Thursday, July 27, 2006


Yesterday we went on a two hour boat trip to another seaside town, we played cards, drank beer in the sunshine and ate some good Bulgarian food. Later on we introduced Bulgarians and Americans to the ancient art of enjoying a children's party. We played musical Statues, musical bumps and fruit salad, we ate dolly mixtures. Hmmm. Mission eh, it's not so bad after all.

That's the sublime stuff, the rest is harder, focus through tiredness and continuing to try and bridge the cultural divide is less easy to produce. In short, life remains the same whether you are one side of Europe or the other. It's as difficult and as wonderful as ever. It is good to escape everything though, being with one group of people for 2 weeks is remarkably freeing. Somewhat more disconcerting is my overwhelming need to speak very slowly, point, make extravagant hand gestures and completely fail to construct sentences. Still on a positive note, I learnt what an antonym is today. The Bulgarians are teaching us lots of English.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Live from Bulgaria

I would write that in Bulgarian, but that would require me to be able to write Bulgarian. It's day 6 and I still haven't managed that yet. Well I've found an internet cafe, and an afternoon off and so it's time for some updates from the adventures in Bulgaria. Well, a very brief update. All is good here, I think we've all adjusted to life here now and today is the first day I haven't felt really tired which is a good thing!

Actually I have no idea what to write here that isn't over long or platitudes. So erm, it's great to talk about Jesus with people, pray for more of that, it's great to do cross cultural stuff, so pray for more understanding and willingness to be understanding across the three cultures here. It's tiring, so pray for energy, more awareness of what God is doing and trust in Him to work through his body here. It's easy to compare how we are doing with the American team so pray we wouldn't! Pray that we all chill, do the job of loving each other that God gives us each moment and rejoice together in His work.

Last night we introduced people to Marmite and Scones, they were less impressed with the former! But one person liked it, my job here is done! Right, time is running out. Pray hard for the rest of camp and for safety in getting home.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Dear Diary

Well, the Bluefish has been at work again, proving that all he does all day is play around on the internet. Seriously though, thanks go to him for not sticking with UCCF colours and making things look better around these blogs.

And so it is that I leave these screens once more, head off to the other side of Europe and attempt to tell people about the true nature of reality. I'm going to Bulgaria with a lovely team at stupid o'clock tomorrow morning. If you pray, pray for us, for safety, good travel, good relationships with each other and the Bulgarians, and for more delight in the works and ways of the Maker himself. I've been reminded today that He's working for Good in this world, and is a God who delights in using the weak and foolish things to shame the wise and to demonstrate His power. I get to be a part of that everyday, and on this summer trip which is a very Good Thing.

Right, I have some more of my Birthday to enjoy, a friend to hang out with this afternoon and a long long journey to look forward to tomorrow. If I get near an internet cafe I'll post something interesting up here, but until then, go and read a book, it's so much more worthwhile.

Oh and just to reassure some of you, and disturb others, the flame for Neighbours hasn't yet died, Karl is back, Susan has a family around her again and is doing her Julie Andrews act again, it's all going to be ok.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Are you branded?

A year ago, before work discovered the wonder of UCCF colours and way before the Bluefish branded himself I bought these chairs. It turns out that my cheapo garden chairs are the colours of UCCF. Here they are in all their glory, Pod if you use this I want payment!

The love fest continues

As if the love couldn't get any better.
We looked at Romans 8:31-39 today in church. Wow.

This is what our Vicar told us about God.
1. He's on our side.
2. He gave us Jesus.
3. He chose me.
4. He died and rose and intercedes for me.
5. He loves me.

Nothing can frustrate his purposes, and Paul throws out some challenging questions to echo around the universe and, by the lack of response, prove whose really in charge of this world.

Some questions: If God is on our side who can be against us? If God gave us Jesus what will he not give us? Because Jesus has chosen us who can bring any charge against us? Because Jesus died to take our punishment who can condemn us? And finally who or what can separate us from God's love? The world remains silent nothing or no-one remains the answer to each of these questions. Whatever happens. Whatever rubbish this world throws at us, whatever suffering we go through, however dark it gets. God remains who he is, on our side, giving us everything and we can never escape his love for us. Feast on that for a bit.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Birthday Surprises

This post is so exciting, that, as in the cross over nature of Casualty and Holby City, my blogs shall overlap and coincide and other things like that. This post shall appear on them both as a testament to the many wonderful friends who turned up on my doorstep this evening.

