unveiling your masterpiece

Last week I made my first podcast. It was fun, I was doing something I hadn’t done before. I love the challenge of doing something new. There was the excitement and anticipation in developing it, the learning of technology and a challenge, well a very big challenge, in the bringing it all together. I did thankfully have the help of some techy experts that live with me 😀 ! However when it came to the moment of publishing my podcast, there was a shift in my emotions, from excitement and anticipation to fear and possibly, if I dare say ‘dread’. It was safe to keep it hidden. It belonged to me, I owned it, it was my own little masterpiece, created by me, but not for me. Here is the dilemma, if I keep it hidden, which feels very safe, it no longer serves the purpose it was created for.

But like any podcast, blog or vlog, we create our own little masterpieces to share with those around us. They don’t belong hidden, we create them to share them. The moment of sharing is the moment it no longer belongs solely to me. Others begin their journey with my little masterpiece, bringing their interpretations, adding their thoughts, giving their opinions, owning little pieces of it, or even disowning little pieces of it. (That’s the scary part!)

This I have no doubt is the ‘dread’ in every author, writer, preacher, podcaster, speaker, leader.. but in every single one of us we were not created to be kept hidden. There is treasure inside every one of us.

When Adam and Eve had eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil……the first thing they did was to cover themselves up and hide. Adam was afraid. He felt shame. He felt exposed. Those dreaded emotions that cause us to hide. I’m certainly familiar with them, are you? The moment I feel shame I want to run for cover.

Thankfully the story it doesn’t end there, my story doesn’t end there and your story doesn’t end there. God called Adam out of his hiding. God is calling me out of my hiding and God is calling you out of your hiding. God has created us as his masterpieces, and like my little masterpieces, we were never created to be kept hidden.….’For we are Gods masterpiece….created to do good works which he had planned in advance, Ephesians 2:10.

So here’s another dilemma, if we keep ourselves hidden, we are less able to serve the purposes for which we were created for. Inside each one of us there may be dreams to be lived, desires to be fulfilled, visions to be birthed, stories still to be told, books to be written, encouragements to be said, love to be given, songs to be sung, people to be led…. and that may just be the beginning! So let’s begin at the beginning, living today with purpose as Gods masterpieces, doing what he’s called us to do.

Are you being called out of hiding? What little masterpieces are waiting to be unveiled in you?

Thank you for reading my blog 💓 I would love for us to stay connected sharing what’s stirring in our hearts and journeying together 💓 stay well and stay safe.

Lockdown

As a counsellor and psychotherapist Its been interesting, in-fact possibly fascinating to me, to see parts of my own character along with many others (social media is a great forum for that 😊) rise to the surface as our country faces the covid-19 pandemic. I have no doubt each one of us have had many emotions and behaviours surface in such a short space of time, where we went from life being pretty normal, going here, going there, planning this, planning that, to the extreme case of lockdown.

Over the past month I watched our society, including myself, gripped by varying levels of panic, fear and anxiety. Many of us saw the evidence of this emotion and the leading behaviours as we went for our food shop only to be faced with the empty shelves. It felt eerie and weird. No meat, no pasta, no rice, so let’s think out of the box now, get creative (which I do quite enjoy) and work with what I can get. However I need time to think this through, but time doesn’t seem to be showing me much kindness at the moment… if I take too much time to ponder, there might not even be a tin of beans left to purchase! I chose to buy only enough for my weekly shop, I didn’t buy into the panic, maybe because I couldn’t get my head round todays dinner, let alone tomorrows. Next week seemed a lifetime away. And of course we all know loo roll and hand sanitizer became gold dust, so much so that I found myself joining the longest que ever to purchase 1 pack of 12 rolls of toilet paper. Really, just for toilet paper! Yes, it was worth it to have a few spare rolls in my cupboard! I never did manage to get my hand sanitizer, though I did hunt some out in amongst my camping gear from last year. I have no idea if it’s still killing 99.9% of germs, so I do go mainly for the good old hand washing, possibly way too often that my poor hands are beginning to feel it 😩. Lashings of hand cream bring some welcomed relief!

