KINDNESS by Elaine Chestnutt

imageDon’t you just love it when God whispers something in your ear and it changes your whole perspective on life again? It happens to me mostly in the car when I’m alone and just chatting with Him, often when I’m travelling to work. One bleak January morning, He did just that and whispered “Well, what do you want us to do together?”

You see this was my prayer too. “What am I to do God? Am I still usable? Surely I haven’t reached my expiry date already?”

The answer was a whispered ‘KINDNESS‘.

This simple word, so overlooked in today’s society, excited me and gave me purpose. It reminded me of Jesus teaching, “Love others as well as you love yourself.” Mark 12:31

What better way to show His love than being kind.

I recently watched Bring Back Borstal, a programme about a strict regime for young offenders. The Governor searched for a young man who had thrown in the towel, offering him a second chance to graduate with the others. Sound familiar?

It rang of a Shepherd searching for and finding his lost sheep.

The young man said ‘Yes, and returned to be bowled off his feet by manly hugs and cheers from the young men, guards, coaches and a (not so manly!) matron.

He described his welcome back like “getting punched in the face … with kindness”.

We have a guy in our church who specialises in this. Walk round a corner, down a corridor and you are liable to be ‘punched in the face with kindness’!! ”You are incredible!” “You’re amazing!” You can’t help but smile in surprise. He isn’t palming us off with idle flattery – he’s speaking Your Father’s thoughts over you!

Kindness is life giving to those who receive it and to those who demonstrate it. ‘You’re far happier giving than getting.’” (‭Acts‬ ‭20‬:‭35‬ MSG)

Kindness is something different to everyone. It may be meeting a need, or taking time with someone but mostly it’s whatever your Father is whispering in your ear to do with Him.

It’s buying sweets for the office team who are so often overlooked, but what would ever get done without them?

It’s telling your child that you delight in them. Give that a go and watch what happens!

It’s buying that car park ticket for a random stranger.

It’s giving away a roll mat to a homeless man because you don’t need it and he so desperately does.

It’s driving around at 11pm with a disgruntled teenager, who’s munching a burger you paid for, just so you can listen to everything that’s wrong in their world, including you!! Yet knowing that this is not who they really are and telling them you love them.

It’s tears, laughter and prayer in a coffee shop as God mends a hurting heart.

It’s saying – “I know God can help in this, can I pray for you now?”

Kindness is limitless in its variety and impact. You may never know the life change you have made when you show love through being kind but the big is there in the small all the time.

A lady I admire says it all so much better than I ever could…
​“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless​​”. (Mother Teresa)

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Who has your heart?

imageLast Thursday the kids in my classes were dressed in red, rather than school uniform, to support ‘Happy Heart Day’, an initiative run by The British Heart Foundation to help combat heart disease called ‘Wear it, Beat It’ and promote the importance of exercise and healthy eating in keeping our hearts healthy and happy.

This coincided well with the lead up to Valentine’s Day when the focus is on ‘happy hearts’ for another reason. There are many reasons why not everyone has a happy heart. The pressures of social conformity can pile even more pressure on a heavy heart or a hurting heart or a hopeless heart or maybe even a hating heart. Perhaps your heart is slowly healing or it’s still broken, battered and bruised.

A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:13)

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22)

But there is hope …

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

Such pain can make us want to protect our hearts from further damage, but it is only when we completely surrender our hearts to the King of Love that we will ever be free from fear and free to live and love.

How is your heart?  What is on your heart?  Who has your heart?

We all need to make healthy choices for our heart, physically, emotionally and spiritually – body, soul and spirit.

Proverbs 27:19 “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man” (AND a woman’s heart reflects the woman).

We may not visibly ‘see’ the condition of our hearts but he heart makes itself very visible through our words and our attitudes.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

We may look to others to make our hearts whole and complete but that can leave us vulnerable to have our hearts broken or damaged again. Ultimately we are each responsible for the health of our heart but we cannot do this completely on our own. We need His help.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5 NLT)

The result is “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

When our cry is “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10), His reply is “I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. (Ezekiel 36:26 NLT)

How is your heart?  What is on your heart?  Who has your heart?

Lord you have my heart
And I will search for yours
Jesus take my life and lead me on.” (Delirious)

“You’re a good, good Father … and I’m loved by you” (Housefires II)

Valentines are celebrated on one day, but “I am my Beloved’s” forever. And so are you!

“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song of Solomon 6:3 NIV)

Stop moving the goalposts!!

imageMaybe the opening weekend of the Six Nations has got me thinking about goal posts but last week I came across an interesting feature entitled “Ideal Body Types Through History” and that really made me think about how goalposts shift ….

