Tag Archives: Scripture

Self Care In A Pandemic (48): Communal Habits…

Yesterday, we looked at how to effectively track habits, and I hope some of you got something helpful from my post.

Today, I thought we could take a step further and look at habits in terms of things we can do collectively with other people.

For example, there might be something you want to build into your daily life, or do more regularly but perhaps you lack a bit of motivation, or maybe your motivation dwindles from time to time. Or maybe you just would find the experience more enjoyable if you could share it with other people of a like mind.

In my own experience this has been helpful at certain times, although it also helps if I don’t feel too ‘tied down’ to any particular commitment with it.

For example, for a couple of years, I participated in an online Bible reading plan that was organised by someone in my church and it was on an ‘app’ called ‘You Version’. It’s something that I’ve used before on my own, but it turns out that you can also do reading plans along with other people. I didn’t actually know most of the other people doing it, but that was fine. There were a few daily readings and then the chance to share comments, reflections and thoughts about the passages. It was really helpful and insightful to do this and to also read about other people’s perspectives and learn together with other Christians. I did this in 2019, and completed it by playing ‘catch up’ towards the end of the year as I didn’t manage to do all of the readings on the particular day set, but I gained a lot from it as well as my own personal study of Scripture. I also started it last year in 2020 but only continued to about half the year as although it was helpful it no longer quite fit with where I was at and I felt a bit constrained by having to ‘keep up’. I have other studies on the go now but I do them at a pace that I am comfortable with and I feel like at the moment that works better for me even though the communal habit of reading daily Scriptures together online was a beneficial one.

Another hobby that I enjoy is adult colouring in. It’s beautiful in that because there are certain books that are quite well know it is easy to find images of what other people have done with the same pictures and to be inspired with them. There is so much to learn and be inspired by and there are colouring groups that connect people with like minded others. I personally love many of Johanna Basford’s books and on her website she has a ‘colouring gallery’ where people can upload their work – it’s lovely, even if from a distance and not knowing the people personally, to know you’re part of a community of sorts and that you can inspire and be inspired by others and develop your skills together in a way.

Since moving back with my family after lockdown alone for most of 2020, there have also been a few opportunities for us to turn the TV off and just sit and read quietly together. It’s only something we’ve done a few times, but I think it’s been an encouragement when we do.

There’s something about feeling ‘spurred on’ by other people on a similar journey or with similar interests to you.

I know people at work, who in the good old days pre-pandemic wanted to get fit and formed running groups. There are other people I know who used to go to weekly or fortnightly craft groups where they’d meet together, chat, have a cuppa and do whatever craft or hobby they were interested in such as knitting, crochet, etc. and share skills and tips with each other.

While we’re in the pandemic and isolated from one another a lot more, it may not be possible to have a ‘book club’ in the conventional way, especially if you are living alone. But there are other ways of cultivating community habits with other people online, or even by phone, or whatever way works best for you. A couple of young ladies in my church wrote each other letters during lockdown in a Jane Austenesque style and posted them to each other, giving that something special to their day to day goings on by putting it into an old fashioned style letter which can now be a keepsake.

If you feel like you don’t have friends or family you can do such things with, but would like to do something with other people, I’m sure there are plenty of online opportunities out there, you just need to start looking, but be discerning about this too. Maybe you want to feel like you have ‘company’ or an encourager with your habits, but you don’t actually want the stress that sometimes comes along with connecting with people, in which case there are plenty of people on You Tube with inspiring content that you can look to as a form of ‘mentoring’ or who can feel like they are spurring you on with your habits, even if it is just watching their videos and not interacting with them.

We all have different personalities and different things we want to glean from forming habits and from doing so collectively. Take a moment to think about whether this is something you are interested in and then get creative with ways to take it forwards with whatever interests you. Maybe you are learning a musical instrument and can find an online tutor? Maybe you want to connect with other bloggers, in which case you’re in a good place, and commenting on someone’s posts might be a good start or following a blog that inspires or encourages you to take your next steps forwards.

There are so many things we can do once we start thinking creatively about it. Just look at what some people have done during the pandemic and lockdown to be inspired!

Take care, stay safe, and keep taking those small yet productive steps forwards in 2021. God bless. x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (39): A Thoughtful Start To The Day…

Whatever time you get up in the morning, whether you are an early bird or a night owl, it can be helpful to start the morning in quietude and contemplation before the day begins.

I personally like that bit of extra time in bed when I can pray to my Creator God and think, but I also like to read Scripture in the morning. Sometimes I’m not as disciplined with doing this and read more later in the day, but when I do have that time set aside with God spending time with Him and in His Word I do feel strengthened and ‘fed’ spiritually.

I don’t stick rigidly to a particular practice in the mornings as some people do, and we are all different and respond better to different things in line with our unique characters and personalities.

It can be beautiful just to take a few moments to look out the window at the start of the day, especially if you have a bit of sunshine or in this season some frost. As I write I notice what looks like a tiny little bird huddled amid the bare branches at the top of a tree. The sky is a light gradating blue, darker higher up and fading into the palest of blues, almost white, at the horizon. It is good to pause and notice and reflect at the start of your day, or at any time of the day for that matter, when you are able to carve out that time for yourself.

