Tuesday, 26 February 2013

A woman of valour

Procrastination is the thief of time - or so the saying goes. Though there can be benefits in pondering a question until the right answer declares itself.

In seeking to find a God-sized dream story that inspires me, I could have chosen someone from family, community, the great big world out there, or on-line.

Who might be a good role model for my dream of seeking to draw closer to God and discover His specific plan for me creatively and personally?

I have delved deep into the past and settled on my heroine. Her story gripped me when I first heard it and still does. She may be new to some of you, but I think you will be glad to have made acquaintance with her here.

I am introducing Amy Carmichael to you in the form of writing  a personal letter to her:

Dear Amy,
Though we have never met, I have long admired and been inspired by your life. As a child, you yearned for the blue eyes of your brother in place of the brown ones God had seen fit to give you. It led to praying for their colour to change - a prayer that went unanswered. Years later, you saw your brown eyes as a gift. They enabled you to be accepted as an Irish woman missionary in India. I love God's sense of humour, don't you? He takes our weaknesses (real or imagined) and makes them His strengths.

In your early years as part of a mill-owning Protestant family, the oldest of 7 children, you revealed signs of the later spirit and courage you possessed in climbing upon the slate roof of your house - much to the bemusement (and horror no doubt) of your parents. 

As a teenager, you received a clear revelation that our focus should be on the Eternal rather than the temporary and temporal. It was a defining moment that led to you starting up a Sunday School to aid female factory workers to learn about the God you loved. The banner in the church hall became a motto for the rest of your life: 

"That in all things He may have the pre-eminence"

This led you to accept a clear calling on your life to be a missionary, even though it meant leaving behind your home and beloved family, for which you felt responsible since your mother died when you were only 18. The expectations from them, as well as the times you lived in, must have been very hard to press past. But God whispered close,"Go", and it was His voice above all that you heeded. 

How I admire your persistence and courage in obeying His calling upon your life, no matter what it looked like to others.

You started your foray into missionary work in Japan, where you soon adapted yourself by clothing and lifestyle to their customs. Though succumbing to the sickness termed 'Japan Head' scuppered plans to stay more than a year. England received you for a while and then you began your life's mission by going to India.

There, you battled heat, hunger, poverty, sickness and disease, as well as rejection due to your gender and society's expectations of you. Once you discovered the appalling situation of abandoned children, potential victims of infanticide, raised for the sole purpose of becoming Temple prostitutes, you determined to rescue them from their fate.

In setting up the Dohnavur Fellowship you had a home, refuge and safe place in which to welcome, love, raise, educate and spiritually nurture these precious souls. This grew beyond your wildest dreams to become an Internationally recognised, supported and acclaimed organisation. 

As their 'Amma' - Mother - you provided all that was lacking in their lives

A place where all are welcomed with love and understanding, each new child dedicated to the Lord in prayer. Your goal - to lead each one to their Saviour. In time, a hospital, House of Prayer, workshops and other facilities appeared on the mushrooming site. 

Housemothers  and children leaving the House of Prayer after Sunday Service

I'm so pleased that our church had and still does have links and input to the Dohnavur Fellowship. We have sent a missionary nurse to work there in the past and currently have someone on the board of trustees and others who input the Education, Music Therapy and Information Technology areas of the development.

Children at break in Jeevalia School

There is so much about your life, courage, commitment, dedication to God's calling, determination to press past obstacles in your way, love for our Saviour and tireless pursuit of your God-sized dream that inspires me.

But one thing impacts me most of all in a personal way.

You suffered from neuralgia and knew what it was to feel weak, achy and be confined to bed for periods at a time - similar to me with M.E and Fibromyalgia. Yet this did not deter you from becoming a missionary. Then you had an accident in which you were critically injured and remained so for the rest of your life. For 20 years you endured being seriously incapacitated, bedridden and in constant pain. 
"Let us not be surprised when we have to face difficulties. When the wind blows hard on a tree, the roots stretch and grow the stronger. Let it be so for us. Let us not be weaklings, yielding to every wind that blows, but strong in spirit to resist" ~ Amy Carmichael
Though you longed to push on and do so much, you heeded God saying, in essence, that while you couldn't do This, you could do That. How I wish I could live with the same equanimity  you showed to your trials with my own physical weakness and pain.

