National Best Friends Day

So, in celebration of National Best Friends Day, this is reposted from last year!

What actually is a best friend?

Maybe we should just start with what is a friend?

I started with the basics and googled the question, what is a friend?  And the answer was a person with whom one has a mutual bond of affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations – some synonyms are companion, confidant, familiar, ally, comrade, pal, mate.

That’s just a few, but you know how it goes – you meet someone, you find you have something in common, something mutual, you become friends.  Often you have friends in different places, school friends, work friends, church friends, friends in your town, friends from when you were growing up, you may call them all your friends, but there are usually different levels of friendship going on.  Sometimes I wouldn’t describe someone as my friend, but just someone who goes to the same place as me – that would generally mean I haven’t had much to do with them, not much interaction with them where I have found anything in common that draws me back to them, there isn’t really any conversation going on.

One thing I have learned in life is, you can know a lot of people but that does not make them necessarily your friend.

Over the last few years I have looked at the friendships I have, or don’t have any more….and even now at the age of 40something, I am still surprised at how people go through life thinking people are their friends, just because they met them once and they are now on their Facebook friend list!  And that, sadly, seems to be what is nowadays described as a friend…..someone on my Facebook list.  With all the social media platforms there are, people are conducting ‘friendships’ virtually – they are no longer spending real time with people, actually speaking to them with their voices, looking at the other person whilst actually communicating, having eye contact – modern friendships  now seem to be all about texting, liking, poking, commenting, pinging, tagging, #’s, tweets, – everything to do with real, genuine, proper friendship, seems to have turned into what status can I write to get the most likes or comments?  It even appears that people are now spending more of their time virtually, with people they have never met, possibly never will meet but they are an online friend or follower, they are spending more time ‘liking’ people’s statuses, but when in the flesh, they don’t have the time of day for them – is this really what friendship has come to?

 Maybe I am showing my age, but take me back to the days when friendships were real.  You met up with your friends, talked, spent time together, wrote letters, sent cards in the post, spoke on the telephone.  Don’t get me wrong, I am glad we have modern technology, I’m glad I can text my friends whenever and wherever.  I’m glad we have platforms such as Facebook so we can stay in touch with friends further away,  but please don’t let these things replace real and true proper friendship.

Given how difficult the last few months have been, I was glad of our family decision to take a month off Facebook!!  I took the opportunity to do some life laundry – because I think we should do this every now and then.  I realised how much time is wasted, scrawling up and down the screen, looking at what other people are doing, not necessarily ‘liking’ because they aren’t really my friend, they are just someone on my Facebook list!  I realised that the only people I missed reading about, were in my life without the online reminder.  My real friends wrote to me, texted me, met up with me and were still in touch.  There was no ‘liking’, no ‘poking’, no ‘commenting’……just good old fashioned friendship, as it used to be!

I took the plunge to unfriend people, people who I know don’t consider me their friend, people who I have literally no contact with from one day to the next, with or without Facebook, I decided to get my ‘friend list’ back to how it used to be…..people who I know are my friends, people who I have contact with, people who I know want the best for me, and I for them.  I’m sure I am not the only one who wants their Facebook profile to be something that is ‘extra’ to my friendships, I want to be able to share my photos with my friends who are miles away and I don’t see very often, I want my status updates to be something that (as my son would say) keeps the banter going until we see each other again, that it really is just a way of staying in touch and up to date.  I don’t want Facebook friends to replace real friends and at the same time, if you are only a Facebook friend, are you really my friend?

Life is hard enough without wondering if people are really your friend or not!

Best friends don’t just happen – they are friends that have taken the time to nurture their relationship.  They realise the importance of the friendship and take the steps to keep it going!  They don’t happen overnight and if you don’t take the time and actually put into the friendship, but keep taking from it, it won’t last.  But that is friendship full stop isn’t it?

“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”

Amos 3:3 (NKJV)

You don’t just sit down with someone and say can I be your best friend? do you – best friends happen when your friendship has really taken off – when your friend is there for you no matter what, they have your back, they encourage you – not discourage, they don’t judge you, they love you, they want the best for you, they speak the truth to you (even if you don’t want to hear it), they know you well enough to know what to say – if anything at all,  a best friend helps you to be the best person you can be – BUT, a best friend relationship is not all about what your friend does for you, is it –  it’s two-way, reciprocal…isn’t it?

“As iron sharpens iron,
So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend”.

