Mid-Year Check In: 2019

I stumbled across a note I had written to myself at my desk as I was having a clear out two weeks ago. At the back it dated 9th January 2019. It has been six months since I had made these jots. They were sentences, prompters, food for thought probably gleaned from a Ted Talk of some sort. I’ll share them with you in bold and elaborate on the progress of each one. I’ve really sat down this evening to ponder these through, maybe you could do the same and see where you are at mid 2019?

Aiming at the right goal!

It’s so funny that I underlined ‘right’ in my note. Because to be honest, that’s what it needs. Emphasis! What is the right goal? Have I really been aiming at it this year? What is this ‘right goal’? Imagine having so many different boards you could potentially shoot at but there is one with the big red dot you need to hit? And yet instead you fire at all the others. What a terrible error. You’ve missed the mark! (Kind of reminds me of the description of sin, our aim [heart] will always be bent, twisted at the core. It can only be made right by regeneration, Christ becoming Lord of our lives).

Okay, I’ve gone off topic. But really, a sit down like this needs some quiet and honest reflecting. By no means am I saying your goals can’t change within the year, but I think going back over your initial thoughts and developing them through prayer and consideration with the Lord is not a bad thing.

What I need to think about is how I can achieve whatever ‘the right goal’ is. Maybe some bullet points will help me? Maybe a cheeky brainstorm of a word will begin the process. First of all though, I need to re-establish what goals I actually set for myself at the start of this year and go from there.

What kind of person do I want to be a year from now?

A heels down, firm soled woman with a grounded soul and more stories to tell.

A person filled with more joy knowing that the Lord whom I have searched out in Scripture Is Who He Says He Is and Does What He Says He Will Do. These are the assurances in my heart and mind that I need to rest in and be anchored with when all of life’s tests come my way.

In short – a more faith-filled woman.

Don’t let life just happen.

When I wrote this down it resonated with me so much. I have always been one for adventure, one for something new, one with the mind to learn different things, one with the heart that is set on expression and creativity. Too often though, we can let life just happen to us. We get comfortable in the systems, the cycles.

There’s nothing wrong with doing something you enjoy, usually that thing will challenge you and stretch you and may actually end up no longer looking like your favourite thing anymore. But when you find yourself in a position where things just happen to you and you are simply like, “How did I find myself here?” I think that calls for an evening similar to mine of self-reflection and examination.

REGULAR TIMES allocated to reading the Word and prayer – commitment. 

How much have I been committed to the Word of God? To the study of what God has said about Himself in His writings to us?

Thankfully God has been faithful in this area. He has caused me to draw near to Him in times of loneliness, uncertainty and darkness. This has meant I have been in His Word more, learning what it really means to ‘mediate’ on it day and night. And the fruits have been a calmness, a quietness of my spirit. Not as fretful or as anxious, but instead a quickness to remember God is my refuge and strength, my ever-present help in times of need (Psalm 46:1). Carving out that intentional time with God has caused my eyes to be opened more to His many different attributes displayed in His Scriptures.

Living for those behind; LEGACY

This is big. How have I been living this out this year? What have I been putting in place for the glory of God to be seen through my life?

Well, this isn’t something that started at the start of 2019 but probably stems from as early as 2011 and it’s simply journal writing. So much has happened, so many unspoken words have been hidden in my untold journals. These memoirs speak of the unmistakeable, redefining and regenerating work God has done in my life through His power and His Son, that’s a piece of His marvellous work worth leaving behind…

What area in my life do I most need simplifying?

My thought-life. “Take every thought captive and bring it under the obedience of Christ Jesus”(2 Corinthians 10:5). “Trust in the Lord with all [my] heart and lean not on [my] own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

Why add more crosses to the one Christ has asked us to carry?

It makes no sense burdening myself with thoughts unending when “His thoughts are higher than my thoughts and His ways are higher than my ways”? (Isaiah 55:8-9). I

t’s about praying more isn’t it? Leaving our thoughts at His feet, surrounding in trusting obedience. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). The more I carry things in my mind, the more I realise I am not humble enough to give them to the Lord.

There is so much more to ponder on but I think trusting God with the rest of the year is probably most important. So let’s do that shall we? Cheers to the remaining months ahead, may we have God’s glory in mind and as our fore gaze!