Those trials birthed something beautiful. Some of your greatest writing on suffering and the mercy of the cross came from bondage to your bedroom. You surrendered graciously to the new role as powerful letters, books and poems flowed from a heart open to receive whatever God had in store for her.

Amy Carmichael's room and garden view

How to sum up a life well-lived in pursuit of God's dream for her?

So much more could be said.

These are the things I am learning from your example, Amy:
  • Courage 
  • Patience 
  • Tenacity
  • A deep abiding love for God and others
  • Ability to adapt to changing circumstances
  • Seeking to follow wherever God leads
  • Being creative and productive no matter what
I salute you, Amy Carmichael, Eshet Chayil: Woman of Valour, the last word belongs to you:

"You can always give without loving, but you can never love without giving" ~ Amy Carmichael

Photo credit: Dohnavur Fellowship - by courtesy of Ralph Manning
'Amma' - The Story of Amy Carmichael and The Dohnavur Fellowship video Distributed by Evangelical Films ©2001TheDonhavurFellowship
Christian Voice Heroes of Faith Series

In this post I am linking up with Holley Gerth and the rest of the God-sized Dream Team.

Do join us as we share our journey of faith in pursuing all that God has in store for us this year.

You can also connect with me on Facebook or follow on Twitter

Who (or what) is currently inspiring you in your journey of faith? Please feel free to share and comment below.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Words matter:Encourage Today


Words matter.. 
They are containers of power, 
Kegs waiting to explode
with delight
or dread.
We can build up
or destroy
Speak life
or death,
Bring joy
or pain
or hell.
Reputation made
or destroyed
at a stroke,
careless slip
of pen
or twixt
and lip,
and send
or mend..
Words matter.

Negative language breeds negative thinking, insecurity and low self-esteem.

Many of us will grow up believing that there is a marker, a measure of sorts that is considered right or normal and we fall short of it. Those standards could be specific to our family, community or universally applicable. 
"Nobody realises that some people expend tremendous energy trying to be normal" ~ Albert Camus
No matter how we acquire these standards, they can lead to judgemental attitudes (toward others as well as ourselves) and a desire to achieve no less than the perceived idea of Acceptable or Normal at least. 

There is such pressure to fit in and be like other people. How can we help one another to become all we can be?

In seeking to promote healthy self-esteem in ourselves and in others, one of the best ways is to speak positive, encouraging, life-affirming words instead of the negative.

Words have tremendous power to lift, heal, restore and refresh a life.
"Gracious speech is like clover honey - good taste to the soul, quick energy to the body" ~ Proverbs 16:24 
To encourage others literally means to pour courage in, inspire with spirit and hope, build up, spur on, promote, cherish and sustain them by words and deeds.

There is a reciprocal trust involved in encouragement

We have to trust that we have the individual's best interests at heart and the wisdom to say or do the appropriate thing. Their part is to trust us to be genuine and respectful of where they are at emotionally, relationally and spiritually.

Our hearts need to be wise, tender and gentle.

Sensitivity is required to know what to say and when to say it. Encouragement doesn't mean falseness or flattery. It can include constructive criticism if it enables and equips rather than tearing down or destroying.
"Rash language cuts and maims, but there is healing in the words of the wise" ~ Proverbs 12:18 
I have benefited hugely from the positive reinforcement of encouragement from others when a word in due season meant the difference between giving up or pressing on - particularly with any new enterprise, such as this blog was only a few months ago!

Sometimes we are good at offering encouragement yet fail to receive it as we should. Our upbringing may have ill-prepared us to believe good things that are said about us. Mine certainly made the receiving of compliments hard to accept and faults and failings easy to believe. We may carry a burden of worry, anxiety, or low self-esteem that weighs our hearts down.

"Worry weighs us down, a cheerful word picks us up" ~ Proverbs 12:25

One man who is on a mission to spread the word about the power of positive reinforcement through encouraging words and deeds is James Prescott. For, as he says:

"Only when each of us take the risk of opening ourselves to encouragement, can we allow the power of encouragement to be accepted" ~ James Prescott in '5 Steps To Encouragement - A Manifesto for Changing the World'

Although we all have to recognise our limitations. Like many, I am unable to carry out much physical activity due to health problems, but I can always do this:
  • Send a message - tweet, Facebook post, text
  • Write an e-mail, card, letter, note
  • Speak a loving and encouraging word
  • Pray for others as needs arise
  • Hold them and their situations before God in my heart
Whatever is in our power to do to bless and feed another's soul, that we can do.
"Your encouragement becomes grace that is strengthening, enabling and empowering for others. This is the ministry God will call you to today" ~ Joni Eareckson Tada 'Daily Devotionals'
Let's not delay. No time like the present.

