I thought it will be easy to do this mothering thing as the years' pass and you my children grow more and more with each day. But like with many other things in life I am wrong.
Today I dropped you at your new school. We talked happily until we entered the playground then your eyes started to well up. No familiar faces to smile, not friends to find in the vast crowd, no one to welcome you in. I tried my very best to be strong and encourage you for that is what mammas do, but you surprised me with your courage again. With tears still rolling on your cheeks, you went inside like a brave soldier facing his opponent. I could not help it but to be thankful and worried at the same time for the rest of the day. I have known you all your life, still, in moments like that you amaze me and catch me by surprise.
“Mum, I am worried because all the lessons are in French and I understand very little of what has been said,” it was the first sentence you mumbled as soon as you came back home. I know sweetheart, I know- I tried my best to comfort you, soon you will understand the language fluently and I will have to learn it to keep up with you, I force a smile. I then compose myself and continue.
Listen brave one, I don’t understand the depth of your struggle right now, but I am your mamma I will stay and help you all the way through until the struggle is not more. That’s what mammas do.
We can't follow our children to school, but we can certainly lead their hearts to a place of healing.
“Mum, can you stay five more minutes with me because I feel a bit afraid?” Sure my darling, I will stay beside you, let’s read and pray together. So, we read, then we pray and my hand strokes those little hands that are not little anymore. And again I stand surprised like I was in that very first moment I met you. I am your mother! That truth still fascinates me, overwhelms me and scares me at the same time.
Many times I think that surely someone else will do a better job than me with you (I know it’s crazy and silly to think like that), but mums think crazy and silly thoughts all the time, yet I was chosen to be your mamma and I am starting to believe that I am the best at being mum to you. So, I am sticking with your kiddo and you are sticking with me until you are ready to fly the nest. I promise that you can borrow my ears, interrupt the attention of my eyes and have my whole heart, for I am your momma always.
Mamma, yes you-you who are reading these words, allow me to tell you a few things. You were chosen to be your children' mamma, you might feel like you are not great at it or you wish you could be better, but trust me none can do your job. You are the best for your kids, and they are the best for you.
We are growing with each other, they and we are undergoing a transformation of love.
So, today, tomorrow, forever I accept the greatest and the hardest job on earth with pleasure and a thankful heart. I am a mamma
“Motherhood is more than a stage--
it’s a lifelong calling from God.
With it He gives us hearts that love deeply,
hands that serve tirelessly, and vision to see
His blossoming image in the precious ones
entrusted to our care.” St. Therese of Lisieux
Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift?
the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows
are the children of a vigorous youth.
Oh, how blessed are you parents,
with your quivers full of children ........ Psalm 127 3-5 MSG
Photo Credit by Unsplash
Close your eyes, hug your knees and think, pass all the surface layers that give pat answers and get into the core of your heart. Stand there and ask a few questions. What is your biggest fear? What is something that if you departed from this life right now you would feel sorry for not accomplishing, doing or saying?
I will tell you mine. My biggest fear is that at the end, my life amounts to nothing.....a meaningless sort of life. My biggest regret would be wasting my time worrying about stuff that didn’t matter and my one desire would be to say to my husband and children that ‘I love them’ more than my life. And if I had to add one more thing into the pile it will be me feeling frustrated with myself for hesitating to take a step or two into a direction that I felt was from God, but feared of what others would say or think and never stepped out. Sad, I know... still the truth.
I don’t know what your biggest fears and wishes are, but I know some of them would be in the line of the person you want to become and the real people you want to impress, investing time with people that you want to know that you love them and to make a difference.
I like to ask myself this kind of deep questions time after time so that my routine that looks like a hamster wheel will stop circling around and focus on the things that matter.
Right now, am I doing work- activities - investing my time in things that later I will regret or be glad about? Our deepest fear and wishes need to be noticed and processed because they are the indication of where our lives are at.
Right now I am doing things I know I should do. It might not look much to the people peering from the outside, but it matters to me. Looking after my family, writing, connect with people that help me become more the person I want to be and investing in people’s lives is where I am at.
It has not been always like this, but recently I have become more and more determined to live my life doing stuff that later I would love and not regret.
If my biggest wishes are for my husband and my kids to know that they are loved and have my attention, then a good amount of my time should go on that.
If my deepest fear is living a meaningless life than I would want to invest time in areas where I believe God has gifted me and use that ability to make other peoples lives better.
