Tag Archives: Hope

Hang in there (mental health post)

If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you have ups and downs with your mental health. The mind can be a tricky place. And not just the mind, but the brain itself. Realising there is a physical and biological aspect to mental health helps take away some of the stigma when we might feel like we ‘shouldn’t’ be struggling or suffering in our minds when we ‘ought to’ have control over our own thoughts. I’ve had this ‘argument’ with myself, but often our brains can do things we don’t want them to, especially in times of stress.

Thinking over my life, yes there have been times of stress, of trauma and mental overload and confusion, but there have also been great times and wonderful days feeling well, travelling (see my travel posts 🙂 ) even with anxiety, going out with friends, helping other people, serving in church, walks in the park, being part of community, and being liked, admired, respected by other people and achieving various goals. There have been days enjoying soaking up the beauty of being alive, of nature and connecting with God. Wondrous moments. Yet there are also days like today where I know I’m not 100% ok. I’d been pushing through anxiety and troubling thoughts to do various more positive things recently like going to work a couple of days in the office post-pandemic restrictions, going for walks and chats with friends, attending church and meeting new friends there and being able to help out, meeting up with good friends again. Some of those days have had the backdrop of anxiety but they still allowed me enjoyment. For the past month and a bit I’ve been recovering from Covid and post-Covid fatigue and it is impacting my mental health and brain health. I look at photographs to remind myself that my life is a beautiful life with a lot of blessings despite the times of stress or difficulties that I’ve experienced in various seasons. Yet my mind / brain can forget these things and bring up all sorts of ‘automatic negative thoughts’ – I think I’ve written about these ‘ANTS’ in previous blog posts – perhaps I’ll do a search to see if even I can find something helpful. When we’re ill and fatigued things can get a bit more difficult mentally especially if we’ve struggled in the past.

So why have I written the above? It’s to remind you that if you are in a dark or confusing moment that those are not the only moments you’ve had in life. This too will pass. You are a special, beautiful, worthy human being no matter what your brain is telling you, no matter what anyone else or any experience has told you. Our minds can be tricky and disorganised places and it can be difficult to pull ourselves up and out of the experiences of our own thoughts. Try to recall a time when you were in a better place or try to distract yourself by thinking on something good, true, lovely. Sometimes something as simple as watching a nature video can help, or talking to a friend or family member. It can be hard when we feel stuck to take that small step that cognitively seems huge to us, but just try a little at a time.

If you are in crisis, remember that it will pass. Don’t act on any troublesome thoughts but try to sit with those difficult feelings and if you can reach out to someone, even a helpline. Look at something that is positive rather than trying to ‘make sense of’ your confusing thoughts, although there may be a place for that when you are feeling better. Try to eat well, rest well and connect with people in some way. If you are able, go for a walk – I’m not able to go for a walk at the moment with the way my health is, but I often find that this helps to ‘clear my head’. I’m blessed to know that I have a loving Heavenly Father, and a Saviour Jesus Christ, and I know I’m never alone and can reach out to God any time, and am indwelt by His Spirit. This is a real comfort to me, as is turning to His Word and being reminded in Scripture that we can cry out to God, and that so many people experienced times of distress and that God rescued them from it. Even psalm 22 prophesies the intense distress that Jesus Christ would face on the Cross hundreds of years before the event. He knows, and He understands.

Despite the past seasons of darkness or trial, my life overall is a beautiful life, yet at times my mind tends to overwhelm me with unhelpful thoughts. If you’re struggling, you’re not alone, and it doesn’t have to last forever. No matter how bad your life might feel right now, there is hope. Ultimately, I would point you to Jesus Who has taken away my deep pain and Who forgives us and gives us a brand new life, gradually changing, cleansing, freeing us from within. There is hope for another day. Know that there are hundreds if not millions or more people across the globe right now whose brains are also struggling with the world we’re living in. Perhaps because of experiences, perhaps because of Covid, or ‘just because’….just because we’re human. It can be easy to look at others and think they’re doing great, and maybe they are but we can’t see beneath the surface or understand what’s really going on in someone’s mind. Most people would look at me and not have any idea that my brain can cause me distress but then I might look at them and assume the same. Wherever you are, just hang in there. Please. Know that it isn’t the end, there is light in the darkness and the thoughts tumbling upon you will clear. Thoughts are not reality but they can lead us in directions that can either help or harm us, so take a moment to consider dwelling on a different thought. Sometimes when you’re in the thick of it this can be difficult to do so an external input or distraction can help – this might be something you watch or read or talking to someone who can be a kind and supportive voice – or perhaps reading this blog post might, I sincerely hope, give someone a bit of perspective to hang on in there.

