Tag Archives: Christianity

Self Care In A Pandemic (22): Caring For Others.

As we approach Christmas, and for those of us who Celebrate Jesus Christ, acknowledge the Greatest Gift ever given to mankind in the Gift God gave of His Only Son to be the Saviour of the world, perhaps we can see this as a perfect opportunity to care for others.

There is so much need in the world, and there are so many people suffering this year. It can be overwhelming, especially if we ourselves are struggling. Mother Teresa once said that ‘if you can’t help one hundred, help one’. You and I are not, and are not called to be the saviours of the world, but we can reach out to help our fellow human beings.

I wonder if you are going through a tough time right now. I send you a hug of friendship and encouragement, and hope that my words can reach you too. Has anyone done or said something that has helped lift you or shown kindness to you? Can you in any way pass this on, pay this kindness forwards?

I think it is good for us, not in a selfish way, but in living out more of our true humanity, in being able to care for others. Even when we are weak, we have something to give. We can give a prayer, even in our most broken times, for the benefit of others. We can give a smile, a kind word, a gift, some money, some food, or even share our talents with the world in some small way. We can give a hug, or make a phone call, we can care for others, and in doing so simultaneously care for ourselves in allowing us to express the kindness that we all so deeply need to share. x

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Living life as it happens…

“All the best laid plans of mice and men….” and all that ! 🙂

Hi Friends,

How are you all? I hope everyone is muddling through this pandemic as best you all can. I apologise that I have been absent for some time, and I understand if anyone has not noticed, because who can really keep up with things and keep on top of everything these days?

I had actually written several posts on surviving the pandemic, and you may have read a few of them – however, I have many more that I had written in advance and saved, ready to post. Yet, I’m wondering if I’ve missed my moment with them as lockdown has been in the process of easing around the world at different times.

To catch you up on things, I’ve been fairly busy with work, researching and writing reports on best practice for easing work restrictions and in reinstating public health related services – a bit of a change from my normal subject areas, but it’s been good to feel a bit ‘useful’ in helping with the Covid-19 effort, knowing that there are so many people going so far above and beyond by putting their own lives at risk in the health care services for example, among many other areas, but it’s a good time to encourage each other that all our efforts, big or small all add up to help our communities.

I’ve also had a brief stint joining a larger effort as a volunteer on a helpline to check in on people who are ‘Shielding’ due to their health conditions during the pandemic, and to see how the Council can help them. Despite sometimes feeling nervous on the phone, I must say I enjoyed it and felt a real sense of connection with people in the city that I would never otherwise have had any contact with – some doing really well, and others struggling, but relieved that there are avenues for support. It also gave me the opportunity to speak on the phone to a variety of people which was a novelty since I’ve been in lockdown in my flat for three months now without any human company.

I’ve been valuing the chance to slow down and invest more in my relationship with God and in daily creativity and have ventured outside for a few walks although recently the fear of going outside (being a ‘visible minority’ and all) has been a factor on top of the coronavirus that has seen me become a bit more of a ‘home bird’. We’ve had some quite sunny days here in Scotland, it’s been sweltering at points, but today is ‘dreich’ and rainy so venturing outside wouldn’t really have been in my plans anyway 🙂

I have also been engaging with some excellent teaching and resources on Creative Christianity and the outflow of creativity in our identity as image bearers of the Living God, The Creator of all things. It has been wonderful, a real breath of fresh air as it is not something that I usually hear taught, especially with looking at craftsmanship and creativity throughout the Word of God – amazing! 🙂

Other than that I’m hanging in there as many of you are also doing. I hope you’ve been finding deep pockets of joy throughout this pandemic, and I know that for many it has been very hard with job losses, financial worries, grief, health struggles and family or relationship challenges….sending as much love as my tiny heart can muster up – knowing that the Living God has boundless Love for you and just longs for you to reach out to Him.

I pray that this next season (can you believe we’re almost entering July?!) finds you well, safe and healthy and resourceful in a time of communal challenge and change.

