Tag Archives: love

Take Time to Notice before the Winds of Change blow in again…

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Photography is a particular hobby of mine that allows me to intentionally slow down and focus on the world around me. To caress moments in time, and capture something of the essence of them, in a world that seems to be incessantly rushing by. There are some rare moments when you capture something that even touches your own heart, and although I am not a professional photographer, I do try to improve and the photographs above, especially the one on the right are a couple of those rare gems that I am particularly fond of. 

They speak to me of the beauty of nature in its changing seasons, and the delicate, even fragile passing of time, the life giving way to death and the sowing of seeds carried almost serendipitously by the wind for new life to be planted wherever it will. 

I wonder if you, like me, crave solitude or at least times of refreshing in a world that is full of schedules and ‘to do’ lists? Time to fully live the season that you are in, and to appreciate it, in this particular moment. There is beauty and grace in the summer and the winter seasons of our lives. And yet, we fear the passing of time, but do we use our time, our lives wisely? 

I don’t know about you, but as serendipitous as a seed falling to the ground may seem, I believe that there is a greater, higher, fascinating order to life. I see so much design and purpose and beautiful intention in nature, that I can’t but allow myself to be breath taken by the seemingly simplest of things. When I really take time to be still, to wonder and ponder at life, I know in my heart that there is a meaning and an order behind it all. We live chaotic lives, but to a great degree we choose to. We choose to close our eyes and our ears to the Love and Peace gently, persuasively calling out our names, compelling us to know that we do have  a place in this grand design, and that we don’t have to live our lives as rootless, purposeless flowers caught and tossed by every wind of change in life. 

There was a time in life when I felt helplessly alone, rootless, tossed by tempest and storms beyond my control, striving to find Peace, but that Peace always alluding me. And yet, now I have an unshakeable Root, a place of belonging, a Love unfailing, and confidence that despite the passing of time, the fragility of my being and of my life, I am held securely both now and for eternity by a God Who Knows, Who Cares, Who sent Jesus Christ in Whose Life I am hidden in God, to die for me, to forgive me, to save my lost soul, and give a purpose and meaning to every fleeting moment of my fragile life. And as I think of using my time, each season, I am compelled to tell you about His Love, His Certainty, His Security, His Peace and Hope, that perhaps someway, some how, by His Grace, these seeds of love will be carried by the gentle, persistently loving winds of the Holy Spirit to take root in your heart and change your life forever, or if you know and love Him already, to deepen your roots in Christ so that you may life a life, each moment, fruitful, flourishing and at Peace in Him, when it is your time to pass from this fleeting life into to the next unshakeable one. xx

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Prayer …

3God, the Living God, desires a relationship with us. Individually. He communicates with us in so many ways, through His creation, the intricate weavings of nature around us, through people, our circumstances, and that ‘still small voice’ within. 

And yet the clearest communication we have with our Great God, our Loving Heavenly Father is through His Word and times spent in prayer. 

How much God desires us! To be with us! His heart could not bear heaven without us, so Jesus Christ came to be among us, die for us, and bring us to new life in Him at such immense cost to Himself. 

His arms open wide to us in His suffering for us on the cross dispels our doubts over whether or not God could love us, whether He wants to hear from us, to be with us, to take care of us. 

And yet, we do struggle. For those among us who desire a deeper relationship with the God Who loves us so much, whether or not we are yet convinced of His love for us, for those of us who are seeking to find a way back to closeness with God, and for those who want to know whether there is a God out there Who hears us, what small steps can we take in our journey forwards to Him, Who Is waiting, arms outstretched, to Love us, sacrificially love us (agape love) for our own good, as no one else ever could love us?

Might I suggest a simple step if you are struggling to pray? Pray the Scriptures, the True Word of the Living God, found in the Bible, back to Him. Perhaps begin with a psalm or a proverb, or some of the beautiful, passionate, heartfelt and triumphant expressions of the apostle Paul in his letters to the churches, expressing the Greatness of the God he once was opposed to, and yet in Whose purpose and love he has forever been taken up in, to the point of counting everything else as less than rubbish in comparison with the greatness of knowing Christ. 

