Smell Hope

A while ago was listening to Podcasts No. 142 by Emily P Freeman, #The Next Right thing where she was talking about the senses and posed the question what does Hope smell like? I found the question interesting and began to ponder what our senses communicate to us about Hope, Forgiveness, Courage, Kindness and Grace and so for the next five weeks we will look at these very things.

So today we start with the sense of smell – one of the most evocative of all the senses they say, bringing us back to childhood memories and can conjur up situations both good and bad. Yet strangely enough my own dad was born without a sense of smell and I remember trying to describe a smell to him, but in my bad effort it was only comparing it with other smells!

Anyway, what does Hope smell like?

For me, it smells sharp, citrus like Lemon. It is something which awakes the senses when you have been dull, when you have been in a fog and then you smell something citrus it freshens your other senses, heightens them even and you begin to wake up, you begin to pay attention and as that smell increases, gets stronger you become fully alert

That for me is what hope is. You get a glimmer, maybe just faintly at first, but a glimmer and with that glimmer, you sit up, you pay attention, you are on the lookout for further signs. Then as you see further signs, maybe something you had missed in your dismay, too wrapped up in your despair to see, hope stirs within you and awakens you.

Why are you cast down O my Soul

Hope in God, my Help and my strength

What does hope smell like to you? You can let me know in the comments section, I’d love to know!

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Equinox, Shifts & Blessings

It is less than two weeks since the Autumn Equinox a time which I normally love as we begin that change from Summer into Autumn. But this year we have been plunged straight into Autumn, infact it has felt almost like winter. There has been a sudden and large drop in temperature along with the usual gales and unsettled spell of weather.

The Equinox has been pivotal changing Summer to Autumn/Winter and sometimes life is like that too, there is a pivotal shift in our circumstances or even just within ourselves, a shift in our thinking which changes the direction we were going in. Sometimes we can pinpoint when that shift took place, sometimes it is more subtle and almost sneaks up on us.

Last year we celebrated our 25th Wedding anniversary during Lockdown, but as I meditated on this milestone I realised that a shift had taken place within our marriage from a place of brokenness God brought healing, from desperation to blessing. A definite shift.

Indeed God gave two promises last year that He would “restore the years that the locusts had eaten” and that ‘the latter glory would be greater than the former “. As we approach this year’s anniversary I see the fulfilment of God’s promise to us and the blessings we have had this past year and the huge, huge blessing of gifts friends and family have given to us in the form of dinners out, hotels to stay in, times away.

So it is with thanksgiving in our hearts that we approach another anniversary and celebrate God’s deliverance and blessing on our lives. We will praise the Name of the Lord who has dealt wondrously with us, who has brought about that restoration, that shift within us.

Purpose

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It is Five Minute Friday time again! This is where we write for 5 minutes on a one-word prompt. Today’s prompt is Purpose.

So what came to my mind was the first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism:

  • Q1. What is man’s primary purpose?
    Man’s primary purpose is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

That is our ‘raison d’etre‘, our purpose or reason for living.

To glorify God – that means to acknowledge His greatness and give Him honour by praising and worshiping Him, mainly because He, and He alone, deserves to be praised, honoured and worshiped, we give glory to Him by recognizing that greatness, by giving Him His rightful place in our lives.

Enjoy Him – that means we have fellowship with Him. We have His presence! We have relationship with this great God.

So we are not worshipping an unknown God, we are not worshipping and glorifying God out of fear, but in relationship. We are worshiping, praising, giving Him the glory because we know Him and love Him. There is no greater purpose and no greater joy that this.

City

The word prompt for today in the #Five Minute Friday Group is City.

What does this word conjure up for me? What do I think about when I think of a city?

Well truthfully, my heart sinks! I think of noise, crowds, traffic, fumes, dirt, people shoving, jostling, dirty streets. I think of getting lost, of feeling overwhelmed, of feeling like a country bumkin who doesn’t know the rules of the city amidst the city-slickers who know and play by the rules!

It is the feeling of inadequacy and of not fitting in which the city brings out in me. Although thinking of this is a bit like life in general really, we all want to “fit in” to belong; we want to ‘be part of’ what is going on, no-one wants to feel alone and vulnerable, unseen, unnoticed, unimportant.

So city life or country life – same human needs, same human desires, same basic need for connection.

I’m a country bumkin, but I still need human connection, I still need that touch of someone understanding; someone seeing me, hearing me and just as importantly I need to be that ‘someone’ to another person who crosses my way today; just to sit with them, stand with them and let them known that they are seen, that they are important.

So many people with similar stories desperately needed more than the help that we were prepared to give. What they wanted even more, however, was for someone, anyone, even a stranger who was still trying to learn their language, to sit for a while, or just stand with them and let them share theirs stories. I perhaps should have known this, but I was amazed to see the power of human presence. In my pride, I thought that I knew exactly what these people needed, but I would never have thought to put conversation or human connection on my list. Once again, I was profoundly humbled.

Nik Ripken, The Insanity of God, Pg 86

Desperate

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Ever been stuck between a rock and a hard place? Ever feel desperate?

Desperate is the Word Prompt for today’s #Five Minute Friday group of writers, joining with them today to explore this.

There have been times when I have been desperate and I’m sure you have too, when you have found yourself squeezed into a tight place not knowing what to do, feeling almost as if you were loosing your mind.

We not alone in this I know, in good company really when you think King David went through exactly the same feelings. In 1 Samuel Chapters 20-22, we see David fleeing for his life from King Saul who was trying to kill him, so he flees to the relative safety of Gath, only to discover that actually it wasn’t that safe for him there either! So what does he do? He feigns madness, so that he will appear unthreatening, so that they will leave him alone! Does it work? Yes it does!

I have never had to feign madness, but in moments of desperation, squeezed, stressed and battered on every side I have felt that the line between sanity and insanity is a very thin line indeed.

But let’s not leave it there, what did David do? He prayed, we know that because He tells us that in Psalm 34, yet this is not a Psalm of lament, but a Psalm of trust and of Praise. Definitely something to learn and be gained from this.

I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak His praises.

I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart.

Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt His name together.

I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears.

Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.

In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles.

Psalm 34:1-6

Possibilities

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For those who follow my blog, you know that I like Seasons, Routines and Rhythms, so I am glad that we are now half-way through August; the school session is starting again and with that more routines, activities, studies etc.

I do believe that we need the Rhythms of Rest and I am thankful that the Summer time brings that, but I am also glad when we get back to a form of routine. This year especially with the last of the Pandemic Restrictions being lifted there is the sense of possibilities! Possibilities of face-to-face meetings; possibilities of spreading wings; of connecting; of re-connecting; possibilities of God doing new things and not just going back to the way things used to be!

I’m thankful for the break, for time to breathe, the time to reflect & question ways ahead and thankful that we can hold those questions from one season till the next without needing answers, but going with the pointers God provides along the way.

For Everything There Is a Season

and A Time

For every Purpose Under Heaven

Ecclesiates 3:1

Accountability

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Mmmh all sorts of thoughts and feelings are conjured up at this word! This is the One Word prompt today in the #Five Minute Friday Group of Writers.

Accountability? Love it or hate it? Love it because we get things done? Hate it because it means that we have to do what we said we would do and there is little room for procrastination?

