April Showers

refreshing showers of blessing

There’s huge resistance in me to write what I felt I should write – which is a post of praise and thanksgiving, for God’s faithfulness during another month (April) and of the peace that comes from casting all my cares upon Him. I said in March, that “God, in His mind-blowing love, not only takes these cares, concerns, fears and burdens upon Himself, but He exchanges them for His perfect PEACE!”

I have continued being very specific about prayer requests and petitions, for people in my life and community, and over and above every divine shower of blessing received, I can testify to the peace that I have from my heavenly Father who hears all the prayers that we bring to Him. His Word promises this peace. We are not imposing on Him with our needs and concerns, He commands us to come to Him. I want to thank God for His Presence, Provision, Power and Peace to those who come to Him, through Jesus.

Do not be anxious about anything,

but in EVERY situation, by prayer and petition,

with THANKSGIVING,

present your requests to God.

And the PEACE of GOD, which transcends all understanding,

will GUARD your HEART and MIND in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7

I want to thank my God, that specifically, during the month of April:-

L’s tumours have all gone.

S’s knees were healed overnight so he could resume his exercises the following day.

R’s tests revealed she does not have DVT.

J and family all healed and recovered.

A was well enough to come home to spend family time before round 2 of treatments.

That G and I-M are both getting much stronger.

Thank You for providing perfect respite care and support for M and M.

Thank You that our church could provide about 175 lunches for those in need in our community over half-term.

Thank You that our toddler group has reopened after over a year in lock-down and

that AA has reopened and all the brave and beautiful souls there have remained strong.

Thank You for encouraging S and meeting her needs.

Thank You for providing me ALL my needs this month and more.

Thank You for courage to face new challenges and do things differently.

Thank You for encouragement, guidance and support in all my various writing projects this month.

I thank You heavenly Father that all the needs we bring before You are heard and that You are always working to bring to completion Your perfect plan and purposes for our lives. I thank You for the privilege of coming to You in prayer and for the promises and assurance of Your great love… for while we were still sinners, Christ died for us… and if You gave us Your very self, how much more will You not give us the Holy Spirit and all we need to live a blessed life of service. Amen

The Wrong Armour

What armour do you use and who is your enemy?

On an everyday level, do you find yourself sometimes aware of and struggling with conflict? Are you a sensitive soul? I am! But I want to be strong and I want to stand and be victorious. Nobody wants to lose even an argument, let alone a war! A few weeks ago I realised that I have, since childhood, learned a reaction to conflict that is not healthy. I have lost many battles, because I use the wrong armour and the wrong weapons. In fact most times I am also fighting the wrong enemy!

Some of these conflicts have actual substance, but some are even imaginations born of vulnerability and fear. I thought about the conflicts and battles in my life and observed myself in both my home-made armour and my fearful tactics. My ‘belt’ was my stubborn determination that I was right. My ‘breastplate’ was my people-pleasing conformity to a self-righteous standard of behaviour that I believed was expected of me. My ‘helmet’ was my denial of secrets and of my own responsibility. My ‘feet were fitted’ with a readiness to run and hide if punishment was coming close. I had a defensive ‘shield’ of my identity as a victim, and lastly, a sword pointing and attacking the blame at anyone I felt was attacking me…

There are some weary days when I could easily believe that everyone – or at least someone – is out to get me, attack me, argue, criticise or try to trip me up… some days when it all feels like a battle and a struggle to come through it alive, never mind unscathed! Whatever the cause of the conflict, it always demands a response – How do we stand strong? Do we fight or not? How and who do we fight? What weapons do we use? What armour do we use?

The apostle Paul urges the church in Ephesus to be prepared for battle and to put on the full armour of God. He also reminds us who the enemy is! It is not flesh and blood. It is not the boss who just sacked you, or the driver that knocked off my wing-mirror… it’s not even the relative that sent the nasty letter criticising our religious or political affiliations… our real enemy is the spiritual enemy of God.

