Three score and ten?

FMF Writing prompt: Twenty

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 ‘TWENTY’

18:01

I am of the age when most of my life has been dated 19- something, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s.

Twenty-something feels very recent!

I remember the sense of occasion vividly on the approach of the new millennium and of it becoming 2000.

Some called it the noughties. I felt quite old!

The noughties passed in a lot of personal changes, challenges, blessings and – well, LIFE, I guess.

I don’t know how it was called when we hit 2010 and that decade – was it the teenies maybe?

For me, twenty- twelve was a bit of a breakdown, leading to twenty-fifteen as the start of a proper recovery.

2015 I determined would be the best year of my life! It was!

Maybe it was/is all part of a process towards recovery, because I am so blind, deaf and stubborn in my heart! I thank God for his loving patience!

Then we got to 2020 – that excited me, because the nerdy part of me loves number patterns.

I expect I was particularly tickled to get to 20/02/2020, and even to 02/02/2020.

I remember folk posting prophetically about 20-20 vision and an air of expectation, but with the benefit of hindsight the twenty-twenties seem to have been swallowed up in a covid-19 aftermath of fear, chaos, mistrust and hardships.

But there was growth and many blessings amidst this time. There was great courage, trust, generosity and sacrifice too.

There is always hope.

God was not surprised by any of this, as we were.

It being 2022 already makes me realise that we are here for such a short time.

Even a general life-span is counted in 20s – three score years and ten, I remember often hearing. Whether I live that long or longer, God only knows, for He has numbered my days and my times are in His hands.

I will trust Him every day, with every hour and every breath.

With my ‘one-day-at-a-time’, may I honour my Father God and honour and cherish all of life that He has created, especially yours (whoever you are) and mine.

Life is a beautiful gift, however old you are.

June Gratitude

June Gratitude

I already feel my spirit rise joyfully as I begin to look back on the prayers answered and blessings received during June.

June has ushered in a series of events that have challenged me greatly.

I thought of the word ‘challenge’ and smiled to see the word ‘change’, with just 3 extra letters in the middle.

The letters l-l-e.

Little Life Events.

(I resist change, though I know it is a gradual constant in all of life and is necessary – and to be welcomed and embraced – for growth.)

But from time to time there are these ‘little life events’ that interrupt our equilibrium and cause us cha-lle-nges.

I have been experiencing a few of these throughout June and they will continue to take some outworking over the Summer at least.

Truly a grateful heart counting blessings is medicine to an anxious mind.

So I think of all that Father God has done in my life already and how much he has blessed me with answered prayer and extra blessings throughout June.

I publicly want to give Him thanks and glory for:

A great ACW weekend of inspiration, support and fellowship.

Full recovery from my accident and picnic on the park to celebrate with the grand-kids.

For the ‘Bow Down’ event in the Nottingham Market Square and glory to You in this city.

For bringing S safely back to Switzerland and for organising the next season of her journey.

For the Queen and her 70 years service to this country and to You.

For Holy Spirit to guide, protect, empower, remind, renew, comfort, convict, refresh, warn, enliven, embolden, encourage… (fill in the rest yourself)

For a new phone on the day it was needed.

For friendships, re-connections, spontaneous fellowship and seeds sown.

For C’s new official role at church and for her energy, vision and heart.

For Your gift of kindness in others and in me, and the power of it.

For a superb, transformational second weekend at the EH course; for breaking the old lies over me, and for enabling me to minister to others.

For blessing me with S and for giving me patience with him.

For sustaining me through the weeks of trial and teaching me to trust only You and not to lean on my own understanding.

For teaching me, loving me, forgiving and healing me, patiently, one day at a time.

For teaching C the importance of budgeting.

For support and advice from generous Christian professionals and for A’s kindness, active listening, practical and holistic wisdom.

For a card from a friend which says that ‘mightier than the waves is His love.’ Amen.

Whenever I have felt overwhelmed and tempted to panic, I have remembered Peter’s words: Lord, to whom shall we go, You have the words of eternal life.’

