I have always been and felt on the big side of life. Big hair, big mouth, big ideas, big courage, big vision, big love, big on stepping up and thinking of changing the world.
Since I was a little girl I knew I was b-i-g for my little village where I grew up. I say this in humility and with a grateful heart of course because it’s nothing wrong with been born and growing up
in a small community, on the contrary, I count that as a privilege.
What I mean when say b-i-g is that I felt different from an early age. I never dreamed of being a farmer, and from as early as I remember education was my idea of a perfect husband.
My mother and half of the village will agree that I was hopeless when it came to planting, harvesting and all the part in the middle that makes an agricultural life. “You will be married on Sunday and by Monday your husband will return you back to me” my mum used to say. “You will never survive life here, you are clueless” my mum has always been supporting and motivating and ready to help my self-esteem, but in this case, she was dead right about it. I was hopeless!
I wonder if you ever felt like you didn’t fit in? I wonder if you were bullied or friendless when you were growing up because of thinking or being different? I wonder if you felt weird and thought the rest of the world agreed with you?
Then, you would know that it’s not the best feeling but nevertheless, it’s very real to you. We try to ignore that feeling at first and then, awkwardly, we start and pretend that we are like everybody else. Little-by-little, we start and live a life that we think is more acceptable to others, and what people expect of you, but deep down you can’t shake off the boredom, frustration and confusion that 'safe' kind of living brings.
Can you relate? For example. How many personality and identity tests we have to take to find out who we are? ‘I just need someone to tell me who am I, is that a lot to ask?' you shout.
Well, the truth is that — yes, that is a lot to ask. All of us people have identity deficiency. We are all searching, we are forever knowing ourselves. So, with every year passing we feel like an onion covered with layers that we thought will protect us, but in fact, we understand they have isolated us.
To peel an onion like that is a hard task to demand from any person. To ask others to find the core of us is like handing a sharp scalpel to a fish and excepting him to perform a heart surgery with excellent results. The problem is that we people have this tendency to chop and throw stuff from each other’s personality that we think is a stain or an ugly sight, but the exact same thing to a real craftsman is the perfect part to build a masterpiece.
Have you ever heard the story of the tea stain? Let me tell you about it.
A group of fishermen were relaxing after a long day at a Scottish seaside Inn. As a serving maid was walking past with a pot of tea, one of the fishers made a sweeping gesture to describe the size of the fish he claimed to have caught. His hand collided with the teapot and sent it crashing against the whitewashed wall, where its contents left an irregular brown splotch.
Standing nearby, the innkeeper surveyed the damage. “That stain will never come out,” he said. “The whole wall will have to be repainted.”
“Perhaps not.” All eyes turned to the stranger who had just spoken.
“What do you mean?” asked the innkeeper.
“Let me work with the stain,” said the stranger. “If my work meets your approval, you won’t need to repaint the wall.”
The stranger picked up a box and went to the wall. He withdrew pencils, brushes, and some glass jars of linseed oil and pigment. He began to sketch lines around the stain and fill it in here and there with dabs of colour and swashes of shading. The random splashes of tea had been turned into the image of a stag with a magnificent rack of antlers. At the bottom of the picture, the man inscribed his signature.
The innkeeper was stunned when he examined the wall. “Do you know who that man was?” he asked in amazement. "The signature reads E.H. Landseer.”
Indeed, they had been visited by the well-known painter of wildlife, Sir Edwin Landseer.
If you have ever been to London and visited Trafalgar Square, it was that same artist, Sir Edwin Landseer, who, in 1858, was commissioned by the British government to make the four bronze lions that sit at the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square to this day.
Only a real artist knows how to turn what looks like a stain into a masterpiece.
If we want to know the real reason, meaning and the function of a beautiful piece of art, we need to ask it’s creator. There lies the truth.
I don’t know why then when it comes to us knowing our real self or our purpose and value in life we require it from other people, or even worse from ourselves?
“For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above--spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].”
EPHESIANS 2:10 AMP
Have we ever considered to ask God about our identity? Have we ever had time and curiosity enough to see the artist who painted our eyes and decided the colour of our hair way before we were conceived? We want to be loved, accepted, known, valued, of course, but are we digging in the truth that we are fully known before we even show up on earth?
“Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations— that’s what I had in mind for you.”
Jeremiah 1:5 MSG
So, this is my new year project. To search and find me in the truth of his Word and Spirit.
I want some rock-solid authenticity and certainty when it comes to my identity. I want some real substance to fill my core, flattery will not do it.
Would you like to join me on this journey? For we are meant to help and encourage each other to be all that God created us to be. I am excited...
Much love and see you here soon
Do you know why we sit for hours reading a captivating book?
Or binge on watching series after series of a movie until we reach the end finale?
I watched all 6 series of ‘Downton Abbey’ in one week!
We all as family used to hide our tears every time we watched ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.’ When the tv presenter Ty Pennington use to call out ‘move that bus!’ tears, surprise and happiness rolled out of our hearts.
We all love transformation stories. Even from an early age when we didn’t understood what transformation meant or knew how to pronounce it we loved all the transformation stories we saw or heard.
We were captivated by Cinderella’s transforming into a princess.
We held our breath until Aurora or Sleeping Beauty was awakened by the kiss of true love.
We stood by Ugly Betty until she becomes stunning Betty
We took brave steps together with timid Beatrice to becoming worrier Trish. (Divergent)
We have shared in the uncertainties and doubts of Luke Skywalker until becoming a Jedi.
Look at every story we like, movies we watch and books we love. They all point to what our hearts long and are made for- transformation.
Transformation is the core of our longing. We hunger for it, we desire it we wish for it.
More than any other month of the year, the month of December awakens that desire anew for me. It’s not the ‘New Years Resolutions’ that encourages me to write goals for my life and prepare for the transformations I want to see happen, it’s the coming of Christmas.
We first notice it taking place revolutionising the streets, then inside shops and homes. Streets that looked grey and dull now are sparkly and colourful. Shops that felt empty now are full, homes that were quite are now buzzing with life and excitement. There is a joy, a sense of expectation in the air that we gladly inhale.
Christmas is that to me! The biggest transformation story ever told comes and ushers me to rethink, renew and want to change. How?
More that 2000 years ago a vulnerable baby entered our earth and transformed it forever.
“the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined.””
Matthew 4:16 NLT
Can you see it? Can you see the giant transformation taking place?
People, yes we sat in the darkness, but light came in our midst.
We were lost in sins and sorrows, but he found us.
We were blind to see ourselves and the world as it really is, but now we can see clearly.
We were falling deeper and faster into the infinite pit, but he came and rescued us and sat us up to an eternal rock.
We were destined to death, but Jesus defeated death and gave us Life.
That’s Christmas to me! The coming of Jesus on earth to make all things new. The arrival of Love that transforms our lives from inside out. The hand that awakens us to the real, abundant and fulfilling life he offers. He comes as babe vulnerable and approachable, but roars like a lion so that we can’t miss or dismiss him.
He breaks every dark cloud of confusion and hopelessness and stretches his hand from heaven to earth to touch us.
Do we accept his invite? Will we be joining the celebrations of the shepherds, the inquisition of the wise men and the joy of the angels this year for His coming? Do we have the courage and humility to surrender to his transformation way?
The beautiful thing is that his invitation to us is a daily one, not just for Christmas. But, Christmas is a beautiful reminder and a graceful gift to all of us to turn from our own ways and let him transform us and our lives into the most glorious beautiful thing we can wish or desire. He can do that, in fact he is the only one who really can. Are we ready to be transformed? I am.
