Blog

‘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

Shine!

On these short days before Christmas,the early darkness accentuates the light:

*Twinkling Starlight
*Mellow Moonlight
*Flickering Candlelight
*Sparkling Christmas lights
*Shining Car lights
*Beaming Torch light
*Glowing Firelight

Light also beams through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Light dispelling darkness is a bright theme shining in God’s epic story.

‘In the beginning,at the dawn of time, God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light’ (Genesis 1:3 NIV)

And,at the setting of time, in the eternal city of God,’the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. (Revelation 21:23 NLT)

These words are an echo of Isaiah’s prophecy written hundreds of years before:
‘The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end. ‘(Isaiah 60:19, 20 NIV)

Life-Giving Loving Light is the essence of our God:
‘You’re a fountain of cascading light, and you open our eyes to light. (Psalm 36:9 MSG)

God’s gifts of grace & blessings on our lives are also portrayed as light:’Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.’
(James 1:16 MSG)

In between today & 25th Dec we will be reminded by mini wise men in nativity plays that bright starlight led VIPs from the East to the manger- to worship the Jesus, the Light of the world.

Yet, as we step into December our social calendars fill up, & the pace of daily life speeds up to keep up with our schedule, we can fail to appreciate the difference that this Light sent from Heaven has made in our hearts, our home & our world.

Even we who are Christians {followers of the Life-Giving Light} can be tainted by our postmodern world’s mangled view of Christmas. We can fail to grasp the enormity of the truth that this Baby beamed from the translucent Light of Heaven was born to defeat & dispel darkness.

‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.'(John 1:5 NLT)

In the opening chapter of Dr Luke’s Gospel, Zechariah burst into song after months of silence. He concluded:
‘Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God’s Sunrise will break in upon us, Shining on those in the darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death, Then showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace. (Luke 1:78&79 MSG)

Three decades later, Jesus proclaimed, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NIV)

He said, ‘I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.’ (John 12:46 NLT)

If we trust in Jesus, the Ultimate Source of light, we become light-bearers in this dark world for Him:
Jesus said,“Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” (John 12:36 NIV)

‘For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.’ (Ephesians 5:8-11 NIV)

Paul urged Jesus’ followers (like us) to ‘Shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life’ (Philippians 2:15-NIV) & ‘Carry the light-giving message into the universe’
(Phil 2:15-The Message)

Jesus the Light of the world said,“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world.” (Matthew 5:14 MSG)

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.’
(2 Corinthians 4:6, 7 NLT)

If we have trusted Him as the only True Light to shine &redeem the darkness of sin in our lives, then the all powerful Life-Giving, Loving Light of God’s Spirit lives at the core of our messy lives!

We need to shine in the darkness & walk in the light! This means spending ourselves, to illuminate the darkness:
‘If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.’ (Isaiah 58:10 NIV)

Light gives way to light. It only takes one candle to dispel the deep darkness of a cavern.

‘We are only the lightbulbs, & our job is just to remain screwed in!’ (Desmond Tutu)

‘So, Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.’
(Isaiah 60:1, 2 NIV)

Blessings,

Ruth x

Tis the season …to make room

December starts with good intentions of organization & calm & cards posted on time. Yet as the month rolls on, it gains momentum like a giant snowball gathering more & more festive events & shopping.

I can identify with Bilbo Baggins who said, “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring)

Someone wise once said ‘Rest before you are tired’ And the Wisest of All created rest in the beginning.

We need to create margin, or white space as we approach this time of the year. Our diaries may be jam-packed already, but:

‘It’s in the white space- the in between moments of stillness- where the joy of Christmas is found’
(Rebecca Cooper)

‘White space is where the magic happens’
(no sidebar)

‘The quieter you become the more you can hear’ (Ram Dass)

In the middle of the mayhem & busyness attributed to Christmas celebrations, the  sound of silence can be deafening. Last month’s minute of silence on Remembrance Day felt much longer than  sixty seconds.

