Tag Archives: God


What is saving your life right now?

Many years ago now, a wise old priest invited me to come speak at his church in Alabama. “What do you want me to talk about?” I asked.

"Come tell us what is saving your life right now,” he answered.

It was as if he had swept his arm across a dusty table and brushed all the formal china to the ground.

I did not have to try to say correct things that were true for everyone. I did not have to use theological language that conformed to the historical teachings of the church. All I had to do was figure out what my life depended on. All I had to do was figure out how I stayed as close to that reality as I could.”

From An Altar in the World, Barbara Brown Taylor.

It is the year of our Lord 2020 DCT (During Corona Times), consider the formal china swept to the floor - because if you can’t mess up your fancy table setting DCT when can you?

What is saving your life right now? (other than staying at home, obvs)

Saving my life right now is: Sunlight. Taking photos of beautiful things on the Boris sanctioned daily exercise of lunchtime walks. Exercising wonder. Reminding myself this is just for a season.


Abandoning all notions of being a part-time vegetarian – turns out, in times of global crisis, all I want is comfort food. Turns out, lentils are not comfort food and so, when the going gets tough, the tough eat burgers.

Psalms that lament. Psalms that praise. Psalms that start with lament and turn to praise. The clocks going forward meaning we had one less hour of this to deal with. Yoga. Cleaning everything in sight. Updates on the latest Isolationships. This painting:

The invitation to joy, peace, love, trust - life in all its fullness. By Jenedy Paige
By Jenedy Paige

Good music - praise be for the Quarantunes playlist - turning it up 11 and dancing for joy. Friends sending daily encouragement. Knowing God is present and at work even if it doesn’t feel like it. Online workouts with the gym crew. Not checking the news more than twice a day. Phonecalls with my people. Zoom calls with my people. Memes that perfectly capture life as we now know it DCT:


The Calendar of Thanks:

Everyday we write one thing we are thankful for.
Everyday we write one thing we are thankful for.

Virtual church – much love and socially distanced hugs to all my Grace and Streatham loves. Hope that this season will pass and we will live in the glorious future of life ACT (After Corona Times). The internet. Finding the flow of new routines and creating some order within chaos:


Knowing that, whilst they might not be the biggest issues right now, its ok to grieve the loss of: being with my people, routine, structure, any semblance of certainty, seeing horizons, the hustle and bustle of London, being angry with tourists reach the barriers before looking for their oyster cards, Easter weekend food.

Keeping track of every time a neighbour leaves their house so we can let the police know if they're not sticking to lockdown laws - we sit by the front window 8 hours a day, we see everything (shout out to No 243 who did a great job cleaning their windows on Friday).

I beg to differ - we have top intel.

"As surely as the sun rises, as surely as it sets, we anticpate your goodness, we anticpate the rest." Interlude - Torwalt

Knowing I have enough leave-in conditioner to last a couple of months (if black women ran the goverment you know for sure black hair shops would be in the essential business category). I may or may not have stockpiled.


Frequent phonecalls with my mum and sister – BCT (Before Corona Times) I called my mother on Sunday afternoons and my sister every few weeks. Now I talk to them most days. I don’t know why. None of us have anything interesting to say – we’ve all been sat at home.

Being extra. Yes, I put on my fancy Going Out clothes, spent the morning straightening my hair and putting on a full face of makeup just to sit in the house and order in brunch. Yes, on Wednesdays we wear pink and Fridays we wear formal business attire to the new office at home. And yes, I was the only one wearing a cocktail dress and fancy earrings for Friday Night Wine Zoom. Being extra is in my DNA and I make no apologies.


Contemplative prayer and the Lectio365 App. Eating a Malteaser everytime someone on TV says unprecedented (am rapidly running out of Malteasers - please send supplies).

God is good all the time. All the time, God is good.

Every morning I ask for the grace for the day and every day it is given. Break the bread. Pour the wine. Give thanks.

What is saving your life right now?


