How much more?

In response to Psalm 147 

Praise the Lord

We sing praises to our king

Holy One, God of all

You call each star by name

Hung the sun in the sky

Paint the rainbow for us too.

How much more

Must you love me

How much more?

 

Praise the Lord

We make music just for you

How you delight in us

As we place our trust in you

Each day a new sunrise

You pour your blessings upon all

How much more

Must you love me

How much more?

 

Praise the Lord

As he reveals His will to us

Pours the rain and the snow

He stirs the breeze and makes the waters flow

Provider, forgiver, Jehovah

Freely showers each blessing on me

How much more

Must you love me

How much more?

 

Praise the Lord

His mercy is new every morning

Grace and patience abound

For all who are faithful,

His favour freely falls,

As we open our hearts to His love

How much more

Must you love us

How much more?

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#Free Hugs

So there are some things that just keep me awake at night. They go round and round in my head and there is no getting rid of them until they spill out onto the page. I have gone over and over this in my mind for weeks, months even and written these words out in rough many times. What I am going to say is not intended to offend anyone or upset anyone, just to provoke thought and discussion.

When did you last have a hug? A really good, bear type, wraps you in love, type of a hug?

Hugs are so important I think. I cannot tell you how long it is since I had a proper good hug. Too long for definite.

I miss my Dad’s hugs enormously. He was not a big man, but he gave good tight hugs. I miss that, like a physical pain. I have had some hugs since he died, but not many and nowhere near as good! How about you? Who gives you a hug? Your spouse, kids, parent – but who really hugs you? It is a strange one, there are so many different types of hug; polite, how are you hugs; nice to see you hugs or goodbye hugs. Friendly hugs and loving ones. Some people like hugs, some people don’t. Some like some types of hugs and not others.

Medical studies have shown that hugs are actually good for us. Hugs can boost dopamine levels making us feel happier and warding off depression. It can decrease cortisol levels which can help reduce stress and lower blood pressure. They can increase serotonin levels and make us feel less lonely, even relieve pain by blocking pain pathways. It can also seriously improve someone’s day!

In my previous church, everyone greeted everyone with a hug. In my current church it is all smiles and hand shakes. I often feel like I don’t fit in, I definitely don’t often feel loved. Many of the people there are still strangers to me, though I try to make conversation. Yet, we sit together in the same room week after week. I do try to reach out and get to know people, but it is not easy. It is certainly not within me to go up to someone and say “I really need a hug today” and I am sure I’m not alone.

What exactly is it I wonder that we are afraid of? What makes us avoid hugging? In a world where ‘touch’ can be a dirty word, are we afraid of accusation/litigation?? That we are going to be wrong to love or reach out to someone? As a church how can we show love if we are perceived as distant, unfeeling and disconnected. We should be a ‘people’, a ‘family’, a collective. People who reach out – not just to each other but to the wider world.

They talk about it a lot at church; how we are a family, BUT do we behave like that?Sometimes we get it right, but sometimes we get it wrong (in my opinion anyway). At the moment it feels like we are not getting it right within ourselves so how is that perceived by the outside world I wonder?

I am reminded as we enter Lent of the approaching Good Friday – how we as a Church (or group of churches) parade through the streets of our town remembering Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross and proclaiming his love. But how are we then perceived by the outside world? They may be curious but how can they engage with something that is so alien to them? A bunch of religious weirdos carrying a cross and singing songs and talking strange words they know nothing off.

Would we not be closer to God’s message and Jesus’ example if we stood on the streets with a sign saying ‘free hugs’ and reaching out to love people. If we as a church, cannot reach out to the broken, the depressed, the marginalised in our own congregations; how then can we reach the people on the streets? The people who most need a touch from God? The people who most need God are those that others reject. We need to be doing face to face talking (not just on Facebook and the like), and yes dare I say it – reach out and touch these people. Yes, real one to one body contact. If Jesus could reach out to the lepers, the prostitutes, the dirty … then so can we, and we should.

I can go to an interview and have someone shake my hand, it is formal, not a sign of love. A stranger can shake a hand, a stranger can give a hug. Family don’t shake hands, family give hugs. The world needs a hug today.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it is great to show people the church outside it’s doors. That it still exists, even thrives. But they need to know how it relates to their lives today. Going out on the streets on Good Friday should be a part of that. People should know what Easter is all about, when they are out doing their shopping. To remind them again that their time off work is about Jesus and his great sacrifice for all mankind. But, how much more should we be shouting of the resurrection, of the living God, risen and alive today. To celebrate, to be joyful; so they don’t see Christianity as some dead, dying religion, full of boring, dull people. We need to think of the image we portray to people. We need to show the happy side too.

So family, will you be bold and brave and see who you can hug today. You never know they may really need it.

 

Thoughts for today

I didn’t sleep well last night (I often don’t). Last night an alarm was going off really loudly and I could not get to sleep. It got me to thinking that I am very much like an animal. My primeval instincts are that of a dog I reckon. The main thoughts running around my head during the day are of sleep, food and walking. They are the three things I love to do. Yes, I like to see my friends and family, sometimes I like to do other hobbies or past times, but I would be fundamentally quite happy if all I ever did was eat, sleep and walk. I definitely should have been a dog!

What makes you tick? What do you love to do?

I am starting Lent with another blog post. I am not going to promise to write every day like I did last year for Lent; my time management ability seems to have gone astray and I seem to constantly have more that needs doing than hours in the day!!! I will however, write at least one or two a week. If it only gives me five or ten minutes to do something I love to do, then I think that is time worth spending. I am also following the 40 acts challenge for Lent. If you haven’t seen it before, try Googling it. They set you a different challenge each day and it is about doing Lent generously and thinking of others first (something we all, I’m sure, try to do but maybe not as often or as completely as we could). How could you live life differently for the next 40 days?

