Digging yourself into a hole?

imageLast Wednesday, I enjoyed a sunny, blue sky (!!) walk with our dog, Tess, at the beach. I wasn’t the only dog owner to take advantage of the very pleasant change from grey, rainy skies. Dogs were chasing waves and balls and owners were enjoying brisk walks.

Apart from one lady who stood watching while her dog tried to dig its way to Australia!!! She was still standing in the same place when we came back but her dog was by then on its second hole!

Usually a walk on the beach clears my head, unclutters my heart and brings me into a “spacious place (Psalm 18:19) but not last Wednesday. My head and heart felt truly cluttered with things that had already interrupted my morning space and things I knew the day had yet to bring.

I’ve mentioned this quote before. For me, it’s one that ‘does what it says on the tin’!!

“Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the fingertips” (Dawson Trotman).

I’ve found over and over again that when I write things out on paper, it writes them OUT of my head and heart too.

I’m so thankful that pouring my heart out before Him on paper allows me to de-clutter all the thoughts that are taking up too much space in my mind and allows Him to bring me into a spacious place again.

As I took time to do this last week, I felt Him remind me of the dog on the beach.

In His gentleness, He helped me see that sometimes I am the one frantically digging holes, when I keep going over the same old things over and over again. Thoughts, worries, hassles, problems, failures, things I’ve done or not done, things people have said or not said, unmet or unrealistic expectations. The list seems endless. So much choice to be frantic about.

He showed me how often I allowed my thoughts to dig me into a hole.

And no matter how hard I try to dig my way out, the hole just gets deeper and deeper and even deeper.

He reminded me of the dog’s owner standing patiently, waiting and watching this wee dog who is obsessively oblivious to everything except digging, digging, digging.

When we are so focused on our own thoughts, we too can become dangerously obsessed with them and become totally oblivious to the One who is always beside us, watching over us, patiently waiting for us to STOP giving our attention and energy to something so futile and destructive.

No matter what is causing us to frantically dig ourselves into a hole, HE is always there beside us, watching over us, patiently waiting for us .. .

To lift our eyes off our own efforts and lift them up to see His eyes.

… To see the situation through His eyes of love and grace; mercy and forgiveness; hope and help.

… To reach out for His hand, outstretched to give us a helping hand out of the hole we have got ourselves in.

… To know that only He can take away the things we’ve been desperately trying to bury.

So the next time you feel like reaching for the shovel, pick up the pen and write it all OUT. Let the words on the page disentangle the thoughts in your head and the knots in your heart.

Instead of making a hole, allow Him to make you WHOLE again.

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What ‘just happened’?

imageThree years ago I did a great deal of weeping and wailing about not having the energy for my walks in the forest.

For me this had always been a spacious place, a thin place, a place where “he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” (Psalm 23:2-3 NIV)

So I felt robbed of more than a walk at that time.

I felt cheated out of space that “let me catch my breath” (v3 MSG), and time for Him to “restore my soul” (v3 NKJV) and “renew my strength” (v3 NLT).

But He DOES restore and renew. And as ever He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV)

I’m loving being able to walk regularly in the forest again. I not only get to enjoy the space and beauty of the surroundings but He’s also given me the opportunity to chat and pray with people I just happen meet en route.

And I’m not the only one!! Last week I was at another forest with my ‘dog walking’ small group (yes that’s right) and one of the ladies just happened to bump into two people she knew and was obedient to opportunities to pray with them both.

This morning as I walked along, I was thinking of sharing this to encourage you that you don’t just bump into people by chance!! These things don’t just happen by coincidence.

So when I turned the corner and saw a lady standing with her dog looking out across the river I knew it wasn’t by chance.

It was a coHIMcidence!!

Tess’s ‘friendly exuberance’ makes it easy to get chatting to people and I found out it was the lady’s first visit to this forest as she had just moved to N Ireland the week before and a delivery man just happened to tell her about this great place to go running!! We chatted some more and then some more and she just happened to tell me about a fall from a few years ago and the ongoing struggles that had caused. She said “I feel like I’m telling you my life story!”

It just so happens I know Someone who is passionately interested in her life story so I asked if she would mind if I prayed with her that these problems would be put right. “Not at all.” I prayed a simple prayer for healing and thanked Jesus for showing her how much he cared about her and for her that we just happened to meet.

She cried as she said “nobody has ever done anything like that for me”.  Again I said that the Father wanted to let her know how much He loved her. “Maybe that’s why I’ve come to Ireland”.

I had planned to walk a certain route in the forest this morning but halfway round I went a different route and I just happened to meet a lady whose change in route had brought her to a new place, in a new town, in a new country so Jesus could show her He is walking beside her.

Sometimes life takes us on a different route than we expect or had planned but the people and places we bump into along the way are not by chance. They are coHIMcidences for a specific purpose. His purpose. To bring His story of life into the life story of others.

So if your plans change this week and you end up going a different route, you never know what may ‘just happen‘ when you’re open to His opportunities.

I’d love to hear about your ‘coHIMcidences’.

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.