Thomas. My Hopes.

     My Hope is in You! Psalm 39 verse 7

Hope, that feeling of something about to happen. That expectation. That anticipation. So why look at Thomas? The disciple that has been labelled ‘doubting Thomas’. Read his story in John 20 verse 19 – 29. Two encounters with Jesus. Almost identical encounters. A locked room. Disciples gathered together. Jesus appears and says ‘Peace to you!’ The difference? Thomas was not at the first one.

Have you ever been looking forward to something so much, that when it doesn’t happen your whole world just falls apart? That anticipation that grows and grows, only to be beaten down in one big blow? Crushing. Heavy. Hard work. You can’t get yourself together. You know you should. You know you need to get back to it. Like falling off a bike, but being encouraged to get back on it and ride again. That anticipation and disappointment all rolled into one – anticappointment. That was the ‘word’ used to introduce Thomas to us at the staff conference. It is such a good ‘word’. It tells you exactly how Thomas felt. He had been with Jesus throughout the ministry. Learning at His feet. Taking it all in. Jesus was going be the Messiah. The Saviour. But then He had been taken and crucified. The one person Thomas really thought was going to do the job, had been taken. And with it Thomas’s hope. The ‘anticappointment’ was great. Crushing. Life became hard work for Thomas.

When I have been down, really down, life has been hard work. You go around in a daze. In a fog. In treacle. You want to be on your own. On your own to think things through. On your own to process the facts, but also your reaction to them. You don’t want people telling you, we must go forward. Telling you to, come on, get with it! Some people can do that. Get with it. Some people only need a day. Some people need a bit longer.

Thomas was the only disciple not there that first meeting. Where he was we are not told. We are not told if he was feeling low. But they were all pretty stunned. All a bit frightened. They had gathered in the room and locked the door. So it seems possible that Thomas may have been hiding too. Thinking it all through. Feeling let down. Feeling inward looking. Not doubting. Just reflecting. Thomas believed in God. He believed in all that Jesus had done and said. He wanted to be there with Jesus. (John 11 v16 and John 14 v5) To go all the way. To follow. Your best friend has just been taken away from you. You are bound to be down. To be in shock. Perhaps it was Thomas’s personality, to be very down.

Everyone falls between a cup that is half empty to a cup that is half full. On a spectrum the slider can move up and down. We react to things differently at different times. I know I do. All the way through my depression I have never lost my faith in God. I have always believed Him to be there beside me. But each day has been different. My reactions to things have been different. The slider has moved up and down.

Here we see Thomas with a slider that goes up and down. It is down and his friends run up and say ‘We have seen Him. We have seen the LORD!’ The slider whizzes up at the slight hesitation it is true, but slumps when he remembers what happened. It couldn’t possibly be true. Thomas saw Him crucified. The slider is stuck. The glimmer of hope came because Thomas remembered the way Jesus had told them about the resurrection (John 14 v 1-7) But  it went as he remembers what he saw and he says…

“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Thomas does not give up. He tries hard. He carries on going about with the disciples. For eight days he goes through the motions with them. He perhaps wasn’t expecting to meet with God, but he goes anyway. He knows, he hopes. Oh he so hopes that what Jesus said, will happen for him. They meet in the room again. Together. And Jesus appears. He says ‘Peace to you!’ But He is there for one person. He is there just to reach out. He is there for Thomas.

“Put your finger here and observe My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer.”

And Thomas’s response?

“My Lord and my God!”

He believes then because he has seen. We don’t know if he actually did put his hand into Jesus’s side. We are not told. But we are told he believed. He believed because he saw.

Our journey of faith is a journey of mystery. We don’t know what is about to happen. But it doesn’t stop our faith in God. We can look back and write down history. Look back and see where God has been with us. Look back at the slider and see how God made it rise not fall. That is our doing. Look back and say ‘Yes LORD, I believe!’ In trusting Him we overcome any glimpses of ‘maybe’.

God knows the future. He knows the future for each and every one of us. He knows the plan. And because  He knows the plan we don’t need to.  We carry our belief, in that He wants the very best for us, forward. Our belief that is built up by the things we know He did, and does, and will do. He doesn’t reveal the future, but He orders our steps. In trusting Him we can walk those steps with Him. We can move forward because we know God is GOOD!