So in the thick of all of this what thoughts, emotions and behaviours have you been aware of or noticed in yourself during this pandemic? We, as human beings are often pretty good at noticing behaviours in others (social media has been great at commending the good as well as condemning the bad). When I am aware of my own thoughts, feelings and behaviours, it helps me gain a measure of some self control, particularly where life on the outside can feel out of control. If I try to control the external, which is often other people and circumstances, this will bring out controlling behaviours in me, which leads to frustration, disappointment and anger. In the beginning of creation, Cain and Able brought their offerings to God. God had no regard for Cain’s, and this angered Cain. If he had paid attention to his own anger and realised that he had a heart issue, he may not have gone to the extreme of murder. In his anger and jealousy, it led him to murder his very own brother.

Our emotions are very real and can bring out behaviours in each one of us that we don’t really like. I’ve already been irritated with some of my family, and we are only into the first week of lockdown..Yikes 😱 however I am choosing to read and listen to wise words and the wisest I have ever come across is God’s. He advised Cain to master his anger (emotions) rather than having them master him. Our thoughts, trigger our emotions, which determine our actions. Pay attention to your thoughts today. You may not go to the extreme of murder, (I hope) but some may be pretty close to it in their hearts, it’s testing times. As I come to the end of my rambling thoughts, I will leave you with the wisdom of James in the message translation. Stay safe and stay well fellow sojourners ♥️

James 1:2-8 MSG

[2-4] Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. [5-8] If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. …

I simply come

For many years I have used the phrase ‘keep it simple’. I have spoken it out as a team leader to my teams, as a therapist to my clients, as a mama to my kids, as a wife to my husband, and as a human being to my plans. I have been aware of many times in my own life and the lives of others where we truly are great contributors to our own complications, creating many dilemmas along the way that we struggle to resolve. I can over think, over plan, over commit, over strategise and then become overwhelmed with it all! Anyone on my page?

As covid-19 strikes our nation, we watch with a sense of disbelief how much has been stripped away from us in such a short space of time. The many activities that consumed our time and energy over the years no longer exist. The after school activities, the travel to and from work, the gym, the spa, the local pub, the football matches, the holidays, the events…. all in a moment they are stripped away from us.

when all is stripped away and I simply come’

The lyrics of this song written by Matt Redman have been the focus of my thoughts this week, taking me to a place where I can ‘simply come’. A place where the demands and distractions have lessened. I haven’t had to say to myself this week, ‘well in awhile, because I’m just off to a meeting, or a service, or commitment, or a lunch date, or the shops’. And even when I have had the time, my mind can often be on what’s next, rather than on the here and now. Our moments pass quickly, and can never be relived.

So as we are learning to create new rhythms in our lives for this season, I believe for many of us there will be gifts and glimmers of light in amongst the darker moments. For me it’s the gift of time. Time for me to simply be, with God and myself. Time to recharge my overused batteries and fill up my empty (internal) tanks. Time to give of myself to my loved ones, to send that note, say that prayer, read that book, or write that journal. Time to forgive that offence, to break that habit, to confess that sin, to connect with that friend, to resurrect that desire and longing. Time to simply be.

What does your life look like in this season as much is being stripped away? What are the treasures and gifts to be found in your darker moments ?

When the music fades
All is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that’s of worth
That will bless Your heart

I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus

Words by Matt Redman

Faith over fear

I was brought up on the Isle of Lewis, an island that was very exposed to the natural elements, particularly storms. This was the norm for me growing up. The howling gales and choppy seas were familiar to us islanders. However, there were many tense moments not knowing what may happen during the storm. We would often sit in the dark (we had many power cuts) with only the light and heat of the fire, waiting for the storm to subside, not knowing the damage it would cause, and the pieces we would need to pick up in the aftermath.