Merry Christmas to you all
I am praying that the hope that the coming of Christ brings be your strength to start anew.
Lea xx 😊
Friday is not a good day. When most people in the world live for the coming of Friday, at our home we dread it. You see, our son has French every Fridays and to him that equals unending stress and worry. The French teacher is one of them teachers who thinks scaring kids to learning is a good motivation tool so he uses it all the time.
But, to our deep thinker and caring son that method does just the opposite, in fact is a total disaster. He can’t think of anything else on Thursday except the punishment he might get if he does not do perfectly what he has been asked to do. Worry blocks his ability to think clear, learn what he has to learn and enjoy school.
Worry has become like a bad soothing balm he can’t be without applying it every Thursday. He cries, imagines and experiences in his mind the punishment that the teacher is using to scare him and his classmates with.
Every comforting words that we try to help him bounces back to us. In his mind fear and worry have become very good team mates and together are doing the impossible to keep him hostage there.
“The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in GOD protects you from that.”
Proverbs 29:25 MSG
Like our son, we all have worried and feared over what people may think of us or what might happen as a result of their influence in our lives.
The writer of proverb 29 tell us that that kind of fear and worry does only one thing to us and that is to keep us trapped and bound. There is no freedom of movement or sense of security inside there.
So, how do we get out of that trap? The writer concludes that verse by saying that -only by trusting God we can be set free and have a sense of being positioned high in a place of safety and security.
Trust! Trust is a slightly slow process that its build up little by little. By trusting God we learn to let go of that tight grip of fear and worry and let hold of his promises and presence.
So far in this "worry free-living" saga of 4 blog posts we have learned first that we need to ask God for help (remember we can’t snap our fingers at worry to disappear).
Second, we need to expose worry by sharing it with God and people we love and trust.
Thirdly, to be aware of what worrying is costing us ( time and enjoying our lives)
And lastly to learn to attack worry with trust in God. To trust is to let go of our habit of worrying and put all our confidence in our faithful, caring and loving God. We do this little by little as we spend time in his word (Bible), sing to his faithfulness (worship) and continue to grow in his house (church).
As I conclude this series on 'worry free-living', my prayer is that we will start and put a stop into letting worry take over our lives and at the same time we will continue to trust God with all our lives daily.
“Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for GOD ’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to GOD!
Proverbs 3:5-6 MSG
Your fellow pilgrim
My feet had not touched the floor this morning and the first thing that I thought was about all the chores that needed to be done and those that must be done.
My husband woke up too and instead of saying ‘good morning honey’ my ‘undone things’ sicked to my attention first. I looked at him like a confused puppy and while holding my tea cup continued to walk in the house tackling all the worrying chores .
'I am busy' I said and continued hassling.
Our kids were having breakfast and although sat with them on the table I heard very little of their talks as ‘the things’ had my full attention. It happened the same last week when I met with a friend. We talked as we sipped coffee, but my mind kept jumping in and out of the conversation, sometimes focusing on her and other times focusing on things that I needed to do that day.
Worry is like that. At first comes like a gentle reminder then turns to a demanding master. ‘You must do me first, think about me the most, and make me the priority’ it says.
So, worry becomes a time stealer. It tricks us into running through life making worry the focus of our lives. Yes, we can be present in body at our homes, with friends or family and at work, but are we really there with our hearts and minds?
We can be driving our kids to school and all we can think about is that thing that worry us. We could be enjoying a lovely meal, than like an uninvited guest worry shows itself up and we are not longer at the table. We could be walking for some peace and quite and enjoying ourselves, then ...... you guessed it, worry wants to be part of that too.
So we go through life worrying more than doing anything else. We miss being whole at birthdays, weddings, baptisms, friends reunion, family celebrations etc, we are there, but truly we are not. And let’s not forget the simple beautiful and joyful stuff that happens to us daily that worry swipes away too.
Worry my friends is a waste of time, truly!
Like sitting in a rocking chair and putting all the energy and strength to rock it and in the end noticing that you have gone nowhere, so is with worry. It saps all our energy and occupies all our attention, but it solves absolutely nothing, it leaves us tired and wanting. What it does though it robs us of living, it turns our attention to things that are today and gone tomorrow and prevents us from enjoying our lives.
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”
Matthew 6:25-27 NLT
That’s our homework. To stop and think about what worrying has cost us and is costing us. Than to meditate on the words of Jesus, the truth and assurance He gives us. Only knowing that truth will set us free from the lie of worrying.
“If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.” John 8:31-32 The Message
Journeying with you
In three days our girls are going to a school trip about six hours drive from home. Did I mention the trip will be five l-o-n-g days?
Last night I tucked the kids in bed and heard the best word any parent can hear ‘I love you mummy!’ said one of our girls. With that word still fresh in my ears as getting ready to go to bed ‘my mammas worry head’ started to spin.
A fear gripped my chest and for a few split seconds I imagined all the possible fatal things that could happen to them during the trip.
I thought, “Perhaps I heard those sweet words from my daughter so that it will be the last words I remember from her” . I don’t know about you, but it hurts when kids don’t say anything affectionate to you, but somehow it’s even scarier when they say something great.
“I got very upset when my husband gave me a diamond ring for my 30th birthday,” said one of my friends. ‘I thought he was about to divorce me and that was the parting gift’ she added.
I believe that kind of reasoning is so characteristic for us women. We get suspicious and fearful when things are good. Somehow we have learned to cope with stress and fear better than with good and well. When life is good and we have no major problems to worry about it seems to throw us overboard.
So, all sort of thoughts continued to flood my mind as I tried to relax in my bed. The images of a bad car accident on the way or the thought of them being forgotten in a city or forest all alone was haunting. What about food poisoning? Animal or human attacks? My mind kept rushing like water from a broken dam.
I kept imagining bad scenario after terrifying scenario until I could not get enough air into my lungs.
I knew I had to stop that crazy thought train before it did, even more, damage than it was doing.
Slowly I reached and held my husband’s hand as he rested next to me and squeezed it tightly.
‘I am afraid’ I whispered ‘I have got this fear that something bad will happen to one of our girls on this coming trip.’
Well, ‘let’s pray’ he said (that is his first standard reply for everything).
We closed our eyes and started to thank God for our lives, our children and this opportunity for the girls to be on the trip. As we uttered prayers of protection and security my heart and mind were warmed by that verse in 2 Tim 1:7 that says:
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
There, as I lay on our bed I got a grip on that verse focusing my mind and heart fully there and like a bull-dog will not let it go. I stopped thinking about all evil foreboding that terrified me and started to meditate and think on every word on that passage. First, it was a quick repetition of that verse, but after a few moments I was slowing down with each word until my heart and breath caught up and became all one rhythm
After a few minutes ‘ruminating’ on that verse it felt like someone came and switched my ‘status’ from Panicking to Peace. It was miraculous. Now, that does not happen every time we pray, but I am learning that all the time ‘worry attacks’ me the best thing I can do is expose it (by speaking about it with God, your spouse or friends) because worry loves darkness and isolation.
And as we do that, a Bible verse, a song or simply peace will fill our minds and heart and fear or worry will start and lose its grip.
This really works and I am practising more often than before.
So, the first step to worry-free living is to ask God for help and the second is to expose it as soon as it lands on our mind or heart.
Let’s keep practising friend. It takes time and repetition to break old circles of worry and learn new ones of freedom. Keep going.