I think accountability takes humility, it takes humility and honesty to open up to someone else and even confess those thoughts which have been in your mind simmering away, that to share them, tell someone else about them and what we want to do about them takes guts.

But in the opening up, in the sharing comes clarity and direction. With another can come a plan of action to reach a goal. With another comes the accountability to keep on with that plan to keep that goal in focus.

And with accountability to another comes support, the carrying of one another’s burdens, along with the sharing comes a caring, a partnership, a friendship, a fellowship in Jesus.

Sometimes Jesus is our accountable partner; but often Jesus will place someone on our path to be our accountable person and we have to take the guts, be brave and share with that person and have that person walk along the road beside us, and as we open to them, we open a bit more to Jesus and the thing which has been holding us back is no longer a stumbling block, but a step along our path to healing.

Overgrowth

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Last week we looked at living in the mist; today I want to keep with the seasonal theme and look at the amount of overgrowth there is in the summer.

I don’t know about where you stay, but where I live the summer time sees a lot of growth yes, but very soon that growth gets out of hand and becomes a bit of a wilderness! Where once there were well-trodden paths, those are now hidden by the overgrowth; where once the grass and fields had looked nice and neat and trimmed, they are now a mass of overgrown invasive vegetation. It almost seems like an impossible task to keep on top of things.

I want to transfer this imagery to the spiritual realm to see what truths we can glean there.

So, say I went through a hard winter of the soul where spiritual growth seemed sparse; then entered a time of spring of hope that there were good things to come. Then at long last comes summer and with it light and life and joy and spiritual growth and fruitfulness.

However, as summer progresses and the initial relief, joy and thanksgiving for the present blessings has lost its sheen. Now there is so much growth that really, I have lost my way! I no longer can see those well trod paths of prayer, supplication, remembrance which I trod in the winter time, the hard time.

This growth spurt has also produced weeds which have crept into the well manicured garden of my soul and if I am not careful could threaten to take over certain areas of it. Those insidious weeds of pride creep in and take root, the weeds of worry and doubts grow & threaten to choke out the blessing of God’s presence.

Thorns and briers of resentment and bitterness begin to take root where there should be joy and gladness; the overgrowth of self-reliance begins to spread and takes over where there should be humility and dependence upon God.

Come the Autumn my Heavenly Father, the Head Gardener, will prune and cut back those out-of-control areas, but meantime, meantime I need to do some work. I need to tend and take care of my soul; I need to find those paths again which lead me to God in humility; thanksgiving and dependence. I need to do some weeding to stop the spread of pride; independence; worry; fear and I need to cut back the growth of the briers of resentment, bitterness and self-reliance.

What about you, where do you need to work in your life just now, pulling up the weeds and cutting back the overgrowth? Where do you need to again find your well-trod paths of prayer and supplication?

Stand at the crossroads and look;
    ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
    and you will find rest for your souls.”

[Jeremiah 6:16]

Drive

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I am joining with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers to write for 5 minutes on the Word prompt: Drive.

Drive = A drive is a very strong need or desire in human beings that makes them act in particular ways. … If you say that someone has drive, you mean they have energy and determination. (Collins English Dictionary)

In the bible the Israelites were to drive out those already living in the promised land; they were to drive out all worship of foreign gods and we see how Jesus drove out demons.

There is a force, a might, a power, an action, a determination to see it through.

So what do I need to drive out of my life today?

Do I need to drive out lukewarmness? Grumbling? An ungrateful spirit? Cares and worries of the world?

Do I need to be determined and take the action required to drive out prayerlessness and unbelief?

Lord, show me where I need drive in my life right now. Amen.

Life in the Mist

We are experiencing a lot of Mist in our weather systems just now. Mist which clings, which completely engulfs the mountains and hills round about, mist which makes you feel that there is no horizon and can even make you lose your way.

Sometimes life can feel a bit like that too can’t it?

Whether it is pain, grief, guilt, difficult circumstances, broken relationships, or even just the grind of everyday life can feel like living in the mist, everything else is completely blotted out. You look up – nothing; your look around – nothing; same old, same old; nothing.

That can be wearying; it can make you forget that there is hope; forget that there is a life outside your own situation; forget that there is another world existing out there where there is sunshine and joy! And it can make you lose your way; how do you find God when He seems hidden, enshrined in a mist which you cannot penetrate or see through?

The thing about mist is that it is a vapour, it is merely hiding real life; hiding what is real and what is still there. And so with us when we feel we are living in the mist; it is not all there is. It may be our present reality; but there is more; it may be hidden for a while, but there is more. And that is where faith and facts come in over our feeling.

We may feel lost in the mist; but the fact is that God is still there; God is still good; God is still in control; God still has His love set over you. Those are the facts. Faith is the bridge between your feelings and the facts. Faith keeps you hoping; keeps you believing; keeps you trusting that one day that mist will clear and the Son will shine on you once again. Faith keeps you going when all else fails.

So today what are you going with? Your feelings? Or the facts? Are you exercising your faith to trust that God has got you even when enshrouded in mist?

Order

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I haven’t been on here for a while, so thought I’d jump on today to bring a bit of order to my life. Order is the prompt word today from the #Five Minute Friday community of writers.

I like order! I like a nice peaceful, ordered life with routines, rhythms and seasons. I like headspace and I would like to live a serene life, passing through seemingly unruffled by life’s trials.

However, Life is not like is it? Sometimes it is chaotic, with demands from others, demands from work, demands from church, from community, from family. Or crisis strike, there is an illness, hospital visits, an accident, or even just children, marriage, moving home. There are so many things which can through me off my stride and send me into chaos.

That is why I love the creation narrative where we see God bringing order out of chaos:

Genesis Chapter 1:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters.

And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 

4 And God saw that the light was good.

Then he separated the light from the darkness.

 God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.”

The earth was empty, formless, without order, a bit like life without Christ – empty of meaning, no purpose or order, no sense of identity or being rooted in eternity.

The same God who brought order to the universe can and does bring order to my otherwise chaotic life.

Today, I am grateful for that order.

Thrive – A Review

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Thrive was the word given to me for this year to “Thrive, not just survive” . So six months on how are you doing, how am I doing? Are we thriving?

Six months and it has been mixed, it started with us still in Lockdown, then slowly there were tentative steps into re-opening, re-starting, and then re-entering the big world again. One thing I was absolutely sure of was that I didn’t want to go back to the pressures of ‘pre-Covid’ life and that every season I want to thrive.

So how do you Thrive in this new way of living? How are you planning on Thriving this Summer? Using the Acrostic Letters of the word THRIVE, let me share with you how I hope to thrive this summer.

T – Time with God – always first and foremost to seek Him first, to build relationship, to build trust. How do I do that? With daily, intentional bible study and I have also started using a Pause App on my phone which is building a practice of pausing & reconnecting with God throughout the day or before starting a new task/event

H -Hope – Building Hope is not an easy thing, it takes discipline to turn your eyes away from your immediate circumstances and onto God, it takes discipline to remind yourself of God’s past faithfulness, as He has been with you before; He will be with you again and to remind yourself that no matter what is happening in the world God is still on the Throne, He is King and He is over all.

R – Rest – Building rest into your life also takes practice, but the benefits far outweigh any work involved in planning rest periods into your day, into your week, your month and into the season. Summer is often a time when people go off on holiday and this is important; it is important to take a break from the normal routines of life and to slow, to think of other things and to feed your soul with beauty and joy.