I am reminded of the storm our world is facing at this moment. As the corona virus sweeps our nation causing panic and chaos, it too is a storm that is bringing many unknowns across our path. The outside has become less safe, fear is gripping the core of our nation, and what was once familiar is no longer. We do not know the damage it will cause or the pieces we will need to pick up in the aftermath.

Much as the media are keeping us up to date, I am also reminded (hard as it is) to keep focused on what is God saying in the midst of this storm.

We read in Marks gospel that Jesus slept through the storm. It raged so much, the disciples really thought they were going to die. Now these guys were fishermen, who must have been used to many a storm, but this was a storm to beat all storms! This caused fear to rise way beyond faith. They woke Jesus up, accusing him of not caring that they may perish. I wonder if that is how you may feel at this moment? Does Jesus really care that we may perish?

What’s more important is how Jesus responds to the disciples. Firstly he rebukes the wind, attending to what was causing their fear. He then asks them the ultimate question, a question that to the human mind may seem inappropriate considering the situation….

Why are you so afraid? Have you still no Faith?

These are questions that really do stop me in my tracks. I have often held onto fear as I face the many storms in my own life. As we now face the storm that rages in our nation at this moment, what is our answer to the questions Jesus asks. Why are we so afraid? Where is our faith? Our fear subsides when our faith rises. We have a choice to either feed our fear, or feed our faith.

As I think back to moments as a child during the raging storms, there was something precious in our huddling together as a family, sitting in the dark, not knowing the outcome. We couldn’t go anywhere or do very much apart from be together. What we did know was that the storm would pass.

Let’s spend some moments increasing our meditation on Gods word, and decreasing our meditation on the Media’s word, watching our faith rise above and beyond our fear.

Thank you for reading my blog ❤️

Sowing and reaping

Over the past few weeks, I have no doubt like many of of us, we have been reflecting on the year that has just passed, 2019! I decided to shift my focus more towards what I have sown into the year rather than what my year has been like. Yes, it’s had highs and lows, ups and downs, mountains and valleys, peaks and troughs, but in all these, the good, the bad and the ugly, what have I put out there?

In the early months of 2019, it seemed that much was coming against my family. There were hard bullets shooting fast, from false accusations, betrayal, rejection and the death of a loved one. In those moments I had a choice to either run for cover or stand firm. I made a decision, not an easy one or a natural one, but a good one, to stand firm, and be intentional in sowing generosity and compassion in amongst it all.

I made a choice to become generous in my love, in my attention, in my time, in my words, in my affirmation, in my giving and in my forgiveness. It was hard, sometimes really really hard! As I began intentionally being generous and compassionate, I also became aware of the many times I wasn’t! Some days felt a battle, and it was definitely a choice rather than a desire, but as my determination pushed through, I began to notice it flowing more naturally from me. It became energising, it became powerful…it was deep. Joy began to flow naturally through me, even when nothing had changed in my circumstances. This gave me the strength to keep going.

Compassion is an emotion that moves us to act. In Luke 15 we read…”but while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced and kissed him…. bring quickly the best robe and put it on him”.

The prodigal’s father was so deeply moved by compassion that he ran towards his son, hugged him and kissed him. His generosity flowed and the best robe was sought out, not just any robe. Without compassion these actions would be missing, the son may have been rejected, dismissed or even given the role of a servant, which is what he had requested.

As I have journeyed this year sowing generosity and compassion I have reaped much. My heart has enlarged, my joy has increased, my appreciation has grown, my boundaries have been clearer, and most importantly of all my relationships are healthier, my marriage strengthened.

If I had sown jealousy, discord, unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, grudges or strife, I believe I would have ended this past year exhausted, weary, disconnected and possibly depressed.

What did you sow last year and what have you reaped? What are you choosing to sow intentionally this year?

