Inviting Friendship: Part 2

Feeling Uncomfortable

Eating out alone is uncomfortable for me. I feel awkward, as if I don’t know where to look other than my food. I don’t want to people watch that seems rude, though people fascinate me. I usually have a book to read when I’m travelling and will bury my head in its pages at airport restaurants. I rarely eat out alone when home.

Gathering with family or friends around a table, whether at home or at a restaurant for a meal is more than nourishment for our bodies. It’s nourishment for our wellbeing. Interaction with others in a safe and friendly atmosphere brings us a sense of belonging, a sense of caring about each other, it helps us to bond. It helps friendship to blossom and grow.

We see the same thing in churches every weekend before the meeting starts, people sitting with heads buried in their phones or the church bulletin avoiding eye contact. Not because they don’t want to be friendly, rather because they feel uncomfortable being there alone or unknown.

Some arrive late on purpose to avoid the awkwardness of not knowing anyone, yet wanting to be there, and they promptly leave when the service have ended. Another week has gone by and they are no nearer to making friends with their fellow believers than they were when they first started attending. They come to visit the family and go away feeling ignored.

Inviting Friendship

When we invite people into our homes we want them to feel welcomed and comfortable. We want them to feel at home, we want them to know it’s okay to lose the shoes and get comfy on the sofa. We want them to feel safe, relaxed and know they are with family. We want them to interact with the family as family, not sit with their heads buried in a book or phone feeling disconnected.

When I first attended the church I’m planted in, there was about 150 people at that particular campus. It was easy for them to notice that my husband and I were new there. Those sitting around us welcomed us with genuine warmth and each week we got to know more and more people. The church has grown over the last fifteen years into what some call a mega church.

Friendship begins with an invitation; invite someone to be a friend by being a friend.

When you attend a large church you are not going to know everybody, you are not going be able to invite everybody out for coffee. So how do we make friends in mega church? Same as you would in a smaller church. Start by connecting with those around you. Get to know their names. Make a point of talking with them before or after the service. Invite them to the small group you attend. Invite them out for coffee. Do it all with genuine love and interest for the other person. Value them, they are real people who God loves.

“Acknowledging the value of a soul plants in us a seed of willingness to build others up, encourage others, and call the greatness out of them.” Rick Bezet

When we value people as God values people we will see their worth as He does. When they see that we genuinely care about them, they will put down the phone and the bulletin and begin to interact; could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Don’t stop at only befriending those in your church, look outside. Show them the same love you show the person in the next pew.

Just as lotions and fragrance gives sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreshes the soul. Proverbs27:9

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

What does Friendship look like for you? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments box either through the blog site or on Grace Lace and Polkadots Facebook page.

The month of August I will be doing some giveaways, starting with Rick Bezet’s book Real Love In An Angry World: How to Stick to your Convictions Without Alienating People. Be on the lookout.

Hope your soul is refreshed this week with friendship!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living a God Colored Life

 

A simple gift. A thoughtful gift. One I would enjoy, if only I had the time.

Time to spare. Time to sit. Time to color.

It would be six months before I found the time. It’s not as if I was constantly busy the whole six months. Sure, work, family and church took up a good proportion but, my downtime hours were filled with non important things; surfing social media, reading way too many blog posts and watching the box (television). I had the time. I filled it with clutter.

The Time Had Come

My eight year old grandson was spending the afternoon with me, when he tired of building Lego and asked for paper and colored pencils I remembered the gift of the inspirational coloring book.

He did a little coloring on the fist page and promptly returned to the Lego.

I flicked through the pages, my eyes feasted on beautiful intricate designs, each page featuring an encouraging scripture. It was my turn and my time to pick up the colored pencils and begin the creative process of turning a black and white page into a masterpiece of color.

Okay folks, I’m not going to make a living as an artist as you can see from the above picture, but I enjoyed it. I picked up a pencil and commenced. Yellow for the center of the flower, then a pink for the petals. Add jade, aqua, mid blue and a soft brown and my first design on a page loaded with design was done. Just a trillion more to go! The intricate designs fascinated me, I scoured the book in search of duplicate designs. I didn’t find any.