Proverbs 27:17

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.  You are My friends if you do whatever I command you”.

John 15:12-14 (NKJV)

Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful”

Proverbs 27:6 (NKJV)

So, not only on National Best Friends Day, but every day be thankful for the friends you have and even more so when you know you can call them your best friend too.

 

Sometimes we forget!

Where would we be without FB acting like our personal diary eh?!

Yesterday, throughout the morning I kept thinking that something is happening today.  I couldn’t think what it was and then FB reminded me that on this day 5 years ago, we moved out of our house and all our belongings went into storage…..and so the journey began!

Today, FB reminded me of this blog post I’d written a year later to the day.

How is it that on reading it again today, I can honestly say that whether it’s four years on or five years on – the lesson remains the same?!!

Sometimes we forget that we aren’t in control of situations, God is.  We forget that we don’t have to know all the answers, God does.  We forget that we aren’t going alone, He is with us and we forget to trust Him.  We forget that it isn’t our timescale and that God’s timing is always perfect!

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves not to forget.

~♥~

I do like it when I find myself reading something that is highly appropriate to the day!  When I woke up a year ago today, I did my usual daily reading plan and actually remember kind of laughing!  I guess I really was chuckling to myself simply because something clicked, something dawned on me…..I was given some sort of answer!

“our God faithfully cares for us in numerous ways. In the different seasons of life, we find ourselves facing all sorts of challenges—but we do not face them on our own. As Christ said, “Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:8).

In our time of need—whether spiritual, emotional, or physical—we can depend on the faithful care and concern of the Father. He knows us so well that He chooses the perfect time to give us what is best and to send reassurance of His care. “Not one [sparrow] is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear . . . ; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7)”.

It wasn’t actually the above that made me chuckle…..it was just the words added at the very bottom of the page that said

“God’s timing is always right”

A year ago today, was it the end of the beginning of our journey, or the beginning of the end of it……when we didn’t know what we were doing, where we were going, we had no money, no nothing and right up until the last minute anything was possible!  Reading that God’s timing is always right in the early hours of the morning we were moving out of our home was to me, almost like God was saying to me, don’t you believe Me, don’t you believe that I am in control of your life?

And so it carries on doesn’t it….well, life carries on…..the days go by…..the days turn into months and the months end up being a year!  Every day that goes by, in theory, is a step further along the path isn’t it?  Every day that goes by, life is carrying on…it can even seem as though life is carrying on for everyone else but you….like you’ve got stuck, maybe even left behind!

I read a quote the other day that said you don’t need water to feel like you’re drowning and thought really how true that is!  When I was running yesterday I saw this little sign and thought it was quite funny…..I just saw the words Danger and you may be trapped – I thought it was such a stupid sized sign if they really did want to warn you about danger!Teignbridge-20130504-00951

It made me think that however far along our path we are, there are still times when it feels like the water levels are rising, things are trying to trap us, to pull us down….drown us and it made me think of the verses in Isaiah 43 where it says

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not pass over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour;”

I guess if there is anything I have learned from this last year is that whatever happens, whatever I come up against, whatever things are trying to pull me down, keep me from moving on, I am not going through it alone and that I am not going to drown!   Oh, and that God’s timing is always right!

H♥ME

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And so the day came, after about 40 years….my parents were moving house!

The place where I lived for much of my childhood was not going to be a part of my life anymore.

Friends asked me how I felt and to be honest, I said it’s only a house but then over the last couple of days, I started to think that actually it is a bit sad because we will never go there ever again!

The place that has always been there, even though I have moved a few times since moving out….the place that has always been there when I have gone home.

We were all wondering what the new house would be like, my children wondered what on earth they would do without the house their grandparents had always lived in, it was not only my childhood home, it was the home from home my children were always excited to visit and visits were never long enough for them!

It has to be said, I think everyone was excited as they explored the new house and garden.  It didn’t take long for the youngest child to ask if it was wrong that they had forgotten about the other house already?!

As we all sat around the familiar dining table eating – the only thing that was different, was the location of the table!

Nothing had changed – this was home.

Everyone I love was together.

Adults were pottering around, murmuring quietly about this and that, others were laughing, children were in full ‘banter’ mode….nothing had changed.  The house may have changed but nothing else had.

If  a stranger had been standing at a window peaking in, aside from all the boxes, they would never have known that this house had only just been moved into.

Home isn’t the location is it?

