Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Seeking His Presence

As we approach the Thanksgiving and Advent season, thoughts turn toward Christ's coming to earth. 

Here, in infant lowly lies our Lord and Saviour.

Here, we touch holy ground.

Yet it can all pass us by in the rush and hurry of preparation for Christmas.

Just lately, a distant and distracted air has swirled around me. My mind focused on those things I enjoy to the detriment of those I need to pay attention to.

My beloved is getting exasperated with my M.E brain fog showing up most whenever he asks something specific from me. I hear, respond with scant attention, and drift off again.

Want me to write? No problem {usually}. Want me to listen attentively to instruction/information/give an intelligent reply and opinion? No chance.

And I don't think I'm alone with this malaise. It's also creeping into my relationship with God.

I aim to spend quality time with Him and I find myself clock-watching, chasing thoughts, wondering when I can get a coffee, falling asleep...Zzzz...

Yes, I am always tired, always fuzzy-headed, likely to drift off. Coffee, rest and pacing help a little but fatigue sits ever-present with M.E.

In seeking to write regularly ~ because I love to ~ and wanting so much to engage with the world through social media, I am in grave danger of missing the most important part of life and the point of Christmas too. 

I am not learning to truly listen to my life. Heed what God is trying to say to me through it. In simply going with the flow I've been missing the fullness. 

In the humdrum and ordinary we have potential to experience the pulsating thrum of extraordinary.

To bend ear, mind and heart. To be aware, alert and sensitive to Holy Spirit's whispers on the wind.

He longs to meet with us in the here and now and we pull away to catch the urgent instead of the important.

And I still puzzle over which is which.

Now I sit aware of the struggle and tussle for my time and attention, and I am beginning to sense a need to draw back a little from the everyday.

Christmas itself needs preparation and organising, and ~ most important of all ~ I need to be immersed in God's Presence.

Maybe you do too?

For it is the best place to ready ourselves to hear from Him. Prepare heart and mind. Learn to be attentive. Absorb His words and reflect on them.

Pause and pray.

Listen to God's heartbeat and tune into His voice.

Be immersed in the One who has immersed His life with ours as Holy and heavenly meeting soiled and earthly.

Can you hear Him speaking?

I sense Him whispering close:

"I AM is here ~ 

I am the One who loves you completely and unconditionally.

I am your Comforter in troubles, your Anchor in any storm, your peace in the midst of problems, your Joy beyond measure.

I am your Saviour, Lord and King.

I am for you when all else is against you.

I AM Emmanuel ~ God with you, always"

As we light a candle, remembering Christ as the Light of the World, the wonder of it all hits us anew.

He is here.

And that makes all the difference in the world.


~ Thoughts float as butterflies in my mind and God pins them down in poetry and prose
~ Catching dawn rising and capturing anew the wonder of a day's beginning
~ Delight over the safe arrival of our first grandchild, God's gift of a beautiful boy
~ Being weighed heavy with pain and chronic illness but God giving ability to carry it lightly
~ Family, friends, loved ones, home, hearth, and celebrations to come


To aid me in the approach to Advent I am reading from 'Christ the Light of the World' ~ A devotional by Thomas Kinkade {which I was blessed to win in a blog giveaway}, and 'Advent Reflections' by Anita Hunt

Ann Voskamp's latest book, 'The Greatest Gift' looks set to encourage and inspire us just the same way as 'One Thousand Gifts' has. It's particularly suitable for the Advent season and beyond. It is a great way for families to share in preparing their hearts for the Christ-child. 


Linking here with Tracy for Winsome Wednesday

And with Sabrina for the return of #letterto 

This week's prompt is:'Letter to fill you in' where we share what is going on in our world, heart and head right now

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The grass isn't always greener

As Autumn segues into Winter all becomes bare, barren and bleak.

Grass scrubby and yellow-patched, lifeless, worn and torn.

Loosened leaves now drift disconsolately on the ground.

Signs of death outweigh signs of life and vitality.

There is little inclination to look enviously upon our neighbour's gardens as we may have done a few months ago. 

The grass is not necessarily greener on the other side.

Yet how often we look askance at our own patchy lives and look with longing, if not concealed envy, upon the lives of others.

If only... haunts our nights and days.

Restlessness ensues and deep dissatisfaction invades. Surely life was meant to consist of more than This?

My life has mirrored those leaves of late ~ feeling like a dry, barren, lifeless husk with some faint semblance of colour, life and vitality within, yet fragile as a crunched and withered leaf.