~ G

Loneliness, Change, Friendships and Adulting

Greetings reader,

I do hope you are well and that this blog post meets you in good, good time.

It’s been a while and I’ll be honest, I’ve drawn in on myself. Barely a handful have had access to my mind’s thoughts and there are a number of unspoken reasons why. I’ll address one of those areas though, in a slightly ‘chopping off the start and end of the story’ type of way and will just dig in to some of the many thoughts of mine.

Feel free to run your eyes along a few words I’ve managed to pull together.

Much love,

G

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I’ve come to the timely conclusion that loneliness will never leave us.

Now, I know that ultimately God fills every lonely heart and that we can feel lonely but we are never alone, but hear me out on this one…

Everyone I have spoken to from different walks and periods in their lives have all mentioned this underlying feeling. Whether it is the married woman or the married man, the woman at home nurturing and teaching her kids, the couple engaged but not yet married, the busy individuals working and establishing themselves in this work life, or the older person getting to grips with their adult children leaving the nest or all their friends slowly passing away. The string that ties all these people together is loneliness.

It’s a change in the normal. It’s the situation you are forced to adapt to or get left behind. It’s the once full and now empty feeling.

The biggest and most poignant example I can give you and can identify with personally is the transition from university life to our famous millennial word ‘adulting’ life.

University really is a bubble. Everyone is in close proximity of one another and you can really do life with one another because you are essentially in one another’s space. If you’re all doing the same course you’re bound to see one another at least a couple times each week minimum. You share food, you share music, you share time, you share you.

Yet in a busy city like London, the chances you get to meet your friends are from zero to once a month.

You no longer study the same course or live as close as you were in your dorms, so by nature your geography spreads thin. Never mind, other interests, commitments and even dependants being added to the mix. Your sphere changes and you have to change too. Everybody’s priorities have changed and so have yours.

Change exposes our hearts to the weed of loneliness

But how many of us actually talk about this with among our friendship groups or in our churches? Maybe we don’t because we don’t realise that change is what we are actually experiencing when we wonder why our friend hasn’t responded to our message or when we keep rescheduling our meet-ups or that FaceTime call which doesn’t quite equate to a real life, face to face chin wag, we realise change exposes our hearts to the weed of loneliness.

There are 3 things to help us (me) deal with change which breeds the unyielding weed of loneliness:

1. Being intentional

We are each let alone to our own responsibilities. And it’s hard but it is fact. Everyone is trying to juggle keeping friends as well as keeping jobs, families and commitments. And we won’t all get it right but maybe an honest dialogue might be a good start. It is our responsibility to be intentional in a society that thrives on going at things alone and having an every man for themselves mentality. These kind of falsehoods contribute to the many mental health issues we hear and speak about so often these days that quite frankly don’t happen as much in cultures that actually talk to one another about issues they face.

2. Ask the right questions

If you know your friends you’ll know what kind of questions to ask them. Asking the right questions will pull out the things they are choosing to tuck away. We can ask questions like: how can I best be a friend for you in this time? Or how will this new job affect x y z? Or what specific things should I be praying for? If we ask the right questions, we get to the heart of the matter of concern and begin to build that closeness we may have once felt at a time when we were closer together be it in proximity or had more time for longer conversations.

3. Dare to be vulnerable

My oh my do we have to put our first foot forward if we ever want to see change. Open the front door! If we’re feeling lonely, chances are we’re probably not sharing as much as we ought to with someone we trust. Self preservation is so real! No one is saying spill all your beans to your newest mate but share with true, proven friends. ‘Friends’ with the clause and assumption that you have done life with the person and you kinda know who they are and what they’re about. ‘Friends’ enough to share without feeling ashamed or embarrassed or an unhealthy sense of judgement (sober judgement is good, if your friend gives you wise counsel that stings but is truth, love them for it).

Loneliness in adulthood is inescapable but I know we can do well to bridge the gap if we’re just a bit more frank with one another. Keeping up appearances only damages self. Change is inevitable but a comfort I remember even as I write is God is never changing. So even if everything around looks hazy, trusting Him strengthens and builds our resilience and character. Maybe the lonely path is what the Lord will use in His infinite wisdom to graft us further into Himself…

At Arms Length Love

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He walks with me.

We are not opposed.

