We live in a world where there is so much going on right now, we can allow this to impact negatively upon our thinking, our processing, our existing and living.
We can sometimes look at our day ahead or even worry about our whole life and future and that of those around us and feel a bit overwhelmed.
You’re not alone if you feel that way.
We can only live one day at a time, one moment at a time, and there may be something for you to do today that is part of a bigger picture, a greater plan. Just take that next step, without fear if you can.
Do that next household task, write that new encouraging blog post to lift someone’s mood and day, you never know someone might be reading it, even if you never find out about this, send that encouraging message or text to a friend and let them know they’re not alone.
Do that next thing to take care of your health. Take that next small step. Be present. Don’t let the fear of life take away the joy of living, by faith, today. Even in this troubled world there is still wonder in the small moments. ❤ x
And if you are His, and know the Reality of Him, remind yourself: “This is the day that The LORD has made, let us rejoice and give thanks in it”.
Well friends, we’re well and truly at the last leg of 2020, and what a year it has been! While things may not miraculously improve (or perhaps they will?) in 2021, we can take steps to helping our mental wellbeing and outlook as we approach a new year.
It is understandable if many of you are feeling fearful, anxious, apprehensive or deflated as we approach a new year. After all, so many of us had high hopes for the perfect sounding ‘2020’ at the start of the year, and at the end of last year, expecting visionary things and grand new beginnings for the start of a new decade. While some individuals have done really well this year, on the whole, the world has taken a bit of a beating with this pandemic. It can leave us feeling in a negative mindset as we move forwards.
One thing that sometimes helps me, in fact it often helps me, is to ‘theme my months’. It gives me a sense of focus, purpose and direction for each month and helps me with setting targeted and manageable goals.
While I don’t envisage any time soon any of my months to be themed with ‘travel’, there are things that can help me focus on the positives in my own life and set goals accordingly and keep moving forwards, even with everything else going on around us in the world.
With life being so uncertain in terms of what we will and won’t be able to do in 2021, I think if I do decide to theme my months, or some of them at least, then I will focus on personal projects that I can do from home. I even managed to do this for some of the time during lockdown this year, including a ‘May theme’ of ‘Summer holiday’ where I decorated my room to look like a beach house (I must have posted pictures earlier on if you want to see if you can find them) and listened to holiday music, and even went on ‘virtual walks’ in different parts of the world via You Tube.
What are some of the themes that you or I could set for ourselves in 2021 that could help us to keep positive, focused and moving forwards?
I thought I’d have a bit of a brainstorm here, but your own list might be something completely different:
Potential Monthly Themes for 2021:
– Self Care
-Connecting with Friend and Family
-Learning Something New
-Staycation – learning about new countries without leaving home!
-Exercise or fitness
-Charity / Random Acts of Kindness
-Developing existing skills
-My True Identity
-Overcoming obstacles or personal issues
-Mentoring or being mentored
-Singing / Dance
-Learning how to use a new piece of technology that you haven’t used before.
-Encouraging other people
-Rest and reflection
-Gratitude / Thanksgiving
-Going outside for a walk everyday or most days (if you are permitted to do so).
-Health and wellbeing.
-Decluttering / tidying
-Home or garden projects
-Learn a new creative venture
These are just a few ideas off the top of my head, but perhaps you have some of your own that are totally different to mine. I’d love to hear what they are if you feel like sharing. In the meantime, don’t be discouraged by everything going on in the world. Take a moment to think of the positive things that you can begin to build into your life going forwards as we approach 2021, even as we head into the unknown. We will adapt and change as we go but we will seek to do so with love, hope, faith, joy and peace.
Do you know, the funny thing is that I have been blogging here for around three and a half years, and I never realised that there was a ‘Spam’ filter that was filtering out comments!
I noticed it and had a look and have just seen some lovely and beautiful comments, and I’d like to think that they are genuine ones from my readers, although Word Press has filtered them out.
