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Are you ok?

Hello, I’m back. To save you from reading this and wondering whats not ok, in summary, I had asthma attacks and was nearly admitted to hospital twice, then broke my ribs from coughing, then had a chest infection. I found out a few days ago that my Grandma is dying. But everything’s ok… or is it?

Sometimes things just aren’t ok and its hard to put things into words to explain why, so we answer the question ‘are you ok?’ with ‘yes’ but our heart is crying ‘no’. We can’t find the words to talk to God so we don’t pray, but all the time our aching heart is crying out to Him. God hears our words, but thankfully he also hears our hearts cry, and doesn’t need further words from us. Psalm 139 is reassuring in these situations, phrases such as ‘you discern my thoughts from afar’ and ‘Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether’ are reassuring. We don’t need many words to receive comfort from God, just an honest heart’s cry.

Psalm 139

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you.

19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
    O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
    your enemies take your name in vain.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
    And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred;
    I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting!

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Creative Worship

Tonight was small group night and we had FUN!

My friend deliberately smashed a mug (with permission), then he promptly asked for some glitter. Keep reading to find out why…

I’m really passionate about expressing my love for Jesus in creative ways, and releasing other people to do the same. I’ve been doing it at home for many years and I’ve been encouraging other people to have a go when i’ve been spending time with them. I have, however, been wondering and discussing with a friend, how to move this forward in a more corporate way.

Tonight I decided to just go for it. I invited small group over to my house, I got some of my pens, paints and other crafty bits out ready to use and asked them to talk about what Jesus was speaking to them about or impressing on their hearts at the moment. We then used the discussion as a springboard into worshipping creatively.

One of the things discussed was the Japanese art kintsugi. I am going to let my friend post what this means to him in the comments, he said some brilliant things. He then used that as his worship theme. Like this:

Here are some of the other creations.

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Welcome home crafty mojo!

With all that’s been going on at work, my crafty mojo went into hiding. Now I have got rid of the weight I was carrying, my crafty mojo has returned, hurray!

Here’s the result

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It’s the beginning of a mixed media picture using a Gelli plate, acrylic paint, various items to add texture, rubber stamps and distress inks. The theme is freedom. I want to incorporate a bible verse about freedom, and an image of a flying bird. The problem is, I am so please with what I have done so far, I’m afraid to ruin it!

I think I’m going to admire it for a while, meditate on the theme of freedom, and then carry on.

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Decisions, decisions

Last week at church we had an excellent talk about decision making. If you’re interested you can listen to it here. As a result I confronted a decision I had been putting off making.

I previously blogged my thoughts about work and the struggle I was having juggling work and therapy/support appointments. I was hoping that discussions would take place between myself, my workplace and another organisation, in order to help me return to work, and access therapy. Unfortunately work would not agree to arrange a meeting so a stalemate was reached. During this time my mental health declined significantly. I had to make a decision and the talk at church helped to spur me into action. After a long, tearful, discussion with my mum, I decided to resign, not to look for further employment at this time, and receive the financial assistance available to me.

The decision was not an easy one. I had to confront my own prejudices around unemployment, benefits and possibly even disability. I did not want to be on benefits. I did not want to be unemployed. I did not want to admit that my fluctuating mental health disables me. I was also afraid of what other people would think or say.

I have given up paid, contractual, employment, but this does not mean I cannot work. I have decided to volunteer at my happy place. I have also applied to be a puppy walker for guide dogs for the blind. Both of these can be done around appointments and fulfil my list of reasons why I should work

  1. I enjoy what I do.
  2. It gives me a purpose and self-esteem.
  3. God made me to work. (Genesis 2)
  4. I am serving God (Colossians 3 v23-24)
  5. I am glorifying God in my work (1 Corinthians 10 v31)
  6. My work is worship. (Colossians 3 v17)

and I’m adding number 7. I can be a blessing to other people through my work

Since making my decision only 5 days ago, sadly I have been called a drain on society, a quitter and a fraud. These have been said by real people, not just by the bully that lives in my mind. Thankfully, I have the full support of my family, my close friends and Jesus.

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Why work?

I’m struggling with work at the moment. I mean really struggling. Receiving treatment and support for mental health problems means there are some shifts I cannot work due to appointments. Despite my openness, lack of understanding from other people mean relationships with colleagues have broken down which in turn affects my mental health meaning the support and therapy become more important. For reasons I do not understand, staff which were seemingly supportive have suddenly become cynical. I have just begun working with a government appointed agency to negotiate ‘reasonable adjustments’ at work, such as set shift patterns, in order to remain in employment at the same time as receiving the therapy and support which benefits me enormously. This is still in very early stages so meaningful discussions with my employer have not yet happened. I am constantly having to battle for time off for appointments and I have reached the point were unless something postive happens very soon, I cannot continue in this employment whilst getting treatment. I am currently off sick until the situation can be resolved.

This has led me to question why I work. What is making me fight to remain employed? Why don’t I just stop working, claim benefits, and focus on the treatment? Here are the conclusions I have come to.

  1. I enjoy what I do when I am there.
  2. It gives me a purpose and self-esteem. I know I am good at my job.
  3. God made me to work. (Genesis 2)
  4. I am serving God (Colossians 3 v23-24)
  5. I am glorifying God in my work (1 Corinthians 10 v31)
  6. My work is worship. (colossians 3 v17)

There are probably a lot more reasons, but thats enough to keep me going for now.

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Growing old with the Holy Spirit

I work in a nursing home, caring for people with dementia. A lot of the people I look after have lost the ability to communicate their needs, mobilise independently, use the toilet appropriately and also to feed themselves. One morning, as I was assisting a gentleman with his porridge, I looked at him dribbling a mixture of porridge and tea down his chin, waiting for a shower, shave, pad change and clean clothes, a thought came to mind, “there is no grace in growing old”. I found myself asking God to let me die before I got to that stage. What purpose I would have if I lived like that? How could my life impact others? Most importantly, how does a life like that demonstrate the glory of God?

I shouldn’t have been surprised but God immediately gave me answers to my questions.

A life like that can still look different. A life like that can still demonstrate the glory of God. A life like that can still have purpose, and can still impact others. How?

Be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5 says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;”

The fruit of the Spirit, not the fruit of cognitive function, not the fruit of youth, not the fruit of good communication, not the fruit of continence. The fruit of the SPIRIT.

My prayer now is that I will grow old being filled with the Holy Spirit and, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, Jesus will make himself known even if I cannot utter a coherent word about Him. I also pray that the people I take care of will be filled with the Holy Spirit and, through the Spirit, will know Jesus, even if they cannot understand words spoken about Him.

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Gem & Button and a Cricut explore.

Despite the weather, and the fact I wasn’t feeling particularly sociable on Friday, I sold more than I expected to sell. I would have sold even more if I’d been brave enough to have a table in the main area. I’ve decided this Friday to be brave and go for it, but that means I will need a lot more to sell if this Friday was anything to go by. So cue more crafting, I’m not complaining!

Cricut have released a new cartridge called Dimensional Paper Art. At the moment it is only available to Cricut users with a subscription to the image gallery. I spent most of yesterday designing and cutting my images, and most of today gluing them together. Button spent most of his time sleeping on the job, quite literally

Here are some of the cards I made. The photos aren’t brilliant but you get the idea.