New Year

So it’s the start of a new year and many people will be thinking about what they can change or improve in their lives this year. Having a fresh start is always good, like starting a new book at school. A chance to start over, do neater writing, make better choices and so on. It helps us to re-focus and re-purpose our lives. Looking back and reminiscing and then thinking about how we can move forward is a positive step for most people. I don’t make resolutions as such, but I do like to think about fresh starts and am trying to be more positive as we go into 2017.

Recently I have been to three funerals, one of someone I knew fairly well and two were parents of friends. One I had only met briefly, but went to support my friend. Whilst listening to the service, the ‘eulogy’ and the story of their lives and journey’s, I got to thinking; what would my eulogy be, how would my obituary read? You may like to consider this (or not as the case may be!) What will people say about me when I’m gone? None of us knows when our time is up. Most of us don’t like to think about it. It could be today or tomorrow (hopefully not). What will they remember when we are gone?

Many people believe their legacy is their children or grandchildren – their lives will live on in those they leave behind. But, not everyone has children, what about those of us who have no child? Each of us leaves a mark, an imprint on the world around us, on the people whose lives we touch.

What are our priorities, what truly matters to us and how do we show it? Will our legacy be that we helped others, took time to make memories with our loved ones, were kind, generous, honest, reliable or … something else? Will we have taught someone something, supported someone in their hour of need, planted a tree, cared for a child, nursed a loved one, helped a stranger??

On our deathbed and in our going no-one will care how much money we made, how big a house we had, how much ‘stuff’ we owned. They will remember only what kind of a soul we were, what we stood for, did we make them laugh or cry, did we touch them, were we there when they needed us?

Have a think about what you will leave behind; not in a will but in a memory.

If it is not what you want it to be, now is the time to change!!

Happy New Year everyone 🙂

 

# Bored

So I work with kids and they often like to say they are bored. This is something I find quite strange. I can honestly say I am never bored. I can always find things I have to do, or even better, things I want to do or learn or explore and try. I think I probably said I was bored as a child and my Mum would just say “go and find something to do then.” I would often then read a book or draw or write something.

I was surprised at work today when I asked a colleague if she had enjoyed her Easter break from work and she said not really, she had been bored. I am astounded, do people not have hobbies any more, do they not dream of doing different things when they have some spare time? My ‘to do’ list is always long and I honestly never have time to be bored. As I mentioned before, I have to make time to do the things I want to do, among the many things I have to do. I’m sure this is true for many. I however, do not want to wait until I retire to do the things I love or to fill my life with all those things I want to try. What if I never get the chance? I do not want to waste a single opportunity. There are so many things I want to have a go at. Life is short and there is simply no time to be bored.

However, I think it is not a bad thing for kids to sometimes be bored. Boredom can be the start of creativity – a very valuable asset for anyone. My nephew recently created his own card game. We like to play games as a family and he knows lots of board games and card games. He is a clever boy and obviously had some time on his hands (restricted from his electronic toys) and he came up with his own card game. I have played it twice and it is good; all ages can play, from his nearly 7 year old sister to his 70+ year old Nanna. It is a simple concept but then so are all the best games. He also created a paper game (related to his favourite Minecraft), but at least he was using his thinking skills. We need to encourage boredom to some extent because this will encourage creativity.

Day 46

The end of Lent

Easter Saturday marks the end of Lent, as tomorrow we remember and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. I finished Lent as I started it – with pancakes – yummy! It also marks the end of my promise to write something every day of Lent; I succeeded – hooray! I have really enjoyed sharing my thoughts and hope you have also enjoyed reading them. To date the blog has received 821 views with 360 visitors. I am quite amazed by that (you can trace it on the WordPress site I recently found out). The most popular day was a Friday.

Now, I know many of my Facebook friends and family have logged in and read but I don’t have 360 friends!! So, some must have viewed when I have shared it on the 40 acts (for Lent) site. I am blown away that people that don’t even know me have taken the time to read what I have written – thank you.

To my friends also, thanks for reading, and some of you for commenting. Hope it has been of interest and maybe a little thought provoking. Do sign up to follow the blog if you want to (it will e-mail you when I update it), or let me know if you want me to continue to share it on Facebook.

I am definitely going to continue to pursue my writing (though may not manage it every day!) I hope you will continue to read.

Have an amazing Easter and be blessed!

Day 45

“Good Friday”

I was teaching the children at school yesterday all about the first Easter and we were talking through the story. A little girl (aged 6) asked me “Why do we call it Good Friday?” Wow, this showed me that she really had grasped the essence of the story – how could remembering such an awful death be considered ‘good’?? Of course at 6 years old it is a lot to grasp, indeed it is for some adults. The fact that Jesus died as a sacrifice for my sin and yours – that is where the ‘good’ bit comes in. It is “good news” that we can be redeemed through the awesome sacrifice Jesus made. We get to spend eternity in heaven rather than eternity in hell – if we so choose. Sounds good to me.

For Christians we remember Good Friday rather than ‘celebrate’ it – that comes later. We experience again the love of God in giving up His only Son for us. We feel again that forgiveness and mercy for every single sin. That same forgiveness that we in turn must then extend to others. That same love that must burn within us for our fellow man and woman.

I for one, am still in awe of all that Jesus did for me and I will be in Church this Easter remembering and celebrating and basking in His love. Today  I will be walking with fellow Christians through our town and praising God in the town centre, reminding others it is a religious holiday and not a secular one, where eggs and bunnies abound. I will thank God for my redemption through Jesus’ blood and I pray you will all have a life changing encounter with God this Easter.