Tag Archives: love

*True Love*.

*True Love*.
I wonder if, for those of us who don’t work on the front line, we would ever choose to put our lives at risk to save others. To be honest, that’s a bit of a loaded question, because the point of it is the aspect of choice, and not simply duty.

If you were a doctor or nurse, for example, and we sincerely applaud you and your colleagues if you are, you may find yourself duty bound by the Hippocratic Oath to serve your fellow human beings, even at risk to your own life and that of your closest family. But would you choose it? If pre-Covid days you were given a glimpse into the future and shown what was to come, if you were told you would have no PPE, if you knew that you would be walking into certain death, would you do it to save someone else?
For those of us who don’t work on the front line, could we imagine for a moment being in such a situation and raising our hands to volunteer to save someone else? Not because it is the right thing to do, or because we have a sense of duty, or because we find ourselves in the situation and persevere through it, but would we knowingly choose to die, to save the life of another, even those people who don’t know anything about us, or care about us, or acknowledge what we are doing for them? People who perhaps have recklessly put their life in danger by not following the rules, and who didn’t care about causing harm to others? Do any of us care that much? Do any of us love others more than we love our own life even those who don’t realise what we are doing for them?
We are surrounded by heroes. Some of them, filled with fear, are persevering through a situation they didn’t and wouldn’t choose for themselves to be in, yet they are risking their lives to save others, and that is so humbling. Even more so, are the people who know that they will suffer, they will die, but they *choose* to save someone else and lay down their own life for the greater good. These people are astounding.
We’ve heard the stories of people, young men particularly, who chose to fight in the second world war to protect their country and the freedoms of those they loved. Some were forced to join the fight, others willingly stepped forth knowing that they were stepping into a horrific situation where they would be in constant danger, they would see people close to them killed and they would not come out of it alive, and if they did they would be maimed and traumatised, their lives changed forever, and not for the better. We regularly remember them and others like them, who lay down their lives to protect others. Regardless of what our thoughts are on war and politics, the sacrifice of others humbles us because it is so alien to our everyday motives for self-preservation and protecting our own lives, those of our families and shielding those closest to us from harm. Who among us can honestly say that we would choose to give up everything near and dear to us to save other people, people who may not even know or care what we personally did for them? How few among us can honestly answer ‘yes’! It is most likely that none among us, not even those front-line workers who find themselves thrown into this undesirable reality, would ever say yes. There have been times in my life, and I won’t go into details here, and perhaps there have been in yours, where I have been thrown into ‘fiery trials’ of immense pressure and personal suffering, and persevered through them, knowing that it was important to do so not only for myself but also for the good of others. But hand to my heart I didn’t choose to go through those painful trials. If for example it was the only way to help the people I love, then yes, I would choose that painful path, but if there was any other, easier way, then I would choose the painless path. There would be less growth, but there would be less pain also. Perhaps we would reluctantly ‘choose’ a difficult path because of the good that would come out of it for others and for our own characters, but it is highly unlikely that most of us would stick our hands up and volunteer to suffer.
So why have I entitled this post ‘true love’? Partly because our society exalts romantic love above ….well, most things really. If you consider the greeting cards you have seen in your lifetime, how many of them celebrated sacrificial love? How many of them were ‘thank you’ cards for brave men, women and children who put themselves at risk for others? I have never seen such a card that wasn’t hand made, and even then, before the Coronavirus, I’m not sure if I’d seen a hand made card celebrating sacrificial love. Perhaps this will change after this pandemic has passed. Perhaps greeting card companies will be printing cards celebrating the love shown by people who put their lives at risk to save others. Maybe as a society we will change the way we think about ‘love’.
Our society is obsessed with romance, and in a very selfish way. Yes, some may find ‘true love’ romantically, but how deep is this compared to sacrificial love that willingly chooses to put someone else first, even at great loss to oneself?
Just think about the vast majority of people who enter into marriages and relationships with a ‘try it and see’ kind of attitude. Think of how many lives have been touched by divorce. Think of the celebrity relationships that end because one partner no longer feels ‘fulfilled’ by the other. That’s not true love, that’s convenience, it is status, it is ‘how will this benefit me?’ Love that seeks its own benefit, is ultimately not true love, it is not the deepest or purest form of love, yet it is what we celebrate the most.
Why? Because it is prettier, it is sanitised, it makes for cuter Instagram pictures and Facebook posts!
Would people rather look at or be part of a love that sings of roses, and chocolates, blue skies, sunshine, candle-lit romantic meals, and happy company? Or would they want to look at the deeper, truer, steadfast love that never quits? A love that speaks instead of blood, sweat, tears, agony, anguish, immense personal pain, trauma, sickness, terror, fear, heartache, loss? Is this kind of deeper, truer love celebrated on greeting cards and Facebook posts? This messy, ‘ugly’, sacrificial, painfilled love that goes beyond, so far beyond the realm of ‘duty bound’ – it is a Love that *chooses* knowingly, intentionally, willingly, to suffer at great cost, for the sake of the beloved, even when the beloved is unworthy of such love, unworthy people like you and me.
Many of you will sadly go through your entire lives never experiencing first hand that kind of True Love, choosing instead to settle for the flowers and the fairy tales that will eventually fade, as beautiful as they are. But many among us have and daily continue to know first hand this True Love like no other, the most sacrificial and purest Love of all, and on Good Friday we do celebrate this love of blood, sweat, tears and agony, because it has changed our lives…not textbook, not religious change, but in reality. We celebrate the purest, truest agape (sacrificial) Love of all – that of God Who gave His Only Son as a sacrifice to pay the penalty for your sin, for mine that separated us from Him. That of The Man Christ Jesus Who knowing that the only way to rescue you and I was to suffer immensely. He chose The Cross….He chose you….the reality of His tangible presence, His True Love, has changed everything for me, and continues to.
This is Good Friday, and if you know that this commemorates the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross, for you, for me – you may wonder why on earth a day of darkness, pain, betrayal, agony, death, fear, blood, sweat and tears is celebrated as in any way ‘Good’. It’s one of the biggest questions you will ever ask in your life time. It is the day that True Love died…..but that’s not the end of the story, the Reality….and this Sacrifice has changed and continues to change the lives of people like me, and is an open invitation to every one to experience this True Love for the rest of their lives….it is an invitation that many people sadly will discard, for the sake of flowers and chocolates….the toughest choices were made by Jesus, but the choice still remains with each of us as to whether we will choose to welcome His True Love for us, or to discard His Pure Love Sacrifice for us individually.
When the time comes for me to die, I know I would rather have the love of blood, sweat and tears and sacrificial Pure Love holding me, than that of chocolates and flowers, that will melt and wither and do nothing for me. Yet the wonderful thing is none of us have to wait for death to experience the reality of this Pure Love now and everyday of our lives going forwards. Because it is not a Love that remains confined to the pages of a book, but the tangible, real Love that meets you at your worst, your messiest, your most unlovely, and chooses to go on loving you in a way no mere mortal ever could, a love that will never fail, forsake you or let you down. The difficult choice to love you like that has been made, and it will never be rescinded….but what will you choose in return?

