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?

Concerning FEAR

I often write to process ideas and floating thoughts. This morning I am processing some thoughts on FEAR. I capitalise it, because it manifests itself as a very BIG thing.

I’m not an expert in any of this, though I have known the presence of fear for as long as I’ve known life.

I thought it was an emotion, but I think it is deeper and more fundamental than that.

In my humble view, fear is as solid and universal as an instinct – a defence/ protective warning signal for survival. It triggers the fight, freeze or flee response to danger. It has a very important role and if we consider what it is saying, it can protect us from rash, impulsive and dangerous choices.

But it can also be crippling, like a shackle around one’s ankles. It can render a person mute, ineffective and pathologically disabled or ill in many ways.

FEAR made its presence felt in me again last night. I feared my loved ones becoming very ill. I feared becoming ill myself. My chest went tight and my breathing laboured; I felt light-headed and faint. I was aware of the potential for fear to cause me to feel physiologically ill.

Of course for two years now, we have heard the sirens racing alarmingly through the streets, listened to news reports (which I rarely do), had to wear masks, follow precautions, sanitise, socially distance… Whatever we believe about the pandemic, we have been subjected to death statistics, to prolonged lock-downs and closures and to constant news of hospitalisations, illness and threats. Regular life has been suspended and we have all been distanced and put on high-alert. It is the topic of all news and conversations. The UK no longer discuss the weather, but open conversations with “Have you had your booster yet?” and “Where’s your mask?” whilst applying yet more sanitiser from bottles perched on every surface.

The symptoms for many with covid 19 have been coughing, a tight chest and difficulty breathing, so in a state of fear or panic, one feels these sensations, which can spiral into negative thinking, worst-case scenarios and further panic and psychological and physiological anxiety, stress and panic. When panic begins, it can be very difficult to control, but self-control is possible.

My defence strategy, last night, was to breath deeply, to pause and pray and to encourage myself in the truth of the promises of God:

We are constantly told by God to be strong and courageous; to not be afraid, not be terrified and not to faint…

(It is said that the Bible tells us 366 times to ‘not be afraid’ – one for every day, including the leap-year!)

Why not be afraid?

Because God did not give us a Spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind. Because He promises to go with us wherever we are and to never leave us or forsake us…

So how do we do this?

Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

The Lord is near. 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 hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

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 sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isaiah 43:1 – 2)

You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you…

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. (Psalm 91:5-12)

This morning, I could still feel the memory of the panic, but I was no longer carrying the burden. I had listened to God’s word and presented my concerns to God. I expressed my troubles and gave them all to Him who is able to carry them, and now my heart and mind are both at peace. I can now deal rationally with those things that are my responsibility to attend to.

I shall possibly need to remind myself over and over again. I need a treasury of promises on every surface of my mind, with which to sanitise my mind from the virus of fears all around.

If you become afraid, acknowledge it, see what it is trying to tell you. Listen to the warning, but refuse access to the spirit of fear, for that is not from God.

Lean on the Holy Spirit, breath in deeply and cast all of your concerns, worries, fears, requests on the God who cares for you.

Encourage yourself in the promises God makes to those who put their trust in Him.

May you enter 2022 in the Spirit of Power, of Love and of a sound mind, knowing that God is FOR you, He is with you and He loves you with an everlasting love.

And encourage those around you, helping them to carry their burdens and comforting them with the comfort you have received.

Be blessed. Thank you for reading.

August Praises

Isn’t gratitude one of the greatest pick-me-ups? How many times has a dose of the doldrums been transformed into bubbling joy and calm, simply by thinking through and naming all the things for which you are grateful? Have you ever done it long enough to come to the end of your list?

But, slow learner that I am, I again made the mistake of thinking I didn’t have anything interesting to blog about last week and was too busy to listen… yet I had a post to be written all along. I had made a commitment (ooh, serious word!) to giving public thanks to God every month, for His faithfulness in hearing and responding to my prayers, with His Father heart of love. I am so excited, on a daily basis, as I acknowledge petitions that are answered, issues resolved, miracles happening… as I witness God happening in my life and in the lives of those around me… but, come the end of the month, I think – “I’ve nothing to write about!”

So here we are on 21st September and I’ve still not given public thanks and praise for all God’s visible goodness and intervention throughout August. But I will do so now, with repentance again for my warped priorities! Meanwhile God is so faithful, that my notebook for September continues to show countless blessings!

august definition: 1. having great importance and especially of the highest social class.

So, August praises to God is a fitting title, in all respects!

I give thanks:

That the chairs went back into rows in church, after 18 months of restrictions,

That C got more than enough distinctions and merits from his access course and a good grade for his GCSE maths, and was offered a place in university.

That my videos, recordings and writings continued successfully and the fourth edit of the book finally complete and is off for feedback.