‘There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech.’
(Charles Spurgeon)

Even in this season,‘We must also identify what gives us life, what recharges us and restores our capacity.’(Alli Worthington -Breaking Busy)

In the quiet, we can connect with God. We can make room to  marvel & wonder at the miracle of Christmas, that God is with us – Imanuel

How can we make room for God this Christmas?

*Read

In December I set aside my usual reading plan & start off each day reading from an Advent book

This year I’m reading The One True Gift by Tim Chester. Last year I read The One True Light by the same author.

The year before I read The Time is Now by Amy Orr-Ewing

*Pray

We can pray for our family,community & our broken world.

I love these little books to help us pray using God’s Words:

5 things to pray-
For those you love
For your church
For your world

*Listen

Listen to Christmas music.  I love traditional carols blended with contemporary worship:

A Christmas Offering-Casting Crowns
Adore– Chris Tomlin
A Hallelujah Christmas – Cloverton
How many kings-Downhere

*Explore

Wrap up warm & escape into the great outdoors to  breathe deeply, clear your mind,  & star gaze.  Creation is the ultimate whitespace- the best way to unplug  from the un-necessary & connect with the One who made it all!

Each day we have choices to make:

‘Each of us is an inn keeper who decides if there is room for Jesus’
(Neal Maxwell)

‘Let every heart prepare Him room’
(Joy to the world)

Blessings,

Ruth x

Joy snatchers

‘The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.’
(Psalm 126:3 NIV)

As children of God we are beloved & truly blessed. God has done great things for us & filled our hearts with joy.

We should be forever grateful- & I am.

It’s just sometimes I don’t live as though I am.

We humans can feel truly grateful with an attitude of gratitude one day (Thanksgiving) but frantically shopping for things we don’t really need less than 24hrs later (Black Friday)

Our thankful thoughts can disappear like Irish Mist. All too often our joy-filled feelings don’t last long.Actually & regrettably, I can feel utterly miserable- even though I have been blessed with an abundance of material & spiritual blessings by our Heavenly Father.

This post is first & foremost a note to myself, a memo to my soul. But maybe it’ll resonant with you too.

For, in this journey of life, we all encounter joy-snatchers.

Joy-snatchers…

That phrase triggers an image of the child snatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang- poised to snatch with his net! Now I’m smiling thinking of Neuschwanstein Castle where the scene was filmed!
But back to the point…

What are joy snatchers?

Overthinking

AKA listening to ourselves & the running commentary in our mind. Brene Brown writes about the stories we make up & accept as truth. But they AREN’T actually true & steal our joy.

Overpacking

Jam-packed days & weeks can exhaust us & sap our joy, to the point that we feel like we’re running on empty. Or like an overpacked suitcase we can feel under immense pressure-like we’re about to explode.

Grumbling

Even when we are surrounded by abundance, we can develop a bad attitude & complain. Just like the Israelites who were brought out of Egypt by the mighty power & outstretched arm of Almighty God. Despite manna raining from heaven, & water gushing from rock, they complained that they were better off in slavery in Egypt. We can choose a negative perspective that displaces joy.

Disconnecting from God

Jesus said,“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
(John 15:10-11 NIV)

Our joy stems from an obedient relationship with God:
‘the joy of the Lord is your strength.’
(Nehemiah 8:10 NIV)

Jesus also said ‘Apart from me, you can do nothing’ (John 15:5)

Comparison

‘Comparison is the thief of joy’
(Theodore Roosevelt)

It’s not just coveting material possessions but rather the lives we perceive others live. I compare my God-given assignment to others. I look at others who don’t appear to have stress in their work lives. I estimate that they’re not under as much pressure as I am.(Another story I tell myself)

But what we see of other’s lives is often just the tip of the iceberg. In reality, everyone has their own trials to deal with.

If, rather than packing our troubles in an old kit bag we threw them up in the air along with everyone else’s,we might be very relieved if we caught our own!

Anxiety

‘Worry is a waste of the imagination’

We know in our heart that worry is a joy stealing waste of time & energy.

But once I board that train of thought, it feels impossible to step off & I arrive at worst case scenarios.

