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

Named not labelled

I’ve watched all the Disney princess movies- many more than once. Or twice! In our house we preferred the Disney Princesses with mischief in their eyes & sass mixed with sparkle (like Princess Merida in Brave or Rapunzel in Tangled)

We celebrated when Princess Leia became a Disney Princess.Our children were introduced to the epic adventure of Star Wars from a young age. I have cute photos of a little Luke Skywalker wielding a light saber beside our very own Princess Leia with blonde hair twisted into buns. Hours passed on the planet of make-believe.

Fairytales aren’t always sweetness & light & ‘happily ever after’ For every damsel in distress, & prince that’s trying to save her, there are witches, dragons, wolves & allsorts of darkness lurking!

The real-life stories of princesses (& actresses) are rarely straightforward & carefree.Carrie Fisher (the actress who played Princess Leia) struggled with drug addiction & Bipolar Disorder.

Carrie Fisher wrote in the Huffington Post:
‘At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.’

Sometimes we can feel smug & sorted about what we’re dealing with. A sense of pride when we feel calm & controlled.We can be functioning well despite emotional baggage & unwelcome diagnoses.We can project the best versions of our broken selves.

At other times we can be highly functioning but a little fragile just beneath the surface . We can feel we’re just one small tug on the thread away from totally unravelling.

As we journey through life unwanted labels are stuck on that we can’t take off.

Depression.Anxiety. Stress. Burn out. Anorexia.Psychosis.Bipolar.

The labels extend beyond mental illness to physical ones & our current status in life:

Single.Divorced.Childless.Bereaved

& to our children:

Autism.ADHD

In my day job I give labels & discuss labels given by specialists. Of course diagnoses have their place to aid treatment. But some diagnoses hurt & sting. They bring tears to our eyes & put an ache in our hearts.They can be life-altering & life-limiting .Some labels we give ourselves can affect us too. Energy-sapping. Growth-stunting.

After a brief moment of self-sufficiency we realise we’re haven’t got it all together.

Whatever our story, our struggle, our label,
We’re not doing life on our own.
We’re not holding on,
We’re being held.

Jesus’ words echo deep:
‘Apart from me you can do nothing.’
(John 15:5 ESV)

Without God we are like a dead twig. Lifeless. We couldn’t breathe-let alone get through a day without Him

As Jesus-followers struggling with mental illness & emotional health, we can’t function without:
God’s grace & strength
A supportive circle of family & friends
Necessary medication
Daily doses of God-Words
Conversations over coffee (talking to the right people)
Fellowship- being the church even when we don’t feel like it
Counselling to get us on track
Whatever else it takes -running reading,writing,caffiene,chocolate(…you name it)

And I’ll write it again-above all, we can’t function without God Himself!

He is close to the broken hearted (Psalms 147:3) He knows the  name of each twinkling star in our galaxy & galaxies far,far away. (Psalm 147:4)

Even more amazingly, He knows my name- He knows your name. He calls us by our name-  not only our first name but our true name, our new name given by God:
‘And I will give to each one a white stone, & on the stone will be engraved a new name that no-one understands except the one who receives it’(Rev 2:17-NLT)

God gives us names, not nick- names or derogatory names to pull us down but rather new names to build us up:

Precious
Chosen
Sought-After
Cherished
Truly Forgiven
Deeply Loved
Never Forsaken
Forever Blessed
Mine
Daughter of the Most High God

His perfect love casts out fear (1John4:18)

‘Fear calls out our doubts; God calls out our names.’(Bob Goff)

As we respond to Abba, calling our name, we will know that He is:

Always Faithful
Always There
Always Enough
{No matter what}

Our Good,Good Father knows our name & our heart, our struggles & our failures, yet truly loves us.

‘His love never runs away or wavers. It extends into all of those places where you feel most unloveable, where you can’t imagine he would want to go. Those parts of you that cause others to run away are the very parts of you that God runs toward.’
(Tullian Tchividjian)

‘The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.’
(Psalms 147:11 ESV)

‘If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.
If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it.
He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning.
Whenever you want to talk, he’ll listen.
He can live anywhere in the universe, and he chose your heart.’
(Max Lucado)

Blessings,

Ruth x

PS If doubt & fear seem louder than the voice of God calling your name listen to:

You say-Lauren Daigle
I am who you say I am– Hillsong
No longer slaves-Jonathan David & Melinda Helser
Good good Father-Chris Tomlinson

Hope

I’ve ditched new year’s resolutions for bucket lists & one word for the year.

