Six things this Autumn has taught me

If a year was tucked inside of a clock, then autumn would be the magic hour.(Victoria Erickson)

Each year I fall in love with autumn again. There’s no doubt that it’s my favourite season.

So what has autumn taught me this year?

🍂Creation-therapy rejuvenates the soul!

Kicking autumn leaves at Stormont was a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon!And a road trip to the West of Ireland reminded me that wee island is jam-packed with awesomeness waiting to be explored!

I was awestruck in County Mayo watching the Atlantic waves crash into Downpatrick Head.As we stood on the cliff edge, I was reminded of the words of an ancient poem:
‘Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty!’
(Psalms 93:4 ESV)

🍂Stresses aren’t going to disappear

Trials & troubles are part of life. There’s no escaping them. But we can alter our perspective.

Jon Kabat-Zin notes:
‘You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.’

🍂Joy is a choice

When we studied James 1 last week Pastor George spoke of the phrased ‘Consider it pure joy.’

Joy is a choice. Yet often, despite my blessings & privileges, I’m more Eeyore than Tigger. I’m gloomy rather than bouncy. The glass is half full dwindling toward empty.

Autumn reminded me of this verse:
‘The joy of the Lord is my strength’*
(Nehemiah 8:10)

And David’s prayer in Psalm 51:12
‘Restore to me the joy of your salvation’

*I love Rend Collective’s song based on these words of truth.

🍂Human life is sacrosanct
{no matter how much popular opinion disputes this}

Life is sacrosanct-too valuable to be interfered with. We are hand-designed by God, made in His image with eternity at our core.

‘May you realise that the shape of your soul is unique,
that you have a special destiny here,
that behind the facade of your life
there is something beautiful & eternal happening’
(To Bless the space between us- John O’Donohue)

Our Maker knows us yet still loves us & wants us to know Him more.

We read this verse in Calvary Church near Seattle in the summer:
‘With your very own hands you formed me; now breathe your wisdom over me so I can understand you.’
(Psalm 119:73MSG)

🍂Autumn is a Season of change.

This Autumn our family rhythm has changed more than before. My daughter has started uni. My husband has switched careers after 20 years in teaching. Everything feels in flux. Nothing stays static in the natural world- or in our daily lives.

But,’Sometimes, the good has to end before the better can begin.” (Jeff Goins)

‘Winter will one day turn into spring, but it requires the autumn of letting go in order for it to blossom as it should.’
(Catherine Campbell-Journey With Me)

🍂Tis the season for letting go

The trees demonstrate how beneficial {& beautiful} it is to let go. We can’t hold onto everything- we can’t do it all.

‘Our assignments have been prepared for us ahead of time. We don’t have to do the impossible. We just have to listen to the voice of our Shepherd moment by moment’
(Rebekah Reynolds)

As we fall into winter & roll toward Christmas, may we pause long enough to connect with our Designer & those we love.

‘May all that is unlived in you
Blossom into a future
Graced with love’
(To bless the space between us-
John O’Donohue)

Blessings,

Ruth x

The love of God means our past is forgiven

God’s laundry room

Reading: Psalm 51

Nothing prepared me for the amount of laundry a tiny newborn baby can generate! They go through so many little vests and sleep suits that the washing machine has to go on overdrive! And it just gets worse and worse, as they get older!

I suppose we shouldn’t complain – at least we have washing machines! And there is a certain amount of satisfaction in seeing their little clothes clean and freshly folded.

But I wonder how many of us need a trip to God’s laundry room. The psalmist David wrote:
‘Generous in love – God, give grace!
Huge in mercy-wipe out my bad record.
Scrub away my guilt,
soak out my sins in your laundry. I know how bad I’ve been;
my sins are staring me down’
(Psa 51:1-3 The Message)

‘Soak me in Your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life’
(Psa 51:7-MSG)

For in God’s eyes,the sin in our lives is much worse than the dirtiest of soiled baby clothes:

‘We’ve sinned and kept at it so long! Is there any hope for us? Can we be saved? We’re all sin-infected, sin-contaminated. Our best efforts are grease-stained rags’ (Isa 64:5&6 – The Message)

‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’
(Rom 3:23 – NIV)

When we come to God through Jesus and trust Him as our Saviour, He has promised to remove our sins:

‘He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.’(Psa 103:10-12 – NIV)

All our sin, our failings and shortcomings are forgiven and forgotten because of God’s great love for us.  