Don’t give up, dear friends, you’re not alone. Yes, our minds can cause us distress, but they can also be places of hope and of inspiration, faith, love and joy. That might feel like a million miles away from us at the moment but we can start with one thought at a time. For me, writing this blog post has helped engage another part of my brain, my mind, my thinking to steer me to a more helpful course, to seek to help someone else rather than getting lost in the automatic thoughts that my brain seems to throw at me from time to time, especially when feeling unwell physically. What might help you when you’re struggling? I’ve written in previous posts about having a ‘toolbox’ for mental health and self care, perhaps this is something we can have in reserve – strategies that are helpful – that we can go to and remind ourselves of on those more difficult days.

I hope that you’ve founds something helpful in this. Praying for you. Hang in there. Those thoughts, like clouds, will clear, and once again we’ll have brighter days. ❤

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Your unique value and worth…

Well dear friends, I’m back – and my latest news is that I got Covid for the first (and hopefully only) time. I tested positive on 5th October and have since had negative tests, but it seems that I’m suffering from a form of long-covid, and I hope and trust that in time it will pass and I’ll be back to strength again. But it has been somewhat of a rough ride at times with the exhaustion, shakiness, fatigue, breathlessness, inability to do much at home and the ‘brain fog’ and mental stress, emotions and anxiety and confusion in sleeping and waking hours. I know people have different symptoms but in addition to the cough and cold like symptoms earlier on these have been some of mine and in the early stages they were quite severe and I was unable to get out of bed for long and had restless sleep or attempts to sleep. I’m finally sitting up and able to blog, so that is progress. Perhaps writing will help me to shed some light on what I’ve learned.

There is Light

Being unwell can be a scary place to be, especially when our bodies and minds feel like they are vulnerable, weak and not doing what they were created to do in being healthy and able. We feel the value and fragility of life. I’m feeling much more myself now, but I’m not there yet. I’m sitting up or able to rest in bed and do a few more tasks at home without as much fatigue as before, which is wonderful, but I still need to conserve a lot of energy as I fully recover. For the most part I’ve been on my own during this time, with a bit of time staying with family in between, and am on my own today again. In the early stages I was on my own (I don’t say alone), but so thankful for regular phone conversations and emails with family and friends and doctors, even though I couldn’t speak for long.

Being unwell with Covid has made me grateful for the things that give life and that are easily taken for granted on ‘normal’ days. As many of you know who read my blog for mental health encouragement, I have had many struggles with anxiety and panic attacks over the years, and in the past, c-PTSD, so I know what it is like to struggle to breathe or to experience mental distress. However, with Covid I’ve been reminded of just how precious something so simple and profound as our breath is. I wrote previously about how our lives are like a breath, a vapour, and when we can’t breathe properly, we are reminded of our frailty, our vulnerability, our need. I’m reminded of the things I have at times taken for granted (although I’ve been more aware of being grateful for them since seeing a good friend suffer for a while in hospital and with long term health conditions) like being able to walk for long periods of time, or being able to walk at all, to sit up and eat and do things for myself, of feeling young and healthy and alive.

Despite the distressing side of those experiences, I have also been held and lifted and drawn closer to Christ and felt the reality of God’s Peace and Presence with me at times of need. I know this may seem strange to some of you reading this, but there Is a Real and Living God Who we can have relationship with through Jesus Christ and He was there for me, counselling me and carrying me through. I’ve been able to receive this in this season as I digest the truth of His Word in Romans that I have received the Spirit of adoption (not the spirit of bondage again to fear) by Whom I can call out to God as His child. This reality has been precious to me, even as I wrestle and struggle with my broken humanity of weakness, distress and fear, there is a Peace in Christ that transcends that and all understanding, and it was made real to me afresh that beyond ‘religion’ there is something so much more, and that nothing can separate me from the Love of God in Christ Jesus. Often we (or perhaps I) feel better about ourselves when we are fit and able (although as I mentioned I have ongoing battles with anxiety and an overactive brain that can be distressing at times), when able to connect with and interact with other people, when able to look nice and go outside and enjoy walks, or lunches with friends, when we’re able to help other people, or are looked upon favourably and complimented and feel healthy and well. When we’re unwell, we’re not at our best and our bodies and minds can make us vulnerable physically, mentally, emotionally. It has been a huge source of comfort to know that I’m known and completely loved even when I’m struggling or not feeling my best, and that this goes beyond human opinion. I know there will be brighter days ahead when once again I’ll feel and look good and healthy and vibrant and able to go out and connect with others, but none of us know how long these things last, and for anyone no matter what health or circumstances may take we can know a love that will never leave, and that has been my Light in this, as well as the care of friends and family. But to be known and valued at the depths of who we are….that can only be found in Christ, and I have that greatest treasure…in sickness, and in health….ultimately in life and in death.