Our lives are filled with days that are filled with moments – all those moments make up the memories that we carry through life with us and I was thinking about the home I grew up in….yes, it is the ‘home’ I grew up in but the home is not the house is it.  We may live in a house, but it is not the house that makes the home…..home is the people we share it with!  When the house is filled with those you l♥ve, then you have a home, don’t you?

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My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
    in secure homes,
    in undisturbed places of rest.”

Isaiah 32:18

“For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.”

Hebrews 3:4

2016…I wasn’t prepared!

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately – I guess the end of another year tends to bring that about.  However, this year has been different.  I have had so much going on, so much thinking has taken place but I have had a complete inability to write.  I think mainly because of all the situations and happenings that have gone on (there comes a point when you know you just have to leave your thoughts where they are and keep them to yourself!).

~♥~

It’s odd – you know when someone asks you, where do you see yourself in 5 years time?  Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

Well, this Christmas marks 5 years from the Christmas that changed things completely for me.  If someone had asked me back then, where do you see yourself in 5 years time? I would never in a million years have seen myself where I am now, and I never would have believed that 5 years would have gone by soooo quickly!

It’s mad how life can be so different yet some things are just the same!

~♥~

When I started to look back over 2016, I was convinced it had been a terrible year –  annus horribilis as the Queen once said!  but actually, as I sit here now, looking back through the photos, I have been reminded of the good times, funny moments, family days out, family holidays, parties, special occasions, embarrassing moments, sad moments, exceedingly happy moments – I can see that whilst it hasn’t been great all the time, there has been far more good stuff going on and if I’m not careful, I can let the bad stuff overshadow it, can’t I?

 I knew that 2016 was going to be a tough year, simply because my first baby was going to be leaving home, I knew I was going to be devastated but I wasn’t prepared for just how emotional it would all be!  Aside from that, I wasn’t prepared for all the other ‘tough stuff to deal with’, that was to come my way this year……I wasn’t prepared for the complete and utter sadness I would feel when a local homeless man died, I wasn’t prepared for just how much it would hit me.  I wasn’t prepared for the feeling of betrayal by people who were meant to be friends, finding myself and those close to me being blamed for other people’s issues.  One of the hardest things this year for me, has been keeping my mouth shut!  I have so wanted to shout from the roof tops, it’s not my fault!  I wasn’t prepared for the complete and utter lack of ‘structure’ and ‘routine’ to my days – it took me a while to ‘get’ that this was it, this was my life now…..it was up to me to work out what I should be doing on what day, who I should be seeing, who I should be helping…or not!  I wasn’t prepared for how completely draining some people can be – I wasn’t prepared to have to choose to stop helping someone because no matter what I said or did, I couldn’t fix them – only God could do that.   I wasn’t prepared for how difficult it would be to not have any wages coming in – but then I knew we had everything we needed and more, I guess I learned more so this year, that what we think we need and what we do actually need….God knows and He provides.

~♥~

Looking on the brighter side of things…….I wasn’t prepared to find myself becoming good friends with people, double my age….and older!   I wasn’t prepared to find these were the people I spent much of my time with.  I wasn’t prepared to find that people genuinely cared for me and my family, that they really love us and pray for us everyday.  I wasn’t prepared to find that some of the best days of this year were spent just sitting, chatting and spending time with people who aren’t related but have become family to me.  I wasn’t prepared for the kindness of people, who popped something in an envelope so my family could have an extra treat when we were away.  I wasn’t prepared for the generosity of a friend who surprised me with a gift that they knew I wanted but couldn’t buy….just because they wanted me to have it!  I wasn’t prepared for the surprise of an amazing gift of a much needed holiday in a few weeks time.  I wasn’t prepared to find that the majority of my time would be spent doing things for and with other people, with rarely a minute to myself, yet somehow managing to survive!  I wasn’t prepared for how much my children would accept that this is it and just go with the flow!

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I guess I just wasn’t prepared for the reality of being a (full-time) pastor’s wife!  Unfortunately, I wasn’t prepared by being given a ‘how to be’ book to read!  I wasn’t prepared to find that suddenly my life wasn’t just me, my husband, my kids…..it was all of that and so much more.

So I can honestly say, if you had asked me back then, where do you see yourself in 5 years time?  I would never ever have suggested that this is where I would be!  2016 has possibly been one of the toughest years of my life but it hasn’t finished me off!  If anything, it has made me even stronger, and more determined to be the best wife, mama, friend, daughter, sister – oh, and pastor’s wife!  