Our God says:
“I have swept away your offences like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you”
(Isa 44:22-NIV)

‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool’ (Isa 1:18-NIV)

No sin,no matter how big it appears to us is too big to be forgiven.

David wrote Psalm 51 after committing adultery with Bathsheba, then having her husband killed.  (See IISam ch 11 &12)

If we pour out our heart to God, ‘if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9 – NIV)

I like the start of a new year-a fresh start;a year as yet untouched and unblemished-like freshly fallen, pure white snow covering the ground. Yet God’s love gives us so much more than a new start in life – it gives us a new life to start when we trust in Him. We are new creations. We ‘are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!’ (II Cor 5:17 – NLT)

As we all know from experience, we don’t stop falling short and messing up once we become Christians. We all have days when we feel like lousy parents and lousy Christians. ‘I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.’ (Rom 7:15 – NIV)  

Just like our children’s clothes, our lives get dirty again and we need many, many trips to God’s laundry room to be cleaned – to be steeped in His awesome loving grace and mercy.

Again and again we need to come before our God and ask for forgiveness.

‘God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. Don’t throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me’
(Psa 51: 10 &11 – The Message)

May David’s prayer be the prayer of our heart today:
‘Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a right spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me again the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you’
(Psa 51:10-12 –NLT)

‘Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered’ (Psa 32:1-NIV)

Blessings,

Ruth x

#itsallaboutlove

Father to child

Father to child

Why are you so sad and troubled,

Discouraged and in a muddle?

Why do you try to cope on your own?

You don’t have to do anything alone.

My child, come to me.

Stop struggling, I’ll set you free.

My child, just ask.

My peace is within your grasp,

My arms are all around.

Seek me in prayer- I will be found.

I’m Your Father, Best Friend and though Lord of All,

I’m interested in you- things both great and small.

I want to share in your hopes and fears,

Be with you in joy, wipe away your tears.

So, why do you sink in cares and worry?

I’ll take them from you, if you give them to me.

I am with you constantly,

You cannot run away from me.

No-one can snatch you out of my hand,

Safe and secure with me you stand.

Nothing can separate you from my love,

Nothing in earth or heaven above.

I love you because you re precious to me.

Stop struggling. Just stop. And trust in me.

Sacrosanct

Biology & RE were my favourite subjects at school & I chose both for A Level.In Mr Young’s RE class I remember learning that human life is sacrosanct ie ‘regarded as too important or valuable to be interfered with’

I believe that more than ever today. Especially when considering current debate regarding changing abortion law in NI. I signed an open letter opposing proposed changes in legislation, along with over 900 other NI health workers

I don’t usually listen to the Nolan show but I did a couple of weeks ago- mainly because Nolan was interviewing Dr Cupples, the GP who wrote the open letter.

After this interview, a young lady called Tori shared her story. It was a tragic story of how she carried her baby to term knowing that there was a 50/50 chance of her daughter surviving. A severe congenital abnormality (diaphragmatic hernia) showed on the prenatal scans. Tori’s baby died just a few painful hours after birth. With tears, Tori said she wished she had the option of abortion.

It was painful to listen, to hear Tori’s raw grief. There are no easy answers, or choices. These are ‘hard cases’- life-shattering events, whether you’re pro life or pro choice. Even if abortion was an option in this 50/50 lottery, there could still be the grief of the unknown. The deep ache of regret.