I – Intentional – for all these things I am building into my life, I have to be intentional, I have to actually have a plan, write it down and review it. Every season I write down goals for different aspects of my life and review them as the season goes on, add to them perhaps, this includes what I am going to study in the Bible, what books I may want to read, what fruits of the Spirit I wish to work on, what relationships are needing prayer and attention, as well as work and church life and rest periods

V – Victory – So easy to keep slipping at the same things isn’t it? So easy to write it off as just ‘my weakness’, whereas in actual fact there is victory found in Jesus. We can forge new pathways in our thinking; and instead of always going into our default of self-defeating attitudes and behaviours, we can forge new ways. For this I have to identify what these faults/weaknesses/areas of sin are and then find ways to counteract them, often this starts with my ‘stinking thinking’ and how to speak God’s truth into those thoughts and areas.

E – Encourage – A great way to thrive is to encourage others. Get alongside others, share your own struggles, encourage them in theirs, open the Word together, pray together, make space for one another to listen and to hear the unspoken words and also to joy together, praise together, laugh together.

A Time for Everything

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

Praying for you my dear friend, that you too will find ways to Thrive this summer, drop me a comment below on how you plan to do that, so we may encourage each other.

Slow

I have missed a few weeks, but happy to be joining today again with the #Five Minute Friday community of writers where we write for five minutes on a one-word prompt and today’s word is: Slow.

The reason I wanted to jump back in here when I saw the prompt is that I would so love to share with you the book I am currently (slowly) going through: “Growing Slow” by Jennifer Dukes Lee.

Jennifer compares the seasons on the farm with the seasons of our life and how each season has its time of slow. She poses reflection questions at the end of each chapter which make us pause and reflect on what we have just read. It is such a timely book as we emerge from Lockdowns not to rush back into our previous hectic pace of life.

I won’t say anymore about it, it just so resonates with me, and perhaps one of the reasons I haven’t posted anything for a while is because I am growing slow, waiting, reflecting, pausing.

Selah!

Middle

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Joining again this week with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers who write for 5 minutes on a one-word prompt. This week’s prompt is: Middle

I am a middle-child; probably past middle-age; still in the middle of menopause; still living in the middle of coming out of Lockdowns; still in the middle of trying to get back to work.

In the middle of the has been, but not yet of the Kingdom of God; in the middle of being renewed; in the middle of being made into the likeness of Christ; in the middle of being made holy.

As they say: ‘Life is not a rehearsal’ and I, like most others, are having to navigate our way through this life with many twists and turns and ways we have never been before, it is new, we have never walked this way before, we don’t get to try it out and then go back and do it again, better next time.

Life is the here and now, the daily nitty gritty, daily decisions, daily pressures, daily joys and sorrows, laughs and tears. I have never walked this way before, yesterday is past, tomorrow still to come, I am in today and am blessed that God has said, “I am with you”; “I am with you in this; I am with you in this messy middle” and that is what makes the difference – God being with me.

She

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I’m joining with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers today to write on their one word prompt for 5 minutes. Today’s prompt is: She

I don’t know why, but perhaps it is because I am reading through Genesis just now, but when I saw the prompt my immediate thought was of Adam saying to God “She gave me the fruit”, She made me eat it, She is to blame!!!

We all do that don’t we? Well I do anyway, I blame others, I deflect the blame away from myself, I self-justify why I have sinned, or fallen or done or said something I shouldn’t have. We don’t want to be the bad one, we don’t want to be thought of as unkind, so we justify our words and actions to make them sound acceptable.

However, there is no excuse! We have sinned, we have been unkind, said some not nice things, got angry in the heat of the moment and we need to acknowledge that, we need to hold our hands up and say, ‘that was me, I did that’ because only then can we come to God in repentance and only then can we receive His forgiveness, His grace.

So next time instead of blaming, let us acknowledge ‘it was me’ and turn to God for His grace to forgive and wipe us clean of this blame game.

Remedy

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Joining with the #Five Minute Friday community of writers today to write on a one word prompt for 5 minutes. Today’s prompt is: Remedy.

Last week’s prompt was Broken, which I never got round to writing about, but which I have pondered all week.

In our Bible study group just now we are doing a study in Genesis 1-11 and I have been struck and touched afresh by the detailed, intricate, delicate beauty of creation and have wow’d over it. But I have also been saddened and have sat with that sadness for several days over the brokenness and destruction sin brought to that beautiful creation.

I see that brokenness in the world around me and in my own life, I see its destructive force, but from my Genesis study I also see that there is a Remedy. Right there, right then when sin was committed and brokenness entered; Grace entered too! Right away there was a remedy, a plan of salvation, God’s greatest work yet to put in place a plan of redemption, a plan to buy back that broken world, a plan to bring it back to glory!

God’s remedy plan is God’s grace, is God’s work of salvation and redemption through Jesus Christ, and we long for that coming day when all will be restored!

Permission

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Joining today with the #Five Minute Friday community of writers who write for 5 minutes on a one word prompt. Today’s Prompt is: Permission.

There are a lot of changes coming into my life in the next few weeks, a lot of readjustments needing to be made, so this is a timely prompt for me to give myself permission to be confused; permission to be apprehensive; permission to be indecisive; permission to just not know what to think.

Coming out of lockdown, going back to work, a journey to a (far away) city with my daughter who has been home for 5 months; returning to an empty nest; work; church even? All familiar, ‘used to dos’; yet now unfamiliar, unknown.

So in the midst of the readjusting I need to give myself permission to be kind to myself, permission to give myself space; permission to give myself soul-care; permission to receive grace.

Permission just to breathe in grace; to receive grace for my weaknesses, for my unknowns, for my mistakes, for my apprehensions.

Grace.

Grace because I am weak, I am flawed, I am human and if there is one thing I need it is grace.

So these next few weeks, I’m giving grace permission to come and heal, forgive, restore and wash over me.

Pressure

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Joining with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers where we write for 5 minutes on a one-word prompt. Today’s prompt is: Pressure

I have been trying to get my head round the idea of ‘re-entering’ life after a year of Lockdowns. I am reluctant to re-enter, there are many reasons why, but primarily it is because of Pressure.

I am not looking forward to having pressure in my life again. Time pressures to be in a certain place, by a certain time – getting out to work on time!!!

Pressures placed by other people, demands I feel I have to meet, family obligations, social interaction, all fill me with intrepidation . Do I have the energy for it? Am I up for it? How will I, as an Introvert, cope with all those people again?

Pressures of everyday life, juggling life and commitments – not looking forward to that, to coming out of the safety of the cocoon I have built round myself here.

Yet, I know we were made for community and I know it will all be fine and I know that I will soon get into my stride and form new routines, but that doesn’t mean to say that it will be easy or that it will take some re-adjusting.

But one thing I can build into my re-entered life is time to PAUSE.

I need to from day one, take time morning, afternoon and evening to pause and breathe and trust and praise, to take time out from the pressures and reconnect with God.

And I need to remember that His yoke is easy and His burden is light and not add undue pressures on myself.

Hibernation

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It is Easter Monday and the snow is on the ground, perhaps that is why I am feeling slow and reluctant to come out of my Hibernation which has been called ‘Lockdown’.

Lockdown is gradually lifting and with it the re-opening; restarting of businesses, shops and offices and places of work, soon we will be able to meet and mingle again. Everyone is cheering, Yes?

