Thursday, 27 February 2014

When you need a hero

Don't we all need a hero/heroine to look up to?

Didn't Bonnie Tyler make us all yearn for one?

Someone who has made tracks in snow while we tread careful in their footprints.

Someone who makes us sigh with aspiration...if only... we could look/act/be like them.

If you asked who inspires me, I'd be hard pressed to name but one.

There are so many writers/poets/bloggers who consistently call me to come up higher. 

There are faithful, Christ-loving, family-centred, life-affirming, hope-giving individuals who give me pause for thought.

And yet...

Is choosing maybe a little closer to home?

Inspiration can be found anywhere. Heroes are not all adrenaline-fueled, go-getters.

Sometimes it's the person quietly and faithfully living out their days, battling life's challenges with perseverance, steely-eyed endurance, grit and determination.

Courage wears many faces and can be seen in the unlikeliest of places.

What if this person is not only on my doorstep but in my home?

A man who would rate himself a zero in the hero and courageous stakes.

A man who lives a life circumscribed by fear. Haunted by "What if?", taunted by, "If only".

A man who shies away from crowds. Avoids public places. Has to fight demons of his own on a daily basis.

Here's the thing. On paper he may look the least likely candidate. But, put him in the fire of adversity for nearly 40 years and though he may be a little scorched around the edges, he rises to fight another day, and another, and so on.

Displaying courage and tenacity he never knew he had until tried and tested.

Not many men could find it in their hearts to give and give and give some more to a woman who failed to fully return their love and affection due to her battle with childhood sexual abuse ~ especially when his primary love language is 'physical touch'.

Not many men could see their bride collapse a few short weeks after the wedding as her mind and personality splintered before him ~ and not feel shortchanged by the new woman who emerged.  

Nor could they have all this hanging over them, only to witness her painful deterioration in health ~ resulting in loss of career and any kind of active life ~ then become the main person to take care of both her and the home when his own job prospects were gone.

To my mind this is the stuff of heroes. Any coward can walk away from a marriage or a life they didn't plan for. It takes real love and guts to stick it out. 

To not only stay but keep on loving, keep on giving, keep on sacrificing, keep on believing for better.

No-one else mirrors the servanthood of Christ to me like my husband. His actions stem from a heart set on fire by Love Himself.

If he wasn't around to tend to my needs, take care of the home and take on heavy responsibilities, then this blog (and wouldn't exist at all. 

There would be no spare energy and time for me to write if he didn't make sure the majority of the household tasks were taken care of. 

He bakes bread, cooks, cleans, irons, drives, shops, tidies, keeps me close in his loving arms and dear to his heart.

All this effort given willingly, even though he struggles with his own physical and mental health challenges.

There would be far less opportunity for me to work through my past in the expressing of it here {with the hope of helping others feel less alone in their pain} if he wasn't around to see to life's essentials. 

And far less ability to befriend, communicate with and offer mutual support and encouragement to all my on-line friends, including those with M.E and chronic illness, and fellow writers/poets.

My world would narrow considerably. Life would be more of a struggle and challenge. Finding another loaf of bread to suit my fussy tastes would be just the tip of the iceberg!

So this man, my husband, chief confidant and best friend, is the most inspiring person I know and the one who impacts my life hugely.

Just like the best wine, appreciating my husband's finer qualities took time and maturity. He grew gradually into his role. Now it fits who he is like a well-worn pair of slippers.

I only have to witness his words and deeds to know Jesus lives in him and inspires him to be my 'here on earth' helpmate and hero ~ even if he never considers himself as such.

"Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?" ~ Proverbs 20:6

He's not perfect. Some days frustration sours him, discouragement sits deep and he treads weary. But he means the world to me and I see far more light in him than darkness. 

Because heroes come in all shapes and sizes yours may look entirely different, but you'll recognise them anyway. 

I'd already found the greatest hero of all in Jesus before I met this one. And He knew who I needed in my life to inspire me to live well too. 


Who inspires you the most?

Feel free to join in the conversation in the comments.

**NOTE** ~ To celebrate how much of a gift and blessing my husband is to me, I am giving away a free copy of 'One Thousand Gifts' by Ann Voskamp to a person chosen at random from those leaving a comment below.

Joining here with Holley for #coffeeforyourheart

And with Lyli for #thoughtprovokingthursday

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Making space for joy

All is quiet on the home front for a little while. Our sweet twelve week old grandson sleeps sound, his exhausted mother rests, father and grandpa are shopping, the washing machine whirrs soft and I am alone.

I sense room to breathe, exhale tension and tiredness and inhale grace. Make space for Holy Spirit utterance. Lean in and listen for His voice. 

See a gap calling me to pause. Be still. Rest easy.

My mind rolls over the last few busy days of meeting, greeting, welcoming, sharing meals, sharing life, being family.

And gratitude seeps into my spirit. Soothes those long parched places. Brings lightness, joy and peace.

At moments like this I am glad to be alive. Feel blessed beyond measure. 

So I sit and savour the moment ~ all the more delightful for its rarity.

Consider the way we all stoop to see to this beautiful little boy who melts hearts with a smile, causes happy creased up faces and laugh-out-loud moments with his gestures and coos. 