To be continued...
Worry has become my closest friend these days. We hold hands closely together and keep talking for the same things over and over. We talk about my children if they gonna settle well in the new place we recently moved. We anguish about the family living budget, what to wear, how to be a good friend, wife, woman. We fret together about the future and how life with pan out in the end.
Our favourite thing to do together is to put in front of every word ‘what if’ and ‘but’.
I always believed that worry was like breathing you have to do it to survive. I mean “How can you stop worrying?” But as long as I kept holding its hand worry never let me be. Like a little worm that eats up a perfect strong living tree so it was with worry. It came gently and small, all well-meant at first but soon became all I could think about. How to get rid of worry then? How do you get rid of a difficult sticky ‘friend?’
Jesus and Apostle Paul said to the believers in the first century to not worry, but how is it even possible to stop worrying? In fact if you read it in its original language (Philippians 4:6-7) what Paul really says is to ‘stop worrying, stop it!’ More like an command if you are asking me.
I am learning that when God says something in command style what he really means is that you cannot do it without his involvement.
You can certainly try to do it by your will power and self-determination, but from my own experience that just ends up makeing it all worse. Worry goes from thinking form to obsessing and dreading behaviour.
So, it looks like the first step to not worry it's not to try and not worry or try and stop the rhythm of your worry thinking with a snap of your finger, but to invite God to help. Yes, that’s the very first thing to do. You might think this it’s too simple or even foolish, but often times the simple things are the most powerful things.
So, in this journey of learning to not worry let’s take the very fist step today. Let’s invite the one who has the ability to not only offer but to be our aide to hold our hand. Let's say with open heart and hands:
Help me Father God to understand and see that worry is not what I am created to live with. Help me to start and loosen my hand that holds worry tightly and extend that hand to you. For you alone has the promise, power and plan for ‘worry free’ living. Thank you for your help. Amen
To be followed ...
You are wonderful ....
Like building bricks 30 to 40 trillion cells design you. My little yet strong fist size heart will pump around 182 million litres of blood during my lifetime. My fingers prints, eye print and toe prints are unique to me.
I am truly one in billions!
My mouth has around 2,000 taste buds to taste and enjoy food. My eyes can distinguish 10 million different colours. My bones are about 5 times stronger than steel is. The acid inside my stomach has the ability and might to dissolve zinc yet never destroys the its own walls because the stomach's cells regenerate quicker than they are destroyed.
If I laid all of my blood vessels end to end they would stretch 60,000 miles, or go around the world nearly two and a half times! You help me think, create, comfort, invent and be able to love. Because of you, I can enjoy music, see great paintings, soak up breathtaking views. You give me the gift of knowing when I am comforted by the embrace of a friend. Because of you I feel the kisses of my children and husband, I can gaze the pride in my father’s eyes, the happiness in my mother’s face. Oh, body, you are truly amazing.
My body, you are fearful too.
A little virus invisible to the eye can kill you. A tiny insect carrying a deadly disease can break and threaten your existence. A little paper cut can cause more pain and discomfort than a broken bone. You can be addictive to drugs, food and drinks and slave after them. You have in you the ability to accumulate dangerous anger that threaten to cripple all your relationships. You feel pain that no doctor can see or heal. You are easily envious, jealous, bitter and offended. You use manipulation, control and force to get what you want. You exploit your fellow-man, look down on the less fortunate and favour the powerful for your interest.
So, when I look at you, where shall I focus on, dear body? The wonderful or the fearful part?
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14 NIV
For, If I stop at just your wonderful side, I might be thankful about you and perhaps even prideful. If I looked at the fearful side I might be paranoid and scared to live my life. So, what is the best way to look at you?
Perhaps if I look through you and not at you might be the way.
I wonder what might happen if I looked beyond what bare eyes can see? Perhaps a new way will open before me to seeing you, a differently way, a better way maybe.
The way that will help me pass seeing just the physical, not that the physical is bad, in contrary its beautiful, but lets not stop there. My body is more than the cells that make or those that break it. It's formed for a purpose, yes whether in the splendour of its beauty or in the destruction that sickness can bring, you my inseparable life companion have a purpose. If you think sickness has not got any beauty in it than hear from them who have gone through some of the most life threatening diagnosis and unimaginably suffering saying that "they will not like to change a thing from that experience." Why? Because they have known their bodies beyond what the virus, bacteria or cancer can do to it. They have seen and have experienced a kind of beauty that we others know nothing about. We don't even called beauty because it's a beauty that passes the description of the seen world. It scratches the surface of outward splendour and merges deep down where our hearts learn to tenderly love by being broken and moulded by pain. I don't like sickness, I hate seeing people suffer I will not lie about it, but I am learning to look a little further than the pain wants me to look, I am noticing the beauty that comes emerging together with rubbles of pain.
So, I am learning to take both arms of my body, the wonderful one and the fearful one and let them embrace me fully. Both sides must come as a whole otherwise I tend to pull one side or the other and that always divides and disconnect the body and mind. Our human nature tends to separate how it looks to the body, we separated it into the parts we like or hate, we dice it, we take sides and stop to look beyond what the mirror shows us. But the psalmist echoes a truth that has survived millenniums. The truth that our bodies are wonderful and fearfully made. That our bodies have a purpose beyond the physical one. That more happens in our bodies in the unseen that what we see. We can start to learn to see through it and enjoy to live in that wonder.
These days I am learning to look through my body more than I am tempted to look at my body. What about you?
xx Lea xx
Somedays I am discouraged and somedays I am very brave.
Today for example I feel intense, afraid, unsure. I look to the future and it looks grey and uncertain. Every aspect of my life seems to slip away south bound and all world's worries are chasing me after. By now I have learned to recognise days like this.
I am not saying that I am immune to them and I get out quickly of their grey cloud, but I know their pattern. They are the long and hard to endure days. Days that I must remember very hard to bit my lip and not express how I feel with everyone I see. Days that you know you can be easily hurt, offended and easy to cry, yes, days that you say mindless and regretful words.
I have learned to do one thing during these days which works. As soon as I am aware of what’s happening inside me I remind myself 'this too shall pass.’ To me that translates: What’s happening inside feels real and uncomfortable, it looks like it will stay for a long time, but the truth is it will not.
So, I try to listen to worship songs, sermons and read books that help my soul. For I am slowely learning that if my soul is strong my feelings soon follow. I do share my heart with my closes friends also, the one that can handle a drama queen with good doses of truth and love.
On the Brave days I love. I am full of faith and confidence in those days. I believe God can do the impossible and I have faith to move any mountain. In these days, the view ahead looks bright. Success feels easy and somehow effortless. I see all around me doors opening and the breeze of favor blowing my way. Those days are productive, energizing and 'feeling accomplished' kind of days.
I love this quote by Lysa TerKeurst
“Feelings are indicators, not dictators. They can indicate where your heart is in the moment, but that doesn't mean they have the right to dictate your behaviour and boss you around. You are more than the sum total of your feelings and perfectly capable of that little gift . . . called self-control.”
Let’s all try to remember that bad days are not for staying and brave days can be even better.
Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalm 27:14 NLT
Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again--
my Saviour and my God
Psalm 43:4 NLT
Are you having a bad or brave day? How you are dealing with it?
I am vegetarian. I am vegan. I am gluten free. I am lactose intolerant. I am pescatarian. I am all kosher. I am sugar free, fat free......... fun free?
