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?

Friday, 30 November 2012

Taking a leap of faith

Welcome. So pleased you have joined me.
Are you ready for a s-t-r-e-t-c-h? Go on, you know it will do you good. A physical stretch eases our limbs and a mental one fires up the brain.

After all, isn't life all about change and challenges? Or are they just for the brave - or foolhardy - few? It takes an element of faith to rise to a challenge and to see it through.

 We all exercise faith on a daily basis, to some degree or other, as we trust the world around us to operate as it should.

Chairs are meant to be sat in, right?

I am taking a leap of faith here in sharing my words ~ actually every time I press 'Publish' I require nerves of steel that someone will read, and hopefully enjoy, the message I am sharing.

One of the greatest challenges that faces us is also one of life's greatest pleasures: loving and being loved in return.

It opens us up to the possibility of heartache, despair, rejection and loss, as well as to a potential for joy and delight beyond measure.

Because loving and being loved is one of our primary reasons for existence. We were all created as unique individuals, crafted by God's loving hand, in order to know and be in relationship with Him. God is the Only Person Who loves us unconditionally and without measure.

As we draw near to the Christmas period we have great opportunity to reflect on just who Jesus is and why He came into the world.

"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" ~ John 3:16 The Message

Jesus said:"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love." ~John 15:9

Yet we can struggle to accept not only that we are loved, but that we might even be lovable to someone else. Perhaps our upbringing and family life failed to affirm that necessary message to us or being hurt by other people may have made a serious dent in our ability to believe it. 

Once our hearts have been crushed or broken they may feel beyond repair. How do we learn to love again when we feel unlovable? 

Our poor self-image and imperfections can lead us to feel unworthy of receiving love or even incapable of giving it away freely to others.

What we are lacking ourselves (or feel as if we do) can become a stumbling-block in reaching out that may even be hidden from us until it really matters. Then we wonder what is stopping us from giving and receiving equally. Most of us long for an experience such as this:

"Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts, nor measure words, but to pour them all out just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away" ~ George Eliot
My relationship with God is a safe harbour like this, as He takes the worst of what I am, deals with the bad and does everything to promote and encourage the good. There is such comfort and freedom in being able to pour out all that I am and all I am going through and know He cares, understands and has every ability to bring about the necessary changes.

 His word also tells us -

"The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" ~ Psalm 34:18

God meets with us right where we are. We don't have to clean up our act before coming to Him. He longs to do the same for all of us  -  if we would only allow Him access.

Sometimes He has to do a healing work in us before we can believe we are lovable. Past emotional conflict and pain can stand in the way.

Are we ready to exercise our faith in The Only Person Who will always love and be there for us ?

Are we ready to take that leap?

A Prayer
Dear Father,
How our hearts weigh heavy at times as we long to be able to be loved and to give love to others. Yet so many things can get in the way. We may not feel worthy or capable. We may lack the resources emotionally to be open and trusting. 

It can feel scary to let another person see the 'Real Me' behind the masks we wear to try to fit in and seem like everyone else, even though we may feel isolated, lost and alone in our differences.

Yet, You made each one of us unique and special. We have gifts and abilities to share.There are no Outsiders in your kingdom of grace. Help us to see ourselves as we are In Christ and as You see us - Accepted, Beloved, Chosen.

Then do the necessary work within our hearts to enable us to be healed, at peace with You, with ourselves and with one another, set free to love and be loved as you planned for us to be.
Thank you.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Out of my depth

Have you been out of your depth recently? I have. It is easy to feel swamped and overwhelmed.

My tendency - even as an M.E sufferer - is to rush (OK metaphorically speaking) into things with both feet, arms flailing, legs akimbo. What I may lack in skill I more than make up for in enthusiasm as I eagerly bound into new things, straining at the leash with puppyish delight. Let me at it!

The I surface - red faced and breathless - left choking and spluttering while the more experienced people dive in smoothly and swim around in a seamless, steady, effortless, professional and efficient fashion. They look so graceful and confident. Life is easy for them. At least that's how it seems. Oh, how I long to BE THEM.

Why am I always the one left slinking off to the shallow end, desperately searching for something to hold on to while I recover my breath and try to feel the surface beneath my feet again? 

What started out looking comparatively easy and straightforward has brought too many challenges to deal with by myself. Or what looked too difficult becomes something I try to ignore and avoid doing.

Perhaps I'm not alone?
Maybe someone else can relate to feeling like:

  • A failure
  • Procrastinator
  • Inadequate
  • Hopeless

Sometimes life can cause us to react like this if:

  • Waves of worry have sunk us into a fit of depression
  • Tides of terror stalk our days and nights as fear knocks us sideways
  • Streams of sorrow engulf and threaten to drown us
  • Ripples of resentment or regret filter continually through our minds
  • Crustaceans of comparison have stolen our joy

Our tendency may be to run away from our problems when waves of crisis or difficulty loom on the horizon. No matter if we subsequently suffer from more difficulties and frustrations later on as a consequence of our immediate cowardice or procrastination.
Guess what?