A man phoned into the show stating over 95% abortions are not because of so-called ‘hard cases’ He was dismissed as he couldn’t cite his source. But he was right- according to the UK Department of Health & Social Care’s published statistics for abortions (2018)

Of course there’s a story behind every statistic. But 98.4% of the abortions conducted for women who travelled were granted under the third reason (C) of the 1967 Abortion Act, which states that continued pregnancy threatens the physical or mental health of the mother. This has become the de facto response for elective abortion

In 2018, than 1% were performed to save the life of the mother. Less than 2% were for congenital abnormality.

I think back over 20 years to my Obs & Gynae placement in Ninewells Hospital Dundee. As part of my placement, despite my conscience, I observed the Clinic for women requesting an abortion. There was a long queue. All requests were granted & added to the growing list. Box C was ticked ie another pregnancy would be too stressful, the family was complete, social reasons.

Just along the same corridor there were women in the sub fertility clinic. When taking a history some admitted that they had had abortions in their 20s & now farther along in life they desperately wanted what they had discarded.

Not so far away in the same department women were miscarrying – uncontrollably loosing precious life . Life that was loved & longed for.

In same hospital babies born too soon, a trimester too early, fought for their lives in the Special Care Baby Unit.

In the Paediatric Ward children diagnosed with congenital abnormalities including Down’s Syndrome were lovingly cared for.

The Down’s Syndrome Society reminds us:
Love doesn’t count chromosomes
There’s no prenatal test for awesome

I ‘ve read & re-read Psalm 139:
‘Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God-you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration-what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.’
‭‭(Psalm‬ ‭139:13-16‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

Each human life is made by God in His image. Before birth, we are unique from fingerprints to chromosomes.

The Irish word for unborn is beo gan breith– alive without birth. Very much alive before birth.

In my Bible, I have a scan picture of my daughter Caris. It was taken hastily by a colleague when I was working as a junior doctor, just before the eminent consultant appeared. It’s faded with time (19 years!) but I photocopied it. But at just 12 weeks a heartbeat & tiny hand was visible.

Tomorrow is the deadline to prevent reform of the abortion laws in NI. Our government might be back at Stormont after 1000 days. We pray that this new legislation will be stopped.

Whatever the outcome,

There’ll be more difficult stories behind the data.

Women will still have their choices to make.

As a GP, I’ll be there to listen, even if those choices are different to my own beliefs.

I’ll continue to keep the Hippocratic oath- ie first do no harm (Primum non nocere) And I’ll continue to hold on to God’s Word that has been underpinning law for hundreds of years.

Our NHS will care for patients from before the cradle to the grave. But we believe before birth, ‘from life’s first cry, to final breath’ we are under God’s watch-care.

We are designed by a God who is above & beyond our understanding. We are loved despite our flaws & failings. We bear His image, even in our brokenness. Human is fragile. And it’s sacrosanct.

Blessings,

Ruthx

Both lives matter

Take my hand not my life

The love of God means we are kids of the King !

Children of God!

Readings: Psalm 139, Eph 1:3-14

Every parent knows that no two children are the same – siblings and even identical twins have their different personalities and temperaments. We are all unique – from our fingerprints to our attitudes toward life. The differences can be apparent even before birth.

At my 20 week scans, the different personalities of my two children were evident! Caris wouldn’t lie still long enough for the ultrasonographer to do measurements, while Ethan was lying calm and relaxed. Today,* Caris is a very lively 3 year old – a real go-getter who doesn’t stay in the one spot too long, while Ethan is much more laid back and mellow (like his dad!)

I have a scan picture of both Caris and Ethan in my Bible. On the back, I’ve written these words from Psalm 139:
‘You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body, and knit them together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvellous – and how well I know it. You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in Your Book!’

Before each of us was born, God was there watching over us. He was involved while we were being ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ in His image.(Eph 1:4 The Message)

‘His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure’
(Eph 1:5 NLT)

‘For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves’ (Eph 1:4-6-NIV)

Read that verse again slowly & remember:
‘You’re a redeemed child of God- put here not by accident, but for a purpose’
(Bob Gass)

The Father-heart of God is present in the pages of both the Old and New Testament.