That August holiday lunch-club was successful and many local families blessed with food.

That S and I had a very productive week of DIY in the house, related well, and managed to visit old friends.

That J and V got the council house they were looking for.

That I was able to receive the medical advice needed and tests all clear.

That You healed my right foot.

That I was able to help S to edit her paper enough to finally submit it.

That I was able to have a weekend away with old friends and all went smoothly and well.

That D and R back together, so child-care issues resolved.

That B’s tests and urgent flight tickets all resolved smoothly.

That I’ve been honoured to host a home-group for the new prayer course.

That S’s travel plans worked well and was released from the quarantine and able to visit all the people planned for.

That D’s cancer has gone and she is well.

That the tribunal hearing has been postponed until a more suitable time and venue.

That I was able to spend more time than usual with my beloved grandchildren this month.

Lord, there were 3 disappointments this month – 2 people for whom I had prayed, but who died. I don’t understand why, but I trust You. I trust You to know the bigger picture and continue to entrust all the bereaved into Your loving arms.

Not all of my prayer is petition and intercession (asking for intervention and favour for self and others) but many areas of growth and life are just too difficult to define in words and to quantify or qualify. Praise and gratitude are a large part of my relationship with my Lord and Creator.

I am most grateful that I can come with confidence into the presence of God and that He not only knows me better than I know myself, but that God loves me despite knowing the areas I hide even from myself. In other words, I am most grateful for the relationship with God and the fact that I really can bring all burdens, concerns, questions, celebrations and everything – even disappointments and laments – to a loving God, who listens, comforts and lights those burdens and pains with a peace beyond expectation and a joy that seems extravagant!

You are so loved! Always pause to give thanks for that!

Do you have enough time?

What are your priorities?

My dear friend, (I speak here to me as much as to you),

I hear you bemoan that there are not enough hours in your day to do all that you want to do, that you don’t have enough strength, ability, enough of this, or that, to do what you (think you) should be doing and want to do – not enough money, time, energy, resources…

You want to achieve, accomplish, be successful, make a difference, be somebody, do something great! Of course you do!

I think of the well known story of Martha fretting and Mary sitting at the feet of her Lord. Jesus said Mary had chosen the better path… yet I chose the name of Martha for my confirmation name!

And I think of Jesus himself frequently going off, often in the middle of the night, to find a quiet place to pray.

And the Lord says –

(Matthew 6:33)

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

How do we seek Him first?

If we ask Him first (and not ask everyone else, and try every other avenue, and go to God as a last resort)!

If we give Him first place in our time, resources and energy – we give Him the first and best bits, not the scraps left over.

He says (John 15:7)

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

‘Remain in’/ ‘abide in’? –

We (maybe need to get up early and) go to a quiet place and spend time in prayer – we thank Him and pour out all our needs and concerns, and prayer requests, and we listen to His heart and what He wishes (to put on our heart) for us to do… (we remain in Him)

We read His word in Scripture and listen to what He has already told us, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak into our NOW and allowing God to convey to us what is on His heart for today. (His words remain in us).

Then we do/say what He has told us to do/say.

Allow Him to lead, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Not every job that needs doing, needs to be done by you.

Not every need is yours to serve and meet.

His priority is not for you to busy yourself, striving and stressing over things you have taken upon yourself, in your strength, because…

He wants you to give EVERYTHING over to Him and to trust Him to take care of it and to show you what He wants you to do.

I hear your sense of panic as you read this.

You want to serve God, to please Him, and you want to serve and meet the needs of all those around you…

However, you are not to be passive either. We have to turn up, put on HIS armour, face our enemy, use our talents, follow His strategy, and do and say what He gives us to do and say; but the strategy has to be His, the battle His, and then the victory and the outcome are His responsibility and to His glory.

Trust Him.

Pray.

Listen.

Obey.

Jesus says: (Matthew 6:25 – 33)

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life… Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? …27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?… 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.

And Jesus says: (Matt 7: 7)

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Paul echoes Jesus’ words in Philippians 4:6-7 –

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 hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Priorities for each day:

Prayer and thanksgiving

Study the Word

Rest (Sabbath and sleep)

Offering/Obedience

You say, “But I don’t have time to do that!”

I hear you, loud and clear, but I humbly suggest that you “don’t have the time” TO NOT do these things.

Make the time to build your relationship with your Saviour!

Is it all about Jesus, or is it all about you and your plans and effort?

Seek Him first, then ALL these things (that you need) WILL be given to you.

Trust Him. Remember: His Yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Father God, I give you my life and my heart and my time – all 24 hours of every day – for you to use however You see fit! I entrust it all to You. All I have is Yours – from You and for You. It is enough. My time is in Your hands. You have eternity for me. Blessed be your name forever. Amen.