Though I take heart at those times when creativity sparks more as wobbly wick than steady flame, that a bruised reed he will not break and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out.

It is all too easy to feel dried out inside when we are ill, weak and weary. Pain leaches life and vitality.

Then our art, gifting and writing can seem as arid as leaves on cold ground. Dead. Lifeless. Surplus to requirements.

As Christian writers who believe we have a calling, anointing and equipping to produce a fitting piece of work for the glory of God, how do we (or should we even attempt) to judge what we do?

Is there any value in checking out other voices in one's area of interest, ability and expertise? Perhaps excellence observed may stir a call to excellence within us?

It can often work that way; only sometimes envy, jealousy or discouragement rises instead.

A step back is required. Re-evaluation.

After all, this isn't about you, or Them, or me either.

It's not about talent, success, lucky breaks or the lack thereof.

No. This is about God. Period. His will, His ways, His purposes, His plans are all individual and unique like we are too.

God's anointing and gifting are custom-made to fit our personalities, interests and abilities.

There is no shortage. As writers/bloggers/poets we have a large lake of literature into which we may only dip timid toes as we observe the brave and bold ones cresting the waves or swimming confidently before us.

Yet who's to say what impression our own efforts will leave upon the sands of time?

"We ourselves feel that what we're doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop" ~ Mother Teresa

You and I may feel we're just paddling listlessly in shallow waters, but we still make a ripple if not a huge splash.

Believe me, my friend, your output is not lost in God's eyes. He sees and applauds the effort in all areas, the faithfulness, prayers, sacrifice of time and energy.

You are not invisible to Him in your seemingly small corner and any work surrendered to Him is multiplied at His hands, for one person plus God is a majority.

And God will use every crumb you produce. He'll ensure you get noticed, your words and thoughts will reach their intended audience ~ be it a handful or thousands.

And He'll bless it all abundantly from here into eternity.

Your part ~ and mine ~ is to brave the chilly waters and dive in, knowing His arms are ready to catch, support and hold us safe.

That other artist/writer/blogger/poet/colleague you admire and aspire to be won't look, work, sound or express themselves like you. They won't have the same history, background or experiences of life or faith.

You may as well compare chalk and cheese, apples and pears, soft and hard.

It's the differences we enjoy. It's the differences that make them fit for their purpose.

So you can 'go compare' other things if you wish, (including markets and meercats) but please don't do that with your writing, gifting, talents. That way lies sadness and madness.

Comparison is the thief of joy and who wants to lose any joy? I know I don't.  

It is really hard for me to let my own words sink in and truly believe and receive them. My background made negativity and insecurity a way of life for many years.

Now, I am determined to seize whatever blessing God has got for me. And that means not allowing myself to become derailed by discouragement or cut short by comparisons.

I want to breathe easy, inhale and exhale grace, live free from insecurity, anger, jealousy, bitterness and resentment. 

But I cannot do any of that without seeing the danger zones and making sure I live as close as possible to God's will for my life, seeking a daily supply of His grace, refreshment and strength to keep me 'lively' for His purposes.

Will you join me? Only you can do the best job of being you by God's grace.

We can encourage one another on this journey.

You are already special, loved, chosen by God to do great works He prepared for you to do.

You count ~ far more than you'll ever know.

You matter ~ to God and to others.

You are beyond compare.

**Confession** ~ This has taken me a few weeks to write due to several health challenges. And as I was preparing the draft for it I read several beautiful blog posts on a very similar theme. Oh dear! Immediately, negative thoughts invaded peace of mind. What could I write after reading THIS?

God answered with these words which I hope and pray will bless you too:

 "it doesn't matter what someone else has written, however good it is. The important thing to remember is this ~ your way of expressing yourself, writing style and reachable audience is unique to you. And there is more than enough room for multiple voices. Each one will say or do things differently but in the way i intend them to. Your task is to remain faithful to that calling".

Linking here with Jennifer and Emily

Wednesday, 13 November 2013


She slid softly into an empty seat, barely raising her head or risking a glance around her.

Trying to look invisible while wanting to be noticed.

Eyes gradually roamed surroundings clinical yet suggestive of homely warmth. 

Here a comfortable chair, there a magazine, walls decorated with gentle art work to please the senses, floor carpeted.

Yet the scurrying, uniformed figures, cold steel trolleys, slabs of notes, trays holding equipment for testing ~ all betrayed the fact that this was actually a hospital waiting area.

