Friday, 28 December 2012

Moving on

Dear Friends,
As we slip from this Christmas season and approach a new year ahead, I want to pause a while and reflect on what those changes may involve. A new year gives us all a golden opportunity to turn over a new leaf, to seek to change and live in a better way than we did before. Let's begin with taking a look at the first stage in the process - moving on from the old - before we are ready to embrace the new.

Moving On

Vestiges linger on in our senses:
A prickle of pine,
sparkling lights ablaze,
glowing candles warming
hearts and hearths.

Mince pies, movies and mischief afoot.
Family noise: tears, shouts, cries for attention,
laughter and temper erupting -
competing with the buzz of TV 
and diverse gadgetry.
Gratitude remains:
Care folded up in a card,
Loving embraces,
Presents mingling with Presence,
Gifts glorified by Grace.

A savour and flavour of life, love and laughter
brought to an end by jangling of nerves,
kerrching of shop tills ringing
instead of choirs singing.
Caught up in consumerism
Wearied by work's
daily grind resuming. 

The lure of the High Street is calling.
Sales scrambling becomes the new pursuit,
leaving us stuffed to the gills
with more Stuff to house
No room at the inn
for it -  or for Him.

Let's get away from the mayhem.
New Year beckons.
New reasons to celebrate.
New horizons to explore.
New habits.
New ways.
New you?

Time for a make-over?

Time to change our ways?

Perhaps God is speaking to you through these words:
"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland" ~ Isaiah 43:18 - 19
The verses above speak of God making a way where there seems to be no way. He is the One who states:
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End" ~ Revelation 22:13
Nothing is impossible for Him. Nothing in our lives is a surprise to Him. God sees the beginning and the end.

 Nostalgia, memory, and fear of change can hold us back from moving on. In learning to trust God's ways we will eventually come to have peace and feel able to make the necessary changes to become a new, improved version of ourselves.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" ~ Jeremiah 29:11
Moving on requires us to let go - of old behavioural and thought patterns, of those things God may be asking us to relinquish (good as they are in themselves) because He has so much more planned for us than we can begin to imagine. Once His anointing is gone from an area of service then it is no longer fruitful or beneficial to us or to others if we persist in clinging on to it.

Jesus came to set us free from old ways of thinking and doing. He saves us from costly mistakes that will harm us, He saves us from following wrong paths, 

He saves us from being lost in our bad habits and ways of reacting. He saves us from living selfishly.

"If our greatest need had been information,
God would have sent us an educator.

If  our greatest need had been technology,
God would have sent us a scientist.

If our greatest need had been money,
God would have sent us an economist.

If our greatest need had been pleasure,
God would have sent us an entertainer.

But our greatest need was forgiveness,
So God sent us a Savior."

~ Roy Lessin from 'Meet Me in the Meadow' devotional

Now that The Saviour is here, we can turn to Him, seek His forgiveness, learn to gradually let go of the things He points out are wrong for us, move further into understanding His ways and live to please Him above ourselves.
"But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved" ~ Ephesians 2:4 -5 
Pause to ponder:

As you approach this new year,what might it look like if God is included in your thinking and planning?

Could God be asking you to 'let go' of something in order to fully 'move on' with your life?

In this post I am linking with Missional Women Faith-filled Fridays

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Because you're worth it

It's that time of year again. Warmly, reassuringly, comfortingly familiar. With mystery at its heart to make it extra special.

We buy the presents. We buy into the pressure to spend, spend, spend.

We buy what we think others will like, need, deserve maybe.

Packaged, beribboned, sparkly, glittering, tantalising,  tempting in their shiny splendour.

Such adornments can either mask the meagre offering within or suggest its inestimable worth.
With sweat of furrowed brow, thrust of elbow, throbbing of feet, jangling of nerves, jingling of coins, ringing of tills and emptying of wallets, we make our offering and sacrifice at the altar of Consumerism.

We assign worth and value to the things we purchase:consumables that can so easily consume us, our hearts, energy and time - because we are worth it - and so are the people we buy for: our loved ones, family and friends.

As gift-giving is one of my love languages it helps me to express how I care for those I buy for. That careful selection (Wish Lists and online shopping are such a boon) so often gives way to hastily thrown together parcels as I find myself drained, exhausted, depleted and dazed in an M.E - blurred and fogged race against the clock to get it all completed before The Day itself.

Each year I vow to change:

  • To pace myself better
  • To stop the panic.
  • To buy less.
  • To give more to charity.
  • To cease from being sucked in by consumerism.

To stop. Be still. Reflect on The One who is worthy of my time, limited energy and attention. To make a priority to focus more on The Gift Himself rather than the gifts to purchase.

How do I make space for Jesus when my days are filled with concern about how much there is to do and how little time I have to try to do it all in? It can be a struggle.

So much of what we celebrate is tainted by worldliness, a perennial keeping up with and out-smarting of  the Joneses, while we demonstrate how multi-skilled, talented and capable we are at meeting the multiplicity of demands upon our lives - frantically juggling those numerous balls in the air (with a fixed smile on our faces) for all we are worth.