Let’s journey together sowing generously so that we get a harvest of plenty 💗

No place for you

I’ve been really stuck by a phrase, one that has really jumped off the page as I’m reading through the gospel of Luke.

because there was no place for them in the inn” Luke 2:6

I wonder if you find yourself with no place. No place in your home, no place in your community, no place in your church, no place in your workplace, or maybe no place amongst friends. Its a place that Mary and Joseph found themselves in as they were searching for a resting place to give birth.

They sought a place where the crowds gathered, but were turned away. Mary was pregnant, carrying in her womb the saviour of the world, the messiah, the son of God.. and there was no place for them. Wow, I wonder how many who are giving birth to heavenly visions and dreams have been turned away.. “there is no place for you”.

I have found myself in family relationships, the workplace, in friendships and even in the church where there seems to be no place. My desires, my intentions, my vision, my dreams, my care have in moments been turned away.

I have settled for the solitude of the stable, like Mary and Joseph, where all that is within me can be birthed. Where mans voice is no longer the loudest and Gods way leads me on. It’s the hardest and yet most powerful place to be. God will most often get our attention away from the crowd. When we find ourselves searching for a place to fit in, be encouraged that when you stop searching, God brings his chosen to you…

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. Luke 2:20

As the glitter and glamour of this season overpowers the humble beginnings of our saviour, take some time out to pause and ponder. Step away from where the crowds gather, and find a stable where God has got your attention. Listen and know the place he has for you, one that fits, one that accepts, one that includes, one that affirms, one that has his seal of approval … and rest.

Thank you for reading my blog ❤️ wishing all my readers a blessed and restful Christmas.

Mingling or mangling?

A couple of years ago, I was at the launch of my friends latest album. Her guest speaker, who was also a singer songwriter, was leaving Scotland and heading to the states within days of the launch. Exciting opportunities lay ahead for him and his family. He was such a fun and captivating speaker, so when he shared that his biggest challenge in setting up home and life in America would be relationships. Really? He seemed the most relationally sound guy you could ever meet!

As I look back to the beginning of human life on earth, relationships were at their most vulnerable right back in the garden. The serpent was more crafty than any other beast. His first plan of attack was to cause separation between God and man. And his mission was a success! “Did God actually say…..” His words were pretty convincing, and they remain as convincing to this day. The first seed of doubt was sown into the human heart.

Eve became mangled in Satan’s cunning scheme. He hooked her in with his deceiving words, and the door of separation opened wide. Adam and Eve seemed to step in very naturally into blaming the other for the choices they made. “The serpent deceived me…the woman you gave me” Neither were willing to take responsibility for their choices. When we find ourselves either blaming others for their words, actions or behaviours, or being blamed, we can easily become mangled and tangled up. Knowing what is your responsibility and what is theirs, you can then begin to separate the two. Taking responsibility for your words, behaviours and actions is yours, as much as them taking responsibility for their words, behaviours and actions. Satan is still cunning, and causing mangling and tangling in our relationships today, leading to separation.

Can you think back to a recent moment when you were mingling in conversation with a loved one, and suddenly and unexpectedly you found yourself mangled and chewed up in the their stuff? Many do not know how to untangle themselves in that moment and either join in with it or run from it, separating themselves. Separation in that moment may feel the safest option but this leads to loneliness and isolation. I am reminded in those moments when I’m tempted to isolate myself, the words from God, my creator, who knows me better than I know myself, that it’s not good for me to be alone.

To mingle well in relationships is hard work. It’s being intentional to love with patience and kindness, without envy or boasting. Without arrogance or focus on self. Without irritation or resentment, or insisting on your own way. To always rejoice in the truth, bearing all things, believing all things, enduring all things.

How well are you mingling in your relationships?