If I looked back in my life, I am sure to see that many times I have left fear from what others will think or do if I take a certain direction control me, so now I am investing time into building my character so that when I face difficulties and resistance I know how to stand up for what I believe with grace and understanding.
What I want to achieve with this blog post is to make us first and foremost to stop and think. Life is not as easy as to be sorted by a couple of decisions, but it’s not as complicated as we make it also.
If we start now, right now with one thing, yes, just one thing that we fear, worry, a desire that we want to see different - then that is a huge progress in the right direction. How?
If quality time with our loved ones is a desire to accomplish, then let’s put aside our phones for one hour during dinner time or a few hours during the weekends so that we can listen and spend time with them who matter most to us.
If we are doing work that is necessary but not what we really love to do for the rest of our lives then let’s pray and spend a few hours in the week reaching for ways to make that dream come true.
If we feel we worry way too much about what others think of us if we have what I call the ‘people pleasing disease’ then what we really need to do is to start and build good and genuine friendships that love us, accept us and help us become the people God made us. Friends who we can say ‘no’ and still be friends.
The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for. Fyodor Dostoyevsky
“What is the chief end of man? - “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” The Westminister Shorter Catechism
“Real spiritual friendship is eagerly helping one another know, serve, love, and resemble God in deeper and deeper ways.” Timothy Keller
What is one step that you are thinking and will make today towards the future you want to see?
Food and intimacy are closely connected. We often use the saying that ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’ which I must admit it’s also true for most women I know, but food is not just used to keep us alive, but it does have this effect to embrace us and become a love bridge in our tables.
Through cooking and sharing meals, we show our families that we love and care for them. We invite our friends to celebrate life together and food might be the very reason we understand the meaning of joy better.
When my friend Faye comes to see me, straight away I think of grilled Aubergine tossed in my garlicky-lemony dressing. Apparently, aubergine is a berry, and like a berry has a spongy flesh that gets soft when cooked. We all tend to soften in the presence of real friends. Faye is one of those friends that gets the best out of me and helps my real flavours to surface.
The good news is that aubergines are for sale all the year round, so if you or your friends like to eat them, they are an easy cook and great addition to tasty appetisers (layer them on disks of fresh baguette and sprinkled with parmesan or feta cheese) added to salads or as a side dish. I promise you - they are to die for.
Grilled aubergines will keep fresh well over a week in the fridge, but in our home, they only last a couple of days.
2 large aubergine ( sliced into 1-1½ cm thick discs)
30 ml olive oil/ nut oil
Salt and pepper to season
For the dressing
30 -50 ml virgin olive oil
1 lemon ( juice and zest only)
1 tsp ground/powder mustard
4 garlic cloves (or more ... how you like it) minced
2 tbs of Parsley chopped finely
Salt and pepper to season
When they are well cooled you can put them in a plastic or glass container that is best for refrigerating, keep them in the fridge for up to a week.
Use and share the delicious discs in salads, sandwiches, canapés or straight in your mouth. :-) Enjoy Lea xx
You would think that holidays are best for relaxation and exploring and not for going on long 'off track' runs, but I like to defer with you on this one. There are moments when sleep is not sleeping and rest is not resting when you have to leave the comfort of the bed at 5am and run in the wild boars' territory.
It had been a hard day and night altogether, seeing family can be challenging. We all have expectations on each other and sometimes those expectations clash in a painful way. When expectations clash and harmful words are spoken there is not winners or losers just pain to process and offence to let go.
And that’s where running early and in the wild comes handy.
I had run that same track 4 years ago and I thought I knew it like the back of my hand, but years passing can erase some of that memory confidence and Mother Nature can change landmarks you thought you knew. My husband was with me that morning and like any good wife that likes to show off her hubby places he never been, I took the lead.
The sun was still hiding behind the mountains, but we could see its hands shining our path. The tranquillity and beauty of Umbria views were only lightly disturbed by the activity of the odd flies.
The forest our run mazed into pushed fresh air and smells into our nostrils. Our body, mind, and soul were taking all the help they could find.
We talked together, we run, we breathed heavily, then yet again we surrendered ourselves to the love of God, for when the unexpected happens we all need extra grace and strength to process.
It was so healing to get out of a place of fear, worry and hurt and breathe the true air of God.
"Nature is God's ladle emptying the soul burdened by worry and fear."
So we run and uploaded. We run and breathed. We run and prayed. We run and healed.
On the way back though we took the wrong path. Light-footed, less burdensome and perhaps energised we forgot our turn. We descended into a better-looking path, only to find out it didn’t take us to our destination. My husband started to get nervous about the possibility of us being lost and dying from dehydration (grin), but we didn’t give up.
