Alli's Place

Where Alli shares her thoughts and feelings…

Lives like patchwork quilts

Tonight in our home group we were listening to a talk from the New Wine conference last year. I am not too sure any of us fully agreed with everything the guy was saying and the discussions were not a flowing as they usually are. I have come away thinking things through though…

Some of what we were talking about was whether it is “belief” or “being born again” that brings salvation and is being born again always one big experience of the Holy Spirit or are smaller, less dramatic experiences just as valid. My personal view is that it is our faith and belief that saves us and that we then experience the Holy Spirit in different ways. God touches us all in a way that speaks personally to us as an individual, he knows us and knows what we need but we also need to let him in. My faith is built up of things I have learnt and my experiences, it isn’t just on an intellectual level and it isn’t just an emotional reaction to something. I have experienced times where I have felt Gods presence very close and other times when he has felt far away, but I also know he has always been around. I may not have had a dramatic transformation but that doesn’t make my faith any less real that someone who has.

As we were praying the image of a patchwork quilt came into my mind and a sense that we are all made of different bits and pieces to make something beautiful and useful. The bits of fabric were not great before they were added to the quilt, it is only when we see the whole quilt that we see the beauty and it’s purpose. I think we are like this, each part of our lives and our little experiences come together to make us, the quilt is added to and grows over time and so do we. The little parts of the quilt may have reminders of things in our past, they form us and become part of our quilts. All our quilts are different and tell our story.

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Counting my blessings

Sometimes I wallow in self pity, we all do it, thinking about how bad life is. Today has been one of those days where I have just thought why me, if only I could get rid of the pain and not be limited in what I can do without making it worse. The pain levels have been high for the last few days, I haven’t slept well as a result and I am tired and grumpy.

I have reminded myself that although my life is not as great as it could be it could be worse. I have loving parents and family, great friends, a job, a home i would only have dreamed of five years ago and I was thinking this as I drove home so nice car was on the list too! And well I am off to New Wine in a couple of days so life isn’t so bad after all!

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Brilliant Day!

Today was our Women’s Day at church.  The theme was “Keeping Hope Alive”. We had about 230 women from all over the area there.  I was heading up the refreshments team with Lesley which was great fun as well as full on.  It feels like we have been boiling kettles and filling thermos jugs with coffee all day!

I had been asked to give a testimony and share some of my story.  I was pretty nervous about sharing, partly because a lot of people here didn’t know and part of me kind of liked it that way.  As I said to Sue afterwards, my secret is well and truly out now!  The testimony was to be shared with Helen kind of interviewing me which made it a bit less scary.  When we met to discuss it we both shed a tear though and I really didn’t want to stand up there and cry.

The speaker in the morning was Christine Perkins and her first session was so relevant to my testimony!  the way Helen and I had chosen to end my testimony fitted so well with what Christine had said.  I used my Reflecting… blog post that I wrote after the last Women’s day, the verse I had in the gift just summed it up for me.

Strangely it was all fine and I am not sure how I did it or what I said but it seemed to go well.  I may never know whether it spoke to people there in a particular way but I trust that God wanted me to do it and that he had a message in there somewhere!

Amazingly at the end of the day Lesley had been tidying up and had found Val’s engagement ring, which she lost at the last Women’s day.  Val was truly shocked and touched!  The ring she had given up on ever seeing again had turned up!  What a perfect ending to a brilliant day!

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God in my hurting

I received a New Wine magazine a few days ago and it has reminded me that a need to book for this years Summer Conference. Better book the time off work…

Having put the magazine to one side I decided yesterday to have a read through. One article jumped out at me (you can read it here It was titled ‘God in my hurting’ and the summary talked about living with long term illness in a church that believe in healing. This is something I often think about and have discussion with people about in the past. In the article Liz Carter talks about her experiences of living with a chronic lung disease. A lot of the things she talks about mimic my thoughts and feeling since suffering from chronic back pain.

I have come across people in the past who believe so strongly in God’s healing power that they suggest that if you have not been healed it is because you haven’t prayed hard enough or your faith is not strong enough, which just makes you feel even worse as then not only do you have the suffering but also the guilt that it is because your relationship with God is somehow just not good enough. Just as we do not have to earn God’s grace or love I don’t believe we earn God’s healing. Why is it so hard for people to realise that this world is broken and so are we and that God does not always intervene and fix things and also a full healing may not have happened but that doesn’t been that God is absent from the suffering.

