Tag: trusting

Once the storm is over

Once the storm is over

What will the world be like, once the present Pandemic is over?

Some are dreading the future. For the very many it will be a case of rebuilding the lives they once had, reclaiming lost livelihoods and overcoming problems of physical and mental health. Doubtless the few may come out if it all in much better shape than many; there is that saying, “it’s an ill wind that blows nobody good” – there have always been those few that come out of a crisis better than when they went in..

“Once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain; when you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm is all about. – Haruki Murakami

I don’t believe that I will be the same person who said goodbye to so many aspects of my own personal life last March, I think they are lost in the storm, but not my faith. Indeed my faith and inner convictions have grown stronger – there has always been something about a storm at sea which has grown strength and trust in the sailors.

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for extraordinary destiny – C.S. Lewis

There is that about starting over and rebuilding which has always been good for the soul.

“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 futureJeremiah 29: 11 N.I.V.

No. Starting over and rebuilding never easy, but essentially those Israelites who went into the storm and exile in Babylon were not the same persons who came out but their knowledge of the LORD and trust had changed them for the better, the lessons learnt in adversity may bring us tears but “joy surely comes in the morning”

Let’s keep following and walking with the Lord, looking up and not down, keeping eyes fixed on the Throne of God, not allowing them to stray.. that way we can walk on water even in these days and times.

Put your hand in the hand of the man who walked on the water

Lord in whose hands are all our days and our times,

Bring us to know

That your grace is enough for us.

Always Jean

To Wait is to Hope For, To Expect

The Other Side

“Carrying His own cross, He went out to the place of the skull, (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha”

John 19.17

To wait is to hope for, expect Colonel Cook’s handwriting told me… not sure what it was I did hope for in those days, but am sure that I did expect that my prayers would be heard and answered. In fact I was convinced that they would be. There was a solid reality behind those words of Jesus concerning asking, seeking and knocking.

Yet, I asked myself what did Jesus, Himself hope for,expect?

Well, he did not expect that life for him would be easy, comfortable and without its sorrows. He accepted whatever it pleased his Father in heaven to send or give. As a young woman he impressed upon me that I should do the same following Jesus meant accepting a share in difficulties, uncomfortable and sorrowful experiences.

Young people these days do hope for, and expect so much more than I did, in the worldly, material sense; I get the impression that it is common to believe that following Jesus, today is to be able to “have it all” in the worldly sense and still be a “celebrity” in the discipleship game.

We can’t.

First principles still apply.

“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it”

Mark 10. 38 (N.I.V,”

Not the kind of thing which people wish to hear anymore, and even less popular the Bible Teaching on Holiness. The Teaching of the Beatitudes has sadly become simply “beautiful words” to read but not to practice. I think that is a deep sorrow for many Christians who find themselves labelled with all kinds of hurtful and discriminatory words, yes in this modern age of our where all kinds of discrimination are legislated against it is still possible, and highly likely that the faithful, devout, meek, gentle, kind sincere soul will be spoken against, called names and persecuted because they have committed the crime of following Jesus.

Gracious Saviour

You did teach us to expect our share of troubles in the world

You did tell us that in you we would find peace:

Give to us courage, endurance in the waiting and always your gentleness, love and forgiveness in times of opposition and persecution.

For love of us, your tears flowed in Gethsemane’s Garden:

For love of us, you accepted the Cup your Father placed into your hands.

Help us to do the same.

Amen

Always, Jean

Follow, and Keep Following The Star

Follow and Keep On Following

Wishing all my friends a Happy and Bright New Year. Continue to look up and keep on following the Star that led us all thus far… Covid19 cannot prevail in the end the Star that is Jesus the Bright and Morning Star will overcome all darkness and bring us through to both peace and light.

Do I really believe this?

Yes I do, those wise men of old, without name themselves and from unknown lands, did not have ease in their journeys and from the day when you and I, brother, sister first began to put one foot in front of the other in our following of the Lord Jesus; we have all, if truth be told known times of difficulty as well as ease, times of sadness as well as joy ~ times of loss as well as gain, times of mourning and bless the Lord times of consolation.

We have known those times of being completely drained and emptied; only to be filled with amazing love, peace and joy beyond all human telling. Such was the finding of the wise men as they gazed on the infant Christ…. they looked on a child wrapped humbly whom they found living in humble circumstances. The Divine Son from all eternity wrapped in the same mortal skin as ours born in such a time as this..

