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

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

Focus for the distracted mind

Many things

In any given moment, many things are vying for our attention. Many thoughts are zooming through our minds.

Constantly changing to do lists.

Replays of what I could have done better earlier.

Inside my introverted head there’s incessant mental chatter.

Ideas. Concerns. Expectations.

Worries.Tension. Stresses.

In our spare time, scrolling down our screens bombards us with fresh information. We are our own biggest distractions!

‘Focus is the superpower in the distraction age.'(Michael Hyatt)

‘Focus is not something we find- but something we create’
(Jeff Goins)

‘Here’s another paradox for you: the faster and busier things get, the more we need to build thinking time into our schedule. And the noisier things get, the more we need to build quiet reflection spaces in which we can truly focus’
(Greg McKeown)

So how can we untangle our brain & find focus?

The next thing

In the middle of many things,
‘Just do the next right thing’
(Elizabeth Elliot)

Emily P Freeman created a podcast then a book called ‘The Next Right Thing‘ Emily helps create space for our soul to breathe so we can live life with God at a gentle pace and discern our next right thing in love.

We can focus on where we are at & the next step we need to take.

‘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 ‭6:34‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

‘You’ve just got to do the next hard and holy thing even when nothing feels like it’s changing anything.’
(Ann Voskamp)

Just one thing

The story of Mary & Martha is well known & features in many bright & beautiful children’s’ Bible story books.

Martha opened her home to Jesus & his disciples & invited them into warm hospitality.

In the middle of Martha’s busyness, Mary sat listening to Jesus.

‘But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made’ (Luke 10:40)

The word for distracted in Greek is periespato which literally means to drag around (too many thoughts)

‘Martha, Martha” the Lord answered, “you are worried & upset about many things,but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better & it will not be taken away from her”
(John 10:42)

We too can chose the better thing. We can leave good things aside for the better thing.

‘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.’
‭‭(Matthew‬ ‭6:30-33‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

One thing is needed.

‘But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”’
(Luke 10:41-42 NLT)

One thing matters.

Shut out the noise.

Listen to His voice.

For, ‘We can set our hearts at rest in His presence’
(I John 3:19 NIV)

Just like Mary {& Martha} His presence is the one thing we truly need. We can bring our distractions to Jesus & leave them with Him rather than dragging them around.

‘Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you’
(Psalms‬ ‭55:22‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

‘I’m asking GOD for one thing,
only one thing:
To live with him in his house my whole life long.
I’ll contemplate his beauty;
I’ll study at his feet.
That’s the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world,
The perfect getaway,
far from the buzz of traffic.’
‭‭(Psalm‬ ‭27:4-5‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

That’s focus for our distracted minds!

Blessings,

Ruth x

All things

I’ve been doing a Bible Study on Romans 8. I’ve fallen behind in the programme, but I’m enjoying reading the chapter slowly.Verses like this one:

‘And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose’
(Rom 8:28-NIV)

If we love God, He can work ALL things together for our good. The good,the bad & the ugly can be woven together by our Creator-God to form a masterpiece.

ALL things includes the little things, the annoying things, the huge life changing things & devastating losses. Nothing is wasted in God’s hands.

‘That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good’ (Rom 8:28-MSG)

At a women’s conference a few years ago, Ruth Hamilton spoke of multi-coloured grace for multi-coloured trials. I love that phrase taken from 1Peter 1:6 & 4:10.

Grace to match each trial.

It means that, no matter what- God’s grace is sufficient (2Cor 12:8,9) His grace always enough!

The multi-colours of God’s grace are manifested in a rainbow spectrum of ways e.g.:

*God’s written Word-the Bible, after all, ‘The Bible is the transcript of the heart of God’ (Grudem)

*Walking through creation – & sensing our Creator

*Words of encouragement from friends

*An unexplainable sense of God’s presence in the storms of life

No matter what is looming this week,

‘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 Cor 10:13 MSG )

That’s His awesome, amazing, multi-coloured grace!

