Thursday, 2 July 2020

Kitty paws and out and about


I just love this ladybird nestled in a thistle flower.  I like to take pictures of small beautiful things I see on my walks. There is so much beauty around us and it is easy to miss it when we rush around, or when we dismiss something as mundane when really it is a little piece of heaven.


Some flowers from our garden, I don't know what they are called but their petals are so delicate and beautiful.


The weather has been very rainy recently!  Our eldest went for a walk with her friend and got caught in an almighty downpour the other day. They hadn't got raincoats on and were totally soaked through.  When they got back her friend stood at the door of the summer house (sounds posh but it's basically a painted shed with windows lol) and B stood under an umbrella in the garden whilst her friend waited for her dad to pick her up.  I so wanted to bring them both in the house and offer warm drinks and towels but because of social distancing rules I couldn't.  It's so hard sometimes!


Boots giving me side-eye. Haha.  She's getting so old now.  She's 18 with hyperthyroidism and can be a bit grumpy.  She struggles to jump up or down from things and is so slow down the stairs now.  Oh and deaf, lol, she hears a little but I have to really raise my voice so she can hear me! Bless her.


Cats paws are just so cute!  Toe-beans B calls them.




A local child leaves theses painted rocks all over the place.  I love to find them on my walks.


We went up on the moors yesterday.  It was beautiful.  It's often very wild and windy up there, we aren't far from where Emily Bronte wrote Wuthering Heights with it's wild moors and wild characters.  But yesterday it was quite warm.


The sheep joined us for a stroll :)



L and dad walking together.  I love this photo.

Well that's it for today.

Have a lovely day.

Sarah 💚

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Daily doings and out and about

It's going to be a very warm day today, so I whizzed round with the vacuum cleaner before it gets too warm.  I'm going to enjoy hanging my washing outside, which always brings me pleasure.

We're waiting for a call-back from the doctors because Lils has been getting some bad nosebleeds recently.  She has phases where she gets nosebleeds a lot, and when she gets them they're always worse during warm muggy weather.

So while we wait I've paid a bill, ordered some new nail clippers because ours have mysteriously disappeared (I'm expecting they'll turn up in one of the girls' rooms!! 🙄) and I thought I'd share a few photos from our daily walks.

I love a pink sunset don't you? And the clouds are so pretty. This was taken on an evening walk with Gary on Saturday evening.

On Sunday evening I went for a walk with Bets, my eldest.  There seems to be a lot of ladybirds around at the moment!  I think it's the hot weather.  I remember one particularly hot summer when I was a child there was a plague of them...well maybe plague is the wrong word, but I remember swarms of them all over my dad's car.🐞🐞🐞🐞🐞
He's a cutie


Look at the clouds on the picture above, taken from a similar point to the photo from Saturday.  So pretty...not quite so pink though.

The sky looks like a little bit of heaven! 
On Monday, the weather wasn't as nice, but it was dry enough to go for a walk and we went to a spot where there are often lots of frogs.  Lils has been a bit down recently and I prayed God would send us a frog or two, lol, not a plague of frogs though! 😂

Anyway, no frogs, but we did have a lovely time.

We played Pooh sticks.  Do you ever play this?



Lils' stick won! 😁

More ladybirds...I have lots of photos of them


The bees were really enjoying these wildflowers, one bumble bee was really struggling to get into the poppies as the wind buffeted him. We were cheering him on, but he gave up LOL

Yesterday we went for a walk to a local reservoir, it's a lovely spot with hills and trees around.  And my prayer from yesterday was answered, not with frogs but toadlets - baby toads! They were so cute.

They were all over the path and in danger of getting squashed so we helped them across 🐸


Lils loves the tiny baby toads - toadlets - I love that word 😊






God is so good.  It really made her day.

In the evening Boots did a little contortionist act scrupulously cleaning her legs lol.  She's 18 now and struggling jumping up or down, and goes down the stairs so carefully now.  But she can still twist her body into all kinds of shapes haha.

Hope you enjoy your day! Thanks for visiting.

Sarah x

Monday, 22 June 2020

Happy Homemaker Monday

♥♥The Weather♥♥

It's warm but cloudy today, the rest of the week it's going to be mega-warm for this time of year, getting up to 28C on Thursday.  I'm pleased about that because I love to dry my washing outside, but I'm hoping it won't be too hot at night. Phew!


♥♥How I am feeling this morning♥♥

Not too bad, more positive than yesterday.  The lockdown and all the negativity in the news and on social media alongside some family stuff going on kind of got to me yesterday.  But today I feel a bit more positive.