Our stance is fortified

Arms linked

Side by side

For walks, He is there besides me

On hills, His shoulder bears the brunt

In valleys, His ear bears the cry

He walks with me

We are not opposed

Our stance is fortified

His grace is sufficient, enough

For me, He waits

In kindness, He rebukes

In patience, beckons my repentance

…Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it

Prone to leave my precious One…

He doesn’t leave

He doesn’t force me near

In His kindness I am drawn

At arms length, He is anchored, still.

Only I dangle the rope and run afield

~ G

Where I Left You

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I’m sorry I left you

I wasn’t fit enough to bear you

My emotions were not strong enough to care for you

I was unstable, unavailable

Willing

But not trusting of myself

To do you justice

To give you a life and a hope, and a future

But then, only God does that doesn’t He?

I would do a disservice to you

Who would you be in society if I raised you?

You were safer out of my hands

Away from me

In better care

Loving care

Not from home to home

But from cradle to school

Then college

Oh and perhaps university

Like I did… but never completed

Not because of you so don’t worry

But because of me.

Oh, and then from uni to a job

And you would find love and I’d be a Grandmother to my unknown Grandchildren

A home as it should be

I can see their faces now

Budding with life, full of wit and charm

I know you will make of yourself more than I could have made of you

I’m glad I kept you

I’m sad I gave you away

But something really deep down inside me tells me you’ll be okay

And you know what, I believe that

~ G

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Thomas Mueller Photography

 

Thine Heart Humbled

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Stricken by lightning, torn down by the flu, mocked by dearly beloveds, scorned by passers by. Weathered and beaten by the hem of her sleeve, she was done. What a way to please the world, she thought, and she did it with every vibrant, vulnerable beat.

She hid no feelings and everything and their powers ruined her for it.

She staggered, bruised and downcast across the cotton wrinkles. The creases of her shirt felt like valleys and trenches — Agonisingly, withering, she walked away from the edge bleeding uncontrollably… The green zig zag slowly faded. The tinnitus beep followed thereafter. The field won this round…

Stoic. Is this what you want from me?

Numb. Is this what you want from me?

Plain. Is this what you want from me?

Mute. Is this what you want from me?

There was clearly a chemical imbalance. Deoxygenated maybe? Muscle failure. Sharp flutters, she was fading, slowly; a disconnect from her source.

Disengaged. Violated, wallowing in her blood a voice calls out, “Live!” Naked and bare, she begins to beat again. New life was birthed in her, truth was spoken over her.

She fled back this time, her thuds were excited. Her black hole welcomed her, it was warm just as she had left it. The body was one and she was at peace. They thrived in unity, each part serving the another faithfully. They appreciated her on her return; “Thine heart is back, may we live on!” the victorious cry from the mouth piece announced! A jubilant breath filled the lungs, the hands clapped and the feet stomped, were they glad to see their heart back in place.

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The heart goes back into the body and learns to work with the body to glorify God.

Not only is it glorifying God, but it is learning how to love. To love properly. Love is not selfish in thinking of itself and its own freedoms, love gives, works together; love is whole.

For love to flow, love first needs to be poured into, poured into by a continuous wellspring higher than itself. A cistern, dedicated to fulfilling the heart with more and more of itself. That wellspring of love is God.

~ G

Thine Heart on Thine Sleeve

HOME

Home is where the heart is, they say. Home is the dwelling of a nuclear family or the alternative one. Home is belonging; peace, a humble abode.

What if where you are right now was not home? What if all you have ever known was a lie, a figment of your imagination, a web of dusty dreams?

A few days ago I walked along my usual pathway home and processed my surroundings differently. As the wind blew and the wind shook the leafless trees I had somewhat of an epiphany. The only thing true is God. And there it dawned on me that everything we see, touch, smell, taste, regardless of how tangible it may seem does not compare to how real God is.

Eternity is home

Thinking about this helps me to better understand the tug God has put in the heart of every human being. The gaping hole which longs for more. The vast deeps which can not be filled. Not at least by anything earthly anyway.

You see, in our hearts God has placed eternity. It’s what we truly yearn for if you really give that thought more than a few minutes. Eternity is home.

But one of my friends kindly reminded me of the hint of home. Sometimes we can feel at home in the presence of other believers. That quieted my soul for a moment because it made me remember that yes, God is in the believer, He lives among us through His Holy Spirit.