And that is where our unique value and worth is found. No matter what people may have said or done, no matter what age or health may do, there is a perfect love that is boundless for those who are in Christ Jesus, one that comforts us in the night watches, one that will last beyond the grave and usher in eternal life where there will be no more sickness, sorrow, pain or death. This knowing, this relationship, this love is the greatest treasure of life and sometimes we find it in times of weakness or fear. He Is Real, He knows you….

Recovery

I’m thankful for the strength and health to be able to write a blog post again. I realise that having the cognitive functions to be able to do so, to be able to remember things, to be able to touch type and form words and sentences with meaning that might actually help or encourage another precious soul are gifts and blessings far beyond my ability to appreciate. I’m so blessed with all the things I can ‘normally’ do without thinking about them, and maybe sometimes we realise this only when we see our vulnerability to not having them. Perhaps recovery will take time, but I hope it will be a full one.

I have become more mindful of people who have longer term health conditions, and who physically have to deal with things without the chance of restoration that I have. I have no doubt I’ll be back to health even if it takes a few more weeks, but I have friends who may have life long conditions now who once were extremely fit and healthy and active. While I will recover and be able to tidy up again without getting tired, or go for walks and breathe normally again, there are dear friends of mine, and many more who I don’t know and perhaps some of you reading this who will not be able to do so. And the insight of the weakness, fear and vulnerability of not being able to do simple things for oneself has been humbling. While I am optimistic and hopeful and feeling certain that I’m slowly but surely going to get better, there have been times when it has been worrying and I’ve not known how to manage, but there are people who will have to live with life long conditions and need care and help from others. I can’t imagine that and my heart goes out to you / them as I’ve gained this little bit of insight.

May whatever lesson life is showing you just now lead you to the deepest, purest most sacrificial love of the One Who identified completely with our weakness, frailty, sin and death so that we can go free. May it help you to grow in compassion for those who are suffering and to grow in depths of enjoyment for all those little things you have in life that are in fact the big things – like being able to see these words on a screen, to understand them and not forget or be confused, like being able to be present in this moment, to feed yourself and go outside for a walk if you can walk, to breathe and feel your lungs working, to go through your day even with its pressures and not collapse with fatigue. May these as well as the other many wonderful things we have like friendships, family, sunsets, community, love, faith, good food, health, homes, jobs, encouragement from people who care for us, bring even greater joy to your soul even in this troubled world.

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

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Making a Difference…

I can sometimes feel a bit down when reading the news headlines and learning more about the terrible and dark things going on in the world. I’m sure each and everyone of you can relate. We weren’t ultimately made for a reality like that, our hearts yearn for something complete, loving, perfect and whole. Our hearts yearn for comfort from within, and an everlasting comfort, for a Love that goes beyond what we see day in and day out around us.

It got me to thinking that while so much bad is going on in the world, each and every one of us can make a difference, even in the smallest of ways, each day of our lives. We can make a difference by sharing kindness, encouragement, Truth and love.

You can make a difference in your blog, in how you treat the person you are with in this moment, of how you treat the people you encounter in your day.

It might not seem much, but it can be. So make a difference today ❤

x

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Celebrate and Give Thanks for the Small Things…

It is crazy that we are still in a pandemic. I know of many people who take it in their stride, and who are going out into life and doing enjoyable things, celebrating life, as it were. You might not be one of those people, and you may be feeling that life is kind of ‘small’ as you navigate your way through the day to day, perhaps feeling stressed, worried or anxious by the news headlines, and not knowing what to make of life or how to get through your days.

It can be easy to get caught up in the ‘comparison trap’ and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by stress and anxiety, even as we are made more aware of our own mortality, of the shortness of our time on earth, and of our concerns as to what will happen to us and to those we love.

If you’re following my blog, then you are perhaps someone who is trying to navigate through feelings of anxiety or uncertainty as many of the posts I write aim to help people with this.

One way in which we can live life better, even in the midst of it all, is to slow down and be thankful for the ‘small’ things in life, taking time to notice them, to be grateful for what we do have and what is going on in our lives, today, right now.