Is it just me who is reluctant? Reluctant to get going again? Reluctant to face the pressures of ‘normal’ life which have been missing over this past year? Reluctant to re-enter the fray? Reluctant to have the decision-making returned to me?

I certainly feel like a bear reluctant to come out of Hibernation, and with spring being slow this year I feel as if I am being awakened before I am ready, being ushered out before I am finished with my slumber, with my slowness!

I have many fears and anxieties about ‘going back’ to work, ‘going back’ to life; what I actually feel is that it is ‘re-entering’ life after all this time at home and I am anxious. I am anxious about will I be able to do it? Am I capable, do I have the energy? Facing people again – that is a bit of a wow, I don’t think I am ready for social integration? Driving distances, shopping in physical shops, – it is as if I have lost confidence in doing these things.

So I am slow, I am reluctant and I feel as if I am on my own in this with everyone else frantically rushing about in preparation.

Can I just go back to my cave, let it all happen around me, wake me up when everyone has found their rhythm and I’ll try and slot in?

And yet, and yet yesterday was Resurrection Day,

11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

Romans 8:11

That same resurrection power is in me. That same power which raised Jesus from the dead is available to me too.

I don’t need to get stuck in doubting, fearful, slow Saturday, inbetween the Cross and the Resurrection. I am to harness that power and live post Resurrection, unafraid, fears dealt with, confident that the God who raised Jesus from the dead is the same God living and empowering me even in the here, even in the now and even in the unknown days ahead.

I don’t know what this re-entering of life will look like; I don’t know if it will be any fun! I don’t know what any of these coming days will bring but I am reminded of the song

And because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know, I know He holds the future
And life is worth a living just because He lives

[Bill & Gloria Gaither]

Because He lives, and because that same resurrection power is dwelling in me I can face the future, I can place my trust, I can re-enter and I can live with the fulness of life He gives.

So slowly I will shake myself, slowly I will come out of my Hibernation and slowly I will re-enter this world which is before me; Because I know He holds the future and life is worth the living just because He lives.

Savour

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It’s Friday! So joining with the #Five Minute Friday Community of writers to write for 5 minutes on a one Word prompt. Today’s prompt is: Savour.

First of all to all the American Writers out there in the community, this is how we spell ‘Savour’ (Savor) in the UK.! Just so you know that it is not a spelling mistake!!

So what do I like to savour? Well good food, good wine, good coffee, good books, the luxuries and comforts of a good hotel, the wind in my face, the sun on my skin, the company of family and friends.

And yet do I really savour these things? Do I really take the time to dwell in the moment, soak these things up, enjoy them to the full?

Probably like a lot of people, Lockdown has taught me to savour, to appreciate so much of what I took for granted before.

Lockdown has taught me to slow. Slow and savour the daily bounties that God lavishes upon us. Slow and savour the company of family and friends when so many have been bereft of these things. Slow and savour more time at home, in the garden, out on walks, appreciating the beauty of creation.

I want to keep that. I want to continue to slow. I want to continue to savour all that the Lord brings onto my path each day.

Redeem

Belle City Church - Give them Beauty for Ashes

Joining again with the #Five Minute Friday Community of writers to write for 5 minutes on a one-word prompt. Today’s prompt is: Redeem

I don’t know about you, but I have certainly been in the midst of tragic, painful circumstance which I have seen no way out and thought that is the way things would always be.

However, no so! God has redeemed my situations – not magically, not over night, not suddenly, not even noticeably! But He has, over the years, He has changed not just my circumstances, but changed me!

    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—

to bestow on them a crown of beauty – instead of ashes,

the oil of joy  –  instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise    instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,

    a planting of the Lord  for the display of his splendor.

Isaiah 61:3

That is what God has done for me, through hard work, through diligence, through working my own programme, God has redeemed-

instead of ashes – a crown of beauty

instead of mourning – joy

instead of a spirit of despair – praise

He has made me an Oak of Righteousness, a planting for the Lord for the glory of His Name.

Whatever our messy story – God can Redeem it!

Possible

When God Doesn't Move the Mountain - Purposeful Faith

Joining with the #Five Minute Friday Community of writers to write for 5 minutes on a one word prompt. Today’s prompt is: Possible.

This was my bible reading this morning:

Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. [Mark 11:22-23]

This passage brings up a few difficulties, is it possible for God to move our mountains? Yes it is. I do believe that, but yet at the same time often my mountains aren’t moved.

I could tie myself in knots trying to come to terms with what this passage means and how the reality of it in my own life can look very different.

However, I do believe that just as God is bigger than our mountains, so is He bigger than our faith, bigger than our prayers and that He doesn’t need our faith or our prayers to carry out His work or fulfill His promises.

Yes I believe all things are possible with God. Yes I believe God can move my mountains, but I also believe that sometimes God keeps the mountains there in front of us so that we rely on Him, so that our faith is in Him and not in our own worked-up faith.

All things are possible with God, even living with a mountain in front of you; even in the sitting waiting for that mountain to move; even in the endurance of the weight of that mountain on you.

God is the God of the impossible even when the impossible is living with a mountain.

The Battle of the Wills

Kneeling in Gethsemane | Guideposts

It started in a Garden.

Adam, as a representative of mankind had a suggestion, a lie put to him that God was with holding something good from him and if he just had that thing he would be so wise. Adam believed the lie, He went against God’s wishes; he chose what he thought was good over what God had told him was good.

There actually doesn’t seem to be much of a battle; just a straight surrender to the wrong, to the evil, to the disobedience, to the sin which led to banishment and separation from God.

But another time, another garden there is another battle.

Here we see a ‘second Adam’ and this man is weeping it out, in total anguish of soul, sweating great drops of blood so great is this battle.

This second Adam was facing the punishment the first Adam brought in. The punishment a horrific, agonising death, a death so great that it would lead to separation from His Father. A separation He had never had before even though He was a ‘son of Adam’, a ‘son of Man’, He was also the ‘Son of God’ and He was in agony at the thought. He balked at the thought of it.

The battle was real.

The battle was for the souls of men.

What to do? Was there another way?

So He asked His Father “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me”.

Did He look for another way? Did He hope for another way? Or did He just know that there was no other way?

So He surrendered.

Battle Won.

Not my Will.

BUT Yours be done.

The Second Adam won where the first Adam failed. The Second Adam could redeem what the first Adam broke. The Second Adam surrendered His will for that of His Father’s; He surrendered in the battle over wills so that there would be victory for the souls of men.

Which battle are you fighting today? Where do you need to surrender? Where do you need to say – Not my Will, but Yours be done?

Enable

Habakkuk 3:19 - Bible verse of the day - DailyVerses.net

Joining with the #Five Minute Friday writing community who write for 5 minutes on a one word prompt. Today’s prompt is: Enable

I like this word ‘enable‘ because it conjures up for me the picture that whilst you can’t do something given the right set of tools, encouragement, teaching, learning, power, help etc, that you are then able to do the thing.

But most of all I am thankful that my God enables me to ‘do all things through Him who strengthens me’. He leads me out of my comfort zone and enables me to go beyond that which I would normally go and He enables me to do the thing He has asked of me. He has created me for ‘good works’ and He enables me to do that, even for difficult people. He calls us to preach the gospel/tell our redemption stories and He is teaching me slowly how to do that.