So at the beginning of 2021 let’s look up and follow the Bright and morning Star.

Lord of all hope,

Bright and Morning Star

Keep us ever faithful in our journey.

Guide us and keep us by the light of your presence,

Until we come into that Bright and Eternal Kingdom

There, sorrows forgotten like those of a mother safely

Delivered of a newborn child, may we kneel in perfect worship

At the throne of Love, Peace and Joy.

Amen

Jean Harcourt (3rd January 2021
Artist unknown

Golden Glory/Autumn Rain

Autumn in the City (Birmingham U.K)

I love Autumn it’s colours, it’s smells, the air. The carpets of leaves under my feet which sometimes crunch as Corn Flakes do, I love Autumn’s Promise, “Look, I am just touching everything with sleep for a little while…. “Get ready for Spring and waking up”

I have always trusted God to keep His promises, especially the one that as long as Earth remains Springtime and Harvest won’t fail to show up on time. But that doesn’t mean to say, that I should be careless and disrespectful to Mother Earth, she is the home that God gave me … full of wonders that I will never see, full of creatures, great and small, bright, beautiful and trees that can count hundreds, some thousands even, of candles on their birthday cakes. No. I cannot be disrespectful to Mother Earth.

I have watched a cheeky little family of dunnocks splashing water over one another in the giant flower pot saucer I fill with clean water every day. I think to myself, “now they’re good baptists” I watch tiny squirrel kittens learning from their parents the art of nut storing and the frantic antics to find them again! I wonder at the smallness and fragility of the little nest I found amongst the Ash Branches, I wonder and I marvel…

This year, I have picked an old habit up again … every Autumn I would plant some new bulbs…. an act of faith, trust in the Lord that come Spring the little bulbs will poke their little heads from under their winter duvet, daffodils will begin work on their Easter Bonnets…

I cannot disrespect Mother Earth nor any of the things, times and seasons which God has ordained even rainy days bring with them news from heaven.


Today has been a day of rain. Not just a little rain. It’s ok for me I can just look out of the window and watch the rain and the people go by, although it is true not many walk nowadays, but some still do especially schooldays; when moms push buggies and prams with older children at their side or dawdling behind, then the pavement is empty again until the great turn around time, and back home walk.

Autumn rain

Look around
Look around, look around
Is there something I'm missing here?
Is there something I should know?

And just listen to the sound
All around there's people living their lives
People passing by
As I catch their eye

It doesn't matter where you're from
'Cause wherever you are from
You got a long walk home
You got a long walk on

And I've walked for many years
And I've never shed a tear
For a place called home
'Cause in this place I roam...

Everyone's the same
When you're walking in the autumn rain
Walking in the autumn rain

When you're walking from your past
You can never walk too fast
Think you got away at last
Think you got away at last

And we all have to live with our mistakes
But what would it take
To make things right
To feel good inside?

It doesn't matter what you've done
'Cause whatever you've done
Life has to go on
Life has to go on, yeah

And my conscience is always clear every time I am here
Because there is no blame
When you're walking
In the autumn rain
In the autumn rain

I don’t know if you know that song?

Do you remember walking to and from school.

I do. All of my life my feet and legs have been my way of getting there from child to adult and my experience of rain is sometimes it’s been a delight and others ~ cold, wet and miserable. Another thought is how we feel when walking in rain is not really governed by the feel of the cold rain on our skin; but how we are feeling on the inside. I can remember walking with others and sometimes yet feeling alone: sometimes walking alone but yet feeling carried along in a crowd.

One day, sooner than they think, the little children, their moms and dads might be asking themselves what it would take to make things right and to feel good inside, as I draw the curtains on rainy, dark evenings I say a prayer that sometime in the walk of life someone will take the time to share with them the trust and faith which we were taught as little children, tell them Jesus is just a prayer away and that our Father is holding out His hand with a longing to make things right and let them feel good on the inside. We don’t remain as children forever; there is nothing so sad, so forlorn as a grown up with a hurting, empty heart which doesn’t know the grace and comfort of the Holy Spirit of God.