It has been said that the first weeks after the celebration of Christmas and New Year the guilt of indulging in food and drinking get bad to us and we run to join a diet program or a gym routine as soon as our leftovers are finish.
I don't see any wrong with doing that, but there is a certain guilt that accompanies the 'eating' these days that I don't like.
Food to me is more than just what we put in our bellies when we feel hungry. Is not just about nourishing and feeding our bodies, although it does that. Food is much more than that. For thousands of years since humans occupied the earth food has been a way through which we easily break social barriers, economical barriers and status barriers with each other.
Food is an invitation to the table to come and enjoy each other's company , feed our bodies and refresh our souls.
We celebrate with food. Food join us in our mourning and painful circumstances and of course we bless each other in the presence of the food.
Food was never meant to be something we focused .... "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food...... " Matthew 6:25 NIV
Yes, food is about 'the life that it gives' not 'the worry that it implies.' Somehow these days we have managed to squeeze all the life out of food and all we are left is counting calories and chewing rabbit food.
There is no longer life in getting together. We spend too much of our precious time explaining to the waiter or ourselves what we would like to avoid from the menu. We shy of food that we might be judged for consuming it. 'Oh, you eat red meat?' 'The only meat I have is chicken or fish, even that rarely!' 'Not desert for me, I have to run two days to burn up that sucker!'
Food has become an obsession and when something becomes an obsession it consumes us and controls us. Some of us food controls by seeing it as evil and we spend hours picking every mouthful to bits making the meals time a pain and burden for us and others .
Many use food to comfort and fill a void that food will never fill. Ether side food has become the jail and we are the prisoner. We will never enjoy life if we have that sort of relationship with food.
What makes all these thing even worse is the beautiful pictures we like and praise on social media of 'clean eating.' They are just as misguided to my opinion. The plates may look pretty and full of mouth watering ingredients, but what the picture doesn't show often is that the person is eating alone and food was not meant to be eaten alone.
Growing up in Albania food was scarce, but when we sat on the floor around a oval short legged table to eat we thought about more than what was put in front of us. Food was much more than food. Food was the memories, the sharing, the laughter and the pure savouring of all what was happening around the table in its fullness. Food was just one instrument inside the symphony of the 'meal.'
We looked less at our plates and more at each other. We thought more about the stories and life than how much calories we consumed or what to leave uneaten. When food becomes something else than food than not only our bodies suffer, but our souls and lives tumble too. Food becomes a stumbling block to meeting with friends , enjoying the company of peoples and to celebrating life.
We become shadows staying behind screens with a pretty plates, but empty souls.
No my friend, that's not how our relationship with food should be. Let's respect each other food preferences, but let's not let food separate and deprave us from the gathering together. Lets not let food mess not only our bellies, but our souls too.
I am tired of being ashamed of liking puddings, meat and a good bowl of pasta occasionally. It has become the righteous stick we measure each other these days. We judge each other by the contents on the plate and not the substance of our souls. Lets not let food consume us, consume our thoughts, feelings and lives.
Let food be there to relish our table as we gather with our families, friends and in faith.
Let us come to the table with the purpose of feeding our souls and our lives with the gift of each other. Food is for the body lets not make it more important than life. Yes, lets use food to nourish our bodies, but lets make sure that our souls are not left neglected and drying because of that.
These days I am trying to see food from a different perspective
I see food to nourish, strengthen and feed my body, not to control and manipulate it.
Sometimes, a little bit of what you fancy does you good and food that is taken with thanksgiving and shared with love is the best way to enjoy life.
All I Want For Christmas Is…….
Ideally something: Expensive, Practical and Durable.
The gift must be expensive. I was 23 years old when I received my very first Christmas gift. That was partly because we never celebrated Christmas at home and mostly because my parents could not effort to buy us anything.
I got engaged that year and my then fiancee (now
my husband) gave me a significant gift.
I am not trying to be all materialistic here, but we are talking about the ideal gift, yes? (smile) So, anything that falls into the bling-cha ching group is good.
Secondly the gift has to be practical. How many of us have received Christmas gifts that have ended up in charity shops, attics or hidden inside boxes in the garage right after they were unpacked? Some of them are not only unpractical, but ludicrous.
Remember that lumpy bright green jumper your auntie knitted for you every Christmas and you felt “obliged” to not only try it, but keep it on for the rest of the celebrating day? Yes, that one! None of those gifts for me please. (smile again)
Lastly, the gift has to be durable. I love those gifts that no decay, time, weather or rust can destroy. Those gifts that spark memories, transfer us into another time and remind us of something special. I am all for those gifts.
Well, any gift from the above categories would certainly of made me happy ten years ago - scratch that 5 years ago, but this Christmas I want and ask for just this one thing. None of my family or you can give it to me (that took away all the pressure, didn't it?) The gift I want is…….. Jesus, the very presence of God. (!surprised)
I know I might sound super spiritual and perhaps surreal, but in Jesus I have found that all of my three ‘must have” gift for Christmas categories to be fulfilled.
Well, He is very expensive,in fact the most expensive gift of all times. He came (His birth is the reason why we celebrate Christmas) and put His life in the line for you and me. He said ‘I love you so much that my life is in offer for your freedom’ See John 3:16
He is the most practical gift ever. We can ‘use’ Him every day. We can take Him to work, running, sleeping, partying,eating, spa, on holidays ….. yes, absolutely everywhere.
And, lastly He is the most enduring, durable, endless gift you can have. His is eternal, everlasting, unending. No earthquakes, flooding,fire or destruction can diminish Him. He is the same, He never changes and He is with us forever.
During the last years I have received bling gifts (expensive), I have enjoyed practical gifts (I am a sucker for stationery) and I treasure some great memorabilia , but none of them has given me the lasting joy and fulfilment that the presence of God does. Yes, I will receive gifts this Christmas and I will give many for I absolutely love the fun and love gifts render, but my heart longs for just this one. Jesus
What about you? What is your ideal gift to receive?
Love to hear from you
Have a very Blessed Christmas Friend xx
Read the Story of Christmas in Luke 2: 1-20
We don’t like the broken. A broken car frustrates us? A broken jar angers us. The scars and pain of a broken relationship carries are so agonising that what was once love turns itself into ugly hate. The sharp edges of a broken heart pierce anyone who dares to come near. The shame of a broken mind weight heavy on the sufferer and his loved ones.
Yes, it's not hard to understand that we are made for wholeness and not brokenness.
Still, the fall broke so many things . It started by breaking the relationship between God and us. Then continued ruthlessly snapping away any healthy affinity between man and woman, man and himself, man and nature, man and work etc.
The beautiful thing is that the fall and all its effects was stopped. Thank God for that!
The cross took care of all the gaps and fractured pieces contrived by fall. The vertical and horizontal bars where the body of Christ laid made a way for all relationships once damaged to be restored, to become whole.
So, the brokenness of the body of Christ is a daily invitation for us to become whole. Through the broken, His life and love enters in us. You see my friend, brokenness is a doorway to fellowship with Him. Not all the brokeness comes from God, but all the brokeness is handeled by His loving heart and divine purpose- be sure of that. Those cracked dreams, the shattered hopes, the crushed plans... all are openings for his grace to flow in abundance.
We will never become whole unless we are broken first. What we often call wholeness is a lifeless heart and an empty life. Without the breaking we are simply hollow shells. Beautiful from the outside, but empty inside. We carry within us a stoney heart so cold that can’t offer sympathy, tears, encouragement, hope, love, laughter, joy and life to no-one.
