Monday, 27 July 2015

When you’re struggling to believe you are valuable, read this

 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

Xylon and I spent a couple of hours wandering around the Museum of Modern Art in New York about 18 months ago. We couldn’t figure out how a couple of pieces of string attached from the floor to the wall could be worth millions. But they are. 

I can see how someone would pay a lot of money for a painting. Some paintings are really beautiful. Many paintings have the abilitity to lift the soul, take you back to a time in your life, and add beauty to the surroundings. 

To tell you the truth there is a lot about art I don’t understand. I can’t tell a van Gogh from Picasso or talk about painters from the Renaissance era. Even now I’m just typing things I know about art so I don’t sound like I know absolutely nothing. The truth is what I know about art is contained in this paragraph. 

One thing I find fascinating about art is that the value of a masterpiece is determined by who made it. 
A Picasso is valuable because of who painted it. 
Experts in art decide that Picasso’s work stands out from his peers and a value is set on it.

I don’t know about you but sometimes I feel like others have determined my value. And when I feel that way it’s not very often that come out with sum value of “priceless” or worth millions. 

However as I read Genesis, and the story of how God breathed life into man, created him from the dust, shaped him into the likeness of God I’m reminded that the people around me do not determine my value. 

Like a Picasso, my value is determined by who made me. 

What other people say about your family, your choices or your lifestyle does not determine your worth. 

The number written on a pay slip does not determine your worth in society, God has already determined your worth. 

How other people treat you because of your language, culture, or race, does not determine your worth. 

We have worth not because of anything we have done but because of who created us. (tweet this)

God created you as his masterpiece. 

I love the language of The Voice bible that writes Ephesians 2:10 as “We are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.”

Today, if you feel worthless because of something someone did, or said, remember that your value is more established than a Picasso painting. 

As Sarah Coleman puts it, “The unchanging God has determined your unchanging value.” (tweet this)

God says you are valuable because he created you. When I remember that, and I lean in to hear God tell me that I'm worthy, beautiful, loved and enough. And then I recall that where others only see some string suspended between the wall and floor, other see a masterpiece. 

When God looks at me he sees me as I really am: his pièce de résistance, his best and most important work of art.   

Ponder: Do you believe that you have value simply because God created you? 

Prayer: Lord, I’m struggling to believe I'm valuable today help me to understand that my value comes not from others but from you. Thank you that I am your masterpiece, created in your image, to do good things that you planned for me long ago. Amen.

Prayer: Thank you Jesus, that my imperfect life does not escape your notice. Thank you for reminding me that you call me beautiful in the midst of my mess.

*This blog is heavily influenced by a 15 year-old blog by Sara Coleman. I found a print out of the post while going through some of my old things this weekend and was surprised to find the original still online. Just goes to show that things live forever on the internet. I tried to track her down for permission to share her insights but was unable too. If you know her I’d love to let her know how her words helped me.

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Thursday, 23 July 2015

Why your life doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful

psalm 51:17
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
    don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.

I was walking our dog in the field below our house this morning. It has been raining for the last four days and there was a brief break in the rain so I grabbed a rain jacket and told Oliver to come and off we went. 

As we walked I noticed a pinky wild flower open to the sky. I leaned in to take a closer look and I thought, “What a pity it’s not perfect.”

But it was beautiful so I pulled out my phone, and knelt down to take a pic. 

This intrigued our 8 month old puppy and he came bounding across the field to see what I was looking at. 

He stood on the flower in the process. To get a photo I would now need to hold the flower up with my hand. 

The photo wouldn’t be perfect. 

I took a photo anyway (bottom right hand corner of the photo collage) because I’m learning that something doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. 

The Nester reminds me of this often as she highlights photos from on instagram from the #idhtbptbb (it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful) feed. The pictures feature décor that isn’t perfect but are beautiful. 

But it’s not just in décor that I need to learn this. It is in life. 

I’ve been thinking about old photos a lot lately. Decades ago when film was rare and precious, there are only a couple of photos to remember a special event. Many of those photos aren’t perfect but they’re beautiful. 

Many lives aren’t perfect but they are beautiful.

That's a bit like the gospel for me. 
It's messy. 
It's ugly.
It's not easy to hear about a man hanging on a cross. It must have been harder to witness. 
Sometimes it's hard to believe that a Jesus could have died, risen again, and that somehow in that mess, that our redemption is found. 

