Thursday, 28 July 2011

Finding beauty in everyday life

Today, over at Faith Barista, Bonnie talks about finding beauty in everyday life.

Finding beauty. In everyday life.

I could give the ‘beauty in nature’ answer. The glorious sunsets and sunrises. The quiet of a cool evening. The birds singing their hearts out as dusk approaches. The exclamations of flowers: spilling out of window boxes, jostling in gardens, scattered over the fields, exploding from the stone walls which line my journey to work. The myriad shades of a turquoise sea lapping the islands where I live. I could give that as an answer.

But I find beauty in other ways. Beauty which is called encouragement, inspiration, warmth, friendship, love.

Beauty in character. Where beauty is seen which has nothing to do with physical appearance.
Beauty in an affirming email or card, responding to a tiny kindness.
Beauty in my elderly friend, courageously living a life plagued with infirmity and illness.
Beauty in an insecure child I teach, as his personality and confidence begin to blossom.
Beauty in the security of my church house group: beauty as we seek to grow together in love.
Beauty in a smile.
The most beautiful thing of all: Jesus.

Because God has made everything beautiful in his time. The writer of Ecclesiastes talks about setting eternity in the hearts of men, yet we cannot understand the extent of what God has done...except through faith. Faith gives us hope, gives us purpose, gives us direction as we live out who we are meant to be - to become truly beautiful. Even the smallest thing we do can be beautiful: Jesus tells us so.

And so, everything is beautiful – EVERYTHING. We just have to open our eyes to see beauty, our ears to hear it, our hearts to experience it. To see Jesus in everything we do, say, experience – finding JESUS in everyday life.


Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Comparisons are odious...

We just can't help ourselves, can we?  At least, I assume most people struggle with this as much as I do. Comparing myself to others, that is.
Glynnis has some sage advice: it's all about being versus doing.  And Holley says: 
'Whatever you're created to do, God will make it happen and you don't have to be perfect.  
It's not a contest--it's a calling. Thank you for what you do. Thank you for being who you are. You matter and make a difference even more than you'll ever know.  Immeasurably so.' 

Thursday, 14 July 2011


Faith Barista's Thursday Jam is about Faith. Last week, Bonnie blogged that "The truth is, your faith in Jesus holds extraordinary value to Him....It doesn’t matter how small our faith is. What matters is that we use whatever faith we have. It doesn’t matter how little of it we have to give."
And so here I am, back to small things again. And again. Because my faith feels very, very, very small.
I can't get my head round Jesus talking about if I had faith 'as small as a mustard seed'. It's a bit like talking about trying to 'bottle' enthusiasm, or joy, or affectionate behaviour, or...well, you get my drift. Faith is intangible - but is it immeasurable or unquantifiable? Jesus commented that some people had great faith, others's a mystery.
But this I know about faith. That Jesus is faithful. As Bonnie says:  '...remember Jesus is faithful. 
to create something beautiful in you.
bring life to others through you.
to carry you to safety.
to make a way you cannot see.
to put you back together again.
to return laughter where you taste sorrow.
to give you courage to start over (again and again).
to use every loss and every triumph for His glory.'
And this I also know: 
that, however 'big' or 'small' my faith seems to me, it
sets me right with God
makes me fit for him
gives me peace with him
gives me his grace
rests on God's power
and is what I should live for.
My faith doesn't 'feel' big, but I know what I hope for, indeed. I'm certain of that.

For more on faith, visit Faith Barista's post Facing What You Fear to Live a Significant Life

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Everyday things...

Oh, I'm obsessed with small things recently.  Everywhere I look, God is telling me that the small things that I do actually make him happy.  I don't have to do anything big, or obviously 'worth it', or evidently life-changing. Just the small things he gives me to do.
(I don't like to admit this, but I still have a hard time believing him. Or maybe I do, but lies come in and steal this BIG truth in sneaky little bits. Anyway.)
In a recent post, Deidra says: "... have (you) ever wondered if a prayer offered up by ordinary people on an ordinary day with everyday ordinary words can ever really have an impact. Maybe you wonder if your prayer follows the right formula to ever make it past the ceiling. Maybe you think God can't possibly do anything with the words you whisper. Maybe you've stopped praying because you haven't ever heard God answer you...
(but those moments when we suddenly think of someone) ...are invitations. Sent directly from heaven with your name on the envelope. Imagine that! No fancy words required. No special formula. No expensive degree. Just you. Just as you are. God's invitation to whisper or shout or mumble words of prayer."
These are small things. A sudden thought. A few words. Perhaps a small action of love. 
HUGE things in God's economy.

