Thursday, 25 February 2016

Pray Without Ceasing

I enjoyed playing 'Operation' as a child and now with the children. It is good fun to try and remove the plastic body part without setting off the buzzer. 

Maybe I would do better in life if I, like the man in the game, had an internal buzzer. One that would buzz to warn me I was going to do, or think or say something wrong. 

With every sun comes a new day and for me there also comes the opportunity to make new and better choices. I have written before how I believe that these choices are mine alone to make.

I am reading a book at the moment which is challenging me to rethink how I love. I must not blame others for the choices I make, no matter what others have done. The author, Danny Silk, encourages making the choice for love to stand, no matter what the other person does or says. Danny suggests that nothing should stop my love and my love should not be dependent on being loved in return. 

So, what has love got to do with praying without ceasing? Or 'Operation'?! 

I do not always find it easy to love unconditionally. There are times when all of my being would like to react. I need help and guidance to respond with the choice to love unconditionally. 

If I keep on praying, I am talking to someone who has set the example of perfect love. A love that is completely given without condition, a love that asks for nothing in return, a love that absolutely accepts us as we are. 

As I pray, I am keeping in communion with One who can be my internal buzzer and give me strength to keep going, to keep my love on, to keep putting others first, to keep to the truth, to keep trusting, to keep on showing kindness, to keep on looking for the best and to keep on hoping.

"Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Give thanks in all circumstances."
1 Thessalonians 5:16 - 18 (New Living Translation)

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Answer Without Arguing

I can argue. I have been known to disagree, dispute, quarrel, squabble and even battle. As I think back, I can remember these arguments much clearer than the peaceful, quieter conversations I have had with the same people. 

There is a reason why I can call to mind the cross words and that reason is guilt. I have said things I should not have said. Words that hurt and words that can never be taken back. 

It takes at least me and one other to argue, however it is only me that can take the blame for the answer I give in an argument. I am the only one responsible for the words that I say. It is my choice to answer with or without arguing.

I feel much more at peace with myself if I am not regretting argued words. I am learning that answering with fewer words is best for me. Even though I can say sorry for the words that I should not have said they are still there, hanging in the air, causing hurt.

So to answer without arguing is to answer gently, peacefully and maybe to not even answer at all.

When the new day brings the opportunity to answer I no longer want to respond without thinking. I no longer want to attack with my words. I hope to have the courage to answer without arguing. I hope in my answer I can find a way to love. 

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: 
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."
James Chapter 1 verse 19 (New International Version)

Monday, 15 February 2016

Speak Without Accusing

What does it mean to accuse? To accuse is to attack, blame, brand, let have it, complain, allege... If I speak accusingly I am finding fault and placing blame for wrongdoing.

All very negative.

To speak without accusing is to applaud, approve, commend, praise, support...If I speak without accusing then I am cheering on instead of fault finding.

All very positive.

To accuse is something I would perhaps associate with a crime being committed rather than something I might speak out. However when I actually look at what it means to accuse, I have been guilty of it all.

As I sit here I realise that I would like to be someone who speaks without accusing. As every sun brings a new day I can speak love into the lives of the people I meet. I have the opportunity to applaud with my words where before I may have used words to attack. Instead of laying blame at the feet of another, I can choose to praise and support.

There are times when I come to a place where instinct tells me to accuse. I can play conversations in my head where I feel justified to complain and find fault. How about if I play a different conversation and find the strength to speak without accusing? Truly I will find that love becomes a bigger part of who I am, how I act and how I speak.

Today, I want to make the better choice and as I learn to speak without accusing, I hope that love will widen in my heart.

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."
James Chapter 1 verse 19 (New International Version)

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Listen Without Interrupting

Surely this goes without saying because if I interrupt someone, I must then stop listening to them. I am not sure it is possible to talk and listen at the same time.

However if I am considering how I can show love to someone by listening to them, I believe listening becomes more than waiting for our turn to talk. 

When I want to show the children that I am listening to what they are saying, my actions are intentional. I stop what I am doing and they become my focus. Sometimes I will bend down so we are on the same level. They then see that what they are saying is important to me and what they have to say is worthwhile. The children have sought me out to share something with me, therefore I should listen without being interrupted by the washing up or the cooking of the tea or the answering of a text message. 

If you love someone you value who they are, what they do, the things they say. In valuing the words, sentences, crazy thoughts my children share with me, I show love. In valuing the words and conversations my friends and family share with me, I show love. 

For me, to listen without interrupting, involves more than just words. To not interrupt allows someone to share, knowing they will be heard. It means words can be shared where there is calm and not conflict. To listen without interrupting involves putting someone else's needs before my own. To not interrupt allows someone to be encouraged, supported and possibly uplifted. It means words can be shared and relationships can flourish. 

To listen without interrupting takes effort and practice. I have to remind myself that this conversation will only happen once and however many times I might replay the conversation in my mind, if I say the wrong thing I cannot take it back.  Or if I choose not to listen it is likely I will not get the opportunity to hear those words again. 
It involves a change of mindset as I do not always find it easy to put someone else's needs above my own. I feel that what I have to say is more important, when really it is not. 

Each new day brings so many possibilities of listening without interrupting. I hope I will be mindful enough to grasp those possibilities and to do my part to value, encourage, uplift and most of all, to love.

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."
James Chapter 1 verse 19 (New International Version)

Sunday, 7 February 2016

10 Ways To Love

I started my blog just over a year ago and it has been a journey. As I have trod each new day I have learnt about myself, about my relationships with others and about God. With every sun comes a new day and the opportunity to discover more about who I can and should be.

I am so very grateful to those of you who have journeyed with me, for your support, encouragement and love - thank you.

For the next couple of months I intend to be a bit more structured in my blog posts. A few weeks ago I was searching on Pinterest and a pin caught my eye. It was titled '10 Ways To Love'. My mind started whirring and I thought maybe I could post about something similiar on Valentine's Day. The whirring continued and after consulting Google I realised that, as Easter is so early this year, Valentine's Day falls during Lent.

Therefore, over Lent, my intention is to write 10 posts about love - love that can be shown and given to all.

I hope that you will continue to journey with me from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday and that you will please feel free to comment along the way!