Thoughts & Ponderings

Time … One small thing

TIME… is a gift. Every second, minute and hour is precious. In the middle of a crazy week (I’m actually beginning to think crazy and busy is just normal for me!) that involved caring for a wee sick babo, trying to capture little ideas in my head/heart while juggling all the demands that come with being a full time working mummy – I’ve found it very difficult to find TIME for everything and everyone.

I have been blessed with a very kind and supportive family – my parents gave up their TIME to nurse our wee babo who was suffering with a high temperature and a bad cough to allow us to continue with our normal routine. It kept bringing me back to the focus of my next message I want to share in our little friendship series and of a lovely quote that I have heard many times…

The greatest gift you can give someone is your TIME. Because when you give your TIME, you are giving a portion of your life that you will never get back. 

I mentioned last weekend that I went to see the new My Little Pony movie with Evie and my friend. There was a really lovely exchange between Pinkie Pie and her new friend Princess Skystar that really blessed me and reminded me how lovely it was that our wee chum had taken TIME out of her precious weekend to join us. I’ll warn you, it is totally cheesy but I loved it and I feel it really does highlight how doing one small thing with a friend really can make a difference to them and you.

I strongly believe that a vital part of any relationship is sharing your precious TIME. Every second spent supporting and  encouraging a friend either via text, letter or phone call could be spent in many other ways. But most precious of all is when you give your physical TIME and presence – it can have a lasting impact.

In 1 Corinthians Paul gives us an understanding of the Christian life and relationships by sharing how the members of the Church should function together. In the final chapter Paul writes..

I am delighted to have Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus present, because these men have made up for your absence. They have refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore recognise such people. 1 Corinthians 16:17‭-‬18

 

Thoughts & Ponderings

Wherever you go, I will go

It’s so easy to look around at the people the Lord has placed in my life and feel thankful for the wonderful friendships I am blessed with. I’m not sure if my words can do the power of friendship justice but I’m going to try to articulate it for you in a series of posts over the next couple of weeks focusing on the key principles I consider important in friendship.

In Proverbs (the MSG version) we are told…

“Friends love through all kinds of weather” Proverbs 17:17 

Did you get that? ALL kinds of weather. A true friend will be there for you in the sunny days when you’re happy and life is good. But a true friend will also be there in the stormy weather when the rains of sadness are coming and the windy turbulence of life makes us want to shut ourselves away and hide from the world! They will also be there for you in the grey ‘blah’ days when you can easily lose sight of what is important – when we are perhaps a little too comfortable with mediocrity and trying our best to stay off everyone else’s radar. Do you know what I mean? After the storms sometimes it’s easier to push people away, shut off from the world and live in our little bubbles. Like Naomi in Ruth 1 after the death of her two sons… 

“Return home, my daughters. Go on, for I am too old to have another husband. … No my daughters, my life is much too bitter for you to share, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me. ” Ruth 1: 11-13  

Naomi pushed Ruth and Orpah away – she didn’t want to hold them back. She felt her life wasn’t good enough for them and she didn’t want her bitterness to keep them from being happy.

She thought she was doing the right thing by them but Ruth was a good friend and wasn’t going anywhere. 

“But Ruth replied: Don’t plead with me to abandon you or to return and not follow you. For wherever you go I will go, and wherever you live I will live; and your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me, and do so severely , if anything but death separates you and me. ”  Ruth 1:16-17

Naomi gave Ruth an out – she had a chance to escape the bitterness like Orpah but she remained faithful and pledged her loyalty no matter what. This chapter of Ruth goes on to tell us how Naomi was bitter, she felt empty and afflicted. She probably wasn’t much fun to be around at this point in her life but Ruth hung in there – she stayed at her side. She moved to a new place, left her family behind and she was determined to show her loyalty to Naomi; which in turn showed her loyalty to God… 

“Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.” Proverbs 3:3

As a kid in Sunday school I always remember the focus on the second half of the book of Ruth – when she meets Boaz and eventually marries him and bears him a son – Obed, the grandfather of David. But as I’ve grown up those words of Ruth have stuck in my head… 

“Wherever you go I’ll go” 

What an example of friendship and loyalty that is for us all. It can be hard sometimes to hang in there when the going gets tough. I remember a few years ago facing some difficult challenges – I was distracted and focused on getting through it with my family. We had a great support network around us but I wasn’t necessarily chasing friends outside of that close circle to keep in touch and as thing started to settle I reached out to a friend who had grown distant. I explained why I hadn’t been in touch as my focus had been elsewhere. The response shocked me – she said she had sensed I had some stuff going on and that’s why she’d kept her distance. So when I most needed support and friends to try and cheer me up – she bailed out?! That experience was a real lesson and eye opener for me. Proverbs 17 doesn’t say friends will be there when the sun is shining – it says they will be there in ALL weather. 