Of course we all have legitimate responsibilities & concerns:
‘From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.’
(Luke 12:48 NIV)

Having joy is a choice. Remaining joyful is a decision.New York Times best selling author Brendon Burchard wrote:
‘And then one day I decided that hurry & stress were no longer going to be part of my life. Stress is self-created; I decided to stop manufacturing it. We can choose an internal calm & joy even amid the chaos’

How can we hold onto joy?

Embrace your true self

‘Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life’
(Steve Jobs)

Be who you are created to be!

Find joy in the ordinary

‘Have an attitude of gratitude’
(Thomas S Monson)

Literally list your blessings if it helps!

Create Margin

‘We have to slow the rhythm of rush in our lives so that the best of who are can emerge.’
(Lysa Terkeurst)

Carve space in the chaos & allow yourself room to breathe. Create margin

See beauty

Focus on positive points-in people & places.

Refresh hearts

Reach out toward others, rather than dwelling on yourself.

‘Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.’
(Philemon v7 NIV)

Ask ‘How can I be a blessing today?

Connect with others who are on the same page

I can vividly remember cautiously walking into the Mums & Tots group in the village where we lived when Caris was a small baby. I knew no-one. But through that weekly group, I made deep friendships with mums at a similar stage. They were there for me through tough times, & gave me some of their joy when mine had ran out.

Unplug from toxic relationships

People whose persistently negative attitudes deeply affect us can snatch our joy repeatedly. If we allow them.

We can get into unhealthy patterns.

But, ‘If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve got’

There may need to be necessary endings – as Dr Henry Cloud wrote.

Last but most importantly:

Pray

Prayer is the glue that holds our life together, the super-glue that actually holds us together.

It’s a conversation with the Source of True Joy.

It’s the antedote for worry.

‘Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.’
(Philippians 4:6-7 MSG)

This week remember:

‘Joy is portable- bring it with you’

‘Scatter joy’
(Emerson)

Blessings,

Ruthx

The task ahead

As always, I’m thankful for the weekend – especially after ‘overstuffed’ days without margin. I’m well on the way to feeling overwhelmed, with increased responsibilities , & big issues looming .

I’m sure some of you feel this way too.

I read three verses this weekend in separate places, that helped me gain perspective for the task ahead. I think they may help you too, whatever you’re facing:

*Bring it to God

‘Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.’
(Proverbs 16:3 NIV)

*Know He is able

‘Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.’
(Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV)

Or to put it another way:

‘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.’
(Ephesians 3:20-21 MSG)

*Remember He has already provided all you need

‘His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises’
(2 Peter 1:3-4 NIV)

The tasks ahead are part of our unique God given assignment, so:
‘Show up in the place where you already are fully alive as the image bearer God made you to be’
(Shauna Neiquist)

‘When you go to God,
He will infuse you with
The strength you need
To do that which He has asked you to do!’
(Patsy Clairmont)

At the start of a new week:
‘Give up last weeks burdens, so you can head into the week ahead without them. Surrender all troubles to God & forgive yourself & others’
(Marianne Williamson)

Blessings,

Ruth x

Back soon!

We have a coffee table that needs painted. But until we agree on the colour (limegreen versus brown or cream) we’ll cover the worn parts with books & magazines.

We have the Indie coffee guide & coffee map. There’s the Rolling Home inspiring Van life. Lagom sits where Hygge used to be.This Danish book was relegated it to the bottom shelf after a torrential downpour in Copenhagen washed away any hygge I had!

VWt & Star Wars covered Empire magazines are scattered- along with freebies from Tescos & Boots with ideas for Christmas gifts.

But the most thought provoking magazine cover on our coffee table so far in 2018 has to be Insight with its ‘Back Soon’ sign

This edition of our church magazine refers to the fact that Jesus is coming back soon.

‘Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!’
‭‭(Acts1:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

I don’t think about this truth often enough. These words were spoken by an angel over two thousand years ago.