As James says:

"Keep looking for opportunities. Keep stepping out and encouraging people. Make encouragement a habit...We must have our eyes open to the needs of those around us"

We can start by reading this excellent Free resource he has written. 

You can get your copy of the '5 Steps to Encouragement' Manifesto and extra free gifts by clicking here 

Then we can try putting the suggestions into practice

We can start right where we are.

Won't you join us?

I'd love to hear how you are implementing encouragement in your own life and how being on the receiving end of encouragement has blessed you

Do share your own thoughts and suggestions here.

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

You can also connect with me on Facebook or follow on Twitter

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The plan

Dear God,
You know better than anyone how much I long for change in my life. Being different due to circumstances beyond my control doesn't suit someone as insecure as I am. It makes me feel vulnerable and I want to hide away at times.

In my pursuit of a God-sized dream, I have been brought up short by the difficulties of answering the questions Holley poses each week. Some have been a little easier than others but all are challenging - as indeed they should be for this purpose.

We cannot grow without being stretched and moved beyond our comfort zones. Life isn't meant to be lived without the desire to learn and experience change. No lasting change comes to us without effort.

In my heart, since childhood, I have yearned for and earnestly wanted a life less challenging and More Ordinary. To blend in with the crowd. Be the same. Be 'Normal'. 

Though the circumstances and experiences I have had only served to set me apart. Not as a leader but an Outsider. Not quite one of the gang. Different, yet the same in my flawed humanity.

Once again, I am having to tailor my responses to be personal to me rather than somehow blend in with what may be anticipated. 

This week we are being asked what we can do to stop delaying and start doing to implement our God-sized dream right where we are, presuming that last week's decision on what to decrease has opened up some space to fill.

Lord, You revealed that Tension was the thing for me to decrease. Try as I might (if that isn't an oxymoron for tension relief) I cannot relieve a life-time of bad habits in one week.

So I think, I pray, I wonder what to do.

And, taking into account all that is going on health-wise and otherwise in my life, I have a plan - A To Do that is becoming essential for me. In the ABC I have chosen to follow, the letter B is now a priority.

I think You are asking me to BE:
  • Still
  • Relaxed
  • Able to cease from a tendency to stress, worry and anxiety
  • At rest in the unforced rhythms of Your grace
  • At peace
  • Happy to be myself
  • In a position to aid recovery
So my Doing is not as active as expected. In fact, it looks positively inactive. It is more a way of pursuing a pathway of peace in the midst of personal challenge and pain. Instead of running full pelt to chase after my dream in a physical sense, I am required to inch forward tiny step by tiny step.

I'm not in any position to argue with that. These days I can't think or live as fluently as I want to. In implementing a better schedule of rest and addressing outstanding health issues, in taking what may look like a retrograde step, I hope to be able to move forward again.

Once again, I surrender to Your ways and Your wisdom. I may be taking the slow, circuitous route, but I am still on the journey and able to continue as You direct. 

I accept that Your plan for me is individual and personal, even if it chafes at times.

The space is most likely to be filled with this:

How can I function well in any capacity without it?

So,I thank you, God, for giving me:
  • Insight
  • Grace to cope
  • Strength and energy to write this
  • A stubborn determination to keep on keeping on
  • Endurance in the race before me
  • Perseverance in the face of trials
  • Willingness to take the path less travelled
  • Another book to read that has inspired me
  • The knowledge and encouragement that You are always with me
  • Awareness that my kind of Ordinary can be transformed into Your Extraordinary 


In this post I am linking up with Holley Gerth and the rest of the God-sized dream team.

Hope to catch up with you again soon as God gives me grace, ability and strength! Any posts you see on here in the next few days are of the Blue Peter "here's one I made earlier" variety.

Thank you for accompanying me on this journey of life and faith.