In a Facebook post at the weekend I mentioned I had taken Evie to see the new My Little Pony movie with a friend and it encouraged me to go ahead and share some of the posts I’d been preparing for a while. I have to say it was a fab movie and a really good way to teach kids about the importance of friendship. There were some really good songs (in my opinion) and some of the lyrics have been stuck in my head since Saturday – particularly this wee tune ‘We Got this Together’…

 “Sometimes the pressure gets you down and the clouds are dark and grey. Just kick them off and let the sun shine through. And scary as it seems, more help is on the way ’cause friends have friends that wanna help out too. We got this.”

True friends should be putting on their Peter Storm jackets and their wellies and standing side by side in the pouring rain while the elements beat down. As unpleasant as it might be – that is loyalty! 

“It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, But if there’s no one to help, tough!

Two in a bed warm each other. Alone, you shiver all night. By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.”
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭4:9-12‬ ‭‬‬

Worship Wednesdays

Stars

This week our wee country has physically been hit my Storm Ophelia and my own family and friends have also been battered by the trials and tribulations of life and loss. So I’ll be honest and admit that I have I struggled this week to pick a ‘suitable’ and fitting Worship Wednesday track.

This weekend our church are meeting to watch “The Shack” and the trailer I saw at the weekend took my breath away. The overriding theme in the book (now a movie) is the grief of a father; so I felt it was fitting to share one of the songs from the soundtrack – Stars by Skillet. There was a particular section of this track that really stood out for me…

If you can calm the raging sea
You can calm the storm in me
You’re never too far away
You never show up too late
So here I am, lifting up my heart
To the one who holds the stars

Whatever you’re facing this week or have faced in the last week I hope this comforts you and reminds you that the one who holds the stars is holding your heart.

 

Little life snippets

Focus on the Blessings

There will always be things in life that crush our spirit or hurt us – sadly that’s life. But I’ve learnt that when days like that hit me the only way to push through and come out the other side is to look around and be thankful for the good and the blessings in my life.

This week has been a busy one with some challenges and sadness but I have also experienced happiness and felt encouraged. This morning as I watched my girls have their breakfast together side by side it would have been easy for me to resent the early start and lost sleep but instead I was reminded of all that I have to be thankful for – the roof over our head, food on the table, the love of my family, the special little moments of cuddles and kisses. All of these blessings are enough to keep me focused on the joy so I don’t spend too long dwelling on the negatives.

Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s not that easy for everyone. There was a lot of focus on social media this week for Mental health day and I won’t pretend to comprehend the deep pain of those affected – my heart breaks for them and I genuinely wish there was more I could do to help friends with mental health problems. I hope to share the stories of others in their own words as I know I can’t come close to explaining their struggles – so keep an eye out for some guest writers in the future.

For me and my wee family, I think it is important that I try to keep my mind healthy. Like exercising and eating can keep my body healthy – I exercise my mind to keep it healthy too. Focusing on the blessings I have and feeding my mind with the word of God and his promises.

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this.
‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:16-18‬ ‭GW‬‬

 

Worship Wednesdays

Nothing is Impossible

We’re talking Thursday tune today as life took over yesterday and I didn’t get a chance to share this week’s Worship Wednesday.

Today I want to share a song that is very special to me. I’ll spare you too much detail, but long story short – as  I was in labour with my second little princess I lay in a hospital bed at four in the morning and sang this song to myself for two hours having been given only two co-codamol tablets for the pain! This was the complete opposite of how I envisaged it and planned it – I was all for pain relief especially after my first experience 4 years earlier. But God had a different plan and a bit of a sense of humour! Aimee Joy entered this world shortly before 6:30am after a very quick and very natural birth!

I suppose you could say this is now my fight song – when faced with something that seems impossible or frightening I calmly sing to myself ..

“Through you I can do anything, I can do all things. Cause it’s you who gives me strength – Nothing is Impossible!

I experienced the Lord’s protection and strength during little Aimee’s birth and I know that there really isn’t anything that is impossible for him if we are living by faith and it is in his plan and will for your life.