Ephesians 6: 10 – 18.

The Armour of God (NIV)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

The sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, is crucial for the helmet and the shield to stay in place and to keep the feet on the right path. The righteousness of Christ is His gift to us who are born again, and His truth I have to align with my own as I buckle my belt…

I have begun a practice of putting this armour on item by item, in my mind’s eye, every morning, and of praying for the grace to not fear, nor defend against, nor cast false blame, nor attack my fellow flesh and blood. I am praying for us foot soldiers throughout the world – for you, my brothers and sisters, who are fighting to stand strong. I am a work in progress. How about you? What is your armour?

Circle of His Excellence

There is an NLP practice called “Circle of Excellence”, whereby one imagines a coloured circle and fills it with all good, desired emotions and outcomes and then steps into that circle to be thus energised, inspired and transformed by the desired emotions…

It is a useful and powerful practice, but this morning I found myself creating a new circle, filled with the truth of who God says I am.

Who is He? And who does He say that I am? I need to remember these powerful truths and let them “transform [me], by the renewing of [my] minds” (Romans 12:2)

I invite you to draw your own circle and fill it with what God says about you, and when you feel discouraged, or weak, or disappointed, or insecure – step into that circle and allow His truth to wash over you and fill you with the power of His Spirit of Truth.

So what did I write in my green (for life) circle?

I am

Daughter of the Most High God

Redeemed

Born again

Beloved of God

A new Creation

A sinner saved by Grace

In God’s family

Chosen

A Princess, belonging to the King

Born of the Spirit

Not forsaken nor alone

Forgiven

Created in God’s image

Called by name

The Bride of Christ

A holy priest of God

Living by faith

Loved by God

Set free

Living life to the full

Promised eternal life

Living abundant life

Saved

Not condemned

Not coming under judgment

Sheltered in Christ

Given authority over the works of the devil

Empowered to do ‘even greater things than these’

A fisher of men

Sent out in His name

Bearing fruit in Christ

Filled with His Spirit, Grace and Power

Confident to ask whatever I wish in His name

I have passed from death to life

I have faith, hope, love, joy, peace, patience, self-control

God fights for me

He is for me

The Kingdom of God is within me

God dwells in me

I have everything I need for life and godliness

He will never leave me nor forsake me

He never sleeps nor slumbers

All His promises are YES and AMEN in Jesus

His yolk is easy and His burden is light

He takes away all my diseases, my sins and my shame

He is with me, in me, behind me, before me, above me and below me

In victory and in disappointment, He IS with me

In my Father’s house, there’s a place for me

He will come again in Glory, and take me to be with Him

I will see Him face to face

He has already won the Victory over sin and death…

These are some of the truths in my circle. Who HE IS is the inner and outer foundation of that circle!

Who is He? Draw another circle with praise for WHO HE IS – for He is ALL in ALL in ALL.

In your victory and in your disappointment God the Almighty is with you.

So be strong and courageous; pour out your heart like water; be transformed by the renewing of your mind; and stand on His promise to call you for a hope and a purpose. Be bold. Stand firm.

Share with me how making and stepping into your circle empowers you.

In Our Gethsemane (audio)

added an audio on request.

dawnfanshawe

In Our Gethsemane

How is it I should pray?”

– In my distress I often say –

But He has shown me the way,

– In His Gethsemane…

It was the night on which He prayed

– for in His flesh He was afraid –

Your Will be done”, he said.

He asked if we would stay

– An hour with Him and pray –

On this, His darkest day

– In His Gethsemane…

It was the night He was betrayed

– that was when He paid –

For the mess that we have made.

Thy Will be done?” I say,

– Not an easy prayer to pray! –

But I TRUST that YOU WILL stay

– In MY Gethsemane.

(Holy Thursday – 1st April, 2021.)

Reflecting on disappointment – when God says “No, dear child!”

