Perfect Timing

clock

I hope he doesn’t mind me writing this, but, a work colleague and good friend of mine, and his wife, are expecting their first child. Shortly after discovering they we expecting, they were told that Sharon had a very rare kidney disorder that may cause some difficulties during the pregnancy and may cause an early arrival.

Tonight in work we discovered that the baby may be born as soon as tomorrow, a full 10-weeks premature. I arrived home and was sitting eating my dinner when I opened the Bible app on my phone and it showed me today’s ‘Verse of the Day’ and it couldn’t have been more suitable for their current situation:

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

Psalm 139 v13-14

I texted it to Jonny and his reply completely blew me away in how God works even through the worst situations that we find ourselves in. I shouldn’t be surprised or expect anything less from God but it just pulled everything back into perspective that no matter the situation or problem, it’s never to big for Him to handle.

Simply amazing.

SK

A Woman Of Noble Character

granny

I had the unenviable experience of attending the funeral of another grandparent recently, my last remaining grandparent unfortunately. I posted this a few weeks ago which was aimed I guess, at how tough I was finding it coming to terms with losing a family member after not having lost anyone close for the past 20 years. So you can imagine how tough it is losing 2 in the space of 4 months!

We decided against a church service for the funeral but the minister and deaconess from Whiteabbey Presbyterian joined us at the house for a short service.  In a house filled with family friends, cousins, second-cousins, work colleagues and others who knew her, it was a very fitting tribute to a truly amazing little woman who I had the privilege to call my grandmother.

During the service, Sadie the deaconess, had written a little testimony to the life of granny and made mention of all her little quirks and habits which we all remembered and loved. She finished by reading a passage from Proverbs 31, entitled “A Wife of Noble Character” which was the most perfect passage that could have summed up her character, habits and life.

In it, it speaks of being a home maker, a garment maker, speaking wisdom and working vigorously … all attributes that I would instantly link to granny but the verses that impacted me the most were the following:

29 “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Knowing that she had a great life in the 89 years she was here is comforting but it’s made even better by knowing that she is more alive now than she ever was and living a life infinitely more enjoyable than her 89 years here. That kind of blows my mind and I find it really difficult to explain to people who aren’t Christians … that in the middle of all this pain, frustration, hurt and sorrow there is a massive silver lining in knowing that she is in Heaven.

“Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”  ~ C.S. Lewis

Thanks for all the prayerful support and texts over the last while, it’s a truly indescribable feeling to have such a supportive group of friends and thanks probably isn’t a good enough expression of it but it’s all I can think of!

SK

Update on Izzy

izzy

Just over a week ago, little Izzy was introduced to the world in a seriously ill condition. A couple of days later a Facebook group was set up to keep people up-to-date with any progress that she made. 500+ followers and many prayers later I’m writing this in a state of amazement at how readily God answers prayer.

Izzy is by no means clear of further medical problems in the long-run but to hear the news that in the next couple of weeks Jill and Jonny could be bringing her home to start life as a family is beyond amazing!

Bottom line is God is faithful.
SK

* You can still follow Izzy’s progress and updates from Jill and Jonny at the following Facebook group Isabella Grace Harkness.

Death Has Not Won

I tweeted about this a couple of weeks ago but thought I’d share the actual video. Probably the most spine tingling five-minute sermon I’ve ever heard and a great message not only to the family of the late Whitney Houston, but to anyone who has ever lost someone.

 

SK

Beautiful Things

vale10logos

Once again I headed for Woodvale this summer co-leading the team with Jude and once again I set high expectations, which were completely blown away by the end of the week. I arrived feeling like I hadn’t done very much in the build-up to the team, but instantly felt comfortable and knew that things would work out.

A big part of that was helped by a lot of familiar faces returning from last year’s team … you guys played a massive role in achieving what we did this year. God used each of you in your own unique way to connect with those kids and teens who we came into contact with during the week.

One of the great things I’ve found about leading a team is that once you’re there and up-and-running, you almost become a spectator at times. There were times when I felt like I was standing back and watching God transmit His message through you to the young people you were working with and seeing you shine for Him like the stars that you are!

All week in team devotions we were focusing on the theme of new life and the verse that summed this up for me and summed up how I feel the week went is:

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

2 Corinthians 5:20

We went to Woodvale as servants of the King and ambassadors for Christ … what we witnessed in our time there was a transformation of hearts, souls and attitudes that will help Woodvale Presbyterian shine out into a community that is too often associated with darkness.

