Comparison confession

imageLast weekend our daughter and son-in-law celebrated their first anniversary and this weekend Andy and I celebrated our wedding anniversary for the 28th time!!

However, sandwiched in between was my rather distasteful response to someone else’s celebration news.

My dear friend has a new role, one that she is totally suited for and has been doing long before any title was given to it. But instead of celebrating with her, I ran headlong into that old trap of comparison.

Have you ever done that? Heard someone else’s good news and straightaway listened to that voice of comparison that whispers ‘you’re not good enough’ or even worse ‘you’re better than them’?

The voice in my head was taunting me that as one door opens, another closes.

Not only did my door seem shut, it looked to be firmly locked! As the way ahead opened for my friend, that same voice was shouting that I was being left behind. I could hear loud and clear that my friend’s success was a confirmation of my failure. “What are you doing with your life?“, the voice yelled!

I’m more than a tad embarrassed to let you inside my head but confession is good for the soul and I’m pretty sure that voice has whispered similar words to you too.

This is NOT the Father’s voice!

It can sound like your own voice but it is the voice of a liar, whose only desire is to be destructive and divisive.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV)

And comparison is the thief of joy (Theodore Roosevelt). 

The irony is that I couldn’t do what my friend is so gifted at. But this thief doesn’t care if you would be good at it or not, he just doesn’t want you to discover the good things the Father has for you.

When the enemy sees any opening to shut us down, he takes it.

It’s time to turn off that other voice and tune in to the Father’s voice. Don’t feed on the lies of the enemy but delight yourself in the Lord and His words of truth.

Instead of choosing comparison with others, choose to celebrate their choices and successes.

Instead of feeling intimidated by what they have achieved, choose to recognise it is an invitation from the Father into the more He has for each one of us.

As they begin a new journey, it is NOT the end of the road for you. It is an exciting invitation to discover more of the adventure He has planned for you.

As you celebrate the gifts, talents and strengths of others, it is a reminder that the Father celebrates who you are and who He made each of us to be.

So today hear the Father’s voice remind you not to compare yourself with others and enjoy a double celebration instead!

Celebrate who they are and celebrate who you are too!

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The Icing on the Cake

imageIt’s hard to believe it’s a year since we were celebrating the wedding of our lovely daughter, Leigh-Ann to her handsome, Philip! So many wonderful memories of a day made special by so many including Emma Kenny Photography, The Stables Flower Company and Angel Cake Bakery.

Coincidentally it’s also an anniversary for Kathy of Angel Cake Bakery and last night she marked the occasion by sharing how it all started 5 years with a quick text from a good friend…

Hey chick, ur going to hav do wee album wv all those cakes in it and advertise. U wld hav no overheads working from home, in fact I will be ur first customer.”

A simple text of encouragement can go a long way.

5 years later and Kathy has baked many deliciously creative cakes for christenings, birthdays, weddings and many other celebrations.

A few words of affirmation and envisioning were the foundation stones for something new, that just grew and grew.

Not only has Kathy created inspirational cakes but she has also set up a beautiful studio where her classes inspire and encourage others to do the same, as some of the comments below her post show …

“Wee words of encouragement go a long way and I love that you’ve paid it forward”.

“Gives me hope for chasing my dream”

Kathy told me that the vision God had given her for Angel Cake Bakery “wasn’t just to prosper me – but would serve to prosper others and be of encouragement and comfort. A few of my ‘students’ have gone on to set up their own businesses!”

This is the icing on the cake!!!

It all started with encouragement and Kathy has continued to “pay it forward” to others.

Your ‘wee words of encouragement’ can literally be life changing. When you release words about the ‘gold’ you see in others, it releases the treasure they carry, and they in turn release the treasure in others.

We are called not to conform to this world, where it’s every man or woman for themselves. We are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, marked by outrageous generosity.

Living generously with what we say and what words we share, what we have and what we want others to have.

Generosity is wanting the best for others rather than keeping the best all to yourself.

There’s more than enough cake for everyone to have a slice 🍰

Success isn’t how much you accumulate for yourself, it’s how much you influence others.

Who will you encourage? Who could you inspire? Who do you want the very best for? Who will your words build up today?

Go tell, text or telephone!

BUT GOD …

imageAs I write this the rain is POURING down … AGAIN!!!!