Lord, let the Autumn Rain bring your blessing

Let the Autumn Rain fall warm and with tenderness

Fill the heart of young ones, that they may never,

Walk alone in the Autumn Rain,

Nor miss the loveliness of Golden Glory

Amen

Always, Jean

Autumn Rain, lyrics by MATTHEW HARDWIDGE, PHELIM BYRNE [Universal Music Publishing Group

I See the Moon

Psalm 89:37 – ‘Established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky

Therefore will I trust you always,

Though I may seem to be lost

And in the shadow of death,

I will not fear, for you are ever with me,

And will never leave me

to face my perils alone

Thomas Merton

September will soon slip quietly through the door to let October in. This has been a strange year; an upside down year with no season or month appearing ‘normal’ For many it has been a year of great loneliness, despair and at times a fearful one. A year of sorrows and loss and as I write, with the days shortening and nights lengthening, so many of us will be looking at the approach of Autumn and Winter with trembling and fearfulness.

The opening words of Psalm 89 tell us that the Psalmist (Ethan the Ezrahite] intends to sing out about the Lord’s great love forever. He sings of the Lord’s great faithfulness …. he sings of God’s eternal covenant with David (the Messiah] whom God will appoint to be His firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth. (Verse 27). God declares (verse 37) that His covenant with David will be “established for ever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky”

I look up at the Moon in Autumn skies and have a little whispered conversation with her Creator, often very conscious of the Good Shepherds presence, I am comforted. I pray that any who might read these words will be too, and very aware of the nearness of the One who has promised, never to leave or forsake us.

I see the moon, the moon sees me.

O thou lantern great of grace,

O white moon of time and space,

Who gave light and shape to thee,

Life and death He did decree,

Who created thee is He

Who likewise created me.

God bless the moon, and God bless me.

Anonymous.. Scots Gaelic. Trans by G R D Maclean Celtic Spiritual Verse: Poems of the Western Highlanders from the Gaelic (SPCK London 2002)

May the Lord who made heaven and earth, placing the Sun to rule over the day, and the Moon over the night, that they might be for signs, seasons, days and years watch over you, whoever and wherever you may be and bless you with His great peace.

Always, Jean

Prayer: The Good Way

“Look to the crossroads”

“Stand in the ways and see,

And ask for the old paths,

Where the good way is,

And walk in it:

Then you will find rest for your souls.”

Jeremiah 6:16 (NKJV)

Whether our years are few or many. All of us at some time in life come to a crossroads and often we find the ways are not as clearly marked as we would wish for and there are no guarantees that we shall find what we desire by following this path or that.

Perhaps we may look and choose the “Road Less Travelled By” (Robert Frost) setting off hopefully and Cross Roads left behind, then suddenly we aren’t so sure… How do we know just which is the good way?

Many set off with a strong sense of vocation, and certainty of the road to take. Many more do not.

How do we find certainty

Mark’s Gospel, full of immediately’s, or straightaways, has this little account:-

“Now in the morning, having risen a long time before daylight, he (Jesus) went out and departed to a solitary place and there He prayed.

And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him.

When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.”

But He said to them. “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth’

Mark 1. 35-38 (NKJV)

When the Holy Spirit points out to us the good way, of Prayer way we should “immediately” take it. It is a quiet way and a lonely way but it is the way our Master took, His feet never left it not even surrounded by great crowds …. and from that good way…. He gained direction for the coming days.

Lord be with us today in the good way

That we may leave behind yesterday’s town and regret

And see tomorrow’s town, purpose and hope

Amen.

Always Jean

Every Creature is a Word of God: Elephant

Many of my posts have been centred on my younger self, well this one is from very recent days, as recently as 2018 a little baby of an elephant presented herself/himself? The lord knows. During my morning prayer time. I was charmed, fascinated. Momma elephant stood nearby, watching as baby raised a courteous trunk in greeting.

We All Have to Learn
To Trust the Water

They stood by a roadway constructed from logs, all neatly and perfectly laid

I still find the image of baby, mother and Mahout stirring in my mind from time to time. Yes, I did say Mahout, elephants do not naturally lay logs to construct roads, but they are capable, very capable of learning much and teaching much, passing on knowledge and experience gained down through their generations.

