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Where Love Abounds

From my heart to these pages

Love covers a multitude of sins…

phonto

The power of Love is amazing…not just any love, but God’s love, poured out on the cross for us…a love that can run into the deepest places.

His love can literally cover any sin…any hurt…any disease and bring healing and restoration.

BUT…this verse is not an instruction, or even excuse, to create a culture of secrecy – particularly surrounding abusive circumstances. The love talked about here is not a ‘blanket’ to be thrown over sin, covering it up in the name of protection, hiding what’s festering away underneath.

Love is not a band-aid to stick on a wound and hope it heals.

No one likes to highlight abuse – it’s not a pleasant subject, it’s messy, painful and there are often consequences to the establishment bringing it into the open…let alone to all the individuals involved.

I recently completed some training looking at serious case reviews for abuse in education settings. One case clearly ticked all the boxes for an immediate referral to child protection at the highest level (4). As we went around the room sharing our feedback and justification for chosen level, one member shared how they identified it as a level 1 (lowest level). In theory this was a young child presenting with physical injury, stating it was caused by their parent – and this member of the group had not wanted to “jump to conclusions” or “cause more problems” – particularly in case the child was lying. No wonder so much abuse goes un dealt with.

The church is even more vulnerable in these circumstances. Scripture has often been taken out of context. We are taught that love believes the best, love covers sin and we take no account of a suffered wrong. Believe me, I’ve had all these things said to me in the worst of situations!

Does the bible say these things? Yes. But maybe not as we’ve been led to interpret. There are some things that need to be brought into the light in order to be dealt with. Too often we shy away from dealing with the uncomfortable issues in life – leaving people to drown in depths of shame and despair. Victims afraid to speak up for fear of not being believed, their situation being belittled and then being sent back into the lion’s den to continue to fight for survival.

Does this mean that we should shout from the rooftops and publicly expose every abuser – no, not necessarily. But that does not mean we say and do nothing, pretending it’s never happened and hoping that time will magically erase the issue.

Time does not heal an abuser. Time does not heal a victim.

Love does not cover sin by sweeping it under the carpet, nor does it cover sin by staying in a place of denial.

God, who is Love, allows us to be able to come alongside others and love them in their darkest places. Love does not make an excuse for sin, but it allows us to release His healing. Love gives us a voice to speak up for those who need it, but does not permit needless gossip.

Do I believe in forgiveness? Yes.
Do I believe in restoration? Absolutely.

I believe we are to love unconditionally. But I have learnt that unconditional love does not mean becoming a doormat to be trampled on. Unconditional love believes the best – not disregarding the truth of a situation, or loving the place of pain and acts of abuse – but believing for God’s best for that person. Unconditional love will release anything and anyone back into the hands of God for Him to have His way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Broken to Beautiful – Kintsukuroi

“Kintsukuroi” – Golden Repair 

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This Japanese technique takes something broken and not only repairs it, but places value in the brokenness by mending with gold. The philosophy behind this art is to acknowledge that breakage and repair form part of the history of the object.

I’m not sure there could be any other art form that so closely imitates the love of God in our life and I love what it represents for us.

I’ve known brokenness, what it feels like to be beyond repair. I’ve felt the shame of the scars I carry – wounds both physical and mental that threaten to stick around as constant memoirs of the battle ground of life. Years wasted believing that my value was diminished because of the paths I’d walked. I’ve lived under the condemning weight of others words as they’ve instilled judgement, condemnation and negative reports.

I used to think there was no way out, destined for a life of survival, just living to make it through one day to the next with my arms outstretched carrying the broken pieces of my life.

There’s only so long you can go on like this – and I tried it too many times!

I’m so thankful for the days when I’ve been completely broken, and laid all those pieces at the feet of Jesus (although sometimes it’s more like a crashing and dropping than an elegant laying down of all those pieces!). In those moments He so gently comes and pieces me back together…and somehow, more beautiful than before.

