God’s hope has your name on it (Day 17)

imageCan you guess what the theme for today is?

I wrote this page in my journal a few months ago at a time when to be totally honest I felt much more hope-less than hope-full.

My fatigue levels had increased and I was struggling to cope with the lack of energy, emotionally and mentally as well as physically.

Some days I found it difficult to read or journal or pray and lying in bed felt very frustrating, so I decided to experiment with some lettering (thank you Pinterest) and to write out verses or quotes that inspired me or I felt God was highlighting to me.

By writing the words on the page, it helped me to focus on the truth of God’s hope rather than the hopeless circumstances.

It was a way of writing His words on my heart and in my mind and speaking them over my life.

As I imagined filling a page with HOPE written in different verses and different letters, I felt the Lord whisper:

The page of your life is NOT blank. It is FILLED with HOPE. Don’t stay stuck on the hope-less page.

Maybe you’ve felt robbed of hope. Life feels blank or frustrating. It’s been a hard season.

Don’t stay stuck on the hope-less page.

Pursue. Overtake. Recover.

Choose to fill the pages of your heart and mind with HIS HOPE.

Allow Him to rekindle the hope in your heart.

God’s hope has your name on it. 

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IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL,

image“I went for a walk in the forest this morning but I had to choose which path I took. To be honest I was tempted to go down the complaining route, to have a moan on my own!

I’d just left my car with the mechanic, further complicated by the fact Andy is away in USA and his car is at Dublin airport. So no transport 😦 and here I was walking in the rain!! I was so tempted to feel sorry for myself.

But then I felt the Holy Spirit remind me of words from a song I had been listening to in the car … IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL

Grander earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regard

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
It is well with me

Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can’t see
And this mountain that’s in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea

So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name

It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul

Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/bethel-music/it-is-well-lyrics/#7ukzzyRkoA

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL

No car means I appreciate all the more the fact I do have a car and the independence that brings. But it’s also a good reminder of dependence, about reaching out and admitting ‘I can’t’, ‘could I ask you …?’, ‘can you help me?’ instead of struggling alone. A note to self that independence is not always a strength.

Let go my soul and trust in Him

Andy being away for 12 whole sleeps (I’ve done 5!!) reminds me how grateful I am that he is still my bestest since we first went out over 35 years ago 🙂 It is also another fulfilment of a word Andy received years ago about travelling to the States to lead worship.

Far be it from me to not believe, Even when my eyes can’t see – His promises never fail

And instead of complaining about having to walk in the rain, I’m grateful that we live so near a beautiful forest and I get to enjoy it with JOY on 4 legs ie Tess!!! And I’m not alone, for He always walks with me.

The joy of the Lord is my strength.

The song I’ve quoted above is from the Bethel album ‘Yiu make me brave”, but the line ‘It is well with my soul‘ was originally written by Horatio Spafford in 1873 following a family tragedy in which his four daughters died.

I am well aware how trivial my complaints are in comparison to this tragedy but I’m also aware of how wee things can soon spiral into HUGE things if we don’t nip them in the bud and flip grumbling around into gratitude. Nip and flip!!!

And my circumstances may well be very trivial in comparison to yours but the one thing we do have in common is we all need to be reminded WHO to focus on and WHAT we should focus on …

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
It is well with me

Apply frequently

imageTwo years of doing Encounter on the streets, in cafés and shops, has taught me that people do like to talk. Before I would have been a bit slower to initiate conversations with people I had just met (let alone people I just walked up to!) because I was reluctant to encroach on anyone’s personal space.

I’ve learned it’s not that people don’t want to talk to others they’ve just met or they have nothing to say. I think they have so much to say, so many situations going on in their lives, that they are just wondering does anyone care enough to listen. They are desperate for help and hope.

Last weekend I met a lovely lady at the hairdressers. As we chatted she asked me the old chestnut “What do you do?” I explained I’d had been off work for a couple of years with chronic fatigue and she told me she had been off work for a few months too. Now I knew the real reason for our chat! After she explained why, I asked if I could pray for her. She was so touched by God’s presence, tears rolled down her cheeks as she felt how He cared about her circumstances.

Last night I met another lady who had also gone through very difficult circumstances. In her own words she said “every day is a major disappointment”.

Our circumstances can scar us or shape us.

The choice is OURS.

We can focus on the scars of those circumstances until that is all we see. Remember being told as a child “poking at them only makes them worse?!” Then every day we deal with the disappointment that they are still there, and still very raw.

OR our own vulnerability can be shaped positively if we allow it to create empathy for the vulnerability of others. And as we turn it round for good, that can only bring good for us too.

Instead of every day being an opportunity for more and more disappointment, we can see every day as an opportunity for His-appointments!

I’ve just completed the 5 day ‘positivity/thankfulness challenge’ on Facebook.

For me thankfulness is not a new challenge or a one off task, it is ongoing, something I need to do and try to do every day. Like a soothing balm, it ought to be applied frequently, several times a day!!

I gently encouraged this lady to give thanks for one good thing that had happened that day. At first it was a struggle because it was like doing a complete U-turn. But she did!! And then she started to give thanks for other things and for other people too. Once she got started, she couldn’t stop.

Instead of drowning in disappointment, she had opened a floodgate to His faithfulness.

An attitude of gratitude is a simple tool but a powerful weapon!!

Remember when …?

 

imageOn Friday a guy, who had done plastering work for us last summer, called at our house. As we chatted he asked “remember when you prayed for my friend?”

When he was working in our house Paul had told me about his friend who was critically ill with a brain tumour. Everyone was very worried because he was going downhill so fast and it seemed nothing could be done. I asked if I could pray with him for his friend and he agreed.

Paul said that was the tipping point. Previously his friend had been getting progressively worse and worse, but after that he started to get steadily better and better. Now he is back to normal and in Paul’s words “alive and kicking”!! Thank you Lord.

On Saturday, one of our Encounter students, who used to live near me, asked “remember when you prayed for me and Leigh-Ann?” Years ago Ashley had been playing with my daughter, Leigh-Ann, and when they came to tell me something that had happened, I had prayed with them.

Ashley said this had a big impact on her. Later she came to faith and I had the privilege of praying with her again a few years ago at her baptism. Now she too gets to pray for loads of kids by serving in kids ministry.

We’ve often no idea of the significance of actions that we’ve long forgotten.

Sometimes I’m tempted to feel like my world has shrunk as I have to rest at home more and I feel like I’m not “doing” much. This week The Lord has very kindly reminded me that the the small moments I chose to pray with someone in my home have had an impact way beyond these four walls in making a difference in the lives of others.

As Pete Greig says “The choices you make in the small moments can have disproportionate impact.”

Be encouraged that your choices make a difference and I pray this week The Lord reveals to you the huge impact of those small moments. The irony is I had seen Paul since last summer and I see Ashley regularly but it was this week they both chose to tell me!

Be an encourager! Remind someone else this week of the difference they have made in your life. Ask them “remember when …?” Chances are they won’t! But they will be greatly encouraged that you do and when you tell them the impact it had.

Let’s ask “what can I do today to make a difference to someone’s day?”

Never settle for anything less than an extraordinary life that changes the lives of others. John Paul Jackson