Serving his needs is a pleasure. At this early stage, cries only enhance the desire to comfort and console one too young to speak out his needs. 

And I revel in the fact that being a grandma means all of the joy and none of the sleepless nights and heavy responsibility!

We all delight in him and rejoice over him with singing. Just as God does with us.

Jesus bent low to come to Earth as a tiny dependent infant. Yet He willingly chose to share our humanity. Become frail flesh for our sake. 

Our Servant-King. Still serving us from on high. Still bending low to see to our needs, as Mary and Joseph once did for him. The Christ-child become Messiah, Lord and King. 

Leaning close to befriend, coming alongside to comfort and support, offering Himself continually. 

We are God's children. As weak and dependent as babes in arms. Even when adult and supposedly strong, our neediness of Him doesn't change. It just becomes more obvious. Feels more humiliating. Requires more from us. 

Surrender and servanthood remain defining characteristics of Christ ~ and His followers.

As a person needing a lot of support myself due chronic health problems, if I get an opportunity to serve the needs of others in whatever capacity I can then I do it happily and willingly. 

And this little fellow has so captured my heart that I'll go way beyond my normal capacities to offer him love and embrace his life with grace.

I'm discovering holy ground is anywhere heaven touches earth ~ in the banal, beautiful, breathtaking and bizarre.

Moments of magic midst the mundane. Gifts of glory in the commonplace. Joy springing up in dark spaces as bulbs rise eager to greet sunlight.

Finding calm can replace chaos and peace pervade the everyday pain and problems.

We tread mindful of mercy in all our days and ways. Feel nourished by His presence. 

Our lives becoming mirrors to reflect His glory. 

Joy given is joy multiplied. In the service of our Lord and KIng we bring our live's daily offerings and experience them increase beyond measure. 

More given than we ever expect. Making space for God is no hardship when He enlarges our capacity for sensing joy in His presence. 

So I sit a while. Inhale and exhale. Remembering my grandson's sweet baby smell reminds me of the fragrance of grace seeping into everywhere we offer space. Give room for Holy Spirit to move in. 

I listen to the whirring washing machine and I realise I am also listening to my life. Hearing the holy whispers. Pausing to pray grateful for it all. 

Aware that this moment will never come again.

And being surprised by how good it sounds. 


*Note* This was written in snatches of time over a busy few days with our family visiting. I just felt the joy of the occasion was too good not to share. I hope you are blessed in the reading of it and encouraged to make space for God and for joy in your own life.
Joining with friends:Holley, Nacole and Jennifer

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Listening to your life

Imagination can take us places that bear no relation to reality.

I began this year with a conviction and desire to listen better to all God wants to speak into my life. It follows on naturally from my #oneword365 being 'listen'.

My mind envisaged restful moments spent relaxing in His presence while He poured out words of wisdom and peace.

It would be wonderful. I would hear messages of encouragement to share with others. I would drift through my days with an increasing awareness of Holy Spirit's whispers on the wind. hasn't quite panned out that way. Who knew listening could be so painful, challenging, personally humiliating and hard?

Instead of a lovely lightness and liveliness of heart, I feel drained, weary, worn out, with worms eating at my soul.

Exhaustion makes me cranky. Impatience reigns. Sin crouches at the door waiting to ensnare me. It's my own overly hasty 'wish-I-could-swallow-them-back' words I'm hearing, and the sad resigned response from my husband. 

All God seems to be saying is, "Look out. You've made another blunder". My heart is heavy with sorrow over faults and failings. Peace has flown out the window and listening has become an act of obedience rather than joy.

Yesterday, following a run of wakeful, pain-filled nights, I unleashed another impatient tirade on my beloved. In full flow until an insistent ring stopped me in my tracks.

It was enough to bring me to my senses. And as I paused to listen to a stranger's voice oozing warmth and understanding, I lost it all over again with a healing unravelling cascade of tears.

For here was someone from a ministry we support giving us a courtesy call to say thanks and ask if we needed prayer. Ready to reach out a hand, to stand in the gap and intercede.

Life interrupted as God saw a need and stepped in. A holy moment in the midst of mayhemReminder of His goodness and grace seeping into the cracks and crevices of our days.

Knowing we're all in the process of becoming what He wants us to be ~ beautiful and strong in Him. 

Reassurance to restore faith and confidence that His promises stand firm, unshakable as Rock and ready to be fulfilled. A life can be changed in an instant. Calm can replace chaos.

Living as we do with continual physical and mental health challenges, we cling to His word in desperation. How long, O Lord? When, God when? This the silent mantra we move to.

Nothing external has changed. But we are altered by a few moments of intent listening to another speaking as if from the Lord. 

 I still bear burdens Jesus aches to carry for me. I still mess up and have unwise words escape my mouth. But God is reminding me of His nearness and drawing me to His side in increasing dependence and trust.


And God has blessed me further with a 'Prayer Whisper' from His heart to mine this morning:

"I will speak to you this year in small ways because I am training you to trace My hand at work in the minutiae of daily life. As you see and hear Me speaking in the little things, so you will develop a sensitive ear that is more attuned to My presence.