‘But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.’
‭‭(2 Peter‬ ‭3:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

In God’s timescale a long weekend hasn’t even elapsed yet! But:
‘The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.’
‭‭(2 Peter‬ ‭3:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

God’s mercy, grace & love are entwined in the perfect timing of Jesus’ return.

‘However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.’
‭‭(Matthew‬ ‭24:36‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

There’s a boulder at the edge of Strangford Lough beside the Portaferry Road. Painted on one side are the words:
‘Prepare to meet thy God’
‭‭(from Amos‬ ‭4:12‬)

One day we will all meet our Maker (whether we believe in Him or not)

A wall beside Portavogie harbour proclaims:
‘The fool hath said in his heart, “There is no God.”‘
‭‭(Psalms‬ ‭14:1‬ ‭KJV‬‬)

We can fill our homes, our barns & our lives with things- but not consider our God.

‘Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.’
‭‭(Luke‬ ‭12:21‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

‘That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God.’
‭‭(Luke‬ ‭12:21‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

Today, if you havent thought about it, prepare to meet your God.

‘If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?’
‭‭(Psalms‬ ‭130:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’
‭‭(Romans‬ ‭3:23‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

We can bring our sin to God, asking for forgiveness & receive His grace. Then, living by faith we’ll be ready to meet our Maker.

As He said,”Every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”
‭‭(Romans‬ ‭14:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

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

On the other side of the boulder by the lough, there’s just two words- ‘Eternity where?’

The difference between heaven & hell, being judged or being saved- is in Jesus:

‘God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.’
‭‭(John‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

He’s coming back- not as a newborn baby or as a suffering servant.But as Lord of All & King of kings.

If we’ve trusted Him for forgiveness, then we’re waiting for our Good,Good Father to take us Home.

No-one knows when – but its closer today than yesterday.

When I was in Sunday School we used to sing ‘The countdown’s getting lower everyday’ It’s closer today than yesterday.

In this broken,groaning world where it seems no news is good news, we have hope. We have an anchor for the soul.

And it’s in the One who one day will return:
‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.’
‭‭(Hebrews‬ ‭13:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

And He’ll be back soon.

*Perhaps today*

Blessings,

Ruth x

*I heard the story of a retired pastor who wore cufflinks. On one was engraved ‘perhaps’ On the other ‘today’ It was a visual reminder of the truth that He’ll be back soon.

What a difference it would make if I lived like I really believed this truth!

Calm for the anxious mind

‘Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.’
(Jodi Picoult)

I know worrying doesn’t get me far , but still I sit & rock.

‘Worry pretends to be necessary, but serves no useful purpose.'(Eckhart Tolle)

That’s true too. But it’s hard NOT to worry isn’t it?

What can we do instead? When we read our Maker’s Handbook it tells us:
‘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)

Turn worries into prayers & God’s peace will displace our anxieties:
‘Don’t fret or worry.
Instead of worrying, pray.
Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers,
letting God know your concerns.
Before you know it,
a sense of God’s wholeness,
everything coming together for good,
will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.’
(Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

We can bring our concerns to God:
‘Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.’
‭‭(1 Peter‬ ‭5:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

‘Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.’
‭‭(1Peter‬ ‭5:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

His love can dispel our fears {if we let Him} for:
‘There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.’
‭‭(1 John‬ ‭4:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

We have a powerful God to turn to -Who is greater than all things:
‘You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world'(1 John 4:4)

We need to focus on God rather than our problems. For:
‘Anxiety & fears are like baby tigers. The more you feed them the stronger they grow’
(Billy Graham)

We need to tune into God’s whispers rather than our insecurities:
‘When the cares of my heart are many, thy consolations cheer my soul’(Psalm 94:19-KJV)

‘Whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.’
‭‭(Proverbs‬ ‭1:33‬ ‭ESV)

‘Forget about self confidence- it’s useless –
cultivate God- confidence’
(I Cor 10 MSG)

There’s plenty to worry about – but worry doesn’t diminish any stress. We don’t have capacity to deal will anxiety- but God does:
‘For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.’
‭‭(1 John‬ ‭3:18-20‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

In this world there will always be trouble. Bad things happen to good people. We are living in a broken world where it feels like no news is good news. But no matter what,we can place our confidence in God.