Such feelings are more common than we think - especially with things we ought to rather than choose to do.

In fact, the Bible has a great example in the book of Jonah. When he tried to run away from the clear challenge God had presented to him of preaching His word of repentance to the people of Nineveh, his life became far more complicated and dangerous as a result. He ended up in the belly of a great fish:

"Lord..You hurled me into the deep,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers swept over me.
The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped round my head" ~ Jonah 2:3, 5

He was someone who felt resentful and overwhelmed by the commission he was given and chose to follow his own instincts rather than the path that God had chosen for him.

Yet God showed Jonah grace and mercy by arranging for him to be swallowed by the fish instead of drowning. He was rescued and given a second chance. Jonah's story shows us that:

  • Our way of looking at a situation is not the same as God's
  • Our disobedience can be costly
  • Our mission and calling are important
  • Our trust in God to see us through is vital
  • Our experiences can be lessons for others

The best way to beat the waves of trials and painful challenges is to: Face Them and admit our need of help outside our own resources.

So where did the defection and dereliction of duty leave Jonah? In the belly of a whale - a place where he gained a fresh perspective. Often God positions us in such a place. It may come by various means. 

But we can always rely on it to make us sit up and reconsider what God is asking us to do. God will still fulfil His purposes in, through and even despite of us at times. Grace and help are freely available.
"And when by God's grace I come through it all? Oh, the relief when I know the problem is behind me. With God's help I've beaten it. What an invigorating feeling!" ~ from 'Secret Strength' by Joni Eareckson Tada
We are helped far more than we may know:
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" ~ Isaiah 41:10
I would love you to share your own experiences:

Can you relate to feeling out of your depth?
What helped or hindered the process?
Did a fresh perspective help you to see life differently?

Monday, 19 November 2012

Grace Revealed

Welcome. I'm so pleased you dropped by. You never know what I might have for you.What if I was to offer you a Free Gift today? After all, who can resist a present? 

Depends on the gift, you might say - especially if you are always having to throw out the unwanted junk mail paraphernalia that usually comes with large strings attached from unsolicited companies.

Besides, you don't know me.
Sounds suspicious, right?

Nothing is really free, is it? 
Everything has a cost and a price to pay.

How would you react if someone you didn't know offered you a free gift? Like this possibly:
  • With suspicion
  • Derision
  • Hostility
  • Rejection
  • Disbelief
  • Curiosity
  • Intrigue
Some of you may be tempted by the offer. And if you held it in your hands you might sniff, shake, feel it carefully, look for a label, admire the wrapping and even want to open it to reveal the contents as curiosity got the better of you. 

Usually a gift indicates that someone has thought about and wants to bless us. For it is only in examining The Gift that we can judge its worth

Well, you will be relieved to know I don't have a dodgy free gift to offer you. My poetry and prose are the only gifts I am offering here today.

But I can point you to the Greatest Gift that God has to offer us. The offer of Salvation, Forgiveness, Restoration, Renewal, Healing and Transformation.

The best news is : It's Free
"For God so greatly loved and dearly prized that world that He even gave up His only begotten unique Son, so that whoever believes in, trusts in, clings to, relies on Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal everlasting life." ~ John 3:16 Amplified
In my Introduction to the series of Grace Notes I mentioned that the word 'grace' means 'unmerited favour' amongst other things. I cannot go any further with this topic without speaking about how God best reveals His grace to us through His Son.

We have all fallen short and missed the mark of the standard God desires for our lives. There was nothing and no-one else good enough to pay the price needed to restore us to a right relationship with Him -  apart from the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross.
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no-one can boast." ~ Ephesians 2:9
This is Grace Revealed indeed:God's Riches At Christ's Expense

The poem below offers further insight into this amazing grace:


Light in our darkness
hand clasping hand -
healing, forgiveness
a line in the sand

Suffering and Sorrow
impaled to a cross,
blood flowing freely
our gain - Your loss

Heaven's gate opened,
for our sin debt You died.
Now given entry
as You're crucified

Dawn breaking forth
in glorious array.
Tomb standing empty -
Resurrection Day

Risen, ascended,
a New Era starts;
Your Spirit now dwelling
within human hearts
"I asked Jesus, 'How much do you love me?' 'This much,' he answered, and he stretched out his arms and died" ~ Anon
This leaves us with a decision to make. Do we act like babes and toddlers when given a present and show greater interest in the outer wrapping of grace but ignore the actual present and remain ignorant of the giver?

Or do we accept it, receive it with gratitude and thanksgiving and learn to prize it as the best gift ever?

Yes, it does come with a price to pay. Jesus laid down His life for us and expects us to surrender ours to Him  in return. This is a gradual, life-time process. But the rewards are enormous. We will be looking at more of the attributes and benefits of grace in the weeks ahead.