I just wanted to say that I am grateful for every genuine comment, and try to acknowledge and reply to them individually, so if you have posted anything at anytime in response to any of my blog articles and thoughts, and if you have not received and acknowledgement or reply, I am so sorry.
I thank you and appreciate you here, and I guess it must be that Word Press filter! It’s hard to know what is genuine or not once it gets into that space, but for those of you out there, thank you 🙂 x
The other day, I was talking on the phone with a Christian friend of mine, and she encouraged me for us both to pray for each other to know how God would have us serve Him and help other people in this time.
Neither of us are by nature the boldest or most confident of people, but sometimes we all just need to be willing to seek and find ways to help other people.
Perhaps you are similar. Maybe you want to use some of your time to help other people but don’t quite know where to start or maybe opportunities arise but you don’t feel confident in them. I have a confession to make that this is where I found myself, and therefore thought that writing a blog post would be a good place to start.
My friend and I were discussing ways in which prior to Covid-19, our churches did face-to-face work with international students to help them feel more welcome in our city when they were so far away from home and everything familiar to them in terms of culture, language, day-to-day life, and far from friends and family. We decided to pray about whether God wants us to help international students in any way or to use us in other ways.
Well, shortly after this, I came across an email from my church that I had perhaps missed before. It was a volunteering opportunity to provide telephone or online support for a short time to international students far from home, to have someone to talk to, practice their English with, and be a source of friendship and support during their start to the University year in the time of the pandemic.
I saw this and thought that’s a great idea. I only saw it a few days ago, at the start of October, but as I read through the volunteer application, for some reason, doubts began to creep into my mind. It said that the start of this would be the end of September. I start overthinking whether or not it’s too late to get involved. My friend was the one particularly interested in international student ministry, but she is away visiting family elsewhere so I can’t update her properly about it. What if I don’t know what to say, or if I’m not good at helping people practice their English, what if I’m not good at it? Doubts and questions came to my mind, as did the thought that I had previously wanted to volunteer somehow to ‘befriend’ by telephone an older person, isolated during the pandemic. Of course some of this may just seem ‘silly’ and overthinking, but I do have generalised anxiety disorder, and in a way this situation has kept me from action as well as prompting me to take action.
While the above doubts caused me to hesitate in one area, they also have spurred me to write this blog post to encourage you.
Sometimes we know we want to help but don’t know where to start. At other times, opportunities may arise but perhaps a lack of confidence or other commitments in our lives may ‘get in the way’ if we allow them, from taking action.
While in such cases, we may respond by ‘beating ourselves up about it’, we can also look at things another way.
If you want to help people, don’t feel discouraged if you are not doing as much as other people, or as much as you had hoped to. Simply start from where you are and allow that momentum to build.
There are so many people in need of help right now that if you miss one opportunity that doesn’t mean that someone else won’t be there to pick it up, or that you won’t find another opportunity. The whole world is in need of help.
As I said, start from where you are.
– Look around you and consider the people in your life whom you know and can provide some support or encouragement to.
– Maybe you can be that compassionate and listening ear to a friend who is going through a hard time. If you are not in a position to provide that level of support, perhaps you could send an encouraging text, email, message or card, or give someone a phone call to let them know you care.
-Maybe you can’t volunteer regularly at a food bank, but perhaps you could make a donation, or help one of your neighbours.
-Maybe you are helping others in your job or home or personal life and taking some time to recharge your own batteries right now is the best thing you can do to continue to be there for other people without ‘burning out’.
-Perhaps you can commit to praying for certain people.
-What do you enjoy doing and are good at? Maybe you’ve missed an opportunity, but you can take more time to reflect upon what you can do and start researching ways in which you can get involved in other things.
– Think about how to lighten the load of the people in your life just now if you live with others. Can you help with housework, can you take time to talk, or simply encourage times of fun and laughter, relaxation and play during what might be a stressful time?
– Can you use your platform as a blogger to share some love and kindness and encouragement? Maybe you can write a post about mental health and wellbeing, you could share encouraging stories of what you have experienced and learned from this very strange year, as it may be just what someone else needs to hear.