I have searched my heart and counseled myself, saying, ‘Dawn, if you trust God with your health, your life, your eternal life, your children, your family and your loved ones, can you not trust God with this?’

Today I read a story (in the UCB Word for Today) of a man who sees a boy being beat up by thugs. The man goes in and rescues the boy, takes him to hospital, pays the money and cares for him and, learning that he is an orphan, he adopts him, gives him his own name and welcomes him into his home and family. One night he hears the boy sobbing and goes in to comfort him and ask the matter. The boy tells his new ‘Daddy’ that he is worried about where he will find food, drink and clothes tomorrow and where he will sleep. Understandably his Daddy rightfully troubled that, after all he has done for him, that the boy he loves as his own son still doubts him.

My Father God knows that I am anxious about many things at the moment and he told me this story to let me see how sill my worry is!

I can trust him 200%!!

Thank you that Your faithfulness is my shield, hope and dwelling place.

psalm 93:4

Do I trust Him? Can He trust me?

This week’s FMF writing prompt is: TRUST

16:12

Words that occur to me in response to that loaded, elephant in the room five-letter word:

Trust = falling, insanity, sacrifice, disappointment, let-me-down…

Trust is almost a dirty word and terrifying, to me, yet simultaneously one of the sweetest and most precious of dreams.

It is currently being held right up there in my face, questioning, showing me how little of it I have, testing me now it is actually needed.

Now I need to walk the talk!

I see that it is the only thing left, if I am to obey the voice of God.

But all of me rebels, kicks and screams and asks for an easier way, a way I can control myself, a path I can see the outcome of and one which looks safe and ordinary…

(Of course my own way, the broad road, is never at all better, or smooth, or safer, or anything else I deceive myself with in my denial and resistance.)

How does one surrender, submit, let-go and let God?

How does one learn to trust? Except by doing it?

My only response, to self, is that if I am to trust that God loves me, as He says; to trust that God has forgiven me my sins, that He hears my prayers, that Jesus has purchased for me eternal life with Him, then I am going to have to prove to myself that I will trust and obey Him with this seemingly crazy, but relatively trivial, step right now.

Stop

I was looking for an image of that trust game we used to do at school where one fell back, hopefully to be caught be the ‘friend’ behind you… So grateful to have a real trustworthy friend in Jesus. Can He trust me?

FMF: Aware – Self-aware?

Go:

To be aware seems to me to imply being conscious or mindful of something, as against a strong and secure knowledge of a fact. It feels like a tenuous ‘holding’ – in the mind of the heart – of a concept, sensation, or even a theory, or possible truth, or untruth.

Awareness for me is the first stage of wisdom.

Unless I first become aware of something, I cannot even begin to acknowledge, explore, or know it.

This is particularly true in terms of self-knowledge and healing.

In my own therapeutic journey, I have been most conscious of those moments when I first become aware of something – either a memory, an emotion, a reaction, a trigger, or a response. When it is in my awareness, I can then examine it, test it, question it and try it out from different angles, to see what possible truth I can learn from it.

If what I recognise is a repeated negative pattern in the present, I know I have found another key to healing.

Then I can acknowledge what is true in the present and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can find the root cause of it (usually buried somewhere in early childhood) and then confess and repent of judgments, lies and sinful responses (to early hurts and disappointments) that have resulted in strongholds in my life.

Oh to be aware!

Oh merciful and patient Father, who seeks our healing and freedom more than we do!

Thank you Holy Spirit, communicator of wisdom and truth.

Stop.

The ‘four colours of Dawn, trapped in a cage, unable to fly or to sing’ – this was a sensation I was aware of this morning, so put onto paper.

Are you aware of something you feel nudged to deal with?

FMF: Guess

Please forgive me for a not-so-edifying ramble.

When I first read Kate’s post for this week’s prompt, ‘Guess’, I fully identified with her reflection on asking the Lord for direction and not being able to see His answers. Her comparison with that discerning to feel a bit like guess-work. I thought that her blog was enough said on the matter, because personally I was right in that ‘no-man’s land’ of not seeing the direction at all, for certain issues.