‘You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.’
‭‭(Isaiah‬ ‭26:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

We can place our hope & confidence in God & thrive rather than just survive:
‘But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.’
‭‭(Jeremiah‬ ‭17:7-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

‘Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.’
‭‭(Jeremiah‬ ‭17:7-8‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

I like that phrase- serene & calm – though often I’m the opposite. We can gain calmness by being rooted deep in Him.

Often we worry about things that haven’t happened & that might never happen. When we do, we’re just sitting on that rocking chair getting nowhere!

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

‘Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.
God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.’
‭‭(Matthew‬ ‭6:30-34‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

‘Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.'(Charles Spurgeon)

We have choices to make to maintain a tranquil mind:
‘Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith.’
(Henry Ward Beecher)

If you’re like me, it’s not just the tomorrows you worry about- it’s the yesterdays. Overthinking what’s already happened is futile. We need to leave it with God who understands our situations & forgives us quicker than we forgive ourselves.

Take heart:
‘The Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays.’
(CS Lewis)

So, be present:
‘Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, faith looks up.’
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Keep looking up:
‘Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow;
the same Everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day.
Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace then,
and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations’
(St Francis De Sales)

‘Trust in the Lord forever, for the LORD, the LORD is the Rock Eternal’ (Isa 26:4)

Blessings,

Ruthx

Just three words

I used to love listening to ‘Just three words’ on Radio 2 drive time. Listeners texted snippets of their news into the radio station in just three words. eg:

School Play Tonight

Broken finger ouch!

Yummy Birthday Cake

Peppermint tea please

Brand new puppy

Homework’s all done

Although the above three words are about relatively minor life events, it got me thinking about the power of words. Just three words:

God is love

If you ever land in Dublin airport, you’ll see those words on a steeple as you walk out of the terminal. The Bible declared it first in 1 John‬ ‭4:8‬: ‘God is love.’ The essence of God is love. At the heart of God there’s love- true love.

God loves you

I read this on a handmade wooden sign hung on a tree between Ballywalter & Ballyhalbert last week. And it’s true. We may feel unlovely or unloveable but we are never unloved. We are loved by the One who knows us best- our Creator God.

‘Knowing God is love is not the same as knowing God loves you’ (Ann Voskamp)

‘You are loved. Rest in your God-breathed worth’(Sarah Bessey)

God so loved

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

God so loved that He gave. He gave His One & Only Son.

Love came down

God,
whose very essence is love,
sent His Love down to our little planet &
wrapped Love in flesh & swaddling clothes.
Love walked earth’s dusty, well-trod paths.
Love grew and gave.
Love brought hope to the hurting,
total healing to the sick,
sunsets and rainbows to the blind,
walking & leaping to the lame.

Love gave,
and kept on giving
to a world dying to know true Heaven-sent Love.

When Love’s God-appointed Day arrived,
Love gave Himself for us-
Love nailed to a cross,
yet held there by Love-
that we, the unlovely,
would know that we are truly, deeply loved by God.

But,
even brutal crucifixion could not kill Love,
for, Love rose with the sunrise in the garden,
and returned to heaven in a cloud.

Now Love dwells in the hearts of those who believe in faith

God’s love speaks

God tells of His love in His Word- the Bible.

He has given us everything we need for life & godliness- His great & precious promises. (2 Peter 1:3&4)

‘Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.’
(2 Timothy 3:17 MSG)

Grounded in love

We can be secure in God’s love ‘rooted and grounded in love’ (Eph 3:17) & begin to grasp its vast dimensions.

Love makes everything grow! (Including us!)

Impacted by love

‘If we were all to live as how we are loved – everything would change’
(Sarah Bessey)

Love one another

‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.’
‭‭(John‬ ‭13:34‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

‘Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out’
‭‭(Hebrews‬ ‭10:24MSG‬‬)

‘Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.’
(1 Peter‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

I Corinthians 13:4 reminds us:

Love is patient

Love is kind

True love is more than words, for:

Love’s a verb

‘Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.’
‭‭(1 John‬ ‭3:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

I’ve been listening to audiobooks by Bob Goff. The titles speak volumes Love Does & Everybody, Always about becoming love.