He colors us with His love, grace and mercy

As I continued with my artwork I thought about the Lord, how He colors our lives with His love, His grace and His mercy, carefully and meticulously taking us from a life of generic black and white, to one filled with colors that only He can create.

It takes time to color the intricate designs in the book, my first masterpiece is only half done, still a lot of coloring to do. The pencils are line up ready to be used, ready to bring more color to the design. I’m sure thousands of inspirational coloring books has been sold, and just as many have already been colored, yet, none of them will look like my artwork. It is uniquely mine!

Uniquely His

When we invite God in to color our lives we will become a masterpiece that is uniquely His. He doesn’t color us in one go. He could, but that would be too much for us to take; He’s kind and gentle like that! He doesn’t rush us but draws us patiently into a closer relationship with Himself. James 1: 2-3 in the Message Bible talks about our true colors coming out when we are under pressure. As we allow God to color us as His masterpiece it will be His colors in us that will be exposed.

You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

 

Are you ready for more God color in your life? I know I am, what about you?

Until next week

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance.

 

Father’s Day: Simple Pleasures

He stooped over his cane as he walked, his once sprightly gait was now slow, but steady. I watched from a short distance away, he was determined the rising incline of the bridge was not going to win. Not that day, or any day soon.

It didn’t matter the bus he needed was already at the stop, he couldn’t go any faster even if he wanted to. The bus would have to go without him even though it would be another hour before the next.

The man I call dad, the man who use to carry me on his shoulders when I was a child. The man who worked double shifts down the coal mine to provide for his family. Now moved at a much slower pace.

Each time I visit home I notice the changes in my dad. His muscles are not what they once were when he mined for coal. His face a little thinner, his hair though still plentiful is not as bushy as it use to be.

Time Waits For No Man or Woman

Time ages us, it moves on whether we want it to or not. We may not notice the subtle changes in ourselves but believe me they are happening; to all of us.

My dad will be 91 years old this year, he has seen much in his life time. The days of his youth shepherding sheep and helping in the family vineyard took a turn when World War ll came to his part of Europe. He exchanged his shepherds staff for a gun, fighting to protect the freedom that was soon to be taken away.

Moving to Wales after WW ll meant learning a new language (English) and a new craft; coal mining, way below the surface where the sun doesn’t shine. A job he would do all his adult working life, one far removed from shepherding sheep. A job in which he lost friends due to caving in of the rock wall, a risk he took everyday in order to put food on the table.

He didn’t seek riches or position, rather the simple pleasures of life; family, friends, food and good health. These are still important to him. When my four year old grandson took the journey over the pond to visit his great-grandfather a few months ago the one thing they did together was to walk hand in hand down a country lane to feed a horse…picture that a 4 year old and a 90 year old walking together enjoying a simple pleasure. No generation gap there!

They Were Young Once

Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:2

When we look at an elderly man/woman, let’s remember he/she has lived and probably seen more changes in his/her life time than we may see in ours. Give honor to our elders, be courteous, be kind, be patient, be respectful. Remember they were young once and one day you and I will be the elderly.

I pray when I am 90 years old that I will continue to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Hopefully there will be a 4 year old great-granddaughter or great-grandson in the picture.

Until next week

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

 

When You Lose Sight of Your Calling

I wanted to purchase a pair of wide legged linen pants, so why was I trying on not one but two pairs of skinny jeans? It was the colors that caught my eye; a cool shade of aqua and a happy red to be precise. The jeans felt comfortable, but looking in the mirror I could see they were not a good fit at all.

I continued my search. I found a pretty summer dress in green and navy with a tad of white and oh, a cute floral blouse. Back to the dressing room I went, decided I didn’t like the blouse after all, but I did say yes to the dress and a pair of leggings.

I can get distracted by pretty things especially anything with small Polkadots and, yes I did pull a few items of clothing with Polkadots off the rack.

Stay focused! I told myself. Linen pants, linen pants I repeated to bring my mission back into view.