The day started as any other day with me feeling slightly morose at being on my own again for another day of work. I pottered around town doing last minute shopping for my trip to Bulgaria and attempted to battle with thoughts of being alone for the rest of my life and not having that one special person etc etc etc. I was trying to remind myself of Jesus being enough but couldn't quite escape the nagging thought at the back of my mind of fear of being alone. I then had this conversation with the lovely Anna over text.

Anna: How r u mate? What r u up to today? Enjoy the sunshine!
Kath: Ah mate, good to hear from u, am having a fighting loneliness day, hugs to u. k
Anna: Hugs to u to, praying for God to send blessings your way.

Little did I know that God is very quick at answering prayers these days, or maybe prophecy is easier when the outcome is planned all along. At 4pm this afternoon the doorbell rang and I was very surprised to see Anna standing there in person. She managed to convince me she'd been utterly spontaneous and just popped in on her day off (she lives about a hour and a half away). I thought, hoorah another person to join me, Nay and Jon tonight at our prearranged BBQ. The afternoon took on a more surreal turn when from behind the fence Roz and Steph appeared. (from London and Leicester). I don't think I've ever been more surprised. Next to join the fun was my wonderful brother Mark taking a night off from his youth group he helps run in Guildford. Nay and Jon then arrived with the Bluefish and his lovely wife Em. All to celebrate my birthday. I nearly cried. I have wonderful friends. Thanks go to Nay for her scheming ways, all my mates for being good liars and schemers, and for being willing to drive over two hours in pants Friday traffic to see me and surprise me. I'm still gobsmacked by it all.

We ate lots of food, drank beer and wine (to feel fine), visited the beach and then Brighton friends came to join in on the fun, some of my local community meeting up with my sporadic nomadic community. I got to feel very loved for an evening and smile lots at the extravagant love of my friends. I like the timing, on a day when I was feeling lonely and pants I got to see people who mean the world to me and seem to love me, enough to drive through Friday traffic just to hang out. Wow. Grace in action. I'm struck by how much I want to earn that love poured out today, but I don't have to, and that's really really cool.

Here's a picture to prove I'm not lying. From the left, going around in circle, Em Bish, Bish, Jon, Phil, Katie, Me (with wine), Nay, a bit of Marks head, Steph, Roz, Susanna, Cathy and Anna. If any of you are reading this. I don't know how to thank you enough. THANK YOU. (special mention as well to Birgette and Lizzi (my housemates), Lou, Sarah and James who couldn't make it)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

One day...

Lord are You still coming?
This world is all in shame
Everything is broken
But You remain

Have mercy on me, Jesus
I can't take one more step
The lights go out all around me

I want to see Your face
I want to hear Your voice
I want to lay my burden down
I want to run to You
Forever dance with You
I long for night to end
Lord let Your day begin
(Tree 63- Let your day begin)

Man, my hard heart longs for this day, when nights when I want to believe the lies won't happen. When I'll no longer be able to stray from my Fathers house. When I'll know and won't be able to unknow the love he has for me. When all this is over. The thing is: Jesus is coming back, faith is being sure of that. The battle gets harder, more boring and perseverance is the first thing to go but there is a future out there.

Watching David Walliams swim the channel tonight was awe-inspiring and made me want to get in the pool tomorrow morning and swim my wee heart out. The bit that made me cry was the point at which he was struggling and his trainer got into the water to swim with him. A simple act, and suddenly I'm undone on my sofa. Mainly because that's what it's about, we're not left to struggle on alone, we have the whole company of heaven cheering us on, the saints of old lining the way and a God who gets into the water to swim with us. We also have a body here on earth to support and urge one another on in the battle, in the long swim home.

What awaits is so much better. But what is possible in this world is also so much better. Forgiveness, grace, mercy from God and the ability to act in love to each other. Right now we ache and groan, but we also get to see the shining work of God in each others lives and in our own. The mercies are new each morning and He has good works for us to do. Time to put down the wine and start believing I think.

One year ago...

