Monday, 29 April 2013

Age cannot wither

As one who is in the 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" (John Keats 'To Autumn') in terms of life and experience, it was with a degree of wistful nostalgia that I read the following words yesterday:
"Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, "I find no pleasure in them" ~ Ecclesiastes 12:1
Sadly, I am no longer in the first flush of youth, only the hot flush of middle age.

Though, I prefer to consider that "these years are still the years of my prime. It is important to recognise the years of one's prime, always remember that" ~ Muriel Spark in 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie'.

And my days have already been full of trouble enough, thank you.

Surely God hasn't finished with me yet?

Thankfully, no.

If anything, these years are ones where my relationship with God is stronger than ever.

In the leaning and the learning He holds me steady as the Rock hewn for us.
"The righteous will flourish like a palm tree...planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, "The Lord is upright; he is my Rock.." ~ Psalm 92:12 - 15


This year I have dared to have a God-sized dream and believe for it to be fulfilled.

It requires much watering with the Word and refreshing by the Spirit.

Instead of thinking I am beyond going deeper with God, this could be the most productive season of my life and yours too. In Scripture, for Abraham and Sarah, life sprang forth anew and their latter years were fertile with great hope and promise. And they can be the same for us at any stage.
"Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety" ~ William Shakespeare in 'Antony and Cleopatra'
I aim to keep on dreaming, keep on growing strong and vibrant inwardly if not outwardly.

As our roots dig deep into the river of grace we will be sustained and strengthened.
"But blessed is the man (or woman) who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He (she) will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit" ~ Jeremiah 17:7 - 8 (additions mine)
In the light of eternity, what are a few lines, wrinkles or grey hair? We can take pains to alter some of that now, but in time to come our new resurrection bodies will be fit, strong and ever-youthful.

Sadly, many spend far too much time, energy (and money) on trying to push back signs of ageing in the here and now and have spent none on maintaining their inner life.

Our spirit is eternal and not subject to the ageing process.

We can be continually refreshed as we live under the waterfall of God's grace.



May I encourage you to focus more on the incorruptible, eternal, spiritual things of life rather than the temporary, temporal and fleeting things that are subject to decay and will ultimately fade, rust, spoil and perish?

As you look back on your life with God and look forward to the life to come, you will be glad that you did.

Some say, "It's not over until the fat lady sings"; God says that while we have life and breath we are on active service for Him. No retirement in His Kingdom!

I want to leave a spiritual inheritance; to not be satisfied unless I can say to God, "Don't take me "till I have declared your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come"."

Will you join me?

Dare to believe the best is yet to come.

God hasn't finished with us yet.

No matter if you are in your 20s, 30s, 40s or (like me) beyond, there is a God-sized dream and a God-shaped purpose with your name on it.

Let us remember that as children of God we are the ageless ones, destined to live with Him forever.

Age shall not wither us. 

We are "like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God" Psalm 52:8
"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever" ~ Psalm 73:26
Linking here with Tania Vaughan and 'Monday Ministry' where we aim to take Sunday thoughts into the rest of the week. Do join us. It is open for the rest of the week.

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Sunday, 28 April 2013

A time to speak and a time to refrain

We all tend to think of ourselves as sweet, reasonable people most of the time.

Or hope we come across that way at least.


But I know there are times when I try my husband's (extremely l..o..n..g suffering and saintly) patience to the utmost.


At times like that I wouldn't be at all surprised if he thought along the lines of the words from Proverbs below:



When words/tiredness/hormones/stress get the better of me I know I fit this description perfectly and I don't even want to be in the same room as me.

My devoted Other Half is blessed with an inordinate amount of good-will, patience and calm, and, boy, has he needed it.

You see, hurting people tend to hurt other people, almost without noticing it.

My way is with words.

Thankfully, self-criticism more than wounding others with intent.

Though I still do and hate myself for it.

When we love someone in a marriage relationship then we co-exist and are co-joined as one flesh in the sight of God.

If I spend time spouting forth poisonous venom about myself, and occasionally leaking it over him, what does that say to my beloved?

Did he choose wrongly?

Do I have no idea how much he loves me?

Do I have no idea what damage I am doing to my own fragile self-esteem?

Don't I realise how much it wounds him to hear me speaking negatively about myself?

The sad answer is "No" and also "I can't help it" or "I didn't realise".