And I am still there, still feeling like I am having to guess what God’s will for me is.

People say that I must listen for His still, small voice;

that I will find answers in the Scriptures;

that God’s perfect peace will be my guide;

that if I fast and pray…

And I have probably said the same thing!

But, if I am stuck now, do I conclude that I am doing it wrong? That my heart is wrong? That this sheep does not know her Shepherd’s voice? That sin has blocked me from hearing His voice?

Does God want me to ‘follow the mind of my heart’? Or to take advice from Christian people? Does He want me to be patient and spend more time seeking the answer?

I know that he who seeks finds.

Or has He told me clearly already and I don’t like the answer?

Does God’s answer take me where I have no intention of going, nor desire to go?

I do not trust my own heart, it is deceitful above all things.

And I have asked advice from spirit-filled friends and their opinions and advice has been varied and contradictory, though I now have even more options in what feels like a multiple choice exam! And I have never been good at multiple-choice. I have painful memories of French and German listening comprehension exams, where in each choice of four options I consistently guessed wrong. The odds of that were even remarkable!

Maybe I am impatient to know the answers, when it is not time for me to know.

Maybe I am trying so hard to listen, that I have become blind and deaf.

Does the Lord really want me to guess His will?

Does He trust me to guess?

Does He know that I already know His Will and know that in time I will say ‘yes’ to Him and do that ridiculous sounding thing!

I am sharing this only because some of you may relate to these feelings. It does not feel like an encouraging or edifying post, but it is an expression of the mess some of us might sometimes grapple with. This someone does, anyway.

I imagine in a few months, or days, or years (God only knows), I will look back on this and see God’s path and wisdom as clear as the moon on a cloudless night, as so often happens.

There is always such profound insight in hindsight.

Meanwhile we grapple.

Oh me of little faith!

FMF: writing prompt: Stir

This post is written to link with Five Minute Friday: write for five minutes on a one-word prompt. The prompt for today is “stir.”

Go.

stirring a Béchamel sauce

Thinking of ‘stir’, all I could think of was making my thick soups (sloups), custard and Béchamel sauce – stuff that if you stir it well, becomes smooth and creamy, but if you don’t, it becomes lumpy, stuck, burnt and in some way spoiled.

This showed me something, because it always seems such an effort, such a faff to stand stirring ALL the time. I am often tempted to just stir every now and then, when I think it necessary, or to wait until it is thoroughly hot before stirring, convinced that, because I want it to work out well, it will.

But, you know, it doesn’t!

I am lazy making soups and sauces and I am lazy in many other areas of my life.

Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

It takes effort to stir myself up and more so to stir up one another.

It takes sacrifice to encourage and to turn up and be willing to listen generously in order to build others up.

But if I don’t stir myself to love and good works, I become lumpy, burnt, stuck and less than my best.

If I am too lazy to make an effort to love other sinners like myself, the church becomes lumpy, sick and spoiled in some way.

If I focus on what I feel like doing, rather than on what love calls my renewed mind to do, then God’s will is not done through me today.

If I do not stir and build, eventually those around me, and myself, begin to starve.

Let us commit to focusing not on just being fed and stirred by others, but to be grown up, mature followers of Christ, who are willing to work together to prepare for the banquet of the Lord.

end

May ‘Thank-You’

May Thanksgiving for Answered Prayer and Protection.

Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks.

Luke 17:12-16

I want to always be the one who sets off in obedience and is cleansed, but who also comes back to thank You and worship You and to be made whole.

Let us never tire of coming back to say Thank You.

For answered prayer in May, I say thank you:

For a special family start to May with ordinary togetherness and fun.

That R. feels happy and blessed on his birthday.

For the new connection and blessing of M.C in B.J.

For the successful visit and connection with C. and P.

For inspiration and ideas to do the 4 sketches for section 2.