– Are you artistic or musical or creative in some way, and can you use and develop these gifts and talents to bring happiness to someone else?
There are so many ways we can continue to reach out to and help and support each other. Maybe we don’t always get it right, but a willingness to take these small steps forward, and making a change little by little could make a real difference to someone in need in these challenging times.
Take care, be kind to yourself and each other, and God bless. x
Recently, I’ve written quite a few posts on the theme of friendship.
Reflecting upon this aspect of our lives has brought me to the realisation that there is a unique, shared and comforting experience in being part of the blogging ‘community’. While we don’t have blogging ‘chat rooms’ or spaces as such (or at least not that I’m aware of. I know there used to be such shared spaces hosted by WordPress with daily challenges, community hubs and so forth, but they seem to have disappeared from my view – if they are still there somewhere please let me know 🙂 ), we still have avenues of interaction with each other through comments, likes, sharing and collaborative posts.
I’m over two and a half years into my blogging adventure, and some of you have come to be familiar ‘faces’ in this journey. I have become familiar with some of your blogs, and have learned a bit about you as individuals from what you have shared, and often look forward to seeing your updates, as well as seeing you interacting with mine.
In a recent post on friendship I reflected upon the benefits of friendships and long term trusted connections in our lives.
And I have come to realise that this online shared space where we can express our deeper thoughts about our lives quite freely is in fact a real blessing, opportunity and comfort as we journey through not only our blogs, but in a remote yet potentially significant way, our lives together.
There is something about sharing the human experience that makes us feel less alone, don’t you think? And while nothing can replace face to face and real time connection with people we care about, blogging adds an extra dimension to our lives in which we can communicate some of our deepest thoughts and express parts of ourselves that perhaps we can’t do so freely with the people we meet with face to face, or at least not in the same way.
I realise that I really value this, and all of you, as we encourage each other in our blogs, and also our lives.
It is a gift and a blessing to share this journey, even in some small way, with you. Wouldn’t it be something if in years to come we have a community of people who mutually encourage and edify each other as we go through life?
As I approach my third year of blogging in a few months, I am certainly grateful that I began this adventure and journey of discovery and am very glad that I can share some of it with you. x
We all need vision for our lives. We all need to dream, to have meaning, goals and purpose.
Yet those dreams need to be united with the practical and sometimes ‘mundane’ steps of living them out.
At the start of this new year and new decade, 2020, you may have big dreams for your life. You may already be working towards life long goals and dreams. But the dreams will not sustain themselves and need to be coupled with both faith and action.
At the beginning of this year, I was gearing up to be ‘ready to go’. However, ‘IRL’ the morning of new year’s day I spent playing my violin, shortly after which I ended up coughing, sneezing and huddled up with the cold. I had to leave my parents’ home that evening and they dropped me back at my own flat, so after one day of rest I was back at work on Friday, and this weekend, I’ve been unable to do very much because of this unwanted cold.
I’ve spent the weekend so far sipping ginger tea, sleeping, eating, praying, doing some Bible study, and blogging a little when I’m able to sit up. I’ve been somewhat at the mercy of my body and unable to ‘get up and go’ or be prepared as I would like to for the start of a brand new year. I’m coughing and have a sore throat, and just need to take it easy so that I can recover. So, that is ‘life as it happens to be’ right now.
And perhaps you have dreams, plans and goals you wish to achieve, yet without a doubt daily life will at times get in the way, but the key is not to get side-tracked or waylaid by these inconveniences or challenges. You may not be able to press full steam ahead with your plans, but little by little day by day, keep persevering towards your goals, don’t lose focus or vision and don’t let yourself get discouraged by the inevitable distractions of day to day life.
What is your vision for this year, or for yourself generally? A healthier you? There will be things to trip you up along the way, but keep that vision and that focus, and do a little at a time, day by day, get into patterns of healthier living and thinking and don’t give up. Some days you might not be able to live just as you want, but keep moving in that healthy direction for your life and watch the small and steady steps all add up to a better journey through life.