If I can hurt my husband in that way, then what sadness does it bring to God's Father heart to hear me lamenting about my life and flaws and failures to the extent where it sounds like griping, whining and complaining at the way He made me?

No, I'm not perfect. I'm very much a flawed and cracked pot in the Potter's hands.



But I am also supposed to be aware of the loving way I have been crafted and designed for His service.

Thankfully, those destructive negativity moments are becoming a rarity these days as not only have I worked through and been healed emotionally of a lot of past problems, God has also given me a revelation on who I am in Christ.

And that has made a huge difference to how I see myself.

So I try (with His help) to speak words of love, comfort and encouragement into the lives of others.

To enable them to see and believe how special they are to God.

Each one of us is dearly loved and unique, equipped with individual skills and talents to live fully and freely and bless others with.

We can all learn how to do that as we truly believe it for ourselves.

There is a time to speak and a time to refrain from speaking.

Taming the tongue is hard work and will most likely take me into eternity as I seek to do it better.

But it is so worthwhile.

And if it means my husband is happy to have me by his side rather than seeking a roof-top or desert escape route, then so much the better!

******

How about you?

Are you listening to what you say about yourself?

Does it tie up with what God is saying about you in Scripture?

To stay in touch you can join by Google Friend Connect, follow on Twitter or like my Facebook page.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Friend

It's Friday and that means Five Minutes of free flow, as-it-comes writing, from the heart, on a given topic.

Today's prompt is 'Friend'


Start...

Friend


"What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear" ~ Joseph M. Scriven hymn (1855) Click on this link to hear 

Faithful Reliable Incarnate Eternal Near Dependable




You stick closer than a brother or sister.

The only One who has ever held my whole heart.

There right from the beginning.

Your love drew me like moth to flame.

Acceptance melted my reserve.

Welcome warmed a chilled child's heart.

Always giving.

Always loving.

Always there for me.

Drew me out of swamp pit dwelling to reside by Your side.

My darkest valley Companion.

Truest viewer of my faults, flaws and failings, yet You love me still.

Unchanging.

Desire the highest good, support and enable me to live fully and freely, true to how I was created to be.

I've pulled shyly from close friendships, even turned comma-like away from loved ones in attempt to hide my shame and pain.

You alone give me courage to be fully myself, to tell my story, share hopes, fears and dreams, reach out again.

I am the wayward wanderer, You never leave nor forsake.

Your grace daily manna for my soul.

I love you, Lord.

Abide with me and teach me how to abide with You

and let Peace and Joy become familiar friends too.

For You never let me down and never will.

Thank you.

Amen.


Stop.
"You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I'm no longer calling you servants because servants don't understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I've named you friends because I've let you in on everything I've heard from the Father" ~ John 15:14 - 15
Linking here with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday. Do hop over and join in the fun.


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Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Girls just wanna have fun

Pursuing a God-sized dream is a fairly serious matter in terms of intent, dedication and commitment. It can alter the whole course of a life.

But there needs to be a time for resting and appreciating how far we have already come.

Holley has requested us to get in touch with our playful side this week as she's encouraged us to "do something creative. Snap a picture. Build a Pintrest board. Make a craft. Read a book. Bake a treat. Wrestle with your kids. Whatever energizes you...sometimes along the way to our dreams we just need a little time to play."

Soon after I read these suggestions this thought hit me with great awareness:

I have signally failed to factor fun into my life for far too long now (try saying that quickly) and my life has been all the poorer (and far too intense) as a result. 

Chronic sickness and fatigue, as well as lack of practice, may limit my options somewhat but I will do my best to re-introduce play/enjoyment even if it will take a bit of a gear-shift mentally and a bit of working out creatively!

So here's a snapshot of some things that have brought me pleasure this week.

Tuesday:

Dear Holley,
In this week's assignment are you asking us to do something:
 Frivolous Unnecessary Naughty to try the Fantastic Unlimited New or to Find Unexpected Nuances in our daily lives? Maybe all three.

Whatever follows is going to be presented while kicking perfectionism out the door and opening myself up to freedom of expression without worrying about what others may think of me. Taking that attitude alone should be fun (she says through gritted teeth!)

Wednesday:
A Limerick - Ode to Holley

Sweet, encouraging Holley Gerth
helps us pursue dreams for all they are worth.
She sets a weekly task
and this one's a big ask
for she wants us all rolling in mirth.

