Saturday, 28 September 2019

All Things Through Christ

Two years ago, the thought of needing two new knees was, to put it mildly, a daunting prospect.  Really?  Do I have to go through this?  Isn't it just a bit of niggly arthritis?  Is there not a simpler solution?  All these and more were the questions I levelled at the surgeon.  His answer, when it came, was emphatic: you need two new artificial knees.

Little did I know then what was to lie ahead.  All I could see were negatives; the things I'd have to cancel, the retreats and conferences I'd no longer be able to participate in, the limitations of recovery, the people I'd be letting down, and the uncertainty of it all.  

I never could have imagined what the fruits of that time would be (apart from a matching pair of metal knees and, hopefully, the ability to walk pain-free!).

So here I am, two months on from the second surgery, and in awe at what's about to be launched: a new book - 'Dwelling in the Psalms'.   In six months, following my first operation, I reflected and prayed with a psalm a day, starting with Psalm 1 and ending at  …  the end!  And Kevin Mayhew have transformed my words into this beautiful book.

In the early days after surgery, when even rising from a chair required the most gargantuan effort, Philippians 4.13 became my mantra:  "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me".  Not too surprising then that this prayer was birthed as I reflected with Psalm 21 ...

I thank you
for blessing upon blessing
of answered prayers:
I lift my praises to you,
for you have been my strength
in the past
and will be so
in the future.

Keep me
from the temptation
of striving to resolve things
help me
to surrender all my struggles
to you,

Remind me
again, and again,
that I can do all things
through Christ
who strengthens me.     Amen

Could 150 prayers like this help you,
or someone whom you know?  
Would you like to read the associated reflections too?  
And 150 contemporary interpretations of the psalms?  

The book's available to pre-order here and will be in Christian bookshops from October 17th.

'All things through Christ' image credit: AK & Co

Friday, 20 September 2019

Mothering God

Continuing to share some extracts from my forthcoming book, Dwelling in the Psalms, I'm looking today at Psalm 131.  

The psalms are shot through with powerful imagery, some of it brutal, much of it angry, and some of it beautifully tender, as in this psalm:

Lord, my heart is not proud;
my eyes are not haughty.
I don't concern myself with matters too great
or too awesome for me to grasp.
Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself,
like a weaned child who no longer cries for its 
     mother's milk.
Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
                                                                                 Ps. 131:1-2 NLT
It’s hard to think of a more peaceful picture than the image of a young child quietly resting in its mother’s arms. In the early days of life, a baby cries loudly and often for its mother’s milk; it regularly needs the nourishment, the comfort and the reassurance that suckling at the breast gives. In time, the baby grows beyond that stage of its development and anxious crying becomes replaced by a calmer contentment. This simple psalm gives a picture of that quiet contentment; an image of a child who feels safe and satisfied, resting in the presence of one in whom they have absolute trust. They are secure in the arms of one who only has their best interests at heart. It’s a beautiful illustration of the peace and confidence that God wants each of us, his children, to have in him. As Mother Julian famously said, ‘All will be well, and all manner of things shall be well’.
Mothering God,
thank you
for your tender care;
thank you
that in your presence
I am always and forever

Teach me 
each day
to live as your child,
to rest in your arms
and to let you
hold me through life.

And should I be afraid,
quieten my soul.


Tuesday, 10 September 2019

God of my restless nights

Twelve months ago, I spent 150 days pondering and praying with the psalms.  It was interesting, uplifting, inspiring and many times downright frustrating.  How exactly do we relate today to psalms which speak of vicious snarling dogs and fierce enemies, of people scavenging for bones and scowling like coyotes?  It's not easy, is it.  These graphic images in Psalm 59 were written by David as he was being hunted down; they were a plea for help from a man with a price on his head.

Most of us aren't in that situation.  But we all sometimes have fears and worries which can literally haunt us.  When we begin to read the psalm from that perspective we can begin to see how it might speak to us personally.

This is my short reflection based on that psalm, from my new book, 'Dwelling in the Psalms':
Night time. Often the hours when difficulties trouble us most.  Twice in this psalm we read of David's enemies: 'They come out at night, snarling like vicious dogs as they prowl the streets.'  The repetition of this verse gives emphasis to its importance. Who amongst us has not wrestled through sleeplessness as our thoughts have churned relentlessly over fears and problems.  

The context of this psalm is different.  David was physically under attack, but the psalm can nevertheless speak into our own individual fears, the things which keep us awake at night. It reads like a psalm of anger, but the reality is it’s a psalm of faith: three times David speaks of God as his refuge and his tower of strength.  Like him, if we hang onto those words, 'But as for me, I will sing about your power', we can learn to sleep securely, leaving our fears with God, in simple trust.
and my prayer:

God of my restless nights,
God of my churning fears,
God of my racing heart,
protect me.

With your power, 
still me.
With your presence, 
fill me. 
And with your peace, 
indwell me.

With each new dawn 
and through 
the long hours of the night 
I choose to praise you.

Amen                                                                  You can pre-order the book here!

Saturday, 7 September 2019

150 holy mornings

My new book, 'Dwelling in the Psalms', is a contemporary interpretation for our times; a modern reflection on the ancient texts, pin-pointing their relevance for today.

This is how it came about ...

150 days.
150 psalms.
150 holy mornings.
150 wrestles for understanding.
150 searches for inspiration.
150 insights.
150 prayers.

Recovery from surgery providing the space.
              Intention becoming discipline.
                              Ancient texts revealing their wisdom.
                                             Struggle morphing into a love affair.
                                                               Challenge becoming joy.

                               It was a privilege to write it. 

                               I pray you'll find it healing to pray with it.

It's coming soon!

Do email me if you'd like to express an early interest in this book.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

A New Book - out soon!

I'm excited to share the news that my new book, Dwelling in the Psalms, will be available in a few weeks time.  

Sometimes the most unexpected promptings of God can prove to be the most powerful.  Holding a proof copy of my latest book in my hands, I can hardly believe that I wrote it.  It emerged during my convalescence from major surgery as I meditated with a psalm a day.  And I couldn't be more pleased with it.
"This book evolved. I didn’t set out to write it. It wrote me. It wove its way into my heart quietly, subtly, insistently. Once it started to emerge, it wouldn’t let me go."
Comprising 150 contemporary interpretations of the psalms, with accompanying reflections and prayers, it draws out the potentially healing context of the ancient texts.  It was a deeply healing journey for me as I wrote it and my prayer is that it may be the same for others as they read it.

I'll be sharing extracts in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, it's available for pre-order from the Kevin Mayhew website.