Category Archives: Faith

Lesson From A Blackbird

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It’s been raining heavily the past few days, which has suited my mood.  I’m in a place of confusion and wondering when there will be a break through in certain situations I find in my life.  I see no way out, no way of improving things.

The children both went for a rest earlier this morning, and I came down to the kitchen with a heavy heart to make a hot drink.  I looked out of the window while waiting for the kettle to boil, and there on my lawn (I say lawn loosely as it is more a churned up section of mud with tufts of grass in patches after having two dogs and children trekking around on it) was a blackbird.  He was out there in the pelting rain and wind gathering his meal for the day.  He looked unaffected by the adverse conditions around him; more like he was rather enjoying it as there was food aplenty for him.  After he had his fill, he hopped up onto the fence and lifted his little head into the rain seemingly soaking it in and rejoicing.

I heard a little voice inside reminding me, that even though things may look bleak and unchangeable, and even if it doesn’t feel like it, there is opportunity in every season of life.  And much like the blackbird needs the not so nice weather conditions to bring more worms to the surface, so we also need storms in our life so they can shape our character and teach us valuable lessons.

Nothing has changed about my situation since seeing the blackbird, but my heart feels a little lighter and more encouraged knowing that even if I don’t see it yet, there is some good, some opportunity to come out of it.

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Our Citizenship

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Today is election day here in the UK.  After voting closes this evening and all votes have been counted, we will find out what direction and shape our government is going to take for the next 5 years.  It is easy to fret and worry over which party will win.  Will the right party get it?  Will they make the right decisions for the country?  This morning I was reminded of the verse in Philippians chapter 3 that states: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Things today may not go the way you or I hope they will, but we must also remember that our true citizenship is not of this world, and there is One greater who knows and understands and is in control of the outcome.  And in the wise words of John Newton:  “People do their country more service by pleading for it in prayer than by finding fault with things they have no power to alter.”  Be encouraged today.

If We Want To Be Beautiful On The Outside, We Need to Be Beautiful On The Inside

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We are a people obsessed with our looks.  we want to look good, beautiful, handsome.  Society expects it of us in many ways.  We can often find ourselves waking up in the morning staring at the face in the mirror and wishing it was more like this or that.  We despair over wrinkles and ageing skin.  I’ve been there.

We get told that drinking x amount of water and whole foods will help our bodies from the inside and thus give us a wonderful complexion, shinier hair, brighter eyes, or whatever else we are promised.  These things are all good, and these things all do go somewhat towards keeping the insides of our bodies in good working order which is then reflected in the skin on the outside.

On its own, however, this is not enough.  You can have the healthiest of diets and use all the right products and still be an ugly person, because what’s happening in the heart in our very inmost beings is what is reflected to those around us.  “The north wind brings forth rain, and a back-biting tongue an angry countenance.” Proverbs 25:23  How we are, how we act, behave and think affects our outwards appearance either negatively or positively.

Our inward beauty is the most important tool we can have in our make up kit.  When we have calm and gentle, peaceful spirits our outward countenance is also one of peace.  when we have an inner spirit which is in turmoil, or is angry and bitter  it is reflected in our outward countenance as well.

Instead of applying lotions and potions to the skins to make ourselves more beautiful, we ought to spend more time tending to our inner hearts so that the joy and peace will overflow to our outward appearance.

Am I Growing In Love?

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Yesterday, I listened to a talk on these verses in 1 Corinthians 13: Love suffers long and is kind: love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

What a lovely image of what love is!  It’s easy to read along these lines and nod in agreement that, yes, this is what love is, but it doesn’t go further than that.  The talk was a challenge that the sign of our change and growth as Christians came in how well we were loving others.  And the longer the talk went on the more I started to squirm in my seat as my heart was convicted.  As I asked myself truthfully how I was doing in this area, the resounding answer was not very well at all.  In fact, I have become extremely stagnant in this area.

The speaker talked about how love covers a multitude of wrongdoings.  He used the example of an oyster who upon getting a grain of sand inside their shell, weeps an emolient over it.  The sand hurts; it aggravates; it irritates, but the oyster weeps an emolient over it giving it a covering and the end result is something precious and valuable.  in the same way we are to cover others’ faults and failings with love because love changes all.

It’s so easy to grumble and complain and pick at people’s faults.  We live in a selfish, me first, society, where if someone does us wrong we take care of ourself first; we judge others by our standards instead of seeing them as Christ sees them.

So, how am I doing?

Long suffering: I am so short tempered and snappy.  I have no patience whatsoever.

Kind: hmmm, erm, I find it much easier to spew unkind words and without from doing kind deeds.  It is my natural bent.

Does not envy: I envy a lot.  I envy other people’s success, their career maybe, their domestic skills, their crafting skills, the list is endless of what I envy.

Does not parade itself:  Fail again

Is not puffed up:  Yeah, I like to boast and be proud and conceited sometimes, ok a lot of the time.

Does not behave rudely:  oh boy, this is an area where I need a LOT of work.  Again it comes so much more easily to me to be rude to other’s to ensure my own needs are looked after than it does to be gracious and kind.