Start small if you need to, knowing that God loves you, hears you, and also loves to hear from you! Ponder each truth as you slowly pray it back to God, talk over it with Him, and listen. 

Sometimes the seemingly simplest things yield the deepest pleasures. Be blessed. Christ loves you and died for you and Is the gateway of your life with the Father, by the Holy Spirit. Much love. xx

Daily Word Prompt ~ ‘Betrayed’

Daily Prompt~ Betrayed

The Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day rise again.

How fitting that the daily word prompt for Good Friday should be ‘betrayed’. This morning I spent some time with the Lord, reading aloud from the Gospel of Luke the events that took place from the Last Supper when Judas Iscariot, who was among Jesus’ 12 disciples dipped bread with Him, and Jesus warned the 12 that there was one among them who would later betray Him, to the events of the betrayal, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ.

The Lord Jesus, knowing He would be betrayed, in a display of pure and perfect sacrificial (agape) love, broke bread with His disciples, and drank wine, symbolising the sacrificial death He would soon die for their and all of our sakes – the only way to Forgiveness with a Holy God. 

I shed some tears as I identified with the other disciples including as most particular noted in the following passages, Simon Peter, whom Jesus told would later deny or reject Him three times before the cock crew in the morning. Peter vehemently expressed that he would NEVER deny the Lord, even if it meant going to death for His sake, yet Jesus knew the hearts of His disciples, those who would betray Him and those who would deny Him and He loved them still, as He loves us, pleading for their forgiveness with a pure and perfect Love greater than all other loves. 

Even when later Judas Iscariot ‘betrayed the Son of Man’ with the greeting of a kiss on the cheek, a sign of honour and respect, in exchange for thirty pieces of silver, and His disciples reacted aggressively, Jesus brought healing, compassion and love. 

Rejection hurts, denial hurts, but the ache of those feelings is perhaps less than the piercing arrows of betrayal, especially from a ‘friend’, for betrayal seems far more calculated than the weakness of denial. If you have ever been betrayed, you know how bad it feels, how much it hurts. Jesus Christ Is no stranger to feelings of betrayal, pain, loneliness, fear, abuse, torment, rejection, hatred, mockery, anguish, misunderstanding, and a broken heart. 

There is absolutely nothing that you have been through, are going through right now, or will go through in the future that He cannot perfectly and deeply understand, and Feel  – for He has experienced it all, and He tasted death for us all that by turning to Him, we might know His perfect love, forgiveness and freedom. 

The wounds of betrayal cut deep, and in our lives it shocks us to the core. Yet, our Lord Jesus Who knowing He would be betrayed into the hands of sinners, *chose* to yield to the Sovereign will of His Heavenly Father, being very God Himself, God Incarnate in the Flesh, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, chose the way of the Cross – which is our only way, only hope of a relationship with the Father, and forgiveness and eternal life – He chose to suffer in my place, and in all of my sufferings I find great comfort in that. 

For once being alone in the world, feeling so alone in the universe, having been found by Jesus Christ, I know a love that heals all wounds, and I have the confidence that He Is One Who will never betray me, never leave or forsake me, never fail me in any way even if I don’t understand things in my life, and never let me down. Even when life doesn’t make sense, He Is unchanging, and His perfect love is the certainty of all of my days 

Even on the Cross, the Man Christ Jesus, facing the deepest betrayal from His own Creation, cried out from the depths of His pure loving righteous heart, ‘Father Forgive them…’. 

He Is One Who has been betrayed to the uttermost, Who understands betrayal, and Who will never, never betray you. He shed His blood to forgive and reconcile me and you with God, to give us a new pure start, hope for this life and eternity, True Love, comfort, peace, and the deepest love and Friendship possible, to give us His righteousness in exchange for taking the wrath of God and the punishment of our sin on Himself. This is why the anguish of the cross that He faced, the betrayal, rejection, abandonment, abuse, mockery, fear, pain, loneliness and darkness that He faced means that Good Friday is so Good for us…because God Is Good, He knows, He loves, He cares, He was betrayed, but for a Higher Purpose – to forgive us, make us pure in His Righteousness, reconcile us to God, in all His Goodness and Love and set us free, and He will never betray – we can be confident of that. 