Yesterday I saw a beautiful rainbow, albeit faint and surrounded by grey clouds, soon to disappear from view. I saw it nonetheless and I enjoyed those moments. Today I am thankful that I can hug my mum, and enjoy her smile and laughter and the way she remembers me when I was little and still expresses these things to me. ❤ I’m grateful to be able to work from home, rather than having to go out into the colder weather of October, especially while the pandemic is far from over. I’m grateful for more time to pray and intercede for people, and to draw near to the Living God, and feel His Love and Peace and Comfort filling me from within. ❤

Sometimes we need the gentle reminder to humble ourselves, to repent, and turn away from looking at the lives we don’t have in order to better appreciate what we have been given. No doubt many of you will be going through difficult times just now, and perhaps anxiety is a big feature of that in uncertain days, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t find beauty and treasure in the small things of the day to day. You can celebrate the gifts and achievements of others, even those that you don’t have yourself. Time is short, and fleeting. You can put something of worth back into the world, something kind, true, noble, valuable, even if no one else sees it.

You can slow down and appreciate the beauty of today. This day. This miracle unfolding in which you are a part of.

It helps. It helps to change and soften our anxious hearts. Let the Light in. Let Love be greater than fear for you, in this moment, today. ❤

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Self Care In A Pandemic (79): Trust…

I hope and pray that things go well with you my friends.

I am learning more about Trust in this season. As we continue to venture through this pandemic and through life, we face uncertainties within and without. I am learning to trust more in The LORD Jesus Christ and Who He says He Is and that He hears and answers prayers. Sometimes we might be sitting in an answered prayer and barely recognise it. Perhaps we are experiencing restored relationships and times of togetherness that might not have seemed within our reach some time back. Maybe we are experiencing more of a quietness in our circumstances. Do we recognise that the Hand of The Almighty Jesus Christ could be in this? I pray day and night for those I love especially my closest family. I can see God’s Hand at work in our lives and yet I am still waiting on Him to answer certain prayers and so I continue to pray day and night. In times of trial and testing I felt for a while that I was trying to convince God to answer my prayers but He has been at work in my heart and mind and perhaps He Is at work in you too. I wonder if there are good reasons for delays in the answers to our prayers or those that we see and that we need to learn to more fully trust.

More recently I know and am convinced that The God I pray to The Father of our LORD Jesus Christ Is a Good, Good Father with Whom there is no shadow of turning. He Is Pure and His mercy and love endures forever. When we pray He hears but sometimes we have to persist in prayer and in trust.

What are you trusting in during these difficult days? Many people have a warped view of God because of the broken world we live in and because we are also in a spiritual battle and we have heard all sorts of wrong things about God. We also don’t like the gospel of Jesus Christ because it means that we have to come face to face with ourselves. We are not as we were meant to be.

What were we meant to be, and what are our lives being renewed by Him pointing towards? Maybe you can think of a time as a little child (and my heart goes out to you if you can’t) when a parent or loving role model embraced you and you enjoyed being held close to them and talking freely with them, nestling into their loving embrace. We are made to live freely with God, walking and talking with Him without fear. Our hearts and souls were made for Him.

It is the brokenness of our lives, marred by sin and by the brokenness of this world that keeps us from this perfect union and loving relationship. Maybe in this pandemic you are experiencing times of longing knowing that the things you are filling up your day with don’t really satisfy you deep down. The Bible talks of Jesus as the ‘Bread of Life’ and the ‘Water of Life’ the only one Who can quench the thirst of our souls. I have certainly found this to be true, but even though I am born again and indwelt by the Spirit supernaturally, I am still being renewed and set free and there are still broken parts to be healed but God Is with me as He Is with all of His born again children.

If you are a parent you can only begin to imagine the deep love of Father God for us, for you. It is hard for people to make sense of the Cross in their minds sometimes because it means admitting that we are broken and fallen and we are sinners in need of the amazing Grace of Christ’s forgiveness which He freely gives with arms wide open. That Is His Love for you. And it is a free gift. All we need to do is recognise we need forgiveness, and ask Him from the heart, believing in Who He Is and say ‘Lord Jesus, I recognise I am a sinner, and ask for your forgiveness and I trust myself to You’.

He took the punishment of all your wrongdoings so that you don’t have to. ‘Call upon The Name of The Lord and be saved’. You don’t have to fully understand it, you just need to trust. That The Cross is the only way to renewed relationship with God so that we can once again sit with Him in that loving embrace, knowing that His are the eyes that are always upon us, keeping us as the apple of His eye when we are longing for someone to notice us, to know that we are Loved and not alone.

Will you return to Him today? Will you trust Him? Life is short and God wants all to be safely with Him in this life and the life to come, but the Cross is The only way. Jesus faced judgement so that we can escape from that judgement but we must choose to turn back to Him and His grace reaches for us in deep, pure love every moment of every day.