When we find ourselves broken He doesn’t cast us aside and render us useless, fit only for hiding in the dark corners of the basement never to be seen again or throwing out with the rubbish. Much like the art of Kintsukuroi, He doesn’t just stick us back together again with glue leaving an ugly trail highlighting the brokenness, He pours out His love and brings out beauty from the brokenness, placing value on the life that has been redeemed. To repair with gold is to instill more value into the object than it had before.

Through His work in our life we are able to come out the other side more victorious…
No longer bound by shame – but heads held high because of the value placed on our lives through His overwhelming goodness in lavishing His love into the most shattered places of our hearts – mending and healing, making us whole.

We can’t avoid the trials and challenges in life, but we can face them knowing that we won’t be broken beyond repair because there is One waiting to restore us every time, never allowing our value to decrease. He takes us through the process of “Golden Repair” filling the cracks with His gold, piecing us back together more beautiful than before.

 

 

 

 

Girl Rising…

I admit…after a fairly crazy week all I wanted to do tonight was come home, put comfy clothes on, shut the world out, eat copious amounts of chocolate and zone out to a film…

This almost happened…

Scanning through Netflix in the hope of meaningless comedy, I came across Girl Rising.

I didn’t really know what I was about to watch. I’m still processing it.

The horrors of what it’s like to be a young girl in some cultures astounds me. 

Kamlari – what was a traditional system of bonded labour in Nepal (now supposeadly abolished) meant girls, so young, effectively sold as slaves to another family. Working from 4am till late in the night, carrying out an exhaustive list of tasks that I would struggle to fulfill…let alone a 5 year old. 

Every day at work I read stories of young people who face challenge and adversity. I’m no stranger to accounts of abuse and suffering, challenges that have prevented our country’s youth from reaching their potential…

It’s not that I’m unaware of the reality of these atrocities occurring, either on my doorstep or in cultures across the world…but it’s easy to switch off from it. 

But…when you watch this film…you can’t switch off from the truth…the impact…the widespread need. 

The need for freedom
The need for equality
The need for justice
The need for education

Education empowers… It brings change. It equips a generation to live, thrive and rise up further than the previous generation.

Educated girls are a powerful force for change” (Girl Rising)  … the sad fact is, millions of girls are not accessing education. A fact that I’m not unaware of. What I often don’t stop to think about is what is happening in place of education.

Child marriage
Slave labour
Abuse

Heartbreaking…

But what also never fails to astound me more…
Resilience.
Inner strength.
Determination.
Courage.


How these individual girls had an inner resolve to push through any barrier put before them to overcome and succeed…against all odds.

“I vowed that night I would find a way not only to endure…but to prevail” Amina – 11yr old Afghan girl on her wedding night.

Don’t tell me you’re on my side, your silence has already spoken for you” Amina

If you havent seen this documentary, I recommend it. 

Let’s use our voice…
To speak out…
To raise awareness…
To contribute to change…

One life changed can impact many…

Grace abounds in the midnight hour…

Shame is the liar that wraps itself around you, dragging you down with every step…

In the grip of struggles, challenges, addictions, bad habits, when guilt already wreaks havoc, shame comes to steal the hope that once offered release.

Shame will never be the factor that sets you free – shame often pulls you deeper into the very places you long to run from.

In our own strength we rarely find freedom, there’s a greater power needed to break the chains that enslave us. That power is grace.

I’ve walked through many troubles, stepped too close to the edge of life too many times, and by God’s grace I’m still here. Many of these experiences were journeys that took time…and lots of it. Choosing daily who I was living for.

One time I found myself up against a new challenge, one I had never expected to face, causing me to make some seriosuly wrong choices. Days turned to weeks, and weeks turned to months…what initially seemed harmless began to torment my mind and before I knew it, shame outweighed anything and I felt trapped.

I would cry out to God, beg Him to take this trouble away – but through the cloak of shame, I couldnt see any escape route offered. His love felt a million miles away, clouded out by the weight of sin.

One bad decision often leads to another, leading us down a dark path, which can seem to have no way out. You become blind to the truth and resign yourself to failure.

On the eve of potentially being about to knowingly cross the line and make a very bad decision the next day, I found myself crawling into bed in a state of complete double-mindedness…on the one hand, crying out for strength to make a different choice…on the other, resigned to failure.