God said, ‘As a mother comforts her child so I will comfort you’ (Isa 66:13- NIV)

He lovingly protects us’like an eagle that stirs up its nests and hovers over its young, and spreads its wings to protect them and carries them on its pinions’
(Deut 32:11-NIV)

‘He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge’
(Psalm 91:4-NIV)

God’s parenting goes far beyond our human expectations and experiences. Although a mother can sometimes forget the child she bore, God cannot and will not forget us (Isa 49:14 & 15)

Our names are engraved on His palms-His nail pierced hands.
(Isa 49:16)

God ‘will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing’ (Zeph 3:17 -NIV)

For the amazing thing is this: ‘Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God’ (John1:12 – NIV)

We are born of God and adopted into His family! Wow! We are children of the Almighty God,the King of kings!

‘But you have received the spirit of sonship. And by him we cry “Abba, Father”’(Rom 8:15-NIV)

God is not a strict Victorian father who wishes to be called Sir He is a hands-on dad, with an overflowing heart of love for each of his children. We can call Him “Abba” – the word that Jewish toddlers in Israel say all the time-it means “Daddy”

‘For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep within our hearts and tells us that we are God’s children’ (Rom 8:16 –NLT)

In Hosea chapter 11:1 there is a beautiful picture of God teaching His children to walk. Imagine God taking us by the hand, encouraging us to take our first wobbly steps, being there to catch us when we fall, being there to praise when we stand.

Not only do we have our Father God to hold our hand in this life, we have eternal life to enjoy in heaven with Him.

After all, heaven is our Father’s house (John 14:1) We have an inheritance kept for us there ‘that can never perish, spoil or fade’(I Pet 1:4) As God’s Word tells us- ‘Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ’ (Rom 8:17-NIV)

‘And since we are his children, we will share his treasures – for everything God gives to his Son, Christ, is ours,too’
(Rom 8:17-NLT)

‘How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!’
(I John3:1-NIV)

So, don’t forget it- through faith in Jesus, you’re a child of the King!

Blessings,

Ruthx

Adapted from It’s all about love

*First written a long time ago- Caris is now 18!

The boundless love of God

Readings – Psalm 8, Eph 3:14-21

When I was a student in Dundee, I used to go for ‘stargazing stomps’ down to Magdelene Green to clear my head. On many crisp, clear nights, I would stop and gaze at God’s handiwork. It was awesome to look up and see the star-studded night sky.

The heavenly splendour that stirred the shepherd David so long ago, gripped me. Yet, looking at the vast universe made me feel incredibly small. I was just one little speck on planet earth, which itself was only part of just one solar system. As David wrote :

‘ I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous, 

Your handmade sky-jewellery,

Moon and stars mounted in their settings.

Then I look at my micro-self and wonder, 

Why do you bother with us?

Why take a second look our way?’

(Psalm 8:3-4 – The Message) 

In this day and age, as we strive to feel significant in the crowd, as we struggle with feelings of low self-esteem, we too may wonder why God bothers with us.

But any thoughts of insignificance should vanish when we consider our status. For though just part of creation, we are children of the Creator! His hands that set the stars in space, that flung the planets into orbit are holding us, and moulding us and keeping us in place! Wow! We should be overwhelmed by the present reality of God!

This Creator God is our very own God. He not only bothers with us, He loves us – He really, really loves us, with a deep, unfathomable agape love. We have been ‘loved with everlasting love, led by grace that love to know’ as the hymn says. 

Paul wrote ‘And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God’ (Eph 3:17-19 – NIV)

David wrote ‘Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies. How priceless is your unfailing love!’ (Psalm 36:5 & 7 – NIV)

God’s love is boundless. We will never fully grasp or understand it.  It goes beyond our dimensions. It just can’t be measured.

It is so wide that it encompasses the whole world.

It is so long that it can reach us just where we are, when we need to feel loved the most.

Its height is higher than our highs and its depths are deeper than our downers!

It is like a waterfall, deep and never ending from before time began to eternity!

Paul says ‘May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvellous love’ (Eph 3:17 NLT)

May we draw nourishment and energy for daily life as we meditate on the awesome love God has for us.