Generally speaking, all my ideas are brilliant. I am not boasting - this is a fact.
Climb a mountain? Quit my job and set fire to my life without a plan of how to actually put the fire out? Dye my hair blonde? Yes, YOLO and what would Beyonce do?
I rarely regret my brilliant ideas because they are, by very definition, brilliant.
But, every now and again I find myself questioning my sanity and wondering what under heaven led me to that particular questionable life choice. A couple of weeks ago I found myself sat in my ‘cell’ in an old convent entertaining such a line of thought daily.
I was on a silent retreat based on the teachings of a long-dead Catholic Priest called St Ignatius of Loyola.  I'd kept coming across books and articles referencing his teaching and he seemed to have an intriguing take on what it means to follow Jesus. So, I figured I had nothing to lose from finding out more. As for the silence, I’m a good listener and committed introvert. I so looked forward to no small talk over meals and time to hear my own thoughts. I thought the silence would be a rather giant and delicious piece of cake I’d delight in eating over the course of the seven days of the retreat.
Hahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha*stops to breathe* ahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahaha*cries JT a river of almost hysterical tears*hahahaha hahahahahhahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
O how the mighty do fall (off their chairs from laughing at their own naivety) and question their supposedly brilliant ideas.
IMG_20180211_150400537 (1)
Home for the week.
Turns out, it was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. But it was so worth it. I will spend the next days/weeks/years pondering the many things I learned and the many new questions raised. I am so thankful my sanity took a backseat and let my curiosity drive us outside of my comfort zone.
Disclaimer: It wasn’t complete complete silence. For about 30 minutes every day I met with a spiritual companion who, lucky for them, got to listen to all of my rambling and helped me make sense of it. This 30 minutes was life saving. Also, we had two hours of teaching each day. And Mass. And prayers. And so we heard people talking, we occasionally contributed and we sang. But most of the day we didn’t speak, not even over meals – which could have been incredibly awkward but I ditched awkward a few years ago and life has been exponentially better since.
Silence. No phone, no internet, no TV and no radio. And yet you hear everything else – birdsong, doors closing, doors opening, mud squelching, cutlery scraping plates, wind, waves and rain.
Let's escape to the beach beach. Let's go get away.
Things I missed:
  • Laughing. Surprisingly, I missed this the most. Sure, there were small things that raised a smile but not much to make you actually LOL. Not laughing was sad and painful and isolating. Apparently, I dearly love to laugh.
  • Being called by name. As the poet once said, what is in a name? Being known.
  • A week of Winter Olympics - whats not to love about an international platform for sports you didn't even know existed?
  • (Things I conveniently avoided: my sister's Birthday; Valentine's Day)
It wasn’t just the silence that was tough. The teaching raised some challenging questions that couldn't just be glossed over. Ignatius was all in:

Take Lord and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and all my will – all that I have and possess. You Lord have given all that to me. I now give it back to you O Lord. All of it is yours. Dispose of it according to your will. Give me love of yourself along with your grace, for that is enough for me.

So, between the silence, the challenge of a life surrendered to God, trying to put out my life-on-fire and figuring out how to get the person sat opposite at lunch to pass the cheesecake without asking them, it was a tough a week.
And yet, I think you should do it too. There were 15 of us on the retreat, we found it hard in difficult ways but not one of us regretted sticking it out.
I learned so much about the goodness of God. I learned so much about the everyday gifts of life that I simply accept as standard and don’t even see. I learned so much about who I am when I’m stripped of many of the things I delight in. My understanding of my OneWord was turned completely. I have many questions about church unity and the lack thereof. I may even have started to put out the fire that is my life.
Don’t tell me you’re scared of what you might find in the silence. You don't face it alone, right by your side cheering you on, giving you strength when you think you've run out, and preparing a feast is the God who loves you more that you can possibly know and who cannot wait to meet you in the silence.
Dare greatly, friends.

Guide us, O Lord,
When we have lost our way.
When we are stumbling from one path to another
Because we took our eyes from your lights on the path.
When we are no longer certain of our direction
Because we are confused about the purpose of our journey.
Guide us, O Lord,
When faced with an abundance of options
We are paralysed with the fear of failure.
Having fallen in love with holding out for the best opportunity
We have forgotten to be thankful for the freedom of choice.
And in our efforts to do your will
We have forgotten that burning bushes are not an everyday occurrence.
Guide us, O Lord
When we boldly dare
To renew our search for your lights on the pathway.
When in following your word
To the pathway of holiness
We shall find the gateway of the narrow path
We ask you to remind us of our identity with You;
And to guide us in re-imaging our future
In strength, courage, hope and love.
This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.

Based on Disturb us, O Lord by Francis Drake. Part One: Comfort us, O Lord

I just LOVE this Tolkien quote:

“We all long for [Eden], and we are constantly glimpsing it; our whole nature at it’s best and least corrupted, it’s gentlest and most humane, is still soaked with the sense of ‘exile’... As far as we can go back the nobler part of the human mind is filled with the thoughts of sibb (peace, kinship), peace and goodwill. And with the thought of it’s loss.”

I have so much drama surrounding being exiled to the suburbs. I’ve been reading the Old Testament books dealing with the Exile of the people of Israel and Judah – there was a lot of drama there too.  But this weekend I realised that Adam and Eve were the first exiles. They were exiled from the Garden of Eden.