Thomas had a very personal encounter with Jesus. He went to the room and met with Jesus. If he hadn’t gone he would have missed another opportunity. But he kept his hope alive and went. He had a meeting with Him because he looked up and hoped. He found that by looking up he had eye contact. An eye contact that was very special and very personal. In that seeing he confirmed his believing in a fresh way. He had a new and fresh meeting with God.

On that Friday, when I saw the title, “My Fears. My Hopes. My Dreams” I had a new and fresh meeting with God. In times gone past I have struggled with staff conferences. My fears have got in the way. But resting  with my leg up, God has carefully and gently revealed Himself to me. I have turned round fully and lifted my eyes for that eye contact. A fresh contact for which I am grateful.

Don’t miss your fresh contact.

A big thank you to Peter Cavanna – our teacher.


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Elijah. My Fears.


“Come and I will give you rest.” Matt 28.

Have you ever been to a meeting, or listened to the radio, or watched something on television, that has hit you fair and square between the eyes? The topic that makes you go – Okaaaayyy, that’s me! Makes you sit up! Makes you acknowledge a truth that perhaps you have hidden. Maybe on purpose. That ‘I’ll deal with that later’ topic. That topic which once out of sight is out of mind. Well the Staff Conference did that for me. As you all know I have been pondering things as I have sat with my leg up. Pondering, then working through, then acknowledging and finally laying aside. Not hiding. Gently laying aside. I have been working through my fears, my hopes and my dreams. So boy did it hit me between the eyes when up on the screen came the tile – My Fears. My Hopes. My Dreams. BOP!!!!! So here goes!

My Fears.

Our speaker took us through the story of Elijah. His escape into the desert, following the work he had been doing for the LORD. Low. Bowed down. Heavy. Tired. He fled from the evil he had been working against. So so tired. Busyness had drained him. The work had caused him to hide. Elijah had been so close to God at one time. His work for the LORD was his passion. It had gradually overtaken his passion for the LORD. He wasn’t re-fed. He wasn’t in tune. And he knew it. In escaping to the desert he was fleeing God. Hiding away.

Yes, I can identify with working too hard. Filling up my time with projects carried out in the LORD’s name. I bet you can too. We’re human! As I have said before, God made me stop. He gave me the opportunity to stop. No, I wasn’t so low as Elijah. I wasn’t bowed down. Heavy. But I was tired! Had my passion for the LORD slipped to focus on His work? Was I a Martha or a Mary? A worker or a ‘lover’?

On Elijah’s run, he left his co- worker, his servant, in Beer-Sheba. He ditched his support. He isolated himself from all around. He went further and further into his isolation. Into the wilderness (1 Kings 19 v 3/4). Wilderness. What a visual word that is. Wilderness. Wild. Remote. Tangled. Hot. Dry. Cold. Exposed. With heavy steps Elijah went on for a day. Seeking protection. Spying a tree he sat down. You can imagine his action of sitting. At home as a family we use the word ‘flopped’. When we are at the end of a day we flop. Usually on the sofa. Usually to vegetate with a book or the television. At the end of Conference, P flopped and after a short time went to sleep. And that’s what Elijah did. He shouted ‘I’ve had enough!’ He went to sleep.

So, have I been working with people yet on my own? Not acknowledging the support around me? How far do I walk before I flop? Flop not in a healthy way, but flop. Drained of everything. Saying ‘I’ve had enough’.

The LORD saw Elijah. He sort him out and found him. And in finding him, He looked after him. “Suddenly an angel touched him. The angel told him ‘Get up and eat’. (v5) The LORD provided sustenance. But He also allowed ‘timeout’. He allowed Elijah to go back to sleep. The LORD knew what was to come, so He allowed Elijah a heavenly meal. One to re-fill him. Allowed him a heavenly rest. A peaceful time. He allowed him another heavenly meal, to build him up before another journey.