‘For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.’ (TS Eliot)

Last year my word was be.The year before I chose run. This year my word is hope.

Hope: A feeling of expectation & trust

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.’
(Emily Dickinson)

Hope is what’s needed in our daily lives & broken planet. The truth of the Christmas Carol reminds us:
‘A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices’

But hope is more than a feeling. Hope is a Person. His Name is Jesus. He came from heaven to the manger & grew in the carpenter’s workshop. He lived & died in this world. He rose again & left His Spirit in us if we believe:
‘Christ in you, the hope of glory.’
(Colossians 1:27 NIV)

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

‘But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.’
(Psalms 71:14 ESV)

‘Hope is not the belief that things will turn out well, but the belief God is working through all things, no matter how things turn out.’ (Ann Voskamp)

Even when we feel down, we can know hope:
“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)

‘In the storms of life, we can ‘hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul’
(Hebrews 6:18-19 ESV)

Hope can keep us steady & ground us! It’s an anchor for our anxious souls in the faithfulness of God.

‘Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.’
(Hebrews 10:23 ESV)

We can choose to be hopeful when things seem hopeless. It’s a choice of prospective.

‘Chose hope– it will anchor you’
(Jennifer Rothschild)

When this world makes us weary & grinds us down, we can be renewed by hope. We can rise above our troubles:
‘But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.’
(Isaiah‬ ‭40:31‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness’ (Bishop Tutu)

‘The promise of hope is that our now is not forever’
(Christy Wimber)

So, ‘Let hope keep you joyful’
(Rom 12:12)

We need to share our hope with those who can see the difference it makes:
‘always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you’
(1Peter 3:15 ESV)

We can sow seeds of hope.

Then…

Wait. Expect. Trust

In our God

‘Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.’
(2Thessalonians 2:16-17 ESV)

‘And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.’
(Psalms 39:7 ESV)

In our God, we find hope…
for today,
& for tomorrow,
& always.

Blessings,

Ruth x

For when the year doesn’t feel new anymore

It’s not even half way through January yet & it feels like a month of Mondays!

Planet Earth celebrated another revolution around the sun with great optimism! Shiny happy people around the globe danced as the clock struck midnight.

Turning the calendar with fireworks & parties often doesn’t alter much in our lives. Our mindset may be buoyed temporarily by the ‘New Year, New You’ mantra.

We can step out on 1st January as bouncy as Tigger but we can quickly default to Eeyore ‘Same old, same old’:

*When the same struggles emerge from the year before

*When no news seems like good news

*When you feel the same broken emotions that there’s not even an emoji for

*When pesky viruses clog your head & hamper fitness plans

*When that ‘black dog’ named Depression follows us into 2019

*When your stressors at work don’t stay behind in 2018:

It’s OK not to be OK

‘It’s ok not to feel twinkly’ (Blurt)

Many of us step into a new year with clear resolutions & plans.

The thing is, we ourselves can’t muster up any new ways or lasting change.

We need the love & mercy, goodness & grace of our God- this year & always

‘In the middle of your mess is the Messiah.Look to Him for joy’
(Jennifer Rothschild)

God is with us forever {not just for Christmas!}

‘We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul,closer than our secret thoughts’ (AW Tozer)

He created us, knows us best & yet He loves us most. He is the Unchangeable One who can make things new from the inside out.

He gives fresh starts as often as we ask for forgiveness. He creates new beginnings & multiple chances.

We can pray the words of David’s psalm:
‘Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.’
(Psalms 51:10)

We can come to God with our frustrations & failings, our misunderstandings & contradictions. He is More than Enough to deal with them- & care for us.

‘He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, & reveals His thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, & treads on the heights of the earth-the Lord God Almighty is His Name’ (Amos 4:13)

By faith, we can walk close to Him:
‘My goal this year? To stay close to the One who made me. Because being close to Him brings me closer to who I was made to be.’
(Michelle Cushatt)

God said, “I will take you by the hand and keep you”
(Isaiah 42:6 ESV)

When we don’t feel buoyant &shiny, when we feel down& frustrated by ourselves & others, we can shift the focus from ourselves to God:
‘Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God’
(Psalms 42:5 NLT)

‘Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.’
(Psalm 42:5 MSG)

No matter how we’re feeling,today & throughout the year,
‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.’
(Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)

‘No matter what this year holds-
In the stressful times:seek God
In the painful times: praise God
In the terrible times:trust God
And at all times-at all times, & at all times
thank God’
(Ann Voskamp)

Blessings,

Ruth x

All I need

Our God is All-sufficient,

Always enough.