This is why I pray for those I love and for you dear ones:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved.

He sent His Son for you. He loves you. And no matter what your need He Is here right now listening for your call, waiting for you to turn back to the Loving embrace of The One True Living God Who cares for you and Whose Perfect Love casts out all fear.

Can you recognise His answers in your life today even if not everything is just as you wish, can you see how He has already been at work? Will you take a moment to thank Him, to trust Him, trust Him for today and trust Him by simply calling on the Name of The Lord Jesus for forgiveness and knowing that you will be eternally safe with Him and also know that if you do even in this life you will have His Love and Presence with you, helping you every step of the way.

Loving Father I entrust my dear readers with all their cares and concerns to You and in trust I entrust their salvation to you that they would by the Loving drawing of Your Holy Spirit turn back to you and trust you to forgive them, wipe them clean and give them a new life, a hope and a future and an eternity of love safe with you. In Jesus Holy Name I pray, Amen.

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SELF CARE IN A PANDEMIC (77): A New Month and New Resolve…

Happy 1st of March 2021, dear friends. It’s a new month and a chance to take stock once more and to dig deep and find some new resolve. To look up with faith and trust and to remind ourselves that we just need to live one moment at a time.

Whether today finds you rejoicing or struggling with life, know and be reminded that you are valuable and that you matter. That you have it in you to take that next step. Whether or not you’ve got through February in a way that you are pleased with or not, know that you have the chance to begin again, today.

Try not to put too much pressure on yourself, go gently forwards and remember always that you are not alone.

Be blessed, stay safe, take care. x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (75): Start Where You Are…

I know of friends who are looking for new jobs in the pandemic. I know of people who have started new courses. I know of people whose marriages have sadly come to an end, not caused by the pandemic, but coinciding with it. I know of people who have been trying to have a baby for years and have at last become pregnant. I know of people, friends that are a few decades older than me, whose adult children are considering what to do next whether that is to do a college or university course, or are looking for a new job or their first job. I know of people who have embarked upon a new relationship, and are trying to figure out whether to continue or not. I know of people who are working on overcoming mental health challenges, and who are putting their minds to the day to day things of life. There are people, all of us, who are in a variety of situations in this pandemic, some good, some bad, some difficult, some easier. There are people who are starting things for the first time, there are people who are having to begin again. Some people have become homeless in this pandemic for a variety of reasons. Many people are in situations where they feel they are having to ‘start from scratch’.

Perhaps you are one of those people. Maybe you are not starting from scratch in such a way but maybe you’re not sure what’s next. Maybe you need a job or are wondering about whether to start a course. Be encouraged that that’s ok, even if you don’t know what’s next or haven’t made it to where you want to be. There are several areas of my life where I don’t know what’s next or have any idea of how to get there, but I remind myself that God has led me through so many unknowns and challenges already and I can start on my knees, with prayer to Him, Jesus Christ, The Living God.

I, like you, can also start from right where I am right now. You may not be rebuilding your life from some terrible tragedy, but be encouraged that there are people who have, and that you can take the next step of life, your life from where you are right now, even if it is the smallest of steps of faith. In her book, ‘Things Get Better’, Katie Piper talks about how she had to rebuild her life from rock bottom after rape and acid attacks and then being in a coma and being scarred and burned and disfigured. She faced fear, anxiety, PTSD and many, many medical operations. She was given the prognosis that she would be homebound and reliant on full time care. Now she is living independently, is a writer, a TV presenter, an activist, has a charity for burns survivors, is married and has two little daughters and helps so many other people. Initially after her attack she just wanted to die and it seemed there was no hope for her. She is also a Christian, having encountered The Living God in that hospital bed keeping her alive, and her faith has grown as she reaches out to others, and has podcasts on mental health and also shares her faith now as a presenter on the UK television programme ‘Songs of Praise’. You might look at that and listen to that story and think ‘wow’, ‘how did she do it?’. In her book she describes how she set the smallest of goals for herself on a day to day basis, such as ‘holding down a meal’. Things that most of us probably take for granted. She really was at rock bottom and needed help with surgeries, feeding tubes, psychological support and many other intensive care treatments. Maybe we’ve had something in our life that we can relate to in some way, but the chances are most of us haven’t gone through that extent of suffering. We’ve all overcome different things in our lives, some more than others, and perhaps some of you have gone through extremes yourself. We can’t compare, but we can be encouraged and inspired.