****

Actually, rolling around with mirth, giggling and breathless, is desirable but optional. Having fun is just doing more of what gives us pleasure, enjoyment and relaxation. Sometimes it's okay to act your shoe size (mine's 3.5 - 4 UK or 36 - 37 European) and not your age.

Thursday:

I love to write and have introduced fun into it by writing in a new way recently. Five Minute Friday encourages us to attempt 5 minutes of free flow writing on a given topic. So here is a 15 minute exercise instead (on a topic from a book I've been reading) of non-edited, as-it-comes writing:

When I am at a crossroads, I....


 


When I am at a crossroads I hesitate, dither, and try to remember which way I should be going. 
Uncertainty kicks in like an unwelcome stranger beside me. How to choose?
Too many choices only serve to confuse. Is life governed by the 'shoulds' and 'oughts'?
Would it really be so terrible if I gave in to "What if..?"
As long as the question isn't fear-based, then it is a road rich with potential of unexplored avenues, pathways to pleasure, roads to ruin, or streets of secrecy and shame, sheer delight. I remain rooted to the spot. Certainty shadows my thoughts and beckons with a sense of concrete calm. 
Go with the familiar is Certainty's refrain. Seems sensible. Logical. Doable. 
Though I can't avoid the fact it seems dull and pedestrian too. 
What if...I gave in to a desire for pastures new,
 took the left instead of forking right,
blindly stepped out into my fate and my future?
Would that be so terrible?

Crossroads have an intersection. A meeting point. 
Here, thoughts bundle together like traffic colliding. 
Being sure of where you're heading is no bad thing. Being grown-up and responsible. 
Secure. Safe. Yes, okay, a tad boring and predictable too maybe.
My inner child longs for safety. It's more about the heart being stable than the road being less than rocky. Lush green pastures are not the usual stopping place for me.
I've become accustomed to the wayside, the dark path, barely enough light to step ahead.
Lived for far too long in Safe Pastures in terms of fear of embracing the new.

A narrow gate for the Faithful.
A broad road that leads to destruction.
I can traverse any conditions if my Guide is with me.
He beckons me forward. Make a choice. Go where your heart and spirit lead you.
Dare to step out into the Unknown.
When I am with you you'll be safe, no matter what.

His the voice I choose to heed. Push back Fear and Uncertainty. 
Welcome in New Beginnings. See...I am stepping out...
looking around me...putting one foot in front of the other...
Freedom and Adventure are calling me and I'm going to follow willingly...
one step at a time.

Friday:


 
                     Pleasure on a plate









           Signs of Spring

Meet Marmaduke - a new friend

Participating in Five Minute Friday Fun here

Saturday:

Energy levels very low today. But I am rejoicing in having a husband who has a Jesus-like servant-heart, still loves me as tenderly as he did when we were starry-eyed young lovers, delights (usually) in doing the multiple household tasks I cannot manage, and always makes me smile with his great sense of humour.

I am needing to rest a lot physically so have turned to an activity I love: reading. Since joining social media and starting blogging, a lot of my reading is done on-line these days and I lack energy to read much else, though books still play a big part in my life; it just takes me much longer to finish them than it used to!

Nearly finished reading this book


Though I never want to stop living
wonder-struck by God's grace because
retaining a child-like sense of wonder is vital
You can find out more about the book here 


Chilling out with 'JOY' gentle lighted candle 
fragranced with aromatherapy essential oils of 
Jasmine Absolute, Bergamot, Patchouli, Basil and Yylang-Yylang
to soothe away the cares of the day

Sunday:

Cheered and encouraged by these words that speak of all we do in life being seen by God:

"Your work may go uncelebrated, but it will not go unrewarded. God has put you exactly where He needs you. You are fulfilling His purpose every day. Once you accept that, you'll find joy and meaning in what you're doing" ~ UCB 'Word for Today'

Though I rarely make it to church, 'church' makes its way to me via TV programmes and music. I particularly enjoy sermons by Charles Stanley, Paul Scanlon and Charles Price, to name but a few. It really helps me to connect to God by playing worship songs and singing along to the lyrics.

My taste varies depending on whether I need quietly contemplative, rocky, soulful, contemporary or traditional sounds. Today, I am listening to the lively Newsboys album,'God's not dead' and finding it so uplifting. 