Some banterous highlights (which will mostly only make sense to fellow team members) of my week included …

  • Lisa’s ridiculous excuse for a bed (second year running!)
  • Robert’s inappropriate uses of Benny & Betsy
  • Alana’s missing shoe
  • Melissa’s “Awk guysssssssssss”
  • Our national anthem – “Oh Church Arise”
  • Semi-naked team members
  • Nipples on Susie’s phone (not related to the previous point by-the-way!)
  • Laura Quinn’s affection for the Pink Poodle
  • Alana’s manly “Yeeeeeeeeeeooooooooooo”
  • Ryan’s epic puppet voice (especially in church on the last Sunday!)
  • The legend that is Albert
  • India trying to play ‘I Have Never’
  • The best goal celebration ever
  • Susie’s fear of Betsy
  • The “forgiveness balloon” craft
  • Busking For Souls
  • Frapes almost every day
  • Teens acts of random kindness
  • Pony pranking Dave’s phone
  • Mummy Spence’s amazing chocolate cake
  • Susie literally throwing a handful of sweets through a woman’s car window in an “act of kindness”
  • Neil’s non-flushing toilet
  • Ah bawwwwww
  • “You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of the dust…”

“Used To Believe In God…”

I used to believe in God. The Christian one that is.

I loved Jesus. He was my hero. More than pop stars. More than footballers. More than God. God was by definition omnipotent and perfect. Jesus was a man. He had to work at it. He had temptation but defeated sin. He had integrity and courage. But He was my hero because He was kind. And He was kind to everyone. He didn’t bow to peer pressure or tyranny or cruelty. He didn’t care who you were. He loved you. What a guy. I wanted to be just like Him.

– Ricky Gervais –

Found this pretty interesting blog post over at supersimbo.  In it Ricky Gervais admits he is now an atheist but opens up about his past and how he was brought up by his mother to believe in God thinking that it would keep him out of trouble.

Check out the full ‘Holiday Message’ here.

H/T Ragamuffin Soul & supersimbo

SK

Looking Upward & Hoping

 

Last night I had the privilege of spending some time and sharing some thoughts with a group of teenagers at a friend’s youth fellowship group in Larne.  My topic for the evening was prayer and how effective it’s been for me and the changes that I’ve seen through it but as I spoke I felt the need to flip the topic on it’s head and try to explain what happens when your prayers don’t seem to be working at all.

For the last while all I have properly been focussed on is finding myself a job where I can use my university earned degree to support myself and finally rid myself of my working-in-retail demons.  Unfortunately nothing successful has materialised and I find myself wondering what the ‘bigger plan’ for my life is.  I absolutely love the verse found at Jeremiah 29:11 in the Bible …

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

… but just at the minute I am struggling big time to believe that it is going to happen.  I want it to happen, I hope that it will happen and I pray that it will happen … but when?!

I’ve been reading a book called ‘God On Mute’ for what seems like forever (only because I am a tediously slow reader) but there is a story in it of a lady called Cecily who after suffering the pain of losing her twins boys 22 weeks into her first successful IVF pregnancy was advised to write a completely honest prayer to God.  In it she swore at Him, screamed at Him and threatened to hit Him … not exactly Sunday morning pulpit material … but it made me realise that you can tell God exactly how you feel about Him.  He’ll not take offence, He’ll not walk out on you, He’ll not punish you for being honest … He’ll do exactly what He always does and always has done … He’ll love you.

Although things are tough for me at the moment and I feel like doubting God …

“… these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
– 1 Corinthians 13:13

SK

The Hamster Wheel Effect

hamster

I’m not sure if you’ve ever had the experience where you’ve been somewhere and someone is speaking to an entire audience but as you listen to their words you forget about every other person in the audience and think that this is being aimed entirely and directly at you.  Tonight was one of those nights for me in church.

Our service was entitled “Finding God in the humdrum of life” and I didn’t really know what to expect … I was controlling the screens as usual so was following what our assistant minister was saying to bring up his slides at the right time and as he began taking about the film Groundhog Day, and how that saying has now become an everyday phrase describing a monotonous day or experience that we just seem to keep reliving.

My ears really pricked up when I heard the example being used of someone working in retail with groundhog day meaning serving with a smile to an impatient and sometimes rude public.  Having that smiling face at all times no matter what’s happening behind it has become a pretty familiar occurrence to me recently.

I don’t think it’s a secret to many people any more that this is exactly the way I’m feeling at the minute in relation to work.  I feel that I put everything into it and still am left annoyed and frustrated when I leave the building at the end of my shift.  I feel like a hamster stuck on a wheel … that no matter how much I do or run … I’m not getting anywhere.  I can’t do everything on my own and this frustration is what puts me in bad form … which in turn annoys the people closest to me … which annoys me more!  It seems endless!

But anyway … back to the point of the sermon tonight from Ecclesiastes 1.  The fact that from our fallen human perspective life is meaningless.  Life is temporary.  Life lacks substance. Life lacks anything to gain … but from a Christ-focused perspective, even our humdrum has meaning.  That God puts us in places for a reason … that we may not see in the moment … but there is a reason for the monotony, the frustration and the anger.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,  did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!

Philippians 2 5-8

I guess it’s our responsibility as Christians to reflect Jesus and his example to a frustrated and angry world where He himself came and suffered to save us from our sins.

SK