What is it you are facing today? You can start today. Do you need to find a job? Well, take what is in front of you, ask help from Above, and take the next step. You have a resourceful mind and you *can* take the next step. Is it getting to grips with homeschooling your child or children? You have it in you to learn to be more adaptable, to be more patient and to figure out a way forwards. Is it overcoming mental health or physical challenges? Maybe everything won’t suddenly get better, but you can make progress, you can keep going, you can take the next step and you can start from today.

Don’t be discouraged. Look up and look around at the examples of hope and courage and be reminded that making progress takes one small step at a time. You can take the initiative from where you are starting from today. Don’t compare, don’t be afraid, but take that next step of faith. x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (60): With What’s In Front Of You…

You can change the world.

Sometimes we can take for granted what is right in front of us. Yet, let me say it again: With what’s in front of you…you can change the world.

I’m sure we can all see ways in which the world needs changing for the better.

One of the things that will make a positive difference to you in the pandemic is having a sense of purpose. Whether or not you have a paid job, you still have purpose. I remember a time when I had graduated from my Masters in university and it was time for me to get a job. My department asked me to consider doing a PhD, but at the time and with a variety of circumstances, it wasn’t the right route for me to take. And having left the predictable lane of academia, I was suddenly in the world of being ‘between things’ and having no idea of how I would practically get to where I wanted to go. I had Faith, I had dreams, but I also had the anxiety of not knowing how to navigate an adult world and not knowing how to get my ‘foot in the door’ in order to gain employment. I spent a lot of time applying for jobs, I spent a year volunteering doing unpaid work in order to build skills and confidence, I did temp work, and it took about three and a half years for me to get a long term full time job, which I’m very grateful to still be in.

Why do I say this? Because some of you may be equating your purpose with your income stream or lack thereof. You are not your job, and you are not your bank balance. Your worth is far beyond anything or label that the world can put upon you. I believe that Jesus Christ showed you how much you are worth to God when He died for you at the Cross to pay the price for your sin and to take your deserved punishment so that by believing in and trusting in Him for forgiveness you can be bought back to God. You are Priceless. You are worth the Death of God’s Only Son. Let that sink in.

Therefore, to get back to my initial point, you do have a purpose as you navigate your way through this pandemic, and it is not limited to whether you have a job or not. Your purpose is important to the world and for your well being but your worth is not defined by your purpose either. Your worth is in the intrinsic value of you as a human being. And that can’t be changed, added to or taken away.

So, let me ask you, what’s in front of you?

The idea of finding purpose in our days can seem existential and out of reach if we let it. However, if we break things down into their most practical components then we can begin to get somewhere and be in a position to make a positive difference in the world, or at least in our world and immediate surroundings.

I’m sure right now you can tell me that what is physically in front of you is a computer screen, a tablet or a phone, or some electronic device of sorts from which you are reading this blog.

What are you going to do with it? How are you going to use it for good in this world? How can you find ways to encourage other people, share kindness, spread positivity, uplift others, express your creativity and live out some aspect of your purpose in life today? There are so many ways. Instead of ‘doom scrolling’ through the news or social media feeds, think of ways in which you can use your devices for good in the world.

Can you learn, educate, inspire? Can you share a kind message? Can being an inspiration and an encouragement to other people be part of your purpose today?

What else is in front of you? These things may not be literally in front of you right now, but may be in your room, in your home, or somewhere accessible to you or in your garden.

Let me list some of the things that are around and ‘in front of me’.

I have pens, pencils, art supplies. I have paper, colouring books, a calendar. I have books, I have a Bible, I have Scripture verses on my walls.

Can I use these to inspire purpose in my life today? Of course! What can I do with them? I can colour, I can draw, I can create. I can learn new skills, I can build up my relationship with God, I can pray for other people, I can meditate on the Truth and share this with other people. I can create a gift for someone else, I can write a letter, I can bring colour into the world, I can do so many things.

I also have a mobile phone on my desk. I can send an encouraging text to a friend or check if someone is doing ok. I can live out the purpose of kindness today.

What are some of the other things that might be around us or ‘in front of’ us? Some of us are blessed to have things that are so much more precious than things – we may have people around us. Can we live out the purpose of kindness and love in how we relate to other people? Can we try to make changes where we may have fallen short before?

What if what is in front of you is a pile of dishes, or a messy home? Can you live out your day with the purpose of being a home keeper and creating a peaceful environment?

Do you have other things around you or in your life in some way? Do you have money to spare that you can donate to someone in need and live purposefully that way? Do you have ingredients in your kitchen cupboards with which you can try out something new and live purposefully and creatively?

You have far more than you are aware.

Maybe all that you feel you have is the view from your window, if indeed you have one. Yet you have your mind. And your mind when challenged will discover, find, create a purpose for you today, even if it seems at first it is just to survive, that in itself may be a grand purpose for you.