For use of the car and amazing first weekend of my new counselling/prayer ministry course and for the provision of books and the special people and learning so far.

For the time and inspiration to do the homework and for all the work of the Holy Spirit in me through the application of the teaching even at this early stage.

For how You teach me lessons that I then can apply to Sunday School lessons, leading devotions, blogs and other areas in life.

For the encouragement from the kids in Sunday School.

For the hard-working team and Your blessing and coordination in all the preparations for venue, food and hearts for the banquet in Your name, and for every one of those beloved guests.

For your glory, Father God.

For the Scripture Deuteronomy 11:23 – that You drive out the opposition only as we advance head on.

For all the new people finding their way into AA and for giving them courage to take the steps towards transformation.

For all the film-and-food nights with C. this month.

For courage to take the steps in obedience to Your leading and the blessing and peace that comes from that.

For blessing S’s heart especially over the last 5 months.

That S. has come off the medication and is making progress in the right trajectory.

For the 1000 people at the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ prayer gathering for Nottingham and for Your tangible presence there and in this city.

For your presence, protection and blessing with me in A&E and for the privilege and opportunity to speak with and encourage G, and to pray for G, M and A.

For the care received by the farm staff and the paramedics and A&E staff.

For the rapid healing of my body after the accident and the concussion shock.

I always want to give You thanks for the countless times You have protected me and my loved ones from dangers that I have not even perceived. That all those we pray for, are in Your arms and Your care. I thank You for the ongoing guidance, transformation, growth and for the constant sowing and growth towards a future harvest in places that maybe I do not see.

But You are faithful.

You ask us to pray and You hear us.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Thank You, Father God, that when we ask for direction, You do lead and guide us in the measure that we are willing to take the time to lean in and listen for You.

D is for anger

FMF writing Challenge. Prompt word – Danger

D is for Anger

Arriving home from a wonderfully blessed and inspiring ACW conference, I saw the Five-Minute-Friday writing prompt word – Danger.

The word felt uninviting, until ‘D is for anger’ fell into my brain.

I will explore that.

20:52 – Go!

“There is absolutely no point in reacting. It never works! I always end up losing. It’s not fair!

“He can get angry, he can do what he likes, but if I get mad or get him back, I end up hurt and in tears.

“It’s not fair. He’s big and I’m little…

“I’m never going to get angry again! He will never see me mad. It will never happen again. I will not react!..

“How do I not react? I will build a wall. I shall not join in. I won’t want anything; won’t play the game; won’t feel anything and then it won’t bother me!”

I did not realise then, or for most of my life since, how dangerous that strategy was. It was a completely understandable form of self-protection, but it became a stronghold that grew with me and bound me to fear and anger in a painfully impotent way.

It was to intensify its consequences and to thwart me over and over until finally I learned and brought my own self-centred promises and judgments to the cross of Jesus.

I repent for my sinful vows and judgments, which are now broken at the cross and the burden for my sin is all taken by Jesus.

He is my refuge and protection.

In His incredible love, He takes my sin and He sets me free.

Anger is not the sin. My judgments and my ‘never-again’ promises were the sin. I set myself up to rely on myself, not God. I separated myself from Him. That was the danger.

Now I am free to learn to feel anger, along with other emotions, and to bring my feelings and responses to Jesus. This is not comfortable, not easy; and I’m a bit clumsy in recognising and wearing these emotions and learning to express them appropriately. I can learn to identify the emotions, understand the cause and learn how to pray, be kind and bless.

But I do not need to judge the one who acts or speaks against me.

I am not the judge. I am free.

How wonderful it is to learn and to grow closer to the one who loves us beyond what we can ever fathom.

End

FMF Prompt word: Heal

FMF Prompt word: Heal

17:05

A scooter for a 3 year old, not for a Nana-D!!!!!!

I want to tell you a short story.

Yesterday I was out playing with my son and my two young grandchildren. The children (five and three years old) each took their scooters and we went to a nearby city-farm to see the animals and play in the park there.

