Handing it over

This afternoon I was sitting in my classroom singing ‘he’s got the whole world in his hands’ with year 11 pupils – obviously!

Over the last couple of weeks I have given talks, and listened to talks about faith – it’s our theme for this term.

And yet… I struggle to hear the words for myself.

I’m hoping through typing it might sink in!

I imagine we’ve all had to carry something that we have needed help and support with. There’s probably even been times when someone has had to take something out of our hands because we just cannot manage to carry it any further. Then of course, there are the times where we are holding up people because we are being weighed down.

This happens, not only physically, but metaphorically!

Sometimes it will be friends, family, colleagues that wee Ned to seek support from, or who might take things from us.

However, sometimes we need to recognise that actually there’s nothing we can do, we need to hand it over, we need to trust that our loving father has got it in hand, and have faith that good will come out. We need to focus on what we can do, where we can make a difference, and not worry about tomorrow – after all, tomorrow will worry about itself!

Stop… look… listen

We have probably all been taught how to cross a road? I still remember the team coming in to my primary school, bringing a zebra crossing, and beacons, as we were taught.

Taught to stop… look… listen…

This is more than a lesson for crossing the road. This is something we should be doing in our daily lives.

I haven’t kept it much of a secret that I like a routine. In the morning I’m pretty much on auto-pilot as I walk to school. Last week I was shook out of my zombie-like state as I was stopped in my tracks by the beauty of a tree. It had the most gorgeous red leaves, I was overwhelmed by its beauty. And today it was similar with a single leaf on the ground.

Also over the last week I have been listening to my music and have really heard some of the words in the songs which I have actually then sent links to friends. I’ve also felt prompted to send messages of encouragement to friends. This was something that used to happen a lot, I felt prompted, and it turned out that prompting came at just the right time for that person BUT…

I’ve been getting caught up in life, focussing on surviving each day that I haven’t been noticing what’s going on around me, I haven’t been listening to those prompts

If we just cross a road without stopping, looking and listening there is a possibility we will be knocked over.

If we go through life without taking time to stop, to look around us and to listen to what’s been said, we can become overwhelmed by the stuff… we can miss the beauty… we can miss opportunities to use our gifts to be a blessing to others.

Can I just encourage you in the next few days

Stop… and take some time for you without thinking about the stuff that’s happening

Look… at the beauty of nature, of family, of friends

Listen… to people, to music, to the voice in your head – what’s being said?

I’d love to hear if you do it and what happens!

All good things around us

Over recent weeks many churches have celebrated with Harvest festivals. A festival rooted in thanking God for the fruits and the crops of the land, and now an opportunity to thank God for his provision for us and to be able to share that with others.

On the Sunday when our Church were celebrating harvest the husband was preaching at the early service, so I went along to support him, and hear him. During the service we sang the classic harvest hymn ‘we plough the fields and scatter’ the chorus of which is

‘all good gifts around us are sent from heaven above, so thank the Lord, oh thank the Lord, for all his love’

This was a message that I needed to be reminded of at the time, and have continued to be removed of since. It is so easy to get caught up in the negative, the things that are causing upset and anger. It’s easy to question why those things are happening. But that doesn’t often help, and can even escalate the problem.

However, if we remind ourselves of the good things, and we recognise the good, then not only can we thank our provider, but we can have hope that we will continue to be provided for, and good will continue to be there.

I now where I’m going to try and focus – what about you?

Be quietened not choosing quiet

When I was at uni I got myself a small notebook and asked my friends to write notes, or verses in it as an encouragement for me. This was at a time when my brain was particularly frazzled. I still remember that this was the first time I came across the Bible verse Zephaniah 3:17. It is now one of the few verses that I know off by heart, one that I will share with friends, and even wrote on a pupils shirt on their last day of school.

I was reminded of this verse yesterday, as I was walking to school listening to my Bible in One Year podcast, and this was part of the Old Testament reading. It says (ESV)

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

As I said, I have read this verse so many times, I have shared this verse so many times, but yesterday I heard it in a new way, a way that I needed to hear it in.