So the Lord God banished Adam and his wife from the Garden of Eden, and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made. After banishing them from the garden, the Lord stationed mighty angelic beings to the east of Eden. And a flaming sword flashed back and forth guarding the way to the tree of life.                                                                                                                                              Genesis 3 v 23-24

After Adam and Eve ate fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil their relationship with God was broken. Their relationship with each other was fractured. And their relationship with the garden was corrupted. The consequence was that they were exiled.

God exiled Adam and Eve from the place where they were in a perfect relationship with God, a perfect relationship with each other and a perfect relationship with the garden. God exiled them from the place where they had known peace and unity with God, peace and unity with each other and peace and unity with the garden. The peace and sweet living of former days was gone and there was nothing they could do to bring it back.

Instead they had to work the earth for food. They had to navigate the parameters of their new relationship. God no longer walked with them in the garden – their relationship with him was broken beyond their ability to repair it; they were separated.

Unlike me who ends up in East London nearly every week, Adam and Eve could no longer return to the place they had called home. Banished. Exiled. Never to return.

The Old Testament chronicles life for God’s people from that moment of exile. It points toward the one who could and would bring us back to the peace and unity of the garden. It points to the one who would establish a kingdom of justice and righteousness, removing evil from the world. It points to the one who would bring us back from exile into a relationship with God. It points to Jesus.

And so it follows that the New Testament is how God enables us to return from exile and how we can live our lives neither exiled from our relationship with God, but not quite home yet. Not quite returned to the peace and unity of the garden.

I think this is what Tolkien meant – no matter how perfect a particular moment in time we always know that it will end. So we long for the time in the garden when all was well. We are soaked with a sense of exile.

I know in Advent we’re supposed to be looking forward to celebrating the arrival of Christ on earth. But my heart always skips from being thankful for the birth of Christ as a man on earth, to being even more thankful that his death and resurrection can bring us back from exile – if we would choose it.

Choose life y'all.

People often ask me how I'm doing now that I'm exiled in Zone 6.

I tell them "it’s ok, I’m ok." And I am.

But I am also scared.

I am scared that before I know it I will slip into a living coma of a comfortable & complacent suburban life.

I am scared that I’ll begin to confuse the lines between want and need.

I am scared that I won't even notice when I begin to think that neighbours parking outside the wrong house is a crime punishable by getting lost in IKEA for an eternity.

I am scared that I’ll have a 9-5 office job that I don’t really like but am too afraid to leave – because without that I wouldn't know who I was?

I am scared that living in anything but a house with a garden will become unimaginable.

I am scared that I'll start reading the Daily Mail.

I am scared that as I get lulled into a false sense of security my dreams will start to shrink, as will my reliance on the God I love and try to serve.

I am scared that Waitrose will become the norm not a luxury.

I am scared of a life of  No Adventure

I am scared I will get Stuck.

I am scared that one day Jesus will put me in a group with my fellow goats – Matthew 25 y’all, I don’t actually think I’ll turn into a goat, bah!

I am scared that I’ll become a goat and not even care.

I am scared that one day I will realise how comfortable I have become and be too afraid to change it.

I am scared that I will no longer believe that Jesus is enough.

I am scared that I will trivialise the concerns and worries of my fellow suburbanites.

I am scared that I will blame the suburbs for my own laziness.

I am scared that I don't really understand the meaning of perfect love casting out fear (1 John 4 v18).

I am scared that I over dramatise everything.

BUT I do know that God is with me always, even until the end of the age (not infact a LOTR quote but Matthew 28 v 20). So really what is there to be scared of?

What about you, are you scared of anything?

How's your week been? 

Good? Bad? Ugly?

To be honest, this has been wearisome week.  

This has been a week in which it has been impossible to hide from the hurt around.

This has been a week where I was so tired I had to get the bus home from work because I didn't think I would make it if I walked (you might think this is a bit melodramatic but I never get the bus home. And it was only Tuesday). 

This has been a week where everything has just been Too Much. 

This has been a week where I have needed a constant reminder that God has overcome the evil of this world. 

This has been a week where I have played this song again, and again, and again, and again...


There is a light
It burns brighter than the sun
It steals the night
And casts no shadow
There is hope
Should oceans rise and mountains fall
It never fails
So take heart
Let His love lead us through the night
Hold on to hope
Take courage again
In death by love
The fallen world was overcome
He wears the scars of our freedom
In his name
All our fears are swept away
He never fails
So take heart
Let His love lead us through the night
Hold on to hope
Take courage again
All our troubles
And all our tears
God our hope
He has overcome
All our failure
And all our fear
God our love
He has overcome
All our heartache
And all our pain
God our healer
He has overcome
All our burdens 
And all our shame
God our freedom
He has overcome
All our troubles
And all our tears
God our hope
He has overcome
All our failures 
And all our fear
God our love
He has overcome
God our justice
God our grace
God our freedom
He has overcome
God our refuge
God our strength
God is with us
He has overcome

In this world you will have many troubles. But take heart for I have overcome the world. John 16:33

P.S. Next week is going to be much much better.

