Day 44

There is a misconception among believers and non-believers alike – that God loves us because of who we are and what we do. However, this is not true. God loves us because of who HE is. He loves us despite what we do.

Some Christians live by ‘rules’ – some of which are God given; but others are given by men trying to understand what God says. Sometimes this is misinterpretation. This is not an excuse to just go around doing whatever we like. God does want us to be more like him; however this is not so much about obeying every rule that ever existed and getting hung up about it when we fall short and make mistakes. I know – been there, done that, got the t-shirt and beaten myself up about it! God knows we will make mistakes, we are human – we are not God.

God wants us to have a heart like He has – a heart of love. If when we act or speak, we are acting out of love, then we cannot go far wrong. If we are acting out of some other emotion – anger, hate, jealousy, greed, fear – this is where we can run into problems.

We do not have to do certain things to ‘please’ God. We do not earn God’s blessing – His grace and mercy are freely and lovingly given. They are freely given to all – so the sinner on the street- the one we may look down on because they are not’obeying the rules’ – God loves him or her too. He needs us to understand this so that everyone can be reached by His love. No-one is so bad that God (and we) cannot forgive them.

More on this tomorrow.

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Day 43

‘Fresh air’

I am a big believer in the benefits of fresh air. I think it has massive health benefits, especially if we can get out where the air is cleaner, for example; a park, field, the countryside or seaside. I go out at least 3 times a day whatever the weather ~ I have a dog so it is kind of compulsory. However, even without a dog I would still go outside a lot, I feel so much calmer and at peace outside and away from it all. Studies are now showing that time spent in ‘nature’ or natural surroundings is so good for us.

I personally think that it is healthier for mind and body. I get fewer bugs and colds than many people who spend their lives in centrally heated houses and air conditioned offices – and I work with small children (well known for being breeders of germs!). I have probably built up some immunity; but also believe the fresh air enables me to clear out my lungs – replacing unclean air with fresh, cleaner air.

When my grandparents became elderly (in their late 80’s and early 90’s), we reluctantly resigned ourselves to a nursing home. However, during their time there, one of us would go every day and with the exception of a very few days when they were too unwell, we took them outside for a walk ~ every single day! We would wrap them up in blankets in the wheelchair and off we would go around the gardens or occasionally the street for a change of scene. They lived to 96 and 98 and a half years old. Not bad going in my book. They lived much longer and were healthier than most other people in the home. I like to think the fresh air helped!

It is free and good for you!!

Day 42

‘Terror on the streets’

I changed what I had planned to write today following the terror attacks in Brussels. I know that a lot of people question the existence of God when terrible events happen, so decided to give you my thoughts on this.

God is ultimately ruler of all, and yes He makes decisions and plans about our lives. However, He also gives mankind choices and free will. We have a conscience which may call us to question what is right or wrong in a given circumstance. Ultimately, however, we can choose to sin. We can make a choice to do something that will hurt someone else – physically or emotionally. We make those choices not once but every single day. Even if we are Christians and are motivated by God’s love, we still have to choose every day how to behave and which path to take.

God does not cause terror and destruction. He sent His son to save us from ultimate death. People cause terror and destruction – just as they cause all the other problems in our society. Even some so called natural disasters can be traced back to Man and to our decisions to pollute our beautiful Earth.

God’s love will be shown many times over in the aftermath of these terror attacks, as in previous ones. It will be shown by the many people who choose not to let hate rule in their lives but to let love rule. When they choose to help and support and not to turn their backs or run away in fear.

Day 41

Disability or ‘diff’ ability

I have been hearing lots in the news over the last couple of days about disability and benefits, but thought I would challenge that word ‘disability’. I prefer the word ‘diff-ability’ or differently abled. For some people I could be classed as disabled due to my diagnosis of autism; however I never think of myself like this. I just think of myself as differently abled – my brain is just wired differently from the majority, that’s all. Like most ‘minority’ groups or so called disabled people I have learnt a lifetime of coping strategies.