We say, don’t we, that an elephant never forgets? Memory and learning go hand in hand. With people not all learning comes from books, classrooms, teachers, the internet, much of it like that of elephants is from experience. From the moment we are born we are learning from mothers, fathers, siblings, all of our senses, touch, taste, smell, hearing, sight inform us .. we are fearfully and wonderfully made. All God’s creatures are wonderfully and delightfully made – yet all must learn, and to a certain extent learning to all creatures is instinctive, so much is gifted to us before we are even born. Yet… there is always so much more to learn.

I captioned the picture we all have to learn, simply because we do Baby elephants need Momma on hand the first time they take a bath; and a fledgling’s parents are not far away when baby wings are tried out; water for a baby elephant, air currents for a bird. What about a child of God?

Just the same? We need the Holy Spirit. All the way along, on looking back we will find that even before we tried the water of baptism if we were baptised as older persons, the spirit was carefully helping with the construction of the road, present, although we may not have been fully aware of it, in our choices and decisions .. especially that big decision of trusting our very self to our Saviour and Lord to a new element .. the water of Life in Jesus.

Momma Church can teach us a lot, but not all because when it comes to choosing which logs to lay, which direction to go in, Momma church like Momma elephant needs Mahout, and Mahout is the Man Christ Jesus.

It is through Jesus, that the Spirit, and instruction is given.

I invite you to think about this “showing” with me, share your thoughts please if you will. I know that I still have much pondering on it to do for myself. But one final thing. If you will accept them, the words of Jesus to the little elephant

“Don’t be afraid. I must touch your head as well as heart.”

Lord, there are times

When our biggest need is for your

Touch on our heart, to warm our coldness,

Inspire our thinking.

And

There are times when you understand,

But we do not yet comprehend it, that

Our greatest need is the enlarging of our understanding

Your touch on our head, your gift of understanding,

To the heart you inspire with your thoughts

To bless and willingly to serve in the way You direct.

Jean

Fortunate and blessed

I am fortunate, I am blessed with a large garden~ My own little wilderness

During the past few few days, I have spent much time out in my wilderness, chopping, pruning, digging, planting and just sitting, looking, listening

Just sitting, I have been visited, by small elusive birds, cheekier and noisier larger ones and the butterflies

Orange-Tip
(Anthocharis cardamines)

Birds, looking for food in their eating place, the little ones careful to avoid the bigger, bossier ones and a squabble, and the spring butterflies searching for nectar amongst the flowers. All at peace. All at rest.

Why can’t the world always be so quiet, so calm at rest?

I am distracted by thoughts of Elijah being fed by the ravens and because it is sunny, and hot my butterfly thoughts flitted back to a visit to Italy, Subiaco and Santo Speco where Saint Benedict lived as a hermit, in a rocky wilderness of his own. Saint Benedict also had help from Ravens. A hard, difficult climb to his cave, here was another man of God … on the run: like Moses from Pharaoh, like Elijah, like David from King Saul. Sometimes harsh, wild places are to be preferred to harsh, wild, angry kings and enemies.

Statue of St Bendict
Entrance to the cave where he lived.

I recalled thinking at that time, what a hard and difficult way to live! Sitting in my chair, with my kitchen door and food and clean water a few feet away; it was not easy to picture, to imagine the rigours of life lived in such unfriendly environments of true wilderness. From the beginning the wild places, wilderness and desert have been not only the hiding places but also the birthing places of God’s people. It was in the wilderness that the people of Israel were shaped, where John the Baptist cried out to make straight the way of the Lord, where Jesus was tested by Satan and prevailed.

I have an idea that no one truly chooses to live in the wilderness but that our Father chooses them and then the wilderness to prepare them until ready, equipped, character formed, strengthened and empowered they are ready for the next stage of their life, and Life in Christ is never going to be easy.

Right now, there are millions of God’s children who with no regular public worship, feel kind of lost, in some kind of wilderness of our own. We are not lost. The Shepherd knows where each lamb is. In His time, the Lord will bring us out, a people ready.

Father, through all our wandering be our guide. Teach us that the safest place to be, is that place where You are. You are, and You alone our Rock, our Strength. It is You who provides our Daily Bread and water from Living Fountains. Neither fierce heat by day, frosty cold by night, plague, storm, the enemy without or the enemy within can overcome your children and You make us more than conquerors through our Lord Jesus Christ.