~♥~

 Hmm, I have read my intentions for 2016 and wonder if I achieved them!  Did I live making the best of each day?  Did I do more reading, writing, running, taking photos?  Have I got to the end of 2016 and am I surprised at how much I have done, how many places I have been to??

I guess I will have to own up to having allowed the tough stuff to cloud the good stuff but on closer inspection…..2016 has been filled with great stuff!

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2016, the year I turned 44 –  my husband took me for coffee high up in the Dolomite mountains, I waved one of my children off on a coach to stay with a family in another country, became that mum in wellie boots watching her son play rugby, became that mum that sits in the car outside reading while her daughter has a piano lesson, started wearing glasses for reading (ssh, and for threading needles!), ran nearly 333 miles, went to pilates, had 2 of my girls taking piano exams, had a park picnic with my oldest friend – just like the old days 25+ years ago but now with our children!, my second child passed her driving theory test, I took my eldest to vote for the first time and put my X in the box for the Brexit vote, had the French exchange girl come to stay for a week, had the annual family camping trip, had a 3 night family trip to London, had my first proper filling, rekindled my love of knitting!  knitted a blanket for a friend’s new baby, knitted a squidgy out of shape bunny rabbit for someone – everyone should have a ‘rad’,  packed my first baby and her rad off to university expecting her home any minute only to find she has settled into life in her new town/church and Christian Union – resulting in overcoming my phobia of video calls so we can Skype (thank goodness for modern technology eh!), have been amazed at the flexibility of my youngest child who never stops dancing/stretching/bending/doing the splits, been on several road trips with #2 daughter to university open days, taken #3 daughter to her dance exam, my not so little boy is now towering over me and became rugby player of the year, #2 daughter is taller than me now too, been to my first ever real live football match, completed the One Year Bible, read a few books but not nearly enough!, taken loads of photos, completed ‘3 things to be thankful for today’ every night, had a month off FB….and dare I say it – survived!, went to Gloucester Cathedral to see the grave of Edward II, went around Venice by water taxi, had a medical, had a Wimbledon tea towel brought home for me, bought ‘mother & son’ West Ham t-shirts, watched all of Anne of Green Gables,  saw The Lady of Shallott at Tate Britain, visited Dartmoor Prison Museum, watched The Lord of The Rings Trilogy for the first time, I ran beside the sea for the first time, took my son to watch the rugby on the big screen at Sandy Park, had breakfast at Ikea, and so much more….. after a brilliant family Christmas I’ve started to look forward to next year’s already!

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We have exciting times ahead of us, so to all of you travelling along the road with us, thank you for being there this past year and we look forward to what’s in store next year…… 2016, I wasn’t prepared for you but after all the lessons you’ve brought me – 2017, I think I am better prepared!!!

~♥~

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:13-14

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

Romans 8:28

World Kindness Day

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Apparently 13 November is World Kindness Day so, Happy World Kindness Day!

On this day, people are supposed to change the world with a simple act of kindness toward another fellow human being…it is a day that encourages individuals to overlook boundaries, race and religion (Gulf News).

Personally, I’m sure that this should be a daily thing…not just something kept for 13 November but hey, at least people recognise the need for kindness!

It would be great if everyone could see the benefit of kindness, everyday, unfortunately it seems to miss some people out completely…..I can’t make anyone be kind but I know that I can be kind and I don’t have to leave it until 13 November every year to do so!

So what is kindness then….kindness is love in action.

We don’t have to look far do we, to see the need around us – there are people everywhere crying out for someone just to give them the time of day, a kind word, a smile, a hello, good morning as you pass by on your way somewhere, speak kind words to everyone you meet, hold a door open, helping someone carry a pushchair up some stairs, helping carry boxes/shopping, offering to do some shopping even, buying a coffee for someone, making someone a cuppa, baking a cake, doing someone’s ironing, giving someone a lift somewhere, sending an unexpected card/note, offering to babysit, doing the school run for someone, helping someone with the job……the list is endless.

There are so many ways that we can show a little bit of kindness to everyone we meet.  Rather than saying hello and moving swiftly on, say hello and stay and listen to how that person really is.  Instead of saying I’d love to stay and chat – stay and chat!  Rather than race up the stairs ahead of the crowds, slow down and help someone before they get crushed in the crowd!  Instead of keeping yourself to yourself, put yourself out there and offer to do something for someone….better still, do something for them and surprise them with it!  Make them a cake, a gift even, write a note, buy some flowers….it doesn’t even have to cost money, what it really will cost you, is your time.