‘There is no problem too great that it exceeds the grace God has given’ (Elizabeth George)

God says ‘As long as there is a God in heaven, there is grace on earth, & I AM the spilling God of the uncontainable, forever-overflowing -love-grace ‘ (Ann Voskamp)

Whatever life throws, whatever lies around the corner, whatever is happening across the world, God is always there & that’s always enough.

Take your mind off your seemingly giant problems & focus on our Gigantic God.

He is Eternal
Ever-Lasting
All-powerful

Our Loving Father
Our Good Shepherd
Our Mighty God.

Blessings,

Ruth x

The last photo

I wish I could post the last photo-but it was only allowed to be taken if I promised not to. I wasn’t allowed to take a photo of their first day back at school in the Autumn, but we made an agreement back then that I could take a photo of their last day at school together (before both finished for study leave & one leaves school forever)

I nearly forgot- but realised just in time that Friday was that last day. My teenagers dutifully stood side by side on the front step- as they have done many times before wearing their school uniforms. The moment was digitally recorded & I promised again that there would be no sharenting.

This significant event almost passed without acknowledgement.

As we walked along Knockinelder Beach that evening, we talked about how parents mark their childrens’ firsts

*First tooth

*First steps

*First shoes

*First word

*First birthday with cake & candle

*First day at school

*First wobbly ride on the bike sans stabilisers

We applaud these first milestones & the happy memories that coincide.

But the lasts go unrecognised.

There was a day when I picked up & carried my children for the final time and then never lifted them up again.And I have no recollection of that moment.

Or of other finales:

*The last bed time story

*The last pair of Doodle shoes or red check summer dress

*The last McFlurry between school pickups

The lasts sweep by because we don’t grasp the significance of the moment.

Of course the lasts & firsts are part of life & as our children grow there’s different firsts to celebrate eg first time driving

I don’t cope well with change & can get sentimental about the cute memories of the past (yet I’m very proud of the two teenagers that I’m blessed to call mine!)

It’s grounding to know that God is beyond all of our firsts & lasts. He is Alpha & Omega. He is the Ancient of Days- present from before He created time.

He is before & after all:
‘From life’s first cry to final breath’
(Getty)

We read the anchoring words of Psalm 90 in church last Sunday:

‘Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.’
‭‭(Psalms‬ ‭90:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

Our life is like a droplet in the oceans of eternity.

God can help us to make the most of our time, to redeem it & make it count.

‘Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.’
‭‭(Psalms‬ ‭90:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

Carpe Diem- Seize the day!

Blessings,

Ruthx

PS You might also like Memos to myself & Captured Time

Give me your eyes

Apparently,’The eyes are the mirror of the soul'(Yiddish proverb)

The missionary Amy Carmichael famously prayed that God would change her brown eyes to blue. He didn’t – for good reason.

Often our eyes betray our true emotions, so when Irish eyes are smiling, our hearts are smiling too!

One of my best discoveries in recent years has been trail running. I love running through nature, listening to God-songs. The song ‘Give me your eyes’ by Brandon Heath is on my ‘On the run’ playlist. These words challenge me every time:

‘Give me your eyes for just one second.
Give me your eyes so I can see,
Everything that I keep missing,
Give me your love for humanity

Give me your arms for the broken hearted,
Ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me your heart for the ones forgotten,
Give me your eyes so I can see’

Wow! Imagine having God’s vision for even just one second! Imagine being granted a brief moment to truly see others & get a glimpse of their reality through the lens of His penetrating gaze & his heart of love.

Yet, looking beyond ourselves & even glancing at others & considering their wishes at all is so counter- cultural to society’s norm.

God’s eyes look beyond polished exteriors & designer clothes to the heart- the reality deep within, the attitude of the heart & the burdens carried there.