Surviving the pandemic together. Words of Encouragement (8): *Can I feel happy and sad?*

Words of Encouragement (8):
*Can I feel happy and sad?*
In short, yes. This is a confusing, strange and distressing time. We are alive, we are surrounded by life, but also by continuous news of death and suffering on a mass scale, on a global scale, yet also right in our own towns and cities. We are all learning how to be happy with those who are happy, and to also mourn with those who grieve. We are surrounded by contradictions that we are all learning to hold in balance. We are trying to find ways to encourage and support each other, to enjoy the gift of life and be grateful for those in our lives, to make the most of ‘isolation’ and keep our spirits up, and encourage our friends and families and especially children, while at the same time living through wave upon wave of tragedy crashing in upon humanity. You might feel guilty for the times you smile, laugh and enjoy life in this strange season, and you also might feel a burden of grief at times as the world around you wails. It can be confusing, it can be tough, but there is no right or wrong way for you to feel, and your experience of this situation and your feelings are valid. Take time to just sit and be with your thoughts and feelings for a moment if it is all a bit much. Breathe deeply and try to find ways to be calm and relax. This is affecting people in different ways, and that’s ok.
Take care to try to maintain a balance. To know that even while it is a very dark time for many people across the world, it is ok for you to smile, and to share something positive, because those around you may just need that joy and that hope to be able to keep going.

confused

Coronavirus musings: Don’t let the pandemic throw your recovery off course.