Sensible people, I salute you (or something a little less...military. Rephrase: Sensible people, I raise a slice of cake to you) because it’s not always easy, being sensible. 

A lot of people would disagree, confusing the sensible with the safe, easy or boring option. But there is a big difference between safe, easy, boring and sensible:

Not jumping off a cliff if all your friends were doing the same, just like your mother questioned you about – safe.

Getting a takeaway instead of cooking actual food – easy/lazy.

Not skydiving from a plane into the ocean – boring to the max.

Choosing not to be one of those crazy people that runs 12 marathons in a day - sensible

You see, there's a difference. Make the wrong decision and you could end up being scraped off the side of a road three quarters of the way into your sixth marathon of the day (5 points for making it that far though).

I am sensible (most of the time - ignore anything my family might like to tell you)*. I can’t help it. It’s part of who I am. When it comes to those pivotal moments in life I seem to always take the sensible option, quite often without even realising it was one. 

But sometimes being sensible requires you to look at the choices at hand, weigh the possible consequences and then make a decision. 

Sometimes being sensible requires you to look temptation in the face and walk away. 

It's not always easy being sensible.  

And we are an unsatisfied people. Choosing to look at life through the rosy glasses of hindsight and sigh over 'If only I hadn't...' or 'What if I had...'

I think C.S.Lewis (what a ledge) got it spot on:

“No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all...you find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness — they have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means — the only complete realist.”

On the days in which sensible prevails, I thank the God who makes us stronger than we think we are. 

On the days in which temptation wins, I am thankful for a God who understands temptation and accepts pleas for forgiveness.

*Sensible is right up there next to 'nice' in my list of least favourite character descriptions. nice is so bland - its like frozen yoghurt without the fun toppings or flavours. 

Today I gained a fresh understanding of the Parable of the Lost Sheep. Here’s the original as in Luke 15v1-7 (NLT):

Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such despicable people – even eating with them! So Jesus used this illustration:“If you had one hundred sheep, and one of them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine others to go and search for the lost one until you found it? And then you would joyfully carry it home on your shoulders. When you arrived, you would call together your friends and neighbours to rejoice with you because your lost sheep was found. In the same way, heaven will be happier over one lost sinner who returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!”

Here’s what I realised on my walk to school this morning whilst wondering how our class trip to the Science Museum via bus and tube would turn out:

Rioters, Michael Gove* and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Daily Mail readers and politicians complain that he was associating with such despicable people – even going to Nandos with them!** So Jesus used this illustration:“If you were taking thirty 7 year-olds across London on the tube, and one of them got lost in the crowd of impatient and inconsiderate commuters, wouldn’t you leave the other twenty-nine (with a responsible adult of course) to go search for the lost child until you found it? And then you would joyfully return to the rest of the group (after you’d both thrown up and cried with sheer relief). When you arrived home, you would invite your friends to the pub to rejoice with you because the lost child was found (and you got to keep your job). In the same way, heaven will be happier over one lost sinner who returns to God than over twenty-nine others who are righteous and haven't strayed away!"

Whenever I’ve read this before I failed to grasp the magnitude of what Jesus was saying – that heaven rejoices over the One who returns.

But today I realised that until the lost sheep was found the shepherd would have been frantic. Would I have been content to keep the other twenty-nine and abandon the lost one? If one of the kids had got lost the only thing that would have stopped me from a full-scale panic would have been the knowledge that:

A. It wouldn’t have been helpful to anyone (I am inherently sensible[usually] – panic is never a good option). 

B. We then would have had one lost child and 29 crying children.

If one of the kids had got lost I would have looked on every platform, behind every group of teenage Spanish language school students and under every bench until that child was found. I would have run up and down escalators searching for the lost child and calling their name until I could no longer speak. I would have done this not only because I want to keep my job, but also because I would hate for the lost child to be alone and scared. I would hate for them to not know where there were or who to ask for help. I would hate for them to never return home.

Would I have been rejoicing when the child was found? Fo' sure! Not only would I (hopefully) be able to keep my job but the lost child could return home! To a place where they are known and loved. To a place where their absence would always be felt had they not come back. I would have told all my friends about this potentially heart (and career) breaking event. I would I have summoned them to come and join me in celebrating. I would have tweeted about the return of the lost child, updated my facebook status and instagramed a picture of my celebratory drink.

In the same way, heaven will be happier over one lost sinner who returns to God than ninety-nine others who were righteous and never strayed.

Never doubt how important you are to God. 
*Can you tell I work in a school? But if Gove listened to the teaching of Jesus then our education reforms would be in a much better state #justsayin.

**Would Jesus have even eaten at Nandos though?