I often enjoy gaining an insight into what other people are doing with their time. On You Tube there are so many morning and evening ‘routines’ that people share that can inspire. I like to approach each day afresh but even the most spontaneous among us have certain key ‘building blocks’ that they include in their day to day lives.

Some people find the benefit from writing ‘morning pages’ of free flowing thought, of writing out goals or lists at the start of the day to give them focus, or of journaling or reading.

Perhaps you use your time for blogging as a form of reflection instead or as well.

2020 has taught us in many ways to slow down. It’s important to allow our lives to progress as we renew our minds. I don’t recommend starting the day with the noise of the world (as in the news of what’s going on in the world) but to strengthen you own mind and heart in some way.

We pay attention to our bodies as we eat breakfast, exercise or go outside, but it is important to also pay attention to our spiritual health and our mental wellbeing and for me that means taking in the Truth and spending time with God, even if for a few moments until I’m fully awake and ready for the day and can ponder more of those ideas later on as the day progresses.

What do you like to do to incorporate contemplation and reflection times into your day? Perhaps it is something you can write about in your blog and make sense of the many thoughts going on in your head through this pandemic? x

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Use Your Voice…

Today I’m particularly thankful for Word Press as a blogging platform, where we can use our writing voice to connect with numerous people from across the world to share, inspire, encourage and motivate.

Why today in particular? Because following the onset of a sore throat, I have in fact ‘lost’ my voice. I’m hopeful I’ll get it back again, but it has prompted me to think of the ways in which we take for granted the things we can usually do. I have so many thoughts running through my head that I’d love to communicate with others in my life, or even to greet the people I meet in passing, and I didn’t even realise that I was ‘voiceless’ until I tried to express these thoughts verbally – and nothing came out.

Ah, the blessing of non-verbal communication! Smiles, hugs, gestures, facial expressions…and of course for all of us here on the ‘blogosphere’ – the written word!

I’ve always felt more able to express myself more persuasively through the written – rather than the spoken – word. I wonder if you can relate? Perhaps you’ve had experience of shyness, social anxiety, ‘brain fog’ when in company and conversation, or have had to overcome a stutter. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to find our voices elsewhere if we are limited in some other aspect of our lives in being able to communicate.

I can’t imagine what it must be like for people for whom all or most forms of communication are impaired or limited. Therefore, today I reflect upon my blessings of being able to communicate and share this gift of being able to connect with others and they with me.

I think of how powerful the written word is. But also of the potency of words spoken. How many of us have suffered from the wounds of words inflicted upon us in childhood? Even as adults they affect us, sometimes terribly. Scripture tells us that ‘life and death are in the power of the tongue’ and that although humanity has learned to steer ships and other vessels, to bridle horses, we cannot tame our own tongue! It steers the course of our life, and can have the power to set a forest on fire.

There are many ways in which we can use our voice. Perhaps blogging is your platform to share your ‘voice’ with the world – your thoughts, your ideas, your desire to advocate for change. Perhaps we can use our ‘voice’ to ‘speak up for’ the voiceless in society – for children, animals, for those who are oppressed and have no way to share their own thoughts and feelings about what is happening to them. We can use our voice, our words, written, spoken, and in other forms of expression to heal, to encourage, to help, to build up, to inspire, to comfort, to love, to share….

It’s good to be silent from time to time, and to take a moment to reflect upon how we are using the gifts we have to communicate with others. How will you use your ‘voice’ today?

alphabet close up communication conceptual
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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

A Devotional Routine…

As a follower of the LORD Jesus Christ, God’s Word has been transformative in my life…I realise that there is spiritual food that I need as much, if not more so, than the food I consume every day to keep me alive….the concept of ‘daily bread’…that which feeds, nurtures and gives us strength is not applicable merely in the physical realm.

We need to nurture our souls, renew our mind-set and thinking patterns, lay down the burdens of bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, jealousy, fear, pain, loneliness, heartache to name but a few, and ‘put on’ graces of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self control. None of which we can accomplish without the loving care and help of our Merciful Creator, being led and guided by His Spirit. 

And yet we can’t just sit around and wait for inspiration to take hold of us if we are unwilling to get up and to pursue these with greater focus, attentiveness and dedication. 

But, it’s difficult isn’t it? At least it can be. But sometimes little and often is the way to go, just as we feed ourselves daily, and for the sake of our health and well being should take time to digest what we have taken in, so too it is with feeding upon, meditating, ‘chewing over’ spiritual truths so that we develop even more of a healthy appetite for the things that make for wholeness and life and peace, drawing near to God to nurture our souls and learning what this life is actually about…individually….from Him.

One thing I have found to be really helpful recently is a site called ‘YouVersion’. It has so many different plans, topics, reading material, audio and video guides and helps, and tracks your progress day by day for whichever plan you choose so you can come back to it, and take in a little at a time, or more if you are so inclined…and it is I’ve found to be a very good starting point for deeper study and reflection, and establishing or continuing on with regular routines.

I have found it to be a good place to go to help me when facing the challenges of procrastination, not knowing where to start or continue onto, and if you are like minded, I hope that you take a look and find some encouragement and nurturing for your mind, heart and soul as well as your physical body, today and in the days to come, with the ultimate ‘goal’ of experiencing in greater depth, intimacy and measure the love of God in Christ Jesus our LORD. 

Love, and God bless. xx

https://www.bible.com/en-GB/reading-plans