FMF: Instant – MYSTERIES.

One of the lessons I have learned over my life, is that there are mysteries that I shall not understand this side of heaven.

I have made my peace with that. My brain is far too small, and so is my heart.

One such mystery to me, is why in things of God, some things appear instant, and some are, well, to my mind, far too slow in appearing!

For instance, (coincidentally) why are some people healed instantly and some over a period of time, or not on earth at all?

Why are some prayers answered in an instant and some we do not see an answer to?

What I have accepted is that God’s ways are higher than my ways; that He knows the bigger picture; that His thoughts and priorities are higher, and more perfect, than mine.

But some things of God ARE INSTANT.

Salvation – If I open my heart up to God, believe that Jesus died for my sins, accept Him as my Lord and Saviour – then I am instantly ‘born again’ and Father, Son and Spirit come to live in me.

Do I then look and sound like Jesus? For most of us, NO.

Though some of us, with major wounds, may receive instant transformation and miracles, for most of us, our personality and growth as Christians, our sanctification if you like, it is a process that takes the rest of our lives, growing in one degree of glory to another.

Maybe this continues in heaven too.

Personally I have learned to be grateful for this, for whilst I would love to be instantly healed of my personal issues, childhood wounds, sinful tendencies etc, I know that whilst I am weak and humbly acknowledge my need for God in all things, I cannot fall into pride of thinking that I have it all sussed and can do anything without God.

My weakness and need keep me close to Jesus’ side and in relationship with Him constantly.

By myself I can do no good thing of Kingdom value.

One thing that blows my mind though, is that God can also be even faster than instant!

Wow!

Even before a thought is on my heart, God knows it.

That is faster than instant!!!

Stop.

Every Friday, I join an online Christian writing community, Five Minute Friday. We are given a one-word prompt and write – unscripted, unedited, pure free-write – for 5 minutes. The prompt this week is INSTANT.

My time is up.

Instant whip image.

So to conclude:

God hears and responds in His perfect way to every prayer – even before I utter it myself.

My salvation is instant that I believe and repent; but my sanctification (my becoming more like Jesus) this takes at least the rest of our lives.

We need to lean in to God for everything and be patient, trusting that our times are in His hands and all His ways are perfect and safe.

I heard recently that Impatience is simply our focus on the I and the Me – on what I’m getting! God knows what I need!

Now there’s a thought!

Do you like Christmas?

At this time of the year, many folk are asking “Do you like Christmas?”

I ask this of others too.

I wonder what they like and why.

I wonder what I like and why.

As a child I really looked forward to Christmas. It was the only time of the year when we received gifts. We had cards and some small gift for our birthday, but at Christmas, we got everything we would need for the year – new coat, school shoes and uniform, clothes, bubble-bath and those exciting extras, like colouring book, puzzle, felt-tips, an annual, a story book, maybe something to make or do – a spirograph, a soap-making, or candle-making kit, a sugar mouse… and a selection box. Traditionally, there was always an orange and a handful of nuts in shells in the bottom of the pillow-case too.

What was not to like?

Mammy was also home from work for a few days; the tree was taken out and decorated; Mammy had long since made a Christmas cake and all the treats and extra special food was in store.

Weeks in advance we had prepared the cake, mixed the fruit, soaked in the brandy, rolled out the almond paste, iced the snow-scene, and greeted all our little Christmas friends who played on the cake for another season…

The side-board was smiling proud with the tree in the centre, flanked by the cake and a selection of festive tipples – advocat, beer, QC sherry, cherry B and Babycham…

On Christmas morning, we would wake in the dark to feel if Santa had been, and left a pillow case at the foot of the bed. Whispering our anticipation, dragging the bag up and feeling the shapes of parcels, guessing what they contained.

Soon we would join Mammy in the kitchen to roll out the prepared flakey pastry for sausage rolls and mince-pies to gurgle in the oven before the trussed bird took up all the space…

Then we would open our presents in earnest…

Did I like it as a child?

Of course I did.

Do I like it now?

I don’t know.

I like the opportunity to celebrate with my beloveds – especially my grand-children and I love the memories of how special my Mammy made it for us children, despite the hardships. Hardships were forgotten for Christmas day.

Stop.