My timeout. Have I been having a heavenly meal? A heavenly rest? Has my deep ambition to be useful for the LORD, my Master, taken me passed the LORD’s ambition for me? Has my passion for Him  been overtaken by my work for Him? The wanting to be best at the job. The wanting to have all the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed? As was pointed out, it isn’t about working hard. It’s about working smart! Don’t drain yourself by the work. Keeping God centre  means we are allowed to be good to ourselves, so that we can be ALL to our LORD.

Elijah had to fill his ‘tank’ before he met with the LORD again. We have to fill our ‘tank’ before we meet with the LORD. I have to fill my ‘tank’. But we can fill our tanks daily. To meet with Him daily. To discover the work He has in store for us. Day by day. A healthy way of filling your tank.  Filling my tank.

Once filled, Elijah walked for forty days and forty nights to the mountain of Horeb. The Mountain of God. He waited, expecting to hear from God. And slept.

When we go to events like a Christian conference, we expect to hear from God. We expect Him to be present. We are relaxed. We meet with others. We meet with like minded people. We feel refreshed. But it isn’t in the feel good factor that we should be feeling refreshed by. Not in the meeting of friends. Not in the laughter and conversations, good though those are. It is in the meeting with the LORD. In the feeling of ‘fresh’ found only in Him. To still our minds and meet with Him. With His Spirit. Have we turned our backs? Have I turned my back? Half turned? Keeping one eye up? Half of my attention?

Elijah turned around fully. Fully when he was questioned. Fully when he was challenged. ‘Why are you here?’ (v9) Called to seek God out. Called to find Him. To step out into the world. To hear the great and mighty wind, but to not hear God there. To experience the earthquake and rumbling, but to not experience God there. To see the fire, but to not see God there. To stand still and wait, and then to hear the voice. The whisper. To become in tune. In rhythm. To walk as one. Then he was asked again by the LORD, ‘Why are you here?’

Over the last 10 weeks I have been gradually turning round. Last weekend in the staff conference I think I at last turned fully. I’ve heard the noise of the world. The sadness that is in it. The crying out from it. I have experience the earthquakes of life. I have seen the horrors of fire. And yes the LORD has been in them all. Standing hand in hand with those involved. But it was the standing still during the conference. The waiting on Him. That whisper. That whisper to complete my slowing down. My rhythmic walking.  To be asked the question ‘Why are you here?’

My want over the last ten weeks is to know what the LORD wants for me. It has been hard to learn that in whatever I do, whatever path I take, the thing that the LORD wants is for me to take Him with me. To keep Him first. To walk holding His hand. Rhythmically. To read His Word. To pray. To be open to His guidance. To know His guidance.  As with Elijah, The LORD gives us a task. A task of getting back to work. Back to work by the way you have come. The reward for good work is more work. God entrusts us with more to do. A fulfilling work. BUT a work where we put Him first. Over the top of our own ambition. Our ambition should be His ambition for us.

The LORD promised Elijah to leave a remnant. He was not to be on his own in God’s purpose. Likewise us. We are not on our own. Around the world are lots of God’s people. In this fallen world where people are hurting, there are Christian hands reaching out. Each one being God’s hands.

So my fears of not being enough. Of not giving my all. Of not doing what God wants. My fears are being stilled. Stilled ready to be filled with my hopes and my dreams.

Can you turn round? Fully? And be stilled to hear?

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Conference. Through the Generations.

It has been Conference time this weekend. Time to spend together and catch up. But is that really what Conference means? The definition of conference is….