I am thankful that He does not leave me to my own lack and limited abilities, but that He takes me weak, lacking in faith and fearful and He enables me. He enables me to walk in His ways, He enables me to obey His commands; He enables me to love; to live; to give glory to Him.

My God enables me!

A Lockdown Lament

Image result for how long

How long, O Lord?

How long, will this uncertainty last?

How long will these endless days persist?

How long before we see Your face again?

How long before You turn Your face from wrath?

How long before You yet again have mercy upon us?

How long before the light of Your Presence shines upon us?

How long before You turn towards us again?

How long will we persist in our arrogance?

How long will our hardness of heart continue?

How long will our sins come against You?

How long before we turn to You once again?

Surely You are a faithful God,

Surely, we will yet have cause to Praise Your Name?

Turn us O lord and we will be turned,

Turn us O Lord and be gracious to us.

Your Praise will yet be on the lips of Your people.

Your Name will yet be exalted.

Your people will yet rejoice in Your Deliverance.

We will yet sing songs to You, O Lord, our faithful God.

Observant

Image result for Careful to Observe

Today’s prompt for the #Five Minute Friday group of writers is: Observant.

In the bible when we are called to be observant, we are being called to be mindful of the things of God, to be attentive to His Word, to heed His warnings and commands; to pay attention.

It has been on my mind a lot recently that ‘we have never been this way before’, we have never gone through a Pandemic; we have never had to be locked away from our loved ones and have our lives restricted by Lockdowns and so it is no wonder that our emotions and mental health are all over the place; no wonder we are struggling, we have never faced this before.

Then the other day I was reading this passage from the book of Joshua and noticed that the people of Israel also ‘had never been this way before’.

After three days the officers went throughout the camp, giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits That is, about 3,000 feet or about 900 meters between you and the ark; do not go near it.”

Joshua 3:2-4

So what were they to do? – They were to be observant!

They had never been this way, so they were to carefully observe which way the Ark of the Covenant, the Presence of the Lord was leading them. They were to watch it, move to a place where they could see it; heed any change of direction; any veering to one side; they were to be observant to the ways of the Lord.

So for me today I need to step out to a place where I have known the presence of the Lord and I need to give careful consideration, careful observance to the way He is leading in this time of unknown. When I am walking in those unknown paths I am to give care observance to what He is doing and where He is leading.

Met by Compassion

One of the biggest things which has come out of this Pandemic and Lockdown situations is our need for kindness; our need for compassion.

We have been writing a series for our church looking at people Jesus met and how He stopped; listened; acknowledged; respected and showed compassion to those individuals. Today I share my own contribution to that series:

Today we meet a woman who was caught in the act of adultery.  She was publicly dragged out and accused of her ‘crime’.  She was publicly humiliated with fingers-pointing & tongues wagging; so-called friends began to withdraw away not wanting to be associated with her.

She was labelled; she was condemned.

Except by Jesus – He stood by her; He stood up for her and faced her accusers for her, “Whoever among you is guiltless may be the first to throw a stone at her”.

That sent them packing; some grumbling; some a bit ashamed, till there is no-one left to accuse.  Jesus asks her, Where are they?  Did no-one condemn you?

And then Jesus speaks the kindest words;

‘Neither do I condemn you.”  I don’t condemn you either.

Jesus doesn’t condemn her, nor does He leave her where she is or has been; He delivers her from that past; from those labels; from the sin.  He gives her a new life; the past has been dealt with and He says ‘go now and sin no more”.  The past is gone; forgiven; not condemned; but set free.

Maybe you need to hear those words today.  Maybe you have been labelled in the past and people remember; people still point the finger; tongues still wag.  But Jesus doesn’t condemn you; He sets you free; He delivers you; there is new life to be found in Him.

Know today that Jesus will stand by you; Jesus will stand up for you; Jesus will face your accusers for you; Jesus will deliver you.

“Go now and from now on do not live in that sin anymore.”.  Forgiven; set-free; redeemed!

[This story can be found in John 8:1-11]

Once

Joining again today with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers, today we write on the prompt ‘Once‘.

ONCE upon a time is how the stories start isn’t it? Once upon a time our stories had a start, once upon a time we were conceived and born and our stories started.

Where are we now in our stories? How many chapters on are we? Have we got to the good bit yet? Or are we still stuck in that awful nightmare of a chapter?

Are we the stars of our own stories, or do we let others take our leading place?

Would you like to skip a couple of chapters till the bad stuff is past and we get to the nice happy place?

My friend, no matter what our story is like; no matter what chapter we are on just now, we can be rest assured that if we are a Christian our stories will always, always have a happy ending!! A wonderful, glorious, victorious, happy ending. Infact not really an ending more like a wonderful eternal life of joy and praise in the Home of our Heavenly Father.

God is the God of our stories:

For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place

when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:13-16

God knew our stories before they even came to be. He knows and wrote every chapter. So no matter what chapter we are in whether it is a good chapter or a hard chapter; He knows, He wrote it and he knows the ending!

So my friend, can we trust Him with our stories? Can we hang on in there till we come to a new chapter; Can we believe and hope for a happy ending?

Once upon a time God wrote our story and it will have a happy ending, let us trust Him in the inbetween chapters!

Sunrise

Image result for sunrise

When I read this week’s Word prompt, from the #Five Minute Friday group, I immediately thought of this song from Matt Redman:

Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul Worship His Holy name Sing like never before, O my soul I’ll worship Your Holy name The sun comes up It’s a new day dawning It’s time to sing Your song again Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me Let me be singing when the evening comes Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul Worship His Holy name Sing like never before, o my soul I’ll worship Your Holy name You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger Your name is great and Your heart is kind For all Your goodness I will keep on singing 10,000 reasons for my heart to find Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul Worship His Holy name Sing like never before, O my soul I’ll worship Your Holy name And on that day When my strength is failing The end draws near and my time has come Still my soul will sing Your praise unending 10,000 years and then forevermore, forevermore Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul Worship His Holy name Sing like never before, O my soul I’ll worship Your Holy name Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul Worship His Holy name Sing like never before, O my soul I’ll worship Your Holy name Yes, I will worship Your Holy name Lord, I’ll worship Your Holy name

The sun comes up. It’s a new day dawning. It’s time to sing Your song again. Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me Let me be singing when the evening comes.

The sun comes up; faithfully everyday showing up whether I see it or not. The sun comes up after a long night. The sun comes up and it is another day. We don’t know what that day may bring; what the post may bring; what a phonecall may bring; what news we may receive; but faithfully, enduringly the sun rises and the sun sets; what we do in the between times is often up to us – not the events, but how we respond.

Do we respond with singing; do we respond with Praise; do we find 10,000 reasons still to bless the Lord? Do we still look for and find the goodness of God? Even when our strength is failing and we are weary, do we still not just bless the Lord, but bless Him as never before? Does our praise reflect our trust, our hanging on? Does our praise reflect the One we are praising?

Today, I will choose to bless the Lord, and to bless Him as I have never done before because though there are hard things in my life to deal with God is rich in love and He is slow to anger and His name is great and His heart is kind . For all His goodness I will keep on singing 10,000 reasons for my heart to find Bless the Lord,

Hopeful

How to grow and care for snowdrops | lovethegarden

I don’t know why but it has taken me to now, the first of February for me to feel that it is a new year, a new start and to feel hopeful again. Perhaps January is just such a long, dark month, and coming after a Lockdown Christmas and New Year with no let up, it just has been a bit of a slog.

