Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Remembering the Deceased

In a recent insurance application, I was asked the date and age of death of my late mother and father, which got me thinking... Why do I have no desire to acknowledge that anniversary and yet so many people around the world, go to great lengths and expense at marking the occasion? 

Memorial Day is different, as we are remembering the loss of so many to war, 'lest we forget', but for a loved one, it makes no sense to me

For me, an anniversary, for example, for a birthday, a wedding or when you gave up an addiction, is something to be celebrated as a happy memory, so I don't understand why a death should want to be remembered in the same way. Don't get me wrong, I still have special days of when I remember them more than most, but these are on their birthdays and on Mothers/Fathers day.  Whatever way we choose to remember our loved ones, whether it be by lighting a candle, taking flowers to their gravestone or place of death, or just spending time mulling over all our memories of them, it is an acknowledgement to ourselves and others that, although they are gone, they are not forgotten.

I'm also intrigued that some people still pray for their loved ones who have passed on, and I have to wonder if God still hears these prayers, especially if you aren't sure that the person has gone to heaven...

Some people go to great lengths to show they are in mourning and yet others, like the Irish, view a death as a celebration of their life and not as an end of it.  Let's face it, we all must face a death at some point in our lives, but as sad and painful it is to miss someone, when I reach my end, I would much rather have my life celebrated, than my death remembered...  

What do you think?...

Monday, 12 November 2018

Life is short

Today I was reminded again how short and fragile life is... One of our clients at work, who was only 52 has died suddenly and unexpectantly.  Although he wasn't well and was in hospital for what everyone had thought was an operation to cure him, it was sadly not meant to be.

It made me think of that phrase 'dying before ones time'. Who's to say when it's our time? Our lives are not our own and our expiry date has already been stamped by God  We live by His timing, and not our own. Another reason why each year, our birthdays should be celebrated! 

Death should be our wake-up call to start living with purpose, passion and power! May each moment of every day be meaningful, productive, enjoyed and appreciated. 

And when our bodies alert us with symptoms, may we not put off going to the Doctor to have it checked out, before it's too late... 

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Promise Land Living

I was reminded recently how the Israelites wandered around the wilderness for forty years before reaching the promised land.  Metaphorically speaking, we too spend too much of our lives wandering in the wilderness, instead of living in the land God promised us.  My experience of wilderness wondering is much like the Israelites - full of complaints, doubts, lack of faith and trust in God, and forgetting all of His past miracles and blessings.  I refer to these times in my life as having a 'Faith wobble'.

Lisa Laizure from Womansbiblestudy.com in her series Life is a Battle, explains how we can live everyday in the Promised Land.  It's all about changing our focus back to God and making everything about Him.  No more whining or having a me, me, me pity party when things don't go our way. It means seeking God before making every decision, regardless of how trivial. It means staying in a 24/7 constant commune with the Holy Spirit and Jesus, in prayer and through our words, thoughts and actions.  When we allow God to use us as His hands, feet and voice, then we will find ourselves being able to stay calmer, remain more at peace and be filled with love for our fellow neighbours.  
The more we remain in this constant fellowship with God, the more inclined we will loose our selfish, judgemental, prideful ways. 

When we begin to accept that God is in full control of our lives, and that every trial or crisis we confront, is either a test or a lesson, then we can fully submit to it and stop struggling to control, fix or remove it from our lives. 

We need to start taking possession of our Promised Land, where we are living with the inheritance that is ours - an abundant life, flowing with milk and honey. All it takes is  a shift in our focus and making our lives all about God. 

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Easter Reflections

This past Easter, I was blessed to learn a few things that helped make this special holiday even more symbolic to me, than it already is. 

Our church's Good Friday service was about Jesus's crown of thorns being the curse of sin that He bore upon Himself.  I had always thought they were just a mockery of a Royal crown in calling Jesus the 'King of the Jews' and to obviously cause pain.

In Genesis 3:18, we read how God introduced thorns to the land as the curse and punishment for Adam and Eve's sin. This meant that they and we, would have to work and toil the land in order to grow our food.  Learning that the thorns represent the curse of sin, reminds me that there are no co-incidences with God and that everything has a reason and a purpose.

Another interesting thing I learnt was the origins of the secular Easter characters. Some of you may have seen the social media video that went viral, of the Scottish girl questioning what the Easter bunny and eggs had to do with Jesus. Well, this got me wondering, and as I was on Sunday School duty on Easter Sunday, I wanted to be able to share this with the kids.

I learnt that the bunny rabbit became the mascot for Easter, as a symbol of their fertility, representing new life. You know that saying 'to breed like rabbits'? Well a rabbit can start breeding as young as 6 months old, can have as many as 12 babies, with their gestation period being only 30 days, and can breed again after only 6 weeks! So you do the maths...