Does not seek its own:  Well, I think it’s pretty clear that I can be quite selfish.

Is not provoked:  I am too easily provoked and I fly off the handle far too often.

Thinks no evil:  I judge, I huff and puff about people, I resent, I hold on to wrong doings done against me

Does not rejoice in iniquity: Ok, so I don’t rejoice with evil acts in this world like murder etc, but when something bad befalls someone I don’t like very much it’s easy for that little voice in my head to think yeah, well, they had that coming or they got what they deserved.

rejoices with the truth:  Truth and honesty are big things for me, so by the grace of God I do rejoice in truth.

Bears all things: DO I always protect?  Yes, myself, but I am not so good at doing the same for others.

believes all things:  Do I trust?  No, experience has taught me to be suspicious, so this is a major area for me

Hopes all things: I rarely hope.  I currently prefer wallowing in despair that nothing will change etc so why bother.

Endures all things:  For me it is far easier to give up and quit than to keep at it.

 

Wow, that’s me; a horrible person when I really start delving into my true heart.  I want to love this way.  I want to be characterised by 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, but I can’t on my own.  I may succeed for a few days…probably more like a few hours, but in my own strength this would be exhausting to do.  To change myself into this, I need time everyday in the presence of Jesus.  I need to spend time in prayer and reading the Bible to allow him to transform me with His love flowing through me.  Only then can I even have  a hope of loving others like this in His strength.  So the first big change for me is setting more time aside in my day to spend in prayer and study.

The speaker in his talk told us of these words that someone (I don’t know who) has written:

 

Joy is love enjoying

Peace is love resting

Patience is love waiting

Kindness is love reacting

Goodness is love choosing

Faithfulness is love keeping its word

Gentleness is love empathising

Self-control is love resisting

Lord, help me to love like this. Amen.  I think I may do something with these words so that they can grace the walls of our home and be a daily reminder.

 

Be with Jesus

Give Thanks?

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Since moving to this house, I have lost track of the amount of disasters we’ve encountered in trying to make it “home”.  There always seems to be one problem after another that delays the process.  So we live with half finished everything, and it can really get a person down, way down.  Our latest disaster happened yesterday.  Well, really, it began earlier in the week with the arrival of a rat.  This rat made himself at home in the cavity wall/between the floorboards.  He has spent time scurrying, scrabbling, chewing, running and basically being a real hooligan.  We do not see him come or go, but he’s a bit like clockwork in the times he starts up his activity above our heads.  His favourite times are in the middle of the night.

Mr P tried to get in touch with pest control but received no help yet, so we will have to call again tomorrow.  On Friday night we went to bed to rest for a day of getting stuff done in the garden like finally getting Miss E’s swing up and tackling weeds and so forth.  At 12:40 am I awoke with a jump as there was all this noise that sounded very much like Miss E crawling around in her usual fast fashion on the landing(we have no carpet-another one of those half finished things-so her crawling is quite loud).  I was in a panic as I knew hadn’t shut the one stair gate we have at the top of the stairs, but we found her sleeping peacefully in her room.  Our rat guest was awake.  In the end we put on music just so we could drown him out and go to sleep.  At this point we still thought he was contained to the area above our heads and in the cavity walls.  How naive!

7 am we woke up and Mr P opened the bedroom door.  There was this hissing noise.  I was wondering what on earth it could be.  Mr P went downstairs then came running back up grabbing towels etc.  Our kitchen was flooded with water.  coming through the ceiling, dripping down the walls, starting to slosh out into the hallway(good thing the flooring there still needs replacing as it’s now pretty ruined!).  I have never seen so much water in the wrong place in my life.  The source was underneath the bath again.  Just typical!  We’ve had no end of issues since we replaced the bath and a few months ago we had someone in to fix it.  The bath needed ripping out and everything.  So we were very disgruntled and had decided enough was enough and a new bath with taps on the end instead of in the middle would be necessary now.

Needless to say all our plans for the day were delayed and 2 hours of the morning were spent clearing up the damage caused by all this water and finding somewhere for all the soggy recipe books to reside.  A new agenda was set for the day, namely fixing the leak.  Upon closer inspection of the pipe it was found that the issues causing the leak had nothing to do with the plumbing(the old problem we had that caused watery messes), but that our furry house guest had been gnawing along the pipe during the night having a good old time to himself and causing us a load of clean up and damage.  The fact that he was only on the other side of the bath panel terrifies me.  I mean in the walls is bad, but beside you when you’re on the toilet in the middle of the night?!

The pipe got fixed and a trap was set under the bath incase he decided to come back again.  He was super active last night so we slept in the front room away from his noise.  Today we have heard nothing from him, although we have been out for a few hours at church, but there is silence above our heads.  Which could mean he’s in the trap, he’s found a new home, or he’s out and will be back……….I’m hoping the first is true!