The thing I find hard is what Liz touches on in her last paragraph ‘Living in hope’. It is hard to continue to hope for full healing. I know God can do anything but after years of asking for him to remove my pain I find myself now asking for help in dealing with it and acceptance. Is this wrong? Should I still persist with asking for that full healing? Does it mean I have given up all hope of that total healing? I don’t think I can answer these questions at the moment. I just know that I agree with Liz’s final words “God is in our hurting as well as our healing. You can be assured that God listens and God loves. And sometimes that is enough.”

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I have been thinking and reflecting a fair bit this week.  Last Sunday was the anniversary of two years since my operation.  The two year point was always going to be a milestone as I was told that it could take about that long for the nerves to settle down and heal.  It was suggested that things could always improve after that but that as time went on it was more unlikely. 

Two years ago I hoped the surgery would be a total cure from the pain I had before and that I would have no lasting effects, it is now clear that although the pain is much less that before that my dream at that time is unfortunately not reality.  I am still in a fair amount of pain and now find it hard to remember what it is like to not feel pain and I still have numbness in my foot and other sensory loss and a big toe that does not function fully.  I have learnt to accept this and the get on with life.  I have accepted that life is easier with painkillers and now take them regularly rather than trying to cope without.  One of the hardest things has been for me to admit to myself that this is how I am and that I can’t always manage to do things that I used to and that it is OK to admit this and say to people “sorry but no I can’t lift that table” rather than doing it and suffering for my stubbornness.

Last week at the women’s day we were all given a little gift of a bag with beads and sparkles, a magnetic word and a verse.  Each one was individual as they all had different combinations.  My verse was “God is able to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” Ephesians 3:20.  Since then it has been on my mind as I often wonder why God didn’t fully heal me and why I still have constant pain to live with.  Over the last two years I have learnt to accept that God doesn’t always do what we ask for or respond to our prayers as we would like Him to.  He often answers them in a different way to what we want, but he can still do amazing things and works in our lives and in lots of ways He has done more than I could have asked or imagined.

Several people have asked me how I cope and how I stay so strong.  I sometimes wonder how this is as I wouldn’t class myself as a strong person and if someone had told me what my future would be two years ago I would have said I wouldn’t be able to cope.  All I can say is that God gives me the strength and courage to face my problems and carry on.  On a bad day I thank God that I can still walk and that I can still carry on a normal life as I know that it was a real possibility that this wouldn’t be the case.  So many people prayed for me while I was in hospital, friends and people I didn’t know, and I know that God was with me and looked after me at that time.  I felt so at ease when I went down for my operation, I knew that I couldn’t do anything and it was all in His hands.  As someone who hates to stay in bed even when I am ill I knew that having to be lying flat for 4 days was going to be really hard but some how the time flew by and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and I even managed to escape from hospital a day earlier than planned so things were pretty good really!  I was so blessed by those around me, my friends were brilliant!  I don’t think I really realised how many amazing people were around me and how much they cared about me and I am so blessed to have them as my friends and I will always be thankful for them and the care that they showed me.  My Mum was amazing too, I know she found it hard not to fuss and she found it really difficult to see me ill but we also had six weeks together where we enjoyed each others company and grew closer to one another and we wouldn’t have had that time if I hadn’t been ill.  What I am trying to say is that although God didn’t heal my pain totally He has helped me is so many ways and I have learnt so much in the last two years and that is some ways he has done more good in my life than I could have imagined so it hasn’t all been bad at all! 

In case you are wondering my magnetic word was paradise and I know that one day I will be in paradise with God and then I will no longer be in pain and will be free of my earthy body.


Women’s Day and Cath visiting

It has been a busy couple of weeks.  Last weekend was brilliant.  My church had a women’s day on the Saturday which was brilliant.  The speakers, Mary Pytches and Prue Bedwell were great and make an excellent double act, complementing each other and obviously have a strong friendship.  I was helping with the registration and information desk and I really enjoyed being able to help out.

After the women’s day I picked Cath up from the station as she came to visit for a few days.  It was good to see her and catch up and we had a good time relaxing.  On Sunday we went to church, had lunch and went for a walk around Milton country park (and got some yummy ice creams) and did lots of chatting.  In the evening we decided to go and watch Avatar in 3D which was brilliant, the 3D was awesome even if it did give me a headache!  On Monday I had the day off and we went to Ely and had a good walk around looking at the Cathedral and some of the shops.  On the way back to the car we popped into St Mary’s church as they had a prayer labyrinth set up for Easter and we wanted to see what it was like – I am pleased to say we were both impressed and they had gone to a lot of effort!  Then we went to Rectory Farm (which is really close to my house) to have a look round the farm shop and get some afternoon tea from the cafe.  In the evening I dropped Cath off at the station.

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