What LOVE Is This……!!! ❤

 

 

‘Travel Snaps’ ~ The Hotel Diplomat (Vienna House) in Prague

For previous ‘travel snaps’ of my adventures, please click on the ‘Travel’ tab in my main menu 🙂

Wednesday 16th August 2017

As you will know, if you have been following on with my travel adventure series, arrival at our hotel was not without a little bit of drama! 🙂

However, it was lovely to at last get off the bus, after being on the road for a few hours. It was just before dinner time, and the evening was sweet, sun-kissed and pleasant. I was beginning to feel the excitement of a traveller in a new place.

Before me in front of the hotel was a long straight main street, clean, and neat, except from the occasional glimpses of graffiti, with trams gliding past. A couple from my tour group who have travelled extensively throughout America said that it looked a lot like San Fransisco.

I was pleasantly surprised as I wandered into the hotel to check in. The lobby was vast, and nicely stylised. However, you may want to take a sneak peek into the hotel for yourself. 🙂

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Are you Liked?

Social media has changed things. For those of us who are young(ish) adults, we may remember a time before the Internet (yes, younglings….there really was such a time! and no, I’m not old 🙂 ), the transition to when the Internet first came to be, and our first intrepid steps into this new world of knowledge at our fingertips. Yes, sometimes that knowledge would be a bit slow to load up on our computer screens, we had dial up modem connections and we also had a bit more patience. These were the days when our first instincts when presented with a school or university paper to write were still to go to the ‘LIBRARY’ (yes, the kind of library with books made of *actual* paper 😉 ) to do our research, and perhaps venture into the strange and novel ‘World Wide Web’ to supplement our findings.

Put in perspective of the length of human history, it is fair to say that the Internet is actually quite a new creation, and hasn’t actually been around for that long. And yet, nowadays, it seems like babies are weaned on the milk of electronic gadgets and gizmos that are rapidly changing and developing, and many school aged children, even very young children, cannot imagine a world, or their lives, without the Internet, and have never experienced such a world.

So although as adults, those of us who were growing up just as the strange language of this mysterious ‘Web’ began to enter our parlance, or who were already ‘fully fledged adults’ as it were, had passed through those fiery adolescent years of wondering if anyone liked us after all, we are still faced with this nervous desire to know whether we are ‘liked’ every time we connect to the web. Or at least, most of us are.

Social media has changed things. In many parts of the world it is absolutely and irreversibly the norm. We no longer see the Internet primarily as a tool to gain knowledge or to supplement education and learning, but as a multifaceted, ubiquitous, all things to all people, source of input, entertainment, news, gossip, stories, celebrities, fact, ‘fake news’, colours, noise, opinions, ideas, creations, inventions, innovations, trends, popularity contests and the seemingly endless list goes on and on and is daily reinvented.

Perhaps those of us who blog seek a quieter and more reflective online space, that the more fast paced social media tools that we may also use such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram (and there my knowledge of such things ends 😉 ) would grant us.

But nonetheless, even the more reflective world of blogging shares the common feature of the ‘like’ facility.

How many of us log in to our Word Press accounts and immediately look at that little bell at the top right of the screen to see whether it has a little red or orange marker to indicate that someone has ‘liked’ or appreciated our content? You can be honest with yourself here.

It is a fascinating little ‘button’ that often makes me smile when I click on it, mainly because it makes me feel more connected to you. I realise that on the other side of this computer screen are real people, with fascinating stories, unique lives and thoughts, who have taken the time to acknowledge and appreciate mine. That is really something special, I think. And truly, the Internet can be a wonderful place, with some truly special people in it.

However, sometimes I wonder whether there is something about that ‘like button’ that triggers an instinct in ourselves to evaluate who we are, our value, and the value of what we have to say by how many ‘likes’ we receive. If we pour our heart and soul into writing something meaningful to us, and it is not noticeably acknowledged, does this in turn impact our self-esteem, even on a subconscious level?

Don’t get me wrong, I think ‘likes’ are wonderful. I genuinely like ‘likes’, and feel more connected with other people online because of them. However, if we find that our attention is unduly drawn towards whether something we have shared on our blogs has been liked or not, if we feel our heart sink if it hasn’t, and if we feel a glimmer of old feelings from childhood and teenage years when our likeability by our peers seemed to be a direct evaluation of our perceived worth, then perhaps it is time to take a step back.

