Monday, 10 June 2013



After blogging about a minor difficulty which turned into a major personal crisis - God getting my attention - I came across Psalm 118:6 as part of my Good Morning Girls study:
"The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?"
Hmmm... my whole conversation the day before had been about a tricky relationship and my fear of confrontation and of opening cans of worms and more unpleasantness and more fear.... etc etc.
I gradually recognised that I was under severe spiritual attack. In a few days time, I will gather with a group of friends for a 'time out' morning with God. I will share a few thoughts, as I do for breakfast once a month, then we will have quiet time on our own.
I've never organised anything like this before, so it's a bit scary.

I'm starting our reflection with verse 19 from Psalm 18: He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”
We are setting time aside to be in a ‘spacious place’ - sparked by Alie Stibbe's great book of the same name - at a beautiful local retreat centre. Just meeting together to listen to God in a quiet place.

Yesterday, I only managed to read the one verse in the Good Morning Girls study which we were to concentrate on with the SOAP method: Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer. Today, I caught up with the whole reading, and the memory verse. Guess what it happened to be? 

Yes, it was "When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid."

So, as I feel 'hard pressed' I need to remember Whose I am and what He has called me to do. 

I need to remember He loves me and that is what matters above all else. 

I need to remember that, because of His love, all I need to do is LOVE HIM BACK.
I need to remember that, though I am in a battle, the LORD is with me; I will NOT be afraid.

I haven't enjoyed the last couple of days: yet I am thankful that the Lord has hung on to me tightly, brought me back from the cliff edge and given me hope.

for in a mirror dimly March 29th 2013

 I was able to guest post a couple of months ago over at inamirrordimly...

"Micah 6:8 is a constant challenge. To do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly. Boy, that’s a tall order.

I know I don’t walk humbly when my hackles rise anytime someone corrects me.

I know I don’t ‘love’ mercy. I’m too big on ‘fairness’ to be as merciful as I would like to be. I’m a teacher, big on ‘consequences’ and ‘fair play’. After all, if you let kids off a punishment, how will they learn? I’m trying to ‘love mercy’ more, though. I try to be kind, really kind, more than I used to. So there is some hope there for a Better Me.

But I know I don’t ‘do’ justly when it comes to being more involved. I don’t march in protest against injustice. I don’t write letters for Amnesty International. I’m not even involved with our local, for very low-key offenders, prison.

Yet, there IS one thing I do.

Many years ago – pre-best friend boyfriend, pre-fiance, pre-husband, pre-children – I volunteered as a teacher in western Kenya.

Because it didn’t seem ‘just, right or fair’ that I, born in the privileged West to comfortably off (albeit still at times slightly struggling) middle-class parents, should have so much.

So much (relatively speaking) money.

So many opportunities.

So much education.

So I signed up as a volunteer, working in a run-down local school, earning a local teacher’s salary.

It was enough to put food on the table and, with careful housekeeping, afford travel on the (very cheap but dangerous) public transport to visit other volunteers and rent a small house (read ‘run down cottage’) at the coast for a week’s holiday. I felt it was ‘fair’ – on a par with the other, local, teachers. Like the young Francis of Assissi, I was aware of my privileged upbringing but at least, for a time, I earned just the same as my colleagues.

I did my best to help the students I taught to climb up the education ladder. To share what I had been given with those who hadn’t had the same opportunities, who life had treated more unfairly. I did my best to ‘do justly’.

Then I met my soon-to-be husband. We married. We carried on living in Kenya. Amid gross injustice, where so many were hungry and thirsty; homeless; sick, unable to afford good medical care; lacking in clothes – and education.

Oh, how I tried to ‘do justly’ without becoming a patronising, bottomless purse. I rarely gave money to the people who came to my gate EVERY DAY, asking for handouts. I offered work – usually refused. (In the first year in a new house on a busy road in the city, TWO people accepted the simple jobs – a couple of hours work – I offered for a day’s pay. And one of those was drunk. The other, an elderly lady, then accepted a permanent job, staying a couple of years.)

I tried to treat the people who worked for us fairly. I think I succeeded. (Our housekeeper cried inconsolably when we left and she is still a good friend. I bless God for the creativity of those clever minds which invented email and mobile phones.)