Through brokenness we invite Christ to transform us, enlarge us, to make us new... Yes, to make us whole.
The breaking of us ends up being the making of us.
I know this might be too bold to bring into our attention now, it might even sound totally crazy, but I have a feeling we can start and thank God for breaking us.
We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times.
Romans 8:17-18, The Message
Can you share from your life an example that you thought you were broken, but in fact you got put together for better?
I stood there like a sheep approaching the shearing shed dreading what was coming.
All I wanted to do in this season of my life was to settle in the comfort of my flock. I had just started to enjoy grazing on that green lush grass called comfort.
What I mean by that is that I had grown to love the place we called home and when time to leave it came I just wasn't ready.
I wasn't ready to part with all those loyal friendships cultivated and formed for more than a decade. Our kids had gone to our local school from nursery and they were not happy to leave without a fight.
Saying goodbye to our church family full of loving people who showed grace and support endlessly was one of the hardest realisation to come to terms with.
Still, change kept coming fast pushing us to face a pair of sharp blade shears waiting to cut off all that fluffy, cosy and soft covering we wore and were so use to.
But then again, change tend to come that way. Sometimes we 'plan' it, but mostly comes unpredicted. Someone wise said : To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.
The truth is : When change came all I wanted to do was to ignore it,hide and run from it, but the best thing to do apparently it's to let the doors open wide, to let change come in.
Not to resist it, not to dread it, but to 'embrace' it.
But it was hard, really hard.
Born in the countryside, I have witnessed a few times the sheep in the hand of the sheerer (change), they are petrified. Some shake so hard you can see their pounding hearts through their skin. They are afraid of the cuts they may get, the pain the pressure applied in order to keep them in the process so they will not run away and hurt themselves even more.
Who would blame them? But there was always this sense of surprise and amazement seeing them come out on the other side. They looked different, light and almost unrecognisable.
Starting a new life after change is hard, I can't lie and dress it as wonderful experience, sometimes it is, most times it's not. But change is what we are made for. To change is to be transformed into someone better.
Apostle Paul spoke of the same thing when he said:
“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 3:18 KJV
We can't be better unless we change. As we embrace the process of change it changes us.
So my dear friend, change will come to all of us and often times not without its cuts and bruises, but if we decide to go with it I can assure you that we will come out of it as different people, better and much closer to becoming the ones we long to be.
Do you resist change? What is the thing that you dread the most during change?
I have come to realisation that there are three ways we look to when we need help, strength and answers.
We know we are looking down when all we see is dismay. We are discouraged with ourselves or the circumstances surrounding us and we can't find a way out -- all we see is hopes turned into dust and darkness that fills our path. Yes, not even a ray of light in the end of our tunnel.
When we look sideways or at eye level we are looking and expecting people to be our answer. We are searching for help to come from around us. We awake each day with our eyes and hands open for anyone, anything to get us out of the pit we are in .... still, disappointment is what usually awaits for us around that corner.
But then, there is this other option: the one when we can choose to look up. Here we are not waiting on 'the strength of the hills' so to speak, not looking for the hands of the mighty to save us and to get us out of problems, but we are expecting and waiting from the one and only who can answer fully to all our needs.
"Where does my help come from?"... asks the psalmist.
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Psalm 121:1-2 NIVUK
Disappointment, discouragement and dismay are always signs of us looking at the wrong source for help and answers. Like someone beautifully put it: Look around you and you'll get distressed, look within you and you'll be depressed, look up at Jesus and you will be at rest.
Where is your tendency to look first when you have a problem or a challenge? Has that path choice been satisfactory to finding what you were looking for?
I am there standing with my children looking at this skilful potter while he cuts a lump of clay already prepared ahead and puts it on the potters wheel! His hands gently pressing start to shape this ugly lump into something shapely and acceptable to the eye! I can't help but notice that the potter never takes his eyes from the bronze dirt.
He studies and touches it while the warmth of his hands softens the hard material and take off what is unnecessary! His thumb makes a hole in the centre so that the sides of the material will grow! He removes the rough edges levels the thick sides and shapes it to the vessel he desires. Then the vessels, in our case a beautiful pot waits to dry ...
Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand,....... Jeremiah 18:6 ESV
I wanted to paint that pot and take it home that day, but I could not. The pot had to stay there to dry otherwise it would crack and be thrown away!
Whether we like it or not when God gets hold of us and we feel a bit like that piece of clay. We become aware of the 'discomfort' as He shapes and smooths us, then like a burglar without notice comes a time of silence!
At those times nothing 'important' happens. We don't feel God, we don't hear His voice, we feel vague and useless. We want to do something but somehow we end up at the same spot- or so it seems!
Although we like to 'do', to move on during this time I have come to understand that as part of the process I just have to be there. It's hard for someone like me to not have to do things, but I am learning.
I have come to understand that those silent years are as important and valuable as the active years. Even when we feel like we are gathering dust on the shelf I know that the potter will come at the right time to take me to the next process! Whether that process is inside the fire or giving me another coat of strength the silent years will be the proof of my character growth and endurance. I must leave Him to finish what He started with me, He must weave the colours that He desires in me!
A bit like those ancient pots that the archaeologists find and write parts of history based on, I long that when we are found history will declare God's marvellous workmanship!
I wonder if you have woken up every morning doing 'quiet time' for so long now, yet that routine has become an 'obligation' with no life whatsoever?
You pray at certain times and read the Bible regularly; still the good revelations and the deep findings remain in the past! You seem to have lost the 'crave' to reach out and get excited by these activities and what is left at the moment is thirst unquenchable. The days flash-by in front of your eyes carrying little difference from each other. You wonder how long this stage will continue and if you ever will get to that point of enjoyment again!
I have seen that, with time God has stressed and dried these very noble habits in my life, always bringing me into a wilderness spot. The things that worked before did not make the slightest difference now and the water that I have drunk for so long has lost its taste and become uninspired. This can be a confusing time as we think "something must be wrong, these habits are good and godly habits, I mustn't feel this way!"
Right away the urge is to be more diligent with the habit and force yourself into another program perhaps, but the real answer stands within the habit itself!
This very noble Habit stands tall and shouts in its corner "look at me”! I could hear people often say “how good of you Lea, to wake up early, read and study diligently ...... I felt very good about myself, but my habit had swallowed up all my desire and I had left God as the purpose, the motive behind the habit, to be pleased with just me showing up! I had paid more attention to the habit than to God and that approach could not quench my thirst, I was parched and dry.
God does not want good habits from us, he wants to change our hearts so that through that process the habit disappears and Christ appears!
Our lives are not meant to be a collection of good habits, but lives without habits, just Jesus all along! We are not supposed to master ourselves, but let Christ master us through the Holy Spirit!
If our habits after a while have not turned into a virtue, becoming who we really are starting at home, church, street, work and everywhere somehow along the way the habit has become bigger than the purpose and has left us with nothing than its outside badge!
If you feel dry and unmotivated today see if your habit has taken the Lord's place. After a while our habits should be so immersed in Jesus that what we do is who we are. The practice of those habits has become 'flesh' and you are feeling at home with The Lord!
Habits can complicate our lives when they become the focus and sometimes hinder God and His work in our life!
For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). (2 Peter 1:8 AMP)
I like tomorrow! It's the day when I will eat less cake and more salad and grilled fish! It's the day when I will take my running shoes out of the downstairs store cupboard, blow the sedentary dust away and finally 'break them in'. It's the perfect day to start to deal with those broken relationship issues that have been lingering for far too long, their grey clouds following me around everywhere.
