Wednesday, 30 January 2013

On Eternal Words of Grace

If you haven't read Monday's blog
Have a quick look here
http://karensandford.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/on-dr-foster-went-to-gloucester.html
This is a postscript to that.

I parked the car at the view point on Reigate Hill this morning.
I'd had a tricky hour or two, and they do good coffee there.
So I sat with my 'flat white',
Snuggled under the blanket off the back seat,
And I surveyed the scenery.

A song was going through my head.
An old song that I hadn't heard for over 20 years
(I was 10 at the time....)

'In the testing moments of my life, when the way is hard to see,
Then my Saviour stands and gently speaks
Eternal words of grace to me.'

As I sat in God's presence I thought about that phrase
Eternal words of grace.

I thought.
And I prayed.
And I looked.
And I remembered a little-used app on my phone.

It not only has lots of versions of the Bible on it,
But some of them are spoken aloud.
I wanted to hear...
Not just read...
Or think those Eternal Words of Grace.

So I set it at Psalm 91.
My favourite psalm at the moment.
And once I'd got used to the fact that the voice sounded like someone narrating a bad horror movie,
I left it playing.
I closed my eyes.
And listened to the Eternal Words of grace

I will rescue you...
Cover you...
Shelter you....
Protect you....
Send my angels....
Be with you....
Reward you....

And as the psalms went on, I relaxed
I remembered....
I knew....

But the part that made me really smile,
in the context of Monday morning when I was up to my knees in mud
was Psalm 94 v 18-19

'When I said, “My foot is slipping,your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.'

Eternal, timeless, up-to-the-minute, funny, words of grace.

What are your eternal words of grace?
Pleeeeeease comment!







Monday, 28 January 2013

On Dr Foster went to Gloucester

Dr Foster went to Gloucester in a shower of rain.
He stepped in a puddle right up to his middle and never went there again.

I had a Dr Foster moment today.
We were walking with friends.
The men were in front....
We were bringing up the rear.

We were talking...
Except when we went up hill then we gasped the odd word
 And waited until the ground levelled off.

"Watch this bit it's muddy," the men called back
as they climbed and balanced on a steep bank to pass the muddy bit.
But we women, seeing clearly, decided to go on the other side.
It was less steep.
And wider.

What I hadn't noticed was the branches sticking out.
We had to shuffle sideways.
Heads down.
Shoulders hunched.

I spied a place to stand before jumping to the other side.
Only it wasn't a place to stand.
It was like quicksand, sucking me down to its depths.
Well, down to my knee anyway.

I screamed.
They laughed.
I retrieved my leg, with my boot still intact surprisingly, then carried on my way.
Destination coffee shop.

The analogy wasn't lost on me.
My phased return to work hadn't gone very well last week.
I had woken this morning with anxiety and fear like a weight on my chest.
It was dragging me down.
The enemy was laughing at me.
"I told you, you wouldn't work again and I was right."

No.
You're wrong.
I am the child of a King.
He has given me a safe place to stand.
I trust Him.
One step at a time.


Tuesday, 22 January 2013

On snow sculpting.

I had a 'moment' earlier on.
It was just towards the end of my allocated work time.
The tears took me a bit by surprise.

At first I thought
OK. I'll stop.
Time for a warm drink, a snuggle on the sofa and maybe a biscuit or two.

And then I thought.
I know.
I'll go for a walk in the snow.
End up at Tesco and get something nice for my lunch.
See how food often features?

And then I remembered the boys laughing at me yesterday.
Four of them in total.
They'd made a tortoise in the snow.
Well that's what they'd called it, but it didn't look much like one to me.
More like a mound of snow.
I asked them why they hadn't made something simple like a cat.
They seem quite popular this year for snow sculpting.
So they laughed.

So my third and final option was to show them.
Off I went, into the garden, and transformed their tortoise into a cat.


Sidney, my snow cat.

As I picked up and sculpted the snow,
(It wasn't that difficult)
These were my thoughts:

1. Be kinder to yourself.
You find it really difficult to talk to people at the moment,
and you've had 3 telephone conversations and a face to face chat.

2. Know your limitations.
Take it a day at a time.
Push yourself if you can, but know when it's enough.

3. Ignore the people you think are not encouraging you,
Or even making things difficult.
(Not the boys, obviously, they were just teasing).
Listen for God's voice.
He knows what you are made of.
He knows what you can do.