But then we moved back to the West. To a ‘fair’ society. Where justice was usually done – or seen to be done. Where material needs, at least, were fewer.

‘Doing justly’ became different. I translated it to treating my own children fairly. To being a ‘fair’ teacher, not having favourites among the children in my class. To being friends with all my colleagues, regardless of where they were in the pecking order: I treated the caretaker and cleaners the same as the head. To being ‘fair’ and honest in all my dealings with others.

It wasn’t enough.

Then I met Sue. A doctor. She had volunteered in Tanzania for a couple of months and then, just ten years ago, started a fund to help AIDS widows and orphans.

She started caring for one child.

Now she is responsible for more than twenty thousand children, nearly seven thousand of them in secondary school. Children getting life changing chances. Getting justice – because it is not just, or fair, or right, that they should be denied education because of an accident of birth. As Sue says: “There is a mountain of injustice which sees these children dressed in rags...their only set of clothes, unable to access education, drinking dirty water and too often going to their rest at night having had no food that day: when we think of the very different way children live in our countries and how much waste we throw away, when they have nothing, we become very aware of the injustice that is disabling these children. “

Feeding, clothing and sending so many children to school takes a lot of faith. And money.

So I do my little bit for justice.

I persuaded the school I teach in to ‘adopt’ the fund as their school charity. I organise fundraising events, encouraging the children to consider how they can help other children who do not have the same privileges.

The money we raise has built houses, fed and clothed and sent many children to school. We have ‘done justly’.

It’s not enough. It can never be enough. But it is what we do."

I pray that I may have eyes opened and a heart willing to do more.

For more inspiration, go to for many ideas about doing justly by living generously.

How valuable are you? Thoughts for a May breakfast...

I've been thinking about value  a lot recently. Wondering what I value and if it is in line with what God values.

Value. The dictionary says that, apart from the monetary connotations, it means "to consider with respect to worth, excellence, usefulness, or importance; to regard or esteem highly: for example, He values her friendship."

Value implies intrinsic excellence or desirability. Value is "that quality of anything which renders it desirable or useful: e.g.,  the value of sunlight or good books."  It is about things - or people - we  prize and appreciate.
Value is about things we WANT.

Luke 16: 15 says: “... God knows your hearts.What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight."
I always read this as just being about money - which is the context - but there is always deeper meaning hidden in Jesus' words.

Because this passage IS about money and material possessions, but also about
ownership and achievement.
Position and progress.
Rights and reputation.
The whole of life.

The Message explains that we value appearance - what things look like on the outside.
"When the Pharisees, a money-obsessed bunch, heard him say these things, they rolled their eyes, dismissing him as hopelessly out of touch. So Jesus spoke to them: “You are masters at making yourselves look good in front of others, but God knows what’s behind the appearance.
What society sees and calls monumental,
God sees through and calls monstrous."

Jesus' words would have sparked recognition of God's words to Samuel, when he was choosing a king to succeed Saul; "The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7)

Which of these do you think we tend to value most? Can you put them in order of most important? Any others?

Job status
Marital status
'Toys' - cars, boats, furnishings
Children's achievements
Dress, fashion
Facial appearance
Status in the community

These are all good things - but we are not to put more value on them than we ascribe to God. Nor should we value them above the things the Holy Spirit says are important: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22 - 23); wise counsel, clear understanding, simple trust, healing the sick, miraculous acts, proclamation,  distinguishing between spirits, tongues and interpretation of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:7 - 10, The Message)

But the bottom line is, that as we appreciate the value of what God has given us in Jesus - his life, his words, his love, his death - we dare to believe that we are of huge worth. God has sacrificed everything to find every one of us, however 'worthless' in the eyes of society. He tells stories of single sheep searched for, a coin discovered and a son restored to his family to show how much he values us.

"The Lord looks at the heart." Let our hearts look to Him and seek His values. Not ours. 