Somehow through a messy story God worked redemption and beauty and life and hope out for us. 

It’s a story of God seeing beauty in our imperfection. 

It doesn't have to perfect to be beautifulThe message translates Psalm 51:17 in such a beautiful way:
Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice. (tweet this)

I think that verse sums up the beauty of the gospel. 

Your life doesn’t have to be perfect for you to run into your Father’s arms and thank him for creating beautiful things in your life. 

And your life doesn’t have to be perfect for God to notice you and call you beautiful. (tweet this)

My life isn’t perfect but I’m learning to recognize it is beautiful. And sometimes it is in the imperfections that I find the most beauty. 

Ponder: What imperfect moments or things can you notice today where the flaws add beauty? 

Prayer: Thank you Jesus, that my imperfect life does not escape your notice. Thank you for reminding me that you call me beautiful in the midst of my mess.

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What if Jesus called us to be imperfect? 
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Monday, 20 July 2015

Why you can make it through the darkest days of your life

“This is what the Lord says: As I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will give them all the prosperity I have promised them. Once more fields will be bought in this land of which you say, ‘It is a desolate waste, without people or animals, for it has been given into the hands of the Babylonians. Fields will be bought for silver, and deeds will be signed, sealed and witnessed in the territory of Benjamin, in the villages around Jerusalem, in the towns of Judah and in the towns of the hill country, of the western foothills and of the Negev, because I will restore their fortunes declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 32:42-44 (MSG)

Our stories were written for God restore them. 

I was thinking about this today as I commented to my husband that he needs a haircut. 

It took months after his last chemotherapy treatment, and then radiation, for his hair to thicken and take on a healthy sheen again. It took months for it to grow to the point where it needed regular cutting again. 

As I look at his head now I see there is life in follicles that seemed dead for good. His body is embracing life. Every cell is choosing to live.

I saw restoration in the bible today. 

I was paging through the journal I kept when Xylon was first diagnosed with cancer. 

I read through the words I wrote back in early 2012. There in my own handwriting I’d scrawled a promise in Jeremiah 32:42-22 I felt God gave me: 
“This is what the Lord says: As I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will give them all the prosperity I have promised them. Once more fields will be bought in this land of which you say, ‘It is a desolate waste…Fields will be bought for silver, and deeds will be signed…because I will restore their fortunes declares the Lord.”

My thoughts just before reading this had been on friends of mine, two sisters, whose mother lies in hospital with cancer that is most likely in the end stages. 

I’d been wondering what I could say to them that would help them get through some of the darkest days of their life. 

And then I read this promise from the first few days of Xylon’s diagnosis and I was reminded that God restores

I still push against the start of this verse, where it says, “I will bring this huge catastrophe on this people but…” For me it doesn’t make any sense that God could have any part of cancer (or any other life taking disease) but I also realise that I’m very small, and God is very big, and maybe I just don’t get a lot of stuff about who he is. 

I don’t understand how God can restore many situations yet I’ve seen him bring my husbands hair back from the dead. I know that sounds like a crazy analogy but it’s real to me. It’s something I can feel and see and understand when so much of God’s work is a mystery. 

This promises reminds me that I can make it through the dark times because I can hold onto the hope that at the end of it all God will take our tears and give us laughter, he will take our grief and turn it into wild dancing and weave flowers into our hair

Our stories were written for God to restore them. {tweet this}

And if today all you feel like doing is crying your eyes out - that’s okay. Or if like me you feel like yelling at God and questioning his ways, that’s okay too.  

One thing I’ve learnt is that it won’t last forever, that the dark days will give way to days of laughter, days where you will see hair grow where there was none, and gratitude pour from your mouth because of the God who has brought you through.

Ponder: Where have you seen a practical example something that you can see, touch and feel (like Xylon’s hair growing back) of God’s restoration in your life?

Prayer: Lord, I’m waiting for your restoration. Come quickly and breathe life into my broken places. Amen. 
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God? Do you care about me? 

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In my free e-book Life, Life and More Life I share thoughts on how to make every moment count gleaned from my experiences of loving my husband through 18 sessions of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. If you would like a free copy please subscribe below to receive my devotionals every Monday and Thursday.

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