Do you want to work on all sorts of personal projects, keep your home neat and tidy, and write or study new things on a regular basis, but like me today you find yourself sick and unable to do very much? Maybe like me in the past you’ve also had longstanding health problems, maybe you have more serious health problems to deal with as we speak. Don’t give up. Is recovery your goal? Keep that vision, the positive attitude, and keep ‘chipping away’ at things bit by bit, day by day. No one said there would never be challenges, hard days or disappointment on your journey, but find the faith and strength to overcome and to persevere, just a little at a time, day by day.
Maybe, like me today, you just have the inconvenience of a cold. I’ve come through a lot of tough battles and struggles in my life, so I’m quite thankful that this day is blessed with only a little inconvenience. It’s a matter of perspective. We can do what we can to heal, be thankful that it’s the weekend, and even when we feel tired, worn out, have dishes piled high that we don’t have the energy to wash, have suitcases to unpack and want to but don’t have the energy to get back into an exercise routine, when we want to achieve things and be our best, but we can barely get ourselves ready, even then we can do a little at a time.
Take some rest. Look after yourself. Remind yourself of what is important. And don’t feel discouraged if you can’t do the ‘big things’ today. One of my dreams is to complete my novel, and to use my blog to make an impact on other people’s lives for the better, and most of all to glorify God. Ok, so I’ve written a lot of my novel, but I also want to take it a lot further, and there isn’t going to be much novel writing at the moment with me being unwell. I’d like to inspire, uplift and encourage people through my blog, and I don’t know if this is all too ‘mundane’ to do that right now, but at least I can do this little by little, bit by bit, and these few blog posts can help move me in the right direction as I persevere.
So, whatever it is you are facing today, whether it is a common cold, or a crisis, don’t let these things push you off course from the purpose, dreams and visions for your life. Keep focused, and even when it is tough, just keep putting that one step in front of another. In time to come, you’ll be so glad you did, and so will the people that you end up encouraging! x
Well dear readers, friends, we’re finally here, and I’d like to wish you all a very happy December.
This is the time of the year when everyone seems to say “Can you believe it? December is here already, hasn’t this year gone by quickly?”. I personally don’t think it has, but it is a natural time of reflection when the seasons change and the calendar year comes to an end. We ask ourselves where the time has gone, and it is a chance to look back in reflection and also to look forwards in hope.
I’ve never done ‘Blogmas’ before, you know, posting a new blog post every day in the lead up to Christmas. I really like this idea and have often enjoyed stopping by different ‘vlogs’ on YouTube for ‘Vlogmas’.
It’s the 5th of December, so I’ve already missed the first few days, but it’s nice also to blog as we approach Christmas, without necessarily doing this every day. Just as I created my Winter Survival Guide series (my 50th and final post for that series will be coming soon!), I’d like to also blog regularly in December. I love the idea of reading your Christmas themed blog posts, and ‘blogmas’ posts, it is a cosy and comforting feeling.
However, as I contemplated using the term ‘blogmas’ in my title, I realised that it wasn’t really what my heart was going for. Which is why you can think of this as a Christmas blog story, as I like to focus on Christ being the centre of Christmas, rather than blogging or any other thing. It’s just a personal feeling I had for my own blog, but like I said I love all of your blogmas posts and will enjoy reading them. So, what instead….?
Who doesn’t love an advent calendar? I have quite a fondness, even though I don’t have one myself, for those hand stitched patchwork style advent creations with hand stitched pockets. I think we all love the countdown to something special and exciting and worth celebrating.
For many of us, Advent signifies the first coming of Jesus Christ into the world, and the waiting and anticipation of those who lived during that time. Now as a Christian, I can approach Christmas reflecting back with gratitude for Christ’s first coming into the world, and looking forward in hope to His second coming for He will return again, and also celebrate the Christmas season knowing and experiencing personally that He Is Emmanuel – God with us – The One True and Living God, here, and now.
