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. 

image

A reminder …

imageI feel like this is Part 2 of last week’s post – ‘Hard pathways, the sequel’!!

On Friday morning I found myself back in the forest again with Tess more out of duty than desire! Thanks to an antibiotic I was feeling worse before I felt better!! Like the Monday before, instead of stepping it out, it was more a case of getting one foot in front of the other! But this time I had the opportunity to pray with two lovely ladies – a double portion!

The hard pathways do overflow with abundance! (Ps 65:11)

As I thanked Him for these opportunities, I remembered the name of one of the ladies I prayed with meant “Gift from God“, and the longer form of the name means “God has been gracious“.

Father you have been so gracious to me and you ARE so very gracious to me all day, every day, everywhere I am and everywhere I go. Thank you that at a time I felt overwhelmed, you allowed me to pour your love over others and in the process it splashed all over me too!!

Thank you that these encounters are a gift from you as my weakness encounters your strength, and my despair encounters your hope and your presence.

The second lady sent me a lovely message later that day. “Meeting you today was God’s reminder to me that He still has great things for me, that His goodness doesn’t run out or get all used up.”

It was His reminder to me too!!

I STILL HAVE GREAT THINGS FOR YOU

MY GOODNESS DOESN’T RUN OUT

MY GOODNESS CAN NEVER BE ALL USED UP!!

And it’s His reminder to YOU!!

It reminds of the song … Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.

And it reminds me of something else … how frustrated and upset I felt when chronic fatigue first hit me and I couldn’t walk my beloved forest a few years ago.

BUT now I am physically able to walk there again.

PLUS I now have the company of JOY on four legs, Tess!!

PLUS He gives me opportunities to release His JOY as I speak or pray with people.

PLUS I get to be filled with His JOY in the process.

This truly is a GIFT FROM GOD. God has been gracious.

THANK YOU THAT YOU REDEEM AND RENEW AND RESTORE BEYOND MY EXPECTATIONS!!

I realise I have no idea what you are walking through in your life, whether lately or for far too long, but I do know that He promises to walk with you and will never leave you nor forsake you.

Thank you Lord that you not only restore what has been lost or stolen, but you make all things new and the replacement is even better than the original!

Hard pathways

imageI missed last week’s post as I was enjoying a lovely week in France with great weather, food and wine. We all feel different on holiday but for me it has a huge imp act. The sun gives me much more energy and so when I come home, I struggle to adapt to a lack of brilliant blue skies and the return to my more usual energy levels.

Today’s damp weather hasn’t helped and this morning as I was walking in the forest with Tess, I felt very achy and tired.

I’ve had a few opportunities to pray with people in the forest but this morning I wanted someone to pray for me!! But then I felt a wee nudge from the Holy Spirit and realised maybe I needed to keep my eyes and heart open for His opportunity to pray with someone else.

I turned the next bend and bumped into a forest friend I hadn’t seen for a few months. As we walked the path together, she said she was glad to see me as someone close to her has been dealing with fatigue for several years now and she wanted to know what had helped me cope.

As we chatted and walked along I was able to pray for her relative and for my friend. I also got to tell her just what I had been thinking before we bumped into each other and how it was a huge co-HIM-cidence that we happened to meet this morning.

So there in the pouring rain, we both caught a glimpse of the Son and His amazing love for both of us.

Just before I left the house I had been reading Psalm 65. Verse 11 has been very special to me since the struggle of the early days of fatigue

“You crown the year with a bountiful harvest;
even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.”
Psalms 65:11 NLT

If it wasn’t for Tess, I would not have been anywhere near the forest this morning, especially in the rain at 9am and I was so tempted to turn back but even the hard pathways overflow with abundance!

I certainly felt different at the end of the walk, than I did at the start.

Reminded that His purposes for me are always greater than my pain.

Even when I feel empty, He refills and refuels me as I reach out to others.

God took the very thing I was struggling with and turned it around so I could come alongside someone else and see Him release His comfort to them, and in the process to me.

When we feel too weak to fight for ourselves, His grace gives us the opportunity to take a stand on behalf of others and in the process we find ourselves strengthened.

Thank you Lord for your abundance.

Seeing the bigger picture

imageI didn’t think I was going to have a post today. I felt at a total dead end. No thoughts. No words on a page. Then I happened on this photo by Gilbert Lennox Photography.

I needed to see this photo today.

I apologise if sometimes I go on too much about chronic fatigue but sometimes it is too much for me and takes up too much of my day and my life.

I am very, very grateful to be a lot further on the journey than a few years ago but at times it can be frustrating that I can’t go any faster and that often I have to stop completely.

Today is like that. The words confined to bed apply and my horizons feel very limited.

I’ve run out of fuel. I’ve had to pull over. I’m stuck in a dip on the road where I can’t see the way ahead, the way forward, the way out.