Take the time to be kind…..everyday and to everyone you meet.

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things.”

Galations 5:22-23

“Love is patient and kind”

1 Corinthians 13:4

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:32

“Kindness is the language that the blind can see and the deaf can hear.”

Mark Twain

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted”.

Aesop

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.  The greatest work that kindes does to others is that it makes them kind themselves”.

Amelia Earhart

“When you’re a kid it’s people’s cruelty that makes you cry, then when you’re an adult it’s their kindness”.

Glen Duncan, The Last Werewolf

“Constant kindness can accomplish much.  As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.”
Albert Schweitzer
 ♥
“How you make others feel about themselves says a whole lot about you.  So, treat people right.  Kindness is a gift you can afford to give”

(re-posted from 2014)

You’re beautiful….it’s true!

(reposted)

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, but how to get the thoughts out there, that’s a whole other matter!

The conversation has been popping up a lot lately, between us girls at home.

It seems we are constantly bombarded with people telling us, adverts telling us, magazines telling us – telling us to just use this product and then we will feel better about ourself….just use that product and then we will look better than ever before….just use the other product and we will find we have the confidence to do anything we want….just use this even better product and all your wrinkles and stretchmarks will be gone, in seconds – you know what I’m saying – all the adverts and posters that seem to tell us that all our problems will be fixed with a little magic potion…they don’t seem to tell you that it isn’t a permanent fix, that you need to keep re-taking that potion or keep re-using the product.

The first time I was pregnant, I remember the day I came across a strange mark on my oh so huge belly!  I didn’t have a clue what it was and thought it looked like someone had tried to remove a nail from me with a claw hammer!  When it dawned on me that I had my first ever stretchmark, I was partly gutted and partly proud of it…weird eh!  Gutted because people told me I would never get rid of them, and I was scarred for life but proud of it because in some strange way, it marked me as a mama…..okay, I wasn’t prepared for how many stretchmarks would come with that first one but to this day, I couldn’t be without them because they came as part of the package that is motherhood!  So many people would have us believe that they are an eyesore, they need to be got rid of and true, I don’t show mine to the world, but why be made to feel ashamed of them, embarrassed by them, be made to feel that they are something oh so wrong?

As a mama of three girls, believe me, I know the score when it comes to girls.  I know about ‘competition’.  I know not wanting to be the one who wasn’t included, the one with something ‘not right’,  the ‘ugly’ one.  I know not wanting to be the one ‘not picked’ because my face wasn’t right, my height wasn’t right, my weight wasn’t right, my hairdo wasn’t right.  I know about wanting to be in ‘the popular group’.  I know about just wanting to fit in – I know….I guess I know because I too was a girl growing up who went through all those issues too.  I know and actually, it isn’t only girls that feel that way, girls and boys alike have that deep down desire, need even, to know – that they fit in, that they make the grade, pass the test – that they are acceptable….that they are accepted just as they are.

Now I am a mum, I listen to my children telling me tales of who said what, who did what, who is in ‘the popular group’ – and more to the point, who isn’t…..I listen and I question.  How can children be so horrible to each other and about each other, has it always been so?  Have children always been so nasty?  Where do they learn it?  Who tells them that it is okay to treat other children like this?

I guess the point I am trying to get across, is that I know growing up is hard and can in fact be quite horrible.  I know that children can be cruel to each other and that children can grow up to become adults with many scars from the years gone by.

I guess until I had children of my own, I didn’t realise just how important it was that each of them, individually, knew that they were loved, that they were special, that they were beautiful….that whatever happened, they made the grade, reached the mark, that there was nothing about them that needed changing…..just as they are, they are just right.  

I know I’m probably a bit harsh when I hear that someone has been horrible to my child or about them.  Tell me a mama that isn’t on the attack when they hear their child’s tales of woe – there’s nothing worse for a mama than to hear that someone has been horrible to her child, been cruel to them,  found fault with them.   A baby isn’t just another person that she brought into the world, that baby is a part of her very being – when someone wounds her baby, they wound her.