As with many of our holiday symbols, these originated in the Northern Hemisphere, when the Easter period marks the beginning of Spring, a time to celebrate new life, when lambs and chickens are born and plant life sprouts new growth.  The egg also became the symbol representing new life. 

The early Christians in celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus at Easter, introduced the hot 'cross' bun, with the spices representing those used in His burial. Somewhere along the line, these two holiday celebrations became meshed and the egg became hollowed to represent the empty tomb.  Obviously, it was the chocolate companies who commercialized the Easter symbols with all things chocolatey!

In keeping with the symbolism of this special holiday, myself and many other Christians and Catholics like to enjoy pickled fish on Good Friday, not only because it is meat-free but to remember Jesus's flesh, and also to remember the sour vinegar that He was made to drink on the cross. 

Eating Lamb on Easter Sunday is also a well known tradition, remembering how Jesus, the Lamb of God, became the perfect and ultimate sacrificial lamb for the atonement of our sins.

As you reflect on Easter, may these iconic symbols bring your future celebrations of this holiday new meaning...

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

When Enough is Enough...

Lately I've been pondering on those encouraging Bible verses about how we are able to do ALL things with God's strength, and trusting that He will not give us any more than we can handle. 

However, sometimes in life, we may feel we have reached the end of our rope, our breaking point of giving up - of screaming into the face of our unbearable situation that 'Enough is enough', when we just can't take it anymore and feel like running away.  It's at those times when we need to encourage ourselves with the knowledge that God is using that situation to grow us up, to stretch our endurance levels, make us more patient and grow our long suffering fruit of the Spirit. We need to submit to the agony and pain, trusting that God IS still in control and that He has not abandoned us. 

It is through these tough times that we need a deliberate attitude adjustment.  We need to  grasp onto the hope that things WILL get better, that this uphill battle we are facing will soon reach the top, where it will be all downhill sailing.
However, if we continue to whine, complain and be negative about the situation, we can be assured that the problem will remain with us a lot longer than it needs to. I have fully experienced, that there is a transforming power in accepting, praising and being grateful, no matter how bleak or dire the situation is.

My own mantra when things feel particularly overwhelming is, "This too shall pass", and as my life experiences have proved, they always do...

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Resting in Hope

It was recently brought to my attention that our everyday use of the word 'hope', is very different to the biblical definition of what the word hope really means.  We use it in phrases like 'hope you feel better' or 'hope you enjoy your day', when we really mean it as a wish of something we want to happen, but without any assured confidence that it will.  In other words, the worldly version is a hope-so, but God's version of hope is a know-so! According to Romans 8:18-25, hoping for something is a lot like having faith - in the things we cannot see yet, but trusting God while waiting patiently AND with an eager, expectant heart. 

Hoping God's way is a longing, but with confidence that it will happen - not just positive thinking, but confidently waiting for it to happen.

When I look at the many things in life that I have been hoping for, I must confess that they have really just been wishful thinking. I am now challenged to place my hopes in God, trusting that if they are in line with His will and purpose for my life, then I can find rest, while I wait with a quiet, but confident assurance that it will happen.

May the following acronym be a reminder to you of what hope really means...

H - Holding
O - On with
P - Positive, Prayerful
E - Expectation

Thursday, 4 January 2018

A New Year to a New You

A lot of people celebrate New Year's with special traditions.  For our family, with my husband being Scottish, we enjoy a home-made Steak pie for New Years.  I'm not sure what the significance is, but we like it.  I heard today of another tradition of eating 12 grapes and making 12 wishes for the coming year, which I am going to adopt for next year.  

Seeing out the old year should be celebrated with family or good friends - and as the Scottish song says in  'Auld Lang Syne', we should be mindful of those people who have impacted our lives during the past year, whether family, friends or merely just acquaintances and try to make contact with those we have lost touch with.

I like to do some soul searching on New Year's Day and ponder the many lessons that I've learnt from all the mistakes and poor choices I've made during the past year.  Then I like to ponder on the many blessings that I am most thankful for and what changes I would like to make in the new year.

Instead of calling them resolutions, I like to call them goals, which I try to set with clear, specific achievable targets.  These don't only include physical things like losing weight or exercising more, but I believe it is also important to set spiritual goals, to ensure that you are forever growing as a Christian.

I have discovered that without a dream or vision for the future, or merely a decision to improve ourselves or change the things we don't like, we will find ourselves at the end of the year filled with regret, and with nothing productively achieved, and nothing to be proud of.  

So if you want 2018 to be a great year, then I challenge you to make a list of all the changes you would like to see happen - whatever addiction you need to conquer, or attitude you need to change or improve, set tangible, mini goals that will motivate you to stay committed in achieving them.

Ignore the usual resolution jokes of quitting in the first week or month - 'resolve' yourself to stick with it, no matter what, so that at the end of 2018, you can look back and be proud of what you have accomplished. 

When this year ends, you can either be a better you, or the same - the choice is yours!