Take care on your journey, friends. x

Photo by Markus Winkler on Pexels.com

Focus…

A favourite Scripture among many Christians is from the book of Proverbs (Chapter 3: verses 5 – 6).

Trust in The LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths”.

For those who have never encountered The Living God, who don’t know the Reality of the Risen Christ, and who don’t personally have a relationship with Him as their Lord and Saviour, then this advice might seem a little bit strange, inaccessible or contrary to their way of thinking and of living life. For without God in the picture, people trust in their own wayward hearts, they lean on their own faulty reasoning, ‘logic’ and understanding, and that of other people as they try to forge out a way forwards, yet never walking in the Truth.

Statements like these can be hard to swallow, might invite challenging discussion, but as someone who does know The Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, I also know just how much I need Him to navigate the path ahead for me, and to trust The One Who sees and knows with perfect wisdom the many things I can’t possibly figure out without Him. Who would walk into a jungle for the first time without a guide? Who would walk through the jungle of life without The Saviour, The Shepherd, The One Who declares in Truth: “I AM The Way, The Truth and The Life (no one comes to The Father except through Me)” ?

For those of us who do know Him, we have a responsibility to always seek His guidance and direction in our lives, in the day to day decisions, as well as the bigger situations we may face. How many times do we get into a mess trying to figure out things all on our own, when we only have to ask, and listen for that direction that He so freely gives? The Good Shepherd will never lead us astray.

We need to stay focussed on Him, because He has a plan, a mission, a purpose for our lives, and much of this is being played out in the spiritual realm – something that the secular world around us does not understand, accept or acknowledge, and something that others may not be ‘armed’ to know what they are actually ‘dabbling with’ when it comes to spiritual things that on the surface seem harmless.

WE need to stay focussed, alert, on track and listen for His direction, and guidance, through the Word and being led by His Spirit.

Sometimes there may be a lot of competing demands in our lives, things that arise from a variety of sources, and seemingly ‘good causes’, but before diving in, we need to acknowledge our Lord and ask what He desires and requires of us. Just because something on the surface seems like it is a good thing to be involved with, doesn’t mean that it is something that He wants us to focus our attention on, or maybe He has a different or a better way than the one we see immediately set before us.

Are you letting competing voices draw you away from hearing The Voice of your Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ?

The world busies itself with all sorts of things to be done, but sometimes rushing into things isn’t the best course of action. Wait, listen, trust in Him with all your heart, lean on His understanding and not your own, acknowledge Him in everything, knowing that without any doubt, He *will* direct your paths.

 

A Christmas (Blog) Story (1)

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.

‘Blogmas’:

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….?

Advent:

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”.

God bless. x

Incomparably You ~ Living above the “Comparison Trap”…

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You were not put on this earth to be like anyone else. Think about that for a moment. Neither were you put on this earth to have exactly the same experience as anyone else (I have always been fascinated by twins, but as an ‘outsider’ to twin life I imagine that even then you have unique experiences that your twin won’t share…twins….feel free to comment! 🙂 ). 

If you are new to my blog, I am a gentle follower of Christ…my posts do not always explore issues of faith, some are to do with art, health and beauty, self reflection, mental health, creative writing, travel, photography, food, music, basically my life ‘As it happens to be’…and all are welcome, but my relationship with Christ is what makes me me. ❤ 

There is an interesting passage in Scripture, towards the end of John’s Gospel of Jesus Christ, where Simon Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples is with Him after His resurrection. Simon Peter is somewhat of an impulsive guy, he makes great claims about his devotion to the Lord and displays a lack of self awareness of his own weakness and sin. Before Jesus was crucified, Simon Peter, just as His Lord knew he would and told him so, denied Jesus publicly three times, after his previous emphatic statement that even if everyone else left Him, he would not, he would rather die with Him. But Simon Peter did deny Jesus, and Jesus still loved Him and died for him. So, after all of this Jesus is with His disciples, and they are eating fish by the Sea of Galilee. Jesus, beautifully restoring Simon Peter to fellowship with Himself asks him three times if he loves Him, which is painful for Simon Peter, as he does love his Lord, and yet denied Him three times. Jesus, the Christ then goes on to tell Simon Peter what kind of death he will die, and Simon Peter replies by looking to John and saying something along the lines of “Well, what about him?!”, to which Jesus Christ basically tells Simon Peter what has that got to do with you, you follow Me. 