So much of our lives is dominated by the need to belong, fit in, be a part of what is current and trendy

The desire to fill our need for self-worth with Things can leave a gaping hole - an empty space of dissatisfaction, disillusionment, discouragement and despair once the lure of the new has waned.

We are worth more than that and we were created for so much more.


The holes in our existence
speak of
writ larger than we: 
Things we chase
and grasp
so fleetingly
when a vaster Universe
lies within our reach:
In clutching
at straws
we lose
not only Life
but our very

Our worthiness lies in recognising our need of change, then taking the first step of faith to being in relationship with God, The One who is worthy of the surrender of our hopes, dreams, expectations and lives into His hands.

"When the music fades, 
all is stripped away 
and I simply come; 
longing just to bring 
something that's of worth, 
that will bless Your heart."...

©MattRedman1994 - You can click on the link to hear the full song

The word "worship" literally means "worthiness" or "worth-ship". Simply put, worship is to ascribe worth to something or someone.

Let's try to remember in the rush and crush of Christmas - The Light of lights, King of kings, Lord of lords, Prince of peace, Word made flesh, Who deserves our every breath, prayer, praise and worship.


"I'm coming back to the heart of worship,
and it's all about You,
all about You, Jesus.
I'm sorry, Lord,
for the thing I've made it,
when it's all about You,
all about You, Jesus"

The heart of worship is to bow our hearts before God in wonder, adoration and surrender to all that He is and all that He has done for us in Jesus Christ.

Points to ponder:

The challenge before us this Christmas remains:

Who or what are we worshipping?

What gifts can you offer to God?

I'm linking up here with Tanya Marlow's Advent Thoughts - do check it out

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Light has come

Welcome. I have a confession to make - I am a mole. Or at least my family think I am. 

Don't worry, your secrets are safe with me. My mole-like characteristic is to shun the light.

If it can be dimmed, turned off or softly lamp-lit instead then I'm all for it.

My M.E afflicted eyes are hypersensitive to bright light of any description and it can cause physical pain at times.

But there is one light I am irresistibly drawn to time and time again:

The Light of the World: Jesus Christ

Instead of an unwelcome glare, there is healing, hope and safety here.
"You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light" ~ 2 Samuel 22:29
Darkness only serves to make the light shine brighter

In this Advent season light is very much in evidence. We see it in the Christmas lights twinkling on the tree, bright public decorations or the softer glow of candlelight.                                                                                                             

I'd like to add my piece of light by sharing a  reflection on the Christingle Service (Do click on the link for more information relating to its adoption in England and how it is celebrated) that takes place during the Advent season in many churches.

Christingle literally means "Christ Light" and is a service of light and ceremony, of song and symbolism, of celebrating the Hope and Joy that is found in Christ.

In the dark of Winter, the coming of Christ, the 'Light of the World' is a powerful message of hope that is for every season and for everyone.

Although I don't belong to a church that celebrates Christingle, our youngest son, Sam, was a Cathedral chorister once upon a time and I used to enjoy participating in the Christmas services there, as well as in various Church of England (C of E) ones I have attended over the years. 

This reflection is viewed partly through the lens of memory and partly through my imagination. 

'Light has Come'

"Shafts of scattered light pick out patchwork patterns of jewelled fragments dancing with vibrancy - stained-glass images through which we read a story still ringing true.

Polished pews we dutifully slide off, painfully kneel on hard woven hassocks wrought with love and devotion, the warp and weft of history recording human and Divine encounter. Readying ourselves to add our links of adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication to the ongoing chain of prayer.

Incense wafting in the air already heady with floral scents, sputtering gas-lit lamps, candle wax dripping hotly onto brass; tang of orange-scented globes thrust high in sweaty palms.

Angelic voices rising and mingling with the coughs, chokes and mis-timed notes of Congregational singing. Songs of adoration, praise in celebrating Mystery beyond our understanding.

Procession trailing, gently swaying robes sweeping the floor as eyes turn to watch them passing by and catch a glimpse of choristers - bold and shy - following the vestmented few.

A pause in proceedings, a sniff, shuffle, sighed "Excuse me" as we file forward, released from our seats, now participating in homage paid to the Nativity scene where all sojourners meet.

Finding a babe in the manger, an infant serene, as His mother Mary quietly observes Him, pondering deeply all that has been. These are our representatives of Your love come down - to celebrate the wonder of Your kingly crown set aside for earth's suffering: The God-head revealed in humanity shared.

Now You make Your home with the hurting, the broken, the lonely and lost. No longer confined to a manger, a stable, a desert, a cross. You are out in this world, slipping into its streets of shame to rescue the desperate, the hopeless and helpless - society's rejects accepted and loved - forever welcomed, made new, received by Heaven above.