I hadn’t actually realised that until now, until I suddenly feel hopeful! The days are longer, brighter; the snowdrops are out with the crocuses pushing through the snow and frost; spring it seems is not far, just round the corner and it makes me hopeful.

Also for the first time in years I am about to embark on some study!! Whilst in some ways that seems such a daunting thing, in another way it just seems so right and the next step on the journey. I woke up this morning with such a sense that I am where I am supposed to be and that in it’s self is no light thing!

So, I embark today on the next step, the next phase and I praise God, that even to old age and grey-hairs He is still with me, still sustaining, still leading and still filling with hope.

What is keeping you hopeful at this time?

Design

Created for Good Works – Ordinary but Effective Ways of Doing Things

Joining again with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers where we write for 5 minutes on a one-word prompt. Today’s word is: Design

I am in awe of our Creator God, the design, the intricate details which He put into His creation and into us. We see it in the detail of the petal of a flower, we see it in the colours of the grasses, we see it in the way our body functions and relies on different organs to work and I’m sure artists and physicists could explain it all far better than I can, but to me it is still wonderful!

We know and can say with the Pslamist:

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful, I know that full well

Psalm 139:14

I also believe that the Creator created us to create!!

Now we may immediately say, “Oh but I’m not artistic”. Did I say God created us to be artistic? No, God created us to create! That may well be to create fine works of art or poetry, of knitting or tapestry, or even cooking or baking.

But so many of us are much more ordinary than that and live ordinary lives, but in the midst of the ordinary we can create space for love and joy; in the midst of the ordinary we can create friendships and relationships; in the midst of the ordinary we can invite God in to create His good work within us and we can be obedient to do those good works God created us to do!

How is God calling you to create and weave His design into your life?

Fix

Thought for the Day. Contributed by... - Govan Salvation Army Community  Church | Facebook

Joining with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers to write on a one word prompt for 5 minutes. Today’s prompt is Fix.

Some people are fixers! They don’t like to see anyone in trouble, so they jump right in there to try and fix the problem!

To a certain extent we are all a bit like that especially when it comes to family, we don’t like to see those we love suffer and struggle, so we help out, we try and solve, we make ourselves available, we take on burdens, we try to fix.

But what if in fact our fixing is a hindrance to the work of God in someone’s life? What if instead of fixing we allowed someone we love to reach their rock bottom because we have the assurance that it is in that place that God will meet them. What if our constant ‘fixing’ is actually interfering and stopping them reaching that place and thus stopping that healing, restoring, redemptive work of God in their lives?

What if instead of always trying to fix, we take a step back, breathe deep and hand our loved ones and their situations over to God, trusting Him not only with the outcome but with the process too. What if we trusted our loved ones over to God?

If God can do it for us, He can do it for others, He is more than able to do it for our loved ones. May we have that courage and strength to leave the fixing to God, knowing that always ‘underneath are the everlasting arms‘ of grace.

Fresh

Big, Old Tree With River And Bright Sun In The Background Stock Image -  Image of beauty, land: 159589895

Joining with the #Five Minute Friday group to write for 5 minutes on a one word prompt. Today’s prompt is: Fresh.

It is really hard to stay fresh during a Lockdown – same people, same places, no routine, no plans, nothing to keep you fresh.

I have a very extroverted friend and she needs goals, so during lockdown she signs up for zoon exercise classes, zoom choirs, zoom learning etc. I always feel very lazy besides her because i just cannot be bothered with those things, they seem to zap the energy out of me as opposed to energize me, which they do for her.

So for me, I try to find a little routine like Thursday night is Pie Night!! Friday night is cocktail night!! I try a different walk with the dog, or go round a loop the other direction – not much I know, but sometimes even the little things can make a difference and bring a bit of freshness to the otherwise ‘same old, same old’.

Spiritually we are told is Psalm 92 (my Psalm of the year I think, always finding myself back here!):

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon, planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright: He is my Rock and there is no wickedness in Him.

Ps 92:13-15

So we are able to keep fresh and green and flourish, planted firmly in the Word, Praising the Lord and proclaiming He is my Rock! It may not be easy, it may take some effort, but we need to keep digging in, keep those roots going down till we come to the waters of life and drink deeply there, till we flourish once again and our drooping, wilting leaves again perk up and shine fresh and green.

Time

Tide | National Geographic Society

Woohoo! #Five Minute Friday is back for 2021 where we write on a one word prompt for 5 minutes. Today’s prompt is- time!

“Time and tide wait for no man” is the saying, so I thought I would compare time to the tide today.

The tide flows in and out, in and out, ebb and flow, ebb and flow. Constant and yet different.

Sometimes it seems to come rushing in, sweeping everything in its way, other times it is long and lazy.

There are the ebb and flows of normal tides which just come and go almost unnoticed, probably like most of our days, just in and out, in and out.

Other times there are big tides, called Spring tides, and they are high, high tides bringing up with them and depositing a load of garbage in its wake. Then they go out, low, low and we find treasures, food even. Life can be like that, a lot of garbage seems to be swept up, sometimes an inordinately amount of it for us to deal with, but we can also find treasure at such time.

Big and low, small and insignificant, ebb and.flow.

Time comes, time goes.

Perhaps we need to learn from the tide and just go with the flow whatever that is in the season of our lives we are in. Go with the big rushes, go with the garbage clean up, go with the slow everyday and always be looking for the treasure!!

Not just Survive, but made to Thrive

Family Thrive training - The Mill

I have heard/read many people say how glad they are that 2020 is now past, good riddance to it, ‘we survived it”. Many of course haven’t and for many of us we have been holding on with our finger-tips. But what if we were made for more?

So often our days/weeks are just about surviving, getting by, coping, but surely we were made for more than this? Made to thrive and not just survive?

I did it myself, at the start of the week I’d look ahead to all the tasks, work, meetings etc and my goal was actually just to survive, just to get through the week and I look forward to that space , that gap at the end of the week when I could draw breath, breathe a sigh of relief, phew I’ve survived! Then 2020 happened! However, the past year brought for me more time, more space, more breathing space.

Survive means to continue to live or exist, especially after coming close to dying or being destroyed or after being in a difficult or threatening situation.

The verb thrive means to flourish or grow vigorously

So the difference is to barely come out of a situation unscathed or to flourish within that situation.

So how do you thrive in a global pandemic?

How do you thrive the pressures of Lockdown?

How do I thrive when there are nagging doubts plaguing me?

How do I thrive when assailed and buffeted by the storms of life?

How do I thrive when my to-do list seems longer than the available hours of the day or my days stretch endlessly by with no focus or purpose?

This song from Casting Crowns echo’s what is in my own heart at this time:

Thrive , Casting Crowns

Here in this worn and weary land
Where many a dream has died Like a tree planted by the water
We never will run dry So living water flowing through
God we thirst for more of You
Fill our hearts and flood our souls
With one desire Just to know You and to make You known
We lift Your name on High
Shine like the sun made darkness run and hide
We know we were made for so much more
Than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive

Into Your word we’re digging deep
To know our Father’s heart Into the world we’re reaching out
To show them who You are So living water flowing through
God we thirst for more of You
Fill our hearts and flood our souls
With one desire Just to know You and to make You known


So how do we achieve this? How do we thrive in the midst of a Pandemic? How to we thrive when pressed in on every side? How do we thrive when we are faced with adversities and the daily grind and toil? How do we more than just survive, but actively thrive and flourish?