Enough for where we are at,
As well as where we are heading.

Today & always,
Now & forever.

Enough for ordinary everyday life,
And extraordinary circumstances.

Enough for holidays & family life,
And dramas and challenges.

Enough for the storms we may face,
And the halcyon days after.

He gives just enough:
Grace
Strength
Peace
Presence

For the step we’re on in our journey
For the page we’re at in our story

Our God is All-sufficient:

Always enough,
Always faithful,
Always loving,
Always there.

Blessings,


Ruth x

Tis the season…our souls {should} feel their worth

My favourite Christmas carol used to be ‘In the bleak mid winter’ Now it’s ‘O Holy night’ (& apparently it’s the most popular favourite carol in the UK)

It seems a shame that carols are confined to December.It’s a pity to pack them away with the decorations till next year, since there’s such deep truth contained in them:
‘O Holy Night
The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.’
(Cappeau)

I’ve sang this carol many times, but I’ve never really noticed this line before:
‘Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.’

The soul felt its worth.

Our soul is our spiritual, immortal essence, our God-made core, sealed with His image.

God formed us:
‘The Lord looks down from heaven and sees the whole human race. From his throne he observes all who live on the earth. He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do.’
(Psalms 33:13-15 NLT)

God placed eternity within us:
‘Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.’
(Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT)

At exactly the right moment, during that Holy Night,
‘when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.’
(Galatians 4:4-5 ESV)

The Christmas story is part of God’s Grand Plan, conceived in eternity past- to redeem our souls.

What is your soul worth? What lengths & depths did your Creator God go to reach you?

Our Eternal God Almighty became a helpless baby.

He left the dazzling glory of heaven to be born into squalor.

He stepped out of the realms of eternity to enter the confines of time.

He lived & bled & died…. for our souls.

As Max Lucado wrote, ‘God did something extraordinary. Stepping from the throne, he removed his robe of light & clothed himself in skin’

That same Yahweh God ‘the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it’ (Isaiah 42:5) entered our world as one of us.

The baby in the manger is God the Son:
‘He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.’
(Hebrews 1:3 ESV)

‘He came to us that we might come to Him’ wrote Deitrich Bonhoeffer

This is the good news proclaimed by angels that will cause great joy for all people (Luke2)

‘For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’
(Luke 19:10 ESV)

‘For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.’
(John 3:17 NIV)

‘For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?’
(Matthew 16:26 ESV)

‘How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?’
(Hebrews 2:3 ESV)

Billy Graham writes about our soul’s worth in ‘The Value of your Soul

He also wrote:
‘God does not change-
And neither does His love.
He loved you before you were born..
He loves you now…
And He will love you forever’

Can you feel your worth?

Can you sense this great hope?

Will you respond in worship?

‘A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

Fall on your knees
O hear the angels’ voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
(Cappeau)

Blessings,

Ruthx

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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

Running toward rainbows

I hadn’t ran for over 3 weeks due to an injury so I was determined to lace up my ASICS & get going. The clouds over Strangford Lough at the Narrows looked threatening. Usually I feel blessed to live & work in an area of outstanding natural beauty. But that day I felt overwhelmed & annoyed at myself that I’d been clumsy enough to fall. And annoyed that I still had a niggling pain in my left shin even after 3 weeks relative rest! Sure enough the rain fell. But I didn’t mind getting wet, I just wanted to feel more relaxed!

Then, I looked up & a rainbow appeared between the clouds & rain! It was such a powerful reminder of God’s presence on a very ordinary Tuesday in August!

As you know, the first rainbow appeared after the flood, after the ark rested & the water subsided.

In the calm after the storm God said “Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
(Genesis 9:16 NIV)

The rainbow is a reminder of God’s promises in the storms of life, & the aftermath that ensues. It is a visual reminder that we can hold on to hope in the worst of times.