It took me three hours to buy one pair of linen pants. Plus another hour to visit a new children’s store in town where I purchased some clothes for my three grandchildren…going to that store was not part of the day’s plan. Can you say DISTRACTIONS.

Losing focus when shopping can lead to impulse buying i.e. dress, leggings and kids clothes. Losing focus on God’s plan for our lives can cause us to run impulsively in many directions other than the path we are called to walk.

Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Proverbs 4:25 NIV

Stay Focused!

Focused on Jesus and focused on what He has placed in our hands to do. It’s so easy to be distracted, to lose sight of a goal especially when it is seems far off.

We get involved in too many things and neglect the one thing the Lord has asked us to do. Whatever it is stay focused. Spend time in His word and in prayer. Listen and be alert to His direction. If you get distracted, refocus! We don’t always realize the significance of what the Lord has placed in our heart’s to do and, we may never know until we are home with Him.

Proverbs 4:27 tells us “Do not look to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”

 

What distracts you and what helps you to refocus? Share your thoughts in the comment box.

Until next week

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

 

When the Greet and Meet Time at Church Freaks you Out

“Turn and greet your neighbor.” A simple request heard in churches every weekend.

For some this request is greeted with dread.

Not everyone in a church meeting wants to acknowledge, let alone shake hands with the stranger next to them. The very thought can send them running to hide in the restroom.

Most times I am happy to greet those around me with a simple hand shake, just don’t ask me to high-five or fist-bump…not happening!

Then there’s hugging. Did you just squirm in your seat? Did the very thought of hugging someone you hardly know cause you discomfort? Me too.

Last Sunday I sat in a different seat to my norm finding myself next to a lady I have never met. I said hello and gave a friendly smile when she first sat next to me. Then came the time in the service when we were encouraged to turn to our neighbor and greet them. I extended my hand in friendship and she graciously responded.

Then it happened!

Holy embraces all around! Romans 16:16 msg

She pulled me a little closer wrapping her arms around me as she informed me ” I’m a hugger.” Honestly I didn’t have time to pull away. There I was, embraced in a hug with a total stranger…are you cringing?

If that had taken place a few years ago I would have stiffened like cardboard, held my breath as I endured the torture and made sure I avoided her in the future. I no longer respond to that degree, though I still have a little hesitancy, a little awkwardness, a little embarrassment but a lot more grace.

It is only as I have responded to God’s love for me, accepting His warm welcoming embrace have I slowly become more comfortable with accepting and showing affection to others.

Whatever church gathering you attend I’m sure the leadership would want you to feel safe. It’s okay not to shake hands, high-five, fist-bump or hug. It would be sad to stop attending church all because you dread the “greet and meet” time.

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:7

Set your own boundaries, you know what you are comfortable with. In the meantime allow the One who loves you unconditionally to draw you into His warm embrace. Let the Lord melt away your fears and break down your walls. Let Him fill you with His presence and grow you in His grace.

Maybe you will never be a hugger, and that’s okay. A warm friendly smile and a welcoming hand-shake can say “I’m glad to have met you today.”

I was glad to have met the lady next to me even if she was a hugger. We spoke after the meeting (not about hugging). I found out she was visiting from out of state and this was her first time at my church. She had shed a tear during the service and told me how she wished she had a church like this one in her home state. I’m glad I didn’t push her away.

To those who are comfortable with the “greet and meet” time. Let us be mindful of the people around us, may we respect their boundaries…you can usual tell from their body language. One last thing, I do not allow men (other than my husband) to hug me full on no matter how long I have know them and definitely not a male stranger.

Are you a hand shaker, high-fiver, fist-bumper, hugger or a hide in the restroom woman? Share in the comments, you may be surprised to find you are not alone.

Until next week

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

 

 

Radical Love: Part 1

As a child, Good Friday meant eating hot cross buns loaded with butter and topped with strawberry jam…Delicious!

For me, hot cross buns was the only good thing about Good Friday. Why on earth would anyone think it was a good day was beyond my comprehension. A man had died. No, not just a man. God’s son had died and, people called it a good. Did they not like him? Were they glad to get rid of him? I didn’t see the good, except for the Hot Cross buns.