I love 'The King is Coming' song for its upbeat music and positive lyrics. It highlights the fact that Jesus is going to return and we need to 'Make a way for the King' in our hearts and lives. You can Click on this to have a listen  if you'd like to.

Another lovely thing I enjoyed today was having our first Skype video-call conversation with our youngest son and daughter-in-law via my new laptop. It was great to 'see' them as they live at a distance and trips to visit one another are far and few between.

Monday

I wanted to go out and take a photo of a magnolia tree as it is one of my favourites and the sight of them in bloom lifts my spirits. We don't have garden space for one, unfortunately, but they are in my neighbourhood. Sadly, my camera is broken and I lack the fitness to make an excursion. Nevertheless, I have 'borrowed' photos instead.


Close-up of the blossoming flower

The tree in gloriously full bloom

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

Indulged in child-like ways with a chocolate mint lollipop as dessert tonight!

Tuesday

To close - another limerick ode to Holley

A delightful young lady called Holley
always look friendly and jolly,
for she's found a great scheme
to help you follow your dream
and to ignore her advice would be folly

I also attempted 'Open Office Draw' as I wanted to learn how to add words to images on my computer. Sadly, I didn't quite master the art enough to enable me to share anything. Though it has encouraged me to find up my old (physical) drawing materials and have a go once more. Perfection is overrated, after all - she adds blithely.

This week has been eye-opening for me and I'm determined to keep seeking ways to enlarge the capacity to enjoy my life, whether resuming old hobbies or taking up new ones.

The things that have brought me pleasure and enjoyment are minor and may seem insignificant to most, but they added liveliness and colour to my life. I have welcomed the emphasis on experiencing the richness of abundance from God who freely gives us all things to enjoy.
"You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with eternal pleasures at your right hand" ~ Psalm 16:11
Hope you have seen His hand of grace upon your life too in the 'chill-axing' moments.

Do feel free to share in the comments below.

Linking up here with Holley Gerth and the rest of the God-sized dream team.




You are very welcome to join us on the journey as we discover all that God has planned for us this year.

To stay in touch you can subscribe by e-mail, join me on Google Friend Connect, follow on Twitter, or like my Facebook page.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Sinking but not sunk

Confession time today - I'm a bit of a hand-wash harridan.

As a nurse, I spent more time than I care to count washing my hands at a sink.

Those were the days before alcohol sprays and hand-sanitisers were prevalent.

We washed and scrubbed as if our lives (or that of our patients at least) depended on it.

Germs didn't stand a chance!

As a mother of two young sons, I waged war on the dirt that clung with magnetic-like resistance and repulsed attempts to dislodge itself from football and rugby kit.




Somehow, dirt and boys have an irresistible attraction to one another.

In the era that was pre 'In-wash' grime-grabbers, it was a siege against soil wrought with a large bar of green 'Fairy' soap, scrubbing brush in hand, 'elbow grease' and dogged determination that succeeded in shifting the stains enough to allow machine to take over.

Before little boys graced our lives, I lived as one chained to sink.

Mine red hands that cracked, chapped with soreness, dry as paper, rough as a washerwoman's.

For I could not shift stains that seeped from heart so soiled it leaked over every surface

Nothing I touched was safe. Germs and dirt lurked everywhere. Nothing shifted it.

In matters of my heart's state, it was more of a Lady Macbeth cry of, "Will these hands ne'er be clean?" as I scrubbed yet again at the crusted-on soil of my imperfections.




Not just the hands, but heart, mind and everything else.

Peter-like, seeking total immersion in Christ's washing power.

In life, I have many a heart-sink moment as the following thoughts invade:

I'm a failure. I can't do this. I'm drowning. I'm my own worst enemy.

Etcetera....etcetera...

No matter how many times I try to clean up on the inside, I fail continually

Spring-cleaning as we know it doesn't help clean ingrained dirt in heart, mind and life.

Though even in the grime-busting there remains a beauty of sorts as bubbles burst with rainbow radiance - a visible reminder of the wondrous power of God's grace to remove our stains. 



Just lately, self-esteem has hit rock bottom. The detritus of discouragement has dirtied my thoughts with its muddy footprints.

Comparison has stolen my joy. Competitiveness sours my peace. Criticism (generally of the self-inflicted variety) saps my confidence.