 

Thoughts & Ponderings

But the Lord stood with me

There have been so many inspiring posts today on social media to mark World Mental Health Day. Knowing so many people who are facing mental health problems I couldn’t let the day pass without sharing a little encouragement and to raise awareness of some facts. (Source: WHO)

Fact 1 – Around 20% of the world’s children and adolescents have mental health disorders or problems 

Isn’t this scary?! In the world we live in today there are so many pressures and worries on the minds of our little people and teenagers. In my opinion, social media has a lot to answer for – not only because of the false realities that can be portrayed of airbrushed models and perfect lives but the access it gives bullies! When I was a kid there were bullies in school – I even endured some name calling myself but at the end of the day I could go home and escape their nastiness! Nowadays there is no escaping the bullies when they have 24 hour access to their victims via social media and text messages. Once our children reach a certain age we can’t block them or totally prevent them from using social media. So it is important that we not only build our children up and remind them of their worth but also that we spend time building up our relationship with them to ensure they know we will always be there and that they can talk to us about anything.

And also, most importantly, we need to teach our children not to be the bully…

Don’t say anything that would hurt another person. Instead speak only what is good so that you can give help wherever it is needed. That way, what you say will help those who hear you. Ephesians 4:29 

Fact 2 – Approximately 1 million people die from suicide every year

The high volume of suicides reported in our local news has shocked me in recent months – especially amongst young men. There have been a number of high profile searches for missing people that have sadly resulted in the awful news of them being found dead having taken their own lives. I cannot imagine the pain and torture that would grip a family knowing that their loved ones felt there was no other option for them or that they couldn’t talk about their problems or find a way through their pain. For me I think a lot of times it comes down to our next fact…

Fact 3 – Stigma and discrimination against patients and families prevent people from seeking mental health care 

When I was doing some research I came across this quote from C.S. Lewis …

Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”

Wow! Isn’t this so true? Aren’t we totally open to moaning about a sore back or a headache in the office so one of our colleagues can give us some paracetamol? But would someone with mental health issues feel they could openly share the pain in their heart and their head?

We need to change that – we need to remove the stigma associated with mental health problems. That is my challenge to all of us – how can we change the world’s view of mental health?

I touched on it a little in my earlier post “It’s ok to have a bad day!” As Christians there can be a pressure not to seem vulnerable or hopeless but we are only human and sometimes it all gets too much and we lose our hope. I would like to think that someone in pain in my office, my circle of friends or family members know that they can talk to me about their problems whether they are physical or mental. I would want to stand with them when they feel alone or helpless.

And if they cannot trust in me then I would encourage them to look to the Lord Jesus Christ to find strength to carry on because he will never leave us – he is a constant friend.

At my first defense, no one stood by me, but everyone deserted me. May it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.  2 Timothy 4:16-17

Thoughts & Ponderings

The world’s greatest wireless connection…

This week was another busy one, with challenges and lessons a plenty. As I started to get a little stressed on Friday I vowed to spend some time this weekend praying about some situations and letting the Lord guide me in how to handle them. Then I saw a number of friends struggling with bigger, more important issues and suddenly my little dramas faded from my mind because I knew my constant friend has them under control. Leaving me to focus all my time on praying for the pain and heartbreak facing my friends and family.

When I see others suffering around me my first question is always – What can I do? I want so badly to be able to help in any way I can. But sometimes the only thing I can offer is my prayers. For some it might seem like a cop-out, hollow words or for some who don’t believe in the power of prayer it might mean nothing but for me it means so much.

My day is filled with prayers – it’s not restricted to a quiet room on my knees hands together and structured. I once heard prayer described as the world’s greatest wireless connection” and I really believe that is the perfect description of it. It is an open link to God – whether we’re in the shower, driving the car, putting the kids to bed or on a mountain top God is listening and we can communicate with him. I have cried out to him for major interventions and miracles and I have snuck in a few prayers for parking spaces and good weather. I’ve cried out in pain and praised him with thanks for his awesome grace and power.  I don’t think there is anything too big or to small to set before the Lord in prayer and so for me it’s a major part of my every day life and journey. 

I personally have witnessed and been the recipient of many answers to prayers – just last year when my youngest was facing tests on a slight normality –  the doctors were pretty certain what the diagnosis would be – I cried out at a Tuesday night prayer meeting (with Aimee wrapped up in a baby sling) in a room full of people who had no idea the detail behind my prayer. We had a hospital appointment looming a couple of weeks later and I prayed that between that night and the appointment the physical defect would vanish.  The very next day during a routine check we were told we’d got our miracle – there was no longer a physical defect. The tests at the hospital a couple of weeks later confirmed all was fine with our little Aimee Joy. Jesus, while he was on earth healed the blind, cured the sick and brought the dead back to life. The same power that answered those prayers all those years ago is still alive and available today to those who reach out and believe.