♥♥On my mind♥♥

My girls and sorting out the next stage of their education.  We are hoping Lils can get into a local Sixth Form College and Bets needs to choose her accommodation for university.

♥♥On the breakfast plate♥♥

Frozen berries with yogurt, sultanas and oats.

♥♥On my reading pile♥♥

A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle
Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng
Abba's Child - Brennan Manning

♥♥On my tv♥♥

We finished Space Force with Steve Carrell last week - that was quite funny
We've been watching Emergence recently too
But the best thing we've watched was Little Fires Everywhere (hence me having the book on my to read pile) - it was such a good series, we totally binge watched it.
I'm also in the middle of watching the film Ground Hog Day, I've been enjoying watching nostalgic 80s and 90s films, I need some feel good fun!

♥♥On the menu this week♥♥

Tonight we're having bean burgers with chips and veg
Tomorrow it'll be Tuna Pasta Bake
I might do a chilli on Weds
Thursday is shopping day and I've not decided what to do

♥♥From the camera♥♥


I love dandelion clocks.

♥♥Looking around the house♥♥

I really need to get on with some decorating and spring cleaning and organising.
Today I've mowed the back lawn, vacuumed our bedroom and done some washing.

♥♥Chore I'm not looking forward to today, or this week♥♥

Cleaning the freezer, but it needs doing!

♥♥To relax this week, I will♥♥

Read and watch some feel-good films.

♥♥On my prayer list♥♥

My husband and the stress he is under at work at the moment.
My girls and their future.
What God has got planned for the next season of my life.
Good health and protection over my family and friends.

Have a lovely week!

Visit other HHM via Sandra at Diary of a SAHM

Sarah x

Sunday, 21 June 2020

How I study the Bible - tips and resources 5 - an example of how I use the resources


I've been doing some posts on Bible Study.  I don't claim to be an expert but I love to study the Bible and wanted to share some tips.  The four posts I've done so far (links at the bottom of this post) have been about resources.  This post will be an example of how I might use those resources during my Bible study time.

So here's an example of how I study a small section of the Bible.

I will pray about what scripture to study or I will study a scripture that has stood out elsewhere - like in a conversation, a preach, or mentioned in a book, for example.

The scripture that I am going to concentrate on for this post is Romans 8:26-27 because I was reminded of it by a section of an NT Wright book I am reading...I can't ever remember what in the book prompted me to think of this scripture, but it jumped out and I starting pondering it.

Before I sit down to study that scripture, I usually take time to worship God first.  I like to sing and so I will pick a couple of songs on Spotify and will sing along.  This reminds me that studying scripture isn't about an academic endeavour to 'improve' my mind but it is about connecting with God and growing closer to the heart of Jesus.  I do this because of Jesus' words, 'You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life' John 5:39-40.  Now you might not be into singing, but taking time to quietly focus on Jesus is important in Bible study.

The process I describe here isn't the process I use every time, sometimes I don't have a huge amount of time and so I'll just take time to ponder and pray over the scripture.  Sometimes I will follow this process but over a few days.  But if I have enough time I will do it in one sitting.

Reading the scripture

I start by read the chosen scripture in one version of the Bible and contemplate it, that is quietly think about the words, and what meaning stands out initially.  I will take time to quiet my mind and to try to listen to the voice of God within.  I usually take some time to pray over the words as I do this.

So, this time, I read these two verses in NKJV:

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.  Romans 8:26-27

The words that stand out are:

Likewise - which basically means 'in the same way as what I have already said', this tells me that I need to read the preceding verses to fully understand this section.

groanings which cannot be uttered - there are things that are so deep in the heart of God that there are no words to express it.  This reminds me that the Bible is deeper than the mere words we read and that there are some things that we can only feel in our spirit and many, many things we will not know this side of eternity.  These things cannot be uttered - whether this is because we couldn't understand it or because we are not allowed by God to hear these things - perhaps for our protection? Or simply because it isn't our time to hear these things I don't know.

Reading in other versions

Once I have made me initial observations I will then read the scripture in a few other versions to see if the words are translated in different ways that bring a different or deeper meaning.

Here are some examples of the words that have jumped out in different versions:

ESV:

groanings too deep for words - here the ESV suggests that the reason why these groanings cannot be spoken is because they are too deep.  That is an interesting interpretation and something to really think about.  What does 'too deep' mean?  Unfathomable depths - words are not enough to express the depth of the Spirit's intercession.

NLT:

cannot be expressed in words - rather than emphasising that words cannot express what is in the heart of the Spirit the NLT simply says 'cannot' but doesn't suggest why.

pleads for us...in harmony with God's own will - the aim, we see in Romans 12 later, is to be in harmony with God's will.