The news is all around us, and it’s hard to avoid. I have an anxiety disorder and complex PTSD and clinical depression and I have been working hard over the past few years to get stronger and to really make progress in this recovery and wellbeing journey. However, like many of you, the news and the uncertainty of Covid-19, and the reactions of other people, can add to those inner feelings of anxiety and unease. Last night, after chatting with my family on the phone, I spent some time just laying down and listening to healing Scriptures, and I woke up in the morning feeling His Peace – the Peace of Christ – so that when I read the news it didn’t really shake me. I remember the times before I knew The LORD in experience, I couldn’t find any true and lasting relief for my anxiety and often crippling fears (symptoms of C-PTSD and GAD that I hadn’t yet been diagnosed with) no matter how hard I tried. And I did try! The soothing feelings I experienced in nature, as lovely as they were, didn’t last beyond my time being in such natural surroundings. When I had to re-join the world of other people, my peace quickly dissipated. Now, I have a true Peace, an experiential Peace and the reality of The Living God Who Is holding me and guiding me (and often times carrying me) through the trials and tribulations, ups and downs, and joys of life, in His Perfect Love. I pray that we all will come to know this in reality.

Whether or not you know The Lord Jesus Christ, I’d like to encourage you in terms of the effects that this current world situation might be having on you, especially if you are in recovery of any type. This could be recovery from mental health conditions such as depression, managing anxiety, or it could be to do with fear of open spaces, of viruses and health, recovery from addiction or eating disorders or social phobias, or whatever the case may be. I don’t know what you might have been working hard to overcome, but if you have been working hard to overcome something, please don’t let this pandemic ‘situation’ throw you off course.

This ‘wise advice’ is for myself as well as for many of you, because when we are so caught up in what is going on around us, our own wellbeing might begin to take second, or third, or even last place, and that’s not good for anyone.

As well as following the medical and government advice and all the protocols to look after your health in terms of this pandemic, please, please don’t neglect to keep up your routines for your own recovery for whatever that might be.

You might find that you will have to work harder at things because of the additional things that everyone is dealing with, but remember your coping strategies, your tools and techniques, and be organised in your mind and write down and plan your routine as much as possible so that in this seeming chaos, you don’t forget to keep doing what you’ve been doing to get better, stronger, healthier and to stay well.

Take care everyone, and I will write more encouraging posts for you as the days progress. x

 

Coronavirus musings: When you have to stay in….let it be Christmas! :)

I’m not in isolation or lockdown or anything like that yet, and am thankfully fit and healthy and well, however, more and more it looks like the country and the world is moving in that direction whether  you have symptoms of Covid-19 or not. The rationale is to contain and minimise the spread of the coronavirus.

It strikes me that people are responding very differently to the thought of having to stay indoors or limit their activity for an extended period of time than when they might be in a similar situation say during the Christmas holidays for example.

I’m still out and about going to work, although keeping my distance as much as possible, but the government is recommending that employers allow staff to work from home, so it is a wait and see time for us until we get definitive direction. In the meantime, we have to keep showing up.

However, I digress. There is a difference if you have to stay indoors and you are the only one in that situation, but there is, or at least there can be, a sense of community and camaraderie and shared experience when you know a large percentage of the world are in a similar situation. That’s part of the reason why I love Christmas, and the holiday season, because despite the diversity of beliefs, there is a sense of a shared experience.