In the hour of our greatest need – in fear, worry…

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In Our Gethsemane

In Our Gethsemane

How is it I should pray?”

– In my distress I often say –

But He has shown me the way,

– In His Gethsemane…

It was the night on which He prayed

– for in His flesh He was afraid –

Your Will be done”, he said.

He asked if we would stay

– An hour with Him and pray –

On this, His darkest day

– In His Gethsemane…

It was the night He was betrayed

– that was when He paid –

For the mess that we have made.

Thy Will be done?” I say,

– Not an easy prayer to pray! –

But I TRUST that YOU WILL stay

– In MY Gethsemane.

(Holy Thursday – 1st April, 2021.)

Reflecting on disappointment – when God says “No, dear child!”

In the hour of our greatest need – in fear, worry, hurt, pain and disappointment – this is when we face the greatest temptation and when the devil prowls…

In the hour of our weakness, we need to TRUST HIM

– to stay awake, alert,

watch and pray…

May we watch and pray with our brothers and sisters and support them in one another’s Gethsemane.

Unequal exchange

Midway through February, I wrote a post about “Answered Prayer”, because, in the space of less than 24 hours, I had heard reports back of 3 instances where exactly what I had been praying for and visualising had happened to those 3 individuals.

Naturally this was a great encouragement for me to keep praying in such a visual, specific and intentional way, for whatever I was asked to, or felt called to, pray for.

I recalled Jesus cleansing the ten lepers and only one came back to find and thank Jesus. Jesus asked where the others were and declared that this man’s faith had made him “whole”.

I thought of the importance of thanksgiving and of how my focus is often on the prayer requests and needs, but not so much on even noticing when prayers are answered, and somehow taking it for granted when all is well again.

I knew my praying and thanksgiving needed to be equally focused and intentional.

I decided to start keeping a special book in which I only record answered prayer – a “Miracles” journal.

I wrote down those prayers I recognised as being answered during February, and gave thanks for all those answered prayers that I cannot see myself, because they are ongoing, or being worked on in a different realm.

I have done the same for March.

As an ‘aide-memoire’ of names and needs whilst praying, I write down separately all the things I am praying for specifically, but also to prompt me to ask, later in the week, how that person or situation is progressing – then my prayer either continues, changes specific focus, or is written into the “miracles” book and becomes praise for a testimony of the divine intervention of an all-powerful God.

I want to now thank and praise God publicly for all of the prayers answered during March, but first I want to say that when God “answers” prayers, He does not always answer ‘my prayers’ in the way that I think they need to be answered.

Sometimes God says “NO” to my specific request, because God sees the bigger picture and He knows that what I am asking for is not the best way for that person or situation.

Sometimes God says “WAIT”.

During March I want to thank God specifically for:

CJ’s lung X-rays showing they are clear of cancer

R’s 16 days sober and financial progress

C’s washing machine

J, C and E’s negative covid-test results

My 6 years sober and those blessed by reading the story

J’s work commendations and acceptance to do PHD

S’s decisions made and courage to act

J’s recognition of need for healing

R and W both pouring out their hearts full of painful memories and burdens

Canon Tom winning the legal battle declaring ban on church ‘unlawful’

G’s physical progress and healing

Inspiration and great help with personal book writing and favour with endorsements

I also thank God for 3 answers that were not what I asked for:

For the 2 sweet spirits He took home to be with himself in glory

For the other challenge now to be faced – but knowing it is not to be fought with human strength.

And I thank God that He continues to hear us when we cry out to him and He hears all our prayers, petitions and requests.

He is pleased when we entrust our burdens to Him, believing that He loves and cares for us.

And He loves it when we return to give Him thanks and remember His goodness and favour.

The thing I most want to thank God for this month then, is the knowledge that when I place the needs of individuals, peoples and situations into the hands of Him who created the earth and everything in it, I entrust it all into His powerful, safe, capable and gentle hands.