Every Friday, I join an online Christian writing community, Five Minute Friday. We are given a one-word prompt and write – unscripted, unedited, pure free-write – for 5 minutes. The prompt this week is LIKE.

As a child I didn’t know Jesus, though I knew Christmas was a celebration of His birth. Now Jesus is my Lord and my friend, my teacher, healer and my Saviour.

Today I celebrate the mystery of God’s love at Christmas – that God should enter the world as flesh, become one like us, so that we can become one with Him.

What’s not to celebrate? What’s not to like?

This year I want to choose to intentionally celebrate all that is good about Christmas, and not get sucked into the empty commercialism and stress of expectation. ]It is a season of hope and joy and peace to all men and women of goodwill.

Let that be our focus as we make special moments and memories with our loved ones and remember that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

So I ask you: Do you like Christmas?

What do you not like?

What might you do more intentionally this year?

What are you passionate about?

FMF: EXTREME

“You go from one extreme to another!”

(I was oft berated and criticised thus.)

“An emotional roller-coaster.”

(I even wrote a poem about this part of my personality. –

Emotional Roller Coaster‘ – LINK https://wordpress.com/post/dawnfanshawe.wordpress.com/3)

‘All or nothing’ was another description spoken over me.

Some of this was extreme (but natural) reactions to childhood pain – my way of coping with the experienced I faced, and my responses to those hurts and disappointments.

When we experience painful situations, over which we have no control, we often take extreme measures to protect our hearts from further pain.

I praise God that, over many years, the Lord has been softening my heart, breaking down my walls, healing me of old pain, and setting me free from my sinful judgments and responses I made.

Little by little, I am coming out of agreement with lies that have held me captive, and with vows that have bound and limited me.

Addictions have been broken, thanks be to God, and new desires and paths are opened up, but I can’t yet say that I am moderate! It may be a personality thing.

What comes to mind (optimistically perhaps), is the Lord exhorting us to be hot or cold, for He wants to spew out our lukewarm-ness. (Forgive my paraphrase, whilst I find the reference).

Revelation 3:15-16

 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  

So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

God is passionate in His love and His compassion and He wants us to be passionate and generous in our compassion and love too – for Him and for one another.

If we are a bit lukewarm, we can inadvertently fall into compromise and into building a house of own choosing.

We may miss the exciting destiny to which God has called us and for which He made us.

What are you passionate about?

(Fan into flame image)

2 Timothy 1:6

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

Talk to God about it and see if He wants to fan that passion back into flame!

Every Friday, I join an online Christian writing community, Five Minute Friday. We are given a one-word prompt and write – unscripted, unedited, pure free-write – for 5 minutes. The prompt this week is EXTREME.

October Opportunities

Heart and mind holding hands

The truth will set you free. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

Thank You Father God, for exposing the lies buried deep within – lies that say that to need is greedy, ungrateful and selfish. Thank You for showing me the truth that You want me to learn to know and express my needs, that You care about meeting all of my needs and that You want me to bring all of my needs, concerns, cares, burdens and desires to You – for You promise to listen, to guard my heart and mind and to provide all of my needs.

Lord, You are faithful and true to Your promise.

Blessed be God forever.

Thank You.

Here I want to give thanks publicly for the prayers that God has heard, and that I have seen answers to during the month of October: –

I thank you for Your perfect timing in allowing K to take her neck-brace off, to drive again and for giving her a new home to move to.

For opportunities to minister to C and to speak Your truth and her song and for strengthening her to say Yes to You.

For meeting L’s needs at the funeral of her brother.

For letting R get the job.

For a fabulous last week on the course and for enrolling me on part 2 – for giving me hope, tools, freedom and my song.

For wonderful growth and fellowship in our Home Group.

For healing in C and in our relationship.

For a fun and delightful show night at the theatre.

For some extra work in pre-school, which is a blessing financially and to my heart.

For ‘ephaphtha’ – for opening my ears to hear You and dispelling confusion.

For our joint service with Renaissance Church and for the exciting work You are doing for Your glory here in Carlton.

For taking this beautiful woman of faith home to dance in freedom with Jesus.

For an amazing response to half-term lunch-club, the dedication of the team and the grace You have shown to enable us to serve over 300 lunches.

For the chances to connect with R, C, J and for a lovely sleepover with my grandchildren.

