Gifts are not just for Christmas.

Christmas and New Year Greetings

Christmas decor chez moi – nativity scenes, tree and lights

Gifts are not just for Christmas.

Some of my usual Christmas habits were neglected this year, though I’m not quite sure why. It is my wont to write and send dozens of Christmas cards to update far-away friends and family and then to text all my contacts a Christmas greeting and to post greetings up on Facebook and social media.

But, apart from a few cards abroad, I did none of that.

Of course, all of those that I would normally contact were in my heart and prayers as much as ever.

And you, those who share your hearts and thoughts with me in our blogging community, were also on my heart and in my prayers.

Even Christmas at home was less excessive and much more relaxed.

But for all that, I did have a really joyful Christmas – focusing on hospitality, family, giving time and love, and rejoicing.

I hope and pray that your Christmas was also full of the great JOY that the birth of Jesus means to those who know and love Him.

I do want to send you all the blessings of divine love, perfect peace and great joy, that the season of Christmas remind us of – though of course these gifts, just like the gift of Jesus, are not just for Christmas!

For you, for Christmas and for 2023, I want to bless you with a word from scripture, as a prayer of love over you all.

Ephesians 1:16-23

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

May we continue to stand strong in the gospel of peace and to stand for freedom and justice in this world. May we hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, reminding us of all that He has taught us, in Jesus’ name.

What have you witnessed?

FMF: Witness

If you heard my sister and I describe our childhoods, you would have no idea that we lived in the same homes, with the same parents!

If we wrote our life-stories, they would look very different.

When a friend and I took a day out to the sea-side, weeks later we reminisced over our outing. He described the arcades, the cars, the picnic I bought and the train time-table; but I remembered the beach, the seaside town streets, the wind on the pier and the hunt for a public toilet that cost me 20p.

If we had written our account of the day, they would have been very different.

What we witnessed were specific aspects of the day.

I am often amazed at this phenomenon – how two individuals together can seem to see completely different things and sometimes have almost opposing perspectives on the same event.

We see it, hear it, taste it, smell it and feel it through our own personal senses and we interpret the whole experience according to our personal understanding and preferences.

Where I’m going with this is, being a lover of stories, I often encounter scenes where witnesses are called upon to ‘tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God’ but the account they say they witnessed often looks only vaguely like the one shown in the story.

Every witness has their own perspective.

The witness may not be lying, but they are only telling the part that they witnessed and remember.

The gospels are like this too.

Reading the four gospel accounts of major events in the life of Jesus, we see the different focus and perspectives of the four writers. We also see the stories told for the interest of the particular audience they were addressing.

At Christmas I particularly like to read Luke’s account. He was not an eye-witness of the events leading to the birth of Jesus, but he told the stories handed down by those who were eye-witnesses.

I particularly like the focus on the prophecies of the angel Gabriel and the prophetic praise of Elizabeth, Mary and Zechariah.

We are obviously not witnesses to the birth and death of our Lord Jesus, but we have each witnessed the saving grace of Jesus in our lives.

You may not thing your story is very exciting, but you are an eye-witness to the transforming power of God in your life.

Your story is a unique perspective on the character, beauty and power of God and yours is the story that you need to tell.

Only you can tell your story, for the glory of God.

You are His witness in the world in which He has placed you, for such a time, and such a purpose, as this.

Image of witness’s hand swearing oath on Bible

Remember, remember to give thanks for November

Remember, remember to give thanks for November

I’m sorry for being late in giving my hearty thanks for all of the blessings and answered prayer acknowledged in November.

It is my honour to give glory to God by telling of His goodness and faithfulness, both in the large and small details and concerns of our every-day life.

For November I give thanks in particular for:

For a great party with family and friends and lots of interactions and fun.

For reminding me to live in the moment and embrace fully the life that I have.

For helping me to minister your love to C.

For a special day remembering my baptism of 38 blessed years ago.

For healing and turning around my relationships with L. and E. over these weeks.

For all those mobilised women at ‘The Orchard’ and for showing me Your heart for the injustice of systematic spiritual attack against ‘woman’.

For a powerful and honouring send-off and thanksgiving for Your daughter, T.

For giving E. a new home and for a swift move and transition.

For P. and D. coming as guests during the month and for fun, days out and quality time together.

For an easy, painless trip to the dentist!

That the Christmas staff booking and order is all complete and sorted.

For orchestrating many necessary agent visits and getting the boiler fixed – and that meanwhile, S. had spare heaters to lend me.

For another blessed Ablaze lesson.

That there have been applicants at last for the vacancy in the pre-school.

That C. has recovered well and is home again.

That I managed to re-watch and make notes on all 27 course videos through the 2 months.

That S. has made good progress in the room and cleared it out.

For beginning to teach me to recognise your voice.

For the lovely Christian nurse I saw at the surgery and Your presence for us to encourage each other.

For the privilege of doing some prayer ministry with C. and Your blessing in that.

For the encouragement of Holy Spirit in our second joint service.

That S. and J. were both in church!

For the blessings of reconciliation and tangible growth in S. and their team.

That A.B. is well enough to return back to phased-back-to-work.

That A’s count is back up high enough for chemo to no longer be necessary.

For a whole, peaceful day to myself.

That 8 guests persevered right to the end of the Alpha Course and that You worked in every heart and life there.

When we look with gratitude, we see the creation in all it’s glory.
I often take photos of the sky, but that wasn’t my photo – I don’t know who took it, but it is stunning!

How many blessings can you count this week, or even today?

Do you write down specific prayers and remember to look back and give thanks for the ones that your faithful God has answered?

You will be amazed if you do!!

Simple does not mean that it is easy!

FMF Simple


“It’s easy when you know how!” we say smugly in light-hearted pride.

Some things are easy for you that for me may be far from easy.

For me, speaking English is easy.

It’s ‘like riding a bike’ – which for me is also easy.

Reading a novel is easy for me (though finding the time to do it is less easy).

On the other hand, for my Iraqi friend, reading a novel in English, or in any language, remains so difficult as to be practically impossible.

“It’s easy when you know how.”

Yes, but easy does not mean simple.

I have been teaching my friend to read and write in English, and boy! English spelling and grammar is certainly not simple!!!

With the boot on the other foot, millions of people speak Hindi fluently, but I have been learning it for 2 years and am far from even able to hold a simple conversation.

Language learning is complex, it is far from simple – yet most of us learn it with ease.

Clearly, for something to be ‘easy’ for somebody, does not mean that it is simple.

Simple, to me, means that very few steps are involved in the learning.

Not a whole alphabet, but a simple ‘do A’.

It is one next step.

A clear instruction.

No fuss, no confusion.

Direct and unambiguous.

But simple does not mean that it is easy!

In our complex and complicated world, living simply is very difficult.

God’s instructions to His people are simple.

Jesus’ commission to His disciples is simple.

But are they easy?

I don’t think so!

To love my enemy is not easy.

To love my neighbour as myself is not easy.

To follow Jesus is not easy.

To obey all that He has commanded is not easy.

But it is simple, clear and unambiguous.

And to God, and with God, as the angel Gabriel tells us, all things will be possible.


Angel Gabriel greets Mary, and Mary’s simple response changes history

This advent let’s echo Mary’s exchange with the angel Gabriel told in Luke’s account, as Mary simply believes that with God nothing is impossible and chooses to obey Him:

(Luke 1:37-38)

For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Simple, but not easy.

Or easy, but not simple.


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!


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

That is faster than instant!!!


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!