And God, in His mind-blowing love, not only takes these cares, concerns, fears and burdens upon Himself, but He exchanges them for His perfect PEACE!

What an unequal exchange!

I give Him my burdens and He exchanges it for His peace!

All I can give God in return is my THANK YOUs and to loudly declare my love for Him.

My favourite verse these past few months has been:

Do not be anxious about anything,

but in EVERY situation, by prayer and petition,

with THANKSGIVING,

present your requests to God.

And the PEACE of GOD, which transcends all understanding,

will GUARD your HEARTand MIND in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7

Always remember to give thanks to God, because He is ALWAYS GOOD.

Freedom of Speech?

The sun still shines even when you can’t it.

There are only a few subjects in life that get me a little hot-under-the-collar and I’m grappling with one of these today.

A couple of issues have come to my attention nationally, as well as internationally, that reflect one of these subjects; and the argument I am grappling with has gone around several rabbit warrens this morning and each time it has comes out in a different shape. So I will put it to paper and see what happens.

The issue is of human rights, namely the right to freedom of thought/speech/religion.

I consider freedom of speech a basic fundamental freedom and human right.

Most people, Constitutions, jurisdictions and Courts of Human rights in the world would, in theory, agree.

Societies need laws to protect people from danger and harm and they need consequences to uphold or enforce those laws.

These laws need to equally protect all persons, regardless of gender, class, nationality, religious beliefs, age, education, wealth, status, or any other classification or potential difference.

Freedom of speech, thought and freedom of belief/religion has to apply to all persons in a society, in accordance with common-sense understanding of legal human rights.

But if what I believe, think, read and say is restricted and controlled, what is the nature of the society that results from that? And who is the authority that decides what is acceptable truth or wisdom that the rest of us must all adhere to? The logical progression of such control is a dictatorship and lack of liberty, lack of creativity, expression or growth, amongst many other unbearable consequences.

That said, we do not need to pull all meaning and common sense out of this basic tenet of freedom of speech.

Do I believe that any person should be allowed to say whatever they want, whenever, wherever and to whom they personally desire? Should I be allowed to speak hate, lies and incite hatred or violence?

– Of course not. And there are laws protecting all people from such violations.

Do I believe that all things are true and there is no absolute truth and any interpretation is equal?

– No, but I believe that all persons grapple with interpretation of the truth, and their opinion of it, and that human-beings, regardless of their own opinions, are called to prioritise tolerance, love, peace and a commitment to grow in understanding and integrity.

It is my belief that God made us in His image and gave us free-will; and that “the truth will set you free”.

The sun still shines even when you can’t it.

The truth remains true whether it is believed or not.

With most issues in life, truth is complex and based on a subjective interpretation of life.

What is true to me, may not be your truth and vise-versa.

The important thing is that we learn to listen to one another’s truth, without criticism and without condemnation; that we seek understanding, peace, dialogue and to desire good will and blessings upon every human being, no matter how their views differ from mine.

We do not have to agree with each other, but we need to listen and be honest and tolerate and accept one another as human beings, all beloved children of God.

If you would like to read the petitionary letter to the UK Prime Minister and the issues that ADF are advocating, please check out the link below and see the video highlighting Julia’s experience in Nottingham University.

6 Years Sober

What do you think of when somebody mentions “an alcoholic”?

Do you have a set of criteria, or a description? – maybe that they drink vodka for breakfast and hide all day behind drawn curtains dysfunctionally; or maybe you imagine flamboyant ‘drama queens’, who lie and manipulate; or maybe you picture the lonely, ‘down-and-out’ with a brown paper bag hiding the cheapest tipple; or a sorry soul, stooped so low as to be stealing and downing the ‘meths’?

That’s what I thought too. I had these images.

I didn’t imagine I was an alcoholic! I could stop if I wanted to.

I had a family and a professional full-time job.

I was a Christian!