For PG’s kindness to solve my problem and strip all the plaster off.

For the commitment of our Alpha guests and the work You are doing in our hearts.

For Your promise that he who asks, receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

For the opportunity to re-watch all the wonderful EH course videos and consolidate the learning.

For the kindness of the team at Specsavers and the gift of soothing eye-drops.

For showing me that Your sheep CAN hear Your voice.

The song in my ears this week has been

No fear of death, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from Your hand; till He returns, or calls me home, here in the grace of God I stand.’

God is as close to you as the air you breathe and is more faithful and loving than you can ever imagine. Trust Him with all of your concerns, prayers, needs, hopes and desires and He will guard your heart and give you divine rest and peace.

Philippians 4:6-7

Phew, what a performance!

Image shows performance indicator dial ranging from bad to excellent

Perform

I think it is true to say that some of us have an ‘issue’ with ‘performance orientation’. Some of us have ‘performance anxiety’ and we may well have both.

In my understanding, hurts felt by us, and expectations we felt put upon us, in childhood, can cause us to feel inadequate/ not good enough as we are, and in some way flawed.

So we believe these lies about ourselves, and often we make vows to ‘be a good girl/boy’, to ‘perform’ well, to ‘get high grades’ in school and work, to achieve lots and succeed, in order to win a sense of being acceptable after-all.

We build a structure of hard-work, perfectionism, performance, control and self-sufficiency, in order to prove to the world that we do deserve to exist, do deserve to breathe your air, do deserve to have a good life, do deserve to succeed, but most of all, that we deserve to be loved and accepted.

For some of us, this structure of performance may serve us well for many areas of our life and career, but deep down, it does not make us feel acceptable or lovable.

The good news is that Jesus has died and risen again, in order that all our good works and strivings can go with Him to the cross, to be replaced with His glorious resurrection life, that He gives to each of us that asks of Him.

We can repent and renounce those lies that we agreed with; renounce those vows and judgments that we made, and be healed to live our best life in freedom and truth.

He has already accepted and loved us, and He has a perfect plan to prosper each of His children, according to His beautifully fashioned agenda – tailor-made for our destiny.

He doesn’t want our performance, or our strivings, just our listening ear and obedient, open heart.

Stop

Every Friday, I join an online Christian writing community, Five Minute Friday. We are given a one-word prompt and write – unscripted, unedited, pure free-write – for 5 minutes. The prompt this week is PERFORM

If anyone does not know Max Lucado’s “You are Special” – I highly recommend it.

Dancing in the Rain

‘Life is not waiting for the storm to pass, it is about learning to dance in the rain’.

(Painting and card by Lesley Hollingworth)

A friend, Marilyn, gave me this card last week and it has really blessed me.

I often find myself praying for the storm to pass, but it is a limiting attitude and now I realise that I also want to learn to dance in the rain!

As I have meditated on this thought, I realise that it is not just storms that I wait for to pass, but in many ways I while away my life, waiting for work, tasks, challenges, busy-ness and all manner of events to pass – waiting eagerly for ‘ME-TIME’, which is much appreciated – but meanwhile missing the blessings and joy of the day.

I want to dance in the rain, but also live in the abundance of life in every moment of the day.

Let us learn to dance with each other in the rain, in each of our moments, and in the joy of love.

Reflecting Unconditional Love

FMF: While

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.’

The teacher in me questions the use of ‘while’ v. ‘whilst’ and I may have misquoted this. However, I don’t want to go into a discussion of grammar, but to look at that amazing truth of our salvation.

I don’t know about you, but my heart is often thinking that when I’m more gracious, more sorted, more healed, more holy, more… then I will be better placed to be fruitful in God’s Kingdom.

My head knows this is not true. My head knows that I can do nothing to earn His love; and nothing I do can make Him love me more, or can make Him love me less, but this profound truth, that

While I was still a sinner, before I knew or wanted to know Jesus, whilst I ignored Him and lived totally selfishly… even then, He loved me enough to die for me – that I might live, abundantly and eternally.

Isn’t that just WOW?

I want to have such patient, unconditional love as that!

I need the love of God to flood my own heart.

I desire to see others as God sees them.