I know that sinking feeling. And I know it has deeper roots than anything Internet related. As a child I was badly bullied for a few years, and I was worthless. I didn’t just feel worthless, but my existence was consumed by this rejection, the not measuring up, not being liked or being actively disliked, of being undesirable, outcast, rejected, neglected, unworthy, broken, hurting, isolated, ignored, overlooked, despised and alone. My broken heart and wounded mind is still being repaired and undergoing a process of transformation. No child, or adult for that matter, deserves to feel that way. And the more I think about it, the more I realise I feel passionately about encouraging other people, as well as myself, to know that although it is lovely, and a natural human desire, to be appreciated, our worth as individuals, as members of this community, and the worth of what we have to say and to share cannot be diminished by the lack of a ‘like’.

You *are* a star irrespective of whether anyone has pressed that star to like your post. You are unique, incredible and fascinating, with stories that no one but you can tell, and a world within a world of thoughts, imagination, hopes, dreams, fears and love. You can change things in everyday small quiet ways and even that in its own way is revolutionary. You are important because you are you. This is our humanity. And sometimes, as wonderful as the Internet is, the online world can rob us of that assurance. We are faced with numbers, targets, statistics, comparisons, and we are encouraged, especially by advertisers to never feel quite good enough – the next achievement, or makeover or purchase will add value to our damaged, inadequate selves.

And yet, despite our brokenness, our mistakes, our evaluations of self and others, we are infinite. And we are important. And even if we are not ‘liked’, we are created for a reason, and we are LOVED.

 

Singleness can be Beautiful too

It’s Friday evening, almost 7.15pm, and I’m not long home from a day at work. It’s been a blessed sun-kissed day, which is a special treasure in my part of the world where precipitation is by no means an uncommon occurrence! I’m sitting on my couch, feet up and laptop propped upon my knees, as I enjoy the view.

I live on the tenth floor of a flat that overlooks a city bridge where right now I can see cars scurrying to and fro, most likely taking weary commuters home for the weekend after a long day at work in some office or other.

Of course, there are so many more stories than there are cars or people within them. Stories that I know nothing about. And here I sit, in solitude, not knowing quite what my heart wishes to express. So let’s find out together as I write.

As well as the city sights of cars and buildings, hotels and grey block flats, I can also see blue skies, and hills in the distance, trees and church steeples and spires. In some ways it is like a moving picture postcard of an evening, and the sunlight catches the bonnets of vehicles and they look like moving jewels upon a conveyer belt.

I wonder where they are all going to? I wonder, also, as I take the time to think, just who you are, my dear reader, if you have been so kind and gracious to visit my space online, and read this far. If you have, then thank you. I find that wondrous. That somewhere in the ‘ether’ of a wired up world, we serendipitous strangers cross each others paths and connect. At least, I hope we do. For I hope that these writings, musings, ramblings, or ‘whatever you call thems’, this Blog, is as much for you as it is for me.

I am making an educated guess that given the tags I have used, you are likely to be musing over what it means to live the single life too. Either that or you have friends or family members who are single that you care about. Whatever the case, I can only write from my own experience and what I have learned.

Singleness is not a disease!

One thing I have found through many years of walking this path, along with longings for love and a family of my own, is that society generally does not have a healthy view of the single adult. I am blessed to have overcome challenges in my younger days of struggling to make friends to having come to know and share parts of my journey with some lovely people. Towards the later years in university, I made some connections with friends of different backgrounds and stages in life. I’ve now been working full time for a few years, and have also come across all sorts of people, some that I hold close and dear to my heart and others who I know for my own peace of mind I must hold at arms length and pray for from a distance.

Through the years and as the seasons have changed and as we have grown from one stage of life to the next I have been the friend lovingly ‘cheering on’ my friends, as they have had engagements, bridal showers, weddings, and then baby showers, babies and toddlers and children’s parties, and so forth. I wonder if you too have watched the endless stream of ‘updates’ of your friends lives as they celebrate the significant ‘milestones’ of life that we human beings tend to feel the existential need to celebrate? I wonder if in all of their ‘Significance’ you have felt insignificant? I wonder if you do not have friends whose milestones you can even celebrate, and if you feel all the more so alone in life, and in that also sense an insignificance or unworthiness to who you are as compared to who society and maybe also your own heart tell you you ‘should’ be.