I woke at 3:45am…nothing spectacular roused me from sleep…no angels in the room, no loud voice giving me an answer…just stillness.

In that dark, midnight hour, I felt to go and sit in my chair and wait on the Lord. I had no plan, no purpose, no idea what would happen…

I went…I sat…I lit candles and let the light fill the room before sunrise. I read the word, I prayed…but mostly I was still… I didn’t really understand what was happening, but in that moment I knew the Lord was fighting for me…all I had to do was sit…and wait…

After 3 hours it was done.
His loved flooded every part of my being…causing me to turn me heart from the lies of this struggle back to Him…
True, heart-felt repentence poured out of my soul…
His strength rose up within me…
His grace covered me replaced the cloak of shame.

It was over…
It was finished…

In the depth of night, in the midnight hour, His love cried out, His unfathomable grace broke the chains that held me down.

No judgement…no condemnation…
He didnt abandon the dark places of my soul…
He didn’t point the finger and place blame…
He loved me to the core of my being…and fought my battle for me…

His grace found me in the darkest hour…
His grace refused to leave me there…

His grace changes everything…
We don’t deserve it…yet He gives it…
More than that…He will reach deep down in the darkest place to stop us falling…
In His great love, His grace is poured out…
We don’t have to strive for it…we don’t receive it in our own strength…
We stand…we sit…we rest…in Him.

Choose life…

Tonight I found myself singing the same line of a song over…and over…and over…and over. It was like a broken record, stuck on repeat…

I pottered around the house and carried on, slightly bemused at why no other words came…tempted to distract myself with playing music…then I realised, through singing these words over and over I was speaking truth to my own heart! 

Sometimes – in fact always(!) – you have to take responsibility to preach to yourself…to speak truth to yourself…to feed yourself right…to build yourself up…because no one else can do it for you. You can be surrounded by the best people in the world, who feed you well (in all ways) but if you can’t feed yourself…well…you’re in trouble! 

You are your own responsibility…

Your physical health…your emotional health…and your spiritual health are your responsibility…

Feed your stomach…feed your mind…feed your spirit…and feed them well!

It’s a sad day…

There are days when my heart feels heavy. The reason you might ask? I’m not sure I could give just one reason.
I’m sensitive to what is going on around me – not just in my direct surroundings, but also from a wider perspective. I often find my emotions and thoughts being pulled in a million different directions due to everything around me.
I’m saddened by hopelessness, despair, sickness, brokenness, judgement, criticism, terrorism, corruption, lies… the list goes on. Sometimes all it takes is to look out the window and see the neighbours fighting madly in front of their young child who looks down at the ground while the voices collide above their head, at other times it’s the news bombarding from any screen possible – with an underlying current producing fear within our communities…and other times I simply close my eyes and listen to my spirit.
But what makes me saddest of all is when I see Christian’s rising up with a voice sharper than a sword, cutting others down. I know we’re supposed to stand for truth, but at what cost? I know we’re supposed to stand firm on our beliefs, but to what affect on another? 
I see Christians making it their mission to tear each other down and prove themselves right, simply because they believe their view is correct and the other is wrong and it must be made known. I have no problem with people having differences of opinion and discussing these – but when it comes down to tearing another person apart because of their views, it pains me, especially when it’s done so publicly – don’t even get me started on social media! 
We live in a world that has all kinds of beliefs and principles, why should I think that everyone should live by my convictions when they don’t hold the same beliefs? What happened to the belief that “Love Wins” – do we truly believe it, can we truly live it? Or is it simply a cliché that gets thrown around to sound good in an appropriate moment? Preached from the platform on a Sunday, but forgotten by Monday.
I believe love wins…but I believe that statement is tested to the core when we are asked to love an individual regardless of their beliefs and decisions. We may not love their choices – but when we can learn to love them, it’s amazing what happens. We change…our own hearts change…we see differently…and lives are impacted.
With so many decisions being made worldwide that have the potential to impact everything we know – instead of taking time to slate the ones we disagree with and publicly expose the things we believe to be wrong…why not invest twice as much time in getting on our knees and praying (don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there isn’t a time and place for petitioning our own beliefs and convictions in the right time and place)…but if we believe in an all powerful God – do we not also believe that He is sovereign? Can He not touch the lives we pray for? Can He not impact nations through whomever He wants? 
Can Love not win, even in the darkest of moments?