4. And finally I remembered that a friend was praying for me yesterday.
She heard God say, "I'm so proud of Karen."
She loved Him, and me, enough to pass the message on,
Along with other things she heard Him say.

Snow sculpting is great.
I recommend it.
Great for gaining perspective.
Great for having fun.
And great for hearing God speak.
Maybe we all need to hear those things today?

I have made my cat.
I can rest content #OneWord365

Friday, 18 January 2013

On going to the Hairdressers

I went to the hairdressers today.
I've been going there for a long time so they know me.
I feel comfortable.

My stylist has cut and highlighted my hair since she first started training.
So she knows without me telling her that
Sometimes I leave it curly.
Sometimes I like it straight, but not straightened.
She knows my fringe is sacred.
Never too short.
I have a calf-lick at the front of my hair, so it has to be tamed.
I don't like to show much forehead.

She has a list of the colours I have in my highlights.
She knows I drink coffee.
She always puts me at the middle sink if she can,
As that's the one with the massage chair.
She knows I'm happy to chat and catch up for a while,
But not for too long, as I like to read and browse the magazines.
She knows that I don't talk during the final rinse,
I like to enjoy the head massage with my eyes closed.

I sound demanding.

I'm not.

She just knows.

But still checks that I want things the way they usually are.

Today I mixed it up a bit.
Had a tone of auburn added to the highlights.
You've got to live dangerously sometimes.

She knows about me, Chris and the boys.
I know about her, her boyfriend, her Mum and her little brother.

What I didn't know though was that when she has children she wants to go to church.
She wants the moral and social aspects of it she told me today.
But she doesn't believe in God.

And there it was....
That moment of decision....
Do I stick my head back in the magazine?

Or do I take the chance that she might be waiting to be asked the question why?

So I asked.

And she told.

And we talked.....

About God
About life
About death
About heaven
About faith
About prayer
About bad things happening to good people.
About only good things happening to people who go to church.
About not being put off by what other people think, say or believe.
About finding out for yourself how good God is
(Psalm 34:8)

And you know the funny thing?
I nearly cancelled that appointment because of heavy snow forecast,
But I changed it to the morning instead.
She had a cancellation.
What a coincidence.



#OneWord365 Content

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

On Nothing Day

Today is known as 'Nothing Day'
Apparently the 16th January is the day when nothing happens.
Christmas has passed and we haven't yet got round to planning anything significant.

When I heard, I decided to declare it
'Drink coffee and eat chocolate biscuits day.'
Thanks for joining in if you did.

So I guess my question is
What did you do today?

I walked Nath to school.
De-iced the car and remembered the wife who phoned to tell her husband that windows had frozen.
He told her to pour water on them.
After a moment she said, there's smoke coming out of the keyboard now too...
(Sorry)
I drove to Redhill and enjoyed seeing the heavy frost on the trees and fields.
I prayed.
I talked.
I cried.
I coughed, took my puffer, and my antibiotics and felt lousy.
I read.
Placed an order.
Watched telly.
Read the Famous Five with Nathan.
Ate chocolate biscuits and drank coffee.

Hardly a Nothing Day.
Some of it was quite significant.
Especially the talking and crying and reading the Famous Five.
And I'm reminded that with God nothing is ever wasted.
What might seem like nothing to us can be taken and made into something beautiful for Him.
So I'm content. #OneWord365
What have you done today?

Please comment on here.
It makes my blog much more exciting.
You could even sign up to it if you felt so inclined.
Hope Nothing Day has been a good day for you.
If not, it's not too late for coffee and chocolate biscuits....
(Other drinks would work too.)

Sunday, 13 January 2013

On 'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen'

We watched 'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen' yesterday
It's a good film, with an interesting story,
about a sheik who loves salmon fishing on his estate in Scotland.
So he wants to transfer it to the Yemen, his homeland.

It's more than just a selfish, hare-brained scheme.
It's about taking fresh water to his people too.
There were plenty of people who said it couldn't be done,
Of course there were.
But he, by his own admission, had faith.

He says:
Faith is the cure that heals all troubles.
Without faith there is no hope and no love.
Faith comes before hope, and before love."
(Sheikh Muhammad ibn Zaidi bani Tihama)
Paul Torday, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen

We returned to our church today.
It's been a long while, but it was time.
I shared with them the words that God had given me back in March last year.
The words I'd put on post-it notes all around the house.
"Trust me."



What God didn't say was what we had to trust Him with.

