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‘Tis the season…for letting go

One discovery this autumn has been the trails at Mount Stewart. While I prefer running in daylight (& preferably sunshine) I can identify with the benefits of running hard listed in Keri Wyatt Kent’s blog ‘Trail running in the dark

I don’t always have epiphanies during long runs. But sometimes the combination of mind-space, the beauty of creation & the challenge of physical exertion blend together in a serendipitous moment!

One epiphany was during Run Forest Run’s Minnowburn 10k. I had reached the last kilometre (more slowly than usual!) I was running over a carpet of leaves, & more leaves were falling like confetti from the trees as I ran beneath them. It was a beautiful scene- captured in my mind more vividly than on any camera!

As I ran I sensed God say, ‘In life you have to let things go, so I can make them beautiful’

Just as the trees let go of their leaves & let them fall to the ground to create this beautiful scene, so we need to let go.
What do we need to let go of ?:

*Past failures
*Regrets
*Selfish ambitions
*Choking Fears
*Broken dreams
*Emotional baggage
*Pet sins
*Unrealistic expectations
*Pride
*Harmful relationships
*Over-thinking
*(False) Stories told only to ourselves

And whatever else comes to mind.

How can we let go? We need to bring these things to God. Pour out our hearts to the One who knows us best. Let it go & most importantly leave it with Him. Seek His forgiveness if required, then walk in the freedom of His grace

For, ‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens’
(Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV)

And Autumn is the season of letting go.

‘Seasons are not only realities that occur outside and around us, in the skies and in the trees. I believe seasons are also internal and personal, interwoven into the fabric of human life. We are designed to transition, to change, and to vary. Our souls have seasons.’
(Seasons of the Soul– Adam McHugh)

The Creator God can bring beauty from brokenness , when we let go & leave our greatest fears & burdens with Him.

‘He has made everything beautiful in its time.’ (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV)

We have a Cherry tree in our garden. In spring it blossoms where it’s planted. In summer its shiny leaves rustle in the breeze. In Autumn it lets go of its foliage. Already I can see already tiny buds of new life on its bare branches, ready to burst into life in Spring.

Letting go is a necessary step for growth to take place.

‘Perhaps when watchers see us burst into life it will be the colors of Jesus they see.’
(Ashley Hale-The Year I lost Autumn)

For, whatever the season:
‘You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.’
(Matthew 5:14MSG)

Blessings,

Ruth x

Revised & updated from www.blessedme.co.uk

That Tuesday morning

It started off like any other normal day. It was Tuesday, the most ordinary day of the week. The sun was shining & the sky was clear blue.

Our family was burying my husband’s grandfather. We were at the graveyard when the first reports of hijacked planes started coming through.

Caris was just 6 months old & I wondered what sort of a world she had entered.

9-11. The unthinkable happened. Sheer terror was broadcast on our TV screens.The world seemed to shift on its axis. Things seemed to spiral out of control.

Yet God was in control.

‘God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.’

(Psalms 46:1-2 NLT)

It’s hard to believe that twenty years has elapsed. The threat of evil & ever present danger continues.

Yet our world keeps spinning & God is in control.

‘For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”’

(Hebrews 13:5-6 NLT)

Blessings,

Ruthx

Help!

We can get overwhelmed quickly. Such a lot can be going on around about us & in our hearts & minds.

‘In this world you will have trouble.’

(John 16:33)

There’s no doubt there will be trouble, yet we have God’s promises to lean on:

‘For he has said,

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

So we can confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”’

(Hebrews 13:5-6 ESV)

God is our Helper!

There’s nothing God & you can’t do together

Whatever we’re facing, God’s got this!

We can pray to God about whatever we’re facing:

‘Nothing is too great for Your power,

Nothing is too small for Your love’

(Corrie Ten Boom)

‘Prayer connects our overwhelming anxiety to God’s overcoming power’

(Lysa Terkheurst)

Our help comes from the Creator God:

‘I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.’

(Psalm 121:1-2 ESV)

Our Helper is our strength:

‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.’

(Psalm 46:1 )

‘We can simply want our situation solved — when God simply wants to be our answer.’ (Ann Voskamp)

Our Helper will go with us:

“The Lord said, “I will go with you and give you peace.””

(Exodus 33:14 CEV)

‘Even when we don’t have the capacity to calm our hearts and minds because of the chaos around us, God’s promised peace holds and carries us. (Lucretia Berry- incourage)

May we know the peace of God, & His help today & always.