For,’The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’(1 Samuel 16:7)

Our God is the God who really, truly,deeply sees directly into our heart & souls. Hagar had fled, barefoot & pregnant from her unbearable situation. She was found by the Angel of the Lord in the desert. Hagar gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” (Genesis 16:13 NIV)

‘Eyes are the home of silent prayers’ (Alfred Tennyson) & God saw through Hagar’s eyes, into her heart, & answered her unspoken prayers.

Sometimes, as we meander through life, we have our eyes wide shut!

It’s true that ‘People only see what they are prepared to see’ (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

So,what will we choose to see?

We can get distracted by eye candy – attractive, dazzling sights-photos & advertisements that disappear from our screens & visual fields too quickly.

To have God’s vision & perspective, we need to set our eyes on Jesus.We need to focus on ‘fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.’ (Hebrews 12:2 NIV)

Jesus, God the Son, could also truly,deeply see into lives.‘When He saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed & helpless, like sheep without a shepherd’ (Matthew 9:36) The Message says that His heart broke, as He saw how confused & aimless the people were.

‘Keep the Son in your eyes’- a T-shirt slogan exclaimed last summer!

If we have Jesus in our eyes, if we see through His eyes, we will even be able to ‘Look at annoying people with imaginative love'(Carolyn Simon)

With His perspective, we can see beyond angular personalities & prickly people, through the lens of His love & grace.

For,’The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes’
(French Novelist Marcel Proust)

‘For beautiful eyes look for the good in others’ (Audrey Hepburn)

‘See need
Show hope
Know joy’
(Slogan for Show Hope)

Blessings,

Ruthx

Death is dead!

Death is dead! It might initially seem like a strange statement. But on this Easter Sunday, it’s a very appropriate truth.

Today, more than any other day, we celebrate the fact that Jesus is alive!

‘And then on the third at break of dawn
The Son of heaven rose again
O trampled death where is your sting?
The angels roar for Christ the King’
(Hillsong-Anastasia)

The stone was rolled away.
The tomb was empty.
The angel gladly proclaimed, “He is not here He has risen!”

‘See What a morning!’ is a powerful song & its words inspired this post. The last verse triumphantly proclaims:

‘Death is dead
Love has won
Christ has conquered’
(Townend & Getty)

When Jesus cried ‘It is finished’ with His final breath, it was a declaration that He had completed His redemptive work.

He came to bring:

•Beauty instead of ashes
•Gladness instead of mourning
•Praise instead of despair
(Isaiah 61)

He arose, ascended & in now lives in resplendent glory in heaven.

‘Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.’ (Hebrews 7:25 NIV)

These are great words to ponder & cherish.

If we ask God for forgiveness, through accepting what Jesus has done, & trusting in Him, He will completely save us (The older versions say ‘save to the uttermost’) And now, Jesus ‘always lives’ to intercede for us. He is our Mediator. He liaises between us & God, acting on our behalf.

Jesus ‘always lives’:

‘Because he lives…
We can face tomorrow
Because He lives…
All fear is gone’
(Bill & Gloria Gaither)

Before He died, Jesus comforted His followers,
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” (John 14:1)

Jesus also promised that He is preparing a place for us:
“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”(John 14:1-3 NIV)

I believe He’s still preparing that place in His Father’s House, our Eternal Home even today.

As Keith Green said & sung:
‘ And if this world took six days and that home took two thousand years,
Hey man, this is like living in a garbage can compared to
What’s going up there!’

For,
‘No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.’
(1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT)

Since Jesus conquered death, we can place our hope in God- not merely for this life- but for the next. Our hope transcends time into eternity. Death is not the end- it is but a shadow.

Because of Jesus’ triumph we can have a happy never-ending!

‘Everything sad is going to come untrue’
(Tolkien)

Today let’s worship the Life-Giving, Death-Defeating God who can give us the strength to keep going.Today & forever. Now & always.