Now, I know this whole pandemic is a different situation entirely, but let’s just think of how we can help and encourage each other to stay happy and healthy and mentally well during what might eventually turn out to be an extended period of time indoors. How can we help each other to counter the fear and anxiety that is so rife? Many people may find themselves completely symptom and virus free, but be advised by their employers or governments to stay at home, for the greater good. At any other time and in other circumstances, many of us would jump at the chance for some work from home days, or the chance to take a break away from it all in the comfort of our own homes. However, in this climate of fear, we are reacting very differently, or so it seems to me.

Ok, so maybe you are well and yet having to stay at home. I’m kind of hoping that I will be able to work from home too, but like I said, it’s ‘wait and see’. My heart goes out to those whose livelihoods and jobs are at risk, but if you don’t have those issues and simply have to stay indoors, how can we make the most of the situation?

I think if I have to stay inside for an extended period of time, I might put up my Christmas tree! Perhaps that seems strange to you if you live in sunnier climes, but I live in Scotland, and although the days are lighter and we have some dry days here and there, spring hasn’t really ‘sprung’ as yet, and we do get more than our fair share of rain, so some days it does still feel a bit ‘wintery’.

If you are new to my blog, I have written various series’ on self care, staycations, mental health and wellbeing, retreats of various types, and keeping cosy, so hopefully you will find some inspiration to make the most of an otherwise uncertain time.

Think about the things you would ideally do if you were organising a ‘staycation’ for yourself in your own home, or town. How many of us so often feel the need to ‘get away from it all’ without the practical hassles of travel, and to just have some ‘down time’ to think and reflect and nurture our own souls? How can we be people who seek to be encouragers and a positive influence when all around us is panic and anxiety and uncertainty?

For me, if I were to have to stay indoors, these are the things I would focus my attention on:

Drawing even closer to God, enjoying His Presence, allowing Him to continue His work of healing and restoration, and building up myself in my true identity so that I will be stronger and a vessel for His use in greater measure than before. Spending time with the One Who Loves me most and learning from Him.

Praying and interceding for other people, not only in terms of the concerns around Coronavirus, but taking time to think and pray about and appeal to God for the many people and situations that we so often don’t think about because we are ‘too busy’ with getting through the day to day things of life, and ‘cares of this world’. Focused prayer for people’s salvation and also for the needs of those who are caring for others, making decisions, ‘on the front line’ in some way, or who are ill and suffering or in need. Finding ways to advocate for those who suffer from injustice and abuse whether through prayer and practical means.

Reaching out to other people, and seeking to be a ‘good steward’ of the resources He has given me, and making a positive impact on the world, whether by blogging, keeping in touch with and encouraging people over the phone or email or other means.

Taking time for self development, nurturing myself and allowing God to continue to heal me, and also doing my part in looking after my emotional and mental health.

Working hard, obviously, if working from home did become a reality, and doing my duties to the best of my ability.

Taking time to continue writing my novel.

Read the books that have been waiting for me to get to them! 🙂

Exercise and healthy living.

Take time to be grateful, mindful and thankful for all of the blessings I do have in my life.

Finding ways to encourage and pray for other people, and to offer help where it is safe and wise and healthy to do so.

Home organisation and decluttering.

Arts and crafts projects, adult colouring in, continuing to learn to draw.

Music, playing worship on my violin.

Photography projects – finally compiling my photography work into one place.

Continue work on my blog to help bullied children (which I haven’t been able to while maintaining a daily routine of going to work, etc.).

Having pamper days for self care and looking after my body as well as my mind.

Learning new skills and online learning.

Tidying out my spare room!

Cosying up like at Christmas time and watching some nice films or box sets.

Live a ‘hygge life’.

Encouraging others and being kind!

 

So, what about you? What positives can you glean from this situation, and how would you, or how are you spending your time ‘away from it all’?

What are your struggles, and what are the things you have learned or that you enjoy that you can share that will benefit others reading this?

Let’s stick together and become stronger in the midst of all of this uncertainty, and bring out the best in each other as we make our way through this uncertain world.

I am thankful that my faith, certainty and hope is in the unchanging, solid rock of Jesus Christ, the source of life and pure love.