If you metaphorically tick any of the above boxes, then I salute you. I say this because you not only have to overcome the inner challenges that you face, whether that be of self doubt, fear of the future, loneliness, isolation, abandonment, low self esteem, lack of confidence, wondering ‘what’s wrong with me?’, or whatever inward challenges they may be, but you additionally have to face the many hurdles of a society that too often views singleness as some kind of a ‘disease’ to be ‘cured’ by a relationship (and sometimes, sadly, at any cost!), rather than a season of life, or even a permanence in the way of your particular unique and individual life, whether wished for or prayed against, to be celebrated! When was the last time anyone threw you a ‘Single Shower’? Nope, me neither, friend! 🙂 Don’t worry, you’re not alone. And moreover, rest assured, singleness, the state of being uncoupled, not in a relationship, independent, flying solo, all alone, whatever you prefer to call it, it is most certainly not a disease!

p.s. As a side note, if you are fortunate enough to have a single friend who has lovingly celebrated your life, whether that be an engagement party, bridal shower / hen do / stag party, wedding, baby shower, children’s party, etc, etc – think seriously about showing your appreciation for them….they have waited and ached long enough for appreciation, and have lovingly yet also dutifully taken on the role of cheerleader or wallflower, wondering if anyone cares about the state of their heart….show them you care, even if in a small and understated way….do they have to wait for a ‘significant other human being’, a Mr or Miss ‘Right’ to complete their life in some way? What if that never happens? Do they in and of themselves not deserve some loving kindness, and celebrating just for who they are? I think so 🙂 Plus, isn’t it better to give than to receive? 🙂

All the lonely people, where do they all come from?

And so, the stream of traffic flows endlessly to and fro. That phrase ‘the city never sleeps’, well, I can tell you, it’s true! No matter what time of day or night I see it, that bridge always has commuters going somewhere or perhaps even driving away from something.

“All the lonely people, where do they all come from?” – The Beatles.

Was a question The Beatles once posed. I can guarantee you, it is not from some dismal cave of singleness! At least, not all of them 😉

We do not live in a ‘whole’ society. Our communities are not made up of wholesome families, living perfect lives in a fairy tale world with a white picket fence (I’m not even so sure why the white picket fence should be so important 🙂 ). We live in a fallen, fractured, broken world. Yes, there is a lot of love. Some people do seem to have ‘perfect lives’ or as near to such as this present life can offer. Pull back the curtains and light shines through. Open the closets and no skeletons fall out, but in their place fragrant roses of love and trust, companionship and respect bloom. These are blessed people indeed, but I would venture to guess they are not the majority. And even if they are, we should be happy that our society has such ‘building blocks’ of healthy families in place. For what starts in the home extends outwards to society, to friends and colleagues, co-workers, and relations. So we should celebrate rather than envy what is wholesome in this world, even if it is something that we feel we lack. And even if that is a challenge.

Some of these commuters in their nameless matchbox cars will pull up in front of a building this evening. They will look in the mirror, take a deep breath, and step out of their cars and into their lonely, frustrating or volatile and dysfunctional family lives. Some will not have families to go to but may refuse to stand alone and independent for fear of feeling the ache of loneliness. And so they will compromise themselves, and other people, and feel guilty for it. I don’t know what all of their stories are or will become, and I pray for all of those lonely people, who are going back to houses filled with people, but also the many problems that they may bring.

The Blessings of Singleness

Right now, I have time to think about these things. It’s Friday evening, and I have it as a gift all to myself. There is no one vying for my attention, and I can enjoy my solitude. I can relax and plan out my evening just as I like it. There are so many things that I could do. I can relax and reflect, I can write and think and pray, I can watch a film of my choice, put a pizza in the oven, read a good book, study, dance or sing if I feel like. I can reach out to other people. I can cook and study. I can dream of travels. I can pray about how I can be a blessing to other people. I can indulge in my creativity. I can plan something to do for someone else. I can plan a treat for myself. I can connect with my Creator, God, Who really Is the Only One Who makes me Whole in life. I can smile at my independence, as I can hear myself think and peacefully listen to the chirp of birdsong ringing clear through my open window.