Jesus said,”And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:20 NIV)

Blessings,

Ruth x

Spiritual Amnesia

Easter 1988 is etched in my memory. Way back then, I truly prayed to God for the first time. I asked Him to forgive my sin, & be Lord of my life. Eight others also committed to follow Jesus. It was an amazing Youth Weekend. The presence of God was palpable as we sang songs under the stars on Ballycastle beach.

A couple of years later I was asked to give my testimony. I stood at the front of church & shared my story. I shared this quote:
‘We get & forget
God gives & forgives’

It’s so true. God forgives us & blesses us. But we get & forget.

In the busyness of life, is it possible to forget the God we cannot breathe without?

Yes, we have poor memories. We forget God’s presence day by day.

We look at the storm & forget about our Anchor.

We focus on our problems & forget our powerful God.

Terror looms across the globe & we forget our Conqueror.

We forget to connect with our unseen Shepherd, the Guardian of our souls.

We easily unravel. In times of trouble we forget how God has led us in the past

We forget the cost of undying love.

Francis Chan in his book Crazy Love wrote about Spiritual Amnesia- how we forget how awesome God is.

‘For the LORD your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God.’
(Deuteronomy 10:17 NLT)

Forgetting God is not a new phenomenon.

In Exodus, the Israelites felt hungry & thirsty & forgot their dramatic rescue from Egypt & the miracle of crossing the Red Sea.

The night before He faced the agony of the cross, Jesus had his last meal with his disciples & washed their feet. He spoke challenging last words.

‘And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”’
(Luke 22:19 NIV)

He knew the disciples too well. He knew their shortcomings, & that they needed to intentionally remember Him. Although they had witnessed the miracles & parables, & done life with the Servant-King, often the human default setting is forgetfulness.

Yet, God will not forget us.

‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands’
(Isaiah 49:15-16 NIV)

We are engraved on His hands, & he will not forget us! He will not let go.

Jesus prayed for us before the anguish of Gethsemane, the night before those hands were nailed to a cross:
‘I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.’
(John 17:20-21 NIV)

How can we respond to our God who gives & forgives?
‘And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the LORD your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul.’
(Deuteronomy 10:12-13 NLT)

‘We can be tempted to forget about the miracle work of grace & begin to notice all the things we do wrong. We can begin to confuse ourselves with our sin’
(Trillia J Newbell)

We need to remember God- tolook at our Saviour rather than our sin, to focus on His forgiveness rather than ouf failings:
‘Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.’
(Psalm 103:2-5 NIV)

Samuel set up a stone,and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”
‭‭(I Samuel‬ ‭7:12‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

We need to look back on our lives & trace God’s grace woven through.

If we’re suffering from spiritual amnesia,we need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Take time to reflect & remember:

‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home’

Blessings,

Ruthx

A perfect mess

I know what I should do.

I know what God wants me to do.

Yet, I live a ‘life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart & mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different’ (Rom 7:25-MSG)

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 a lousy Christian. ‘I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.’ (Romans 7:15 – NIV)

Yes, when we least expect it, our inner dragon appears.Flames of anger come out of our mouths- usually directed at our nearest & dearest, destroying any atmosphere of love!

Sometimes a coffee is all it takes for the dragon to disappear again (temporarily) Sometimes the calendar just has to move to a different time of the month.Sometimes we just need a hug or a cry. Sometimes we need something more deeper.

In C.S. Lewis’ ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ Eustace’s ‘inner dragon’ is so apparent that the boy is actually covered in dragon’s skin to illustrate our sinful nature.

All the ‘Sons of Adam & daughters of Eve’ have a bias toward sinful nature. ‘Adam ate the apple & we all got toothache’ (so a Hungarian proverb says) ‘Every inclination of the heart is evil’ (Gen 8:21) ‘My decisions such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me & gets the better of me every time’ (Rom 7:20 MSG)

When we come to God & ask for forgiveness, we are ‘cleaned up by Jesus & set apart for a God-filled life’ (I Cor 1:2 MSG) He is faithful & just & will forgive us our sins (IJohn1:9)

But, we don’t stay clean long. We need to keep going back to God. Just like clothes in the washing machine & the dishes in dishwasher, no matter how clean they are when they come out, they get dirty again! Our lives get messy & we need many, many trips to God’s laundry room to be cleaned – to be steeped in His awesome loving grace and mercy.