Thank you for reading my blog and I look forward to mingling with you as we journey together 💗

Be still

This is a challenge for me to “be still“. I find my mind jumps around, even when my body is still, searching and browsing the net, to messaging and emailing, to writing my to do list, to filling my diary ….. and so it goes on and on and on. Is anyone with me on this?

This morning I was acutely aware of my distracted mind when I was reading a chapter on a bible app on my phone when suddenly I remembered that there might be an offer on my M+S card. My phone was already in my hand. The temptation to pause my meditation in Gods word and check out the offer was there. I had a choice in this moment, to still my mind and stay focused, or to give in to my distraction.

My distraction had a voice, a pretty loud voice, a convincing voice. “but what if you miss out on a bargain? What if you forget later?”. The voice was enticing me to justify my reasons from pausing my “quiet time” to entering into the world of consumerism. Oh but would it be just for a moment. We all know browsing the web isn’t just for a moment, it hooks us in and keeps us in with so much visual to catch our attention.

I chose to stay in my quiet time and resist the temptation. I wish I could say that was true all of the time, but on this occasion it was. I chose to believe that I would miss out on so much more if I checked in on my M+S offer. I would lose those precious moments at the start of my day, moments that I can’t get back.

Distractions come in all shapes and sizes, visual, audible and in our thoughts. Some of them are so subtle, we hardly recognise them as a distraction. They seem so harmless. However if we struggle to notice the small, how will we ever be able to develop a healthy resistance when the bigger ones come our way. We may yet again justify and reason with ourselves that this is a good choice.

In Psalm 46 we are reminded to “be still and know that I am God“. He encourages a stillness within us, to know that he is God. To pause the whirl of internal voices and activity. I wonder where you go to find that stillness? Is it a daily rhythm for you, or just whenever it fits?

The apostle Paul instructs us to take every thought captive, not just some. So when you find your still moments being sabotaged by a thought, take it captive rather than it taking you captive.

When you begin resisting your distractions, you will be amazed how much knowing God will become your greatest attraction.

Thank you for reading my blog 💗

On the edge

Recently I found myself watching a group of kids, standing at the edge of the harbour, throwing themselves into the deep blue sea. There was one little girl in particular that really caught my attention. She looked around 7-8 years old. She had arrived full of excitement and very much part of the crowd, but when the time came for her to jump, instead of following the others, she froze. I could see fear in her face, as she looked at the sea. It was no longer inviting to her. I could see that a part of her so desperately wanted to jump in, but she just couldn’t bring herself to take the plunge.

Her friends encouraged her to jump, they shouted out words of reassurance, but nothing worked. Her feet were at the very edge, but her head kept turning towards the others. What was she looking for? Reassurance ? I could imagine her biggest and deepest question would have been, “will I be ok!”

I could identify with this little girl in many ways, including jumping into the deep sea. However I can also stand on the edge of a decision or a choice, to step out of what seems comfortable and safe, into what is unknown and scary. What is my greatest concern in that moment. Will I be ok? Will I be safe?

So, what does it take to jump in? It takes Courage. The courage to step off what feels solid and safe, and jump into the deep and unknown. This may be a change of career, a change in relationship, a big decision or a behaviour pattern.

In therapy I will often ask my clients to trust the process. Our initial sessions may be dipping a toe in the water, then possibly a paddle, but there comes a time when I invite them to jump into the deeper parts. It’s scary and it’s unknown. But to come back up, we need to go down. As Richard Rohr describes it perfectly in the title of his book, Falling upward!

Eventually the little girl left without jumping in, however she did return later, and finally made the jump she had so desperately wanted to do. She was no longer standing on the edge.

I was reminded of the instruction Jesus gave to some of his disciples in Luke’s gospel. “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch. I wonder what you need to put out into the deep? What is stopping you? When the disciples did obey Jesus, “they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking”.

Why don’t you Join with me in asking God to give you the courage to come away from the edge and go into the deep, and let’s share our large catch together.

Thank you again for taking the time to read my blog 😀