Blessings,

Ruth x

10 verses to encourage your soul

In these days of lockdown & uncertainty, we all need some encouragement. I hope these verses are a blessing, an anchor for the soul:

1.’I can do all things through him who strengthens me.’
(Philippians 4:13 ESV)

2.’Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.’
(Matthew 6:34 ESV)

3.’You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.’
(Psalms 139:5 NLT)

4.’As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.’
(Psalms 138:3 NLT)

5.’Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord GOD is the eternal Rock.’
(Isaiah 26:4 NLT)

6.’Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.’
(Deuteronomy 31:8)

7.’The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him.’
(Nahum 1:7 NLT)

8.’Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.’
(Philippians 4:6-7 NLT)

9.’Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.’
(Psalm 55:22 ESV)

10.’Because I, your GOD, have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go. I’m telling you, “Don’t panic. I’m right here to help you.”‘
(Isaiah 41:11-13 MSG)

Blessings,

Ruth x

Arrival!

Advent means arrival in Latin-a special time to celebrate God’s arrival on planet Earth-

As a tiny baby
{God with skin!}

The arrival of the:

Promised Messiah
Wonderful Counsellor
Mighty God
Everlasting Father
Prince of Peace.
Light of the world
Lion of Judah
Word of Life
Hope of the Nations
Love Incarnate
Imanuel- God with us

‘Advent reminds us that God seeks us out where we are right now’
(Sarah Bessey)

Even on this Covid covered planet- especially at the end of a difficult year:

‘Jesus is God’s hand outstretched to us’
(Bailie Gillespie)

‘For the Lord your God
is living among you.
He is a mighty Saviour
He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.’
(Zephaniah 3:17 NLT)

Even now,
‘The Lord is my strength and my song’
(Exodus 15:2 NLT)

Especially during this difficult time:
‘The Lord is close to the broken-hearted’
(Psalms 34:18 NIV)

At this time of waiting & expectation, we can find hope:

‘You may feel like you’ve lost hope -but Hope never loses track of you.’
(Ann Voskamp)

‘As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.’
(Micah 7:7 NLT)

Our God is with us in the waiting .

He’s in the waiting

‘Take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting’
(Kristene DiMarco)

We can keep on going through 2020, because He’s with us.

‘When you’re going through dark days, keep on going, because Jesus goes with you and He is your Hope, going through whatever you’re going through.’
(Ann Voskamp)

Take a moment to:
‘Be still & know that I am God’
(Psalm 46:10)

This Advent season, may you know
Hope
Peace
Joy
& Love

Blessings,

Ruthx

Lightness

Days feel heavy at the moment- the weight of the COVID pandemic has wrapped itself around our globe. Daily life remains altered as summer fades into autumn.Anxiety weighs us down. So do old regrets, failures & mistakes.

There’s an old song entitled ‘I am a new creation’ that talks of standing in God’s grace & having ‘a lightness in my spirit’:

‘A joy that knows no limit, 
a lightness in my spirit 
here in the grace of God I stand.’
(Dave Bilborough)

The lightness begins with our relationship with God through faith:
‘Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.’
(Rom 5:1-2)

How can lightness dispel heaviness?

We need to ‘Preach the Gospel to yourself’ We can leave the heaviness of sin with God for ‘as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.’
(Psalms 103:12 NIV)

‘God’s faithfulness is greater than your worst mistake, greatest regret or biggest blunder’
(Jennifer Rothschild)

We can look beyond our problems to God-He is Majestic & Magnificent -Lord over all yet Abba Father.

And God doesn’t want us to carry heavy burdens. We’ll feel lighter if we leave them with Him:
‘Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.’
(Psalms 55:22 NIV)

We can feel lighter by turning worries into prayers:
‘Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.’
(Philippians 4:6-7 NLT)

We can choose joy -This is much more than thinking happy thoughts

We can switch fear for trust
For,’perfect love drives out fear’
(1John 4:18 NIV)

When we trust God, we know this truth:
‘The truest thing about you is that you are the one whom Jesus truly loves.
(Sam Allberry)

And this brings lightness in our spirit.

Blessings,

Ruth x

Today I choose

Today may feel the same as every other day. These lockdown days blur into one another.

Today is Sunday-a time to pause & reflect. For this is the day the Lord has made & given to us as a gift.

Each day consists of many choices- seemingly insignificant. Yet when strung together they create patterns of our everyday life.

So, Today I choose gratitude

There is always something to be grateful for. Even in the middle of a pandemic, we can have an attitude of gratitude. We can list the everyday blessings that we are grateful for.

Today I choose Love

Love is patient. Love is kind

Love is from God, for God is love.

‘God loves you simply because He has chosen to. He loves you when you don’t feel lovely. he loves you when no-one else does. No matter what’
(Max Lucado)

Love is not static or stagnant, as these words remind us:

‘Love doesn’t just sit there,
like a stone,
it has to be made,
Like bread;
remade all the time,
made new’
(Ursula K Le Guin)

Today I choose joy- deeper than happiness & independent of circumstances.