Regular readers will know that I have spoken about ‘radio silence’ this is the phrase E has started to use when I shut myself off, when I refuse to reply to her daily and many texts, and this has now extended to when I don’t have a cuppa with D and hide in my room at work – sometimes even with lights off! This has been occurring more over the last year, as my situation has changed and as I have been struggling to cope with what has been going on.

But when I heard this verse yesterday I realised that actually, I’ve been dealing with things wrong. We are told in this verse God will quieten us with his love. When I’m struggling I hide away, but last week after E was particularly persistent with me. I decided I was going to write a blog but I shared it with her first. We came to the realisation that it was possibly a little too honest to be completely shared with the world. However, I shared it with a group of ladies who regularly pray for me.

The response I got was rather overwhelming, really beautiful messages of encouragement, as well as honest “I don’t know what to say” but what I have really felt is this sense of envelopment in prayer, in love, in encouragement.

Through not hiding away, and choosing my own quiet, and I have experienced God in my midst, rejoicing over me, rejoicing in me, quietening me, and exalting me. This has been partly through those friends who responded, but also because I’ve acknowledged what’s going on.

It’s easy to choose quiet, but we can also choose to allow ourselves to be quitened. One arguably involves more risk than the other, but will also be more effective and longer lasting.

I know what I’m going to try to choose … emphasis on the try!

Trying to find my way

I feel I write this a lot at the moment, but it’s been a tough week. There have been a lot of tears, I have been on radio silence a lot, and have definitely gone in to hibernation mode.

I feel lost… I’m not going to go in to detail, but it is essentially because of my brain.

However, today I have been reminded that I am on a journey, and that I need to be focussing on my compass rather than my map, my obstacles and baggage.

The purpose of a compass is to show North so that you can find direction from it. When I was a guide we spent many hours planning our route using a compass, and then using the compass when we got lost or when there was something else in the way on our route – to get back on track.

In my job I come across a lot of people questioning faith, I have to teach people to question faith, and so often I find that people aren’t convinced in God because of troubles in their life. I can honestly say that has never been an issue for me, why? Because God is my compass and that is what I need to remember.

Yes, I’m struggling at the moment, and I feel completely lost, but I need to go back to my compass, knowing that if I focus on that, on Him, rather than on my struggles, and what I feel I can’t do, then my compass will be my guide and my centring point.

It may well be a different route to the one I thought, and there’s bound to be obstacles, but at least I know where my focus needs to be.

So much easier to write than do!

Where two or three are gathered

I was not feeling great and had gone in to hibernation mode, so much so that I was on radio silence with E. I can’t really explain why, other than overwhelmed.

I knew that I was going to have to ‘put on the face’ after all I was meeting a friend for coffee and then having house group.

I was dreading it, I just wanted to curl up, but I had no need to worry. I was with people who knew me, and actually as I felt more at home with them I relaxed more and felt better generally.

I know that people are good for me, but that doesn’t help when you want to hide away from it all. Sometimes we have to make choices that go against it instinct, because we know they will have a better impact on us. It’s just about finding the strength to make those choice in the first place – that’s going need to be my job this year.

As E reminded me when I broke radios silence ‘where two or Rhee are gathered…there I am also’

Precious

I recieved an email from a friend this morning, and it made me stop and think.

I regularly email a group of awesome women who pray for me, and support me. Celebrating the highs and walking with me in the lows, lifting me up where necessary. I had sent out an email this morning about the start to term. It’s been a tough week but it’s been an exciting one as well.

The email received said ‘there’s a lot here, pace yourself precious’ – why did this stop me in my tracks?

Precious is a term used by E when messaging me when I’m struggling, usually with the words ‘take care my…’

I recall last week when I’d messaged E as some anxieties were going through my mind and as soon as she’d used the word precious I knew there was trouble! So when someone else used the term, when I thought it was a positive email – the alarm bells started ringing.

There aren’t many people I know who see themselves as precious, I know I don’t. I might say that I’m created and loved by God but I don’t think of myself as precious.

Both of these ladies are friends who have seen my journey, they can spot the things, the warning signs that lead to dark times for me, but they see me as precious and remind me of this as well, when I need to hear it.

The definition of precious is… of great value, not to be wasted or treated carelessly

We are all precious, we need to remind ourselves and each other.

You are of great value…not to be wasted… not to be treated carelessly.