Tag Archives: hope

Nametapes

This is how I remember it… like a page in the much-loved story book of the children’s early lives… a moment that God used to touch my heart.

It’s more than ten years since my firstborn started school, but I still remember the day when I was battling through the pile of freshly-bought school uniform, dutifully sewing in the little white woven name tapes, and my four year old came to ask me what I was doing.

Now, I’ve read that the average four year old asks around 200 questions a day, and mine was maybe even a little above average in this department, so I cast around for an answer that would pre-empt any further questions and maybe even send him back to his lego:

“I’m sewing in little tapes with your name on them, to show everyone that these clothes belong to you; and then no-one can take them away from you and they can’t get lost.”

It must have been a good answer, because he just looked very thoughtfully at me and then disappeared upstairs to his room again.

A minute later though, he reappeared, dragging his much beloved (and slightly gruesome) Blue-Blanky. This worn and grubby cot blanket had been at his side constantly for the past three years (apart from one heart-rending moment in a motorway service station and some late-night under-the-cover-of-darkness trips through the washing machine…) and was a great source of comfort to him, and occasional stress to me!

“Sew my name on Blue-Blanky Mummy,” he said earnestly, “then everyone will know it’s mine, and no-one can say it’s not and it can never ever be lost, or taken away”

So I did.

About a week later I was reading Ephesians when this verse caught a hold of my heart:

“Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession- to the praise of his glory” Ephesians 1: 13-14 NIV

I suddenly realised that the Father has done the equivalent of sewing a woven nametape onto my very heart and soul – he has marked me with a seal.

Isn’t that marvellous?… isn’t it wonderful?  The Holy Spirit is the irrevokable royal seal on your life that declares to the earth and to the heavens for ever and ever:  “This soul is MINE”.

When I look at this picture, I hear God whispering:

“Everyone will know you are mine, no-one can say you are not, and you can never ever be lost, or taken away”

I wonder if you do too?

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There’s no place like home

It’s our nomadic season!

Once a year we run from the summer heat and leave the small island of Cyprus for the slightly bigger one of the UK, where we live out of (several) suitcases for five fun, but long, weeks.

Sleeping in a tent or on the guest beds of our fantastic welcoming friends and family is wonderful, but I can’t help missing the feeling of being ‘home.  Of course, the point of being here in the UK is not to feel ‘at home’, but to have fun, invest in friendships and do things that can’t be done when we’re in Cyprus.  But, although I’m having a great time, it’s actually quite difficult for a homebird like me to be on the move for that long.

I’ve been reflecting on that strange tension between the longing to be home and not feeling ready to leave yet.  Just a couple of weeks ago I was really wishing that I could pop home for a few days, run the washing machine ten times, sleep in my own bed and then pop back to spend more time with the friends I love (and the massive to-do list!)

It’s made me think again about Paul describing our bodies as ‘tents’  (in 2 Cor 5).  He seemed to think of his earthly body as ‘temporary accommodation’, to be replaced by a permanent building in heaven.  I’m fairly sure that most of the people Paul sold his tents to weren’t weekend leisure-campers either.  Tents were for people who for a long time or a short time were living on-the-move.

 Heaven is where our home is – life on earth is just camping

It’s made me wonder whether my life is, in reality, quite a lot like my family’s summer trip back to the UK.  It’s an interesting thought. …Maybe the point of my life is not really to be comfortable, or settled or easy; but to do (and enjoy) those things that won’t be possible in heaven… Chasing after the lost, loving the outcasts, defending the oppressed, caring for those in need.

Perhaps we are all ‘temporary nomads’ in the world for a while before we head back to our Home in heaven.  The long-term-travelling-camping thing is fun, but not easy.  It can be uncomfortable and difficult and inconvenient and we may never feel quite settled.

This time next week, we’ll be on our flight back to Cyprus.  There will be tearful goodbyes, and regrets about the stuff we didn’t get done… but it will be OK… we’ll be going home.

blue tent

Climbing the Helter Skelter

This is the kind of Helter Skelter I remember from when I
was a child. I guess that many of you will have been on one.
Maybe even this summer! To use it, we would pick up a rather
dubious smelling sack, go into the inside of the tower and climb a
spiral staircase for what seemed like forever. Eventually,
legs aching, we would arrive at the top and step out into the
daylight again. It was incredibly hard work in the darkness. Small
legs, plimsolls and scratchy sacks going around and around and
around. And then finally, sometimes suddenly, the joy of having
made it to the top… Fear mixed in with the excitement as I walked
out onto that top platform.. Not quite able to believe that I’d
climbed up so high in the darkness, and giddy as I looked back down
at where I’d come. I thought of that feeling a few weeks
ago when I read this post
by an old friend… Someone I used to walk to school and giggle
about boys with, someone I used to watch dance movies and exchange
make-up tips with and someone who one day, about 26 years ago, was
standing next to me as we both whispered “yes” to Jesus and fell
into his never ending grace. She, my extraordinary friend, wrote so
honestly about the years that she had put in, fighting against
anxiety and worry. Years and years of choosing to trust God when
her heart wanted to run. And then she wrote about a stepping out
moment, of being in a situation where she should have been
terrified, but realising that she had learned to lean into God, to
walk without fear. I was so inspired. Life often feels like the
Helter skelter. We put in many uncomfortable years in the darkness
of not really being sure what God is doing. Climbing and carrying,
with only little glimpses – hope – of where we’re going or what we
might be achieving. Sometimes we feel like we’re moving in a
circle, continually coming back to familiar places of pain,
weakness or battle. The challenge is not to give up… Because as
we circle around, revisiting old issues and fighting similar
battles, as we press into God and call out to Him we are actually
spiralling upwards to higher places. It’s not easy going, but it’s
going somewhere. How much do you want to emerge into the daylight
and realise that old enemies have been defeated? How much do you
want to climb into the sack that you’ve carried and use it to live
in the blessing of the freedom you’ve earned? I do. I pray that we
will both keep climbing until we get there.   helterskelter
   