Advent is also a time of preparation, and I love this because as a Christian, preparing my heart for Christ is a daily thing, however at this time of the year it is a new and fresh opportunity to do this with other believers and also to know that the world around us is celebrating and anticipating and that this is an opportunity to share the Light, Love and Truth of Jesus Christ with all.
What are you waiting for?
As a Christian, I wait on God, and I live in the experience of His present love, forgiveness, peace, joy and truth. I wait, and yet I am also fulfilled.
What are you waiting for and preparing for at this time of year?
I look forward to sharing my journey, this year’s Christmas (blog) Story with you as I give you a glimpse into my thoughts, friendships, travels, holiday fun, faith, spirituality, home and lifestyle. I hope you will stay with me as we continue on to the next chapter, and as we hopefully approach what will be a “Merry Christmas for one and all”.
I haven’t as yet had the privilege of visiting South Africa or Norway, but from the people I know who have either lived in or visited these countries I have heard that they are beautiful and unique places. I am so fascinated to know what life is like there, so a big ‘hello and welcome’ to all of you from these places, and thank you for stopping by to visit my blog.
A couple of years ago I visited the Czech Republic, notably Prague, and I absolutely loved it. If you want to read some of my posts on my time there visit my ‘Travel’ section (although coming to think about it, I’m not sure if I ever finished writing those travel diaries).
My impressions of Prague were that it was vibrant, full of life, history, culture, and amazing musical and artistic talent from ordinary people busking and displaying their art on the streets. It is a beautiful place, and I would love to go back again some day, so hello to all my blogging friends in the Czech Republic.
You are all most welcome to let me know a bit about your country, in the comments below. 🙂
Today I’m particularly thankful for Word Press as a blogging platform, where we can use our writing voice to connect with numerous people from across the world to share, inspire, encourage and motivate.
Why today in particular? Because following the onset of a sore throat, I have in fact ‘lost’ my voice. I’m hopeful I’ll get it back again, but it has prompted me to think of the ways in which we take for granted the things we can usually do. I have so many thoughts running through my head that I’d love to communicate with others in my life, or even to greet the people I meet in passing, and I didn’t even realise that I was ‘voiceless’ until I tried to express these thoughts verbally – and nothing came out.
Ah, the blessing of non-verbal communication! Smiles, hugs, gestures, facial expressions…and of course for all of us here on the ‘blogosphere’ – the written word!
I’ve always felt more able to express myself more persuasively through the written – rather than the spoken – word. I wonder if you can relate? Perhaps you’ve had experience of shyness, social anxiety, ‘brain fog’ when in company and conversation, or have had to overcome a stutter. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to find our voices elsewhere if we are limited in some other aspect of our lives in being able to communicate.
I can’t imagine what it must be like for people for whom all or most forms of communication are impaired or limited. Therefore, today I reflect upon my blessings of being able to communicate and share this gift of being able to connect with others and they with me.
I think of how powerful the written word is. But also of the potency of words spoken. How many of us have suffered from the wounds of words inflicted upon us in childhood? Even as adults they affect us, sometimes terribly. Scripture tells us that ‘life and death are in the power of the tongue’ and that although humanity has learned to steer ships and other vessels, to bridle horses, we cannot tame our own tongue! It steers the course of our life, and can have the power to set a forest on fire.
There are many ways in which we can use our voice. Perhaps blogging is your platform to share your ‘voice’ with the world – your thoughts, your ideas, your desire to advocate for change. Perhaps we can use our ‘voice’ to ‘speak up for’ the voiceless in society – for children, animals, for those who are oppressed and have no way to share their own thoughts and feelings about what is happening to them. We can use our voice, our words, written, spoken, and in other forms of expression to heal, to encourage, to help, to build up, to inspire, to comfort, to love, to share….
It’s good to be silent from time to time, and to take a moment to reflect upon how we are using the gifts we have to communicate with others. How will you use your ‘voice’ today?
Thanks for reading, welcome one and all, from wherever in the world you are from, and a special shout out to my viewers, readers and followers in these countries. As always, feel free to say hi and tell us a bit about life in your country, in the comments. Peace 🙂