Create…

When I hear someone say they’re not creative, my heart beats faster as I long to remove the veil that has covered their eyes causing them to believe this lie
Creativity goes far beyond the ability to paint a beautiful mural or piece together notes to form a perfect sounding symphony…
Creativity is the wildness of our imagination being free to dream
Everyday is a blank canvas and we have the opportunity to transcend above tradition, to break the rules and colour outside the lines…
I love this manifesto written by mcSquares … a small team of designers who believe everyone has the ability to be creative…

You. Are. Creative.

But Creative Genius does not always get a voice.

The world fills our heads with the self-doubt lines we color within and society ridicules those who venture outside of the boundaries.

We blame our grey-toned surroundings on the false belief that we. are. not. creative.

We tolerate dull because it is less messy and silence our imagination because it feels safe.

But when have well behaved people ever made history?

The people we admire, The Crazy Ones who believe they can change the world,
are individuals who choose to exercise their intellect, intuition and taste.
They choose to ignore the naysayers.

They value failure more than they celebrate success.

They conquer the self-doubt to pursue the passions that feed their soul.

There are people in the world who think like you think, believe what you believe

Find. Those. People.

And collaborate together to create something AMAZING.

There’s a voice inside compelling you to be creative.

Listen to that voice

mcSquares

What can you create today?

  

Starbucks name fails…

No deep meaningful post today…it’s all about the Chai Lattes! 

Picture the scene… You wander into Starbucks, place your order and wait for the dreaded question “your name please?” … You give your name…the barista asks you to repeat…you do so, they repeat it back and write it down… Relief, they pronounced it right…there’s hope. Minutes later you hear the call…”skinny chai latte for Saroorf”… Pause… All eyes turn to you as you quickly accept the drink and walk away! 
A common occurrence, apart from in my local Starbucks where they know my name (yay Folkestone!)! (I drink way too much Starbucks!)

But…it has to be said…I am thankful it’s not my job to write names on the cup! Lots of people send me videos and links about names being spelt wrong on purpose… I think it’s more like, take an order, take payment, take the name, process all three (plus more!!) while continuing polite conversation with customer – and try to get it all correct! Recipe for disaster, unless you’re crazy gifted in multitasking! I’m amazed the names make it on the cup!

I embrace my many names, and wait with anticipation to see how many more variations there might be… Here’s just a few… 

  

One body…many parts…

That’s who we are as Christ’s body…as the church…as family…as the many different ministries all living out the message they believe they have received from God.
I love the vast array of diversity across believers. The many different aspects of the revelations, theories and beliefs they’re sharing. I have no excuse for not being ‘well fed’ with the abundance of all that’s available, from round the world! It’s like a giant all you can eat buffet that never ends….all I have to do is go eat! 

What I find sad is when one ministry feels to criticise another…often via the Internet, namely social media. We can be so quick to alert the world with ‘warnings’ about what another believer/ministry is doing, when their stream of thought goes against our stream of thought. It breaks my heart every time. Every negative post pitted against a brother or sister in Christ brings division in the body, disunity in the family. It stirs gossip and negativity. 

We’re supposed to build each other up…cheer each other on…carry each other…

I recently joined Patricia Kings Women In Ministry Network ( WIMN ) and here I have encountered women from across the world, all championing different causes. The wonderful part is everyone is out to celebrate what the other does – and we all do very different things! There is no criticism, no condemnation, no judging, just a whole lot of cheering each other on! 

We are one body, heading in one direction. If the enemy can bring division in that body, then he’s laughing because he has easily distracted us from adding more. I may not be in full agreement for the focus of every single ministry in the world (!!), but I want to be someone who celebrates the diversity in this big Jesus loving family! 

Let’s be the ones who encourage and build people up, not tear them down. 
  

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