Child of God

He's got the whole world in His hands!

Hello. It's been quite a while since I posted anything but I have had technical problems, in that my laptop is very temperamental, but I now have a nice new one - well, reconditioned, anyway!

Well, it's another stunningly beautiful day - a gorgeous blue sky, just a few fluffy, white clouds. Typical May weather. We had a couple of lovely walks over the weekend, by the reservoir, along the canal and through the woods. We are very fortunate to have so many nice places within our local vicinity.

This lockdown thing seems quite normal now, doesn't it? It seems ages since I last went to the office but it's just over a month. I keep telling myself I will do more with the time available but the days slip by and I don't always get around to doing anything much. I'm reading a lot of books but no change there, as I was born a bookworm, and a bookworm I'll die! I clearly remember my mum taking me to join the library when I was about five years old. Looking at the shelves and shelves of books, and being told that I could take any three home with me was a taste of paradise for me. I started a lifelong love affair with reading and it remains a source of pleasure, escapism and joy. Where would we be without Kindle in these days? Libraries and book shops closed, charity shops shut down - Mr Amazon will certainly be making lots of money! Hubby and I have just finished reading an e-book called, "Where is God in a Coronavirus World?" by Professor John Lennox. It's quite short but it makes some interesting points. I certainly think a lot of people are wondering the same thing.

This crisis is reminding folk of their own mortality and posing questions about the afterlife. Over my years as a Christian, people have asked me how a loving God can allow such terrible things to happen in this broken world. My answer is that God's own son was subjected to ridicule, persecution, torture and an agonising death. And the reason God allowed this was so that we could be forgiven our sins and have a relationship with our heavenly Father, through the blood of his precious son, Jesus Christ. If God didn't spare His only son, why should we ordinary mortals expect something different? If we will only believe that Jesus died for us on the cross and rose again to be with His Father in heaven, and put our trust in Him, we can have a relationship with the living God. This world isn't easy - lots of terrible things are going on. God never promised to shield us from bad situations but he did promise to be with us every step of the way, and to help us get through whatever life throws at us. But when Jesus returns to earth, we are promised there will be no death, pain, sickness, evil or sin of any kind. I, for one, am looking forward to that day!

In the meantime, stay safe and well, and be assured that God loves you.

❤ Ann x

Walton Reservoir

Tuesday, 12 May

Hello. I hope you enjoyed the weekend as much as I did. What fantastic weather for the Bank Holiday! Apparently, on Saturday, it was hotter here than in Lanzarote. We had some lovely walks - including canals, woods and parks - all local, of course...

Like many other people, we had tuned in to BJ's address on Sunday evening, to find out what the state of play would be for the next three weeks. Like many other people, we failed to make much sense of it but, when we did, were quite dismayed to learn that lockdown restrictions were to be lifted from Monday. I personally thought at least another three weeks in the current format would be necessary. Well, Hubby and I won't be changing our routine much - we feel it's too soon.

I unwisely spent a big part of yesterday in perusing the news headlines and reading the comments on Facebook about the situation. Big mistake! I already know from experience that this does me no favours at all. I woke up at 5 this morning, feeling quite anxious. Fortunately, Hubby had woken up before me and we had a chat about our anxieties. I say OUR anxieties; he doesn't seem to get stressed or worried about anything! Anyway, I told him I was feeling quite tense about the situation and couldn't see a way out of it. We prayed together. We always pray together in the mornings but prayer time was brought forward by a couple of hours today.

It's amazing how praying makes me feel so much better. I told the Lord I was very anxious and that, although I trusted him wholeheartedly, I couldn't help feeling scared sometimes. I asked him to watch over us and thanked him for all the blessings he has given to us already. We are both well and so are our family and friends at the moment. Well, after talking to the Lord, I felt ready to take on the day (after a couple more hours of sleep, when Hubby had gone to work😀) My point is that, even though I am a Christian and a Child of God, this doesn't prevent me from being scared and worried, just like anyone else. Don't get me wrong - God's love and protection is wonderful and I am a lot calmer in this situation than I would have been in my pre-Christian days. I am a relatively newbie Christian and am still a work in progress!