Take care and stay well, healthy, and safe, everyone. x

lemon isolated on white background
Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com

 

The Desire to Inspire – your purpose, and theirs…how much are you meant to handle?

Most people have a cause or purpose that is close to their heart. At the core of all of mine is the desire to live for the Glory of God because of His great love in laying down His life to forgive me, heal me, cleanse me, give me new life and make me His forever.

You could say that is the centre of the ‘wheel’ out of which come several other ‘spokes’.

Some of these other spokes include involvement in my church and various initiatives to help others; being there for my family and friends; nurturing and building up younger people where and when I can; writing my book; personal development; recovery. It also includes the desire to inspire other people, to encourage people to overcome mental health challenges and lead a better quality of life, to build people up, and to help those who are struggling with things such as bullying, PTSD, depression, anxiety and so forth. This is just one part of my life, but an important one, and one which my blog is a key avenue for reaching out with advice and encouragement, guidance, tips and tricks, sharing personal experience and sharing hope. Why is it important? Because people are important and my story of struggle has led me to one of being an encourager, of speaking ‘life’ through my words, and I am thankful that this blog platform gives me an avenue of opportunity to do that.

There are many other causes and things that are close to my heart or that I care about and seek to be involved with in some way or another, even if my efforts are little. At one point in time, and linked to the work I was doing about a decade ago, my ’cause’ or passion was focused on praying for and raising awareness about victims of human trafficking, and also other ‘spokes’ related to the persecuted church, environmentalism, reaching out to older vulnerable people, and homeless people, and being involved with international human rights charities. Each spoke had its own little place, nothing grand or deserving of any fanfare, just humble little parts of a bigger ‘wheel’ with God at the centre. Each for a season. And the wheels will go around in their time again and perhaps those seasons and ’causes’ will be revisited as a focus of attention.

I have a number of friends who are equally passionate about various things. Some friends work abroad as missionaries, others are passionate about taking up the baton of challenging human trafficking, for others their focus is veganism and have set up charities and groups to further their cause. Some due to their own health challenges are seeking solutions for others in similar circumstances to them, campaigning and advocating for the use of certain treatments. Others want to raise awareness of autism because of their experiences of being parents of an autistic child. Some are keenly involved with environmental causes. Others in raising awareness and fundraising for dementia, Alzheimer’s, cancer, stroke and so forth, because of how these things have touched either their lives or the lives of their loved ones or friends. Some people make their passion, their ’cause’, their charitable inclination into a ‘religion’ of sorts. For me, all these things are a part of a much bigger purpose and to be submitted to God and His plans, purposes and direction.

Whether or not you believe in God, you’ll be aware simply from living in this world that there are many people who want to make a change for the better. In your own life you may think of examples of how certain things have been important to you in terms of social justice, human rights, environmental protection, animal welfare, and so on and so forth at different times in your life. Some people seek to make a change through their jobs, through politics, through joining a group, or giving to charities. The point I’m making I suppose is that there is so much need in the world, and so many people we know have their own particular focus, which is positive in that many people are ‘doing their bit’ to make a change, and that way different changes can be made by a diversity of people all doing something. We can’t all be the same, and we don’t always even have the same focus as we did a few years ago, or that we might have a few years from now. Priorities change, and there are times and seasons in our lives.

While you may be surrounded by passionate people who want to make a difference and who may feel like their cause is of most urgent importance (I personally believe that, underpinning everything else that is temporal, praying for people’s eternal salvation and sharing The Truth of Jesus Christ is of utmost importance), your focus may be different to theirs at this moment in time, and that is probably a good thing as it encourages learning, growth and development. Everyone is building their own part of the wall rather than everyone focusing on bridging just one gap to the detriment of the rest of the structure.

I have a variety of friends who have approached me at different points to get involved with the things that they are passionate about. These might be small things or potentially things that may involve more time and commitment. I wonder if you are the same? These requests might come in the form of signing a petition, attending an event, writing for a website, giving time, money, ideas and so forth. It’s great when we can do our bit, but we can’t do it all and it’s important to know that it’s ok to focus on what is important in our lives without feeling the need to be pulled in all directions.