  1. a meeting of consultation and discussion – a conference between a student and his advisor.  Hmmm can I tick that? Well we were students and we did listen to speakers. No doubt we discussed the speakers’ content with family and friends. Points were Twittered, or is that Tweeted. Pointers for chat. So yes I think I can tick.
  2. the act of conferring or consulting together; consultation, especially on an important or serious matter. Conferring brings pictures of ‘holy’ huddles. How many people make a huddle? Is one person the leader? The guiding hand? Who brings the huddle together? At a Christian conference of people of one mind, there is or should be one person who stands out. The one who draws us in. The one who spends time with His speaker. The one who is that guiding hand. Jesus. Yes Jesus is there gathering His people around Him. A true Holy Huddle! He is patient and listens intently to what is being said. He corrects when we go off at a tangent. Bringing us back to listen. To listen carefully. As a student to his advisor. Tick.
  3. Government, a meeting, as of various committees, to settle disagreements between the two branches of the legislature. This is a hard one. Amidst all the busyness of the weekend, there was legal business to do. Rules and regulations to refine. People to recommend. People to see blossom into new roles. Not many disagreements. Hopefully none if we are listening. Listening to our Advisor. Listening to our LORD. Trustees to stand and be responsible. Staff to stand and agree to work as a team. A team with the one Advisor. Supporters to stand and agree to uphold the workers in their prayers. All joined together, of one mind. Intertwined with the Spirit. Moving forward for another year. Tick.
  4. an association of athletic teams; league; an intercollegiate conference. Atheltic teams…. hmm! Well we certainly needed to be athletic. Hills and walking. Yes… tick! Teams abounded all over. Teams for the Shuq, the Reception, the events. Teams of helpers. Teams of workers. Full marks to the CCT. For the kitchen. The waitresses. Inside and out… tick. But the biggest team of all was everyone. All of us believers in Yeshua. All of us running The race. Following in our LORD’s footsteps. “Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.” Hebrews 12 v2. While that race has not reached an end for us, yes… tick.
  5. Ecclesiastical, a group of churches whose representatives regularly meet in such an assembly; an official assembly of clergy or of clergy and laity, customary in many Christian denominations. Yes to a group or groups of churches. Yes to regularly meeting. Yearly. So tick, tick!
  6. to hold or participate in a conference or series of conferences. Well we all participated. Three conferences, one centre. And as for the ‘verb’. I don’t think I am all ‘conferenced’ out!! Tick.

So how did the Conference measure up to the definition? It looks like it measured up completely!! Everyone went home with memories. With conversations still buzzing in their heads. With laughter. With new friendships formed. With old friendships hugged. A good experience all round. To rest and take forward.

But… much to tell you. To ponder on. To ask questions and work out the answers. A staff conference. A conference that really spoke loudly to me. With Elijah. Thomas.  And Hannah. Leading me on my race. God spoke. Connected. I’m pondering. Hopefully to do. “My Fears. My Hopes. My Dreams.”


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Friends. The friends when we were little. The friends when we were at school. The friends when we went to work. The friends when we went to one church. The friends when we changed to another church. And then the friends that you reconnect with later in life. All good friends at the time, but life gets in the way and you change. You develop new interests. Develop new thoughts. Develop in a way that you move on. Good developments. Good developments that are positive. Y0u grow up both in age and in maturity, but you keep the memories ready to be rekindled.

Yesterday there was a lot of rekindling. 40 years worth of rekindling. 40 years ago we left our school and ventured out into the world. Some of us found University and grew in stature and self confidence. Some of us tried University and realised it wasn’t for them. Yesterday we brought all our stories together and reconnected. Yesterday we saw those who were confident at school, still smiling and confident in their lives. Yesterday we saw those who hadn’t been so confident at school, still smiling and in their own way confident in their lives. Most had dreams that had been fulfilled. Some were starting on new dreams. Some were thinking about a new dream. But the buzz in the room at our school reunion, was one of successful ladies, confident and at home in their lives.

Being at home in your life is not easy to achieve. Life throws all sorts of things at you. Things that can often throw you off balance. It is how you deal with these things that shapes your outward character. I have not always dealt with things in a smooth way. My path has been a bumpy one. Dreams have come and gone to be replaced by thought and a search for direction. A turning point. At each turning point God has held my hand and developed my character accordingly. I did not take to the academic life. Exams were hard. Continual assessment suited me more. Unlike some of my school friends who went on to be doctors, speech therapists, business women, accountants, I tried at each thing I started only to not quite get there. To not quite achieve my full potential. Finding that work/family/life balance tilted this way and that way. A bit like a balance board. But I didn’t give up. Not quite. I took something positive from each experience and moved on. Sometimes quickly. Sometimes slowly. One step at a time.