I currently read a Psalm from the Bible every day. Oddly enough, today's reading was Psalm 23. I have used this quote in a previous blog but make no apologies for doing so again, as I think it is so powerful. "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." (Psalm 23 v4)

What an apt time to read this passage! And I am reminded every single day how much our Lord Jesus loves me. But this is not exclusive, as He loves you too!

Stay safe and well.

 Ann

Tuesday, 19 May

Hello again. I thought I would change my photo, after my sister's comment that the previous one made me look like "a sad old lady"! And there I was, fondly imagining it made me look wise and serene. 🙃

I've used a picture of me and Kev, my lovely hubby, on what might well be the last foreign holiday we have in quite a time. We went to Ibiza last June with both my sisters and their husbands, and a good time was had by all.

The weeks soon go round, and here we are at Tuesday again! As always, Kev and I have had a lovely weekend. We have stayed reasonably local, as don't want to take too many risks, but we have managed two good canal walks. We were fortunate enough to see lots of ducklings and two goslings - so cute!

Our church (Bridgewater Baptist, Eccles) is still doing the online services each week, along with short Bible studies on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This gives a bit of structure to our week, and we always feel uplifted and encouraged after listening to our pastor Andrew's message. Last Sunday, Andrew suggested that we might want to share our testimony - that is, the story of how we became Christians. I remember referring to my story briefly in my first blog, so have decided to give my testimony in instalments. Bite-sized pieces, so I don't send you to sleep. 🤩

To give a bit of background, I was very fortunate to have a lovely mum who not only believed in, but trusted in, Jesus Christ. She taught us all about God, answering questions in the best way she could, eg "Mum, if God made everything in the world, who made God?" As I remember, that particular question must have phased her because she said, "Oh, I don't know - I don't know everything, you know!" She did teach us to say our prayers every night before we went to sleep and I became accustomed to prayer at a very early age; it just felt natural. Mum had gone to our local church from being a child but didn't actually attend, once we came along - I never really knew why - but she was determined that her kids (five of us) would be brought up in the Lord.

Consequently, we were all expected to attend Sunday School each week. I did enjoy some of this, and remember our lovely teacher, June. Some of my friends went there, too, so that was fine. Each Thursday, the church ran a group for young people, called Christian Endeavour, and we went along to that most weeks. I remember singing 'choruses', as they were called, such as: "Only a boy called David", with lots of actions, making it quite fun for kids. We also had a chain prayer, where each person was expected to say a few words when it was their turn. I also attended Bible study lessons and took part in a Scripture competition each year, one of which I won, with the impressive score of 94%.

The Christmas Carol service was much anticipated by me and my sister. Mince pies, coated with icing sugar, were provided, along with milky coffee, a real treat for us. We enjoyed singing the carols, of course, but I have to confess that the main attraction was the goodies!

Our church also held barn dances, with tattie pie and peas suppers. We celebrated Walking Day in May, when Mum would get into debt with the 'catalogue' to buy our new walking outfits - coats, dresses and shoes. How proud we felt, moving along in the procession, displaying our new feathers!

When we were still quite young, Mum arranged for the four eldest kids (I am the eldest) to be 'dedicated'. This entails enlisting the church congregation's help in keeping children on the right path in dedicating the children to the Lord.

So, as far back as I can remember, I have always believed in God. Mum would remind us that the Lord could see everything we did, hear everything we said, and even read our thoughts. I found this quite scary - still do, at times, in fact! If you have read this far, you might well be forgiven for assuming that I have been a Christian all my life. Sadly, this isn't the case. At the ripe old age of 14, I turned my back on God, as I wanted to live my life my own way - and how I regret that decision, now! I turned back to God nine years ago and will tell you more about that later.

In the meantime, as always, please remember God loves you and is waiting for you to turn your life over to Him. Don't be like me, regretting not doing it sooner - but, hey, better late than never!