The “ideal” woman’s body type has taken on a number of forms over the past 3,000 years. In ancient Egypt, it was slender shoulders and a narrow waist; during the Italian Renaissance, it was a round stomach and fair skin; in the 1980s, it was an athletic build with curves.

Buzzfeed compiled these trends and more into one video titled “Women’s Ideal Body Types Throughout History.” The video shows a variety of archetypes through the years, and how those archetypes were directly influenced by society, art and media — thus proving the notion “ideal” is constantly in flux.

Individuals who chose to criticise the models through a twenty-first century lens may have missed an important message: every body type has at some point been “ideal,” and every body type is beautiful.

“We’re so often preoccupied with current trends that we lose perspective on how fleeting our obsession with physical perfection has historically been,” Yang said. “As demanding as our perception of an ideal body type may be, we should remember that yesterday’s ideal will, without fail, evolve into something completely different tomorrow.

The ‘ideal’ goalposts are always being moved by our society and the media but “every body type is beautiful“.

For WE are God’s MASTERPIECE. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

In our quest for perfection we may feel restricted by the time we are in, in other ways too.

When I’m older … if I was younger
When I have a job … if I didn’t have a full-time job
When I meet the right person … if I could just do what I want
When I’m married … if I wasn’t married
When I have children … if I didn’t have children
When the kids are at school … if I didn’t have to do school runs
When the nest is empty …. if the house was full of life again

Perhaps we move the goalposts ourselves or allow others to move them for us. “We should remember that yesterday’s ideal will, without fail, evolve into something completely different tomorrow.”

Who do we listen to? Who has the louder voice?

The voice of perfection and striving? Or the voice of purpose and satisfaction. The voice of when and if or the voice of now and go for it!!!

There is no such thing as a perfect 10 and the perfect time is fairly elusive too.

This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24 NLT)

One of my favourite verses is also in this Psalm.
When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. (Psalm 118:5 NIV)

He has knocked down the goalposts. 

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. (Galatians 5:1 MSG)

Neither society imposed conditions or self inflicted restrictions.

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free … (Galatians 5:1 NLT)

Celebrate WHO you are. TODAY!! 

“You don’t have to go it alone”

imageI so appreciated all your prayers, hugs and messages of encouragement after my post last week.

Life is better done in community!

We were not designed to journey alone, especially when the going gets tough! When we risk sharing our journey with others, it is fuel for the road ahead, for them and for us.

As we sang in church yesterday
We still believe
We still believe
And though the journey has been hard
We will confess your goodness, God
We still believe
‘ (Kathryn Scott)

How we handle hurts and hassles, disappointment and discouragement can be a source of hope and encouragement to someone else.

Honesty says ‘Yes, I’m finding this hard but I’ve found Someone who can help’. ‘Confess His goodness’, tell others the difference He has made even ‘though the journey has been hard’.

Just this morning I had a chat with a dear friend whose journey has been very hard recently. Her heart is so honest and encouraging in the midst of it all, I just had to share her words with you. 

“It’s not easy but something good and positive comes out of it. When we’ve God at the centre, it adds a new dimension to our journey – hope, security and deep, deep love.”

She has felt God’s nudge to “share your story” and He has given her opportunities to do so in simple and uncomplicated ways. I love her passion to continually “confess His goodness” and her celebration that there is “such treasure in these opportunities”. She is seeing the difference sharing her story makes in the lives of others and in her own life.

She could be tempted, and indeed entitled, to feel at a really low ebb but instead she chooses to allow His ‘hope, security and deep, deep love’ to ebb towards others and like the tide, that same hope, security and deep deep love washes over her own life again, only in greater measure.

I found treasure last week too in the words of others. I also felt His hope and deep love wash over me.

Their words of encouragement reminded me of the words of U2 “you don’t have to go it alone“. I have “fellow rock face climbers” … “I’ve been facing my own mountain Shirley, your words really resonated”; “Been on that rock face myself this week”.

They urged me to hang in there and keep going. “Hold tight chum”, “clinging on with you”.

They reassured me that we can do it, we will make it. “We will get there and then from the top the view will be stunning!!”

Sharing our story brings a reminder we are not alone, we can keep going, we will make it!

I leave you with the words of another lovely friend. “Praying that Father accelerates healing to turn rock face into ‘Jacob’s ladder’….that as Jacob wrestled and clung on for the blessing so you precious Shirley may easily climb the stairway of blessing to see the Father’s face”.

A word for us all?