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8 Questions & Actions to draw closer to God, based on the story of Zacchaeus IMG 7125 cropped for web

New Beginnings...
New Year is often perceived as the herald and inspiration for new beginnings of our own; an incentive to throw off old habits and pledge new ways of living as we turn our backs on the old year to fully embrace the new. 
January 1st is not an unexpected occurrence. It arrives inexorably, after the last day of December, yet after the cosy fug of Christmas indulgences, it often catches us unprepared for new beginnings. So, before we have had time to think about the opportunity to pledge ourselves to something new and meaningful, we find ourselves knee deep in February, continuing in exactly the same way as we began the previous year with all hopes of new starts abandoned along with the memory of Christmas.

As Christians, what we often forget, is that each and every day is a marvellous opportunity to begin again; every sunrise proclaiming a fresh start, and a chance to be reorientated by Christ the compass of our lives.

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:18-19 ESV)

post it notes-slow down, calm, rest, sanctuarySeven Lessons from Two Sisters

Deep within my soul, there is an urgent call to slow down; to do less and embrace the calm which calls deeply to my life. There is a profound longing to move away from all that exhausts, to seek sanctuary and hide- far from the frantic, the too much. I long to be a Mary…and yet, at heart I am a Martha, distracted by the tyranny of the perceived urgent; the self- imposed deadlines; the self-sabotage of endless work, rather than worship and self- care.

1. Open or Closed?
When Jesus came to their village, Martha opened her home, yet Mary opened her heart. Jesus is always with us, but never enters our lives uninvited. I am left wondering if, in hankering after hospitality and the work that inevitably goes with that, I am missing Jesus’ invitation to open my heart as well as my home…

IMG 6949 resized 321x250Open hands; open heart

I am in the midst of muddle, attempting a long overdue clear-out of studio materials. I confess, like many creatives, I'm a bit of a hoarder, hanging on to things that have long ceased to be useful to me, but this season I am learning to loosen my hands and hold things more lightly, allowing older things to fall away naturally, like leaves in the autumn breeze; making space for Jesus to act anew in my life. I am finding that letting go can be a positive thing as I make way for new opportunities. For if our hands are full or closed then how can we receive? I am slowly discovering that open hands are the evidence of a heart and mind open to the possibility of God in action in our lives, trusting him for the future when we really cannot see an obvious solution ourselves.

The Provision of God2018 09p1

During my travels this month, I have been very aware of the changing seasons as field upon field, with swathes of golden grain ripening to perfection, become bleached by the sun’s rays and ready for harvest. The quiet diligence and toil of farmers to harvest the abundant grain and bale the dusty yellow straw for winter has been evident in the numerous tractors and trailers around my hometown, trawling grain and dusty bales across county borders.

So my thoughts have turned to the harvest story of Ruth in the Old Testament; a story that is grounded in the sadness and struggles of everyday lives...a glimpse into the journey of an ordinary migrant family through the eyes of one person who experienced hunger through famine, the grief of losing husband and sons through early death; resettlement and return; yet throughout was supported and befriended by her foreign daughter in law. Throughout, this short powerful story is threaded through with evidence of Immanuel; God-with-us through all things, his provision for us conquering all.

2018 07p1Women in the Bible are often unnamed, and yet the snippets of their stories, scattered throughout, provide a wealth of wisdom, quietly challenging our own faith… So it is with the woman who offers the extravagant gift, lavishly pouring expensive perfume from an alabaster jar over the feet of Jesus. (Luke 7:36-50)

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