 I remember when I first had a baby girl, I read how important it was, NOT to let her grow up hearing you constantly talking about being unhappy with your weight and needing to go on a diet, NOT to hear you saying you were fat, NOT to see you looking at yourself in the mirror and finding fault with yourself……children imitate so be careful what you are doing and saying in front of them.  I guess for me, I really took that to heart – I don’t even remember owning bathroom scales!  I know I must have been doing something right when she came home from school telling me a friend of hers was going on a diet – she was only in primary school!

I have made it my mission as a mama, ( I guess partly this stems from remembering the cruelty of other children when I was a child), to make sure that they absolutely know they are loved, wanted, thought about, planned, they are not a mistake…they were always meant to be.  Before they were even conceived, they were thought of, by their Creator – for some reason, He decided I was the mama for them, and they were the babies for me….way before whenever, they were loved and known by Someone far greater than their mama.

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb”

Jeremiah 1:5 (NLT)

When God gives you a child, they aren’t yours to keep, they are entrusted to you, to bring up….in the best possible way!  Granted there are always going to be things you wish had been done differently, things you hope haven’t left great open wounds or scars.  If you can bring up your children to know that they are precious (I don’t like that word, but there is no other word suitable!)….they are individual, God created them to be exactly who they are, not like someone else, exactly who they are.  The features they have that someone else draws attention to, are a part of what makes them who they are….and they are unique.  There is no one else exactly the same as them, and they are not exactly the same as anyone else – God created them to be who they are.  They are His choice and He loves them.  He knows every hair on their head.

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed”.

Psalm 139:13-16 (NLT)

“And the very hairs on your head are all numbered”.

Luke 12:7 (NLT)

People need to bring up their children to know that true beauty is found on the inside, not on the outside, that in the end, true beauty is found in who you are, the kind of person you are and not what you look like, not your appearance.  Real confidence is not found in a bottle, in an easy-fix solution, real confidence is found in knowing that you are a child of God, that you are loved and accepted beyond measure by your Heavenly Father.

“Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience”.

Colossians 3:12 (NLT)

 You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God”.

1 Peter 3:4 (NLT)

 “Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
    but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised”.

Proverbs 31:30 (NLT)

Happy World Smile Day

(re-posted)

Today, the first Friday in October, is World Smile Day.

I’ve taken to looking on the internet to find out what day is it today? and I quite liked the thought that it is World Smile Day.

When I was a child, I seem to remember there being a plaque up that said,  if you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.

Over the years I have often thought about that plaque!

If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.

But we don’t tend to, do we?

We tend to rush around in our own little world, doing our own thing, busy, busy….smile?  Nah, we’re too busy to smile!

Smile at someone…someone you don’t even know?  Oh, I don’t think so, do you?

Can you imagine?!

How do we show ourselves to be different to other people?

How do people see that we care?

How do we let them see that they are not alone?

Maybe in our corner of the world where we are so busy, busy, busy…maybe we could just slow down,  start to notice the people around us, the ones we usually race past – start smiling at them!

Sounds silly doesn’t it…but if you smile at someone, you never know, you just might make their day a bit brighter….you may end up putting a smile on their face and they in turn may end up putting a smile on someone else’s face…..and so it goes on!

You never know….one day a smile…..then one day a hello….then one day a how are you?….then one day you realise you’ve got a friend and to think, it all started with that one smile!

You may not think you need another friend, but who knows, maybe someone else needs a friend…and it’s you?

~♥~

Although today is World Smile Day, maybe we could try to smile everyday, not just today.

Maybe we could make a point of slowing down, looking and seeing who is around us, noticing what’s going on, seeing who needs a smile in their direction.

And bonus…there are ‘benefits’ to smiling too – smiling is contagious, it lowers stress and anxiety, it boosts your immune system, it lowers your blood pressure, it is a natural drug – releasing endorphins, makes you look younger and  did you know it takes more muscles to frown than to smile, so you’re better off smiling eh?!

So, set yourself a challenge….SMILE!  Smile wherever you go, smile at whoever you see, just smile.

Get yourself a reputation….be known as that person who is always smiling….the one who smiles at everyone.  Better that than being known as the one who always scowls at everyone, surely?

So, today on World Smile Day…..do an act of kindness.  Make one person smile 🙂

“A happy heart makes the face cheerful”

Proverbs 15:13

International Day of Peace

Image result for world peace day 2016

(reposted)

It has become one of those ‘things we do’.  My children ask me what I would like for Christmas or for my birthday, I tell them um, I think I’d like world peace, please.