We were captive to clock and schedules, time and tide of their convenience, malleable only to moulds of their design, clients of their care, patients feeling anything but patient.

Brief nods and smiles were exchanged before confession followed. First time? Me too. Waited how long? Oh dear!

What to do. Would there be time to drink a sip or two of water, open the Kindle and lose oneself in a book, check our phones (ignoring the 'switch off please' signs), rummage in bags, sigh, dream, chat, or....simply yield to the moment.

So we sat as statues. Brief shuffling, turning of heads to scan notices, gaze at our feet, read notices for the umpteenth time, whispered conversation, eyes glued to every individual who might be here to summon us into the depths.

How does one yield gracefully when senses are heightened to alert and alarm? How do we savour the moment when anxiety is high, pain presses in hard and minds are switched to numbness? 

I found myself focusing on a painting. Golden yellow rays spilling as fountain reminding me of the sunshine of God's love and how His grace spills and fills every corner of our lives.

My desire is to bask in its warmth. Seek energy and strength for what might lay ahead.

As I visualised those rays washing over me, peace came. I could hold conversation. Act normal. And maybe that's all God asks of us. To let Him in to everything and realise He's already there.

Abiding. Clinging to The Vine. Accepting where we are on the way to where we're going. 

Release and find rest. Sink trustful. Know we are safe. Kept. Held. Anchored.

I wondered how pliable I was. This woman who wakes stiff, limbs resistant to movement.

Would my soul yield soft as clay to The Master Potter's touch on my life ~ be it unpalatable or not? 

How willing am I to receive, accept and surrender to the thought that all things are allowed by Him ~ even This?

In the bowing down we look up to God's higher authority, His all knowing, all seeing, all encompassing ways. 

And it is a willing, meaningful yielding. Acknowledgement of His sovereignty.

My eyes shift again to view images of coffee cups and beach huts. Here too we see goodness and grace. Lift our cup of sorrow and joy and swallow down. Know it is as endless as the sea. This balance of beauty in ashes. Shelter from storms.

Voices sounding nearby call me out of my reverie. My name. My turn. My assessment and tests begin. 

Groping for my stuff, struggling to prepare and follow, I smile and wish my fellow newbie well. 

Here I surrender dignity and privacy. Ready myself to be investigated and questioned.

A faint shadow of the Son of Man before the cross stirs in my mind. I see Jesus stripped of all dignity. Giving out. A handing over. Great surrender. Yielding to the Father's will.

Such love. Such grace. Such mercy.

His pain had a glorious purpose. Maybe yours and mine has too, though we can fail to see it. 

A life given up so freely by the Lord of Life, yet I so often cling to my life, time, needs, plans, schedules ~ wary of change and interruption. 

Boxed in by my boundaries when a life of freedom beckons if...I hang loose to the things of this world, this life, and hold fast to the eternal and unchanging promises of God.

A chair wheels me onwards down long corridors. Weary beyond words, I have X-rays, blood tests and help to dress. Yield to those stronger than I. Muse at how I was once the one offering assistance. A nurse clocking up miles a day as I strode purposefully down corridors, tending, supporting, lifting body and spirit by my ministrations.

Now, I sit passive as my husband and others join forces to prepare me for what needs doing. Made to lie low. With hope of being renewed, restored, reshaped as clay into a vessel fit for purpose again, even as God uses me for different things now...praying, writing, listening, being there. 

We make it home and I need sustenance. Bacon sandwich and a cup of tea feel like a taste of heaven. And I rest. Allow peace and grace to fill me anew. Sit quiet for a while away from bright lights and activity. 

Maybe the pain will never end in this lifetime. Maybe incapacity will increase. I don't know. The One who gives grace upon grace to cope knows that.

What I do know is His great capacity in all my incapacities.

How I wish I had another tale to tell and story to share sometimes than the one I am living.

Yet through it all I can bear witness to the tremendous sustaining power of God. Whatever I have given over to Him has been more then repaid, multiplied grace on grace at His hands.

And as I try to follow this path of daily (if not hourly) surrender, my hope is for His Story to be revealed through my own.

I want to yield to Holy Spirit's work in me. I want to see purpose in pain, liberty in a limited life. Being hard, brittle, bitter and resentful is a path I refuse to take.

It all comes down to whom or what we yield to, issues of acceptance, dependence, love and trust.

I want to be able to let go (if need be) of those things I value higher than I should ~ my will, my ways, reputation, comfort, capacity and dreams.