‘And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

‘God can do anything you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us’ (Eph 3:17- 20 – The Message)

‘How high and how wide

How deep and how long

How sweet and how strong

Is Your love

How lavish Your grace

How faithful Your ways

How great is Your love O Lord!’

Blessings,

Ruth x

 

*Edited from ‘It’s all about love’

In-between Right Now & Not Yet

Hope is my word for the year.

I’d almost forgotten all about it, but since September felt like a new beginning, hopeful thoughts were replenished.

I read about living hope:
‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’
‭‭(1 Peter‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

‘Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future.’
(1 Peter 1:4&5 MSG)

We have everything to live for:
‘Jesus said, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”
(John 10:10 MSG)

Through Jesus we have new life that never ends:
‘And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.’
(John 17:3 ESV)

And here & now we’re trusting & believing the promise that Jesus will return. Now we’re ‘waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
‭‭(Titus‬ ‭2:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

We have hope of eternal glory.

But not yet.

Just now, we may face

Life-altering diagnoses.

Life-shattering events.

Life-draining stresses.

But, ‘What is happening in your life just now is not going to last forever’ (Billy Graham)

‘In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.’
(1 Peter 1:6 NIV)

For a little while, we live in the space between the promise & its fulfillment.

For a little while, we live on planet earth:
‘What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.’
(James 4:14 NIV)

Just now, we wait for our living hope.

For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay;”
(Hebrews 10:37 ESV)

C.S. Lewis wrote of Aslan’s return in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe:
‘Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.’

‘Is everything sad going to come untrue?’ Sam asked in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

In a little while.

Not just now.

Not quite yet.

Just now, we’re in Narnia where it’s always winter & never Christmas. We long for Spring.

How long is this little while? It’s God’s perfect time & He works outside our time in eternity.

A little while is just a moment for the Ageless One to whom a thousand years are like a day.

It’ll be just the right time
‘You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.’
(Romans 5:6 NIV)

At Christmas, we celebrate ‘when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son’
(Galatians 4:4 NIV)

And in a little while, at just the right time, God the Son will return & truly be Immanuel (God with us)

‘And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”
(Revelation 21:3 ESV)

Now we hold onto:

Faith
Hope
Love

Then,
All things will be made new.
Faith will turn to sight.
Hope will be fulfilled
Love will remain.

For God is love.

And God is forever.

God’s love flows from eternity past, grounded in grace.

This love makes the little while a little longer:
‘The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.’
‭‭(2 Peter‬ ‭3:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

Till then, between here & now & not yet, dare to hope, for:
‘The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.’
‭‭(Lamentations‬ ‭3:21-23‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

For these inbetween days, Jesus said:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 NIV)

‘Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of God’
(J Oswald Sanders)

Between now & not yet,
For time & eternity
He will be our God forever
For He was before the beginning & after the ending.

And He promises:
‘Strength for today
And bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine,
With ten thousand beside
(Thomas Chisholm)

So, trust for a little while longer.

If you’re journeying through
Green pastures or dark valleys,
Still waters or stormy seas,
Hold onto Hope, for a little while longer

‘And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.’
(I Peter 5:10 NIV)

Blessings,

Ruth x

PS I’ve read the last page of The Book & it’s going to be ok:
‘He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.’
(Revelation 22:20-21 NIV)

Grace all the way from here to eternity.

Grace to carry us all the way from Just Now to Not Yet.

Amen!

Broken & blessed

This morning at church Pastor Andrew was preaching on Lamentations chapter 2. It’s a disturbing poem inspired by the dark days of Israel’s history during the devastation & desolation of Jerusalem.

These days, this year may feel like dark days in our families & our community. In our nation & across the globe.

There’s too much bad news to bear. Unwanted diagnosis. Unexpected death.

Politics is in disarray. God’s laws are disregarded. There is no absolute truth (we’re told)

We can look around & sigh. And conclude:
‘The world is broken. I am broken. And my need is dire.’
(Rebecca Reynolds)

‘We are all broken-that’s how the light gets in’ according to Hemingway. And how we need the Great Light of the world to shine!