Of course it brings its own unique set of challenges – usually on a daily basis – especially when dealing with people. However, I also feel I am blessed in seeing, feeling, hearing and experiencing the world in a complete and whole-hearted way – whereas others do not appear to have this gift. I’m not a great talker – as anyone who knows me will agree. It is not that I do not have lots to say however; it’s just that I don’t DO talking and conversation very well. I can write things down that I cannot say. Not because I’m embarrassed or bothered what others will say – I’m really not; but, because I just don’t always know how to break into conversation or when it is appropriate to say things.

Think of all those with physical disabilities – no arms, or in a wheelchair, maybe blind or deaf – they will have all developed and adapted a whole range of skills and abilities that are beyond our comprehension – just to function on a basic, normal level on a day to day basis.

Nothing ‘disabled’ about that – pretty extra-ordinary I reckon!

Day 40

The time is now

Well I should be saying Happy Easter everyone as I am on Day 40. It would appear however that I should have taken rest days on Sundays, so have a few more days to write before the end of Lent. That is okay with me. I am enjoying sharing my thoughts – I only wish they wouldn’t come to me so often in the middle of the night – when I would seriously much prefer to be asleep!

The last 40 days have whizzed past and I seem to be permanently busy. Sitting down to write at least gives me a few minutes away from the daily routine to focus on something I want to do. I shall definitely keep up the blog (though it may not be daily). It has made me more determined to try to spend more time doing what I love to do and want to do – rather than just what I have to do!

Life is short, the weeks and months pass by in a flash. None of use knows what is around the corner. We often wish our lives away – I’ll do this when I’m on holiday, when the kids are older, when I change my job and so on. Sometimes though, tomorrow never comes. We need to make best use of the here and now. To try to fulfill our dreams in our lives.

Maybe you want to learn an instrument, or learn to dance, or have a burning ambition to fly a plane. Well the time is now – do it while you can. We cannot see into the future but we can make good use of today.

Day 39

Charity

I have decided we are very good at giving to charity in this country. Sport Relief last night raised over £55 million, and that is without all the sponsored events going on this weekend. Kids in schools up and down the country have got involved, which also means their parents and families have got involved ~ at least financially. Similar events annually reach or exceed these totals – Children In Need and Comic Relief, to name just two. That is without all the money donated to street collections, raised in sponsored events large and small, like marathons; all the monthly ongoing donations people make; as well as special appeals following disasters.

As of last year, there were more than 195,000 registered charities in the UK, raising about £80 billion a year. According to the Daily Mail (source Google), they also employ a million staff (more than our car or chemical sectors). These charities do amazing work in supporting often the most vulnerable in our society ~ the sick and dying, the disabled, the young and old, the trees and the animals. If it was not for charities, then the UK would surely be in an even worse state than it already is.

Clearly we are a nation of generous people. We may see a need and want to fill it, or the need may be identified to us and we feel we are able and in a position to help, so we do. God bless all those who support our charities.

Day 38

“Somebody to love”

As human beings we are born with a nurturing instinct. Some may argue women have it more than men, but I think men have it; they just express it differently. Each of us needs to feel ‘needed’ to some degree or another. We may moan about it at times, but we like having people who depend on us. It makes our lives more worthwhile. Even animals have an instinct to look after the young or the old and frail. It is just something they seem to sense.

So what about those who have no-one to love? They may feel disconnected and it can be quite depressing, lets face it everyone needs a hug and a bit of affection. A recent news item had a psychologist talking about women who have lots of cats! Apparently this is to fulfill this need to nurture and love something. Maybe their kids have left home or they don’t have any. They still need to feel needed and loved so they make their pets the focus of their attention.

I can definitely empathise with this one. Although not blessed with children myself, I love my niece and nephew very much and like to be a part of their life. I also have had my dog for the last 14 years and he is a massive part of my life – so much so that my life tends to be planned around his needs. This is fine by me. I like to have him depending on me, and he gives me so much love in return. Everybody needs ‘somebody to love’.