Everyone has  a part to play and everyone will play their part (even if it is just one small scene in this time of their lives) better if they are focused. If many people are asking many things of you don’t be afraid to take a step back to assess your priorities in this season of your life. You are only meant to carry so much. The desire to inspire is wonderful, but acknowledge that the priorities and causes of other people in your life may be different than your own, and that’s possibly a good thing. Keep focused on the part that you were called to play, and inspire others as you go. x

yellow flowers in brown woven basket on bicycle
Photo by Valeriia Miller on Pexels.com

The Dream to Believe in Your Worth…

When you imagine someone with a ‘dream-like’ life, what do you see? Someone with strength, courage, confidence, unwavering self-belief? We don’t necessarily have to believe in ourselves to believe in our worth. What do I mean? I mean that we all have failures, flaws, limitations, sin, and none of us can be our own Saviour. Yet, despite all that is imperfect about us, we are still of intrinsic worth as human beings.

When you think of yourself say in the future, living the life of your dreams, what do you desire of your experience? I don’t mean the external things such as money, success, nor even relationships. What do you desire of how you feel about yourself and your experience in life?

This is a journey of discovery for me, and one which I perhaps am not alone in finding that there is a bridge to cross between how I think and feel about myself now and the Truth about my worth that will lead me to experiencing Freedom.

It can sometimes feel as if clouds of negativity follow us, or that negative thoughts have seeped into our experience. It can be hard not to believe them, or to accept that certain things are lies and not the truth about who we are.

Things that cause anxiety, nervousness and fear. Perhaps not even fully-formed thoughts, but just feelings or sensations that cause us to doubt and to feel insecure, and ‘not good enough’. Have you ever felt this way? I certainly have.

Sometimes we believe that these lies are stronger than we are. But they are never stronger than the Truth.

If you are nervous, anxious or afraid, full of self doubt and hiding behind your fears, then it may be a challenge to take big strides into freedom in how you think of and value yourself.

Sometimes thoughts, images, memories from the past, of harmful words spoken over us, and things that have knocked our confidence can linger around us and affect the way we feel and think about ourselves.

It may be difficult to live in the experience of our True worth all at once, but I am a believer that small steps and changes add up over time to make a big difference. I personally know that I will have to continue with my ‘small steps’ because it isn’t easy for me to feel free from the negativity that I have experienced in life.

But what if we take the challenge today to take a ‘small step’, yet a powerful one, one borne in Truth? And what if we were to build upon this, reminding ourselves of the Truth about ourselves every day? Would that make a difference to how we experience our lives? I think it would.

So, today I set a challenge, if you’d like to join me, to simply remind ourselves that the following is True of each and every one of us no matter what we have experienced in life, or what lies we have believed that have damaged our perception and experience of our worth:

I am a human being of intrinsic worth, I am and always have been, and always will be valuable simply because I am me”.

It’s a small but powerful step, and one we can keep taking day by day. I wonder what a difference it would make to our experience of life if we do?

grayscale photo of baby feet with father and mother hands in heart signs
Photo by Andreas Wohlfahrt on Pexels.com

A time for healing…

I sometimes feel that writing is a gift through which we can better understand our life’s journey.

It gives the seed of a thought expression, the opportunity to ‘dance’ into life and then perhaps more profoundly to be noticed and nurtured and watered into life by a reader.

It is quite an exquisite thing to realise that one’s thoughts can connect with those of another.

I’m writing just now to discover those seeds of thought that perhaps need to be planted and watered in order to find their true expression.

What I’m thinking of right now is the gradual movement into a season of more peaceful healing. For years I have been in recovery from complex PTSD and literally battling demons, but greater is He. My Creator, God.

Sometimes when our painful symptoms are alleviated we might think that we can press on into the next stage, whereas what we may really need is simply to slow down and gently take the time to fully heal. It is a real gift to be given time and space to work things out, to allow the healing waters to soothe the troubled soul and mind and to restore what has been broken or frozen in fear by the darkness. God Is Good. The healing that once seemed impossible is beginning to bud and bloom and a new day is sure to follow.