One year ago I decided, almost against my better nature, to start blogging. There are many moments when I sit down and try to work out just why it is that I carry on blogging. A state of mind that comes to us all. I guess the truth lies in many places, we all blog for different reasons. Looking deep inside, just for a brief moment, these are my reasons for blogging.

It's fun.
It makes me try and actually write, as opposed to my usual garbled scrawl which I can't read later.
Ideas that I have should be able to be communicated, this medium helps me attempt coherence.
It's a space for a bit of creativity.
I get to share stuff with my mates, and any randoms trawling through the blogsphere.
Some of the stuff I say may possibly be of use to fellow travelers on this journey.
It's nice to be noticed.
I get to meet new people and be amused, encouraged and entertained by their take on life.
It's helpful to look back on and remember stuff and events.

But there are reasons I'm not so keen on the blogging thing.

It fuels my twisted compare myself with everyone else nature.
It can become a competition for attention rather than just a fun expression of life.
Really, do I need to spend as many moments as I do meandering through blogs?
It's all too easy to gain the art of skimming and lose the art of reading.

I guess all this is an expression of some part of me, Kath Arnold. And just writing to express my life is enough motive to carry on without becoming tangled in knots. It's easy to write things here to impress others, to gain their interest and acclamation. If this stuff does that, that's ok, but some of the truth might just be that I write here to express myself, to be a referral point for a future self and to have some fun. As with everything in this life, reasons for doing things are always mixed up together. I'm looking forward to heaven and getting to see whether purity in motive really means just having one motive or something altogether more complex. I suspect the latter, seeing as we have a delightfully complex and intriguing Maker.

Navel gaze over. My hope is that visitors here enjoy this as much as I do sometimes, and that the thinking deep thoughts part of these posts never become so 'precious' as to escape critism, further wisdom and insight. And that the random bits are truely random.

Now can anyone tell me for one last time, why doesn't the spell checker on this recognise blog, blogger and blogsphere. Surely someone must have put those words into it when they enabled it to spell check a blog?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Hang on. For just one cotton picking minute.

The football is over, the tennis has gone, this can only mean one thing, and one thing alone. Yes, you have guessed it. Neighbours is due to be back on our screens. The question is, has anyone missed it? Does anyone remember what happened before it disappeared? Does anyone still follow what on earth is going on with Paul's son who planted a bomb on the train and now is trying to pretend to be another son for reasons which escape me now? (breathe) Clearly more than one question there. I shall watch it today, after all, a little bit of the magic may still be there. Susan could be in it.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Messing with your head?

Realising I am as ever behind the times in seeing films, last night I watched Memento for the first time.

Leonard: " I have to believe in a world outside my own mind. I have to believe that my actions still have meaning, even if I can't remember them. I have to believe that when my eyes are closed, the world's still there. Do I believe the world's still there? Is it still out there?... Yeah. We all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we are. I'm no different."

No idea what that is all about, but it was a good watch. If you want your head messed with that is.
I woke up this morning surprised that there were no messages around my room telling me who I was or what I had to do. Which is a strange way to wake up.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


OK, so I've been preparing another session on Identity, on who we are as people, on where our security and identity really do lie. I've been trying to muse on what has changed since I started writing such thoughts about six years ago, and I hit upon an answer. I think I'm starting to understand why identity, knowing the depths of God's love and value he places upon us, is so important. It's important because it's the thing that brings freedom. We don't sit around meditating on Gods love, knowing it's heights, depths, length and breadth so we can feel warm and fuzzy inside. (although the warm and fuzzy feeling is a bit of a bonus). We do it so we can finally be free. Free to know that we can never be unloved, we can never be rejected, we can never be useless, we never don't matter and we are never of no value. That's the upshot of the tumbling, ridiculous, throw you up in the air and catch you again, love of God for us. Swimming in that brings freedom.

The problem is that we always look for this kind of love in the imperfect specimen's around us, we long to be loved, to be noticed, to be valued. We think that what others think of us, how many friends we have who think we are great, whether we are affirmed sexually and physically are the providers of that love. But that love is so fleeting, so small, so inadequate and yet we grasp on more tightly, we slip into self pity and pride because we want things that could never fill this gaping hole inside of us. And we lose our freedom. We lose the ability to love well because we want to cling to love that might disappear if we don't. We get jealous and envious and proud. (well I do, I don't know about the rest of you, I even manage to fake spiritualise it all by hiding behind encouraging people, I love to do it, as long as I'm the one to do it in friends lives, it hurts when they are encouraged without me being involved. Then they don't get to see how great I am. Oh how I need the cross.)