It’s the same everytime.  We have a bit of a laugh about it and they tell me that sadly, they don’t think they can get it for me and what would I like instead.

So, today is the day.

‘Peace Day’….’International Peace Day’….’World Peace Day’….’International Day of Peace’…. whatever we call it, today is the day that is observed annually around the world.

It is the day dedicated to world peace, specifically the absence of war and violence.

Surely, I am not the only one, that thinks just a day?  We don’t just want world peace today, we want world peace every day, don’t we?

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We may not think that individually we can achieve world peace, and to be fair, that is a tough one – but it doesn’t mean we can’t do our bit, does it?

In Romans 12:18 it says

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone”.

If we concentrate on creating peace in our own life, in our surroundings, in our little corner of the world, then we are at least doing something, aren’t we?

Doing something is always better than doing nothing, I’m sure!

We so frequently hear people tell us wherever we go to “spread happiness”, “spread joy”, “spread a smile”…you’ve got it – why not spread peace too?

According to the dictionary, peace is (i) calm, quiteness, (ii) absence of anxiety, (iii) freedom from war, (iv) harmony between people.

Another dicionary described peace as freedom from disturbance, tranquility, mental or emotional calm.

To be peaceable is to be inclined towards peace.

If you ‘hold one’s peace’ you remain silent about something – if you ‘make one’s peace’ you re-establish friendly relations.

In the Bible, in Matthew 5:9 it says

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”.

Instead of thinking I can’t do anything to help achieve world peace – start spreading peace where you are, in your corner of the world.

Choose to be a peacemaker, not a peacebreaker.

Choose to be the calm in other’s storms.

Choose to ‘hold your peace’ instead of losing it unnecessarily.

Choose to ‘make your peace’ instead of argue.

Speak words of peace rather than hostility.

Choose to love and not to hate.

There are so many ways we can spread peace, wherever we are and we need to choose to do so, even if we don’t think it will make a difference…..because in your corner of the world, it will.

And that, is a start, isn’t it?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law”.

Galations 5:22-23

Wide as the ocean

(resposted from 2014)

Over a year and a half ago I started a blog post on the subject of love!

For some reason I thought it would be easy enough to get all the thoughts out of my head and out there, so to speak.  I’ve got loads half said, got a lot of it down on paper even, but actually, the subject is way beyond me!

As with all these things, I am constantly returning to them, looking at them and either tweaking them or starting over so this is not even the said blog post…that’s still being worked on!!

The subject of love doesn’t go away though, does it?

The other day I read this verse as part of a study with questions attached….which obviously got me thinking!

 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me”.

John 17:23 (NLT)

As many times as we read verses and as much as we know that God loves us, we don’t seem to take it in properly do we?  We don’t let it really sink in?

While I read it again, it was the you love them as much as you love me that made me really really think.  We know that God loves everyone, we know He has no favourites, we know because even if we haven’t read it for ourself in the Bible, chances are we were taught this growing up.

But for some reason, it doesn’t always hit home, does it?  It’s massive!

There is a point where we can kind of think I know that God doesn’t have favourites, I know He loves us all equally….but Jesus is THE ONE….He’s the favourite but that verse doesn’t say that does it?  It says you love them as you love me.

And that is massive….I don’t know any other word for it….it’s too much to comprehend, to take in, but that’s what it says……God loves me, you, all of us, as He loves Jesus.

~♥~

I am a mum to four children.  I have been asked a few times over the years who my favourite is!

It tends to be non-parents who don’t seem to understand, they can’t see how there isn’t one child that I favour over the rest of them.

I don’t know how it happens but every child you have, you have exactly the same amount of love for that child as you do with the next and the next….oh and the next!  It’s probably the only thing in life that you don’t run out of with the more children you have!

IMG_5223 - Copy

As I’ve said in previous blog posts, I am not comparing myself to God but the whole parent thing, loving all your children the same…..we’re talking Jesus and we’re talking about me, you, whoever…..it’s massive!

~♥~

 I went to the sea again at the weekend and as with every time I go to the sea, I am reminded of just how massive that is too…..water as far ahead as I can see, water as far to the sides as I can see and goodness knows how deep the water goes down….massive!  As far as my eyes can see, there is still so much more water further ahead…..as deep as the water is nearer to where I am, it is so much deeper further out.

