Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Life and Embroidery

Recently I decided I wanted to learn some embroidery techniques. I'm not into very flowery or embroidered things, but I think a little bit of embroidery can make otherwise plain and boring things more interesting.

I didn't think I'd learn a lesson about life from embroidery. One of the first things my teacher told me was that my work needed to look as good at the back of the piece as it did on the front.

I did wonder what the point of this was, but my teacher went on to explain that how you finish off the work at the back will affect how the front of the work looks. Also, if the back of the work isn't finished off properly, the design on the front can come undone, or be more easily damaged in the wash.

Well all very well, but what's that got to do with life? Everything!!

As Christians, we can be very good at putting up a front with other people, we can "talk the talk" and put up a very good appearance of being healthy Christians.

But, if the "back" of our lives isn't as good as the front appears to be, if we aren't spending time with God everyday, if we aren't praying and reading our Bibles, then sooner or later, we will be damaged in the rough and tumble of life, or worse, our lives will unravel all together.

I'm challenging myself today to see if my life in private measures up to what others see in me, and to do something about the private messiness. Because unlike other people, God can see the back as well as the front of my life, and while I may be able to fool other people, I can't fool Him.
For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.
1 Samuel 16 v 7

Monday, 26 April 2010

Good enough

My internet access has been rather sporadic over the past week, which is why I haven't been posting every day, and why the dates on some of my posts are wrong, but I can't figure out how to change that!

I heard a sermon over the past few days, and the preacher was talking about being good enough to be forgiven by God.

He said that when we say we don't feel like we are good enough, it can sound like we are being modest, but actually we are believing a lie.

As Christians we are good enough because we belong to Jesus and we live in Him and He was good enough.

Got that? We can never be good enough to deserve anything from God, never ever, and we can never be good enough to deserve to be forgiven. But we are forgiven, why?

Jesus Christ lived a perfect life and died and rose again, and when we believe in Him, its as if the live He lived becomes our life, so we are good enough to be forgiven because He was good enough.

And anyone can ask for forgiveness - God has promised that we will be forgiven if only we will ask for it.

So today I'm grateful for

- Not needing to be good enough because He is good enough
- A really good nights sleep in a warm comfortable bed
- Beautiful sunny days with glorious sunsets
- Safety during travelling
- A lovely rest with my husband
- Prospect of long weekend next week (love bank holidays!)
- New books waiting to be read
- Hospitality of friends and family

What are you grateful for today?

holy experience

Friday, 16 April 2010

WFMW - Preparing for Unexpected Guests

Sounds like a bit of an oxymoron doesn't it. How on earth can one prepare for unexpected guests and people who just drop in. Here are my five tips (sorry if the post is a bit long!):

1. Have a routine in place
Every morning look around your hallway and the room where you would take someone who just droppped in. Are they reasonably clean and tidy, or would you be embarassed if someone saw them like that. I'm not advocating a deep clean every day, just 5 minutes each morning to quickly tidy them. (Note, if you have young children, don't worry about the toys that are everywhere. I for one don't mind at all if I drop in on friends with children and there are toys everywhere - it looks natural and right!)

2. Let them help you if they offer
I can almost guarantee that if I'm going to have an unexpected guest, they'll come when I'm right in the middle of something, but if they do, and they offer to help you with what you're doing, let them! If they offer, that means they are willing to help, and come on, we could all do with a bit of help from time to time.

3. Listen to people
When you are chatting with people, listen to them! They may say, "I may drop in to see you this week" or "If I'm in your neighbourhood, I'll call in to say Hi". These are warnings that this week you may have unexpected guests!

4. Be aware of times when unexpected guests are more likely
I know that I am more likely to get unexpected guests around birthdays, Easter and other holidays, when especially family like to call round to drop off presents. Don't take this as more pressure at times when you are already a bit stressed, but I always try to keep on top of housework at these times in anticipation of more guests than usual.

5. The most important tip of all - Don't apologise!
If someone drops in on you, open the door, smile, say hello and welcome them. They have come to see you and your family. They haven't come to inspect your house. And to be honest, they are probably worying about inconveniencing you. So if you start apologising for the mess and everything else that you think is wrong with your home, you are probably making them feel awkward and wishing they hadn't bothered to come. Plus, if you mention the mess, you're far more likely to draw someones attention to it.

I have two friends, one has an incredibly untidy home, but whenever I go, she never apologises for the mess, she just welcomes me in. Another friend has a lovely home that is usually no untidier than my own, but whenever I go (even when I've been invited) she apologises constantly for the mess until I feel quite uncomfortable and almost regret going.

I know who I'd rather be more like! I want my friends and family to feel welcome and wanted in my home, even when deep down I wish they hadn't chosen today to drop in!

For more tips, head on over to We are THAT Family

Undeserved Answers to Prayer

Last week I mentioned that I was grateful for our new car, and promised the story, well here it is.

As most of you will know, petrol prices are absolutely sky-rocketing at the minute, and the last car my husband and I owned was a bit of a gas guzzler. Ok, it was more like a gas drainer.

Seriously, I didn't realise that a car could go through so much fuel so quickly!

We decided that it was an unnecessary expense, and really was draining our resources, so we decided to sell it and buy a more economical car.

We spent days traipsing round various car places, looking at adverts on the internet and didn't find anything suitable within our budget that we were happy with. All the cars had high mileage or questionable service history or both.

In desperation, we decided to try the auctions.

We found a car on the internet that we would be interested in, and went down to look at them. It had a really low mileage and looked in good condition, but had nothing else. No tax, MOT or service history. At the auction we were at, we couldn't even get into the car before bidding.

We took a chance, bid on the car and won it. Now, I had prayed about the car before hand, but if I'm honest, it was rather a half hearted prayer, and I didn't really expect God to answer it. I hadn't been reading my Bible for a few days, and felt really far from God.

Once we won the car, we had the problem of how to get it to a garage to MOT it, because you can't drive a car on the roads without tax and MOT, and you can't get tax without an MOT.

We were beginning to think that this had maybe not been such a bargain after all, despite its really low mileage.

However, when we paid for the car and got the keys, we found that in actual fact, it did have a current MOT that was valid for almost a year, and it had full service history. It had even had a very expensive part replaced just 2 months earlier that we had been expecting to replace.

Wow! I was in shock. Even though I felt so unworthy, God had really come through for us. My husband knew that had other bidders known about the cars MOT and history, it would have sold at a price way out of our league.

Now I know that God doesn't always work like that, and really that we can never deserve anything from Him, but sometimes it can be tempting to think that when we feel we are walking well with Him, that in some way He owes us one, when actually He owes us nothing at all.

Conversely, we can feel like I did that when we aren't walking with Him, that we don't deserve to ask for anything, so when He does give us good gifts, we are almost shell shocked like I was.

What I guess I'm trying to say is that God is our Father. He loves to give us gifts, even though we don't ever and can never deserve them. The greatest undeserved gift He ever gave was His Son.

He gives us life everyday, breath in our lungs and all the wonderful things around us. I find it easy to be grateful for the big things in life, like our new car, and its right to be grateful for those, but what about all the little things that we so often take for granted. So this week I'm trying to be grateful for the things I so often take for granted as well as the big things:

- Food on the table
- Clothes to wear
- Breath in my lungs
- Clean air to breathe
- Family and friends
- A house to live in
- A healthy body

What "everyday" things are you grateful for today?

holy experience

Attractive Sins

The other afternoon, I finally got out into our garden and did some weeding. As much as I had tried to convince myself that the "weeds" may actually be some kind of rare or endangered species, and that I was doing the world a great big favour by allowing them to grow in our garden, I realised that they really weren't and I needed to get rid of them.

As I was pulling up our weeds, I noticed that some of them were actually quite attractive (no I definitely was pulling up weeds, don't worry!). A lot of them had pretty little flowers on them, and to be honest if they were growing in a planter instead of in the middle of our garden, I'd have been tempted to leave them alone.

But then, I was reminded of this post that I had read a few weeks before.

Using this analogy of comparing weeds to our sin, I started to think about how I had found some of the weeds so attractive. Could they be compared to sin?

Well actually, yes. Sometimes the sin in our lives can look very attractive and almost like they are ok. Some that I have been, and continue to be guilty of include:

- Neglecting quiet times to get more done around the home
- Neglecting our family responsibilities to do more at church
- Telling someone else about the news our friend had given us in confidence so that they can pray for our friend

I'm sure you can think of other things.

On the surface, all these things seem ok.

We are told we should get more done around our houses, and if they are clean, tidy and organised, then we are "better women." But are we really better off if we are neglecting our quiet times and our relationship with God. I know for a fact that when I fall into this trap, my home can look lovely, but I am not a nice person to be around because I'm not spending that time with God.

It can be tempting to do lots at church, to help out with lots of activities, and attend lots of events. But when all these things mean we are neglecting our families, they can feel resentful and there are lots more arguments.

Telling someone something so that they can pray for the other person involved may seem noble, but when our friend comes to us and asks how come so and so knows about my personal problems, we look a bit silly, and that relationship is damaged.

Just like my weeds looked attractive, so do these sins, at least initially. But I know that if I left these weeds, before long they would take over the whole garden, and if we are willing to let these "attractive" sins take root in our lives, before long we have big problems.

Just as I know that I need to keep on top of the weeding, so I know I need to keep on top of these tempatations to sin.

Keeping close to God, reading His word daily and spending time in prayer are all good "weedkillers." Its only when we see our lives from His perspective that we can see the things we need to weed out, and its only Him who can give us the strength to do the weeding necessary.

I hope that you have a lovely weekend, whatever you are doing, and that you are able to find time to ask God to show you where the weeds are in your life, even the attractive ones, and help you to do something about them, because He can and will.

John 15
Jesus said, I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

A bit about me and mess

I have been thinking about blogging for a long time now, but have always been too scared to try. I don't really know why I am doing it now!

I love to read other blogs, and very often when I am standing doing the dishes, or in the shower, or some other quiet place where I can think, I imagine what I would write if I had a blog.

I love to write, I always have scraps of paper and notes lying around, stuffed into pockets and about 3 or 4 notebooks and journals on the go at once.

If you met me on the street, you probably wouldn't notice me because I don't like to be noticed. I am really shy - another reason I had for not starting a blog.

But, when I know someone, I am a completely different person. My husband often says that if people who don't know me very well saw me in a situation where I am comfy, they wouldn't recognise me.

When I'm comfy I smile a lot more, I talk a lot more, I share a lot more.

I love a lot more.

Don't get me wrong, I like most of the people I know, I just struggle with how to show them.

I am so afraid that if I let people see the real me, that I'll be rejected, or that they'll laugh or worse hate me.

Every day I mess up in one way or another, I look at the women I know and feel so inadequate compared to them. I read other womens books and blogs, and come away feeling so encouraged, but then go and mess up again.

On Sunday I watched this video.
If you get the chance I encourage you to watch it too, but be warned, I don't think anyone could watch it and not be changed.

I realised that I am caring too much what others think, and not enough about what God thinks. God has created me, and yes, He has created in me a shy person, but He has also given me a heart for people. A heart that wants more than anything to show as much love and warmth to those around her. A heart that wants to reach out and help those in need. I just want to be a friend.

The lady in that video was dying - in her words unless there was a miracle, she would die within a few months. And when you go to the website, you find out that there wasn't a miracle, she died almost a year ago.

But what a legacy she has left behind for all those who listen to her words. She lived with purpose, and that is how I want to live. I want to say yes to all the things that will be difficult, and the things that will make a mess. I want to share with others the things that God has laid on my heart to share.

I will be writing about things that are hard for me, that maybe I have only shared with a few others, but I am doing it because I believe that is what God wants from me. And maybe you are the person that God wants to speak to. Even if He only touches one life, and I never find out, that is ok with me.

And remember, I am a sinner, I feel that I am the worst in the world and the most inadequate person to be doing this, so please bear with me. If any of my posts come across as judgmental or harsh or critical, or just don't make sense, please accept my humblest apologies, and tell me. I will do my best to sort them out.

God can cause beauty to appear from mess. When I think of the mess my life would be in today if it weren't for Him, I can't do anything but thank Him for changing me.

Today, my life is still messy, I still have to repent of sins, and ask God to forgive me and change me, but He is faithful and will forgive me and change me. He wants to help me clean up my messiness

The cross was messy, it was not a pleasant sight, but out of that mess, God brought something truly beautiful - forgiveness for all who would believe in Christ.

Today, why not ask God to show you where the messy places are in your life, and then ask Him to help you sort them out, because He will:

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
1 John 1 v 9

But then be ready to say Yes, to all the things that will be difficult and make a mess. They may be hard, but they will be worth it.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

In Defence of the Practical

When you come to this blog, and see the title and the caption underneath, and then read a post about something as practical as doing the dishes, you may be somewhat disappointed.

After all, how can one possibly see beauty in something so practical, and how can one see God in something so everyday?

As a Christian, I find it so easy to segregate my life. I read my Bible and pray, I go to church, and prayer meetings and womens meetings. I read good books and listen to worship music.

But then, I get bogged down in the everyday things of life, like doing dishes and cleaning and cooking and the 101 other things that being a housewife means I do.

But when I am doing these things, am I any less a Christian, or is God any less with me than when I am in church, or reading His word?

For the answer, here are some words of Jesus in Matthew 28 v 20
"And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Jesus says He will always be with us, no exceptions. That means that He is just as much with me when I am doing something "holy" as when I am doing something really everyday.

Maybe we (and I include myself in that) should stop segregating our lives, and start realising that in a sense, regardless of what we are doing, we are doing it for God. There can be no real distinctions betweeen the holy and the everyday, because they should all be done to the glory of God.

This means that we should be doing everything to the best of our abilities, and by sharing hints and tips, even about very practical issues, we are helping others do their best also.

So I will be doing my best to share in the Works for Me Wednesdays hosted by We are THAT Family, and the Walk With Him Wednesdays hosted by A Holy Experience each week, because I feel that by trying to remember that everything we do is to Gods glory, we really are cultivating the life that God wants for us.

holy experience