Maybe your purpose is to use your resources to seek help, to get strong, to work on your mental and emotional health, to become resilient.

Maybe it is to engage in self development, to read books, or to create, learn and maybe even teach.

Do you have children in your life? Are you living out your purpose in giving them the best chance that you can today? And just take it one day at a time and be awake and alive to the moments you are living through together for children have an incredible way of helping adults to see the life in the moments right now.

How can your inspire yourself and how can you inspire me to find and live out your purpose in this pandemic, today, and after that one day at a time? For be sure my friend, it is there, and it is right in front of you, if you will just look with curiosity, hope, faith and thoughtfulness.

Peace. x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (58): Don’t Stay Down For Too Long…

It’s understandable that things may get you down. The times we are living in are, after all, *unprecedented*, as we keep being told.

There’s a lot going on, and I understand that. You know in your own life what you have going on. On the other side of a computer screen, perhaps even on the other side of the world, or maybe closer to home, I, the person writing this cannot see into your heart or know your deepest thoughts, hurts or fears. Yet I do know that we share a common humanity, and I do know from experience that sometimes life can be very hard.

Sometimes life, and being human, can really get us down. I hear you. I feel that. My encouragement for you today, however, is not to stay down for too long. The wisdom book of ‘Ecclesiastes’ tells us that there is a time for every matter in life.

“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3).

Ecclesiastes 3 NKJV – Everything Has Its Time – To everything – Bible Gateway

And in our own lives, we can see that there are times of suffering, times to grieve that suffering, times to be alone, times to be helped by other people, times to build up, to get stronger, and times of joy too.

If you are in a season of strength, keep going strong, keep building what is good, keep doing what is right. If you are in a place of pain, then take solace that you are not alone. In all of humanity across the ages people have felt feelings similar to what you are feeling, even if you feel like you are the only one. Yet, those times did not last forever. If life, if the pandemic, if being you is getting you down right now, that’s ok – it’s ok to feel all of those raw and real human emotions. But don’t let it keep you down. There is a time when we may get knocked over, but there is a time to get back up again, and again and again if need be. Be strong. Be courageous. Let your faith be far, far greater than your fear. You don’t need to have it all together or all sorted out, but don’t stay down for too long.

Do you remember that a few posts back we talked about daily habits, and about building new habits into our routines? Perhaps I will check back with you all properly shortly and we can do a progress check together. However, these simple tools that we use in our day to day lives can help us when the going gets rough. They can provide prompts that can help leverage us up and out of the pit of despair and into taking the next step of action.

Today I ‘brainstormed’ some ideas for myself. I made a list of what the people who inspire me do or have done to make progress in their lives. The three people I focused on are people who I don’t know personally but who are famous (and I mentioned them in my last post and some previous others: Lizzie Velazquez, Katie Piper and Nick Vuijicic). I’m looking for help and inspiration in the ‘what next’ of life. How do I take the next step, what do I do next, how do I get stronger in this journey of recovery and overcoming so that I can confidently thrive in life even if that seems a few steps ahead of where I am right now?

The list was impressive, encouraging, insightful and helpful. It was both inspiring and practical and down to earth. Yet it was not something that was simply handed to me. It took me time and thought and effort to come up with. And it helped me to realise that I am already doing many of the things that my role models are doing, even if on a very small scale. Yet one thing we all have in common is that sometimes we have all just had to take the tiniest of next steps even if they don’t seem to be that impressive at the time. They all add up.

Perhaps this is something you can do for yourself. Maybe you can think of a person or some people that you look up to in life, whether you know them personally or not, and make a list of the qualities, characteristics and attributes that they have that you aspire to. Write down some of their practical achievements. List some of the things about them that you admire. And begin to put into practice some of those things that you want to also be part of your own life. The chances are that you already do some or many of these things, even if in little day to day ways. Small things matter. Small steps, goals, achievements all matter. Repetition of these small things also matters, which is why I may reiterate some of the same advice that I have shared in a variety of ways, because we need that healthy positive reinforcement.

If you are feeling down, try not to stay down for too long. Even if it seems like a long season for you, one that isn’t a particularly happy one, try to think of the lessons that you can be learning, the resilience you can be building, and the seeds of faith and hope that you can be sowing. For when you come out on the other side, you may just be that stronger person for someone else to look up to for help and advice.