Home is found in companionship and love and conversation. Home is found in the sweetness of an act of kindness. Home is found in the eyes of those who share your same hearts cry, to be one with God in eternity and to enjoy Him forever.

Home is not always here. At least not for me.

Where is home for you?

~ G

How The Winter Weather Affects My Mood

 

Crisp mornings, sharp breezes, tingling cheeks and chappy lips, yes, these all too familiar descriptive words tell us all the tale of season change. The long weeks of heat and sun are a distant memory for us Brits. Winter is here!

Who doesn’t love the autumn look, though? The layers, the scarves, the ankle boots, the turtlenecks and the corduroy (which I am 100% digging atm!). Or the winter look; the hats, the fur, the puffer coats and so on. And what about the question that seems to always be on the tip everyone’s tongue by November, “Will it snow this Christmas?”

In the same breath, season change in the UK brings dark mornings and even darker evenings. The sound of cars driving over wet roads, murky puddles, overcast skies, ear muffs and not-so-effective gloves are all marks of winter being in full swing.

I find it hard waking up during those mornings and even harder getting out of bed. Knowing it’s cold in your room and knowing it will be even colder outside can make you just want to curl up and pray your alarm just went off a bit too early…

I find the clearer skies more easy to bear with during the winter months than the dreary ones. Oftentimes, I find myself thanking God for the blue skies and having to encourage myself to thank Him for the grey ones too.

You’d think that Christian’s don’t get affected by a small thing such as the weather, right?! Well I’ll hold my hands up high and say I certainly do.

Christians can be affected by anything in the same way an unbeliever can be – the difference is how we simply approach and deal with it.

Before I go on, let us read the definition of the acronym SAD (Season Affective Disorder).

Seasonal Affective Disorder

noun

depression associated with late autumn and winter and thought to be caused by a lack of light.

Let’s face it, there seems to be a name for everything in the western world, I get it. But the factors, ie ‘a lack of light’ do play a key role in the drop of our mood, as the definition named it ‘depression’. I wouldn’t outright label myself with this disorder, but I can see how certain symptoms I have may correlate to the definition. However, these causes and effects are a real thing and yes, even (some) Christians deal with this. Is it an excuse to sin? Of course not. By no means! Should we allow such labels to define us? Of course not. By no means! Scripture encourages us in the general sense to pray without ceasing, right? Thus, during my low spells, I have found that it is good for me to be consistently and intentionally and quickly airing out my thoughts to our Heavenly, loving Father, whose ear is attentive to our prayers.

All throughout Scripture we are reminded that God is sovereign and that God is indeed good and to be trusted. So all things any given Christian will go through is for their good and ultimately for the glory of God! …Including enduring Downcast British Weather.

We are called to lay down our burdens before God. Maybe that burden is dealing with the fact that you don’t want to do the day because it’s dark and gloomy, in that moment you therefore make the choice to give over that very thought process to God and ask Him for His strength to meet you there.

I am reminded that it is in our weaknesses that God truly shows Himself in our lives to be our strong and mighty God.

Though I thrive better when I see a sunny day, I can still be comforted by God’s presence and His faithful Word on a cloudy day. Even more so, I press on to visit that friend after work or head to fellowship mid week because there’s nothing like being surrounded by people in the faith! I am so encouraged by God’s gift of His body, which He used to strengthen me. During those cold evenings, I am reminded that in my very weakness God truly shows Himself to be my strong and mighty God.

Christ is my light. His Word illuminates my grey days and even greyer mood. He is the lamp onto my feet and picks me up when I stumble. Jesus the Christ came and embodied ‘God Being With Us’. He gave us His Holy Spirit to live in us, who shines His light on our dark path and produces joy in the heart of the believer! Though I may be weary, He gives me wings to sore. Truly, there are days I walk through and by the end I say, “It is only You Lord who brought me through today, Jesus, thank you.”

This blog post is both an encouragement to you and to myself and a testament to God doing His marvellous, relentless work in me in this area. Even such a thing as weather the Lord can use it to refine His children and draw our lowly hearts closer to Him.