Every now and then we need to remind ourselves to take the time. To accept that the wounds may be deeper than we would like to face, and to give ourselves that time to be restored by the hand of our loving Creator. There are things we can do too for ourselves, being transformed by the renewing of our minds. Yet, the tracks of years of thinking in one way may take time to be washed away as we lay down new tracks, those of life giving thought, as we think of what is true, noble, good, pure, excellent, praise worthy.

There is a time for healing. A time for all purposes under the sun. And perhaps this is your time as well as mine. Give yourself the gift of accepting that time. You may have to face difficult things but soon enough the path will get smoother, either that or you will get stronger and the challenges will no longer seem insurmountable. There is a place of peace and restoration promised to us in Christ for the healing of our hearts, for the mending of the broken-hearted and the grace that gives us the gift of complete forgiveness…which as we let ourselves receive it and as the chains that fettered and bound us gradually fall away, leads us to walk ever gently into true freedom.

Don’t be disheartened if it takes time. Give yourself the gift of that time, and I will learn to give myself that gift also. The darkness and the lies are never greater than the Beauty of Truth and Pure Love that has come in Christ to set us free. So know that you are valuable, worthy of healing, of forgiveness and love, and take time today to rest in that.

person holding flower
Photo by Hoang Loc on Pexels.com

Do you live too much ‘in the future’?

The start of a new year can bring with it fresh hope and vision.

Having dreams and vision for the future is an important if not essential part of life.

For most of our lives we are taught and encouraged to consider the future, the ‘what next’ of our life. When you were an infant perhaps the people in your life talked about and imagined what you might become when you grew up. I remember when my friend who is a few years older than me had her first baby and she asked me to be his God-mother. I was fairly young myself at the time and hoped and prayed that in a few years time I would know how to be a good God-mother. We delighted in him as a baby, and then in his younger sister when she was born, enjoying the lovely baby and toddler stages that they were in.

Yet we also talked about their characteristics, their likes and dislikes and imagined what they would be like as they grew up. Would they be musical, artistic, good at sports, kind and caring, studious? Would they be like their mum or dad? We all in our hearts wonder ‘What will be?’ for ourselves as well as for others. Many parents have big dreams for their children, while others say that they just want their children to grow up to be happy and healthy and kind people regardless of what they do or who they ‘become’. In all likelihood when we were little ourselves the adults around us would have made similar comments as they wondered who we would turn out to look like and what our likes and dislikes would be.

By the time children can walk and talk and play, adults begin to ask them ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’.  Sometimes the child will reply with a confident answer such as a doctor, an astronaut, a fire-fighter, a ballet dancer, pop-star or an artist, while others may not be so sure. Adults may then say something like ‘you’ve got a long time to think about that’ and so the child will go back to playing and having fun in the moment.

Most of us pass through stages of teenage angst when there are so many questions we ask of ourself and of our identity at a stage where we really begin to make decisions that may in fact shape the future direction of our lives at least in the short term.

We choose subjects to study at school and are asked what we hope these will lead to. We need to consider the practicalities of the next stages of our lives such as passing exams, going to university or college or starting an apprenticeship or job. We need to think more and more about the adults that we will be in society and questions about the future are almost constantly asked of us at that stage of life. ‘What do you want to do?’. There is an expectation that we will soon need to figure out what kind of contributing members of society we will be and we may have to put some previous dreams aside such as those of being an astronaut or a pop-star.

As we move through the next stages of life, for example making our way through university as one possible life choice, we are then faced with more exams followed by questions of what we will do next. Soon we will need to be thinking seriously about passing all of those exams, graduating and finding a job.

Inevitably we will need to think about other practical things such as getting a job, supporting ourselves and perhaps other people in our lives, paying bills, renting accommodation, getting a mortgage and the list goes on.