In days like today,
‘The joy of the Lord is your strength.’
(Nehemiah 8:10 NIV)

‘Rejoice in hope’
(Rom 12:12)

‘Teach us to begin again with joy’
(Emily P Freeman)

All we are sure of is today- not tomorrow.

‘So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.’
(Matthew 6:34 NLT)

There’s talk about these days being a ‘new normal’ A poster outside a local church in Greyabbey asks ‘Will you let God be part of your new normal?’

Today I choose to let God be part of my day.

Today I choose to follow God- even though I falter & waver along the way.

‘This is the one great truth: The only thing that is certain is uncertainty – and the certainty of God.’ (Ann Voskamp)

God is faithful- today & everyday. Always & forever.

Today, what will you choose?

Blessings,

Ruthx

Bright & beautiful promises

Planet Earth has been more difficult to inhabit in recent months- in an unprecedentedly unprecedented way!

It’s easier than ever to worry. There’s plenty to feel down about. Life feels like it won’t ever be the same again.

Thankfully in these shifting times God has given us everything we need:

‘We have everything we need to live a life that pleases God. It was all given to us by God’s own power, when we learned he had invited us to share in his wonderful goodness.’
(2 Peter 1:3CEV)

‘And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises.’
(2 Peter 1:4 NLT)

God’s Word contains ‘great & precious promises’ God’s promises are like an anchor in stormy days, light for dark days & an encouragement to keep us going all our days.

Throughout lockdown I have been gathering God’s promises (Maybe you have too) And I’m grateful that ‘His every promise is enough for every step I take’ (Getty)

I read this promise to Moses:
‘The Lord replied, “I will personally go with you, and I will give you rest-everything will be fine for you.”’
(Exodus 33:14 NLT)

These verses were in Chris Tiegreen’s devotional book:
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
(Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”
(Isaiah 41:13 NIV)

I like this alternative version of this verse:

‘That’s right.
Because I, your GOD,
have a firm grip on you
and I’m not letting go.
I’m telling you,
Don’t panic.
I’m right here to help you.’
(Isaiah 41:13 MSG)

I found these words of Jesus on a little card:
‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’
(John 14:27 NIV)

This verse was on the corner of the Spectator newspaper:
‘You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord GOD is the eternal Rock.’
(Isaiah 26:3-4 NLT)

These words were written on a greetings card in my Bible:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
(Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

These verses were mentioned in a podcast:
‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.’
(Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)

I read this verse last week;
‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’
(Jeremiah 29:13 NIV)

These days may feel like a monotonous grey or even stormy black but,
‘The future is as bright as the promises of God’
(Adoniram Judson)

I’m grateful for God’s unchanging words today & always.

Blessings,

Ruthx

The better thing

Loving God means choosing what is best

Reading: Luke 10:38-42

Imagine having at least 13 guests for dinner! Of course we can identify with Martha being flustered and distracted! There’d be so much to do – vegetables to prepare, tables to set, rooms to tidy, meat to roast. Of course we’d be annoyed if our sister wasn’t helping!

The Bible says that Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet, hanging on every word! In exasperation Martha asked Jesus to tell her sister to help. “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10: 41&42-NIV)

Despite all the preparations for dinner, there was really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary had left what was good to do and had chosen something better – God’s best – spending unhurried quality time with Him.

And today, in the middle of our busy schedules, we daily face the same choice. Are we frazzled and distracted like Martha, or are we quietly content like Mary, resting in our Lord’s presence? Often we too have to leave what is good, and choose what is better.

We may have to leave the dishes. Forget about the ironing (Not a problem for many of us!) Banish to do lists. Turn off the TV. Disconnect the phone. Shut the door. And climb into ‘the closet’ and sit at Jesus’ feet- to hear what He has to say, to allow Him access to our hearts, to seek His face and His leading. There’ll always be other things to do, but He should be our first priority.

We, like the psalmist, must yearn to grow as close to God as possible.

‘One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the lord and to seek him in his temple.’ (Psalm 27:4 -NIV)

‘O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you’
(Psalm 63:1 –NIV)

We get pleasure from being in God’s presence.
‘Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of you heart’ (Psalm 37:4 – NIV)

‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’ (Jeremiah 29:13 –NIV)

When we spend quality time with God, our reward is God Himself.
‘Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unploughed ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you’ (Hosea 10:12 –NIV)

We need to ask God to soften our hearts, to plough up the hard areas so that we can be teachable and responsive to His voice. If we seek the Lord, He will shower blessings on us. If we,like Mary, leave what is good and choose what is better, we too will receive God’s best.