Dwelling in the love God has for us leaves us free to love others well, we can love without grasping for more in return, we can be selfless and undemanding because our need for love, acceptance and value is met in Him, met in the fountain, the waterfall that never ends, met in the never failing spring of living water rather than in the horse trough. (blatant plagiarism from Mr Piper I am aware).

So lets get reminding each other of that beautiful truth. Reminding each other of the jump up and down for joy love and delight of God in each one of us. Lets daily encourage each other in that love, lets leap in freedom to love one another well and bring each other back to the deep wells of grace that God has for us. Lets rejoice when we aren't, but others are, part of that process in our mates lives. Lets love each other well and delight in God's work rather than wishing we got some of the glory all of the time. Lets ask God to leave us breathless at his love for us and know that He is the best source of all love. Lets ask Him to set us free from needing to look good, be important in each others lives and get on with serving and loving the people around us each day. Lets ask him for more and more of his grace so we get to say more and more to each other- "God, He's great isn't he?!". Lets really believe the beauty of Zephaniah 3.

"14 Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! 15 The LORD has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. 16 On that day they will say to Jerusalem, "Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp.17 The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

Monday, July 03, 2006

Conversations with Dad and Mark

I've been musing on how easy it is for me to tie myself up in knots and invent problems for God to deal with rather than think about what He is really challenging me about. I mean, if something really is a problem, surely He can make it clear, being the maker of the world and all...

Kath: Do you think it's wrong that I seem to be different with different friends? Do you think that I'm not being true to myself? Do you think there is a problem with that?

Dad: Well, if you are really doing things just to please the other person, things that really go against you, then it might be a problem. But you know that different people can give off sparks in you and bring out different bits of your personality.

Kath: But what if it's a mixture, what if sometimes I'm just being different to please everyone around me? Oh, but I know that sometimes people do bring out different bits of me. But how can I be sure that every time I'm with different friends I'm being consistent with who I really am. How can I know what my real motives are? What if I just don't know why I am behaving the way I do around my friends?

Dad and Mark: (looking at each other and laughing hysterically at Kath's attempt to well and truly tie herself up in knots and get worried about something indefinable that probably isn't a problem) Well if you really don't know, why don't you stop worrying about something that you don't know and can't define and find a real problem to worry about?

My head can certainly twist me in knots at times, I guess the thing to do is pray that God brings clarity, that he forgives the hidden sins I don't know about and that I focus on getting to know him better and repenting of the stuff I am aware of. Phew. It's a good job I've got people to laugh at me.


Imagine my delight to get home and discover this card from the wonderful Demelza.

Variations on HoveActually: (the ones in bold are my particular favourites)

a lacy love hut
eva all touchy
holy cat value
all auto chevy
ah ovally cute
value thy cool
heavy call out
value hot clay
actually hove
a valley touch
lucy love a hat
a love hay cult
vocally haute
heavy oat cull

Home sweet home.

Well, I find myself back in the land of Brighton, back in the world of work, and unusally I have about two weeks in Brighton without going anywhere, just spending each day in one place. I'm hoping not to waste these times but be constructive and productive. And obviously delighting in the grace that accepts me when I am neither construcive or productive.

The Lakes worked their usual magic on my soul. I forgot everything else that exists in this world, I lived in the inbetween world for a week. It was good to be away, good to have long days of relaxed times, good company and fine food. Good to walk up mountains and meander by lakesides. But in the midst of the fun and the laughter, the mellow times, the fireside chats, the hymn quoting, the wonderful moments, there was a tinge of sadness as well. Because as wonderful as the lakes are, they aren't it.

My life is not complete if I head there three or more times a year. They are not my home. They feel like it but they are not. The new earth is still the reality we are living for. The best moments in this life are still tinged by our sin and shame. That is no bad thing. Because we were made for more than this. We were made to share and enjoy and delight in the new creation. Imagining an even better Lake District is hard to do, but it will be even better than this.

Until then we still have a cross that takes all our sin and shame, a God who never tires of reminding us of his love and a home to go to. Bring it on.