Friday, 8 July 2011


I'm sure I've mentioned before about struggling, sometimes, to experience real praise and worship in church. Sometimes, I've determined to go with a correct attitude, regardless of how I feel. Sometimes, I've come away feeling even more disassociated - it's almost as if the choice of hymns and prayers have been chosen to alienate me even further!
Yet, as Lisa notes in her post 'When Church Leaves You Dry'. it IS all about our attitude. About finding Jesus in the 'whitespace' outside of the Sunday morning gathering.
It's about listening to the words in spite of the tune, listening to the spirit in spite of the words, listening to hearts in spite of prejudices...finding crumbs of community over coffee afterwards, seeking to give...  a reminder to rejoice in the 'small things', in the white spaces that 'surround the gathering'.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Small things!

After blogging about small things a day or two ago, I caught up with a devotional named One Year At His Feet. A friend who works for Bible Explorer had sent it to me recently, so I have just begun to dip into it. I turned back to where I had last read - the day I wrote about 'small things'.  Guess what it was about? That bringing about the Kingdom of God, as Jesus said, starts small. " what happens when a mustard seed is planted in the ground. It is the smallest seed in all the world. But once it is planted, it grows larger than any garden plant. It even puts out branches that are big enough for birds to nest in its shade."  (Mark 4:30-32) The Kingdom of God began with small things: with one man (Abraham). With one step of belief. One 'small' act of obedience ....hmmm, not so sure about that, uprooting your whole family and leaving town to go off travelling to a place you do not know...not so small. Anyway, you get my drift.

I should have read this devotional before blogging. Because it just reflected my thoughts and feelings so well: it reminded me that we often think that accomplishing something in God's kingdom means impacting lots of people in highly visible ways, building large ministries, having lots of people listen to what we say or watch what we do. Yet we need to remember that everything has often begun with one small step of faith. I think of Christians Against Poverty, a ministry which saves debt-trapped lives, begun by one man in his spare room with a gift of £10. Of Heidi Baker in Mozambique. Mother Teresa. The list is endless. 

The devotional ends with words which echo my own: "Never despise the small things in your life. Never...neglect the minute details of service. The massive doors of God's kingdom swing on tiny hinges of our faith and obedience. Focus on the hinges, and you'll see the doors open wide."

Cassiodorus said: "He is invited to do great things who receives small things greatly." Hearts are touched by one soft song, lives changed by one kind word. Nothing in God's kingdom is too small to count or too small to grow into something huge.

Perspective. Obedience. Humility. Focus. Contentment.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Small things...

Lysa Terkeust got me thinking about 'small' things. The place where things in my life seem small:where my vision is grand but the reality isn’t. Things like my influence, my opportunities, my blog, my ministry...especially my 'ministry'.

BUT GOD says, in Zechariah 4:10  “Who dares despise the day of small things...?" Now, I know the context is great: God had given Zerubbabel a task - to rebuild the temple - yet nothing is too small for God. Psalm 82:3 says :Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself,where she may have her young— a place near your altar, and Jesus points out that, if even sparrows are valuable to God, we are even more so.

And so, when I feel discouraged that what I do is too small to be noticed and, apparently, not worth much, I gain much encouragement from realising that obedience in small things is  SMALL: because it is not I who can achieve 'greatness' but God:   So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty. Zechariah 4:6

This is God's promise to Zerubbabel, charged with a great duty: it is for us, too.

PS: I had to go to work before I could publish this, so saved it quickly. A few hours later, another blog post from Marybeth Whalen popped into my inbox. She had been at a worship service where the 'I' was shown as 'i'. As if 'I' was too important. She asked:
what does a little i life look like?   Sacrifice?  Surrender? Slaying self? Setting apart?    Seeking Him? Serving others instead of doing what i want?  
Marybeth concludes: This little i thing could catch on. It should catch on, because it’s the life Jesus called us to. We don’t need to be capitalized. We need to be small, insignificant — just a jot and a tittle, the littlest marks in the alphabet. Instead of a capital letter that announces our importance.  At least, that’s what i am learning these days — and trying to live out. Sacrifice, surrender and servanthood are hard. But i know that’s what God calls us to do; laying down our wants, needs and desires and straining towards His.