The WOW factor

The way to my heart is… Nah only kidding, but people who know me well will know how to buy a gift I will love. I have an extra soft spot for the smelly stuff, so much so, that I ended up at Christmas getting not one but six bottles of beautiful perfume. Not all the same, but included in the gifts was a massive bottle of my absolute favourite Armani, ‘Because It’s You’. I’ve been wearing it for a year or two, and I would say that it is now my “signature scent”. I often get compliments on it or enquires of what the beautiful fragrance is. ( I like to say, that’s just me )

So here’s the thing, it’s not cheap. So before my huge bottle, I got for Christmas, I only ever wore it for special outings and Sundays. But since getting the big bottle at Christmas, I feel I can use it a lot more, so I do. In fact, I have placed it beside the mirror in my front hall, always at hand for that extra squirt on the way out the door.  On Sunday as I was getting ready I splashed my perfume and, as I bent down to put on my shoes, I thought about how the scent didn’t have the same impact as usual. So, an extra squirt and out into the car. I wasn’t experiencing the same beautiful aroma. I started to think my perfume had gone off.

Into church and a hug from a friend confirmed my concerns to be misguided as they quickly said, you smell gorgeous. Bingo, my scent was back. The problem lay with how familiar I had grown to the beautiful fragrance. Feeling there was most definitely a lesson in this, I did my little head tilt grin at the Holy Spirit with a whisper of, I get ya God, and the irony of this revelation happening in church.

See, what God was saying to me at that moment was, it’s not just your perfume that you have grown accustomed to and take for granted, it’s also my goodness. JACKPOT!!!… I so do take God’s presence and goodness, blessings,  grace and mercy for granted, and it dulls the fantastic fragrance and beauty of it.  I get so used to it that it loses its WOW factor. I hate that. I hate that I take God for granted and that every day I’m not blown away by his presence in my life.

It made me think of Israel in the wilderness. God literally rescued them from slavery in Egypt, got them kitted out with all the Egyptian merch to be on their way. Split the sea and then drown the army chasing them. Gave them daily bread from heaven every day. Provided them with a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night to guide them and lead them. And still, they struggled to see his goodness and to trust in him and remain grateful. Like, what’s that about!

So, I may not be alone in my lack of appreciation of God every day, but that still doesn’t make it ok. I want his praise forever to be on my lips. I want to be able to praise God for his goodness in the good times, and in the storms. no matter what circumstances I face. I never want to lose that feeling of being overwhelmed by God.

Ultimately, this lack of gratitude led the Israelites to a life of rebellion and a whole generation dying before they reached the promised land. Two million down to two. It’s a sad story. I don’t want to miss anything God has planned for my loved ones or me. God’s promises will always prevail. God always keeps his word. Whether we see that come to pass, I believe, is down to our attitude. My prayer is that I would always, always have an attitude of gratitude and a thankful heart for God.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭26:3-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭107:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Let every activity of your lives and every word that comes from your lips be drenched with the beauty of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. And bring your constant praise to God the Father because of what Christ has done for you!”

‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Thanks for reading

Love T x

 

No Christ, Christian

You are bound to have noticed in the shops the most recent food craze is plant-based food or meat-free, Vegan?? To be honest, some of the food is delicious. Personally,  it is not that I would never want to taste meat again, but if I was left with no option but to change to a plant-based diet, I believe that taste and flavours and nutrition would be enough to satisfy me long term.

Have you seen these things in stores? You may have noticed some labels like No-Chicken Kiev or No-Duck spring rolls. I was included in a discussion this week when we discussed how these new vegan ‘meats’ were being labelled the same as the meat only with no in front. The conclusion of the discussion is that more suitable names should be found for these products. I have to agree.

It got me thinking about how we identify and label things. If these products can still have meat titles without the meat, and don’t start stressing, I’m not going to go there with the whole gender thing (I wouldn’t have enough time in my week!), can we identify ourselves as Christian without having Christian values as our main ingredient?

Personally, Christian wouldn’t be a term I would often use to identify myself because, in our culture, especially in Northern Ireland, the word Christian stirs up so much religious crap. Although, by faith, that is exactly what I am, I would be more inclined to say Jesus follower or Christ follower.

