A voice in the darkness

Ever felt like you are stuck in a dark place? Then this post is written just for you….

Gods first words in the human story were words spoke in the darkness – words from the darkness. Spoken by God. Spoken to breathe life into the darkness.

Out of the darkness these words were uttered:

“Let… there… be… light!”

And there was light. The first light in the universe came from the voice of God in the darkness. Gods first breathe in the universe created light.

This was the beginning. The first beginning. The first of many beginnings. This is the work of God in our lives. God enters into the darkness, unperturbed or disturbed, to bring light, growth, love, joy, peace that surpasses understanding, and all other manner of blessings as he wills.

Whenever God wants us to grow he leads us into the darkness where we are led by the spirit into the place of deepening faith and holy trust. And into our darkness He speaks ever so gently… let there be light, and Christ enters our darkness. He walks in it with us to lead us through the dark wilderness into his promised land for our lives.

Where there is darkness today God is already at work. New life will spring up at the sound of his gentle voice. Do not listen for a booming voice in the darkness. Look for the still small voice of the Spirit speaking and breathing the new life of God. God is speaking light into your darkness.

Be an encourager

There’s a guy in the bible called BARNABAS – he had a great reputation. Why? Because he was a great encourager.

To encourage someone us to give them strength and courage. It is to lift them up.

How can we encourage those around us?

Here’s three ideas:

1. Pray for them

2. Help them practically

3. Give them your time and positive words

What are some other ways can we be great encouragers?

020 Try being helpful

We live in a rather selfish world! Please don’t stop reading, I’m not having a go at anyone – I see so many people taking selfies; trying self-help programmes; promoting their own agendas at the expense of other people. Just look around at Facebook, Instagram or twitter and you’ll see what I mean. Life can be so full of self, so I have a small challenge for you:

Be helpful to others around you – look for opportunities to be HELPFUL.

Helping others takes the focus off ourselves, and helps us to break out of our own egotistical goals, to see the world from another persons’ perspective. Today I was working with a student (SEND needs) and his feet were really smelly. I had this strong conviction that I should not avoid the smell, but that I should clean his feet – and that’s what I did. I cleaned smelly feet today. That might not be your task today, but how could you give a helping hand?

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Maybe you could make your grumpy boss a cup of their favorite tea?

Perhaps you could make dinner to give your wife a well earned half hour of quiet space?

Maybe you could…? – you fill in the blank there. Just try to be helpful. It helps others and makes them feels better; supported; special. And in the process… you might just feel a bit more happy and joyful in the process. The aim of helping is to help others, while the by-product is that it will lift your spirits too!

Be full of joy today as you help those around you.

This could be you

013 Joy can be found intentionally

As I walked my girls to school this morning I posed the question to my oldest (whose smile was upside down):

“What is the one thing you can do today that will make you feel joy?”

pexels-photo-618669.jpegShe pondered the thought and smiled as she said slowly “I don’t know”. I could see a few things happening within her.

  1. She began to think about it.
  2. As she began to think about what might make her happy something on the inside released a smile on the outside!

As we think about things that make us happy or give us joy it releases something within us that can lead us to a more joyful place. I don’t understand the psychology of this, but I do understand that when we think about the stuff that makes us happy, or we consider how we can be more intentionally happy, it leads us closer to being happy of experiencing moments of joy.

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So for you today, will you intentionally step into a joyful moment or a happy space and answer…

“What is the one thing you can do today that will make you feel joy?”

As you seek joy in your life may you experience happiness in abundance and joy in all its fullness.

This blog is part of a series of blogs called #101joys. I aim to eventually write 101 short pieces related to seeking joy in our lives. Look for the others using the #101joys hashtag

012 Coffee Creativity: The Case of the Nude Barista

The sun is shining on Harrogate today and I can hear the morning coffee call. Responding to the call I step into my local independent coffee shop. I’m greeted by the owner and the barista, both of whom are bright and cheery. The welcome is warm and authentic.

