Thursday, 23 June 2011

Travelling Light

Well I've finished the Max Lucado book (yes I'll return it to you soon Janine....thank you) and I just wanted to share this small section which sums up the whole book nicely. However I would urge each one of you to read the whole thing if you're feeling in need of rest, if you're bogged down with life whether that's being too busy or not busy enough, or whether you just want to look at the 23rd Psalm in a new light:

"Let's get rid of the bags! Once and for all, let's give our luggage to him. Let's take him at his word! "Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest" Matthew 11:28.

Rest from the burden of a small god. Why? Because I have found the Lord.
Rest from doing things my way. Why? Because the Lord is my Shepherd.
Rest from endless wants. Why? Because I shall not want.
Rest from weariness. Why? Because he makes me lie down.
Rest from worry. Why? Because he leads me.
Rest from hopelessness. Why? Because he restores my soul.
Rest from guilt. Why? Because he leads me in the paths of righteousness.
Rest from arrogance. Why? Because of his name's sake.
Rest from the valley of death. Why? Because he walks me through it.
Rest from the shadow of grief. Why? Because he guides me.
Rest from fear. Why? Because his presence comforts me.
Rest from loneliness. Why? Because he is with me.
Rest from shame. Why? Because he has prepared a place for me in the presence of my enemies.
Rest from my disappointments. Why? Because he anoints me.
Rest from my envy. Why? Because my cup overflows.
Rest from doubt. Why? Because he follows me.
Rest from homesickness. Why? Because I will dwell in the house of my Lord forever.

And tomorrow, when out of  habit you pick your luggage back up, set it down again and again until that sweet day when you find you aren't picking it back up."

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Hopelessly Devoted

1978, a Saturday morning, off to play in a hockey tournament, then into Manchester's Arndale Centre, to play with my school band. I had to meet my Mum and Auntie who had gone on ahead with my trumpet and music folder (which wasn't small or light!!). All seemed well planned and working well. The spanner in the works was the weather!! It was pouring with rain....some of you may think that not unlikely being Manchester and all!! I was absolutely saturated after playing hockey in the rain, then waiting for the bus in the rain, and walking in the rain from the bus to the Arndale!!!

After we'd finished the concert Mum and Auntie took real pity on me, and we went shopping. This wasn't a regular occurrence and something none of us particularly liked doing (!!) but I was so wet my shoes were ruined and my coat was dripping. Kitted out with new shoes and coat (a real treat) we headed off to the cinema to see Grease.....something I'd been looking forward to for ages and so we took the opportunity of being in town to see the film everyone was going to see.

As I sat in the cinema and watched the story unfold, I was completely sucked into the plot and loved the music. At the point where Danny sits on the swing and sings about how he's been 'stranded at the drive in' by Sandy.....he was singing to me!!!!!! And I felt for her as she sat on the porch and sang how 'hopelessly devoted' she was to him.

To this day I love this film and like taking the trip down memory lane. However as I was reading this morning I got to thinking about devotions and what we can become devoted to. Sandy was 'hopelessly devoted' to Danny. She was head over heels in love with him and yet there was a part of her that felt it was all hopeless.

I think we've all had times when we've felt hopelessly devoted to things. To a job where we don't feel appreciated, to a person who doesn't return our devotion, to a cause where it all seems up hill and no one understands our way of thinking.

The book I was reading this morning is by Max Lucado called 'Travelling Light'. It takes a comprehensive look at the 23rd Psalm 'The Lord is my Shepherd'. The chapter I read today concentrated on verse 6, 'surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life'. Lucado says, even though 'our moods may shift....our minds may change.....our devotions may falter.....He is a sure God'.

2011, some years later (!!), I know that I need to devote myself to God and all the things He wants me to achieve. My devotion to Him is not hopeless, but one of hope and security. A sure hope that He will follow me all the days of my life, with the goodness to provide me with what I need, and the mercy to forgive me for all the times I get it wrong.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011


Have you ever thought what life would be like, if you knew a year ago, what you know now?

If only I'd realized sooner that I didn't really want to teach, I wouldn't have done a degree in Education!!!

If only Wayne and I would have known that the mortgage interest rates were going to double when we bought our flat in 1989, maybe we would have rented and not bought our flat, and lost £20,000!!!

If only I'd known I was going to feel so frustrated about my current work situation maybe I wouldn't have invested time in re training and learning new skills.

Yet in all these things good has come out of them.

If I hadn't gone to Yorkshire to college, I would never have met Wayne, my soulmate.
We received the support and help of family and friends as they helped us move to a house, and get back on our feet financially. And in all the struggles, our marriage grew stronger.
If I hadn't retrained, and started to even think about working again, I would not be challenging myself, or learning how to cope with different stress levels!! I wouldn't understand Wayne's world (!) quite so well. Maybe I'm even learning patience....finally!!

God has a plan and has had a plan for my life since before I was born.

It was only the other day when I read John 3:16 'For God so loved the world He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life'. That I realized it was Jesus himself, who said this, not someone talking about Jesus after His death. He was speaking to Nicodemus (a member of the Jewish ruling council), who had gone to see Jesus at night in fear of being recognised.

Jesus knew how his life on earth was going to pan out, and yet He still lived His life as a true example for us to follow. A life full of love for all people. People who not everyone could see the good in, or would want to spend time with. Sometimes we don't know why we do things or make certain choices, why certain people cross our paths or why things turn out the way they do, but I believe God already knows.