As children of God, we live in tension & contrast.

We are made in the image of God- yet struggle with our flaws & failings.

The Darkness seems deep yet flickers of light break through.

There’s toil & trouble yet {thankfully} the hope of glory.

Evil feels like it’s crouching nearby, ever ready to pounce on Goodness.

Our earth is a groaning planet-earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, war.

At a personal level, day to day life rarely feels smooth or predictable . While we have many blessings there’s usually something to taint our happiness.Even bright sunny days can be overcast by boulders carried in our hearts.

Rick Warren has spoken of how his wife Kay was diagnosed with breast cancer at the same that his book ‘The purpose driven life’ was becoming a bestseller.

I listened to an audio-version of Rick’s wife’s book ‘Choose joy for happiness isn’t enough’Her words feel even more poignant since the tragic news that their son committed suicide. In the book, Kay describes joy & sorrow like parallel tracks on the railway of life.

Lisa Harper wrote:
‘Delight and despair absolutely coexist. They ebb and flow like the tides.Circumstances may prompt one to rise to the occasion and eclipse the other for a while.’

I too am convinced that joy & sorrow, love & suffering, peace & pain are inextricably linked –but in an even more intricate way than parallel tracks or tides on the shore.

Perhaps, they are intertwined like the twisting double stranded helix molecule of DNA – the blue print of life itself. Just as DNA is held together by hydrogen bonds, the twists & turns in life are stabilised by intricate bonds of the love & mercy, grace & goodness of God.

Just now, in this moment of time, our lives may seem like a tangled mess- but with the eye of faith, we can choose to see that even the troubles & trials, stresses & strains, the bitter & sweet are part of the intricate plans of the perfect infinite wisdom of our God.

Our God created the cosmos, designed our souls & planned our destinies. Yet He carries our burdens and collects our tears:

‘You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in your book?’
(Psalms 56:8NASB)

‘You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, Each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.’
(Psalm 56:8 MSG)

We have to choose to see the unseen-to trace the invisible fingerprints of God in our lives, as He weaves His thread of blessings through the twisting helix of life. He alone can weave all things together for our good (Romans 8:28) into the plans He has for us (Jeremiah 29:11)

Even when things don’t seem to make sense, & everything seems random & chaotic , we can praise Him where we are at ‘in the storm- even when our hearts are torn’ (Casting crowns) 

God brings blessing to our dark days. And often, the greatest blessings is the gift of God Himself. The gift of knowing He is there- with us. And that knowing God is better than knowing why bad things happen.

As Laura Story wrote:
‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise’

I listened to that song on repeat during days of dreadful diagnoses & life threatening surgery in our family & pondered:

What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

God’s tender mercies & gentle blessings come even {maybe especially} when everything feels broken:

God said:
“And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness— secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.”
(Isaiah 45:3 NLT)

Our God gives:
Treasures in the darkness
Calm in chaos
Peace in the storm
Hope in our dark days
His presence forever
And ever!

{Amen}

Blessings,

Ruthx

Hello!

Hello September….

& hello to all you readers!

{especially if you’ve just recently discovered this Blessed Facebook page & website!}

I am blessed to live between the Lough & the Sea on the Ards Peninsula- an area of outstanding natural beauty in Northern Ireland. But what I love most about my home is who I share it with! I’m happily married to Rob. We have two teenagers- Caris & Ethan, & a bouncy Hungarian Viszla named Layla!

I work as a GP (Family Doctor) In my ‘spare time’ I read, collect quotes & write this blog ‘Blessed!’

Welcome to  Blessed

-a blog about the everyday goodness of  God on this journey we call life!

Blessed
means…

to be
refreshed by God’s grace
nourished by God’s goodness
sheltered by God’s promises

(Matthew 5:3-5 AMP)

You can read my story in ‘Life interrupted‘ & ‘Life as a fairytale

I believe that my story is just a tiny part of His story-God’s epic narrative we call life!