I have decided it will be the day to forgive and let go of so many past and present hurts that I have hoarded carefully. It will be the perfect day to start to cut myself off from those few friends who somehow find a way to pull me in the wrong direction where I make the most regrettable decisions. I have decided it will be the day I surprise my husband with a romantic meal and night out, the weather is supposed to be good tomorrow! Of course it's the day that I will be yelling less and be sweeter with my children. I will read more, give more, encourage more, remember more..... Yes - I will!?
Author James T. McCay said “Tomorrow, you promise yourself, things will be different, yet, tomorrow is too often a repetition of today. And you disappoint yourself again and again.”
Wy is so hard to do the right things? What does Apostle Paul meant when he said that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:31)? Can we overcome food cravings, hurt and pain, temper tantrums and anger habits? Or was it just something sweet to say to believers in Rome so their mind would be comforted?
Paul is not talking of imaginary things here; he is not trying to soothe our conscience momentarily. What he is saying is that: food will invite us to feast daily but in the midst of it Christ will give us strength to take the right choices and not be bossed by it! Hurts and pain will be present in our life but Christ’s love is stronger than any of them and will lead us hand in hand through those experiences! Unforgiveness will present itself as reasonable most of the time, but Christ's Grace will find a way to release others from that grip. The tendency to shout and lose your cool erupts effortlessly when faced with our mountains of chores, but Christ’s strength is made perfect in our weakness!
Either Jesus is who the Bible says He is and we through Him are more than able to stand through temptation, pain, hurt and loss or we are deluded in our faith and the new life that he promised!
Ok, how to see which one is the truth?
Look back and see your life from the moment Christ entered your story! Look back and see the lives of countless faithful friends and saints through history! You will notice that the love of Christ has never failed either you or them on living victoriously!
So let all our "Tomorrow I will" become "Now is the time! This is the place and I am the one who Christ uses to overcome all which challenges me to live free"!
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? Rom 8:31 MSG
Sitting on the dirt outside the city gate four outcasts stare at the ground! The feeling of being unwelcome and ignored by people has deformed their posture totally, leaving only their hands extended for alms.
They have to remain there day-by-day for it is their only hope to stay alive! There in that very place, although hated and despised, people entering or going out of the city would take pity on them and throw scraps of bread for them to feed.
But those days have long gone, and the hope of filling their bellies had melted like butter in scorching sun.
For the city had long since seen people enter to do business inside. Hunger had spread like wildfire throughout the whole corners of the city and now everyone is in the same desperate boat called Famine.
No one who is able and strong, not even the king dares to leave his castle. The fear of the enemy has pushed the city to do unthinkable acts driven by hunger and desperation. The silence of any activity is only disturbed by the rumbling of their empty stomachs.
What must they do?
Suddenly, the eyes of the lepers light up. It is a foolish and daring idea that leads them to action for themselves. Life has become too dire and the decision to wait now stands on the 'death' side of the spectrum.
There are two things that move the hearts of men, inspiration or desperation!
"Why should we sit here waiting to die?" they ask each other. "Leprosy keeps us outside the famine struck city, standing here means nothing but a direct invitation to death. What do we have to lose? Let's take our chances and try! The worse that can happen is for us to die, and that will happen whether we decide to stay or go."
What is keeping us from trying daring and bold steps towards a better future? If death is not on the list then we are in much better position than these fours lepers outside the city gate!
A lot of times we give fear the permission of 'what if that happens' to ruin the chances of 'that good thing might happen'.
Trembling and weak the lepers approach the enemy camp. Their ears are dulled by the silence surrounding the camp and their eyes are enlarged by the food and stuff inviting them inside! There is nobody to be seen!
They did not know that the moment they had awoken to 'try' their chances the Lord had multiplied their steps and increased their sound which had struck fear into the enemy’s hearts causing them to run for their lives, leaving all the food and riches behind.
We forget that what God wants is our courage in Him that says 'I will go', and 'I will try' then He himself marches first and welcomes us right there.
The abundance of food looked so surreal to their minds that they had to be dragged by their bellies to taste the reality. Oh the impatience in chewing and drinking, for it had been too long for the poor leprous mouths waiting for this moment. They hid masses of that too, for they knew soon the camp would be discovered and food would be scarce and a luxury to find.
Then, the jaws stop munching, their heads start lifting - something is not right. Yes, they love the food and the plunder but what about the people dying inside the city?
Yes, they had been mean to them and merciless a lot of times, but this was a miracle not just for them.
Like salvation, after we have tasted and enjoyed first we must share it with others.
It was hard to approach and knock on the city gate. Trying to convince the gate keepers to what they had found was hard too - who listens to some lepers? But they did not stop until someone listened so that the king and all the people were saved.
“Who can ignore someone that has tasted, enjoyed and handled the very thing you are looking for?”
What would your bold attempt do? Who or what is waiting in the city on the other side of our attempt?
Is it freedom, healing, victory, success - or just fear? The worse that can happen is that you tried -yeah? Remember that our boldness and wimpy action both speak a language that somehow directs and influences not only the path of our life but those we nurture and who look up to us.
A paraphrase from 2 Kings 7:3-9
The morning breeze cuts through her naked body, penetrating fear to her soul. She is shaking as the hands of many men force her to move through the narrow streets heading towards the temple. Her lover is not with her, nor had he tried to protect or follow her in her fate. The eyes of many are piercing through her body, the oxygen is escaping from her lungs and her legs are giving up with panic. She is alone!
She knows today is the day that an ugly death, death by stoning has come to elope with her and the very thought of it rushes like a hurricane into her shaking head.
All her life she had looked for love and today that 'love' was leading her to pay the ultimate price.
She has been thrown into the middle of the temple outside court where a new Rabbi has been teaching that morning. The accusation of many voices floods the place and the stench of sex darkens the atmosphere. "This woman should be stoned" someone shouts, "we caught her red-handed in the act of adultery" the others join in, holding stones in their hands.
The woman lying on the cold stony floor shakes involuntarily
The new Rabbi is silent. He has approached the circle where the woman has curled her body and with his finger writes on the hard ground. No one knows what He writes in the dirt, but as the voices of the people continue badgering he stands up and says:
“He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” (John 8:7 (b) NKJV)
Yes, just one word, and then He continued to write some more in the dirt.
You could have seen the penny dropping everywhere in the room. Their consciences exposing their sins and the convicted souls dropped the stones on the ground and left the court room leaving none but the young Rabbi and the woman.
She can't hear the silence. Her eyes have been forcefully shut for a while now and she does not understand if she is dead or deaf. A soft touch to her head penetrates the darkness inside her and she awakes to a soft voice saying “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” (John 8:10 NLT)
She opens her eyes and looks around. There is no one there, no one to look at her in disgust, to shame her, to accuse and hurt her. She looks at the one standing with her and for the first time in her life she feels protected, safe! His merciful words wiped the fear and terror from her body dressing her with love, compassion and a new hope
The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; (Psalms 103:8, 11 NKJV)
His Mercy, so astonishing and breathtaking! His forgiveness so undeserved and scandalous!
Mercy is the weapon that fights guilt to the very last resistance. Any kind of guilt, the visible and the invisible, the big and the small, guilt that comes from true events and the one that lingers from the lies imagined or told.
His mercy always triumphs over strict justice. Just when you think you are about to slip into a deep cliff you see His mercy rushing by and holding you tight in His Steadfast Love.