MSG:

He knows far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition and keeps us present before God  like we are in labour pains, link back to verse 22 the whole of creation is in birth pains and then onto verse 29 Jesus is firstborn among many.

AMP:

He who searches the hearts of men - link to Jeremiah 17:10

LIVING:

prays with such feeling that it cannot be expressed with words - interpretation that this is about the heart/feelings/emotion of God.

NIV:

v26 Wordless groans - no words to express
v27 knows the mind of the spirit 

Rewriting the scripture in my own words

Then I might rewrite or paraphrase the scripture taking this all into account and with my own understanding of it.  For this scripture here's what I wrote:

We don't know what to pray about - or even how - but the Spirit of God does - so don't fear.  He is in you praying, yearning with deep groaning like a woman in labour and God is the the delighted Father knowing that his plans and purposes are being birthed.  He hears the cry of the Spirit, for the Spirit cries in harmony with his own desires.  It is like a vast cosmic choir - like the saints in Revelation who cry out 'How long?'  Like the children Jesus spoke of our angel forever beholds the face of God because the spirit in us keeps us connected to God and cries out with his voice - his emotions, passions, pain, joy - and we need to still ourselves and rest in this, it keeps us in harmony with his will and in this wait for his will to be revealed.

Read the scripture in context

'Likewise' in verse 26 points to preceding verses being important to understand this verse.  The 'pregnant' hint expanded in the Message Bible and the sense of groaning (like labour) points to  verse 22 and we are, like creation, groaning as if in childbirth.

We understand from this that our travail is not purposeless but it works for good, we are being transformed from the inside out - we are being conformed to the image of His Son who is the firstborn among many brethren - travailing we are being reborn - transformed from glory to glory - as children of God which is our true vocation as a Royal Priesthood to reflect the glory of God and to worship him - to be the temple of God where heaven meets earth.

Interlinear Bible

Once I have an understanding or a sense of the scripture's meaning and deeper context I might have a look at an interlinear bible at this point to see if any of the Greek words bring any interesting aspects to understanding the scripture further.

Verse 26 'In like manner the Spirit jointly helps; - the word translated as 'the Spirit helps us' is in the Greek synantilambanomai which means literally - the Spirit jointly helps.  It is the assistance afforded by any two persons to each other, who mutually bear the same load or bear the burden between them.

This is amazing.  The Spirit isn't praying away and we aren't part of it or distanced from it but God is with us jointly working with us and helping us in a mutual way.  He doesn't just take over - although He would be in His right to do so, but instead he works with us, jointly bearing the load.

'groanings inexpressible' - the word translated here is stenagmos - unutterable gushings of the heart.  The other place in the Bible this is used is Acts 7:34 in reference the groans of the slaves in Egypt.  This brings a sense of the groaning being a deep heartfelt longing.  The Spirit is longing for the freedom and the full restoration of his people.

Cross references:

Then I have a look at suggested cross references, to look at links across the Bible.  These cross reference suggestions are from my NKJV reference Bible.

v26 a) Matt 20:22 - this reminds me that I simply may misunderstand the purposes of God just as I don't know how to pray

b) Eph 6:18 - this reminds me that I need to pray in the Spirit otherwise I might - due to misunderstanding - be praying against the purposes of God.

v27 a) 1 Chr 28:9 - this reminds me that God searches our hearts and knows our intents - we cannot lie or deceive God - just be honest and real

b) 1 John 5:14 - this reminds me that if we ask in accordance with his will he will hear us, but if we don't know what to ask the Spirit intercedes for us.

Study Bible:

Finally here are some notes on the verse from my Study Bible and Matthew Henry's commentary - I would advise leaving study bibles until last otherwise it might drown out what God is telling you.

We can approach God without fear because the Spirit stands in the gap - God will always do what is right whatever we pray for.

MH Commentary:

Paul ways 'we' and puts himself in the same category as the reader - he too needs the Spirit to intercede in his weaknesses.  Christ intercedes in heaven and the Spirit intercedes in our hearts.  When we cry Abba, Father, this is the work of hte Spirit.

"The Spirit interceding in us evermore melts our wills into the will of God"

Our faith isn't just on out tongue in what we say.

God knows what we need before we ask - before we put it into words.

So there you go, an example of how I might study a particular scripture.