Because in the releasing of all I have considered better, I know my cup will be filled to overflowing with God's best as my will becomes conformed more closely with His.

Let me be soft, workable clay to be fashioned as He chooses. Let me be pliable and flexible. Let me be willing to yield ~ always. Amen. 

Linking here with the lovely Nacole for #concretewords where we write out spirit with a concrete word prompt. This week's prompt is:'Yield'

And with Jennifer at #TellHisStory where we encourage one another by sharing the story God is writing through our lives.

Also linking to Word Filled Wednesday  where women connect to support and build one another up in Christ.

You are very welcome and warmly invited to join in.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

To see life and to see it whole

There is such beauty in the everyday.

If we only have eyes to see it.

And the longer I am incarcerated in the house, the more I yearn for sights beyond my four walls.

Even though I detest spiders, shrieking and screaming at their appearance, their webs fascinate me.

Gossamer threads strung pure as pearls with strength belying their fragile appearance. 

Fine silken cords with hooks to ensnare the unsuspecting, creating a web of deception, a hiding-place for the unwary, a chasm to flex and fix its victim securely.

Intricately laced design that delights the eyes even as they scan for the dark horror lurking within. Yes, I can wax lyrical even over a spider's web!

And whenever I have an opportunity, I take a picture and create a memory album of life. Going outside my door is a big event these days. I breathe deep, gulping in air like it's going out of fashion, set my gaze on sky or earth and view it all with new eyes.

As an inept amateur, my shaky-handed shots are far from Pinterest perfect.

But they stir a deep well of appreciation inside. 

Looking back I see seasons shift. Remember brief spasms of sun on my face. Lush green land and bright blue sky. Breeze and clouds moving.

Colour and life in plant and tree. Ducks waddling and canoeists cresting the waves.

Life going on in its own sweet way.

A natural, undisturbed rhythm. Inviting a pause to appreciate the scenes before us.

A constantly changing panorama that shouts out loud, proclaiming glory and a hymn of perpetual praise to our Creator God.

I've spent so long this year in cloistered dark, walled up in my own home like a prisoner of circumstances. Kept bound by chronic illness, pain, and permanent, profound fatigue. 

Sheltered by hypersensitivity aversion to more than minimal light and noise.

Winter beckons and threatens to entomb me further.

I live more from my inner world more than the outer. And it needs a balance. 

We are made to be part of life's rich tapestry and be set apart for God's purposes.

To marry the mundane with the miraculous, linger at ordinary and find the extraordinary, give out to others and see grace abounding, scent the seasons shifting and savour the fragrance of Christ in this world.

We were born to live with one foot in the world and the other in God's kingdom.

One eye on the temporal and temporary and another on the eternal and permanent.

The natural and supernatural worlds interweave as strands in a web; they co-join and coalesce in a cosmic dance.

We are never more fully human and fully alive than when our spiritual senses are attuned and vibrant and our physical senses are alert to the pulse of life around us.

Our lives can feel as web:fragile, holey, gossamer-fine, prone to snagging and snapping, intricately woven yet with power to entangle, strangling potential and promise.

It can be hard to see them whole. We are tripartite beings - soul, spirit and body - all parts that have life of their own and co-exist together, though seldom in perfect harmony.

In trying our best to connect them, seeking to be wholly aware, alert and active in one area as in another, we may be in a place where we see darkly now but clarity and light will eventually come.

I may not have had my feet washed recently or been the recipient of freely given help and kindness from a random stranger showing Christ's servant-hearted love, but I have had my eyes, soul and spirit washed by grace of a different kind.

There is a hunger deep inside for more. 

More of life. More of love. More of grace. More of God.

And even though my life is somewhat limited by having M.E, I want to see through spiritual, emotional and physical eyes, to sense, absorb, capture and record the world around me ~ then paint pictures with my words.

To see life and to see it whole. Then to pass on that gift to others. Wash them with awareness, open eyes and open hearts to be tuned in to God's love surrounding them.


Regular readers may wonder at the contemplative nature of this post. Though I tend to write that way now and again, it may have sprung from a book I have just read, ('Gift from the Sea' by Anne Morrow Lindbergh), as I firmly believe we are what we read, just as much as we are what we eat. Books impact and influence our lives hugely. 


How are you currently being impacted by the wonder of  life and God's grace through the world around you ~ maybe through books or images?

Please feel free to share in the comments below.

Linking here with Jennifer at #TellHisStory 

And with Mel for #EssentialFridays