I can…..I can…..I can……

Is that how you view your solitude? Don’t worry if it’s not, for that is understandable. I have wrestled with it too at times, and I have cried too. But you see the thing is, singleness isn’t the source of unhappiness just as being in company or married isn’t the source of happiness.

This is a blessed time to focus on yourself, take care of your needs, get to know who you are and what is important to you in life, and to invest in yourself and what matters to you. It is a time to grow in character, and in the virtues of a ‘good’ character – that of love, kindness, joy, peace, patience, temperance, self-control, and so many more wonderful things. It is a blessed time to shed the wearisome, dull and lacklustre garments of envy, jealousy, bitterness, and self pity. It is a time to stretch forth your arms in praise, and to count your blessings rather than resent the blessings that others have that you don’t have, or don’t have yet.

For in each stage of life there are plusses and minuses, ups and downs, pros and cons, blessings and challenges. Sometimes being on your own shields you from a lot of challenges that come with being with other people.  People face conflict, they hurt each other, they even die.

We cannot put our hopes for a happy or meaningful life in any other person. Yes, the people in our lives can be real blessings to us, and we to them, but ultimately they are not where we find our Answer, nor are we theirs.

We need to be whole in ourselves or on the maturing path to becoming more whole or less broken, in order to be a blessing to others. Otherwise we seek from others what they cannot possibly give and things fall apart, ‘the centre cannot hold’, and society goes on fracturing and breaking itself.

Embrace Your Freedom

So dear one, look up, and take time to embrace the freedom that you have. Many people long after it secretly when the thing that is weighing them down is a commitment that they just can’t get away from. And so the lonely people do often go home to full houses.

Comparison is the Thief of Joy & The Grass is always greener…..

Comparison is the thief of joy: it speaks for itself, really.

The grass is always greener…..where you water it. Not on the other side, but on where you invest your time and love to nurture it, it will be greener than it was before. And what can you do but live the very life that you have been gifted with, with all its joys and sorrows, right here and right now?

So water that grass you’ve been given with all your heart. Put love into your life, right now, this day. Nurture yourself, grow in independence, and ultimately you will grow strong enough to reach out to others. Even your tears may water and birth something beautiful, who knows?

Solitude can be deep happiness

Well my dear ones, if you have made it this far, ‘Congratulations!’. I hadn’t intended to write this much, but this was a freeflowing and unplanned journey that we have taken together.

I encourage you to think about what is special about you and your life, and if you feel like that is ‘nothing’, then that is your starting point of self discovery, because I truly believe that you are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’, special and precious to God, and even if you don’t believe in God, know that you are unique and there is no one else like you. You have hopes and dreams and gifts and character unique to you. Maybe you need to fight through some thorns and thistles and briers to find the treasure that you seek about yourself, I have had to do so myself, but there is treasure there in who you are and I pray that you will find it.

Your life is also special and important. Right here, right now. You have the very gift of life in this fleeting world. Your very breath itself is a miracle. You have the wonder of sight if you are reading this page, and of knowledge and understanding that comes from the gift of an education that many do not have. You have access to the Internet, which very likely means you are not in severe poverty and that you are blessed to know where your next meal, and even next paycheck is coming from. Or at least you have enough to ensure your survival and safety for today. You may have many, many, many more blessings heaped and overflowing on top of these, if only you would take the time to think about and notice them, and be thankful for them.

And if you have insights of your own, as I am certain that you do, that I or others may learn from then please do share your beautiful ‘voice’ with us that we may learn from your unique journey and perspective too.

And in the meantime, I am off to put a pizza in the oven, pour myself an nice cold drink, put my feet up and enjoy this evening of blessed solitude.

Much love my blogger friends, whoever you are, and wherever you may be going, you are never truly alone, and your life is a wondrous miracle if you would open your eyes and heart to see it! Be blessed, and know how blessed you already are.