20140913_140127

While I was starting to write this, I remembered an old Sunday School song I used to sing…

Wide, wide as the ocean, high as the heavens above, deep, deep as the deepest sea, is my Saviour’s love.  I, though so unworthy, still am a child of His care.  For His Word teaches me, that His love reaches me, everywhere.

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Here is love, vast as the ocean….

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“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is”.

Ephesians 3:18 (NLT)

Cupcakes to the brothels!

(re-posted from 2013)

So….my family and about 15 others of us have just returned from a week camping!  Not your usual camping holiday mind, for my family, it has turned out to be our annual jaunt, we can’t imagine not doing it now it’s been so many years.  However, for a couple of people in our group it was their first time…..yeah, we had a holiday with a difference….we went to New Wine which is a huge Christian conference attended by thousands of people.

In our house we are still getting back into the luxury of hot running water, the kettle boiling almost instantly and the cup of tea staying hot, not having to queue for the toilets or a shower…however, every year there comes a time whilst away, that the thought really does cross my mind – “actually I think I could live here like this always”!  Surrounded  by thousands of other ‘like-minded’ people, living very basically, no hairdryers, no straighteners, no TV, no ‘normal’ BUT we are all in the same boat, and everyone seems to just get on with complete random strangers!  It would be very easy to live a life loving your neighbour were we able to live all year round in a huge Christian gathering wouldn’t it?  Getting up in the morning, heading off to worship with thousands of others, hearing amazing preaching throughout the day, sitting around talking and then heading off for the next installment….it would be very easy to live like this wouldn’t it?

We came home late on Saturday night and our first stop was the all night petrol station for milk (couldn’t not have a proper cuppa before bed!).  As we drove into the town, suddenly there were people everywhere spilling out of the pubs, stumbling out of taxis and down the road….and my exact words were “back to reality”.

This year there were some really amazing speakers and one lady who I could listen to over and over was Danielle Strickland.  I heard her last year and a few times last week….last night while I was reading some stuff about her, I found out that she is younger than me!  Okay, only 6 months younger but I said to my friend “my life is dull in comparison”.  I would love to go knocking on the doors of brothels and telling them I’ve brought them cupcakes!

 When you hear about someone’s life, what their past has been like, how much they have done etc, maybe it’s just me, but you assume they are older than you simply because they have done so much!  Hmm, obviously not so!

There can be a tendency to think that our life is nothing because we don’t get to pray for miracles on airplanes, we don’t get to knock on the doors of brothels giving out cupcakes, we may never have anything to do with drug addicts and people who are in prison….however, as we also hear time and time again and should remind ourselves, God didn’t create us all to do the same things and He does have different things for each of us to do!  There is also the tendency to think about the prospect of visiting the brothels, praying for the miracles and all of the other stuff and think “oh I could never do that” or “well, He wouldn’t use someone like me”…..

While speaking, she happened to mention Gideon.  For some reason, I have heard Gideon being mentioned so many times lately!  He had what she called the “I suck syndrome”!  So many of us are like that aren’t we!  When the Lord told Gidoen He was sending him to save Israel out of Midian’s hand, he responded just like most of us would……“how can I”? “I am the least….”  And the Lord answered Gideon just as He does to us “I will be with you”  (Judges 6:14-16).

I imagine we all are a bit like Gideon….think we couldn’t possible do anything, come from the wrong family, that we are way too not good enough etc.  However, if the Lord calls you to do something, to go somewhere, He won’t be just sending you alone….He will be with you.  Okay, so it may not be to the brothels, to the prisons, to the slums, to the war torn countries etc but you can be sure that wherever you are at the moment, is where you are meant to be and He has brought you to that place and right now the people around you need to be shown the love of Christ just as the people in all the other places.

This morning I was faced with a challenge when some young chap drove into the back of my car outside my house….I know it’s only a car, but really!  I did my best to not get annoyed, to do the right thing, say the right thing and basically be the good Christian person but after about a minute he completely went off on one at me, was shouting, swearing, demanding I did what he wanted blah, blah, blah.  When he told me to something or other off and stuck his finger up at me,  I so so so wanted to really give him what for but all I could think was I have to live in this road and people will be watching me!!!  Ohhhh, I so would rather have been taking cupcakes to a brothel I tell you…but this is where I am meant to be!  These are the people that I am ‘called’ to witness to (until I hear otherwise!).  Hmm…I don’t think I passed the test completely this morning but I didn’t fail too miserably!

He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’.”
Luke 10:27

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us”.
1 John 4:7-12

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