I love and loathe summer at the same time. I love the sunshine and the long days that summer offers. I love families spending time together and the light washing loads. I can't wait to get my toes out and the opportunity to read long chunks of a good book without being disrupted.
But, there is one little thing that I loathe about summer: I am not so crazy about swimsuits. I know that I have to wear them if I want to enjoy summer and give this white winter body some lively colour, but small, tight 'attached to my body" clothing always make me feel a bit nervous.
So, as our family holiday is approaching I have to have some serious chats with my 'swimsuit phobia' self. I have to take her on the side and assure her that: no one sunbathing at the swimming pool sides will be watching me and the way how my swimsuit is fitting.
I need for the ten thousand time to convince myself that people coming on holidays will spend their time with their families and their loved ones and not wasting it on swimsuit dilemmas. Surely, they are not spending time and money to watch a stranger and her struggles with the swimsuit fixtures!
If you dear fried also are feeling a little bit tight when it comes to your swimsuit fitting remember that: People usually think of us less than we think they do. Each and everyone of us are already struggling with our own complexity, so we don't have as much time to think about others. This summer I want us to remember that summer is a season to enjoy and rest. The anxiety over the 'swimsuit' will only mess up our days and leave us disappointed, again. The weight of our bodies and the weight of our worries about it are not worth wasting yet another summer. .. trust me.
Summer is for all types of body shapes.
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Matthew 6:25
Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you. Zechariah 9:12 TNIV
Try to remember how yesterday went or even a particular season of your life, a year perhaps. Like a flash most of the events that rush to be remembered are them from the “negative” pile.
I did! This is what I got first:
Three journeys to A&E, late mornings dropping the kids to school, a disagreement with the spouse that took weeks to clear...... Perhaps for you it was that friend that hurt you on your birthday, the guest that made you feel ashamed on that family gathering, your lovely grandmother’s death?
When we experience disappointments and hurts we tend to see our lives through that lens which is mostly coloured in black. We also start to believe that all our days are going be like that and those "blues" start and dictate how we live our lives.
The sad part of that is that even when we are enjoying times of blessings and peace we tend to think that it will soon be gone and the fear of something bad happening steals those moments too.
As believers we have a choice to make: we can choose to be prisoners of our circumstances or prisioners of Hope.
Being a prisoner of circumstances means we give permission to certain events to dictate the outcome of a day and eventually our lives.
Being a prisoner of Hope on the other side does not mean that we escape reality or that we ignore what goes on around or inside us — what that means is that our reality is locked within the bars of hope; it means that nothing that comes from inside or outside us escapes without being dressed in the garments of hope. The living Hope.
The living Hope is not a "dreamy wish" based on some fantasy outcome. The living Hope its the ability to choosing and to believe that whatever the circumstances might be they have not got the last say to our day or our lives, God does, He is the Living Hope.
The Hope that God is fully involved in my life, that he has got great plans for my life, that he is in total control. Hope that all things will work together for my good, tears will be turned to gladness and mourning into joy.
“He is silently planning for you in love” (Zeph 3:17 )
There are days in life when every effort you make or give looks to be going nowhere. Your trying trials have reached the limit, numbering too many to count and you wonder 'what is the point?' You start to question every action, decision and steps you have made until now and your mind is paralysed either with fear or disappointment.
Things have not happened as quickly as you thought, the way you thought or with the results you thought. What do you do?
In John 6, after a long day’s hard teaching and performing miracles Jesus is left with much less followers than when He started the day. See John 6: 48-70.
When He asked the twelve if they also wanted to give up on following Him because it was a hard path to follow, Peter's answer is so refreshing and so pivotal to use when feeling like giving up.
Peter said “Lord, who else can we go to? You have words that give life that lasts forever.” John 6:68 NLV.
There are 2 crucial questions to ask when you feel like giving up.
Firstly 'Where the other path takes you?
Secondly 'How long will that new adventure last until you come to the exact same point of defeat'?
Like many of Jesus’ disciples you may feel insecure and uncertain in what you are doing or following at the moment, but if you are his Disciples he that has started a good work in you will finish it. Phil 1:6.
Today you may feel like giving up on your work, marriage, calling, friendship, church, ministry, or children, but remember that giving up does not requires any special qualification.
There is somebody waiting on the other side of your "not giving up" attitude and determination whose life and future is connected to yours. Remember all those stories of success that we love to hear and read like the stories of Thomas A. Edison, Mother Teresa, Mozart, Helen Keller, George Whitefield, Martin Luther etc, they all got to the point of success by not giving up. Endurance is the main muscle of success.
So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.Hebrews 10:35-36 (NLT)
When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. Franklin D. Roosevelt
It's dark outside and the brisk dawn wind gently penetrates through her shawl. Her hand clenched at her chin holding tight not only the corners of her covering but her anticipation also of what's awaiting her. Her other hand holds different spices which effortlessly perfume this lonely and death stenched place. She has not slept properly for a few nights and this last one did not wanted to give up its darkness easy. Her feet gently press on the red earth which shyly shows the innocent blood drops marking the events of the last days. She is not afraid to be alone nor is she hesitant to visit the dead. Her heart is full of sorrow and grief and her mind is totally confused! A thousand thoughts run through her fragile mind looking for reason to cling to!
What happened to the person who showed mercy to her when others unleashed their meanness in full? Someone so precious and dear had suffered such cruelty and died an awful death. The least she could do for him is anoint his body. Her hands shake and her face freezes as she approaches the tomb. The giant stone has been removed from the mouth of the cave and its emptiness is unwelcoming to her! Frazzled and uncertain she drops the spices and runs to find the 'boys'.
'They must know how to help'- she sighs. We must find the Lord's body!"
Not all the boys come though. Who believes a woman hey? She looks tired and scattered, she is having hallucinations perhaps. The Lord died, who can take his body and get contaminated? Why do 'they' need him?
She does not dare to enter the tomb. That kind of room feels unwelcoming to her. She sits and weeps as the boys check for themselves. Now, they are ambiguous too, there is nothing there for them, so silently they walk back home.
But she can't part like that. She must stay and wait. The appearance of angels has scared and amazed all the people that they have appeared to in the past but not her! Not today!
When we are focused on the dead we neglect and don't recognise the supernatural even when that is staring at our face.
The white-robed angels try to talk to her but no, she is too busy and caught up in her worry to listen. Her sadness has taken her to a place of deep anguish that all around and inside her is looking for this one thing - 'the body'. She is trying to figure it out where the body may be or may have been taken to.
Sometimes our mind is so obsessed with this 'one thing' that is not going according to our plans at the moment that we forget to see and notice the wonder that surrounds us.
Weary and disappointed she drags her feet to leave with her head looking towards the shrinking pit. Someone is standing close and is trying to talk to her but she can't concentrate. She has not got time to converse with strangers or even the 'gardener' at this moment. Her eyes bleary and tear-soaked close as she pleads for help one more time! "Have you seen where the body is sir?” she asks. "Tell me"- frantically looking for an answer, and I will go and get him!"
"Who are you looking for?” the gentleman inquires. What is the reason you are still here?
We all need someone to come and challenge our actual state with some deep and searching questions. Why are you here? Whom we are waiting for? How long will we believe the lies that keep us in the same spot and pit?
Finally! A sound so gentle yet so penetrating to her heart shook her being! She was called by her name! "Mary!"