‘Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you’ (James 4:8 –NLT)

Father, You are the best- better than everything else!
May I get to know You more, for it is in first seeking Your face that I can face everything else.
May I do those good works you’ve planned for me to do.
May I accomplish what You want. May I fulfil Your agenda rather than my own and reach my maximum potential in You. 

Blessings,

Ruthx

*Edited & updated from my book ‘Its all about love’ 2007

Nothing without Him

‘We live in a God-bathed world. There is no place where God is not, although sometimes we may be asleep in His presence’
(Tony Horsfall)

God is all around us yet sometimes we’re oblivious to this fact.We’re asleep in God’s presence. We try to do things our way, on our own.

“Me do it myself!” she said. Not realising just how determined she was, I tried to help a little. “NO!! Me do it myself!” she shouted even louder. And I was forced just to watch while my little toddler tried and struggled and tried and squirmed to get her trousers on all by herself!

You may be smiling as you remember your own little toddler’s similar struggles. Yet, how often we have just the same toddler attitude with God. He is there wanting to help us, but we’re determined to do it all by ourselves.

And we might even throw a tantrum or two when things don’t work out as we’d anticipated. And we carry on struggling and struggling with our baggage and burdens, reluctant to hand it all over to our Father God. He stands watching in the background and waiting. Waiting for the moment when we ask Him to carry the load with us, when we hand it over and rely on Him.

With all the resources of heaven available to us, why do we keep insisting on going it alone?

And Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5- NIV)

We are nothing without Him.

We are like:
• A ship without a sail
• An eagle without wings
• A door without a key
• A letter without words
• A glove without a hand

Yet, if we’re nothing without Him, with Him we have everything.

Once upon a time, a man had a dream. St. Peter was giving him a tour of heaven. Just beyond the golden streets, there were huge barns everywhere. The man was curious and asked, “What’s inside the barns?” “They are full of boxes of blessings that God has ready for each of His children, but they’ve never asked for!” replied St. Peter.

We need to ask, for He is ready to give.

His strength is at work within us. God’s mighty power is available to us (Ephesians 1:19) His stone-moving, death-defeating, life-giving power! The Greek word for power used here literally means dynamite!

Paul wrote, ‘For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need’ (Philippians 4:13-NLT)

His power is all around-we just need to get plugged in!! But that’s the trouble- so often we’re not. We’re still trying to do it all –alone. Often it’s a simple matter-‘You do not have, because you do not ask God’
(James 4:2-NIV)

It is enough to simply ask the Father. He has all the strength that we need

‘I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me (I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency)’
(Philippians 4:13- AMP)

Blessings,

Ruth x

Never alone

We’re not even half way through 2020 yet. The days ahead feel uncertain to me- uncharted & unknown. More so than previous years.

Like many I feel under pressure & anxious too. This difficult truth comes from James:
‘Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.’
(James 1:2 MSG)

We keep going because of God’s grace:
‘So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.’
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18 MSG)

We can go to God when worries pile up:
‘When I begin to feel the anxiety of the future rush into my present, like a child I can remember that my life is hidden with Christ in God & there is no safer place in all the world (see Colossians 3:3)’
(Emily P Freeman-Simply Tuesday)

If we are Christians, we are never alone. God goes with us:
‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord Your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you’  
(Deut 31:6 – NIV)

God goes before us:
‘The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged’ (Deut 31:8 – NIV)

He is always there:
‘You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. You both precede and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head’
(Psa 139:3 &5-NLT)

We can trust God:
‘All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.’
(1 Corinthians 10:13 MSG)

We need to trust God rather than our feelings:
‘While walking through a dark season,if we attempt to navigate our lives by how we feel, we will run aground on the rocks. We must navigate by what we know is true no matter what we feel.
Truth is like a lighthouse on a stormy, pitch-black night that steers us clear of the feelings that would wreck us’
(The Storm inside- Sheila Walsh)

I love the tag line of this book:
Trade the chaos of how you feel for the truth of who you are’

We can hold on to God’s truth in the stormy days.

‘GOD ’s your Guardian,
right at your side to protect you-
Shielding you from sunstroke,
sheltering you from moonstroke.
GOD guards you from every evil,
he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave
and when you return,
he guards you now,
he guards you always.’
(Psalm 121:5-8 MSG)

He lights each step on the dark days.
‘Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.’
(Psalms 119:105 NIV)

And though we can’t see what lies ahead, we need to step out-since we are not alone.

‘The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him’
(Psalms 37:23 NIV)

We can take one step at a time with God.

‘Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase’
(Martin Luther King Jr)

So, today & in the days that lie ahead,
‘May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.’
(Psalms 33:22 NIV)

Blessings,

Ruth x