Standing tall…

As a child, I was the smallest in the class. I felt swamped by people in other ways too, as I was also bottom of the class. It took me a while to reach my full height in more ways than one, and truth is, I’ve got more ‘growing’ to do!
Haven’t we all…?

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Growing more fully into our true selves is a life-long process. It’s about standing tall, not being a shrinking violet; it’s about taking our place in the sun, not lurking in the shadows. But this doesn’t mean standing on others, or trampling them underfoot.

I’m inspired by Nikesh Mehta, a deputy director of GCHQ (the UK Intelligence Agency) who in a short BBC video speaks about daring to be different. He packs wise words into just a few minutes, and one of the things he suggests is finding a ‘champion’. He says:

It’s really important when you’re breaking new ground to find somebody who will encourage you to be yourself.

I guess we all benefit from having a champion in our life.
I believe that God, as our creator, is our ultimate champion. Having created each one of us with a unique combination of traits and gifts, God is clear about our potential and where our true fulfilment lies.
But God is not a remote controller. Rather, I believe that God can champion us through the words and actions of others. Champions come in many different shapes and sizes, so it can take an open mind and open mind to spot them.

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Champions sometimes confirm and affirm, other times they question and challenge, but always with our best interests at heart. It may be that they have the perspective to point out something that’s right under our nose, or maybe we are helped by them ‘being in our boat’ as we ride out a storm, or perhaps we gain courage from their belief in us.

As well as benefitting from champions, we can be champions ourselves. The world is a better place when we stand up for others and stand alongside them.
Life’s too short not to stand tall!

Truth is…  Listen, stay alert, stand tall in the faith, be courageous, and be strong.
(I Corinthians 16:13)

White out!

My room has been transformed overnight!
No, it hasn’t had a surprise makeover, it’s been changed by the quality of light coming in through the window. Heavy snow has fallen here in Wales and I woke to a thick white blanket covering everything in sight.

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Outside everything looks different, and the light coming in, gives the room a different feel.

It reminds me of a television programme of a few years back. Called ‘The Home Show’, the architect George Clarke transformed houses into homes fit for purpose. ‘What’s the big deal in that’, you may be wondering…
Well, for starters it required the owners to put their complete trust in GC as a skilled designer. Secondly, he began every project by spraying the interior white, to enable a fresh perspective. It really was a white out!

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I get the feeling that in a similar way, God is asking me if I’m up for change. As a believer, I’ve definitely applied for an inner makeover, but how ready am I to consistently put my life in God’s hands?
Making positive changes is an ongoing process. I’ve been a follower of God for nearly 50 years, but truth is, there’s plenty of potential for further development!
We are called to trust God as our creator, designer, and project manager. God has a plan for each of us, but we need to follow it through by aligning ourselves.

As well as being called to trust in God, I’m also being called to let God do a ‘white out’!
GC white-washed the interior of every house so that all the irritating features were obliterated. The old had gone, the new had come. Only then, was new colour given to each room.
In the same way, the fresh start that God offers us is liberating. No longer do we need to be darkened by our shortcomings. If we are willing to put them behind us, we will be enabled to move on. God offers to white out our darkness, so that a fresh perspective leads to change, just like the interior of those houses undergoing a makeover.

The saying goes ‘Home is where the heart is’. We will feel increasingly at home in our hearts, when we take up the master plan – just like ‘my’ blackbird knows the best place to be!

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Truth is… ‘Remove my sin, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snowPsalm 51:7

The Best Is Yet To Come…

Twice this week I’ve found myself in conversation with people who feel that the best is yet to come (actually it’s three times, if I include conversations I’ve had with myself!)
Following a bit of a frustrating day, one friend was telling me that he’d had one of those ‘why on earth am I doing this job’ moments. He has many gifts and abilities (as we all have) but has a sense that there’s something more fulfilling for him to do in life.
We talked a bit about how differences can be made to other peoples’ lives by the little things we do, and that ‘waiting times’ needn’t be wasted times.

I too am in a time of waiting. I’m waiting for acute depression to lift. I’m waiting for a Hearing Dog to enable me to return to employment. I’m waiting for relationships to mend. None of this is passive, I am actively finding ways forward, and I am holding on to the words a chaplain said to me many years ago: “The best is yet to come”.
Wonderfully, those exact words are on the front of a card just given to me by another friend.