I will often say the Bible isn’t a rule book, it’s a guide, and I mean it. If you want to live your life for Jesus and go after everything God designed for your life you’re gonna want to stick to these guidelines, it’s all in there. I guarantee you.

But can we really live our Christian lives without Christian values?

Can we claim to live a Christ-centred life then still gossip about people? Can we be filled with Christ and still hold grudges against those who hurt us, or have no compassion for those in need or hurting around us? Are we authentically Christian if we pick and choose which moral codes we like out of the Bible? Is being a no-Christ Christian going to church on a Sunday as part of your social calendar, while not being willing to serve God?  Does being a no-Christ Christian look like throwing your hands up to nice music on a Sunday, yet being an ungrateful brat to get your own way on a Monday? Or purposely causing conflict in situations, or refusing to resolve conflict because of pride? Or being impatient in traffic or in a checkout queue, just another place we don’t need to be Christ-like?

My worry is that what we excuse in grace is just accommodating a new culture of Christ-less Christians, because we want Christianity to become more appealing or accepted, or simply because we are afraid to call our friends out on these behaviours. Have we become too accepting of poor values?

“Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I feel like I’ve had to challenge myself on what behaviours I compromise and accept in my own life this week and I wonder…

Do you feel these areas could be improved in your own life?

Would you be willing to challenge a friend on any of these listed above?

Do you believe these are things to be concerned about?

I believe that we can’t just will ourselves to be more loving or patient or kind, it has to be a heart makeover. We need to lean into God more, understand his heart and ask him to change our heart in the areas where we lack.

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.”
‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭36:26‬ ‭NLT‬‬

 

Just Love

Yesterday was February 14th.  Ah, Valentine’s Day!

Consumer heaven!

Day for the lovers…

Firstly… I hope everyone had an amazing day!

Not in a bid to make anyone feel bad for their highlight reel on social media, but, for some, this is a day that can raise a lot of painful issues about their circumstances.

Single parents post about love for their children. Christians, their love for Jesus. Pet lovers, love for their pets. Couples profess their love via social media to someone sitting in the same room. (It’s ok! I’ve also used social media to communicate to someone in the same room, no judgement here)

It must be pretty tough if you’ve recently lost your spouse or just recently separated and are still grieving to go on FB or Instagram and read others’ posts about how much they are loved.

I’ll be honest, in the past, this day has left me feeling a little bitter. (Not even a little, probably on the verge of campaigning to have it boycotted!) For me, it seemed to highlight everything I believed then I was missing in life or, more to the point, everything I believed I was not worthy of.

Friends would comfort me and say but look at your lovely boys and Jesus loves you (all true) and blah blah blah! ( yeah!  When was the last time my boys took me out on a date to dinner or the cinema!)

Yesterday morning I was about to take to social media and blab about how amazing my boys were and how blessed I am to have them, which is all true…. promise!  (angelic miniature replicas of their mother)

Then I got the old nudge! (more like this like a Holy Spirit boot to the shin). What if today wasn’t about how much the world proved I was loved, but a day I could prove how much I could love others? Or even better show the world how much Jesus loved.

I felt God Challenge me not to allow this day to be defined by what I got, rather by what I could give.

By giving.

I don’t mean the three flowers in cheap cellophane the garage are selling for £15.

Love can be shown in lots of different ways.

I want to encourage you to love others this week?

So often we get confused on the idea of what love looks like. I think it is a common misbelief that, in order to love someone, you have to agree with their behaviour or approve of their lifestyle. We have to agree with their way of thinking and, in turn, this causes us to withhold love. I don’t think we have to agree with or approve of someone or their lifestyle to be able to love them. If you are choosing to do this today, can I encourage you to stop? Love should not be conditional, it shouldn’t be a reward for agreement and it shouldn’t be used as some kind of bait to get people round to your way of thinking.

This week can we try and love out… to people regardless of the circumstances, regardless of what you may class as their poor life choices, regardless of any preconditions. You don’t need to come into agreement to love, just love whatever way you can.