Sometimes there will be a flood of words. At others you will have to strain senses and flex faith muscles to be aware of what I'm saying.

It is vital for you to listen to your life, your body, emotions, actions and reactions as well as heeding My voice. My desire is for you to live mindfully; be aware of your need of grace, the space you create for misery or joy, the weariness signalling time to withdraw, be silent and rest in My loving embrace.

Walk through your days with an attitude of praise before you see any change for the good happening. Praise paves the way for My presence to operate in all its fullness and opens the door to thankfulness within you ~ regardless of circumstances. 

Your inheritance as My child is to experience beauty for ashes and joy in the midst of adversity."


Looking for the sound of laughter in my #1000gifts count yesterday seemed impossible.  So many days feel circumscribed by weakness, weariness and pain, bereft of joy in any measure. Yet it was there.

Here was a gift from God ~ a call to bring me back to awareness and a trickle of smiles to treasure as we watched a mini video of our grandson's alert opening up to life around him.

This precious young life, a bare two months old, already operating as God intends us to ~ embracing life in all its fullness with an open, receptive mind and heart.

Babies and children have much to teach us about relishing the moment. In the deliberate seeking out joy can be found. In surrender to seconds, seasons and seeing anew we can listen to our lives and see that they are a holy offering to the Author of life itself. 


Joining here with Nacole for #concretewords and #listentoyourlife

And with Ruth for #Letterto This week's prompt is 'Letter to the tired'

**NOTE** ~ As you can see, I'm just a beginner in the art of listening but I hope to grow and improve as the year goes on. To help me to do just that I am joining Nacole's community of women who want to listen hard to God, to their lives and to one another. You're very welcome and warmly invited to join us as we live and learn together. 

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Wallowing in the mire

It wasn't planned. It never is. Feelings take over and a flood pours out.

Isn't that always the way? These things sneak up on us unawares. 

All of a sudden we spew forth dirty words. Falling fast as raindrops and just as impossible to stem the flow. 

I grow impatient and irritable when fatigue and frustration reach simmering point. It's hard being dependent with M.E and chronic illness sometimes. 

My ultra keen observer eye still notices everything, including all those "I wouldn't do it like that" instances.

Watching while others are doing things I am unable to do doesn't prevent me from having a point of view about it.

Today was one of those days when carping and criticism replaced kindness and concern. A hasty harangue spilled forth before I knew what was happening. 

Ignoring my beloved's crestfallen face, weary resignation, and attempts to placate me, I continued in my spiel. 

Getting all self-righteous and defensive. Feeling justified, even if words spoken in haste tend to be repented at leisure.

Scalded by the heat of words rising to burn us both and sear the air around. 

Though this wasn't exactly a rare, isolated incident. Anger, upset, frustration and impatience sit close to the surface.

I withdrew. A weighty stone of shame sat heavy on my chest, refusing to be swallowed.

Gnawing at the edges of my nails as if I could bite the bad away.

Tasting grit as guilt ate at the core of me.

Only sooner than usual, my mind reminded me of Grace Revealed In Trials and how to dig deep into the soil of His word instead of digging over the past few shameful moments. 

Here lies rich, fertile soil to run through the soul. Embed in the empty spaces. Good ground to turn over, till and test.

Plant some faith seeds and watch them grow. Sow a crop of righteousness instead of sowing to destruction. 

Here lies water. A cool refreshing stream of cleansing. Purification to renew heart and mind. 

I was having a bad day and it showed. But I was also having trouble showing myself grace and mercy.

If a friend were suffering likewise I would take her hand and offer reassurance. 

Listen to her words and those left unsaid.

Look into her eyes and tell her things weren't as bad as they seemed and God has forgiveness enough to cover it all. 

His love for her will never fail. His mercies are new every morning. His grace is sufficient for all our needs. 

Remind her we're no longer soil dwellers ~ rooted to earth as we are ~ but seated in heavenly places with Christ. And as such we have all the resources of heaven at our disposal. 

Wallowing in the mire is a passing place where we find grace to lift us out of any pit we may have fallen into. 

Dig gently to try to unearth the root behind the bad fruit so that she can proceed with greater awareness and wisdom in future. 

Suggest she has some TLC to recover her equilibrium ~ a hot bath, massage, reading a great book, eating chocolate/ice-cream curled up in PJs, or whatever it takes.

Let her know she's going to be Okay and reading this book will help her to know that better. 

So why do we have such a hard job forgiving and being kind to ourselves?

We so often fail to show mercy toward our own faults and failings and can be our own worst enemy. Especially if our past is far from pristine and our current circumstances are far from Pinterest perfect.

Perhaps it's time to stop digging the dirt on ourselves and let the light of God's presence in.

For darkness cannot abide in its purity. Truth will out. And the truth is we are radically and outrageously loved by God Himself. 

He has paved the way to remove all the dirt from our souls and muddied speech from our mouths ~ one golden grace drop at a time ~ to renew and restore all that is sullied and broken.

What do you think? Is it hard for you to be kind to yourself?
Do join the discussion in the comments below.

Linking here with Nacole, Holley and Jennifer