I recently learned a prayer to help me to love those who I find more difficult to love – those who hurt me and irritate…

It places me, a sinner, with the one I struggle and grapple with, the one I am forgiving and trying to love as He loves… the one I am meeting there at that cross, both of us sinners, both of us needing the forgiving, transforming love of God to renew our hearts and minds and reconcile us to each other and to the Father.

If there is someone you are struggling to love and to see as the Father sees, I invite you to pray this Gethsemane prayer and to remember that

while you were yet a sinner, Christ died for you.

Lord, in compassion, identify me with the heart of my offender, with his hurts and wounds. Bring to death in me that which would declare him as sinful and me as righteous. I am not better than him. I am one with him at the foot of the cross. I cry out “Forgive us!” Set us free from the traps of hate. End all one-upmanship. Enable me to identify with the person you created him to be. Restore us, Oh Lord.”

(courtesy of Elijah House)

Every Friday, I join an online Christian writing community, Five Minute Friday. We are given a one-word prompt and write – unscripted, unedited, pure free-write – for 5 minutes. The prompt this week is: WHILE

Image reflecting the beauty and glory of the heavens, in the still waters below.

EYE CAN WRITE – book review

Eye Can Write: A Memoir of a Child’s Silent Soul Emerging by Jonathan Bryan

Hardcover, 192 pages

Published November 1st 2019 by Blink Publishing

ISBN 9781911600787

Jonathan Bryan has severe cerebral palsy, a condition that makes him incapable of voluntary movement or speech. He was locked inside his own mind, aware of the outside world but unable to fully communicate with it until he found a way by using his eyes to laboriously choose individual letters, and through this make his thoughts known. In Eye Can Write, we read of his intense passion for life, his mischievous sense of fun, his hopes, his fears, and what it’s like to be him. This is a powerful book from an incredible young writer whose writing ability defies age or physical disability—a truly inspirational figure.

This June 2022, I had the pleasure of meeting 16 year old author, Jonathan Bryan and his mother, Chantal. As Jonathan cannot verbally ‘speak’ to us in a conventional way, his mother read to us excerpts of Jonathan’s stories, his poems and told us of his journey.

I then bought his book to read more from the depths of his incredible otherwise hidden experience of the world.

I marvelled as he painstakingly, letter by letter, using the only part of his body that he can fully control – his EYE – and a spelling board, he carefully shared his frustrations, his loves, his understanding, his faith and experiences of life, education and God – which are a real encouragement and delight to read – and his journey towards finding a way to communicate his voice with the world.

Not satisfied with having a voice, this courageous young man has made it his mission to make sure that all children, who are labelled PMLD, or regardless of any disability, have the same opportunity to be given full access to education and to find and use their voice.

To accomplish his mission, he has set up a charity called ‘Teach Us Too’.

As an educationalist and a writer, this was one of the most moving stories I have encountered – both in meeting Jonathan and in reading his words in this perfect book.

It made me see how much I take for granted and how limited special needs educational understanding and provision currently is. It also made me see how undeveloped and lazy my own vocabulary so often is!

His story is so profoundly important to us all and his heart is beautiful.

What a remarkable story!!

You can find more information about Jonathan’s charity, ‘Teach Us Too’, here

Click here to see a video of him from 2018, when he was 12 years old.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_DNJIvazBI

Book cover of Eye Can Write: A Memoir of a Child’s Silent Soul Emerging by Jonathan Bryan

September Song of Thanks

Thank You!

Today I received a ‘Thank You’ card – a special blessing from a friend – a thank you for just being me!

So it has inspired me to publish my September Thank You’s to my God, my Creator, King and faithful friend.

I hope that sharing them with you will inspire your gratitude and hope in your heart.

A ‘thank you card to bless me

‘The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning;

It’s time to sing Your song again.

Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me;

Let me be singing when the evening comes.

Bless the Lord, Oh my Soul…’

These are lyrics to a song I’ve claimed as my own, in response to God singing my song over me.

This has been a real break-through for me and I am so grateful.

For many months I have been asking God who I am and what is my ‘song’ – and at the end of September, through a good friend, He answered my prayer and sang into me my ‘song’ – showing me who I am.

I was also given a picture, a piece of instrumental music – ‘Lark Ascending’ – by Vaughn Williams – and a picture by Millais, that speaks something of the heart of ‘little me’.