‘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)

There are so many great & precious promises:

*The promise of adoption into God’s family, if we believe:

‘Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God’
(John 1:12 NIV)

*The promise of relationship:

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
(Revelation 3:20 NIV)

*The promise of strength:

‘but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.’
(Isaiah 40:31 NIV)

*The promise of His presence:

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
(Isaiah 41:10 NIV)

*The promise of His presence, no matter what:

“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 43:2-3MSG)

*The promise of His presence, always:

‘God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.”
(Hebrews 13:5-6 NIV)

*The promise of sustaining grace:

‘Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.’
(Psalm 55:22 NIV)

*The promise of a future:

“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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
(Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV)

*The promise of guidance:

‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.’
(Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)

Which promises are most precious to you?

Whatever this week brings, run toward rainbows for:
‘His every promise is enough for every step I take’
(Keith & Kristyn Getty)

Blessings,

Ruth x

PS Edited from a post originally on http://www.blessedme.co.uk

Start well

There are two types of people on this planet- those who are morning people, & those who are not! You either rise & shine or slumber & snooze. In the past I was definitely an owl rather than a lark..

So, I was intrigued to read:
‘The first hour is the rudder of the day.’
(Henry Ward Beecher)

I was also fascinated by the number of times the Gospel writers record that Jesus got up early to spend time with His Father e.g. Mark records, ‘Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.’
(Mark 1:35 NIV)

The challenge of course is that if Jesus, God the Son found it necessary to begin the day with His Father,how much more do we as mere mortals, & saved sinners need to begin our days with God?

I do believe I should begin my day with God but as I said initially I’m not naturally a morning person. I struggle with getting up early enough & hit snooze repeatedly in a dozy state.

I’ll sadly admit, I’ve only managed to start my day with God consistently for two periods in my life. The first time was at university in Dundee when I chose to get up early on a Monday morning to attend the DUCU prayer meeting. The last time was for several months after the New Horizons conference, triggered by pledging to pray for Iraq at 6:45am. But after a trip away from home I defaulted back to my old ways.

I am now trying to reform this habit. I believe its an important habit for me to re-establish.

‘Habits are the invisible architecture of daily life.’
(Gretchen Rubin-Better than Before)

I was challenged by these two clarion calls from yesteryear:

‘Let God’s voice be the first we hear in the morning’ ( M’Cheyne)

‘Do not have your concert first, and then tune your instrument afterwards. Begin the day with the Word of God and prayer, and get first of all into harmony with Him.’
(Hudson Taylor)

The tasks & tempo of life vary with what season of life we are in. But whatever stage of life you are at, it will always be challenging to create the time you need to start well each day.

‘The constant sensory input from all sides is gently addictive-we become used to being entertained and diverted, and it is difficult to carve out the spaces and silence necessary for serious and thoughtful reading of scripture’

This was written by DA Carson in 1998 in the preface of his book For the love of God.This was written before Twitter, Facebook & iPhones. How much more input bombards us now!

The fact that I often chose to begin my day with Facebook rather than communing with the King of the Universe is a sign of how broken I am. I am truly grateful that God Isn’t Finished With Me Yet!

Our lives need to be infused with God’s Word.

Our souls need His truth as an anchor.

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

There really is no substitute for time alone with God.

This past week I have been reading about Moses’ relationship with God:
‘The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.’
(Exodus 33:11)

‘When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.’
(Exodus 34:29)

Our faces may not visibly glow after time with God, but the positive after-effects will radiate out to affect our daily lives.

‘Let’s remember to exchange whispers with God before shouts with the world this morning. Let’s take a moment to pause. Get into God’s Word and let it get into us. Before the craziness of another day begins, before checking our phone for text messages, before logging onto our computer…let’s soak in the life-giving truth of God’s Word’
(Lysa TerKeurst-The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands)

I love that idea-whispers with God before shouts with the world.

‘When I begin the day with God’s word, with silence, with a grounding sense of his love for me, then I find it’s easier to bring those things with me throughout the day, and it’s harder for me to locate them if I didn’t pause with them at the start. So let’s begin together. Let’s savor this day’
(Shauna Niequist)

To truly savour each day we need to nourish our souls with unhurried uninterrupted time with God. We must be intentional in removing distractions & creating soul space so we can hear the still small voice of God.

This quiet time is not an empty ritual but a relationship- one to One with God. He sees our hearts & knows our true attitude. Yet He still loves us & desires to spend time with us, that we might know Him.

Starting well requires discipline- from the moment we chose to go to bed & the time we chose to set alarm for.