The weather is often a topic of conversation but never more so than this summer and rarely for good reasons 😦 I can totally sympathise with the friend who texted me “this weather just really gets to me BUT I’m trying to be grateful regardless”.

This is a good example of trying to make a bad situation better, turning things round for good, looking for the silver linings behind all the dark clouds.

But it’s seldom the easy option to do this. Sometimes the clouds loom so threateningly, it feels impossible to lift our eyes off them and focus on the smallest glimmer of hope.

Habakkuk 3:17-18 highlights the importance of this decision in impossible circumstances.

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NLT)

You may not be struggling with your ‘fig trees’ or ‘flocks’ but I’m sure you could fill in your own ‘even though‘ thoughts …

EVEN THOUGH
… It’s pouring again
… The school uniforms have cost me a fortune
… The job interview didn’t work out the way I hoped
… I’ve been let down by someone I trusted again

Even though you may be scared or scarred, in pain or in a process, feeling hopeless or a failure, there is hope. The causes and symptoms are endless but there is one solution … “yet I will rejoice in the LORD!”

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.” (Psalm 43:5 NIV)

In times like these we need to get off our ‘BUTS’!!

BUT I will keep on hoping for your help; I will praise you more and more.” (Psalms 71:14 NLT)

BUT giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honours me.” (Psalms 50:23 NLT)

“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, BUT GOD remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” (Psalms 73:26 NLT)

Even though we all face different “even though” situations, we still have the same choice of response.

Will ‘BUT GOD’ be a cry of fear and questioning, hopelessness and lament OR will it be a bold declaration of faith and thanksgiving, of hope and praise.

As I’ve been writing the rain stopped and for a brief moment the grey sky brightened and the sun even came out.

No matter how dark the clouds are, the sun is still always there.

No matter how dark your situation feels, the SON IS STILL ALWAYS THERE.

If you are feeling discouraged, focus on these “but God” verses and be reminded of God’s involvement in your life.

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT)

“It’s a gift I have” ;-)

imageHello!! Back again after a busy July – a first class day at Zoe’s graduation, a beautifully sunny week in Spain and a very busy fortnight as ‘project manager’ for Andy’s live music and video recording in a cave!!! Still recovering from that 🙂

It’s made me think how what are regular days for some can be significant days for others – the birth of deeply desired babies, the marriages of meant-to-be couples and the loss of precious loved ones.

It’s three years since we lost Andy’s mum and this July we got to commemorate the date by spending time with her oldest and dearest friend from Zimbabwe, Elsie. She told many tales of their youth. My mum-in-law winning the Circuit of Ireland rally (Ladies Cup 1957); their trip to Holland on a cargo ship in the days before package holidays and Easijet; starting a new life in South Africa; but my favourite was actually of my grandmother-in-law and how she could turn out a table full of deliciousness at the drop of a hat despite having ‘nothing in the cupboards’. She was renowned for her hospitality but also for her recognition that, in her own words, “it’s a gift I have”!!!

We still laugh at her blatant pride and lack of humility but it WAS a gift and as a hostess she made many a normal day, special and significant for many.

I enjoy hospitality though I’m far from being on par with Andy’s granny but it’s got me thinking about the unique gifts we each have.

Yet we can keep those gifts hidden away through comparison with others and feeling we don’t measure up or matter. What feels so insignificant to you could be very significant for someone else.

It may indeed be hospitality, opening your home and life to others in a way that feeds their souls as well as bellies! Or it may be …

… a listening ear or speaking words of encouragement and empathy

… supporting people prayerfully or practically

… being there at the right time with a text, a phone call or a hug!

… having a heart for different ages and stages from 9 days old to 90 years young!

… from holding someone’s hand to giving someone a helping hand

The list is endless. But your gift is on there somewhere! It’s the thing that comes naturally to you. The thing that’s obvious for you to do, so obvious you wonder why nobody else thinks of doing it!

It’s one of the things I love most about our church family at Causeway Coast Vineyard. There is room for everyone to use their strengths to strengthen the lives of others.

The BIG is in the small. Think of the difference someone has made in your day with their unique gifts and realise that your unique gift can make such a difference.

Unlike granny Andrews, we don’t have to boast or shout about it, but we can honour our Father by admitting with great gratitude ‘it’s a gift I have … given by YOU” and by sharing it with others.