And so we have it there, in the pages of Scripture a very 21st Century problem ~ “The Comparison Trap”. Whether you are a follower of Christ today or not, you have unavoidably fallen into this trap in your life, perhaps several times. You have looked away from your own life and purpose, looked around you and said in your heart or out loud, “hey, what about them?”. I reiterate: You weren’t put on this earth to be like anyone else around you, or to have exactly the same life experience as another person. And I say this with love, and through experiencing the hurts that such comparison can bring. 

So what is it that makes you look away from your own life to compare with others? Being inspired by others is healthy, but comparing and sizing up your life against someone else’s is not. What makes you think “it’s not fair”, or “why not me?” or even “why me, and not them?”. What gives you ‘FOMO’ ~ that dreaded, technology exacerbated ‘Fear Of Missing Out’?

Is it your lack of health compared to your friend’s wellbeing? Is it the broken family life you’ve experienced compared with your peers’ happy family experiences? Is it your perceived lack of talents next to that person who seems to be able to do it all? Is it your bank balance, your height, weight, stature, physical appearance or employment status? What makes you look ‘next door’ and compare? Perhaps it is the hand that you don’t have to hold, the child that you don’t have to raise, or the problems that other people don’t have to deal with. 

Or maybe, conversely you are proud of your greater level of health and fitness, of your ‘achievements’ as a family and of having a successful career. Maybe you are the one who is talented and can sing, draw, write, create music, travel, run a business, make amazing things and attract admiring glances that others you know cannot. Are you richer, taller, shorter, leaner, bigger, more handsome or beautiful, with a ‘better’ job than others around you? Do you take pride in that? Do you have that beautiful relationship and that family that you feel sorry some of your single or infertile or bereaved friends or acquaintances do not? 

Sometimes comparison can be good when it leads to gratitude or inspiration, but not if it leads to pride, self exaltation or bitterness, envy, self pity or jealousy. It can be good to realise that you are the one with a roof over your head, and have food, money, clothes and warmth when others are homeless and suffering. This sort of comparison should lead to a deeper gratitude for your life, and a desire to reach out to others to treat them in the way that you would wish to be treated if you were in their situation. If someone has talents that you wish you had, perhaps you can let that inspire you to explore your own unique gifts and abilities. And perhaps more difficult for the heart’s journey, if someone has that child or children when you are unable to, can you be grateful for them, and pray for them, seek to help children who are unfortunate, and be pleased for those who are in a good home, loved and cherished, even if it is something that you do not know or don’t have the opportunity to give as much as you long to. Can you be pleased that the family as the building block of society is thriving among the lives of your friends, even when you find yourself ‘lacking’ in some way. Can you be happy for those couples if you find yourself single and wanting a life companion? Can you appreciate that their lives are not all plain sailing, and that there are blessings that you have that they do not, and that you might have more time and freedom than perhaps they do. 

Our lives are different, complex, unique, and we all have things hidden within our hearts that no one else knows about, so to compare ourselves and our journey’s with each other in a negative way detracts from the richness of our shared journeys. 

Yet, what I write is not a lecture to you of dos and do nots. It is simply to say that there is no one else like you, there never has been and there never will be. With all that you like and dislike about yourself, you are unique, one of a kind, irreplaceable, made for a purpose, loved and the only you there will ever be. You do not have to live in the comparison trap. You do not have to stay wounded there. You can rise high above it and learn to soar as you realise that your life will be lived out in a way no one else’s will, even in the smallest details if not the grandest achievements. 

No one else can give to the world what you can, and perhaps you can help others to find and appreciate that in their lives too. We were never meant to be someone else’s copy, replacement or backup plan. You are incomparably you, so don’t ever fear missing out by not being like someone else or having the life that they have, or even having the life you wished you had. This is your journey, life it fully, right where you are. xxx