Beneath our cover, beyond the facade of our lives, we all have a story.

But, ‘We are not the author of the story – we are the characters’ (Kara Tippetts)

‘We are all part of God’s story & that’s what connects us’ (Dayspring)

Maybe you haven’t met God- the Author of life yet. Maybe you have more questions than answers.

Maybe today you need to start looking for God.

For He came to earth to seek & save the lost. (Luke 19:10)

Maybe you need to discover the story of life & get to know the Author.

‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’
(John 3:16)

I believe we are:

Chosen & called

Beloved & blessed

Redeemed & restored

Flawed but forgiven

Found & treasured

In Christ!

Blessings,

Ruth x

Run to the Tower

We were at Glendalough today. We had some of St Kevin’s Coffee, walked past God’s Cottage to the boardwalk around the lower lake & gazed up past the tree line to the Spinc where we walked last time.

But the sight I love best at Glendalough is the Round Tower- built in the Middle Ages & still standing tall!

This tower & others like it remind me of the verse in Proverbs:

‘The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.’
(Proverbs 18:10 NIV)

He is the Tower we can run to when life hurts as these verses remind us:

*’GOD is bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight. My God—the high crag where I run for dear life, hiding behind the boulders, safe in the granite hideout; My mountaintop refuge, he saves me from ruthless men.’
(2 Samuel 22:2-3 MSG)

*’For God alone my soul waits in silence; From Him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, My defense and my strong tower; I will not be shaken or disheartened.

Trust [confidently] in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us. Selah.’
(PSALM 62:1-2,8 AMP)

*’God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.’
(Psalm 46:1 NIV)

*’The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him’
(Nahum 1:7 NIV)

If you read the verse from Proverbs again, it’s the NAME of our God that is the strong Tower to run to.

‘Your Name is a strong and mighty tower
Your Name is a shelter like no other’
(Paul Baloche)

Years ago when the kids were younger, life was more balanced &amp & work was contained,friends & I gathered round the book ‘Lord I want to know you’ by Kay Arthur .It was a devotional study on the names of our God- Jehovah, Yahweh,the great unchangeable I AM. I still feel encouraged when I think back to the deep truths of God together:

Jehovah Jireh (Gen 22:8)The Lord who provides- all that we need

Jehovah Tsidkenu (Jer 23:6)-The Lord our Righteousness – who cleanses our sin- our deepest need of all

Jehovah Nissi (Ex 17:15)- The Lord is my banner- my leader & protector in battle

Jehovah Raah (Psalm 23) – The Lord is my Shepherd -who leads us through life

Jehovah Rapha (Gen 20:17)- The Lord who heals-& restores

Jehovah Shalom (Judges 6:24)-The Lord is peace -in stormy times

Jehovah Mekoddishkem (Exodus 19:6)-The Lord who sanctifies you – & cleanses our sin

Jehovah Shammah (Ezekiel 48:35)- The Lord is there – at all times

He is there. Always there when we need Him. Our invisible Tower of refuge , whether we recognise Him or not.

He is there, even when life seems too dark to see the Tower:
‘Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on their God.’
(Isaiah 50:10 NIV)

We can rely on Him for He has said:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head,
I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters,
you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end-
Because I am GOD, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. ”
(Isaiah 43:1-3 MSG)

When we are tired & weary, we must keep running toward the Tower.

We can run to the Tower, & know this truth:
‘You are my strength; I wait for you to rescue me, for you, O God, are my fortress.
But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress. O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.’
(Psalms 59:9, 16-17 NLT)

We can run to the Tower & cry from our heart:

‘Hear my cry, O God; Listen to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to You, when my heart is overwhelmed and weak; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I [a rock that is too high to reach without Your help]. For You have been a shelter and a refuge for me, A strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in Your tent forever; Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. Selah.’
(PSALM 61:1-4 AMP)

Pray, in the words of that ancient Irish hymn:
‘Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tow’r:
Raise Thou me heav’nward, O Pow’r of my pow’r.’

Amen!

Blessings,


Ruthx