My Boy’s Dream Car

This push-along-with-your feet-car was the object of desire of every single child at the toddler group I used to take my son to.  He wanted to ride in it almost from when he could crawI, long before his legs were long enough, or coordinated enough to be able to move it himself.  And I still can’t see one of these red and yellow beauties without smiling at the thought of him at 3 years old, chubby cheeked and grinning as he trundled around the yard.

We never had one at home, but every time we went to a place that had one he was desperate to play in it.  So for a while there a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe was his ultimate dream car.

I can’t tell you how funny it is to think of him trying to get into one of these now!  At fifteen he has the same wild blond hair and cheeky grin but they now top a nearly 6 foot tall body. Gorgeous – but all arms and legs and enormous feet. I’m not sure it would even be possible for him to fold his gangly frame into this little car, much less get it to move anywhere.

This week I feel like God is speaking to me about hopes and dreams. When I was 20 I had dreams about what God might do with my life.. I dreamed of having a family;  helping people find Jesus; healing; preaching; leading worship; of seeing revival…   Some of it has happened, some hasn’t, and there’s also been load of amazing and difficult and wonderful stuff that I never expected.

I’m older now, and I tend to think of crazy hopeful dreaming as something young people do.  It’s tempting (maybe sensible) to put those dreams down and just get on with things the way they are…

…But

Yesterday, while I was hanging out the washing, God told me to paint a postcard of a cozy coupe. I often don’t really understand what the ‘message’ of a postcard is going to be until I’ve had a chance to pray about it,  and this time it wasn’t till I sat down (in the cool of an air-conditioned coffee shop) to write that I started to hear God speak about dreaming.

How does the Cozy Coupe fit into that?  Well, it was Jonny’s dream.  And it was a great dream for him to have when he was two, OK still when he was five, but now?… Now it is totally outgrown and limiting, utterly unsuitable.  Jonny needs to get a bigger dream.

Do you still have dreams about what God might do with your life?

Maybe you’ve lost hold of your dreams on the roller coaster of life. Maybe you’ve forgotten what they even were. Never mind. You’ve probably outgrown them by now anyway. What good would it do you to fold yourself up into those old dreams anyway? Today is a really good day to ask God to give you a new dream, a new vision of what he wants to do with you and in you and through you.
Today is the day you need to get a new dream.

 

cozycoupefeat

 

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For your journal:

When you ask God about what dreams he has for your life today… write down what he says!

 

Perfume poured out

I love the story from John’s gospel of Mary of Bethany.  Especially the moment where, perhaps overwhelmed with gratitude for the raising from the dead of her brother Lazarus, she comes to Jesus, pours oil over his feet then wipes them with her hair.

Today there are two things that strike me about this public display of adoration…

One is that it is an act of incredibly expensive worship.  It makes me wonder what a family in a little hill village above Jerusalem were doing with a pint of perfume that was worth a year’s wages?  One commentator I read suggested that it might have been a way of saving money, an investment for the future, perhaps for a dowry when Mary or Martha wanted to marry.  In any case it was a hugely expensive offering.

It may be that Mary was literally pouring out her financial security, her plans for the future, her hopes and her dreams over the feet of Jesus.  An act of pure worship.  It was extravagant, costly, over the top,  and it caused others to question whether she was getting too ‘carried away’, but in this moment it was undoubtedly entirely the right response to Jesus.

Sometimes singing a song of worship is a costly act for us, but there are many other things which we are called to do which require much greater obedience, trust, surrender and sacrifice.   These choices, to do what Jesus asks of you even when it might cost you your dignity, your good name, your financial security, your  dream of how life would be, are extraordinary acts of silent worship.

 

The second thing I notice today is that in John’s account ‘the house was filled with the fragrance’ of the spilled perfume.  I have a tiny, tiny bottle of spikenard oil from Israel that a friend gave me.  Just the tiniest dot of it has a heady perfume that I can smell on my skin for hours.  I can’t quite imagine what the fragrance of a whole pint spilled on Jesus’ feet and the floor would have been like.  The scent of it would’ve been totally overpowering and would have not only filled the whole house but would have lingered in that place and on Mary’s hair and on the feet of Jesus for days if not weeks.

When I painted this postcard, I wanted to show that in our moments of love, surrender and giving,  in singing worship and in the rest of life, Jesus does not remain impassive.  He responds. He smells the fragrance and he leans towards us to receive the gift. He honours us and our costly gifts to him as He honoured Mary and He wears the fragrance of our worship with pride.

When we not only declare our love publicly and with extravagance, but anoint Him with our trust, our hopes and our dreams, the perfume is spilled out over both Him and us.  We share in the lingering scent of it and the fragrance spreads out to fill the room.

I wave the white flag

and I pour out,

my heart,  my life,  my hopes,  my dreams,  my security,

over your feet.

Already washed in your blood

made clean by your sacrifice

restored by resurrection

alive in your life…    I choose

to trust

and place my all

into your hands

may the house be filled with its fragrance

Perfume poured out

If you want to read it for yourself, this story is in John ch 12 v 3-8.

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