You can also link with  me on Facebook or follow on Twitter

Friday, 15 February 2013

Grace Notes:Compassion

It is very easy to provide for those we care for and usually natural for parents especially to want to lavish love, attention and gifts on their children.

This is a biblical pattern after God's own heart.

Yet we can miss such a lot if we don't slow down sometimes and really notice what is going on around us - not just within our own circles.

 For instance, though we may prefer to close our eyes to the fact, there are a lot of needy people out there who are desperate for help and attention.

Some of them may be shouting and clamouring  -  possibly looking the worse for wear.

Some of them may be mumbling incoherently, heads bowed - while holding out a begging bowl or hat.

Some may be sitting on the pavement  -  trying to look purposeful while feeling invisible.

Some may be hurting deeply inside -  yet on the surface they can look just like you or me.

How are we supposed to act or react to their need?

Let's try not be quick to judge or condemn others.

It can often take something shocking in our own lives (or those close to us) to wake us up to the fact that at times we can all be hurting people who need to be recognised as such and given appropriate help and support.

Compassion isn't new though. The Bible story of  The Good Samaritan Luke 10:25 - 37 is probably familiar to many of us. Jesus uses it as an illustration to answer the question, "And who is my neighbour?"
"Love cannot be divided. If it is genuine it serves God and the neighbour in the same act. Or better, it sees God in the neighbour and the neighbour in God" ~ Carlo Carretto
That question is still valid today - particularly as we have all become 'global neighbours' to one another. I have previously been challenged in my thinking about compassion and the need of 'Reaching out a Hand' to others by reading 'Wrecked' by Jeff Goins. 

Another challenging and inspiring book has contributed to the process: 'Graffiti: scribbles from different sides of the street' by Alene Snodgrass. You won't be the same once you've read either of them as you will find yourself looking around more to see which need you could be helping to meet, maybe globally or locally.
"Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion and anguish" ~ Henri Nouwen
Sometimes the neediest people are right under our noses: our families and friends. After all, don't they say that "Compassion begins at home"?

It begs another uncomfortable question:Would we be those who would stay and offer assistance or would we just 'pass by on the other side'?

Helping others can be demanding, time-consuming and messy work.

A few months ago I had an opportunity to show compassion towards someone and, I'm ashamed to say - I completely flunked it. 

This was late one night, a few months ago, when voices disturbed my sleep. We live close to a pub and it is relatively common to hear late-night revellers dispersing homeward at weekends. Eventually, all other sounds faded apart from a persistent plaintive cry of "Help, help me!" 

Tucked up in bed as I was, aware that my Other Half sitting downstairs (an owl not a lark) would be immune to the sound (as he considerately wears headphones when listening to music/films at his preferred volume), I lay there listening and wondering what to do. 

How could I (seriously weakened by M.E and chronic sickness) go outside in my PJs in the cold - to find goodness knows what - and assist a guy who was potentially drunk and disorderly? Should I alert my Other Half? He would definitely be concerned, yet wary and worried about getting involved because of his own crippling anxieties and accompanying social phobia. Ordinary everyday encounters are hard enough for him - never mind such as this.

He may be a Hero to me in his daily love and care but he was far from 'Superman saves the day' material.

Thus went my reasoning. Thus went my ability to help - out the window to mingle with the cries. I did get up to take a peep but couldn't see a thing or tell precisely where the repeated lament was coming from.

Eventually, other voices were heard. People were coming to his aid. An ambulance was called. 

Eventually, my OH appeared and glanced out the window to see what all the commotion was about. The guy was taken care of with concern and compassion - by others.
I gave myself every excuse possible, but the bottom-line was I didn't act like Jesus would do in caring for another person. I put my own needs above theirs.

There must have been something better than just listening and doing nothing.

So why share my dismal story? 

In order to show that being compassionate isn't always easy or straightforward and we may have to exercise compassion toward ourselves for those times we mess up 

Compassion can be defined as:
  • The desire to ease another's suffering
  • A sympathetic awareness of another's distress combined with a desire to alleviate it
  • Showing kindness and caring through generosity and service
Being compassionate can take many forms:

Comforting a friend -  or anyone in need.

Visiting -  the sick, lonely, bereaved, elderly or housebound.