The secret is found here in Psalm 92:

12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,

they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;

13 planted in the house of the Lord,

they will flourish in the courts of our God.

14 They will still bear fruit in old age,

they will stay fresh and green,

15 proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;

he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

So to flourish like a palm tree and grow we have to be planted in the house of the Lord, planted with a firm grounding, our roots going down deep into the Word of God. Saturated in God’s Word, AND surrounded by God’s people in fellowship. Then we will still be bearing fruit in old age, still staying fresh and green! In other words flourishing, thriving, more than just surviving!

So my dear friend, let us drink deeply, let us drink daily of the fountain of grace so that we are fed and watered and fruitful and reaching the end of the week thriving, reaching the end of the year stronger, reaching the end of a pandemic with deeper roots in God, reaching old age still fresh and green! Let’s dig deep into the Word, let’s put our faith into practice and proclaim that ‘The Lord is upright, that He is my Rock and that there is no wickedness in Him’.

We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive, We were made to thrive.

2020 Reflections

Hard!  Hard!  Hard!

Those are the words which stand out for me from this year.

Hard being locked-down; hard facing sorrow and suffering;  hard coping with loneliness and separation from loved ones; hard navigating our way round all that the year has brought!  Just hard!

And yet ..

And yet, I do want to finish off the year with thanksgiving, for through it all God has been there.  If ever we have needed a steadfast, strong, reliable God it has been this year and His faithfulness has remained.

So through the hard, God has been in control; through the hard God has remained faithful;  Through the hard God has still blessed, still provided, still looked upon us and has brought us through and so I give thanks.

Psalm 65, verse 11 says:

You crown the year with a bountiful harvest;
    even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.

Through the hard our pathways still overflow with abundance, our pathways have still been overseen by God in His kindness and goodness, He has not entirely wiped us out, He has still blessed.

Through the hard we have had to seek God harder in ways perhaps we haven’t done before, we have had to press in harder, pray harder and read our bibles harder, but those things have reaped for us a spiritual blessing and this is why at the end of this hard year we can return thanks to God and acknowledge that He has ‘crowned the year with a bountiful harvest’. 

So through the hard I will give thanks; through the storm I’ll praise His Name!

[Sharing this post I wrote for my Church’s Facebook Post]

Conclude

This is the last #Five Minute Friday post for 2020 and fittingly the prompt is: Conclude

Everyone agrees that this has been a strange year, a year like no other when our world has ground to a halt. Many have suffered financially, mentally, emotionally and physically, most will be glad to see the end of this year.

However the words which come to my mind at the end of this year are from Psalm 65, I will quote the Psalm as I think that is the best way to conclude the Year:

Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion;
    to you our vows will be fulfilled.
You who answer prayer,
    to you all people will come.
When we were overwhelmed by sins,
    you forgave our transgressions.
Blessed are those you choose
    and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
    of your holy temple.

You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
    God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
    and of the farthest seas,
who formed the mountains by your power,
    having armed yourself with strength,

who stilled the roaring of the seas,
    the roaring of their waves,
    and the turmoil of the nations.
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
    where morning dawns, where evening fades,
    you call forth songs of joy.

You care for the land and water it;
    you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
    to provide the people with grain,
    for so you have ordained it.
10 You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
    you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
11 You crown the year with your bounty,
    and your carts overflow with abundance.
12 The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
    the hills are clothed with gladness.
13 The meadows are covered with flocks
    and the valleys are mantled with grain;
    they shout for joy and sing.

God bless you all over the Christmas and New Year period, may we indeed know and walk in the Lord’s goodness.

Intersection of the Plans

Today is week 3 of Advent and every reading I have seen all focus on the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth. It was also my reading today too, from this there was one particular aspect which struck me fresh as I studied this passage from Luke 1:1-25.

That fresh insight is how God’s big plan for salvation for mankind and how His plans for our individual lives are intertwined.

Israel had waited 400 years for this promised Messiah to come. Long, long years of waiting, hoping, losing hope, hoping again, and still waiting. But God had a plan, He had made a covenant with David and had promised that “Your house and your kingdom will stand before me permanently, your dynasty will be permanent” (2 Sam 7:16)

That was God’s big plan.

But when we look at this passage, we see how this Big plan comes down to be little, squeezed down to one particular family’s life! From verse 8 we see that at this particular time in space and history there was a priest called Zechariah, he just happened to be on duty in the temple, it just happened that he was chosen to go into the Holy of Holies at that time.

The people were outside praying and suddenly Zechariah’s routine duties were dramatically interrupted by an angel! An Angel with startling news: that his prayers were going to be answered and that they would have a son called John who would be a forerunner of Messiah! Wow, wow, wow! How could this be? Both he and Elizabeth were old?, But God is the God of the impossible and it would be, it was part of the plan.

It is this intersection of plans which I find intriguing: God has a big plan spanning thousands of years (just like one day to Him) and our life span is so short, so small within that time-line, yet for us God is there with a plan for us, for us to also be part of the big picture! We live both within the Big picture and the smaller picture of our own lives.

To me that is pretty awesome! And I pray for open eyes to see that bigger picture.

So in our times of waiting, hoping, losing hope, hoping and praying more and more waiting we can take encouragement that our God is faithful and He will fulfill both His big plan and the smaller plans for our own lives.

Presents

Today’s prompt for the #five minute friday group of writers is: Present

You know what? I am tired and weary and the best present I could get this year is a hug! I just need a hug and I so want to hug my Christian brothers and sisters.

At first I loved Lockdown Church, loved all the on-line materials, loved connecting with churches/groups in different parts of the country, but now, even for me an introvert I am tired of it all, weary of it all, I just want us to be able to meet together and to hug each other!

I did blog a few weeks ago on human connection, so I won’t go into that just now, but you can read the full blog post here: https://wordpress.com/post/findinggodintheeverydayblog.wordpress.com/1741

But today, for me the best Christmas present anyone could get me is a hug!

Advent

Make Room For Jesus | Sharing The Good News of The Lord

There is an abundance of posts out there on what Advent is, it’s true meaning etc. I am not going to duplicate any of that, but just want to share what it means to me personally.

For me it is all about preparation, as I prepare the house there is a sense of intentionally making room for Jesus. I clear the ordinary, everyday ornaments away to make room for Christmas decorations. As I place the figures of my nativity scene I am struck afresh with wonder at the Shepherds going about their daily/nightly business of protecting the sheep, unaware of what was going to burst into their ordinary. The yet unknown events which were to lead the Wise Men on an incredible journey to meet the King of Kings. And I am filled with awe at God’s plan of salvation.

It is not just about lighting up the house at a dark time of year, or making it pretty, it is about making room for Jesus, reminding me to make room for Him in my heart, that He is central and not just an added on at Christmas.

As I prepare food I am thankful to God for my loved ones who will gather (yes even this year!) and I pray for them and a blessing on our time.

As I write cards and notes to people I haven’t seen or maybe even heard from this year, I think of them, I wonder how they are doing, how they have coped with this year and I send them a message and a prayer.

And as I do all these things, I intentionally prepare my heart for Jesus, make room for Him to come in a new way, yes even to burst into the ordinary.