Yesterday P wrote a blog post.  A post that spoke to me through the words of P and Eric Liddell. I quote,

“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run I feel his pleasure.”

I believe that God made me for a purpose, too. Just like He made you as well. Remaining in touch with Him has been the key. At each turning point something has come out of my moments that has given Him the glory. Whether that was reading a bible story to children, or running a craft club for the elderly. My passion is crafting. Sewing, knitting, crocheting, wet felting and painting. Being creative in my life is what I’m about. Using it to work with Him is a blessing to me and hopefully to those around me. From a creative God the gifts to use in a creative way.

So at last I have come full circle in my search for a path to take. My life with a purpose for Him is my direction. Whatever I do He will work His purposes in there. He will show me how to be at each point. He will fill me every day with His Spirit to move me a long. My full potential is shown through Him shining out of me. Being a light for Him. Not a covered lamp stand, but one that is in full sight. Whatever is down the road is not for today. Today is the here and now. And like my friends who showed me that they are happy and confident in their lives, I am too. Don’t worry about what has gone before. It has shaped me. Don’t worry about what is ahead. It will happen in God’s plan. Don’t worry about today. Live it with your best friend holding your hand. Jesus and me. Together.

Reconnect with your best friend.



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Out of bounds.

Rules. Things to keep us safe or things just to hamper? As P was growing up we had lots of things that he couldn’t do. Places he couldn’t go. ‘No,’ we would say ‘that is out of bounds’. Things that we felt were not quite right. Not quite the time to be allowed. As he got older, things that were once out of bounds became just inside the boundary. Grew to be well inside the boundary, and then fully enjoyed. As he got older we encouraged him to make the decisions. To see why we had said ‘no’ at the time. Now he has a life of his own and is equipped to make his own decisions, knowing that we are always there to ask. To sound things out. To be that bouncing board.

Over the past seven weeks – wow where has the time gone – lots of things have been out of bounds. I have had to rely on people doing things for me. Being told to ‘Sit down.’ Being asked ‘Where are you hopping to?’ Being ‘looked after’ and ‘looked out for’, as people cared. People who only had my interest at heart. People like A who love me and want the best for me.

But now the boundaries are on the move. My boot has gone! Yippee!  And I am being encouraged slowly to do things again. Things like helping with the meals. Helping with the washing up. Helping with all those everyday things that at times we all grumble about. Things that are normal. Meaning I’m getting back to normal. This morning I have a ‘to do’ list again. Only a couple of things, but still a COUPLE of normal things!! Things that I will take my time to do, but to do I will! Normality!

Underneath it all the boundaries are not fully withdrawn. I still have people watching out for me. Keeping a close eye. Yes, A is encouraging me, but still adding that firmness to stop me from going too far. He does it through love. Because he cares.

This morning through our church bible study, we are looking at Proverbs 3. Reading and considering. Waiting for a verse to jump out and challenge us. We do it on our own and then share the thoughts we have considered. Proverbs 3 is a good collection. So many verses that mean something. I could have picked many, but I went for this one.

v6 ….think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.

Why? Well, as the boundaries are drawing back, many paths are appearing. Wide ones and narrow ones. Do I pick up where I left off seven weeks ago? Do I stop and discount everything I did? A new beginning? Do I gently pick things up? Consider them carefully? Do I just do one at a time and see what happens?  All in all, I will still have someone looking out for me. Someone who really cares about me. Yes A will be there, but so will Jesus. Walking every step of the way. Pointing and showing me where to go. After I had shared my verse and said why it had jumped out, I came across this prayer. I wasn’t looking for it. I was just scrolling through the comments. The likes. The shares. FB has its downside, but it does have its upside too! It fitted the bill this morning. Rachel Wojo shared this ….

It hit me square on. Thank you LORD for speaking through friends and family. I’m trying to listen!

Now for another out of boundary experience. The stairs. Why? I’m going to my craft room! Out of bounds for the last seven weeks. Bliss!!

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What comes to mind when you hear the word seasons? I suppose the most obvious image, or images, is that of spring, summer, autumn and winter. The newness of Spring. Leaves unfurling. Colours appearing. Snowdrops. Crocus. Smiles. Lambs.