  • Buy the coffee for the person in front of you rooting in their pocket for change.
  • Carry that lady’s shopping to the car.
  •  Stop in traffic and let that big flashy Range Rover out that you normally wouldn’t (because, well it’s just rude to have a car that big).
  • Cook an extra cottage pie at dinner and leave it into your elderly neighbours.
  • If you can afford it whack £20 in an envelope with a takeaway menu and post it through a single mum’s or single dad’s door so she or he don’t have to cook some night.
  • Hold the door and let someone through in front of you.
  • Pick up the phone and talk to that friend who you haven’t spoken to in months but has been on your mind.
  • Say sorry where you are wrong, even when it’s hard.
  • Tell your friend what good qualities you see in her.
  • Pray for the ones you struggle with.
  • Smile at that kid acting up rather than judging their parents method of disipline

If you can’t do anything else, just pray! Just pray for those people for whom this time is just that little bit tougher.

Lift people up! Shine brightly!

You can’t always change people’s minds, but you can be a bright light to something better.

Love people. Today be the person you need the most to others.

 p.s Jesus does love you!

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

love T x

Testing

Well, you may all be shocked and surprised to learn that this fresh-faced beauty right here is soon to be the owner of a seventeen-year-old. Crazy? I know! Considering most of the time, I think like and behave like a twenty-year-old.

So this week, off I went to the post office to get my soon to be seventeen year old a driver licence application form. Which, may I add, after four days is still sitting on my kitchen table untouched by said almost seventeen year old. But anyway, according to the laws of boys, this is perfectly normal behaviour, and God has been good enough to equip me with the grace to let incompletion of said document not to cause any unrest!! Only kidding, it drives me batty. This kid needs a rocket up his butt to do anything. If he was any more laid back, he would be horizontal… (I’m green with envy, of course, would love to have his laid back approach to life.)

Any discussions about driving, my son assured me that at the ripe old age of sixteen, with no prior driving experience, that he is a very competent driver and perfectly capable of driving and will get his licence in no time. Good luck with all that I say!

The wee rascal is a bit of an expert in proving me wrong, so, actually it wouldn’t surprise me if he flew through his lessons and test and passed first go, and I really hope he does. Because learning can be an expensive business, eh?!

And I wouldn’t just be talking about driving lessons. I didn’t pass my test first go. I pulled out in front of another vehicle and bagged myself a major fault and a bit of whiplash as the tester slammed the breaks, and a good tongue lashing and a red face for my stupidy. Naturally, I was gutted, slightly embarrassed and feeling a whole lot inadequate. I was a mum of two boys. I had a lovely car sitting at the front door. I knew I was a capable driver, and yet I had failed the test.

In life, we often don’t understand the lesson until we have failed the test. I like to think of myself as reasonably steadfast in my faith and my love and obedience for God, but when ill health hit, only then did I truly understand just how rocky my faith really was. We think we know our own hearts well, but do we really?

Good News. We might not, but God does. At all times he can see the condition of our heart. He knows the things that will test our faith, the trials that will shake us. He also knows and understands the areas that need to be strengthened.

“Teach us to realise the brevity of life so that we may grow in wisdom.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭90:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I believe, in times of testing and trials, the enemy wants to convince us that God isn’t good, that he doesn’t love us in these seasons and circumstances; the enemy wants to pull out the worst in us. Fear, doubt, anger, insecurity, but at times of trials and testing God wants to call out the best in us. When we are tested, we grow stronger, we mature, we grow to believe in God’s promises and provision, and ultimately we will give the glory to God

I think that in times of testing, we have a choice to thank God and ask him how we grow in this experience, or reject him, listen to the enemy and be even more miserable in our circumstances.

“Joyful are those you discipline, Lord, those you teach with your instructions.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭94:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

It is not always easy to say, Hey God, I feel like a big loser, I’m sorry but can you help me do better next time? But can I encourage you to do just that next time you’re faced with that failing feeling. Don’t lie under the enemy’s lies and condemnation.

“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Be cautious of the voice you listen to in times of testing. The world, The enemy or God.

Draw close to the Lord, thank him for his fatherly correction, learn from the experience and strengthen yourself in him.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