saved. I have no problem trusting God for my salvation, my ever-present weakness helps me to be always trusting in Christ not myself. Surely this is what He was saying about praying, ask in faith based on who Jesus is and have an expectation that He who knows all I need and ask for will give it to me.

Stop

Check out this great blog post about this very topic:  Why do healings and stuff happen there and not here?


Related to this topic:

Image: iStock

Faith, not sight

The Friday phenomenon, 5 minute Friday in which I uses today’s prompt of see to set me off writing for 5 minutes. Join the link up over at The Gypsy Mama and read what others have written too.
Go:

for we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV)

I have already written about the importance of eyesight, both physical and spiritual. Yet there can be times – perhaps extended times – when sight is useless to us. The road ahead is enshrouded in mist and fog. Darkness keeps me from seeing what may be before me.

In these times I have no choice but to trust God, to walk in faith. Being honest, I don’t like that, even if it is good for me. I prefer to be able to see, to know what lies ahead.

But even if I could see the road ahead fully, would I make better choices? Knowing my own fears and weaknesses I am certain I would turn back if I knew whatever difficulties await me.

In this I take courage from Paul stating that he walked by faith rather than by sight. The context is that he is groaning and feeling burdened by this life, longing for glory and being home with Jesus. Yet he continues to walk in obedience.

Lord Jesus, please strengthen me to also walk in obedience.

Stop

For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. (2 Corinthians 5:4-9 ESV)

Small opportunities

Joining 5 minute Friday when we write for five minutes, link up over at The Gypsy Mama and have fun reading each other’s posts. This week the topic is opportunity, Go:
This is the word I have chosen as my focus for 2012: opportunity. So many years have drifted past in which there were plenty of opportunities that I’ve not used, so this year I want to catch at least some of those that come my way. To harness my life to the opportunities before me and make something worthwhile of what I’m given.

Yet in the nitty gritty tiredness of life grasping hold of of big opportunities seems too hard some days. Still, there are smaller opportunities which I can take.

Such as reading that Bible story to the kids before bed.

Making a cup of tea for my lovely wife who is every bit as tired as I am.

The moments it takes to pray for my children before they go to sleep.

And then, finally, the opportunity to relax!
Stop

Who am I

It is 5 minute Friday in which I write feverishly for five short minutes, find a picture to fit my story and then post without reworking and rewording the entire thing before being brave enough to publish! This week the topic is identity, Go:
There was a time when I identified myself as a rock climber, not any more.

I was young, not any more.

I used to identify myself by the job I did, after over ten jobs that has worn thin.

I even had the audacity to identify myself as being intelligent… until I went to university!

Now I have many roles: husband, father, Poisons officer, son but my identity does not rest in any of these.

Who am I really?

Am I my thoughts, actions, emotions?

Am I what others think or see? Or what I present to the world?

In the end none of these are substantial. They will all crumble. Like earlier this evening when I was putting up gib in our bathroom and felt some identification with my father and brother who are both builders. Then I drilled through a new pipe placed by the plumber only last week and immediately identified myself as a complete idiot!

I want my identity to be in Christ, that I may know Him and be found in Him.

As Paul said, who had so much going for him by some standards yet threw all that away in order to gain Christ:

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
(Philippians 3:7-11 ESV)

Missing them

Alone at work in the middle of the night.

Alone at work in the middle of the night.

I don’t enjoy this. I want to be at home with my wife and three children, together in the same house, sharing our lives.

This separation is the way it has to be during this particular season. There are some benefits but the cost of separation is high. For some, perhaps, not having the family routine we had become so accustomed to would be a trivial thing. I have a good job, an adequate income, this is a great blessing.

Yet the evening routine with it’s ‘jungle hour’ when the kids become hyped-up and unruly, the wrestling of baths and pyjamas and nappies while trying to catch snippets of today’s news and tomorrow’s weather from the telly. Wanting to collapse with a cup of tea, just my lovely wife and I, but needing to do the bedtime routine first. The dishes to wash, toys to pick up yet again, stories to read for the hundredth time (does he ever tire of Thomas the Tank Engine?).

I miss these things, the mess of being a family together.