I also know that not all prayers will be answered – I’ve been on my knees weeping in prayer and the outcome was so far from the answer I wanted but it hasn’t stopped me from going back to the altar again and again with petitions and tears. Because as we pray in the Lord’s prayer – his will be done. While Aimee was healed, it could have just as easily have been the Lord’s will for things to go the other way and as much as we might not agree or like it sometimes, he has a plan for our lives and I trust his plan even if I don’t fully understand it.

I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope. Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to me, and I will hear you. Jeremiah 29:11

No matter what, I cling to that hope and assurance that he hears my prayers. So when I say you are in my thoughts and prayers you can be sure I believe in the power of prayer, even if you don’t. There is a beautiful song that I have sung many times – and I’ve sung it with all my might at times as I’ve waited on the answers to my prayers. It starts with…

“At the foot of the cross, where I kneel in adoration and I lay my burdens down.”  

What an honour and privilege it is to be able to lay my burdens at the foot of the cross. It goes on later in the song to say… 

“Will you hear? Will you come? Will you fill our desperation?” 

We know he hears, we know he will come – thats why the most loveliest part of the song says….

I will wait here at the cross, I will wait here at the cross, I will wait here at the cross, I will wait here at the cross. 

We don’t need to run off scared – we simply have to leave our burdens, our prayers, at the foot of the cross and stand there waiting and trusting in him that no matter what the outcome will be – he’s got this!

Because he has turned his ear to me, I will call out to him as long as I live. Psalm 116:2

 

 

Worship Wednesdays

The Lord Before Me

Today’s Worship Wednesday is a very special tune from local singer songwriter Emma Silo’s EP Fearless – available now on iTunes (link below for preview & purchase). This beautiful track is very popular in our house and I often hear Evie singing it to herself when she’s busy playing in a wee world of her own. She’ll often request it when we’re in the car as we both fell in love with it the first day I got the CD and last week she asked me to download it on my phone so we can have it as her bedtime song some nights. The lyrics are powerful and uplifting so I’ll keep it short and sweet today and let the music speak for itself…

And with the Lord before me, I know I am not alone 

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/fearless-single/id1273216565

 

 

Little life snippets

From Poo to the Cross…

On the first Sunday evening of the month our church has Cafe Church – it has a slightly less formal atmosphere with tea, coffee and treats. My 5 year old, Evie, loves Cafe Church so if she promises to go straight to bed when we get home I let her stay up a little later than usual to join me. So last night, Evie got back out of her PJs (she loves a lazy Sunday afternoon) to join me for this special monthly mummy/daughter experience. We took some colouring pencils and paper to keep her occupied and she busily drew to her heart’s content while I worshipped and enjoyed the word. At one point I looked down and found her writing three letters, sniggering to herself and showing it to her wee chum. It simply read .. POO ( mortified!) so I quickly grabbed the offending page and hoped no one else had seen it.

The next time I looked around to check what she was doing she had drawn a lovely picture of a man – to be honest I thought she was maybe trying to draw her daddy as her pictures aren’t always the most accurate. She corrected me and explained it was God on the cross and proceeded to sound out ‘G-o-d’ so she could write in on the page. Now my first instinct was to correct her and explain it was Jesus who died on the cross but I didn’t have the heart as she was very pleased with her creation so I thought I’d leave that conversation for another day as technically she wasn’t too far from the truth.

When I looked a little closer, and I’m not sure if you can see it in the photo –  God was smiling. I have to say this really challenged me and made me think… If I’m honest, sometimes I find it hard to know the right way to explain to non-believers the joy that comes when we think of the death of Christ on the cross. How can we explain the good news story when we picture the suffering and brutality of the nails and his wounds? It can be a struggle to articulate it to someone who hasn’t yet discovered it’s beauty. We sing a song in church that, I think, beautifully sums up the joy of the cross for me…

 Oh the cross of Jesus Christ, is the reason I’m alive. For his blood has set me free, it will never lose it’s power for me. “

Just as Evie drew a smile on her crucifixion picture, God looks down at us and smiles when we accept the Lord as our Saviour – he rejoices in our salvation. We should be thankful that he loved us enough to send his Son to suffer and die in order to help us and set us free from our sin and shame.

In the world in which we live today, never has the message of his unconditional love been so critical – we need to remember, and more importantly, share the message and the power of his love that was displayed upon the cross. 

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing figure, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. John 3:16-17 (MSG)