Sending cards -  to let others know we remember them.

Being a listening ear -  for a friend or stranger.

Giving our time and attention -  especially when it's inconvenient to do so.

Taking action -  to encourage and support others.

Giving practical help -  according to our abilities.

Preparing a meal - for those unable to face the task or without the means to do so.

Volunteering -  to assist in a community outreach whether local, national or international.

Praying for -  the needs of others.

Whatever our own particular set of circumstances may be, there are always ways, large or small,  in which we can help and support other people and show them grace and mercy in their time of need.

As this is the season of Lent, we could look for practical ways to observe it and help others at the same time. Over at A Deeper Story you can read about and participate in drinking just water in place of your usual drinks for 40 days, to facilitate wells for Uganda.

"Nothing that you have not given away will ever really be yours" ~ C.S. Lewis

After all, we may be the one who is suffering and in need one day.

I'm sure you can think of many other ways to be compassionate.

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

You can also connect with me on Twitter or follow on Facebook

Please feel free to share ways in which compassion has impacted your life as a recipient or trying to be a person of compassion in reaching out to others.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Decisions, decisions...

Choices, choices...

Some decisions we make are relatively easy.

Eat the chocolate or the fruit? No worries. I'll have both, thank you.

Have a coffee? Yes please....though preferably before lunch or it will have to be decaffeinated.

We can do a Joyce Meyer and 

'Eat the Cookie... buy the Shoes'

Other decisions rightly take a great deal of thought and time to make - new job, further study, career change, moving house, getting married, starting a family etc.

They can be literally life-changing.

When I read Holley's God-sized dream task for this week I hesitated, struggled, paused, prayed and decided I couldn't really do as it suggested.

Here's the task:'Decide what you will decrease in your life so your God-sized dream has more room to increase. What do you need to say "no" to or "not now" or "not so much" to so your dream can thrive?' The idea was to choose one thing that fitted this criteria.

I had a heart-sink moment. My life has been pretty constrained for many years due to chronic health problems. I want to add to and increase what I do, not take away from an already limited life-style. Though, with Lent approaching, giving up something might be feasible and achievable.

Then, as I continued praying for guidance, I sensed there was something that has been such an intrinsic part of my life for years that I'd taken it for granted as normal. 

Right from earliest childhood, as my parents waged verbal war against one another, as I experienced rejection, emotional neglect and abuse, it has been my tendency to absorb it all like a sponge. 

I am a natural peacemaker, conciliator, arbitrator. But it has left me with an unwanted legacy. I'm also a permanently coiled spring and an adrenaline-saturated junkie by default.

My whole frame sinks under the weight of unrelieved, deep-seated tension from many years spent waiting with wearied expectation for the next disappointment, problem or disaster to strike, as it inevitably did and still does - such is life

Frequently, even in slumber as a foetal-curved comma, I am roused into wakefulness by the awareness of shoulder-hunched, jaw-clenched tightness turning me into an exclamation mark of pain suffused with waves of heat and adrenaline pouring over me.

Anticipation of 'fire-fighting' continual difficulties, years of swallowing down anxiety and fear while persuading myself I am dealing with it, processing things enough to keep going but not sufficient to overcome properly - all of this has become a recipe for tension to a degree that has been my undoing and urgently needs to be addressed.

Even as Christian believers, we can fool ourselves into thinking we are doing fine.

So accustomed had I become to keeping a Tight Grip on myself, that I've been totally unaware of the cause of it, blaming  my chronic health and sleep problems on the constant muscle and joint pain I experience on a daily basis. The answer went deeper.

I'd forgotten how to fully do the natural and necessary things:Breathe. Let go. Relax. Rest. Sleep.

Such appalling bad habits have taken years to develop and may take a long time to undo.
The one thing I seek to decrease, to say "No", "Not now" and "Not so much" to, is this all-consuming tension that is slowly consuming me.

I must decrease it. It's gradually destroying me from the inside out and adding greatly to the aches and pains of the medical conditions I suffer from, never mind the insomnia.

God doesn't intend us to live tense, stressed-out, anxiety-ridden lives. He desires to drop His still dews of quietness and peace into the overwhelming oceans and sinking seas of our trials and tribulations.

"Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give you and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled]." ~ John 14:27 - (Amplified Bible)

Yes, even now, snowed under by a fresh avalanche of problems large and small, I can learn a better way to react, a different method of responding to life's trials. Problems are a fact of life and solutions have to be found in dealing with them satisfactorily.
"I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have (perfect) peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer (take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted)! For I have overcome the world (I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you)." ~ John 16:33 - (Amplified Bible) 
I accept there is no quick-fix solution. Lasting change takes time. Various medical and alternative therapies have already been tried to varying effect. More can be explored.

This a period where I am seeking to make wise choices in every area of my life, to embrace God's best and learn to leave behind what isn't working for me anymore.

And such is His grace. He doesn't want any of us to live our lives imprisoned by tension, fear, anxiety or anything else.

Jesus died to set us free from those things that are detrimental to our complete mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health and well-being.

New choices to help me live a less tension-fuelled and filled life:

I choose to express this problem publicly in the hope of just one other person being helped by it.

I choose to pursue a pathway of peace and tranquillity, no matter how long it takes.

I choose to seek further medical help and support if necessary.

I choose life-enhancing activities to relax and refresh me.

I choose to let go and let God.

I choose to live a Holy Spirit fuelled and filled life.

Over to you:

How are you dealing with unresolved stress and tension in your life?
Please feel free to share what is helping you to relax and be at peace.

In this post I am linking up with Holley Gerth and the God-sized dream team as we seek to discover God's best for our lives this year.

You can keep up to date with the progress of my personal journey of faith by signing up to receive these posts by e-mail, or connect with me by Google Friend Connect,  Facebook or Twitter.

I really value your companionship on the journey. Together we are stronger!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

A familiar fear

It creeps up on me again.

'You've really done it This Time'. 

Whispers close.

Breathing and hissing out its venom.

A voice I know too well and cannot ignore.

Did I think I could break the habits of a lifetime?

When life is littered with a trail of:
Unfinished projects 

Dreams unfulfilled
Tasks to be done
A heavy weight of expectancy burying all hopes of finally achieving my goals

This year I had a dream. I went public with it. Shared it openly. Making the humiliation complete. When failure seems to be a default position for a person with perfectionism allied with chronic physical illness and weakness.


over it all
A word 
that marks us out
Gives away 
our inner state

Overshadows hope
Brings grief 
and gloom
and sadness
Bleeds despair

Awful in 
its familiarity
Pinned on a board
Marked on a card
Stamped on a form
Spoken over us

Engraved on 
our hearts
Fresh wound to add 
to all the rest
Yet another

Did I really expect it to be any different This Time?

Don't these patterns repeat themselves ad infinitum?

No. No. And Thrice No. It needn't be that way. We can step off that treadmill!
" I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work" ~ Thomas Eddison
Too often, our ideas of failure stem from a heightened expectation of the perceived outcome, rather than genuine slip-ups or mistakes. We can be our own worst enemies in many respects.

In writing about my fear of failure in following my God-sized dream, I am looking to follow Holley's encouragement to also seek the truth that's bigger than that fear.

I am discovering there is freedom in learning to let go of:

The pretence of having-it-all-together

Perfectionist tendencies

People approval issues

Memories of past failures

Unrealistic expectations

Low self-esteem

Instead, I am learning to embrace:

The truth of who I am in Christ

Knowing that God's perfect love casts out fear

Being a 'work in progress'

Making mistakes as a way of growth

Falling down only to get up again

Resilience rather than defeatism

Failure needn't mean stopping something. It doesn't have to signal an end. Rather, it is an open door of opportunity for growth, for learning, and developing the fruit of patience, wisdom, endurance and  perseverance

The truth is that God's word and His grace are far bigger than any fear

As we allow His word to invade our hearts and minds, absorb its message and let it penetrate our understanding, it gradually fills the space where fear and dread once lived.

Freedom comes from surrendering fear and substituting it with faith

Despite the way it may feel, failure can be a stepping-stone to success as we yield to the lessons it teaches us. All it takes is a recognition of our need and courage to want to overcome the paralysing affects fear has on our everyday lives.

This may be one of those times for you too. Whatever your particular fear might be, will you join me as we 'feel the fear and do it anyway'? 