God Speaks and Lifts up My Head

“But You, O Lord, are a shield about me,

My glory, and the One who lifts up my head.

I was crying to the LORD with my voice,

And He answered me from His holy mountain.

I lay down and slept;

I awoke for the LORD sustains.

I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people

Who have set themselves against me round about.


A New Year but last year still remains with us in many ways, like the litter of autumn leaves that linger in the garden, if autumn leaves were troubles and problems, it seems we never clear them away neatly for a pristine start for a New Year. Because of the mild weather not all of them have even fluttered down to earth yet. Life like a garden is always going to be, just a little untidy.

Life for an adopted child of God, is also always going to be a little untidy, a little messy: yet always hope-full, like tender plants we are always under the Heavenly Gardeners watchful eye.

Our Father in heaven knows the things that trouble us, and all that we fear.

We can like David say with confidence “You, O Lord are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head.”

We can lie down and sleep and awake for He does indeed sustain us.

Ten thousand troubles, ten thousand problems, ten thousand enemies?

Look to God.

I have always had a tender, longing for the first glimpse of the Snowdrops, beneath all the debris of last year, in spite of heavy clods of earth pressing them down and under and even the tread of heavy feet, faith tells me, that they will break through and throwing off in triumph all winter’s vain efforts to keep them down, they will lift up their heads: God will sustain them as He will sustain all His own who are crying out to Him with a troubled heart.

Always when I have been crying out to the Lord, yes I cry, often. Not just with my voice, but with real tears that leave handkerchiefs wet and eyes redder than the holly berry, God has heard, and blessed me with the gift of sleep and then,

God speaks and His Word lifts up my head


Lord, teach us

Not to be afraid,

Not to despair.

But, teach us to call on You, to cast all our care on the One who cares for us.

Teach us to trust You and so we shall lie down and sleep, for Your knees are the pillows You made for your beloved and what shall disturb us while You are keeping watch. You have taught us not to worry about what tomorrow may bring, and that you know already what we need.

Those who wear the Armour You provide will surely overcome in Your Strength, Your Power in the Name of the Lord, who heaven and earth has made.


Scripture: Psalm 3. 3-8

Prayer: my own

I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, so shall I be saved from my enemies. (KJB 2 Samuel 22.4)

A More Hopeful Forecast

October, rainy, and mild, this year will soon be over, and still the leaves cling to the trees, waiting, perhaps for windy November.

Or will it be windy November?

As the month began there were forecasts of snow in the last half of the month. Still no snow. I cannot say that I am sad about that. October seems far too early for snow to arrive; it would seem bizarre to have flurries of snow flakes before flurries of crunchy , red-gold leaves.

Weather forecasters do not always get it right.

The future, despite modern technology, weather satellites, and highly proficient interpreters of so much information the future remains un-known, hidden from our view by an impenetrable curtain.

A curtain which the most insistent hands cannot draw back, anymore than the reader of tea-leaves can.

I am glad of that.

There are some things it is better that we don’t know.

I promised to pray for a younger lady today.

We have not known each other very long, measured in proportion to the long year of my life, perhaps we could say from July to October. She is a quietly spoken, clever lady with whole sunny summers, golden autumns, white winters and green springs to look forward to, except that the gloomy weather forecaster has said she has a cancer.

So, I am praying that He who holds the future, yours’ – mine – hers’ will prove the forecasters wrong, and that behind the curtain many years of happy, fruitful life await.


I love the plants and pots that occupy my window sills, especially those plants that come as gifts. I find it very difficult to part with a single one, even despite the flowering period being over and gone, and little hope that they will flower again. The geranium in the photo was last year’s. For months it has just sat there, no foliage, green shoots. There have been those mornings when I have been tempted, strongly tempted to put it on the compost heap. Almost, but:

There is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again. And its shoots will not fail.”

“And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us”

Look, the geranium is flowering now.

I purpose not to accept every gloomy prediction, it is true. Prayer changes things.

Scriptures: Job 14.7, Romans 5.5

Lord, you teach us that hope abides for ever,

When faith is weak and can not grasp the shield or wield the Spirit’s sword,

When joy is restrained, the rainbow blotted out by the cloud:

Then let hope, send out strong shoots of prayer,

That faith may flower and bear perfect fruit,

Your love,

And our perfect healing

Amen.