How dare I have the temerity to pursue a God-sized dream, write a blog and start an on-line course, when health and energy are always compromised? Who do I think I am?

I am continually reminded of my weak human frailty and condition.


Then I remember how God fashioned us as clay - earthy, malleable, ready to be made fit for purpose. And that takes time, co-operation, willingness and obedience.

His purpose involves rescuing from those things that hold us captive; yes, even saving us from ourselves, our worst thoughts, activities and desires. 
"I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand." ~ Psalm 40:1-2
God sees our potential even as we drown in poison.

He places His own desires, plans and purposes in our hearts. 

We can stand strong instead of mud-sinking.

The Rock we stand on is Christ Himself. Firm. Immovable. Strong. Dependable.

We are seed-bearers of His goodness and carriers of His grace, beautiful in His sight.

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

Though we may still feel grubby, dirt-laden, unclean and soiled, God's word tells us we are washed clean once and for all by the blood of Christ, renewed and restored as an on-going process by His grace.

This gives me hope that though I may sink at times, I am never sunk

Love lifted me and He still does - every single day.

These are words God encouraged me with in prayer and I hope they will bless you too:

Prayer Whispers

"It is in those times when you lose sight of Me and become more focused on the opinion and approval of others that you are tempted to sink into a sea of self-pity or drown in discouragement and despair. Lift your head out of that pit and see Me. I have been here all along. My arm ready to reach down and pull you out as soon as you recognised where you were. Pits and valleys are part of Kingdom living in this world, although you are not intended to stay in them. They are passing-places where lessons are learnt and growth and change begin to occur as you move through them and out the other side. Take My hand today and allow Me to draw you gently onto safe ground and pleasant pastures. Feed on My word, abide in My Presence, soak in My love, and you will be healed, renewed and restored to journey on"

Will you join me in taking hold of the hand of Christ?

He specialises in spring-cleaning our souls.

We're not designed for swamp living, though we can be pretty happy splashing about in muddy waters if that's all we've known.

Let's allow Him to lift us out of the mud and mire we may have slipped into and place us in the safety of His cleansing, healing, loving embrace.


*******

This week Kimberly Coyle is hosting #concretewords - where we write in the abstract using a concrete word prompt - over at her site. The prompt is 'The Sink'.

You can keep in touch with me on Twitter or by liking my Facebook page

Please feel free to leave a comment.

I love to read and reply to them.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Jumping

This my day for parachute jumping, going into free-fall as I leap into space, scrambling for words before they fall to the ground.

All par for the course with Five Minute Friday where we allow words to fall where they will and hope to catch a few to share.

Today's prompt is: JUMP


Start..


Jumping


Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.Net


I'm not a natural risk-taker. Safe. Secure. 
That's how I like my world to be in general.

As child I stood with mingled dread and delight
of anticipation as I waited my turn to jump into the 
swinging rope swaying and arcing before me.

The tune got louder, rope snapped faster and heart beat wildly
as I leapt, hoping to make it before rope caught ankles
instead and we both cascaded 
in a pooled loop of humiliation 
to the ground.

Further scary leaping and jumping took place in exploration 
of condemned building sites where feet rocked unsteady.

Later, age 17, I made the biggest leap of my life.
A leap of faith. My whole being 
straight into Abba Father's outstretched arms. 
Caught. Held safe.

Secure in the swinging of my emotions.
Daily smaller leaps of faith stretch and challenge still.
Though God provides the means to make them.

Now, any leaping, skipping or jumping 
is confined to the realm of the mind, heart and spirit, 
for body finds even walking a challenge.

But I keep on making the leap,
with my daily life and with my writing.
And God keeps catching me as I arrive
breathless with gratitude
 into His loving embrace once more,
with no fear of snaking ropes around me.

He's ready and waiting for you to leap too

Stop

Linking up here with Lisa-Jo Baker.



Do come over and join in.

To stay in touch you can find me on Twitter or Facebook

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Journeying

Any journey we undertake with God is one where we are never alone, even if we may feel like it sometimes.

Our lives can seem empty, despite being full of activity, and we may sense an inner restlessness that nothing else can satisfy. 

A gentle, holy whisper in our hearts that bids us "Come" is worth paying attention to

Ever since I started my God-sized dream journey, He has made it abundantly clear I can do nothing without Him and that my deepest need is to spend time alone in His presence.