Grateful for you reading

G x

 

 

The Happy Black Woman

Pray against the perception of the angry black woman

The angry black woman

The angry black woman

Fight against the behaviour of the angry black woman

The angry black woman

The angry black woman

Have the mentality of the happy black woman

The happy black woman

The happy black woman

Then people at work will see the happy black woman

The happy black woman

The happy black woman

And God will give joy to the happy black woman

The happy black woman

The happy black woman

And the worlds view would change about the angry black woman

The angry black woman

The angry black women

Because all they will see is the happy black woman

The happy black woman

The happy black woman

~ G

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#TheHappyBlackWoman

Exploring The God of The Old Testament

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It’s so interesting how a question or a thought process you have been having with yourself is expounded upon on the pulpit. I love that! How intimate is God that He is aware and in tune with our needs and the needs of the local church! The idea of God being transcendent and yet eminent is a concept my mind has floated around with but not grounded it with specific words like those. God is holy and high, able to hold all things together by the Word of His power and yet is near and close to the believer, able to hear our Words to Him and speakt o us through His written Word – what a comfort!

Of recent, I have been pondering on the thought of approaching God in prayer knowing Who He Is. If I know this God; His character and His works, just a little bit better, my faith in Him and stance in prayer would be completely enlighted and anew. I’ve seen in sermons, worship lyrics and Scripture that God is good, God is able, God protects, God loves, God builds, God acts, God saves. All these things and more are so true and we thank Him for them in prayer, praise and worship. But I have been thinking – what are the things God has done that has assigned all of these great words of His character to Him?

For that, I realised the wealth and value and depth of the stories – the truths – found nowhere else other than in the Old Testament books of the Bible.

I will not say that I have cracked it. In fact, I have merely scratching the surface. But I desire to get so engrossed in the stories of the Old Testament. This is indeed History! HIS-story. How God created. How God saves His people. How God redeems His people. How God was patient towards rebels. How God was, again, patient with rebels – rebels like me.

I need to know these things about God so that I can trust Him. Really trust Him. I need to know these things about God so that my praise is not mere words but I believe that yes He is great and yes He is mighty to save and yes He is an ever-present God! Let everyone who agrees with this say amen!

God is so full of wonderment and He should be explored. He has left us a book full of His Words which shine a bright light on Who He Is – He has chosen to reveal Himself to us through His Son and through His amazing Word in Scripture. What else shall we do with our time and energies but to get to know this God that we think about here and there and pray to here and there… He deserves to be known and He has invited us to know Him. Let us do it, willingly, gladly and obediently.

Jesus, help us.

~ G

Letters To You Only

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Dear you,

When you’re tired, I know. When something is on your mind, I know. There’s a distance, a muteness. A withdrawal of oneself, I can feel it.

I believe them when they say two hearts can beat as one. I believe them when they say love can be instant.

I am fond of you. I am. It’s true. There is no denying my fondness for you. I can’t shake you off, and I know you have told me why…

It is because I love you. And you are right, I do. I always will.

Yours only

Dear you,

When you write to me, I smile. I open your letters and our conversations continue. I remember your voice and I am glad again, my heart is filled with joy.

Your handwriting shares a little bit about you. You are thoughtful and an avid reader. The words you use sometimes I need a dictionary to define them.

You are special. There is nothing hopelessly romantic in that. It is truth. I would give as much as I could to be with you but we both know why that can’t be.

Yours only

Dear you,

When we meet I hope you look at me. I hope you remember your words and you say them to me. When your eyes drift it’s because they are shy.

Don’t be shy of me.

Yours only

Dear you,

You know me all too well, I blush. Even now as I look over your letter I hide my face in my palms.

I am torn in my soul. The boats dock once a month and the window to board only an hour. But there’s a wedge in the door, a thorn in my path. This ache won’t get rid.

My heart is heavy. You always see the light at the end, my sight is a little less clear.

Save that fine ink in the draw of your desk for a sunny day. I have rained and rained and have drowned.

Yours

Dear you,

There you are again with your colours. Brightly arrayed you are in a mood. Perhaps tears have fallen, but your beauty still kept. You are wonderful.

I know when your emotions have gotten you and when your thoughts have plagued you. Alas, my dear, relax.

My love for you will never dwindle. My thoughts of you will never fail. With every one of these letters folded in that leather satchel of yours and swung on your side, I long to see you again. I love every drop of ink I use for you and I won’t tarry until you are in my arms.

Till then, I will wait for you.

Yours always

~ G