For now, this is a tantalising glimpse of The Gift and The Giver to reflect upon as we close with a prayer:

Dear Father,
As we reflect upon Your grace we are overwhelmed by the great love 
and compassion you have toward us in sending Jesus to die for our sins.
 Thank you that He died to give everybody an opportunity to get to know You and experience the abundant life You have planned and long for us to enjoy as we surrender our lives to Him. We can only have a limited understanding in this life of the great Divine Exchange. Help us to see more and to fully appreciate the blessings we have in relationship with You as You lead and guide us each day.

Please feel free to join in the comments below. I love to read and reply to them.

You can also keep in touch by signing up to e-mail.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


Go on, you know you can't resist it. You just have to sneak a look. Who doesn't want to at least check on their appearance from time to time? If only to have a running dialogue with themselves such as:

  • I look a fright
  • My hair's a mess
  • Are those toothpaste smears?
  • Oops, that's not straight
  • Where did THAT come from?
  • Oh bother, lipstick on my teeth again
  • Must be the light, I can't look that bad, can I?

Who knows, it might be one of those flattering mirrors that don't leave you looking zombie-like or washed out and ill. Rather it enhances your natural radiance and perception of how you appear. If Only

Living as we do in a world where everyone and everything is judged on appearance, it is all too easy to feel unlovely and irrelevant if we fail to match up to society's ideals. Instead of simply cleaning the mirror, we may want to erase the unwanted image we see reflected there.

But that's not the full picture. The REAL you isn't found in the mirror. That's just your face and body

In our youth and beauty oriented and celebrated society we often set such store on appearance that we miss what is Really Important. This is something I have to remind myself of on a regular basis. Having had chronic illness for over 20 years with M.E and other conditions, there is no doubt that the side-effects of insomnia, continual exhaustion, pain and taking frequent medication  - never mind the natural ageing process and menopause - are clearly visible in my external appearance. 

I seldom look into a mirror these days without lamenting about where the person I used to be has disappeared to. She can't be that woman with exhaustion etched into her face, grey pallor, permanent dark circles, pouches under her eyes and ropey hair, can she? How I look on the outside doesn't match how I feel on the inside. My spirit still feels young and vibrant.

The background I grew up in gave me cause to feel insecure because I had a dysfunctional childhood and our parents made unfair comparisons between my non-identical twin sister and myself. She was dubbed the 'pretty one' while I had to be consoled with being the 'clever one'. Both of us struggled to live up to and then overcome our labels. Parents be aware.

Shaking off inferiority, insecurity and early years conditioning was painful but necessary and only achievable for me when I came to faith in Christ and began to see myself as He sees me.

"The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." ~ 1 Samuel 16:7

We tend to major on external things whereas God wants our focus to be primarily on internal ones - our heart, soul (mind, will and emotions) and spirit. 

He has already paved The Way for us to come to know Him through having a relationship with Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour. Then the radiance of Christ begins to reflect in our lives as we grow in knowledge and experience of Him and His word

Amazing as it seems, God sees us as:


This is who we are In Christ. It is a gradual awakening that unfolds as we place our faith and trust in Him and continue to surrender every area of our lives to His Lordship. We start on a journey of change and discovery that leads to becoming all that God intended us to be when He created us as unique, special and greatly loved by Him.
"So we're not giving up. How could we? Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace....there's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever"
~ 2 Corinthians 4:16 -18 The Message
Back to the mirror.

These days my eyes slide towards it and I grimace, sigh resignedly and hope to find a better image next time I look. When I feel up to the task then a bit of make-up and a smile go a long way towards helping me feel better. But that's only a minor outer adjustment.

A mirror may show our current state outwardly but doesn't reveal our growing, developing and future state inwardly. Beauty is far more than skin deep. We are all subject to change, illness, ageing and eventual decay.

What we are becoming, day by day by God's grace, gives us encouragement to believe for greater change to be manifested in our lives in the future.

The process of becoming Christ-like can feel painful. For now, we are Works in Progress. It is a gradual process of transformation as our minds are renewed and lives surrendered to God.

We are exposed to God's mirror through His word and can see our faults and failings in greater detail. He will work relentlessly to achieve His purpose of making us into the image of Jesus, little by little. However, the hands that carve and shape us are tender hands of love and grace.

"And we, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" ~ 2 Corinthians 3:18


You've broken through,
infiltrated the carapace.
I feel You invading
the space
I'd called my own.
Working away purposefully
from the inside out -
yet I evade Your touch
throw off spasms
of irritation
as You make
the place 
Your home.
Chafed by events
beyond control
resistance persists in me
though a softer yielding ensues.
My naked exposure
tenderly covered by
Your mantle of Love.
I am remade, renewed,
pearlised, polished,
strong and true.
Breathing out my fears
I settle 
into the frame 
for which I was made -
a worthy container
for You.

Over to you:

How do you feel about the process of transformation that God is doing in your life?

What can we do that impedes or advances it?

You're very welcome to join in the discussion.