As we left the farm, I decided to encourage the three-year-old on her scooter, by playing on it myself and promptly went scooting down the concrete ramp.

I was aware in a split second that the wheel caught and I was flying over the knee-high handle bars towards the ground. I knew I had fallen, but then suddenly felt a huge force throwing my face towards the concrete with back-lash type impact.

I knew then that I was properly hurt and my son came rushing over to get me to sit up. Waiting a while, I processed what had happened, feeling very queezy and dizzy, when a worker from the farm came out and asked if I was okay. She knew I wasn’t, so between them they got us all indoors and somebody else took care of the children whilst they tried to sort me out.

Suddenly I was aware of a voice calling me to ‘come back’ and I felt afraid, because I didn’t seem able to get back, like I was deep under-water and drifting far away. I fought and came back to see a face I didn’t recognise and a situation I didn’t understand, but in a second or two everything registered in recognition, but I felt terribly dizzy and emotional. I clambered down onto the floor into a recovery position, as my body began violently shaking.

I was aware of ‘them’ on the phone to an ambulance, asking me many questions and trying not to drift off. I was very concerned about the grandchildren and about the trouble I was causing these kind people, who should have been able to get off to their homes.

The ambulance took me to hospital and 2 lovely paramedics handed me over to an over-worked team at A&E, who did tests to check I was not seriously damaged.

Dozing on a trolley, with a curtain between me and a man I could hear, but notHeal see, I knew in my heart that I was there to pray for that man. God showed me what to pray for and what to say to him, so over the next few hours we spoke together and God was able to minister to his heart.

Finally they cleaned me up and sent me home again, with warnings of how I would feel over the next few days, warning signs to watch out for and an admission that my face was too swollen to do a scan to see if the nose or bones were broken.

I trust that the bones are not broken and that my swollen, battered looking face will heal perfectly well. I felt so privileged to be there to pray for and encourage my hidden neighbour and will continue to pray for him for as long as the Holy Spirit brings him to my mind.

I am very grateful that my own injuries are superficial and should heal very soon, though I imagine the nose and face will turn a variety of shades in the meantime and will attract a few questions. I shall answer folk that the other fella came off far worse!

Hopefully, I will also think twice before showing my granddaughter what not to do on her scooter?

I also want to say a huge shout out of thanks and respect for the kind workers of the farm, who took their time and effort to see that we were all looked after. For the paramedics, who with grace and humour brought me to the hospital, and for the staff in A&E who work tirelessly to serve the needs of us mere mortals who occasionally desperately need their expertise and attention. Thank you all.

FMF – What do I know?

Five-Minute-Friday writing prompt: Know

3d human with a red question mark

go 21:16

What do I know?

When I was very young I learned that “I don’t know” was an effective skill to not get into too much trouble.

When one has learned that answering a question wrongly can lead to punishment or humiliation, one learns to not take the risk of answering.

It was somewhat useful, but like most man-made coping mechanisms, it had a down-side. It had unrequited side-effects, if you like.

One was that answering “I don’t know” let me off the hook of bothering to express myself, of actually finding out what I thought, felt or wanted for myself.

Answering text-book questions was a matter of memory, but for opinions, it was best to not know.

But I want to know, so I have had to learn these things as an adult.

There are some things that I would have said that I did know – or that I believed to be true for me, or believed to be objectively true. I would have said that God is Love. That God is good.

Some people say they ‘know it in their knower’, but this never rang true for me.

Recently I am rediscovering how, after nearly 45 years as a Christian, many of those things that I believed that I knew, I now realise that not every part of me does know!

My head knows many things – about God, the world, the Bible, about myself and other people – but many of those ‘truths’ are not believed by my heart, only my head; and are not known in deep recesses of my psyche.

One by one, as I continue to pursue God and His ways and continue to open myself up to know His unfathomable love; little by little the path gets a little lighter and clearer…

One of my beliefs is that one day, I shall see and know Jesus, even as I am fully seen and fully known by Him.

How amazing will that be?

stop