Maybe you’re there too. You want out of your situation. You want to move forward but feel unable to move at all. Your tank is empty, not just physically but emotionally and spiritually. You’re stuck in a moment and you can’t get out of it.

Take a good look at this picture.

It’s helped me see that the road doesn’t end here. It’s only beginning. There is still so much ahead. The view is vast and it focuses on what is in the foreground rather than in the background. The view ahead does not include the past.

The sea speaks to me of His love. From the mouths of babes “so deep you can’t get under it, so wide you can’t get around it, oh wonderful love”. I remember thinking this in the early days of fatigue, as I looked at this sea view. My prayer was that I would swim in the sea of His love. Shortly after this we were blessed with a week in Spain where I got to literally swim in the sea! He hears the cries of our hearts in the hard places.

The beaches are my spacious place. You have not given me into the hands of the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place. (Psalm 31:8 NIV). Verse 19 says “How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.” When we take refuge in Him in the dips on the road, in the hard places, we find His freedom. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. (Psalm 18:19 NIV).

The towns and houses speak of life lived in community. I am naturally drawn to the spacious places but I still need to do life in community. I can’t do it alone. None of us can. We need to reach out to others and allow others to reach out to us, not just when the view ahead is marvellous but especially in the hard places.

I am blessed to call this area my home so I know there is much more to the view in this photo than we first see. The panorama speaks of the abundance He has for our lives even though we can’t see it all right now, straightaway. He has so much more for us to explore. As we sing, “You’re the Lord of all Creation and still you know my heart.” The Lord of all this beautiful creation is in control of both the big picture AND the smallest details of all you’re going through.

A dear friend texted a timely reminder. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

Thank you Father for helping me to see the bigger picture again.

You had me at HELLO

imageI went to my church yesterday morning.

What’s so unusual about that? Well, apart from Easter Sunday, it’s the only time I’ve been there since February! I’m not deliberately ‘forsaking the assembly of the saints’ (Heb 10:25). It’s been unavoidable because I’ve been away at other churches but more recently because I’ve been battling with fatigue again.

To be honest some times are harder than others to cope with chronic fatigue and this is one of those times.

I feel frustrated that I’m not me; I miss the freedom I had; I feel limited in what I can plan to do; I can’t manage a regular routine or job; I don’t earn anything; I can’t do the long walks I so enjoyed; I sometimes feel afraid to go out because it can take so much effort to chat with people.

I feel a failure when I can’t do a ‘normal’ day and I want to explain why I can’t keep up or have to take a nap, so I don’t come across as lazy, disinterested or just plain self-absorbed. I feel like I’m not doing or being enough even when I’m trying to give 100% of what I have. It affects me mentally and emotionally as well as physically.

Plus I feel guilty for being a moan when I don’t do the “I’m fine” response and my honesty seems like a long list of negatives.

Just as David poured out His feelings and struggles in the Psalms before crying out BUT and turning his problems into praise, so I want to shift my focus from fatigue to His faithfulness in the midst of it all.

At the minute social gatherings like church feel overwhelming especially when Mr R is away leading worship somewhere else. So it was a challenge to go yesterday, never mind alone, BUT I want to share His great faithfulness in the midst of my fear.

On the way, I had asked God to bring someone who could ‘hold my hand’. A strange request!

I slipped in the back door and the first person I met was a friend whose mother is also struggling with the ups and downs of chronic fatigue so she could understand exactly how I was feeling. While we had a tearful hug in came a friend who had been so helpful at the start of this journey two years ago as her husband had previously been ill with post viral fatigue. The next person I saw was another dear friend who had also experienced chronic fatigue many years ago. After the service another friend who has been healed from ME also came straight over.

One of the verses mentioned in the service was Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

God had indeed answered my strange request. He was reminding me that He is always with me in the midst of this and He is the one who is holding my hand. He gently led me from one source of His love, compassion and encouragement to another but He who always does “immeasurably more” (Eph 3:20) had an extra special surprise for me.

After the service I noticed a couple were sitting behind me who have a holiday home in the area and have often visited our church over the past 7 or 8 years. The husband asked to speak to me for a minute. He said he wanted to thank me for the way I had always been so friendly to them when they visited and that my friendliness had been instrumental in them becoming Christians! I was so touched by this and said he had no idea how much I needed to hear that, he tearfully replied “yes I do, because Jesus told me to tell you”.

How GREAT is His faithfulness!!

Thank you Lord for reminding me and showing me how much difference a simple, friendly hello can make.

Maybe you’ve been feeling afraid or discouraged, and on your own. I pray you too will know that “the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” and you feel the comfort and security of Him walking through it all with you, holding your hand, “your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139:10 NIV)

Maybe you’ve been through difficult circumstances and you can now reach out to others going through similar situations. He can turn around this pain for your good, for the good of others and for His glory.

Whether you feel in the valley or on the mountain top, I pray you know the difference a friendly hello can make.