Emboldened Summer. Long days. Blue skies. Sunshine. Full-on colour. Laughter. Holidays.

Golden Autumn. Leaves turning. Combined harvesters. Haystacks. Satisfied smiles. Restful.

Frosty Winter. Warm woolly mittens. Gentle snow. Grey skies. Blue skies. Crisp. Gleeful. Thoughtful. Restful.

A cycle. Round and round. Spring, summer, autumn, winter, spring, summer, autumn, winter……. round and round.

But there are other seasons. Life seasons. From baby to toddler. From toddler to child. From child to teen. From teen to adult. From adult to parent. From parent to grown up. From grown up to elderly. From elderly to passing. And while we each don’t go round  and round in a cycle, this cycle is passed on. From person to person. From family to family. From extended family to extended family. From friend to friend….round and round.

In that life cycle, there are seasons hidden within. Jobs. Friendships. Homes. Churches. Places. All intermingled. All effecting each other. A new job. A new home. A new church. A new set of friends. An old job with a new home. A different place with links back to friends and links forward to new friends. Intertwined. Overlapping. Weaving. Round and round. Up and down. Back and forth. Touching. Welcoming. Hugging. A time to grow.  A season that starts and comes to an end.

‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:’ Ecclesiastes 3:1

The first verse of a well read passage, but not the verse you remember. You will probably remember the verses 2 to 8 more.

 a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Have you been there? Have you wept and laughed? Searched and given up? Kept and then thrown it away? I know I have. Within the seasons of my life. Sometimes hard seasons. Learning seasons. Sometimes easy seasons. Smooth seasons. Sometimes seasons that prepare for seasons to come. Seasons that build you up for seasons to come. Seasons that plateau or dive. That soar and climb. A time for everything. A season for every activity under the heavens.

I am in the middle a season. A season where God has brought me back to sit with Him. A season for instruction. A season for listening. A season for exploration. A season to take note and prepare. A season to gather stones. Stones with plans. Stones with words. Stones with verses. Stones to hold and cherish. Smooth ones. Bumpy ones. Crumbly ones. Big and small. A collection. Stones that gradually I will turn over and acknowledge what is there. Stepping stones. A pathway. A pathway to walk hand in hand. A hand in hand that is always there. To guide. To steady when the stones wobble. To support. To hold. To trust. A hand that is your LORD’s, – to trust. My LORD’s, – to trust.

‘a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them.’ v5


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Running before walking!!



I liked my green pot. I liked my purple pot even more. But now I have a boot! I don’t like my boot. I thought I would. I thought it would give me freedom. I thought it would let me move a round with ease. But it doesn’t. Not yet. Perhaps it will. I hope it will! Perhaps after a session with the physio.

Have you ever built something up in your mind? Imagined doing something over and over again. Through rose tinted spectacles. All warm and cosy. All wrapped up with pink ribbons. Well purple ribbons! Well that is my boot. Well was my boot. I imagined walking up the stairs. No more bum shuffling. Step to step. I imagined sitting at my sewing machine and listening to that whir that comes with the whizz of doing a seam. I imagined going places. Yes I did go to church, but I still sat for the service. I imagined sleeping through the night, and having a proper shower. That was me last week. Imagining. Imagining all the things I was going to do once my pot had gone. Wistful? Yes. Foolish? Looking back – I suppose so. Naive? Definitely!!

Running before walking!!

That was me. All the things that I had been sitting in the chair learning, gone and forgotten!   Like resting. Like listening. Like perseverance. Like decisions. Like plans. Perhaps that was it. The plans had overtaken all the other things. My plans. MY plans. Not the LORD’s plans. Will I never learn!? I don’t want to sit here. I want to be doing. The chair put back in it’s place. Time to move on. But it isn’t time to be doing yet. It isn’t time to pick up ‘balls’ and running with them. It isn’t time to be running! I have to walk first. Literally as well as figuratively. Draw a deep breath and wait. He has some other things for me to learn. To consolidate. Then and only then can I tick the box. The finished product is not quite ready yet. I’m not ready to run. I’m not even ready to walk. BUT I’m getting there!

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