I've had times in my life when I've felt in the depths of despair, when maybe I've felt I've made the wrong choices. But looking back, I know God had a plan, and worked it all out for my good. So today is another day where I am loving God, and trusting in my faith in Him, that He has plans to prosper me and not to harm me.

As it says in Romans 8:28

And I know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
 who have been called according to his purpose.

Friday, 10 June 2011


Well three weeks have gone by now, when I should have finished the work project I started, but I'm still waiting to hear from work to clarify my next steps, and what is expected of me!! As I've blogged previously I find this extremely frustrating, and it got me thinking about the whole concept of waiting and the emotions we go through in the process.

I recognise that waiting is just part of life!! From an early age we learn about the waiting game. The anticipation of waiting for Christmas or a Birthday. The build up of excitement as we wait for a party date to arrive or a visit from a special friend or family member we don't see very often. The thrill of waiting for a friend to arrive to spend some quality time with them and just enjoy their company.

There are also times that trigger anxiety or feelings of dread. Times when we're waiting for a confrontational meeting to happen, or the sinking feeling when you're waiting for an apology you feel you deserve and it doesn't seem to be forthcoming. The frustration of waiting for a reply to a text or email so you can make plans or take action. Anxiety as we wait in a dentist's or doctor's surgery, or waiting for medical treatment to start or the results of a scan. All those who are in the middle of exams will soon be playing the waiting game as they sit tight in the hope that their results are all they need to be.

This all got me thinking about what I do while I'm waiting. For example what do you do if you're waiting for a taxi to arrive?? I get very nervy and look longingly out of the window and hope I'm going to make my appointment on time!! Will I miss the train?? All a bit ridiculous really cause I can't do anything about it!!

Sometimes we need to make preparations while we wait. For example waiting for our holiday date to arrive we have to buy all the right stuff, make sure our wardrobe is appropriately filled and suncream or rain protection is purchased!! I've also spent many hours practising my trumpet in preparation for concerts or gigs, so I've learnt my parts, and am confident about performing well.

We might wile away hours trying to distract ourselves with a sudoku or a crossword puzzle or 'facebook' as we wait for the allotted time. These are all coping mechanisms which I'm sure we've all adopted to some degree or other, but lately I can't seem to get a worship song out of my head which is helping me be a bit more focused and positive while I'm waiting.

As a Christian I have to keep coming back to this for my own sanity!! As much as it is only human to get anxious or frustrated, God doesn't want us to be like that. He wants us to rest in Him, and in His peace and joy. When all the waiting is over and the event has happened, whether it is happy or sad, He wants us to be a better person because of it. He wants us to learn from it and be ready to tackle the next thing. He wants us to be happy and not full of regret. These are all things I'm continuing to process and learn. I don't have it sorted but I'm trying. I'm trying to keep my focus on Him and enjoy the peace He promised us.

'Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.....
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid'
John 14:27

Saturday, 4 June 2011


Some weeks ago I blogged about some of the Choices I'd made that week, and one of them was the choice to accept some work. If you've read that blog entry you'll see I was trying to be positive about it, and was thankful it would be all over in a week.
Well that week has come and gone and so has another one and I still haven't finished the work!!

Nearly three years ago I made the decision to re train in IT. It involved attending a week long course learning lots of new skills and new terminology. I am not from a business background and the specific area I was training in was very sales based and involved lots of business and sales lingo.

This initial retraining, after being out of the workforce for 12 years doing voluntary work, was a considerable challenge!! However with the help of Wayne and some of his lovely colleagues I managed to take on my first project and survive!!! I learnt loads and subsequently have done other projects for Waynes' company as a self employed consultant (all sounds very grand I know.....but the reality is each time I get a project, I'm learning new skills, and as I blogged earlier become nervous and panicky!!!).

There have been positives and negatives about doing this work. The main positive for me as well as the money of course, is that now I understand more of what Wayne does for a living and can empathise with his workload and frustrations.

Apart from my lack of confidence the main negative is the nature of the work. It's very hit and miss and being a creature of habit and routine I find that difficult to deal with.

I've had to deal with lots of change over the last few years. My role as a mum has changed as Gemma started secondary school and started to become much more independent. My role in the church has changed as I had to give up activities to allow time to work. I'm no longer a daughter. Some of my friendships have changed. All these have been challenges I've had to deal with, but looking back I know God has been there through it all.

My biggest challenge now is to decide if this work scenario is for me. The last two weeks have made me feel  stressed and inadequate. I know that isn't all down to my lack of skills, and a lot of the blame lies with the requirements I was given, but it hasn't stopped me feeling a bit rubbish about myself!!
I know God has a plan for me, a plan to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11), but I'm now considering my future and what those plans might look like.

I would love the writing to be on the wall, or for someone to speak to me and say this is what you should be doing, or for a magic wand to be waved and it all to go away, or a big fat cheque to fall through the door and me not have to work at all......!!! I know we all have challenges to deal with. They may not be work related, they may involve relationships or the desire for a family or a wife/husband or a disabled child or an ageing parent or a sick spouse or caring for someone with a terminal illness. All I know is that this challenge for me is one I'm going to have to rely on God to help me sort out. I don't have the answer but I trust God has, and will give me some kind of guidance in what steps to take next.