Trust Me with your illness.
Trust Me when you wonder, "What next?"
Trust Me when you can't work, and feel as if you'll never work again.
Trust Me when you begin to discover new skills.
Trust Me when your husband becomes ill and can't work either.
Trust Me with your children when their behaviour changes and they lose their confidence.
Trust Me when something happens to make you smile.
Trust Me when the tears flow and you don't think they'll ever stop.
Trust Me in happy times with Chris and the boys when you laugh and laugh.
Trust Me when you are misunderstood.
Trust Me when you begin to feel hopeful.
Trust Me when it feels you are under attack.
Trust Me when it feels as if all that you know, and hold dear, has been taken away from you.
Trust Me when the sun is shining.
Trust Me when you feel loved and cherished.
Trust Me for the impossible.
Trust Me to turn this around.
Trust Me to know you and love you.

Trust.
Me.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

I do.......
Trust Him.

#OneWord365 Content


Saturday, 5 January 2013

On fixing my thoughts

My word is content #OneWord365
But today it's hard.
So these are the scriptures I'm remembering.

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold my life; of whom shall I be afraid?   
Psalm 27:1

Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.
Isaiah 60:20

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. 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 4:4-7

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

On eating Walnut Whips

I ate a walnut whip.
Just now.
It's been a long time.
But I still remembered the rules...

1. Turn it upside down
2. Eat the chocolate base.
3. Eat the fondant centre, leaving the chocolate shell intact.
4. Eat the chocolate shell until you're left with the walnut
And a decent amount of chocolate.
5. You may now eat the walnut.

They're the rules.
Don't tell me I'm wrong.
I might smile and nod.
I might even show some interest in how you eat yours.
But secretly I'll smile to myself
And feel superior.
There's only one way to eat walnut whips
And that's my way.



Today has been an odd day.
I woke quite late after a bit of a nightmare.
The cottage I was renting was in danger of being over-run.
No-one was listening to me.
Lots of people were trying to take over.
I was misunderstood
Berrated
Shouted at.
Psychologists would have a field day.

Then a quick remark from me upset somebody I love.
(I was awake by now.)

My day has progressed.

I've had a few hours to myself.
I've read a book with a nice cup of coffee.
I've browsed in a shop.
I laughed with a woman explaining to her daughter about man-flu.
I bought myself and a friend some flowers.
I had a quick chat with someone I'm enjoying getting to know.
I drove in horrendous conditions on the m25.

I have shed tears.
I've felt angry.
I have been hurt.
I have been thankful #1000 gifts
I have been content #OneWord

On reflection it's been a good day.
I'm relieved that life is varied.
We can follow our instincts.
Change our plans.
Apologise.
Shed tears that don't have to overwhelm you.
Make others smile spontaneously.

Not like eating a walnut whip.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

One word

I love being on twitter.
The combination of people I follow make me smile,
laugh, cry, pray,
and want to punch something.
I have also linked up with wonderful, godly people.
They are mainly, but not exclusively women.
Their blogs challenge me,
resonate with me,
and make me want to shout 
"Yes!"
I'm not the only one.

As we go into the New Year I'm going to do two things that I've discovered in the last few days on Twitter.

First, I'm going to join in the #1000gifts.
I've downloaded the app.
It will bleep 3 times daily.
And I will think of one thing to be thankful for.
Right then.
In that instant.
365 x 3= 1095 gifts/blessings by the end of the year.
But #1000gifts is much more catchy.
Join me? 

Second, I'm going to do One Word.
The idea is you choose one word for the year.
You don't get stressed or hung up about it,
but you allow it to shape your approach to life.
My word is 'CONTENT'

Those who follow this blog
will know that my life has been shrouded in depression and grief
for much of last year.

Yesterday I read the blog
'Treat me to a Feast; Notes from my abundant life-blogspot- 31.12.12'

"I was not unhappy.
'Happy' isn't a very useful term to describe my circumstances.
There are times when I feel great joy
Other times satisfaction,
a sense of accomplishment
Trepidation
Excitement etc

I don't think happy is enough any longer.
Happy, I think we're done.

Contentment,
Now that's a kind of soul deep thing,
requiring prayer, some maturity,
patience..."

It was one of my "Yes!" moments.
Because yes, I think 'happy' and I are done too.
Joy might be that bit too much for me just yet.
After all I'm a work in progress.

So my One Word 365 for 2013 is
'Content'

"I'm not saying this because I'm in any need.
I've learned to be content in whatever situation I'm in."
Philippians 4:11