Courageous choices

Quoting Thought for the Day by Lysa Terkeust over at Faith Gateway: "Making a courageous choice means walking on the path of discipline in the area of our food choices. It’s coming to the realization that changes need to be made — and making those changes in the quietness of the pantry, when no one else is looking.
You see, there are two kinds of courage. There’s the courageous act, which is what makes our heart beat fast when the knight fights the dragon or the firefighter rushes into the burning building. These are extreme events most of us won’t ever face. And because most of us aren’t put in positions to participate in a courageous act, we don’t necessarily think of ourselves as courageous.

But there’s a second kind of courage that is widely available but not widely embraced. It’s the courageous choice. This is the decision to do the right thing even when it’s unpopular, uncelebrated, and probably even unnoticed.

The right thing is to make healthier choices for ourselves. The right thing is to satisfy our deepest needs with God, not food. It’s the choice to walk willingly on the path of discipline in the area of our food choices. It’s coming to the realization that changes need to be made — and making those changes in the quietness of the pantry, when no one else is looking.

It’s respecting ourselves enough to be courageous for us.

It is possible to quiet the battle in your mind. It is possible to make the courageous choice. It is possible to stand in that pantry and declare you were made to consume food but food was never meant to consume you. It is possible to consume only that which will add to your health and not take away from it. It is possible.

So make that choice. And then make it again. And then make it again."

So as I struggle with forgiveness and fear and letting go, I need to remember to make courageous choices. I need to remember not to worry so much about being wise as to trust God.


After a series of minor yet unfortunate events yesterday, and conversations around fear, and forgiveness, and trust, and betrayal, and needs and far, in the first few minutes of today, I have received:
"sometimes God asks me to do something that seems just as impossible. That happens when He leads me into the harder parts of my faith.That looks different for all of us, but for me it was to forgive those who had hurt me in my past. God was nudging me to soar, but in order to do that I had to let go and trust that He knew what was ahead)." (Suzie Eller, writing for Proverbs 31 Ministries.

On Saturday I will be speaking about forgiveness. And forgiving myself. Suzie again: she talks about how it 
is not our job to forgive ourselves:
"Yes, we confess that sin.
Yes, we make peace with others, as far as it is possible.
But accepting His forgiveness allows you to live fully in today. Your sin is reframed through His grace, and you are free to discover what God has for you today.
Print this out (click for printable) and place it on your bathroom mirror, or in your Bible, or on the refrigerator.
Read it out loud daily until it feels like truth inside of your heart.
When you look in the mirror, say these words: I am forgiven.
Let that forgiveness propel you discover what it means to live free and filled with Him

And yet...

The comments on Suzie's blog about forgiving ourselves are really helpful:
Kristen says: "had an issue 8 months ago where I was hurt very badly by someone. I was so angry and resentful that I could not get it out of my mind. I even dreamed about it for months. I couldn’t focus on projects that I wanted to complete, which was odd for me. It was like I was consumed. I worked with a life coach who helped me to realize that I was in spiritual warfare and this unforgiveness had become a stronghold. She advised me to pray for the person that I needed to forgive whenever I had the negative thoughts. I was amazed that it actually worked! I truly feel set free. God is amazing! One thing that Suzie says in her book is that Christ sets us free from the bondage of our sin AND the sin of others. The person who offended me may never apologize, but God has set me free from her sin."
This is really helpful. Remembering – and finding the strength – to pray for the person who has hurt us is so hard and liberating and freeing all at once. We are indeed in a battle.

Mandy Young says:
 "God will only give you what you can handle,
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,
When you start to doubt that’s when God gives you more (faith) to prove that you can get through it."

Monday, 3 June 2013

'Anything' begins...

Starting the Good Morning Girls summer study with a selection of Bible verses each week and chapters of Jennie Allen's book 'Anything'.
Today was John 8:1 - 11 - the woman caught in adultery.  And as I read these familiar verses, I wonder... why did Jesus write in the dirt?  Why did he use his finger? What was he trying to do? Buying time? Ignoring them, hoping they'd go away?
And don't you marvel at his grace and forgiveness and lack of condemnation for this woman who had nearly lost her life.  I wonder...what happened to her next? Where did she go? Back to a life of condemnation by others, or did she become a changed person?  If Jesus told her to 'sin no more' then perhaps there was no choice about it - his love compelled her to obey.  I wonder...