We are not alone. God has gone ahead of us to prepare the way we will walk in and we have the reassurance of His word:

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but He has given us a spirit of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control" ~ 2 Timothy 1:7 (Amplified)

Let's aim to:
Heed His voice more than our feelings.

Rest our restless hearts in His Presence.
Immerse ourselves in His word.

Trust that God is changing us little by little.

Take tentative steps of faith that will grow with practise.

Believe we can be Overcomers in this area too.

Seek support and encouragement from others.

Pause to ponder:

What fears are holding you back from realising your dreams?
How do you plan to conquer them?

In this post I am linking up with Holley Gerth and the rest of the God-sized Dream team. We'd love you to join us on the journey. More to come next week!

You can also connect with me on Facebook or Twitter

Friday, 1 February 2013

Slow but sure

If I tried to describe myself as an animal then I'd probably say I was more of a tortoise than a hare, though my mind has definite leaping, easily distracted hare-like tendencies.

My life is, of necessity, lived in the Slow Lane and plodding on through the dense foliage ahead of me, barely able to discern the way ahead, is my current way of being.

But it does allow for breath to pause, ponder and enjoy the glints of the extraordinary, ordinary graces shining in the dust and detritus.

When life slows down we cannot fail to notice everyday miracles and be thankful for them.

So here we are, already February, and I am about to reveal my One Word for 2013

Over the last four years I have been unexpectedly blessed by a specific 'word' that God has impressed upon my heart and mind early in the year. It is only as the months have gone by that I've seen the significance of this word and its application to my life.

I haven't assumed a new one would come each year. They didn't pop up with a 'Eureka' firework moment of illumination on January 1st either. Rather, it has been a gradual realisation, a dawning of awareness that this was the one to pay attention to.

Long before I was on social media or started blogging, this has been the pattern for me. I see it as part of God's grace and understanding of my individual needs. Once I saw the OneWord2013 initiative and read about the choices people were making, I realised I shouldn't leap onto the bandwagon or try to pre-empt what God might have to share with me. 

So I prayed, waited and it came.

His 'word' for me in 2013 is - 'COME'

Like a child jumping into a Father's arms 

There are many inviting and encouraging verses in the Bible with the word 'Come'. These are personal favourites:

"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, 
come, buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without cost" ~ Isaiah 55:1

This speaks to me of spiritual thirst and hunger. Our soul's longings are fully satisfied and met by being in relationship with God
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" ~ Matthew 11:28
Here, Jesus is offering spiritual, mental and physical rest that comes from trusting Him to carry our burdens instead of allowing them to weigh heavy.

I am already beginning to see some implications from 'Come' - my word for 2013 - This is how it strikes me so far:

Invitation:to join God on the journey. Let Him lead. Take His hand and trust the outcome to Him because He will keep me safe.

Welcome:into His Presence - the place of rest, joy and peace. Practise being with Him mindfully throughout the day. 

Leave:something behind that is dragging me down. Be ready to escape Egypt (past events holding me captive) and enter the Promised Land (future) of His choosing.

Embrace:In order to move forward I need to be willing to embrace the new things He has planned and not try to run away from what looks scary to my eyes. 

Let go:of old habits, ways of doing and behaving. Requires obedience and willingness.

Be prepared:for disruption. Change can feel uncomfortable for a while, like squeezing our feet into shoes that don't fit right. Not looking forward to this part!

Challenge:Despite my tortoise-like ways I am being encouraged to move forward and let Him set both pace and agenda.

Committing:to the calling on my life by reading His word, praying, listening for His voice and discerning His will.

I want to heed the voice of the Holy Spirit calling out across the sands of time, His whisper in the breeze blowing through the reeds of reality; and I want to say "yes" to going wherever He leads me
One small word can change a life

One small step can alter a destiny

We are always seeking signs of Your activity 
and awareness of Your Presence in our lives.
Our hearts can only truly find their home in You
and be at peace as we follow Your ways
instead of our own.
Help us as we reflect on 
resolutions broken
hopes deferred
and dreams unfulfilled
to spend time asking
what You would have us do.
How we can wisely spend
 the gift of years
the talents you have given 
the calling 
and purpose 
of our lives
to bless others 
and be obedient to You

What is God asking of you this year?

Do you have a 'word' for 2013?

I would love you to share it here

More of my journey will be revealed in the weeks ahead.

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

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