So, we went back to where the wrong turn was taken and took the right one.
We arrived later than we planned, but nobody noticed that. All in the place we called home for a few days was as we left, except us. We had come back better, tired, hot, perspiring but healed.
God through nature gifts us a place to see our circumstances and problems with a different perspective. His.
The enormous, vast and wide spaces nature offers to all of us help us to understand that however big our problems might be God is bigger. With Him, every burden lightens and every tired soul finds rest.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
“And why would you worry ........? Look at all the beautiful flowers of the field. They don’t work or toil, and yet not even Solomon in all his splendour was robed in beauty more than one of these! So if God has clothed the meadow with hay, which is here for such a short time and then dried up and burned, won’t he provide for you .......... need—even though you live with such little faith?
Matthew 6:28-30 TPT (paraphrased)
photo by Unsplash
I just hang-up the phone with my dear friend who lives the other side of the channel (England) and like with every phone call or meeting I wonder if I asked her enough? If I listened enough? If I cared about her the way a friend does or just unloaded my overfilled heart?
I am becoming more and more intentional about the time I spend with my friends. Time is the most expensive gift we can offer to each other and something that we will never get back so, I want to make sure I use it wisely. There is nothing wrong with having funny and silly conversations, those are essentials for a friendship to be whole, but let’s not forget that all of us need friends to share, listen and lend us their wisdom to face life courageously.
Here is a list of questions I hold in my heart when I am spending time with a friend in a coffee shop, home or on a WhatsApp call.
How is your heart? This is something we, in our friendship circle, call it the ‘Lea question.’ They know that I am not asking about their physical heart, (although that can be included) but I am inquiring about the state of their inside world. Mind, soul, feelings, emotions, and everything that is hidden to the naked eye to notice. It’s a good starter to our conversation that can take many directions and the level of sharing will depend on the closeness of the friendship.
What is something good or sad that has happened lately that you can't stop thinking about?
This is a great conversation point that can help you both discover what events get stuck in our hearts and stay there for longer than others, and the way they affect our everyday lives. Those stories can be an indication of what we care about and how we process them.
How is your marriage, parenthood going and how can I help you with where you are at?
If your friend is not married or has not got children the question can be about her social life and work-related.
What is something (could be a book, movie, conversation, circumstance) that has challenged or helped you and your thinking lately? This point of conversation can be filled with suggestions, learning and growth information.
What is something that you would like me to be accountable to you for?
We all struggle with our confidence, stepping out, developing our talents and abilities, progressing with our dreams, keeping healthy etc. So, let’s hold space and make ourselves available to each other. This can be a great moment to ask her to help you as well as an accountable person for stuff that matters to us but its still a struggle to stay on top of it. (overeating, over stressing, apathy, working too much etc)
What is something that I can pray for you?
There is stuff going on in our lives that even if we stayed together with our best friend for a long weekend -eating, drinking coffee and talking about life there will be no way to get to the bottom of certain issues or solving everything happening to and in us. That’s why we rely on help from our God who is a friend to us and a savior. Prayer is powerful and to me the best tool to help a friend in distance or near. There are deep issues in our hearts that we don’t even know how to articulate them, but God sees and knows us and our friends intimately and he is there to help. Prayer makes us a bridge for each other where heavy loads of struggles and worries pass without breaking the structure of the friendship but strengthen it. A bridge that we can share our joyous moments together, successes, struggles, tears, and celebrate life.
Friendship ... is born at the moment when one man says to another "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
“Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.”
Proverbs 27:6 NLT
These are a few things that are helpful to me when it comes to investing in friends. I would love to hear from you about what is something you do to deepen and keep your friendships healthy and whole?
Photo Used by Unsplash
The sun is ascending the stairs of the sky heralding the beginning of a new day. I don’t know about you but however hard the night might have been, bad dreams, bad thoughts, bad foreboding and dreading the day, the sunrise brings new hopes to me.
I am a big fan of the movie ‘The devil wears Prada’ there is a moment in the move after Andy fails to get Miranda a flight home, that she says to her :
“Do you know why I hired you? I always hire the same girl: stylish, slender (of course), worships the magazine. But so often they turn out to be... I don't know, disappointing, and... stupid. So, you with that impressive resume, and your big speech about your so-called work ethic — I thought you would be different. I said to myself, "Go ahead! Take a chance! Hire the smart fat girl!" I had hope. My God, I live on it. Anyway, you ended up disappointing me more than any of the other silly girls.