What do you do for Advent? How do you prepare? Do let me know in the comments.

Grateful

Today’s prompt for the #Five Minute Friday group of writers is: Grateful.

Strangely enough that is what came out for me in my bible.reading this morning from Ephesians 1:3-14

📍 Blessed with every spiritual blessing:-
Chosen to be blameless
Adopted as legal heirs
Have grace freely bestowed upon us
Redemption
Forgiveness of our sins
God’s own possession
Sealed with the Holy Spirit

🖊 As Christians we are ALL given these blessings, they are lavished upon us, this is now what we have and who we.are.in Christ.

No matter our physical circumstances or status these are.our blessings and if we can’t find anything else in our lives to give thanks for, we can give thanks for all these spiritual blessings.

God has given them to us generously, according to His riches, according to His good pleasure and for the Praise of His glory. There is no way then that we should be living as spiritual paupers, or as unthankful people, instead we should be living rich lives, full of gratitude for all our many blessings.

So today, no matter what our circumstances look like we are richly blessed and for that I am grateful.

Human Connection

Essays Touched by God - Deborah Smith Douglas

With more Lockdown and travel restrictions being imposed in parts of our country, one of the things my elderly mum very much misses is that human connection. None of her children live nearby, she has friends, very good friends and lots of cousins she would normally she would meet up with, so to face more isolation in yet again another lockdown is actually just depressing for her. She has done so well, she was in a routine, she was going out for walks and chatting to people from a safe distance, and in the summer she could even sit in her front garden and chat to people passing by.

But now? Drawing the curtains against the dark at 4 O’clock in the afternoon is isolating, taking a walk involves wearing multiple layers of clothing and waterproofs which weighs down and frankly just seems too difficult at times.

These restrictions on family/friends/social life are so hard on the elderly and those living alone, they need to see a friendly face, they need to be able to get out and socialize or the danger is that they will wilt under the isolation, they need contact to keep them going, give them something to do, have a focus other than themselves.

And what about touch? Some people have not experienced human touch for months. No kissing as a greeting, no hugging to say goodbye, no holding hands in empathy, no laying your hand on an arm as an act of solidarity. Nothing, none of that warmth of human contact. Just cold and empty.

What is it about touch? There is no substitute for it. It comforts and reassures in ways that other gestures and words cannot. Touch can be like medicine to relieve stress, calm nerves and ease tension. Without touch, without that feel of another human being, life is lonely.

I wonder if that is why Jesus when He was healing people often reached out and touched them, they needed more than a Word of healing, they need the feel of compassion, the feel of being heard and seen, the feel of worth.

He took Peter’s mother-in-law by the hand and took away her fever (Matthew 8:14-15). He touched the eyes of two blind men and gave them sight (Matthew 9:27-31). He touched the ears and the tongue of a deaf mute and gave him hearing and speech (Mark 7:31-35). He even touched a leper to make him clean (Mark 1:40-42) and He allowed a hemorrhaging woman to reach out and touch Him (Luke 8:44). Touch, oh to be touched by the Saviour!

Lord, when we can’t be there, when we can’t reach out and touch, will You do that for us? Will you reach out and touch our loved ones? As You reached out to those in need, will you please reach out now and touch those who are lonely, those who are struggling, those who are weeping with no-one to even see, those with heavy, heavy hearts and those who just don’t know how they are going to survive another lockdown, please reach down and touch them.

Grief

Weeping May Endure For a Night': How Long Is Your Night? | HubPages

Joining with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers to free write on a one word prompt for 5 minutes. Today’s prompt is: Grief.

Grief is such a mixture of emotions, a real rollercoaster, it is also a very personal and very indivualistic thing, with people responding/coping with grief in different ways,

There is no right way to grieve, you have to just find your own way through it, you have to make space for it in your life and you have to cut yourself a little slack along the way.

One thing I do know is that suppressing grief does not work, it will find its way out in someway and at sometime. It may manifest itself in bitterness and resentment; it may catch you unawares years later when faced with a similar situation. So grief is a process, one we have to allow to do its work. If we hadn’t felt so deeply, we wouldn’t be feeling the grief so deeply, we have loved and lost; we had expectations and they were killed; we had hope and it was extinguished. We need to come to a place of acceptance of these things and allow grief to do it’s work in our life, till we can again see the light of life and find the Lord of life who will wipe away every tear.

to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
(Is 61:3)

Mid-Week Meditation – Remembrance

For our mid-week meditation this week sharing my post from our Church’s ‘Peace in the Storm’ Series:

‘On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we shall remember them’

We remember those who gave their lives in both World Wars, and the many others who have given their lives in conflicts since 1945.  We remember those who loved and lost, those who fought and died, those who returned in body, but not in mind, those who came back and who still bear the scars and still suffer the nightmares, those who cannot forget; those who carry their scars beneath their medals and ofcourse those still serving, still sacrificing.

There was another one, another man who also served & sacrificed and bears scars, He has been called by some as ‘the Man of Sorrows’.  The scars He bears are the scars left by our sin, the scars when He took our punishment upon Himself, the scars of injustice, the scars of greater wars, the scars of friends who betrayed, the scars of humanity, sickness and conflict.

Jesus the Man of Sorrows, bears our scars, you can see the nail prints on His hands and feet, you can see where the sword pierced His side, those scars of love are still visiible, for it was love for us which held Him to that cross, it was love for us that caused Him to suffer for us, that we may have peace, and reconciliation with God.  Once we were at enmity with God, but through Jesus we have peace with Him.

So, today as we remember those who gave, those who suffered that we may live in a country in a time of relative peace, may we be grateful, may we honour those men and women in our two-minute silence.  And may we also remember that Man of Sorrows and the scars He bore for us, the One who gave and forgave and honour Him with our lives.

Ahead

Joining with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers today to freewrite on a one word prompt. Today’s prompt is: Ahead

Psalm 33:11 | Psalm 33, Psalms, Inspirational words

I have recently taken over a very small role within my church, it is unseen and probably few even know that it is me that is doing it! However, as it any role you at first just follow on doing what was done before, but now I am beginning to see a way ahead.

I have been planning the weeks up till the New Year! I have a bit of direction, even a bit of a vision and you know what, deep down inside that gives me a bit of a thrill!

It may not be big, it may not be seen, but there is a plan and there is a way ahead; to God be the glory given.

Vote

Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD  require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your

Our one-word prompt today from the #five minute Friday group of writers is: Vote

Living on the other side of the Atlantic from my American brothers & sisters, it can be easy to be smug and judgmental because we are not in an election year here. And yet there is still so much we can vote for, we can still lobby parliament for freedom of speech, for human rights, for life, for care, for the liberty of the gospel.

So that makes me think that really we should be casting our vote daily in how we live our lives and not just every big term of office. In our every day, where do we cast our vote when we walk past the homeless man in the shop doorway, where do we cast our vote when we do nothing about the rise and rise of secularism, where do we cast our vote when we don’t stand up for what we believe in the staff room at work?

Hundreds of small daily choices, myriads of ways we choose to live, choose one thing over another, many may seem inconsequential, but in the long run they determine the way we live.

“He has told you, O man, what is good;

and what does the LORD require of you

but to do justice, and

to love kindness, and

to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8

So may we vote daily, may we live daily, may we choose daily to walk in the way of the Lord.