Some simple steps to starting well:

•Get to bed early
•Set the alarm at a time that allows enough time
•Don’t hit snooze
•Get organized- keep a Bible & whatever else you need in one place
•Read the Bible before you read anything else
•Talk to God before anyone else
•Keep your phone in another room during Quiet Time

If we are intentional with our time with God, He has promised that He will meet with us:
‘Draw near to God & He will draw near to you (James 4:8)

‘This is always the realest, hardest, truest thing — the exhaling relief:you can always have as much of God as you want.’
(Ann Voskamp)

‘Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.’
(Psalm 143:8 ESV)

Blessings,

Ruthx

This was originally posted at http://www.blessedme.co.uk & I’m still working on my morning routine!

Excess baggage

‘He who would travel happily must travel light.’
(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)

We’re just back from holiday. We camped in Austria, Switzerland & Italy. Rather than turning up at Eurocamps where the tent (& everything you might need!) is waiting for you, we decided to bring our tents & camping stuff with us. The added challenge was keeping to the Ryanair Family Plus baggage allowance!

We just about managed & as we made our way through security I was reminded how much things had changed since our honeymoon 21years ago. Back in those days we had bought a large terracotta planter & jar. They had to be placed in the cockpit with the pilot!

Last year, Caris bought a flowering cactus at the Flower Market in Amsterdam. It travelled with us on the rest of the Road Trip & made it home to bloom in NI!

I’m learning the skill of packing what is truly essential for road trips. But it’s much more difficult to reduce the excess baggage as we journey through life.

In the past, I’ve listened to the audiobook ‘Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage‘ by Allison Vesterfelt. This tells the story how Allison packed away her unnecessary possessions & crammed the essentials into her car to tour all fifty two states of America. In the book Alison shares insights gleaned along the highways:
“A special kind of simplicity happens when you leave behind all things unnecessary, and even some necessary ones. There is no noise, no chaotic motion—just silence. All of a sudden feelings start to rise to the surface you didn’t even know you had. You start to think thoughts you didn’t realize you were capable of thinking.”

So where can we leave the unnecessary excess baggage that’s weighing us down on this journey of life? How can we get rid of the bricks in our rucksacks?

I love the picture in Pilgrims’ Progress of Pilgrim’s burden falling away at the cross. The forgiveness of God alleviates our heaviest baggage- our sin & gives us freedom to travel lightly.

After I trusted Jesus to forgive my sin during Easter 1988, I remember singing Charles Wesley’s words with all the gusto I could muster:
‘My chains fell off
My heart was free’

God’s grace ushered in a lightness in my spirit. The weight of condemnation had been dealt with & my broken relationship with my Creator was restored.

But as time goes by, we gather baggage.It’s all to easy to pick up burdens we were never meant to carry. We can bear heavy bundles from our past, emotional baggage caused by anxiety, failure, regret or inadequacy. Their constant weight can hinder us in our onward journey.

I hate self-service checkouts. I mean- what is the point? We need assistance from the store staff 90% of the time,especially when the till declares ‘unexpected item in baggage area’ In life sometimes memories or situations load unexpected baggage onto us.

We need to retrace our steps back to the feet of Jesus & lay our burdens down. We can leave yesterday’s regrets, today’s pressures & responsibilities & tomorrow’s worries with Him.

‘Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden’
(Corrie Ten Boom)

When it comes to achieving balance & travelling light we need the help of the One who holds the whole world in His hands. When we feel like we’re juggling umpteen balls in the air, we need to look to our Creator God who keeps our solar system & light years beyond in orbit. We need to trust Him to deal with our baggage. Relief comes when we give our baggage to God to carry.

‘Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.’
(Psalm 55:22 NIV)

‘Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.’
(1 Peter 5:7 ESV)

‘I wonder how much of what weighs me down is not mine to carry?’ (Live life happy) That’s a good question!

Jesus said,“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
(Matthew 11:28-29 ESV)

I’ve been reminiscing with vintage Don Francisco songs this week. These words can soothe our burdened soul:
‘If you’re tired and weary
Weak and heavy laden
I can understand how
It feels to be alone
I will take your burden
If you’ll let Me love you
Wrap My arms around you
Give your heart a home’

‘So I will lay down my struggles
I will lay down my shame
All the fear I drag around through this life
like a ball and chain
(All my questions and confusion)
I will sing Hallelujah to the One who sets me free
And you will find me at the feet of Jesus’
(Steven Curtis Chapman)

Blessings,

Ruthx

PS You May like this article Emotional Baggage & Max Lucado’s book Travelling Light