Autumn Leaves’ by Sir John Everett Millais.

I begin with this because it has been such a personally intimate gift to me and has blessed me.

I am so grateful and humbled by so many other answers to prayer during September. Some of these have been long awaited answers and my heart rejoices in my faithful God.

Thank You Father God –

That I-M has rung the chemo bell and is recovering,

For healing DA and bringing him out of hospital

For speaking to DB in a dream and him being finally properly assessed in hospital,

For increasing M’s hours at work to qualify him for benefits and for the new vehicle,

For a time of rest, joy and bonding for S and J,

For breaking the stronghold of lies arising from incidents in young S’s life,

For putting the axe to many bitter roots of judgment, lies and vows in my own life and for the freedom You bring us!

For again providing me an Ablaze lesson,

For healing M and bringing him home,

For teaching me how to wear Your armour in Ephesians 6 and to tailor it to fit me,

For finding K a new home and for aligning and fusing the bones in her neck,

For a beautiful celebration of R’s life and blessed re-connections,

For S’s safe journey to R,

For a blessed 24 hours with D,

For new volunteers for the shop,

For working amongst the Alpha guests and bringing them back,

I also want to thank my Lord for the good fruit of restoring relationships in my life.

Whatever issues, concerns, desires, hopes, questions, or requests that you have, take it to the Lord in prayer. Take them and leave them there. Don’t pick them back up and fret!

He promises to hear your prayers and to guard your heart and mind.

Trust Him, He is faithful.

Though a mother may forget the babe at her breast, the Lord will never forget you.

Matt Redman – 10,000 reasons
❤ Lark Ascending

I hope you enjoy my ‘song’s too.

Have a blessed October.

ALADDIN’S ROAD

Every Friday, I join an online Christian writing community, Five Minute Friday. We are given a one-word prompt and write – unscripted, unedited, pure free-write – for 5 minutes. The prompt this week is ‘ROAD

The word ‘Road’ brought two thoughts to mind and showed me the connection between them both. The first thought was the title of a book, the content of which once had a large influence on me, called ‘A Road Less Traveled’, by M Scott Peck.

The second thought was the Indian proverb, ‘Never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.’

The connection to me was that our roads – our journey, our lives – are in many ways so foreign to each other and that to understand the heart and mind of another, we have to share much of the road with them and listen to their thoughts, behaviour and heart in the ways that they dare to express themselves.

To that end, I want to share the mind of another with you, a glimpse into the mind and heart of a dear acquaintance of mine, Michael Gardner.

He wrote this poem to describe his experience of life through the lens of “autism, O.C.D. and other mental illness.”

I asked if I might share his poem with you, to let you see something of his road, his life wearing ‘his moccasins’.

I am privileged to present his poem, ‘Is Aladdin Out There?’

Is Aladdin Out There?

(Thoughts on Autism, O.C.D and Mental Illness)

My world is insufferably insular.

I am trapped in a room so compact,

Thirty paces from North wall to South wall,

Twenty-two East to West, that’s a fact.

Enclosed in a concrete jungle,

In a suburb in a city near you,

Observing a complex labyrinth of mind-games,

My universe, a tomb with a view.

An existence of cluttered neurosis,

Order’d chaos inexorably ensues,

“RADIO TIMES” is my window, an oracle,

Television delivers my news.

Correspondence that’s filed and collated,

Each codex so meticulously placed

Alphabetical, numerical employment for one,

An environment hermetically chaste.

A germ-free haven to the human condition,

The scrunch of a newsprint floor,

Opinions one-sided, from the man in the mirror

The fear from a knock at the door.

Every day is an endless beginning

Countless dominoes toppling in haste,

Every echo a constant reminder

Of the time that I waste in this space.

I am the “Genie” inside of his bottle,

With the face peering ominously in,

I’m a prisoner to all my aversions

And the demons that scream from within.

By Michael Gardner

to ‘dot hi ‘i’ with a butterfly’ is Michael’s trademark.

Michael’s artistic trademark is to “dot his ‘i’ with a butterfly”, which I cannot do, so I said I would include an image of a butterfly and the request was for a Red Admiral.

Thank you Michael for sharing this with us.

(I will share any comments with him, if he would like me to, so feel free to comment.)