Love lives here

This is the title of Bob’s wife Maria’s book, about love at home.She wrote:
‘We all don’t need to do big things, but we can do equally important things.’

Love builds up
(1 Cor 8:1)

Love never fails
(1 Cor 13:8)

Love never ends

I watched the new purple gliders ‘glide’ through Ballyhackamore as I took my morning caffeine.

Just up the road at Stormont Presbyterian they’d created an acronym on their purple billboard:

God’s Love Is Deep Everlasting Redeeming

There’s great truth & forgiveness in the redeeming, never-ending, eternal love of God.

‘So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.’
‭‭(1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

Always remember- no matter what else you’re thinking on this journey called life:

You are loved

Blessings,

Ruthx

My bothy

A refuge for the troubled mind

I’d completely forgotten the word bothy until we discovered Bothy Coffee this summer.

In Scotland Bothy means a small hut that walkers can shelter in eg Ernie’s Bothy in Balmoral Estate or closer home Salt Island Bothy on Strangford Lough accessible by canoe

I like the idea of a bothy- somewhere to shelter in the mountains or by the Lough as we discover & explore the wilderness!

I like the thought of God being like a bothy.

A refuge. A haven. A shelter.

‘The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.’
(Nahum 1:7 ESV)

‘You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.’
(Psalms 119:114 ESV)

And His Word is trustworthy:

‘This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.’
(Psalms 18:30 ESV)

‘He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”‘
(Psalms 91:1-2 ESV)

In this bothy, our Father God is so close that we are under His shadow & we are shielded by God Himself.

A bothy is not for glamping . It’s a simple hut to protect from the elements.

And so with God our bothy. In troubled times He has promised to provide needs – not our wants.

He gives comfort rather than keeping us comfortable.

He gives shelter in the storms of life. Sometimes He calms the storm & sometimes He calms His child- tear-stained & heavy-hearted in the bothy.

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

The One who scattered the stars collects our tears. He knows our name & He knows our hearts. And He still loves us.

We can’t go back to change events that caused the storm. We can’t erase our mistakes or undo our past. But we can come to our God & find shelter in the difficult days & peace in the dark chapters.

We can share our heart as we pray to our Maker. We can trust Him at all times, through all our days.

‘On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah’
(Psalms 62:7-8 ESV)

Blessings

Ruthx

*Photo – Mountain Hut in Lauterbrunnen taken by Rob

In Christ

I’m grateful for another surprisingly sunny day (right at the end of summer) spent in this area of outstanding natural beauty-in the middle of the Ards Peninsula! A good place to be & great position to be in!

But our position is more than:

our GPS co-ordinates on this planet,
our location as posted on Facebook,
our step on the ladder or social class,
our status, or branch on the family tree.

It’s better than our rank in the race,
in the company,
or where we are in life
and love.

The only position that truly matters & counts for time & eternity

is our position in Christ

i.e. whether we are in Christ

or not.

Whether we are in a relationship with Him {by trusting Him for forgiveness} …or not

As Christians, our true identity, deepest meaning , & unshakable security are all in Christ alone.

In Christ is the best place to be,
the ONLY place to be,
to truly BE ,
& really live {not just exist }

It’s the difference between:

light & darkness
peace & anxiety
heaven & hell

In Christ is not always an easy place to be.

Jesus said there would be trouble(John 14)

However, He also said that He was greater than any trouble we would face:
‘I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.] (John 16:33 AMP)

The greatest blessing is the blessing of being in Christ

‘For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment’ (Colossians 1:15-18 MSG)

We are ‘a people whose life in Jesus’

For He said: ‘I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of’. (John 10:10 MSG)

When we are in Christ we have:

unlimited grace,
undeserved blessings,
unending love.

Indeed, day by day, we are living in pure grace (Rom 12:6 MSG)

We experience grace heaped upon grace (John 1:16)

Yet often we are unaware of the immensity of pure grace & incessant love from God in heaven above.