The Other Bible Study Posts 

How I study the Bible - tips and resources 1 - Bible Versions
How I study the Bible - tips and resources 2 - Commentaries
How I study the Bible - tips and resources 3 - Concordances & interlinear Bibles
How I study the Bible - tips and resources 4 - Reference and Study Bibles

Sunday, 14 June 2020

How to change the world



If you have time, watch this video, I found it inspiring. It also shows what one single ordinary person can do to change the world. Whether your heart is for the environment, poverty, justice, animals, whatever, you can make the world a more beautiful place one small step, one small act of kindness, at a time. Many of us, myself included, can fall into the trap of being armchair 'experts' on a variety of things, shouting our opinions into the void. And this isn't necessarily bad, we can learn so much from one another, but if our words and sentiments don't change how we live nothing in the world will change. Like the old saying, 'She's all mouth and no trousers'.

Jadav Payeng has changed the environment near his home in an incredible way. He is not rich or powerful, he is an ordinary man. Since 1979 Payeng has been planting trees every day in an area of India subject to severe erosion and flooding. To date he has single handedly planted a forest larger than Central Park NYC - 1,360 acres (550 hectares). This once barren landscape is now a lush, green home to Bengal tigers, Indian rhinoceros, elephants, monkeys, deer, rabbits and a huge variety of birds including vultures. It's a beautiful video. His love and passion and *consistency* (and consistency is key) has changed his part of the world in an incredible way.



Monday, 8 June 2020

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Rise up like flowers in the spring

Who would have thought my shrivel’d heart Could have recovered greenness?
The Flower, George Herbert

I've been catching up with our long neglected garden. We've been so ridiculously busy over the past couple of years that we barely had time to mow the lawn.  My flower beds were overgrown and my pots and hanging baskets were a mess of twigs and weeds.


So I trimmed and watered and repotted and the first sign of beauty was this bedraggled little dianthus flower.  I was particularly moved by it.  It could barely lift its head as it rested on the edge of the pot.

It wasn't perfect, but it was beautiful.


Then the only living thing in this hanging basket, a geranium, bloomed too.


Then I noticed this plant...I don't know what it is called...is starting to bud.  It'd been decimated by slugs and was so dry I was convinced it was dead.  But look at it now!


Flowers are coming.

Just a little bit of tender care, a little water, a little fresh soil, and removal of weeds, and what seemed dead has blossomed into life.

...the lovers of God rise up like flowers in the spring
Proverbs 11:18(b) TPT

Do you ever feel like your spirit has dried up
Do you feel crushed, bent and broken?
Do you ever feel like the weeds of life are choking you?
Can you barely lift your head?

But I will restore you to health
and heal your wounds 
Jeremiah 30:17

My blog is called It is OK to Fail for a reason, for many reasons. But one of them is how God uses and restores the broken.

God works with and through the broken in this world to show his glory.  It is through the cracks in our lives that the light of God floods out, it is through the broken places that the healing water of God flows.

But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. Luke 15:32
But God doesn't leave us broken, he builds and restores, he heals and refreshes, he brings life where there was only death, he brings light where there was darkness, he sets us on our feet where we have stumbled and he produces fruit from dead things brought back to life.

A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out. Isaiah 42:3

God straightens our life, he gently heals the bruised and weak places, he prunes away the dead branches, he pours living water on our wasteland life, he pulls out the choking weeds of sin, he tenderly encourages our inner-beauty to flower then produce fruit, his life gives us fresh green leaves where there was only dried up old twigs and he lets the light of love restore us.

Sometimes we feel choked, lost, unseen,
trying to lift our heads up above it all

And in those bruised places, God wraps his life around yours - you are in God, God is in you. He carries your pain.

it was our suffering he carried,
our pain and distress, our sick-to-the-soul-ness. Isaiah 53:4(a)

He carried our pain and soul sickness to the cross, and he carries you now because you are braided into him.

Isaiah 40:31 says:
But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

The word translated wait is the Hebrew word qavah - it is the same word used in Genesis 1:9 'let the waters be gathered' - in means being gathered and bound together, it literally means to be entwined like a rope into God, braided into Him. Us in Him and He in us. Braided into God we find a strength and a security that we could never attain on our own.  God is like a rope that will never break.

On that day you will realise that I am in my Father,
and you are in me,
and I am in you.
John 14:20
(Flickr)
It takes time to heal. God is not in a rush. He has eternity.  But you are braided into him. Lean on his strength, seek his living water, ask him to prune away the dead branches and leaves, to encourage you to blossom and bear fruit.

In the meantime, bathe in the light of his restoring love. Because, as I said before, God works with and through the broken.  Don't hide your brokenness.  Don't be ashamed of your past. Because God's miracle is to bring what was dead to life and you are a picture of that beauty.

“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.”
Brennan Manning, Abba's Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging