Learning through Life

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Hampshire, United Kingdom
I love how our day-to-day life can teach us lessons to help us understand our past, challenge our today, and inspire our future. We can learn through experiences, situations, conversations, songs, books, nature ... the list is endless! Live with eyes ready to see, ears ready to hear and a heart ready to be touched.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The one with the sore hip

On Thursday I went for a walk along the beach with Jesus. 

The wet sand sparkled in the sunlight, and stretched far into the distance until it met the sky. The tide withdrew, creating space for me and my beloved companion to meander at will. We walked, sometimes in full conversation, other times in silence. It didn't matter; we were together. I enjoyed the company, I enjoyed the fresh sea breeze, I enjoyed the warm Autumnal sun, and I enjoyed the exercise! I had nowhere else to be, no one else to look after, and no set agenda.  I hadn't spent 'us' time like this in such a long time. It was perfect.
The Witterings

We talked about all sorts. His creation. His love. His forgiveness and acceptance. I asked for direction and confirmation. I prayed for others and I had a little rant about how life seems so unfair at times; but it was no surprise to him, he already knew how I felt.  He let me off-load, question and ramble. He let me be me.

Today, all my time is yours, Lord. Let's keep walking.

I felt free. I felt loved. I wanted to capture the feeling like multi-coloured sand in a bottle and screw the lid on tight.

As I continued, the sand beneath my feet started to soften, challenging the gentle pace I had been enjoying. Gradually the steps became strides and required a significant increase in effort. No big deal, or so I thought, but it wasn't long before my right hip began to feel a little uncomfortable. Ignoring the strain I pushed on, determined to make the most of this special time with God.

The pain increased and I was forced to find respite on a sandbank. Gutted. However, a short break and then we would continue ...

We did continue, but so did the pain. I eventually admitted defeat and turned around to begin the journey home.

After a short time I realised that in order to dampen the pain, I had started to limp. I discovered that if I kept my right knee slightly bent then my hip didn't hurt as much. It worked, until my knee began to hurt too. Again, I pushed through it, after all, what choice did I have? I had to get home somehow! So, with my right hip and knee complaining with every step I fixed my eyes on the destination and quickened the pace. I wouldn't let it ruin my day. But the truth was that my conversation with Jesus had been drowned out by an internal (and yes, the occasional external) 'ouch!'.

Through forced experimentation I learnt that leaning on the outside of my right ankle lessened the pain in my hip, and took the pressure off my knee. Relief. Until, yes, my ankle began to hurt too!

Enough of my moaning! Eventually I made it back to the car, drove back to the caravan and rested!

The pouring out of my heart and mind to Jesus might have decreased as the pain increased, but that didn't stop him speaking to me....

As I sat in the caravan I realised that ignoring the pain in my hip had led to problems elsewhere. It resulted in added tension and pressure in both my knee and my ankle, and as my hip still throbbed with the pain, it hadn't solved the problem at all. It would seem that one part of the body rarely suffers in isolation.

How true this is of the body of Christ!

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In 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 we read how we are all part of the body of Christ, and if one part suffers, every part suffers with it. Therefore, we need to work together, look out for each other, and support any part of the body that might be struggling. I think this concept also extends to the different ministries and groups within the church. Ignoring issues rarely solves the problem, but adds to pressure and tension elsewhere. God wants to build the whole church up, not just a part of it! If we want to see this happen, we really need to recognise the importance of other people, and different ministries, and do all we can to ensure they are fit and healthy and functioning as they should be. 

If one part of the body hurts, get it fixed - ignoring it will only lead to problems elsewhere!

May God continue to build his church!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Three Years of Regret

Today, my own (honest and real) words remain locked away, in a place that is too painful to draw from.  But this begins to say it for me ...

(Kris Allen, Live Like we are Dying)

Sometimes we fall down, can't get back up
We're hiding behind skin that's too touch
How come we don't say I love you enough?
'Til it's too late, it's not too late

Our hearts are hungry for a food that won't come
And we could make a feast from these crumbs
And we're all staring down the barrel of a gun
So if your life flashed before you, what would you wish you would've done?

Yeah, we gotta start lookin' at the hands of the time we've been given
If this is all we got, then we gotta start thinkin'
If every second counts on a clock that's tickin'
Gotta live like we're dying

We only got 86 400 seconds in a day to
Turn it all around or to throw it all away
We gotta tell 'em that we love 'em while we got the chance to say
Gotta live like we're dying

And if your plane fell out of the skies
Who would you call with your last goodbye?
Should be so careful who we left out of our lives
And when we long for absolution, there will be no one on the line

Yeah, we gotta start lookin' at the hands of the time we've been given
If this is all we got, then we gotta start thinkin'
If every second counts on a clock that's tickin'
Gotta live like we're dying

You never know a good thing 'til it's gone
You never see a crash 'til it's head on
Why do we think we're right when we're dead wrong?
You never know a good thing 'til it's gone

Yeah, gotta start lookin' at the hands of the time we've been given
If this is all we got, then we gotta start thinkin'
If every second counts on a clock that's tickin'
Gotta live like we're dying

We only got 86 400 seconds in a day to
Turn it all around or to throw it all away
We gotta tell 'em that we love 'em while we got the chance to say
Gotta live like we're dying

If you love someone, take every opportunity to show them.
Mum, every day I am sorry I never hugged you or told you I loved you whilst I had the chance. x

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Communion Thoughts - (Nicola Ayres)

Way back in the Summer Holidays I emailed Nicola Ayres, a friend and member of our congregation, and asked her whether she would be willing to lead us (Wessex Christian Fellowship) in Communion on the 13th October.  The response ...