For,in Christ, we live a life filled with outrageous, audacious grace.

‘It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.’ (Ephesians 1:11, 12 MSG)

‘He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.’ (Ephesians 1:7-10 MSG)

‘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 for adoption to sonship 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.’ (Eph1:4-6)

These verses convey amazing truth, echoed in the words of this modern hymn:

‘LOVED BEFORE THE DAWN OF TIME,
Chosen by my Maker,
Hidden in my Saviour:
I am His and He is mine,
Cherished for eternity.’
(Stuart Townend)

We are brought into the privileged position of being in Christ, through grace:
‘being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 3:24 NKJV)

‘He has saved us and called us to a holy life-not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time’(2 Timothy 1:9NIV)

‘Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.’ (Romans 3:21-24 MSG)

In Christ, we are adopted:
‘So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith’ (Gal 3:26)

In Christ, we are transformed:
‘if anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come’ (2Cor 5:17)

In Christ, we are freed from guilt:
‘Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ’ (Rom 8:1)

In Him we have all that we need!

In Him we are complete, totally complete in body, soul, mind &spirit.

In Him we have real, abundant, everlasting life.

Outside of Him,
apart from Him,
aside from Him,

we are nothing:

-a dead twig
-an empty page
-a lifeless body

‘But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.’ (Ephesians 2:13)

We are:
Chosen & called
Flawed but forgiven
Found & treasured
Redeemed & restored

We have :
Power & purpose

We are:
Beloved & blessed

In Christ!

As this popular anthem declares:

‘In Christ alone
My hope is found
He is my light my strength my song’
(Getty & Townend)

We can be
strong in His strength,
bright in His light

‘For in you I find my dwelling place
In you I find amazing grace
In you I find security
Jesus you are all I need’
(Kari Jobe –Dwelling Place)

In Christ we have ‘strength for today & bright hope for tomorrow’

If we are in Christ, we can declare:
‘Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.’ (Philippians 4:13MSG)

So,
‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.’ (Eph 1:3)

Blessings,

Ruth x

Edited from post originally published at http://www.blessedme.co.uk

Undo

On social media we tend to project the best version of ourselves- the edited glossy digital version with a Pinterest perfect back drop

Normally, in real life things are far from perfect. If you’re like me you manage to function professionally at work- yet unravel at home.

We get stressed & take it out on our nearest & dearest who are trying to help. We walk our proverbial dirty boots all over our homes.

In moments like these we feel that we need the ‘Undo’ button for life’s mistakes.

The Good News is:
‘your God is so big He doesn’t live in boxes but your gritty grace filled life’
(Ann Voskamp)

God is with us in the middle of the messy daily grind.

Thankfully, God is a God of second chances, of third, fourth & fifth chances. The Risen Lord who made breakfast for Peter (after he had denied him) will meet with us in our daily lives.

‘The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbour his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.’
(Psalm 103:8&9)

God loves us when we least deserve it. All we bring to the relationship is our sin. Yet,He came to seek & save us. And when we trust Him we are forever blessed by the overflowing mercy & grace of God.

‘Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”(Luke 5:31NIV) Now, that’s a slogan for  a poster in our waiting room!

Jesus continued, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32 NIV)

We all need the Great Physician’s healing touch on our lives, for according to Romans 3:23, we have all sinned. There are no exceptions.

One morning in church the sermon was based on these verses:
‘Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.’
(1 Timothy 1:15-16 NIV)

When we come to Him for forgivness, our God can undo our sins:
‘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.’
(Psalm 103:11,12 NIV)

God’s love is deeper than our failings, flaws & shortcomings.

‘The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.’
(Tim Keller)

Ann of Green Gables said, ‘Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it’ (yet!)

Everyday is a new opportunity to experience the faithful love & inexhaustible mercy of God:

‘The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.’
(Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT)

‘Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.’
(Psalm 32:1 NIV)

Blessings,

Ruth x

Edited from original post at http://www.blessedme.co.uk