At times like this our natural human response is to despair.  We get down, we wallow in our self-pity and we feel fully justified in doing so.  Do you?  I know I do!!  Yet, God says we are to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  What?  Now, I get giving thanks for good things.  I mean, it’s easy to be thankful for all the lovely blessings bestowed upon us.  But, really, what good can there be in a vermin that causes so much destruction and yet another setback?!  Surely the verse is wrong?  Surely it didn’t mean in every circumstance?!  Yes, yes it did.  As hard as it is to comprehend and how much it goes against our natural nature to put into action, we are told to give thanks in everything.  Giving thanks brings joy to our lives; we have to choose to be joyful. Happiness is easy because it’s the feeling we have when things are going well.  Joy is not because we have to choose it when things are going wrong.  Giving thanks for the blessing we do have brings joy to our hearts.  Giving thanks also draws us closer to God.  It reminds us that we are under his care and covering.  The road may seem unending and dark to us, but He sees the full picture and He alone can guide us out.  Giving thanks reminds us that these things are passing, fleeting circumstances and, in the view of eternity, they aren’t worth getting worked up over.  it keeps our eyes focused on our heavenly home.  Giving thanks takes our eyes off of ourselves (that’s pretty hard for selfish beings like us) and focuses them on God.  Giving thanks helps us to bear witness to God in our lives……..it is far from a natural response to be thankful for the dirt in this life; only God can transform our hearts and make it so we see good in bad.

Do I like it that we are told to give thanks no matter what comes?  Not one bit.  Do I LIKE to give thanks when I’m sat trying to make something beautiful from the dirt of life but all I seem to get is more dirt?  Not at all.  Do I manage to give thanks all the time?  No I fail way more than I succeed in this area.  I’m still sinful by nature.  I love nothing more than to whine and stamp my feet and throw myself on the floor in a tantrum wailing about how unfair my life is(not in a literal sense).  But doing that doesn’t get me anywhere.  All it does it make me even more unhappy, grumpy, disgruntled and more adjectives along this vein.  It doesn’t bring peace and joy to my heart and life.

But yesterday, I started thinking what good is there in this situation?  And here are the things I have to give thanks for:

-Miss E: throughout it all in the midst of clearing up water etc, she remained her happy bubbly self.  she wasn’t phased by the rat, the damage caused or anything else.  She was just simply enjoying life and being happy where she found herself……..kinda like we should be!

-It didn’t happen during the time we were away.  There was enough water from the rat’s antics in the middle of the night.  God spared us from even more devastation.

-We have not yet come face to face with the rat.  Phew!  I think I might faint or else someone would be scraping me off the ceiling.

-There is only one.  There could be a rat infestation, but there is only one to deal with.

-The damaged pipe was easily fixed and all is back to normal under the bath.

-This world is not our home.  We have faced plenty of trials and ups and downs, but we don’t face them alone.  We have hope, and it is this hope and knowledge of what is to come that keeps this fleeting life in perspective.

-Miss E’s swing did get up in the garden and she is delighted.  She loves swings, so we are pleased she finally gets to use her own that’s been sat in the garage for ages.

-So far no wires have been chewed through or any other damage done.

 

So even now we truly do have a lot to be thankful for, and in counting the blessings and writing them down and letting them sink in it sweetens the bitterness of life’s disappointments.  What have you got to be thankful for today?

Happy Easter

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I would like to wish you all a very Happy Easter; that time of year when we celebrate Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. May you have a wonderful time with your families.

“He is not here; for He has risen just has he said he would.”

 

Where Is My Dependence?

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So, in a few days my husband starts a new job.  It’s a wonderful opportunity for him to develop the skills he wants to develop and as well as that it comes with a better salary.  This salary will be very useful for us in paying off the debts we have incurred.  There is also an option to get a company car or take monthly car payments instead of the car.  My husband opted for the car payments as this gives us even more free income to put towards debt clearance.  Great!  Life is lookin pretty rosy and we’re settling down for a comfortable ride, when a little lesson comes along…

Over a year ago one of our cars broke down pretty badly when the whole clutch had to be replaced.  It cost £700 to put it right. All has been fine with it since, but my husband now drives that car as I have no confidence in it seeing as the whole clutch problem started when I used to drive it while pregnant….quite scary to say the least!  Last night Mr P said he was stuck in some traffic so would be later than usual. I got another call when I was expecting him to be home and thought oh he must’ve hit some more traffic. Traffic would have been fine really, but,no, the car had broken down again with a clutch problem and he was sat in the car only a mile from home.  So near yet so far!  He had to call the breakdown service we are with and then wait for them to come.  While waiting he had a look at the car and in doing so ripped his suit.  So now, we have a car bill and a new suit to pay for.  It’s frustrating and I found myself thinking last night, “God, this isn’t fair, why would you allow this to happen?”  Just as quickly the answer came..”to remind you that  you need to depend on Me, not a new job, or more money.”  See, the job is a gift from God, the extra money is also a gift.  They are not permanent; they are not guaranteed forever; we cannot put our trust in them for we do not know how long we shall have them.  We cannot make grand plans for the money and assume they will happen, because life happens and things come up.  It’s not a nice lesson to learn, but it is necessary; we had drifted into that zone of relying on ourselves again as life was running smoothly and forgetting to count our blessings and be thankful for the great gifts we have been blessed with.