In our younger days we might dream of what we will do as a ‘grown up’. Perhaps these dreams will involve achieving certain goals, traveling, having a career, finding love, getting married, having a family of our own and so on. I imagine very few children and young people will be thinking so far ahead as to dream about their retirement and what life will be like then but maybe I’m wrong. We like to think about the years when we are ‘in our prime’ and able to do all the things we dream of doing. However, perhaps in retirement people come to appreciate the ‘here and now’ a bit more.

For some people I know, their early twenties were characterised with ‘achieving’ or being blessed with passing those milestones that many of us long for: finding love, getting married, going on adventures, achieving goals, starting a family.

My life hasn’t been so straight forward. I have dreamed of all of those things but finding someone and having a family of my own are still in the ‘someday’ or ‘maybe if’ realm of not yet. I have however done well in school, obtained two first class degrees, graduated, gone through the difficulties of finding a job and renting accommodation to now being in the stage of life where I am settled in a job I enjoy, with good friends, having travelled a bit, and with a home of my own. That’s a very short version and it certainly hasn’t been an easy or straightforward process but I’m glad to be where I am now.  I watch my friends’ children grow up and I watch other friends getting married and starting families. And one thing I have learned is that people always seem to be thinking of the ‘what next’ and when they finally ‘arrive’ there it isn’t necessarily quite what they had imagined.

I have friends who when they were single longed for the ‘next’ stage of life. When they got married they found challenges that they had not expected and spoke of how they sometimes missed their more ‘carefree’ single days. Friends who longed for babies when they finally became parents then talked about how they were always tired and busy. So soon they take for granted the things they once only longed for, things that some of us still don’t know if they will be part of our lives, our ‘what next’.

Can you relate to any of this? Practically speaking, life keeps moving forwards and we all need to consider the ‘what next’. Yet, could it be that we do this in the wrong way or to our detriment? Some people have found their ‘sweet spot’ in lives where things have worked out just as they hoped or dreamed and they are enjoying ‘the good life’. For many of us it isn’t quite so straight forward.

So the question I’m asking of both you and I is that although we practically need to prepare for the next step and the next as we move through life, do we ‘live too much in the future’?

Do we miss the fact that the stage we are in may have been one we had previously only hoped or dreamed of? Do we fail to realise that there is something inherently special about this time of our life right now even with the contrasts of light and shade? Do we always have to know or think about the next stage of our life? Do we enjoy and appreciate what is happening in this season? If like me you have had some notable tough times in life you know that sometimes life has you pressed hard up against a wall, so to speak, and you can’t think of the future. You can only do everything you can to get through the day, the moment. You’ll someday see the lessons in your trial, but in the midst of it you don’t even know if you’ll make it, and your dreams feel somehow crushed, an impossibility.

I’ve been there, I know how disappointing life can feel. And so I appreciate being out on the other side at last. Sure, I haven’t had all my dreams come true, but what about the here and now?

When you’ve been through some tough times and the future seemed uncertain as to whether or not you would even make it, when you eventually do weather those storms and the sun begins to shine you appreciate the ‘little things’.

That’s my challenge to you and I today. While we may have dreams and visions for the future, while we may be working on plans, let us also take the time to appreciate the good things in our life right now, things that we otherwise might just take for granted if our heads are always in the ‘not yet’ or in trying to figure out and make sense of the past.

We are all on a journey, it doesn’t stand still, so while we might have hope for the future let us also have appreciation of the Gift of the present.

x

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Happy Christmas Everyone

Happy Christmas to you all ~ I hope you all had a blessed and peaceful Christmas day, yesterday.

Even if the day itself was difficult for you, I hope that if not now, then someday, you will find the Pure Love and Peace of Jesus Christ to rule over your heart and circumstances.

It is such a gift to be able to pause and wonder at how incredible it is that God came to earth in such a humble way, incarnate in Christ, born to suffer, to reign, to save us and enable us to live in the Pure Love that God has for us.

This is far greater than any gift or circumstance the world has to offer.

So wishing you a blessed Christmas, with Christ at the centre, knowing God’s Great Love for you.

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A Christmas (Blog) Story (1)

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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