This place is a little treasure trove of coffee in the centre of Harrogate. The vibe is relaxed, and every time I walk through the door I have the urge to be creative – it’s the leaidback inspiring conversations and vibe that does it for me. I can imagine John Keats travelling here from Hampstead Heath just to sit and write great poetry. If I had the time that’s what I would do, but I need to move on to work most days.

barista

I order a skinny latte with an extra shot, asking about the beans on offer today. The barista passionately describes the Nude and Volcano beans, describing them with such detail that I can almost smell and taste them! I opt for the Nude (The Volcano is an excellent choice if you prefer an espresso).

As he makes my latte the barista continues to talk about the coffee (he loves this job!) and before I know it I’m talking about how my love for coffee was birthed: Writing regularly in a coffee shop that didn’t mind me sitting for a few hours with a notebook, pencil and coffee. We wax lyrical about how much better paper is to screen reading and writing, and about how pen on paper is becoming a lost art and habit. And then my latte is ready.

I thank him for the coffee and fine conversation and I walk out feeling inspired. Walking round the corner I take the lid off the coffee, stop and inhale deeply. The scent drifts up, filling neural pathways with positive thoughts and messages: I feel happy, and the coffee smells like heaven. I am drawn back into memories of quiet afternoons writing with a coffee and I have this sudden impulse to write. Ironically, I have no notebook with me today!

creative mind

As I reflect on this morning’s experience it struck me that I had entered a highly creative environment: the barista is a creator, forming a unique coffee with each cup crafted. Creativity (like the scent of good coffee) permeates an environment and has a viral affect upon us. In short when we see creativity it sparks the desire to be creative within us. I’m reminded that we were born Nude and made by a creative God. With his thumb-print on our souls his creativity permeates us and allows us the ability and opportunity to unleash our creativity. Perhaps all we need to unleash creativity is a creative barista and the viral effect of a good coffee.

coffee

010 Celebration is such a joy

Celebration is such a positive sounding word, don’t you think? For me it evokes memories of great days out; key days in the annual calendar such as Easter, Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries, etc. It evokes positive thoughts and that residual joy begins to bubble up a bit within my soul.

I recently celebrated my 17th Wedding Anniversary. Obviously I share it with my wife and we are excited to be celebrating this marker in our lives. The lead up to the day was filled with excitement as we considered how to celebrate. It caused us to reflect on our life together as we considered the highs and lows we have gone through together. Doing this is important because life can be harsh and it can knock the fight out of you. Look around today: how many people around you have given up on trying to live well? We don’t mean to give up. We don’t intend to rest on our laurels. We don’t ever plan to surrender our hopes and dreams to the harshness of the world. It just happens. Some would say that’s life! I would say it doesn’t have to be.

Celebrations give us an emotional and mental injection that is like steroids for our soul.

A celebration releases enough joy to spur us on and strengthen our resolve to keep on living well.

Are you stuck between a rock and a hard place today? Think how far you have come already: remember how you have travelled this life in strength to this point – the fact that you are here is a testimony to that! You are stronger than you believe – believe that!

Celebrations are days when we realize we are not alone

On my anniversary I am with my wife. I am not alone. We are TOGETHER. We partner in life and walk through storms and celebrations together. Celebrations can also pull our wider network of friends and family together – these are the people who can help support us and who also help bring great joy to us. Our close network is there on the sidelines cheering us on and shouting with resounding confidence YOU CAN DO IT!!! Sometimes these amazing people jump into the arena of life with us and fight with us or for us – this is not a sign of weakness on our part – it is a sign of strength that we allow others to draw alongside is to make us stronger. We were not made to be independent – we were made to be interdependent (taking responsibility for our lives whilst working with others for our and their greater good).

TOGETHER is about team.

Team brings strength.

Strength builds resilience.

Resilience builds resolve.

Resolve inspires confidence.

Confidence causes us to stand tall.

Standing tall means we can walk strong.

Walking tall means you can fight life’s battles and dance life’s celebrations.

With the year now in full stride don’t use this time to fall apart at the seams: Use your time, space and relationships to recall where you have come from; the battles you have won; and the strength you have to fight and dance through life.

May we celebrate life’s brilliance with all the passion and joy of the setting sun so that we can rise strong every day with the rising sun.