Even though I accepted Jesus as my savior as a teenage, it would still be many years before I would remotely begin to understand the good in Good Friday…yes, I am still learning, still discovering, still realizing the good.

JESUS KNEW THE PLAN

“I came from the Father and entered the world;

now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”

John 16:28

His death and method of death was not a surprise to Him. I don’t think it was physical death that bothered Him so much as it was the spiritual death (separation from the presence of God) that He would go through.

Luke 22:37 NIV ” It is written:  ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’, and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

His life was not taken from Him, but rather He gave himself for us.

He was the sacrificial lamb to be slaughtered for our sins. He was willing but the reality of actually going through with it hit home and He prayed. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” He knew what to expect and He still went through with the plan to rescue us from eternal separation from God. Now that is Love!

“He stayed there, not because the nails held Him, but because His love for you and me did.”

As Jesus hung nailed to the cross, people in the crowd shouted “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” Luke 23:35b. Of course He could of saved Himself, He could of left the cross whenever He chose.

But, He didn’t!

He stayed there not because the nails held him, but because love for you and me did.

Abandoned

From noon to three, the whole earth was dark. Around midafternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Matthew 27:45,46 Message Bible

It blows my mind that Jesus willingly went to the cross knowing that when the sin of the world was place solely on Him, it would cause Him to be separated from His Father. The Father that He had been one with before the world was ever created. Now that is radical love!

I don’t think it could of been easy for God either, seeing His son bearing the sin of this world. God is Holy and there isn’t any darkness in Him, so to see Jesus full of darkness must of been really hard. Some say that God turned away from Jesus at this time, that would explain why Jesus asked why He had abandoned Him.

Salvation through Jesus was His plan, His idea because He too loves us.

“For God so [greatly]loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:6 Amp

The price was paid, the transaction was done and salvation had been secured…

…Sunday is coming!

If you have not accepted God’s gift of salvation, please don’t hesitate. He loves you so much and is eager to forgive you of sin and restore you to a personal relationship with Himself.

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

Share and encourage a friend.

What does Good Friday mean to you? Look forward to hearing from you in the comment box.

 

 

 

 

 

 

His Grip is Firm: Even When We Fall

My gloved hands and winter coat gave me protection from the cold morning air as I, along and several other teenage girls disembarked the bus. We talked as we walked to our place of work even though the sun was not quite up and we were not fully awake. As we walked down the hilly narrow street I was glad it hadn’t snowed, though I’m sure someone would have started a fun snowball fight.

Didn’t See it Coming

One minute I was on my feet, walking and talking the next moment my backside and the road were engaged in close fellowship as I had landed in a sitting position. As I tried to take in what had happen the girl in front half turned to look at me, as she did her feet went from under her and she landed facedown sprawled out on her belly.

Neither of us had noticed the patch of black ice, too busy talking I guess. The sight of me sitting in the middle of the street and my work colleague flat on her belly just tickled my sense of humor and I began to laugh. Her moisten eyes soon turned to eyes of laughter. Except for some sore places neither of us were badly hurt, we were more shocked that we had fallen. Thankfully the other girls helped us up and supported us while we regained our footing.

Round the Clock Support

One minute we are living life going about our usual routines then Wham! out of nowhere we are hit with something we didn’t see coming. It may knock us off our feet for awhile leaving us in stunned silence as we try to process the issue, or it may leave us crying face down.

Friends are needed in times when we have been knocked down, it’s good to have their support but their support can only go so far. They are not with us constantly but there is one who is and his name is Jesus, He has promised never to leave us, that means He is with us 24/7 holding and supporting us as we lean on Him day and night.

He stretches out His arms and with His hand He has a good grasp on us even during the times when we feel like we cannot hold on. He’s got you dear Sister-in-Christ and that’s a fact, you are His and He is not letting go. Let Him hold you, pick you up and steady you once again.

“Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps his hand in support and upholds him.” Psalm 37:24 AMPC

Until next week

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

Have you been held, supported and lifted up during a difficult period in your life? Would love to hear your story of God’s goodness. Share in the comment box and feel free to share this post with a friend, they too may need to know He’s got them.