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“Most people think that it is servile to serve but it is not. It is noble.”

Last month I stayed with a couple, who had interesting life stories. He told us that he loved to make people feel important and the above quote is his. It is a phrase that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
IMG 5250 2 web smallThis wonderful philosophy towards life has stemmed from an experience as a young child travelling with his father in a first class dining carriage. Mistaking the button near to him, for one that opened a window, to his horror the young boy summoned the waiter. His father jested that the last time someone had done this, they had thrown the boy off the train! However when the waiter arrived he addressed the boy rather than the father. “ Sir, can I help? Did you need something?” Red faced the boy explained “ I just wanted to open a window...!” “Of course, sir” replied the waiter and proceeded to open the window “ ...and would you like a glass of orange squash as well, sir?” This seemingly small act of attentive service and respect has affected this person’s entire outlook on life. I wonder what our own attitude of service is...? Service today is often seen as servile. Yet we know that throughout the Bible, God’s people are called to serve others. Jesus came to serve and taught that as his followers, we too are called to serve.

Potential in the Present
It is all too easy to live a life of “ if only’s “. “If only this or that hadn’t happened..” if only I had..., if only I could...., if only it was different so that....". Yet we can miss so many opportunities by spending our lives looking backwards remorsefully rather than grasping the opportunities that are present now.- both for ourselves, and in service to others. We can lose sight of potential in the present if our hearts are full of resentment and unforgiveness . 

Stitched Prayer with Bible

I like stitching! As a textile artist, that’s probably a good job! I earn a living through stitch, but much of my stitched artwork is a form of prayer. Stitch enables me to focus on God’s Word, as I try to work out what God may be teaching me as I stitch. If I create a commission, then my stitches are sewn with prayers for the recipient. On creative quiet days and retreats, I aim to enable others to draw closer to God through stitched prayers. For me, stitches are more than just useful. They are a tool that draws me closer to God.

So, this month, as I stitched the story of Hannah who prayed in anguish for a child, and whom God answered by giving her the desires of her heart, I have contemplated the analogy of stitches and prayers… 

Prayer: Piecing us Together
Stitches are so versatile; such clever little things! Individually they seem so innocuous yet together they can be incredibly strong. They may be small and hidden, preventing fraying at the seams or bold and overt, adorning our clothing. Stitches can hold complicated pieces of fabric together to create a garment or used as sutures to assist healing and save lives.
Like stitches, prayers are amazing; a God-given tool. To a non- believer they may seem innocuous or irrelevant, yet prayers are incredibly powerful. Prayers may be small and hidden, but for many the ongoing use of prayer enables us to be held together in the love of God, as we seek to mend our often-frayed lives and develop relationship with the King of Kings.
Prayers that are bold and overt, may be prayers of grateful thanksgiving, or like Hannah in the temple, prayers of supplication, emboldened by a fierce passion or concern for a situation in our lives, our community or our world. Like stitches, our prayers can help hold complicated pieces of our lives together and create in us patience and understanding. Amazingly, God hears our prayers, answers and through them can also bring healing of our mind, heart and body.

Creative Mess web sizeOrdinary Living 
For a long time now, it has felt as if there is little pattern in my life. The job that I do as a freelance artist dictates that every day is different, and there seem to have been so many family crises of varying degrees of importance for so long that I have all but forgotten what "ordinary" looks like. Yet after twelve years, what I crave right now is a lot more ordinary. I never thought I would ever say this, but what my life needs now is much more routine.

So, "I'd just like a bit more ordinary..."

Living ordinary lives is terribly underestimated, and in a world that promotes excitement and endless activity, ordinary is often side-lined as undesirable. From where I'm looking, right now, I would disagree...

The Joy of Ordinary Living
For a variety of reasons, many of us have lost the joy of living ordinary. 

Living ordinary...in patterns of self-care, creating a home, caring for other people, honest work, simple leisure activities together with a rhythm of prayer and focus on God and an emphasis on community and hospitality seem to me at this stage of my life, to be all that is needed right now.

butterfly close up cocoons 63643 for webFor when we accept with grace, the often mundane aspects of our ordinary every day, workaday lives, and commit to them in an attitude of reflection and worship there is the potential to be transformed by them. Though it often doesn't feel like it, amidst the humdrum of the ordinary, God provides each of us with the daily potential for personal growth and transformation.


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…

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