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They remind me that I don’t have to persuade God to make life fulfilling,
nor does God need to persuade me that there is more to life than meets the eye.
It’s not about being persuaded, it’s about connecting with our deepest desires.

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I believe that God doesn’t want anything other than that we fulfil our potential.
But truth is, when life doesn’t seem to go according to plan, I sometimes doubt God has got the ‘what, when and where’ details to hand!

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Gradually though, I’m coming to recognise that life lived in the company of God can have a ‘lastminute.com’ feel to it.
The ‘departure gate’ for the next step of our journey through life, only opens when we are actually ready to step through.
So this week I’ve remembered that in fog, pilots keep to a flight path by trusting their navigation instruments, and I’ve realigned myself with the Truth which is at the heart of what matters.

Truth is… I know what I’m doing. I have plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for” Jeremiah 29:11

Weighing it up…

Weights and measures seem to be an integral part of life.
Even before delivery day, babies’ vital statistics are plotted on a graph and from then on, they will be weighed and measured in all sorts of ways, by all sorts of people!

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We live surrounded by numbers and scales that measure our development and worth.
– From school grades as children to work appraisals as employees, our performance is assessed.
And not only is our performance rated, so too is our popularity.
– From the number of party invites a child receives to the number of followers we have on Facebook, we are weighed up and often found wanting.

In an effort to protect her daughter from feeling overlooked, I know of one mother who sent her Valentine’s cards each year. When the teenager later discovered that these hadn’t in fact come from secret admirers, but from her mother, the effect was devastating.
That was well over 40 years ago, so perhaps a yearning to be popular isn’t a 21st century phenomenon!

The numbers game is commonplace, and truth is, I’ve been crunched by numbers recently.
People have asked me “So how many people have signed up to your Blog?”
The answer is, ‘not many’ and at times I’ve wondered if it’s worth continuing.
But then someone tells me that I’m making sense. And that’s the point – it’s not about numbers, it’s about offering a point of connection. That’s what should count.

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As a believer, I get the feeling that it’s not about how many good things I might do that count, but whether I am connecting with God. And that’s not the demand of a selfish god, but the yearning of a Creator who longs for our full potential to be reached!
For me, connecting with God is being open and honest in my heart with the One who urges me to believe that we are loved.
It’s a relief to be counted in a positive way, when our past (or present) tells us otherwise.

We matter so much to God, that we are beyond measure.

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Truth is… ‘You are precious in my sight and I love you’ Isaiah 43:4

 

 

 

 

Label Jars, not People…

Predictive text sometimes has interesting results, it’s given me a new name – ‘Granola’!
How did that happen?
Well, I’m a grandma, but as I feel the name doesn’t quite fit, I’m known as Granna (fusing Grandma & Joanna).
So last week when my daughter messaged me on behalf of her baby girl and began ‘Hello Granna’, predictive text re-named me ‘Granola’.

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It made me laugh, but it also made me think – do we sometimes operate along the lines of predictive text when we apply labels to people?
Recently a friend and I were enjoying a catch up, and we got talking about how to answer a question we both dislike – ‘So what do you do?’
Truth is, I feel inadequate when I’m asked this. It can be difficult if you don’t fit into a neat box with a clear label.
People at all stages of life, and in all sorts of circumstances, fall into this category:
the stay-at-home parent, the out-of-paid-work person, the round-the-clock carer, or the person who lives with a long-term-health-condition, being just some.
Sometimes of course, the ‘What do you do?’ question can be asked with interest and answers received non-judgementally. There may even be affirmation of the gifts and attributes that are being put to good use.
But other times it can feel like conclusions are leapt to, like predictive text.

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Label jars… not people

I guess we all judge and we all label. Psychologists report that we form opinions of others within seconds.
There’s nothing wrong in this, providing that we allow ‘growing room’ that allows our opinions to be changed and expanded as we get to know someone.
And maybe we should apply the same ‘growing room’ allowance to ourselves, for a well lived life is a developing life!

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I feel sorry that God often gets a bad press as the ultimate labeller, as ‘the man who damns’.
I believe that nothing could be further from the truth.
I believe that God believes in us, and longs for us to realise our true potential, in all senses of the word!
That’s sometimes easier said than done, but as the saying goes

‘If you always do what you’ve always done,
you’ll always get what you’ve always got’.

Truth is… The Lord will take delight in you, and in his love he will give you new life’ Zephaniah 3:17