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Posts Tagged ‘building project’

Every now and then I experience something quite mysterious. Sometimes it’s a strong sense of knowing what is about to happen, a sense of impending doom or nervous anticipation depending on what is ahead.  Sometimes it’s a still small voice, fresh, surprising and way outside the boundaries of my usual  flow of thoughts.  At other times it’s a dream holding a startling truth I haven’t been brave enough to face, or just a vivid picture in my mind in my waking hours.

Quite often I ignore these mysterious happenings altogether, wondering if I’m going mad.   But then in hindsight I kick myself, realising the crazy little voice was actually a glimpse of something quite extraordinary and I missed the mark when I ignored the prompting.  I suspect you may read this and relate. Possessing a ‘sixth sense’ or strong intuition is far more common than we may think.

We are currently in the latter stages of a large renovation to our home.  Now we are about three-quarters of the way through, I’m getting impatient with the waiting.  The first couple of months were exciting with the house growing by the hour and our dreams unfolding before our eyes, but over the past month things have slowed down.  The scaffolding which at first looked to me like a symbol of promise and growth has become stifling, like prison bars encircling us.

At Christmas we had a much-needed pause from the noise and dust, but after a brief re-appearance in January, our builder vanished again.  He is hard-working, professional and reliable, and when I was told he had gone away on holiday without mentioning it, I was a little taken aback.  On hearing the news that crazy little voice whispered to me “He’s had a death in the family – he didn’t plan on this”.   I enquired further with the building team and was told again that no, everything was okay, he had just decided to take a holiday.

My impatience has risen over the last week as my list of questions and building ideas has lengthened and still no returned emails or telephone calls.  This morning he was nowhere to be seen and I again asked the question of his team of builders.  However, this time the answer was different.  A family member had passed away and he had been forced to rush off overseas unexpectedly.  Aha! Once again, the crazy little voice had been correct.  Thankfully my nagging suspicion that the voice may hold some truth had prevented me from venting my anger, leaving the ranting and raving voicemail message which was on the tip of my tongue at one point.

This story may seem trivial, but so many of the misunderstandings, conflicts and fall-outs in our relationships stem from trivial things – an unkind word, a thoughtless gesture or being so focused on our own issues that we can’t see the other person’s point of view.

I often wonder if God gives me extra assistance in this way because he knows what a mess I can make of things when I overreact to situations and fail to see the problems of other people and the whole ‘big picture’ view.  We all wear blinkers to a degree and see only our unique little corridor of the world.

My note to self today is to keep listening to that intuitive inner voice and to remember that there is often more to peoples’ actions than meets the eye.  The pain and struggles of others so often aren’t immediately visible.  It takes an extra measure of grace,  kindness and crazy little voices to notice them.  God walks ahead of us just as he walks beside us.  His wise promptings can help us avoid unnecessary problems, pain and hassle.  It’s always worth pausing, taking a breath and being brave enough to listen to that crazy little voice.

 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.   Deuteronomy 31:8

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Have you ever made a big change in your life and been bombarded with advice from family, friends and even casual acquaintances?  When I was pregnant with my first baby everyone had an opinion, and some left me in a state of panic.  Now we are about to embark on renovating our home it’s happening again.  It seems that announcing that you have a bun in the oven, or are about to rip out the old oven and get a new one, seems to draw out a pessimistic streak in many.

At least with pregnancy there is the initial happy ‘congratulations’ stage, where people smile and seem genuinely pleased for you.  But it doesn’t take long for the initial excitement to wear off and the secondary  stage to kick in.  Once this happens, workmates, distant cousins and shop assistants who are usually polite and friendly, feel the need to warn you of all the dangers that lie ahead.  Somebody had a 40 hour labour and even then needed a Caesarian, another had an epidural that left them paralysed from the waist up not the waist down, where it was so desperately needed.  Another had a baby which insisted in making his entrance bottom first. Then there are all the horrific stories of the indignities which happen during the birthing process and in front of an audience of doctors, nurses and your traumatised partner. Then begins the stories of the tyranny of never having a nights sleep ever again.  I  began to dread lunchtime  at work with a group of older women who had all ‘been there and done that’.  The stories just kept coming, more horrific by the week. As my bump grew, so did my terror.

Yet I am reminded of one workmate.  In the words of Terry Mark ‘Sometimes it just takes one beautiful person to brighten your day just as one negative person can spoil your day’.  One lady stood out from the others.  She seemed to view the whole birthing process quite differently.  Rather than an excruciating, unpredictable and diabolical challenge, she saw it as something quite miraculous and beautiful.  She was supportive of natural birth and lent me some fantastic books written in the 1970s and filled with photos of happy hippies in flowing caftans with flowers in their hair.  I read the books from cover to cover, giggling at the rose-tinted, outlandish language, but absorbing the refreshing joy and freedom they expressed. There were visualisations of opening flower buds and surrendering to the forces at work in your body which were so unlike the other more clinical ‘how to’ books I had been studying.

When the long-awaited day arrived, strangely it was the advice of my one positive workmate with her hippy visualisations which helped me the most and after four intense but amazing hours I held my son in my arms. Nobody had warned me about the overwhelming emotions I would feel or the fact that this would in fact be one of the happiest days of my life. 

Speaking encouraging and positive words holds incredible power.  So often as humans we gravitate to the negative.  I’m certainly guilty of it at times.  Sometimes I listen to myself and cringe as the words pour out: criticism, worry and ‘worse-case scenarios’ simmer away together like a negativity stew.  Steve Maraboli in his book ‘Life, the Truth and Being Free’ sets this challenge:

How would your life be different if…You walked away from gossip and verbal defamation? Let today be the day…You speak only the good you know of other people and encourage others to do the same.

The book of Proverbs in the Bible is brimming with wisdom about the power of words:  

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21)

So now we are about to renovate our house.  We have been planning for this for over two years now, and finally we are about to launch into action.  I am experiencing all the nerves and pangs associated with stepping out of my comfort zone.  After many years working in building dispute litigation, I know first-hand the risks and pitfalls of building projects.  The decision to renovate has been a tough one.  But to make it so much worse, everyone feels they must warn me about it.  Each day I’m told that it will be the most stressful period of my life, the dust will be unbearable, things will inevitably go horribly wrong, it will cost far more than expected, it will probably rain heavily and the roof will leak, I will need to watch the tradesman like a hawk or they will make crazy mistakes, somebody’s cousin Alice came home one day to find a wall in the wrong place,  it will be freezing when the roof comes off, and it will be the worst thing we’ve ever been through. Wow, I just can’t wait!

The best comment I’ve heard so far is ‘well it’s only a few months of your life’.  Although not overly enthusiastic, it is sensible and acknowledges an end date.  I will be content with that for now.  Like childbirth, I’m quite prepared for the labour pains and the discomfort, but beyond the hammers, drills and cement dust, I am visualising our new home taking shape, with room for two growing teenaged boys and space to entertain all the people we love spending time with.  

There are times when predictions of gloom and doom are all you encounter.  At these times, you can do your research, pray a lot  and look out for the sensible advice of trusted friends. Sometimes warnings are helpful, but often the challenge is to follow your heart, stop listening to the opinions of others, step outside your comfort zone and do something completely new. Even Jesus was unable to perform many miracles in his home town as those close to him didn’t believe in him  (Mark 6:5).  But he didn’t let their negativity and unbelief stop him.  We shook the dust from his feet and walked onwards, his eyes facing upward, in peace and confidence.

Instruction does much, but encouragement everything.    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

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