In times of need, when life has been weighing heavy upon me and I’ve felt crushed, there was always a sense of disconnect with people who although well meaning told me that they hadn’t ever really suffered. Their kindness was appreciated of course, but I never felt the comfort I needed from someone who had been there. Maybe you are or will be that someone who has been there, for someone else. Be strong, be courageous, don’t let the difficult season get you down for too long, for there will inevitably be a new season after this, for which you will want to be ready.

If you are not down, try to remember that you may be able to be a helping hand for someone else who is.

Be strong, be courageous, look up with faith, and take that next simple small step forwards.

Love and peace to you all, dear friends. x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (55): This Too Shall Pass…

Hi Friends,

I hope you’ve all been keeping as well as can be since my last post, last week. For a time I was writing a few posts a day, with a desire to keep up the momentum of encouragement. I feel that encouraging words are so important in these days, when words can and are being used for harm as we have seen in recent events across the world stage. However, although having the space of one week since my last encouraging post may not seem like a lot, I do want to be a consistent voice of hope and courage for those who need it.

The past week has had some challenges for me, however. Starting back at work saw some stressors, even with working from home. I had some difficult moments but various things got me through them. We have also had sad news recently of bereavements of friends of family in some tragic circumstances. I realise that some of you reading this may have faced or be facing quite overwhelming challenges in your lives. It can be hard to know what to say to comfort others or even ourselves during such times. It can be hard to know what to say in this pandemic where there is such loss. ‘This too shall pass’ is one of those old phrases that we often hear, sometimes passed down through the generations to give some kind of solace and comfort.

This moment won’t be as difficult as it is now, this too shall pass, things will change.

I find that only a small consolation, but what gives me True Hope is knowing that as things change and move on, my Unchanging God and Saviour Jesus Christ does not change, will not leave me, and holds me secure. It Is a Peace that goes beyond circumstances, but one I need to remind myself to focus on too.

When I was a child and was being bullied relentlessly in the first year of secondary school, I did not know that that season of life would ever pass. The following year I stepped away from the people who were destroying me, and I was all but completely alone, which was a significant challenge for a child in itself. Abuse, and then neglect, at school. In my third year I met nice, normal people who became friends, and although I didn’t entirely feel like I fit with the new group as much as they did with each other having knowing each other for years already, I didn’t feel scared for my life anymore. I could continue with life, with school, with getting by. Decades later, the impact of those two pivotal years is still felt. I’ve had major struggles with anxiety, complex PTSD, depression, disassociation and fear, low self esteem and even suicidal ideation when the PTSD resurfaced. And here I am today, with a home of my own, with a full time job, with the family I was born into, with friends, having travelled, and writing a blog to encourage other people. I’m still recovering from some of the mental and emotional scars but I’m able to see hope and a future in Christ, and I can use those difficult experiences for good.

Why am I sharing this again now? Because at the time, in that first year I felt crushed, broken, terrified, and in so much pain and agony internally that I didn’t want to live anymore. It’s a big burden for a child to bear. But I did bear it, and hear I am today. With wounds or not, that terribly dark season of my life that I didn’t see a way out of, not having any perspective as a child that things could or would change, has passed.

And this too will pass. Whatever it is you are going through, it will pass. This pandemic will pass. A while ago I started reading ‘The Murmur of Bees’, hardly knowing what it was about. It turns out that as I turn the pages I am reading about not only a revolution, but also about the Spanish Flu of 1918. Reading some of those pages feels like reading some of the news headlines and public health advice of today about quarantining, staying at home, keeping distance from people and sadly about bodies being sent to mass graves. I also read about the hope of finding a vaccine for the Spanish Flu. And guess what, it too did pass.

That’s not to diminish by any means the personal tragedies and losses that people felt along the way, but in terms of world events, things did change, they did move on, and perhaps there is a cyclical element to what happens in the world, but they didn’t stay the same, and in many ways they did get better.

Despite saying that I also believe that there will be a Judgement, when Christ returns to earth again, but we are being given time to repent, to seek His Forgiveness and to turn to Him for eternal life, new life in this world, and a Hope that cannot be denied. True Believers know of this Hope, of the Indwelling of The Holy Spirit, The tangible Peace of Christ that surpasses all understanding and the solid Hope of Eternal Life with Him, and a gradually transformed (or sometimes immediately transformed) life with Him on earth. Turn to Him for True Hope.

Perhaps there is a time in your own life that you can look back upon, a time that seemed like endless misery that you thought would never pass, but it in fact did and you are living new days. You may well bear the scars of those days, that season, you may still be in recovery from it, but you are no longer there. You have a chance.

Those days passed, and these will too. Look up, look to Jesus, and find True Hope. And even if you are not a believer, please try to hold on to hope that this too will pass.

Peace. x

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