So we make room in our hearts and lives for You too as we ponder these things as Mary would do. Then we take what we learn and share it around, because everyone deserves to come Home safe and sound. Back to the place we used to come from - back to believing we truly belong. Back to Your side and back to Your heart. Forever to stay and never depart."

"There are two ways of spreading light:to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it" ~ Edith Wharton

Pause to ponder:

In this Advent season what does light symbolise for you?
How can we be the light for others?

In this post I am linking up to Tanya Marlow's Advent thoughts Do check it out and join in the reflections and comments.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

A stilling of the soul

Tranquillity can seem a remote dream in our busy lives. 

Can we really be at peace with ourselves and the world around us without resorting to prescription medication, meditation of some sort or other, or simply spending a briefly blissful time at a spa with the various soothing therapies on offer?

This Advent season finds me drained and drooping with exhaustion. I tell myself:It isn't meant to be like this

How can I appreciate the wonder of the Incarnation of Emmanuel - God with us - if my days are full of stress, strain, weakness, frustration and pain? 

And let's not forget the endless 'To Do' list that doesn't ever seem to get done when it should:cards, presents, wrapping paper, festive decorating, food, and other paraphernalia. You get the picture.

Even if being sick and tired is pretty normal for me, it is still an unwelcome intrusion and one I stupidly fail to make allowances for each year. It is all too easy to fool myself into thinking - This Year will be different: I will be well (relatively speaking), prepare in advance, pace myself, not get so exhausted that I can barely keep my eyes open at all come Christmas Day itself, then find I'm simply longing for it all to be over so I can just for ever, please! 

Living life in an endless pit of exhaustion, a blur of activity or a frazzled state of stress can't be right. Perhaps there is a way to be heavenly minded in an earthly existence?

A few weeks ago a friend sent me an e-mail with a verse she felt led to share. It was a timely reminder to cease from activity and striving, whether mental or physical, and rest in God's presence:

"Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth" ~ Psalm 46:10

I have been thinking through each word from the opening part of this verse and wondering how to incorporate it into my life in a practical way.

Biblical mediation is a deep, slow, purposeful reflection, a 'chewing over' the words of scripture until they sink into our spirit, heart and mind and become part of who we are and how we react, think and feel.

This is a personal interpretation of its message and how it can be meditated upon:

Be: Be aware. Be in the moment. Being instead of doing. Being open and receptive to the whispers of God's grace. Be thankful for the good things in your life. Consider the glory of Being Alive and able to relate to God and to others

Still: Still the body.  Sit or lay in a relaxed position. Allow your thoughts to subside. Calmly allow them to flow and observe as if from a distance. Take some slow, deep breaths. Give any anxieties or cares over to God.

And know: Offer up your heart to God. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you by His presence and through His word. Recognise that God inhabits the quiet places and we may have to tune our hearts to hear Him speaking. Quietly offer yourself to Him as you pay attention to anything He may be saying to you. 
Be thankful that He is a God who desires to be known.

That I AM God: Here we recognise the historical 'I AM' who revealed Himself to MosesThe eternal nature of His being is revealed in that description. 

The poem below (by Helen Mallicot) describes so well the "I AM" nature of God:

I was regretting the past and 
fearing the future.

Suddenly my Lord was speaking:
My Name is I AM

He paused; I waited; he continued:

When you live in the past,
with its mistakes and regrets,
it is hard. I am not there:
My name is not I WAS

When you live in the future,
with its problems and fears,
it is hard. I am not there:
My name is not I WILL BE.

When you live in this moment it 
is not hard.

I am here:

My name is 


You may be thinking that I am speaking to you as someone who has perfected the art of BEING. After all, people with M.E and other chronic health problems can't actually DO much can they? Sorry to disillusion you. In this area (as in so many) I speak as one who is still taking one baby step at a time. 

My body may be significantly less active and able than I want it to be but that doesn't prevent my mind from buzzing around restlessly like a hamster on a wheel - busy going nowhere - even when hampered by fatigue and brain-fog.

It can be so hard to switch off when my mind is running on adrenaline a lot of the time just to keep focused and seemingly alert. This blog post wouldn't have been written at all if I didn't already have most of it available as a "Here's one I prepared earlier" 'Blue Peter'-style draft. Writing whenever energy and inspiration are flowing helps me not to overtax myself when it isn't.

Perhaps it's time to put away the idea of 'Perfect Schmerfect' and settle for 'Good Enough' this Christmas and beyond?

It may mean shifting the focus this season away from our faults, failings and potentially organised chaos, away from mass and crass commercialism, and stopping to remember that God is the Eternal Now, the great I AM who is ready to meet with us right where we are in the messy imperfections of our humanity - and indeed already has in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ
"Don't be in such a hurry with life that you rush past those warm, quiet places where you have met with the Lord and enjoyed His company. The peace and perspective that comes from those few sweet moments will colour the rest of your day" ~ Joni Eareckson Tada 'Daily Devotionals'
Over to you:
Have you lost sight of what is really important in the run up to Christmas?
What does being at peace look like to you?