We are a perfect mess.When God sees us through Jesus, we are perfect in His eyes, though we continue to mess up because of our in-built bias to sin.

Sometimes, we can’t see beyond past sins or failings either. Many of us have a lot of guilt-especially mummies. For,’Guilt comes with the placenta!’ We feel guilty about everything from bottle feeding, to not spending enough time with our kids. In the past I’ve even felt guilty because the tooth fairy forgot to come to our house!

Too often, we’re so caught up with our baggage & guilt that we don’t grasp our true worth in God’s eyes.

We find it difficult to accept God’s love, and we therefore lack confidence to reach out to others with His love. If we don’t love ourselves, we’ll find it nearly impossible to love others.

We need to take off the masks & come before God as we are. After all, we can come no other way.

Some of us are so caught up with the past that we’re wasting the present. When we look deep in the mirror, we need to truly know that with God our past is forgiven!

Forgiven.

Forgotten.

Forever.

‘You’re infinitely messier than you dared admit & you are infinitely more loved than you ever dared dream’
(Ann Voskamp)

God’s love covers our sin when we trust Hm to forgive us.

‘In your less-than-lovely moments, God sees a precious daughter in need of His perfect love’
(Lisa Harper)

‘God attaches no strings to His love. None. His love for us does not depend on our loveliness. It goes one way. As far as our sin may extend, the grace of our Father extends further.’
(Tullian Tchividjian)

‘His love for us cannot be outdone or undone’
(Amanda Bible Williams)

He redeems & restores. God is able to renew us from within

‘We’re all a little broken. We don’t need varnish- we need a carpenter’
(Bob Goff)

Our Creator is the only One who can fix us. He loves us as we are but cares for us too much to leave us broken.

‘God sings a louder song than any difficulty we face – a song of renewal, restoration and never-failing compassion.’
(Aubrey Sampson)

We need to focus on our Father, rather than our failings, & look to our Saviour rather than our sins.

For, ‘I stand in Christ, with sins forgiven;
And Christ in me, the hope of heaven!
My highest calling and my deepest joy,
To make His will my home.’
(Stuart Townend)

Blessings,

Ruth x

Soul-care

Self-care is promoted in books, blogs & magazines. We’re beginning to grasp that it’s not selfish to care for ourselves. It’s necessary unless we want to collapse & burnout. It’s essential to look after yourself- you can’t pour from an empty cup. Right?

But have you considered the importance of soul-care?

‘Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well’
(3 John 1:2)

A healthy body & a healthy soul sounds like a utopian ideal. Yet often we focus on looking after our physical bodies & ignore our souls

‘It is not reasonable to think the soul would be properly cared for when it isn’t even seriously acknowledged.’
(Dallas Willard – Renovation of the Heart)

Our souls can seem abstract at times but I think these definitions help:

‘Your soul is what integrates, what connects, what binds together your will, then your mind (those thoughts, feelings, and desires going on all the time), and then your body (with all of its appetites, habits, and behavior)’
(John Ortberg)

‘Our soul is like a stream of water, which gives strength, direction, and harmony to every other area of our life. When that stream is as it should be, we are constantly refreshed and exuberant in all we do, because our soul itself is then profusely rooted in the vastness of God and His Kingdom, including nature, and all else within us is enlivened and directed by that stream.’
(Dallas Willard – Renovation of the Heart)

So,’How’s your soul?’
(Robert Cup)

‘We will always take the most care of that which we value most deeply.’
(John Ortberg-Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You)

Our soul gets crushed under noise, busyness & distraction.