This week, Holley encouraged us to: set aside time to be with God - pray, journal, take a walk, or simply sit quietly and listen and then share what our heart receives.

Here's what happened:

"One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore.." ~ Andre Gide

 The shore we cling to may be one of Security. Comfort. Ease. Predictability.

It takes courage to step out into the unknown, unsure of where we'll end up.




In the changing scenes of life I am one who favours stability, though not stagnation.

My early life experiences steer me in the direction of wanting to be safe, to know what lies ahead and how to deal with it.

Yet God is always taking me out of my comfort zone, time and again.

Journeying with Him is anything but stable and predictable, even if His love, grace, help, comfort and character are always to be relied upon.

Though God is unquestionably good (and so are His plans for us), He is also (as Lucy learnt about Aslan) Not Safe in terms of being controllable or predictable - far from it.

Following God's ways are a challenge that stretches us to the utmost.

Journeying through the twists and turns of life involves accepting valleys as well as mountain-tops.

I'm aware that I would prefer the quick detour to the top rather than a circuitous, uphill climb that leaves me panting and breathless, red-faced with exertion and exhaustion.



Too much of my life is wilderness dwelling. I want to shake sand off and get moving somewhere more hospitable, but God has other ideas.

I sense Him saying: Pause. Breathe. Reflect. Enjoy the scenery. Yes, right where I am.

I'm a restless, impatient pilgrim, always wanting to see what is round the next corner.

Staying put to rest, reflect and enjoy the scenery before moving ahead is a challenge.

Being on pilgrimage is what shapes, makes, and often breaks us - removing preconceptions, limitations and ideas of managing in our own strength alone.
"Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their heart on pilgrimage. As they pass through the valley of Baca (weeping), they make it a place of springs, the autumn rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion" ~ Psalm 84:5 - 7
Those deep, dark places are where we do our best growing as believers as we set our hearts on continuing the journey. The valley of weeping and wailing, darkness and discouragement, sadness and sorrow, can become a place of refreshment and watering for dry, thirsty souls because the Lord is close to the crushed and broken-hearted (Psalm 34:18)

'Autumn rain' speaks to me of the season of my life, autumnal years made mellow and ripe with potential of abundant fruitfulness - God willing; He isn't finished with me yet!

Those pools of refreshment may not be visible for a while, though rivulets run freely from the throne of Grace if we only look for and anticipate them.



The fruitful life may look anything but on the surface, yet yield great abundance in the spiritual realm.

Our frailty, weakness and vulnerability are the very avenues through which God shines best.

"If God sends us on stony paths, He will provide strong shoes" ~ Alexander Maclaren

If I can enjoy the moment, be fully present in the here and now, that way lies peace.

It is a rare gift to be able to trust God for each moment, enjoying His hand holding ours through storms, dark places and smoother pathways, with no alarm or anxiety in either state.

I'm not there yet and may never be, but I am grateful for the insights as I progress in faith.

As it is, God graces us all with companions, reassurance and hope along the way.

The words below are an encouragement to keep us journeying on, no matter what:
"Let nothing disturb you, nothing dismay you; all things are passing; God never changes; patient endurance attains all things; whoever possesses God lacks nothing; God alone suffices" ~ Teresa of Avila
******

What has God been revealing to you this week?

Do share in the comments below so we can support one another.

Linking here with Holley Gerth and the rest of the God-sized dream team.



We would love you to join us on the journey and share what God is doing in your life.

To stay in touch, you can subscribe by e-mail, link with me on Google Friend Connect or by liking my Facebook page.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Heart of Worship

A heart matter - Worship

"True worship can only take place when we agree to God sitting not only on His throne in the centre of the universe, but on the throne that stands in the centre of our heart" ~ Robert Colman
An invitation had been issued. So we came. Standing on the threshold of the future.

Hands slippery, nerves tinged with excitement as I held fast to my leonine boyfriend, he of the long tawny mane and liquid-brown roving eyes, urging him toward the back row for Outsiders such as we.

We parked ourselves, politely quiet and oddly formal. Little did I know how familiar such venues were to him, though he hid it well.

Slowly, the room began to fill. No longer the only youthful faces, confirmed by his engaging smile and approving glance as he skirted and flirted safe with me beside.

Then I saw Them. My heart somersaulted, lips dried as I felt again that buzz of connectivity like a jolt of electricity.

