Monday, 30 June 2008


Where to start this week! Hmmm! 

Well I have survived a 10 day camp where the staff were really friendly and welcoming, even though they spoke limited English. I left as a friend. You could tell it was not a Christian camp by the fact that in the evenings they would have some brandy and on the last night they were toasting various things and we were chatting about religion, (they were all from Orthodox backgrounds) and the leader stated that she felt it was important that we all tried to be good men and women, I disagreed and said to me it was important that we were all tried to be followers of Jesus and amazingly they all agreed and drank to that!

The children were all from rich backgrounds and most of them were single children, only around 4 or 5 of them had siblings out of 26 children altogether and consequently it felt more like 50 children at times. The week went well though and they on the whole enjoyed the lessons, and the little ones really enjoyed being allowed to watch Chicken Run in English if they behaved themselves. This is my Diploma and if anyone knows what the Russian says I will be grateful. They must have been happy with me as I was invited back for next year.

During the camp I also finished an embroidery, three books and two magazines of Home Farmer because it wasn't programmed to death. If anyone wants to offer a home to the embroidery then offers will be taken (measures 15x16cm). My embroideries this year are a challenge to myself to work small having produced some fairly large pieces just lately - not very practical in a small apartment to work on or when you are on the move. All the pieces that I will do this year will be using all the bits of fabric I have lying around, I will not buy any new pieces (except for the curtain material I have just bought). My inspiration for this piece was to blend some fairly random fabrics together. 

Sometimes wish random bits of my life could be pieced together so easily, having said that some aspects do seem to be coming together and despite the randomness of the topics of the books I read there does seem to be some threads in the books that merge with how my life is and reflects the journey I have been on.

The first book I completed was Holy Sweat and will appeal especially to those doers amongst you. It is written by Tim Hansel who is active in nature and loves adventure. I love the phrase "Do you know why most of us miss the adventure? It's because we've never learned to plug our theology into our biography". I am hoping that these next few years will really see me plugging my theology into my biography. The book is a call to be adventurous, to trust that Christ has us roped to him and even if we make a mistake the rope will hold us. I certainly agree that faith should be an adventure, we are loved outrageously by an extravagant God, how can we play safe? 

My next book was "What's so Amazing about Grace" and I love Philip Yancey's use of the word "atrocious" to describe God's way of pouring out grace on the undeserving. He points out that God has atrocious mathematics when it comes to pouring out his grace, from the parable of the workers in the vineyard where each gets the same wage no matter how long they have been working, to the widow who only puts in a few pennies into the offering and counted as far superior to the large sums donated by the wealthier donors. This book again talks about an extravagant God who loves outrageously, and in a society that likes black and whites it sends out a clear message that God's grace is sufficient for all of us, not just for those who are "good", and where we long to punish, God's desire is pour out his grace.

Book Three was the "Irresistible Revolution" by Shane Clairborne read alongside the two copies of "Home Farmer" magazine. On the surface that would seem like an incongruous combination and yet there was a common thread in them. Home Farmer stresses that people should become self-responsible with what they have instead of self-sufficient which is really impossible and utterly selfish; they encourage people to grow what they can as responsibly as possible using what they have. Shane Clairborned encourages Christians to be responsible with what they have and to live with a sense of responsibility for all our Christian brothers and sisters and the rest of humanity too. As I have said in a previous blog God commanded us to fill the earth and subdue it, we are meant to fill the earth and if we believe that God is not cruel then we have to assume that there will be enough resources for all of us, and in Shane's book he is encouraging Christians to rethink how they live their lives so that the poor amongst us are fed and clothed and more importantly loved. We can share all we have and not connect with those we are giving our stuff to, without love it just becomes an exercise in guilt relief. 

Saturday afternoon and evening I finally got around to reading "The Shack" by William P. Young, I didn't find it earth shatteringly amazing but comforting. I believe in a wonderful God who has an amazing plan for each and everyone of us, who loves us outrageously and longs for us to be part of the process of redeeming this world back to Him. "The Shack" conveys some of that outrageousness of God, how passionately he loves us and not just the "good" people, not just those who have never let him down, but all of us. My favourite part is "It's all part of the timing of grace, Mack", Jesus continued. "If the universe contained only one human being, timing would be simple. But add just one more, and well, you know the story. Each choice ripples out through time and relationships, bouncing off of other choices. And out of what seems to be a huge mess, Papa weaves a magnificent tapestry. Only Papa can work all this out, and she does it with grace." This reminds me of a time when I was getting a little stressed producing some work for an exhibition and it inspired me to produce the picture that you see of a crown on a fairly random background and the piece I wrote to accompany it was something along the lines of "Sometimes I get lost in the detail of what is going on and I have to remind myself that the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings is in overall charge of the picture." This picture is no longer with me but was bought from me for a wonderful friend who has had more than her fair share of problems and tests and yet her heart is so full of love for others, when this world ends and we stand before God I know he will be looking at my friend and seeing that great big heart of hers and not looking at all her failings in this judgmental world.


  1. I´m glad you had such a positive time at the camp and managed to read so many books! I like the idea of God´s grace being 'atrocious'. It reminded me of Godfrey Birtill's song 'Outrageous Grace'.

    In the past few weeks I have come across a number of people who have mentioned Shane Clairborne's book 'Irresistible Revolution' so I guessed it was time for me to read it myself. Yesterday I went to our Christian bookshop and as they didn't have it in stock, they have ordered it for me. I look forward to reading it.

    I like what you say about being self-responsible and not self-sufficient. It has really made me think and it's something that keeps coming back to my mind.

    I enjoy your posts - even if I don't always comment. Please keep writing and keep us informed of your life in Latvia. btw, in my class at school there was a Latvian boy (his older brother and younger sister were also in the school) But that was a LONG time ago. (I actually left after my 'O' levels in 1957 - told you it was a LONG time ago!)

  2. Thank you once again for the encouragement. I can't take credit for the self-responsibility though as that belongs to Paul Peacock from the Home Farmer magazine.

    I can almost hear my kids moaning as I get into the Home Farming magazines, they didn't always like my experiments with living off the land. It was where we found out that some wild herbs etc were edible but not necessarily palatable. Definitely enjoying getting our lettuces and a few herbs from the garden.

  3. Too right! Home farming magazines and lettuces...sounds like another recipe for disaster! Dad, be scared, very scared!! Somehow I think lettuce soup will be no better the second time round. I'm still scarred from that experiment!

  4. Okay! Okay! So it was a little strong, who would expect mild lettuces to taste that strong when cooked? Makes mental note to self to only use a bit of lettuce in soup and not a whole lettuce.

  5. ...or just generally non at all. If lettuce was supposed to be made into a soup, it wouldn't be called a salad!


I love to hear your comments and will always reply, so go ahead, ask a question or just say hi