'Umm, eek, heart just sunk! Will think about it, normally I say yes cos take it that when I'm asked God normally wants me to do!'

Despite Nic's fear of speaking at the front, and concerns over getting emotional when doing so, she bravely and obediently agreed to step out of her comfort zone and lead us in The Lord's Supper.

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Last Sunday, half way through the service, Nicola stood up, took the mic ... and with an honesty and openness that can only be respected, led us on a journey that encouraged us to reflect on Christ's love and death in preparation to take the bread and the wine.

Yes, she was nervous, and as she suspected, she did get a little emotional, but her words, her passion, her thankfulness and vulnerability before the Lord were beautiful.

Today, as many of us meet once again to share at the Lord's table, perhaps Nicola's words will also inspire and encourage you ...

(Copied from Nic's notes)

'Before I start my thoughts on communion I'd like to say I wrote it a good couple of weeks ago with the intention to revisit it over the weekend, but with the exciting news of the baby, Shaun being away and the children having friends to visit it got overlooked til this morning. 

When I read my words I wondered if they were to strong and was about to edit but on my bible app the verse that flashed up upon opening was James 3:13- 'who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom.'

I'm not saying I am wise but I will be obedient and for this reason I shall read what I wrote.

This simple command that we follow most weeks is possibly at times taken for granted.

Translating communion into our daily lives is often the tricky part, daily life can often be a roller coaster of chores and needs and before we know it God hasn't entered our minds.

I'm not suggesting we break bread everyday but communion is the perfect time that we set aside where we communicate with God and thank him for the opportunity to have relationship with him. That opportunity was God's plan, him sending Jesus and Jesus following instructions even though those instructions were unjust and painful.
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I cannot imagine knowingly and willfully accepting what Jesus took on.  His death on the cross is truly beyond words and something which I am thankful for.

So, just as Jesus did in Matthew 26 we shall take bread and drink wine as we have been shown to do and I would just like to pray a prayer of repentance.
Please take my prayer as yours if you like or use this opportunity to commune with God.

Please forgive me Lord where I have failed and I am sorry for any disappointment this has caused, sorry for not spending as much time with you as I should, for not always doing the things that I should and for sometimes choosing the wrong things to do. My words will never be enough to express gratitude for what you did,  I praise you and thank you. Please continue to work in me and help me to see you in my everyday life, help me to glorify you in all that I do and may my daily coming and goings be testimony to you and what you mean to me.


Today, be reminded that God loved you so much, that he sent his Son Jesus to the cross for you, for the forgiveness of your sins and because of Jesus' obedience and sacrifice you can once again enjoy a beautiful relationship with your Creator.  Be blessed!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

The one with the soggy dog

Today has been an amazing day for me; a day shared with God. No agenda set, at least, not by me. I had a lazy morning in God's presence (are we ever not?) and made my way to Wittering for a walk along the beach. Wittering is a special place for me and I couldn't wait to hear what God would say to me whilst we walked.

God, it's over to you ...

I walked down the stones and onto the sand. The tide was out, the sun shone, and the breeze was surprisingly warm for October.  Hands in pockets, ipod playing Rend Collective into one ear, I set off.

I tried to empty my mind, to lay aside my thoughts, to allow God space to speak.

I failed. Well, sort of ...

You see, something had grabbed my attention on the walk to the beach and I just couldn't shake it. I tried, I tried really hard, but still it dominated the emptiness that I had so sincerely promised God.  'God, I'm sorry, I really want you to speak to me ...'  I tried to clear my head; it was no good. Not even my prayer of repentance had worked! My head still fought with the image. It was nothing exciting, nothing spectacular, and certainly nothing I imagined God would speak through. And yet, with each step along the beach the image seemed to become clearer, larger, louder.

Could God already be speaking? Could he have jumped ahead of schedule and started the revelation before we even got to the beach? Could he? Well, I guess as he is God, then anything is possible!!

What had I seen?

That's it.

Nothing else, just this sign outside a cafe. Not exactly profound is it? I don't even like dogs (sorry!) so why was I wasting my head space on this?

But I gave God a chance, maybe he saw something different.

'All dogs welcome' - in a cafe? And, soggy ones? Really? And they think this promotes their service?  Ew ... no thank you! I would pass right on by.

But, what about the (soggy) dog owners? I guess this might solicit a different response from them. A cup of tea with *insert dog name* allowed in instead of being tied up outside? Yes please!

And there I recognised the voice of God. Not audibly, just a prompting to allow him to take my thoughts to a new place, and a new level of understanding.

The owners of the cafe took a risk. The 'Dogs Welcome' board would have sent potential customers away. I am proof of that. And yet, this didn't stop them from placing it on the pavement. Why? Because they knew that it would stand out to others. The proprietors chose to appeal to a certain group of people. They understood the risk, and knew what they were doing.

Was this about dogs?

No. It was about making a choice, taking a risk, and acknowledging that you can't please all people all of the time.

Be clear about who God wants you to reach (serve, teach, encourage, bless...) and aim your service (passion, time, energy) towards them. Don't water it down in order to please others. Know your potential customers (clients, congregation, friends, students ....) and do all you can to provide something that will enhance, develop and change their lives. 

Know who you lead, why you lead them, and where you are leading them to!

Leave those that may walk on by for someone else; there will be another cafe down the road for them.

And now for the rest of the walk ...

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