‘When a woman lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule she’ll ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.’
(Lysa TerKeurst)

Caring for our souls needs time out.

In our frenetic, tech-packed world
‘Stillness is to my soul as decluttering is to my home’
(Emily P Freeman)

We can’t tend to our souls ourselves- we need to entrust them to the One who made us.The One who scattered the stars created our souls. He is able to nurture our souls:

‘In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.’
(James 1:21 MSG)

Jesus said,”I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
(John 15:5 ESV)

‘The soul responds to space, silence, and Jesus.’
(Emily P Freeman)

Jesus said,”Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

‘Abide in my love’
(John 15:9)

Remain in God’s love ‘Being present, being beloved, being still.’
(Ann Voskamp)

We can build ourselves up in our faith by connecting with God through prayer:
‘But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life!’
(Jude 1:20-21 MSG)

We need to keep on praying:
‘I pray because I can’t help myself.I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me, all the time, waking or sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me’
(CS Lewis)

Caring for our souls means soaking in God’s Word. For our soul needs truth like our body needs oxygen.

‘Take Your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness’
(Getty)

Our souls can feel burdened by the trials & troubles of life.

‘Sometimes when you are in a dark place, you think you have been buried, but you have actually been planted’
(Christine Caine)

Sometimes dark places in our lives create space for our souls to grow.

‘Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation, & my God’
(Psalms 42:5 ESV)

‘For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.’
(Psalms 62:5 ESV)

‘He restores my soul’
(Psalm 23:3)

Restore means to return to original good position, repair & renovate. God can revive our weary souls as we turn to Him.

‘Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.’
(Psalm 62:5 NIV)

We can look back & reflect how God has restored our souls in the past.

‘I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.’
(Psalms 143:5 ESV)

‘We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain’
(Hebrews 6:19 NIV)

Hope in God gives our soul security & brings us into His presence.

No matter how stormy life gets, we can know, ‘It is well with my soul’

So let us draw near to God & nourish our souls

‘So let us know and become personally acquainted with Him; let us press on to know and understand fully the [greatness of the] LORD [to honor, heed, and deeply cherish Him]. His appearing is prepared and is as certain as the dawn, And He will come to us [in salvation] like the [heavy] rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth.’
(HOSEA 6:3 AMP)

May our soul’s Creator, Redeemer & Restorer nourish our life with His gentle rain, as we trust in Him.

Blessings,

Ruthx

PS You might also like

Healthy body, healthy soul

Tis the season…our soul {should} feel its worth

Playlist for the troubled soul

Playlist for the troubled soul

Perhaps you’ve read the post ‘For the troubled soul

I’ve been thinking of songs that helped me in times of trouble.

This short playlist contains songs to sing out loud as a declaration of difficult truth, blending into quieter songs to contemplate & speak hope to painful circumstances:

Our God is greater

Blessed be your name

Whom shall I fear?

Sovereign over us

Still

Our God is in control

Blessings

God Almighty can speak comfort & peace into our troubled souls.

‘He speaks to the sun and it does not shine; he seals off the light of the stars. He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted’
(Job 9:7-10 NIV)

He named the stars & He knows your name.

He trod on the waves & can calm your storm.

He formed the earth & He can deal with your mountains!

‘He who forms the mountains,
who creates the wind,
and who reveals his thoughts to mankind,
who turns dawn to darkness,
and treads on the heights of the earth—
the Lord God Almighty is his name.’
(Amos 4:13)

The mystery & majesty of our star-making, mountain-moving, wave-calming God:

‘Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!’
(Rom 11:33)

‘If GOD hadn’t been there for me, I never would have made it.
The minute I said, “I’m slipping, I’m falling,” your love, GOD, took hold and held me fast.
When I was upset and beside myself, you calmed me down and cheered me up.’
‭‭(Psalm‬ ‭94:16-19‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

*What songs would you add to the playlist?

Blessings,

Ruth x