I just liked the wine of an evening… Every evening maybe, but… I had a past I wanted to forget and life was hectic and stressful…

… and a glass of wine was ‘me-time’ – time to chill-out, relax and unwind!

In my earliest memories my dad was mad drunk sometimes, mad drunk! Other than that, there was sherry at Christmas… and on seaside holidays, Granddad would always let us sip his ale.

Then at 15, my big sister worked in a pub, so I’d go in after my Saturday job and have a bottle of Pilsner, or a vodka and bitter lemon…

At 17, I left home, and soon enough, I’d be partying, getting drunk and ‘having fun’.

In UK culture, ‘a good night-out’ meant getting as drunk as you could, as quick as you could.

Pubs were crowded with rowdy folk buying round after round before last orders…

I worked in the pubs and drank in them.

In time, I became more ‘refined’ and a bit of a wine snob (as long as it was on offer) and the evening glass, or four, of wine became an entrenched habit.

I stopped for Lent most years, but that was it.

I dreaded Ash Wednesday!

Then one year, I didn’t give up for Lent. I didn’t give up for anything – I didn’t want to!

Oh, I made deals and promises with myself, strategies for ‘dry-days’ and other good intentions, but I failed over and over and the self esteem plummeted along with every bottle. I couldn’t do it!

Most people had no idea of my struggle; some thought I perhaps drank too much sometimes, but most encouraged me to not worry about it and have a drink! They thought I could ‘pull-myself-together’.

But most of them could drink if and when, or have one and no more – they could choose.

That was the difference – I didn’t seem to have the choice, or any control!

I wonder if now you think – “Of course you could choose! You were just weak-willed. Nobody was forcing you! You could control it if you wanted to!”

It took me a very long time to accept that I had no control after the first glass, and that I really needed to just stop drinking alcohol altogether.

And then it took still another long time to actually have the courage to do it!

But I prepared myself, set the date and stopped.

That date was 9th March 2015. This week I celebrated 6 years sober!

When I first stopped I had to go to bed at 7pm, because I didn’t know how to do an evening without wine. Of course I woke up early every morning too, but little by little, one day at a time, I remained sober and learned new ways to relax and chill-out.

And finally my journey of recovery could begin.

I do thank God for His patience and for never giving up on me!

I had the privilege of joining AA and serving and sharing in that absolutely wonderful community. The 12 step programme is truly inspired by God – or by the ‘Higher Power’ as they say in AA. The 12 Step programme and the beautiful people who humbly follow it, are inspirational testimonies to Hope. And I can sincerely say, that if anyone is willing to follow the programme, it works 100%.

On this 6th Anniversary of my sobriety, one day at a time, I wish to publicly give thanks to my God for doing for me what I could not do for myself; for inspiring and sustaining me through this journey; for forgiving me and being so eternally patient with me.

I want to thank all my family, friends and church family – for loving me, despite me taking so long to see sense, and for forgiving me all the pain and concern I caused to some of them – for being less than I should have been!

And I want to thank the founders and the continual members of AA for spreading the message and community of hope around the cities of the world.

I have to end with my all-time favourite prayer, which I have known from childhood, as my Grandfather had engraved it into a wooden plaque, as a schoolboy –

it is the “Serenity prayer” of AA –

(Using the word, God, as you do or don’t under stand it) –

God, grant me the serenity to accept what cannot be changed,

the courage to change what can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.”

PS If you want to stop drinking and don’t feel you have the power to do so, please contact an AA group (look online or in the phone book) and ask to speak to an individual member or find a group. They will be so happy to help you.

I wrote one poem after 6 weeks without alcohol, called, “AA Season of Pain”

The link is here if you wish to read it – https://wordpress.com/post/dawnfanshawe.wordpress.com/25

And another after 9 months sober, called “Giving Birth to Sobriety”.

The link is here if you wish to read it – https://wordpress.com/post/dawnfanshawe.wordpress.com/46