A sound so natural and a common greeting, but not today, not now. Never had a word utterance been as heavy in emotion as this one! The one thing that she thought was lost and gone forever was standing right beside her!
Like Mary we all have had those times when we have felt that the Lord was far and distant, his presence we could not sense. The ruth is just the opposite, when we feel abandon He is right beside us!
"Teacher" - she exclaimed! "I found you; there is no disappearing from me now".
We love to cling to people and experiences that we long waited for and stay like that forever.
But that's not what the Lord expects from Mary. "You have found me and you have found the truth"- he said to the weeping Mary! "Now with eyes overflowing with joy, go and share this message"
In the midst of our darkest moments when the clouds of trials have overshadowed us, our Lord breaks through the thickness of despair and calls us by name. Léa, Sue, Mary, Rosie ..... I am right here, next to you. Please, don't cling to experiences, to people -go and share the light that is shed in you in the midst of darkness around you, go and declare that life has conquered death; the tomb is empty so you can be full of life.
Like Mary the same voice echoes through the deepest part of us all urging "Get moving, leave the pit behind, it's time to arise and shine forth the light and life of the resurrection life.
“Most blessed among women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. May she be blessed above all women who live in tents. (Judges 5:24 NLT)
Mountain goat, she that ascends - that's what her name means. Like every woman in her community she wakes up every day with her mind full of tasks to be done.
Tent to be cleaned, meals to be cooked, kids to be nourished and visitors to be entertained. Her home is her dwelling place, her family is her business. Today a stressed visitor enters her tent. He is running in haste from someone. His face covered with sweat and dust fear and terror verbalises the urgency of the situation. What shall she do? She is alone and has heard about the man, he is the enemy.
The responsibility to welcome, honour and protect a guest is a vital part of her tradition, more than just a tradition - an absolute command. So, when the guest asks for water, she offers him curdled milk, a delicatessen beverage for the Eastern people. She makes him a bed, a place to rest.
So far she has kept and respected the tradition. The customs of the old were applied. Yet, her heart is telling her something else. The enemy has entered her domain- he is not only threatening her household but her community also. She is not a fighter, she is just a woman that happens to have some tent pegs lying around. What can she do? She acts. She breaks the rules and kills the guest! She does not know if she will be severely condemned for her action, but she can't leave the enemy sleep inside her tend.
Paul says that : The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 KJV)
Today, we don't need to use pegs or guns to fight the enemy for we don't wage against flesh and blood, but we do need to fight back the darkness that is threatening our lives.
There comes a time when rules must be broken, tradition ignored and customs not kept. We love tradition and customs, but not more than doing what is right. When the enemy of our soul comes and breaks into our families and communities we must take a stand. Like Jael, we must use what we have in our hand to fight evil, to keep him at bay from our homes, our children, our marriages, our friends our communities.
The judge of that time, a woman called Deborah, honoured Jael and names her 'blessed above all women!' There is beauty in cheering up each other girls while combating darkness with bravery! The enemy of this world is freely rampaging into the places where we live. Time has come for us to use what we have on our hands and with wisdom from above to shine the light bright into those dark places.
“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”
― Anne Frank
Loneliness was first found in the garden of Eden. There has never been a garden like Eden! There, beauty was born and was abundant! With trees that blossomed at any season. With waters swarming with colourful fish and the air glowing with magnificent birds there was not other oasis alike on earth. You could have every kind of animal to be your pet there and every day was for sure an adventure.
Right there, with all the breathtaking views of the mountains peaks and the labyrinth valleys far beyond anything any artist could capture and pour on paper loneliness was present. There was perfection, there was loneliness too.
Perfection can be great at hiding our hearts real aches. You can be surrounded by a sea of beautiful wonders and still, feel alone.
“The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. .........
Genesis 2:18 NET
God, yes Him who sees everything that He created, sees man in the middle of it all and identifies his loneliness. Adam had not complained so far, it's God's empathy that intervenes and solves the first ever problem of the human's heart. Yes, there is lions to pet and lambs to cuddle in Eden, but still none that Adam can talk to and identity himself with.
God thinks ahead of Adam and bless him with a companion, a helper, an êzer.
This word êzer has been one of them words that many theologians and language experts have struggled to find the perfect match to describe its full meaning.
Many times in the Bible the word 'êzer' is used to describe military aid: help and support from a position of supply and strength. Other times it refers to help from a stronger one, from a more secure or strengthened position, without need of reciprocal help.
From the beginning of times loneliness was something that prevented fullness of life, so God plans an answer right there for it: Êzer
A relationship between equals is the answer and cure to loneliness. That kind of relationship where the other person serves as a rib to protect our hearts with strength and vigilance. That kind of relationship that speaks truth without fear, gives mercy freely and loves during hard times.
To fight loneliness we have to surround ourselves with 'êzer' people and allow God to help us through the process of identifying and overcoming loneliness.
Solitude is different from loneliness. Wise Solitude its necessary because it renews the soul and refreshed the mind, but loneliness on the other side is dangerous, it kills the soul slowly and paralyses the mind.
It's brave to understand that: the garden, nature and all beautiful things created are to serve our solitude. People, and specially those who handle our hearts with truth and love are a gift from God to guard us against loneliness.
Are you an êzer to someone? Are you looking for an êzer to fellowship with?
The alarm clock woke me up this morning reminding me that I am not enough. I am not enough until I have an 'early rise, ' routine, which I have not....yet.
Splashes of milk smearing the morning table stare at me 'you are not enough.' You have failed at teaching your kids to eat with their mouth shut and have good table etiquettes.'
The empty coffee machine standing cold and indifferent let me know in a passive aggressive way that 'I am not enough' as wife too. I only thought to make myself a cup of tea and neglected to prepare one for my husband.
The mirror on my landing laughs at me ' you are not thin enough.' For this very reason we don't see each other often and I try to avoid it altogether.
My bank balance echoes clearly 'you are not enough.' Somehow it points out not only my finance shortcomings, but my failing to use wisdom on managing my household too.
My phone shouts 'you are not enough.' You have not enough likes, friends, comments, texts ......... no one cares about you.
From every corner of the day I hear ' I am not enough!'
It is difficult these days to hear a voice that affirms and encourages our fulfilment in life.
Feeling you are not enough is that sense of incompleteness, an emptiness like you are missing something, not hitting the mark, lacking the ability to offer the best you know you can. And the sad part of all that is that all our tries to help us to feel 'enough' have only extended the list of our short-failing.
.. and in Christ you have been brought to fullness...... Col 2:10
Yes, this is the only voice out there affirming our 'enoughness.' The only problem is that it's so hard to hear this soft quite voice in the thickest of all those laud noises telling us the opposite.
I know that for myself all those times that I hear 'I am not enough' louder and pressing I have stopped tuning my ear to that soft sound voice that says 'you are enough!'
“Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.”
Proverbs 2:2 NLT
It's a Brave thing my dear friend to tune our ears to the right voice. It's hard work and requires our full commitment but there is not other way to silencing all those voices that demand us to keep trying and be enough. Without intention we can't incline our ears and mind to The Voice that whispers 'You Are Enough!'
How can we hear that Voice? We will definetely hear that voice as we spend time in the Word, immense our hearts in worship and when we invest time with them who are familiar with the rhythms of its tunes.
I can promise you my friend that we will be able to recognise and hear that voice more and more and start trusting its truth that way. Little by little we will recognise it among hundreds of other voices and become familiar with its rhythm. That way we can start and live our lives from a place that is full and not empty, whole and not lucking.