We are not different from Miranda. When it comes to who or what we depend for our lives to go well, this word knowing or unknowingly is at the top our list.
-H-O-P -E -
I am finding that the interesting thing about hope is that if is not put on someone who can handle and carry the full weight of it, it tends to always bring disappointing results.
Like Miranda we too put our lives hope in people, that’s not wrong to hope on people, but we ourselves know that people and ourselves can’t deliver always to our expectations.
Our security and safety resources..... all the above can give us a sense of hope for tomorrow and future, but if we want unshakable hope, hope that is the constant, hope that doesn’t depend on moods and circumstances than we must look somewhere else.
We must look at someone who is unchanging, powerful, all knowing and all loving to us whatever the circumstances and our moods.
For me, that one is found in my faith in Jesus, my savior who is the source of all hope.
I wonder where/ who is the place you put your hope in?
Hope, like the anchor of a ship, needs to be put somewhere so that we can stand the storms of life and enjoy when the sea is quiet.
So, where are you anchored today?
You, yes you who are looking for your name, scrolling down on the list stapled on your school board showing the students who made it -- them who passed. Yours is not there.
You, who wait patiently for your name to be called out as teams pick up their best players. Yours is left for last.
You, who dream about your name being on the ‘contact list’ of that popular boy’s phone in your school. Not even close.
You, who long to attend the ‘cool girls’ meetings. That group seem to be complete already.
You, who work long hours, serve well and hope for a promotion. No one sees you darling girl.
You, who go to bed crying and wishing life was different. Hopelessness has become your companion.
You, whose kids are not as they ought to be and your marriage is far from the romantic adventure you thought. Your yoga leggings and tied up pony tail can’t hide your disappointment.
You, whose hands shake and tremble from the bitter cold air filling the house. No money to pay for the heating bill .
You, who dread evenings and darkness drawing close, you who loneliness has become the hardest pill to swallow compare to others who keep your body going.
You who think nobody sees, cares, loves or notices you.
Let me tell you something. He does! “Who?” -- you ask.
He, who knew your name before it ever entered any school or register records. (I am pleased with you and I know you by name Exodus 33:17)
He, who picked and chose you for greatness way before any team could have that opportunity (Before I formed you in the womb, I chose you ... “For you are God’s masterpiece. He has created you anew in Christ Jesus, so that you can do the good things he planned for you long ago. Jeremiah 1:5 Ephesians 2:10 NLT paraphrased)
He, who loves you with a passion and unending love. Unrivalled is His love for you, He calls you Beloved, He sees you as breathtaking (You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. Sol. 4:7)
He, who has made you part of His family. You are forever excepted, welcomed and cherished. (It was a happy day for Him when he gave us our new lives through the truth of his Word, and we became, as it were, the first children in his new family. James 1:18 LB)
He, who sees you when nobody else does. He sees your coming and going, your working and resting, your serving and your giving. Nothing escapes His loving heart. (God never overlooks a single sparrow. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail – even numbering the hairs on your head!” Luke 12:6-7 MSG).
He, who sees your tears and suffering, who comforts you in the deepest aches and cries of your heart. (You keep track of all my sorrows.You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8 NLT)
He, who gathers you up in His everlasting arms and tenderly speaks truth and life to you even when you feel like a failure or do not measure up. (Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Proverbs 31:30 NLT)
He, who provides and is sufficient to all our needs. Who cares for us and what we worry about. He who gives and gives in abundance. (He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes, placing them in seats of honor. For all the earth is the Lord’s, and he has set the world in order. 1 Samuel 2:8 NLT see also Philippians 4:19)
He, who makes sure you are never lonely stands by your side, for He is with you always. It’s true that you can be alone, but my friend, in Him you are never lonely for you are His. He is omnipresent, everywhere you look- there He is with His presence. He surrounds us with life to ignite the life within us. The flowers blooming, the sun shining, the mountains standing, the birds singing, the world moving...He is here, He is everywhere.
(I am a God who is everywhere and not in one place only. “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. Jeremiah 23:23 GNT , Zephaniah 3:17 NLT)
There is no one else who can love us or give words of assurance like our God does. His truth like the bread we eat for our bodies sustains our souls. His presence like living water to our existence refreshes and quenches our hearts.
He is good my friend, He can be trusted and He sees you, yes, you, not only that, He loves you. Jesus loves you and gave His life for us.
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.