Ishmael and Andy. Gospel duo. My reason for coming.

No longer in Sixth Form Common Room, filling it with their vibrant lyrics, faces shining.

Now filling this place with more sound and a mysterious glow - an indefinable Something Else in the air.

As they strummed and thrummed once more, I relaxed into the flow, mellowed out. Caught Lion Mane head-banging in his own inimitable, uninhibited style, caring not who saw him.

I tapped, swayed and clapped, caught up, unknowingly, in the beat and rhythm of life itself. Senses fully engaged and alert as sound, singing and sweetness washed over me.


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Things slowed. Voices speaking. One voice taking up the mike.

Ears pricked. Room hushed. A message given.

Spoken just to me.

All was still. Save for a heart hammering fit to burst.

I drank in every word, desert-thirsty for Water that would satiate to the full, absorbing every drop

Words ringing bell-like in head and heart - He. Loves. Me. God loves me??

Never before had I known love Pure ... Holy Offering ... Unconditional. 

I sought answers, meaning, purpose and love everywhere:inappropriate love-givers, horoscopes, Ouija boards, levitation, writing smut, being lust for others.

Casting the net wide, diving deep into murky, treacherous waters, seeking hidden treasure, pearl of great price, and coming up empty, left with silted mouth and heart. 

As child I lay grass-stained looking to heaven, seeing angels in my eyes, always knowing there must be Something Else out there. A better way to live. Someone Who Really Cared.

This child-prodigal was running into arms of Father. Reunited with the One who knew her before she was brought into being. 

Spark of Life awakening a deadened spirit to His Love.

The thrill of knowing and being known ran through me with emotions and heart on fire.


Breath-stop moment of recognition. My soul rejoicing. Heart hungry. Desperate to believe.
"It's not the art, it's the heart. What God reads during our worship is the inner attitude. Worship is spiritual; it's organic; it's relational" ~ La Mar Buchanan
The band blended into mist...instantly forgotten.

The boyfriend...equally lost to awareness.

The people...faded out of sight.

I fell into Love's arms and He held tight

Tears fell. No lady-like flow. This was snot-nosed-kid gushing, heart-poured-out waterfall.

Thrill of being enraptured and captured.

Here was surrender.

Here was adoration.

Here was worship.

I laid it all down before God


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All my years (17)

All my sadness, shame and pain (yes, much even then)

And all my being tugged irresistibly in His direction as I shakily joined the snaking line threading its way down the aisle.

Sobbing. Laughter. Cries. Strange foreign-tongued rising cadence, knitting of words beyond understanding, as others gave interpretation.

All mingled in this strange world called Church I would soon be a part of. Waiting to receive me as an adopted child by grace. 

*******

Now, a few decades on - a lifetime of living, leaving, losing, pulling away, being broken, being lost, being renewed, being restored and made whole again - I can never fully recapture the awesome, beautiful moment of coming to faith in Christ.

Nothing else comes close to the sheer wonder of giving 'Worth-Ship' to my God for the very first time

Many idols compete for attention and many sorrows drown out His voice for a while.
"Every moment I live, I live bowed to something. And if I don't see God, I'll bow down to something else" ~ Ann Voskamp
Yet...He still holds out hands to me... grace unlimited, forgiveness, cleansing.

And I offer myself afresh. Living sacrifice of praise. Unworthy as I am and always will be.

And every time my eyes slide from His face, and I backslide from His grace, my heart knows..

It's not about me.

It's not about the place.

It's not even about the worship band, or the building, or the service, or the flowers, candles, vestments, robes, positions, pomp and pageantry, 'the way we do it' all, good as these things may be.

In the hands lifted high, praise, rejoicing, singing, laughing, crying, praying, silence, prone and prostrate, work, rest and play moments - all can be worship - with heart, soul, mind, will and emotions given over, and daily offering of lives surrendered.

For it's all about Him.

Always has been.

Always will be.

The heart of worship is coming back to God's heart, right where we belong.

Linking here with Nacole at sixinthesticks for concrete words, where we write about the abstract using a concrete prompt; and with Tania Vaughan's Monday Ministry where we seek to bring Sunday faith experiences into the everyday week. Do hop over and join us.

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What does worship mean to you? 

Please feel free to join in the comments below. I love to read and reply to them.