Ann

Wednesday, 27 May

Hello again. It's so good to be able to enjoy this beautiful weather. We've been very fortunate to have so much sunshine during our lockdown period. I can't imagine how depressing it would have been if this crisis had occurred during the winter months.

As usual, Kev and I managed to get out for some quality walks over the Bank Holiday weekend, including Stockton Heath, Lymm and Appley Bridge. I have included a picture from our last walk, having only recently got my head around this facility. As I have said, blogging is very new to me but I am getting into it a bit more and am quite enjoying it.

As I remember, last week, I was telling you something of the story of my conversion to Christianity. I had told you about my home background and the sound foundation I had, before veering away at the age of 14.

During my fourth year at grammar school, I was befriended by a girl called Lesley. She asked me if I would care to go to a church youth group meeting with her and I thought that might be good. Having sought permission from Mum, I caught the bus to Rawtenstall and met Lesley, and we turned up at the house of the Peters family. At 21, John was the elder brother, Alan was the younger, and there was a sister called Margaret. John was training to become a minister and all three siblings were genuine and godly people. The meetings were held on Thursday evenings, and the format was: worship, songs, message, and then socialising, with refreshments provided, in the form of pop, crisps and biscuits. As I remember, there would have been about a dozen people at the house and, as it was only a small terrace, it was rather crowded, but the atmosphere was warm, friendly and welcoming, and I instantly felt at home.

I attended this group for several months and actually met my first boyfriend there. It was a very innocent affair, with hand-holding and a chaste peck on the lips, but nothing more. He eventually replaced me with a different girl from the group, and so I tasted heartbreak for the first time in my young life. But this didn't prevent me from turning up each week.

We had varied social events in the group. I remember a midnight hike one Good Friday, various birthday celebrations, lots of fun and laughter, all very innocent. I learned a lot from John; he was clearly a talented teacher and minister, even then.

One evening, John announced that he would be starting a series of lessons on the End of the World, stating that, if anyone felt uncomfortable about this topic, he would choose something different. I immediately felt apprehensive. I did have some knowledge of this subject but was quite fearful of what it might entail. Unfortunately, I didn't have the courage to speak up, so kept silent. John then stated, "but we all know where we're going, anyway, don't we?" and everyone nodded and murmured assent. But, with these words, it dawned on me that - no, actually, I did not know where I was going! I knew that I did not yet share the assurance and comfort of these people about my destiny in the afterlife. I envied them.....

By the following week, I had contracted jaundice and was off school. My sisters had it too, and my brother had the worst of it. I was unable to attend the youth group for the five weeks I was ill. By the time I was fit to return to school, I had decided that becoming a Christian was just not for me. I had all my life ahead of me and I was going to do things my way. I didn't want to be bound by God's restrictions.

Don't get me wrong - I never stopped believing in God. I still prayed nightly and appealed to Him whenever I was scared or worried. But I justified my behaviour by convincing myself that I didn't need to go to church to be a Christian, I didn't need to read my Bible, I didn't need the fellowship of other believers. I suppose I wanted to have my cake and eat it!

Over the following years, God did prompt me to try a couple of churches but I concluded that I found church boring. I also found the Bible boring. I lived my life my own sweet way but I never, ever had peace of mind. I always felt guilty for not doing what God wanted me to do. I believed, and still do, that God loves us all, whether we turn to him or not, but a choice must be made at some stage about the priorities in our lives. Whenever there was a threat of war, or some discussion started about the possible end of the world, I would feel uneasy, wondering where I would stand with the Lord. I listened to people state that they were "a good person". What is our definition of a good person? I heard people say, "well, I'm not a bad person - there are a lot worse than me in the world!" I wondered how my credit and debit sides would add up when my turn to be accounted came. I convinced myself it would probably be alright ...

I lived my life my way for a long time. I had good times and bad times but it was not a life lived in the way God wanted me to live and I really regret not turning to him at the age of 14, when I absolutely believe He was calling me. But all was not lost and I shall continue next time...

No longer a slave to fear - I am a Child of God!

God bless.

Stay well and safe.

❤ Ann x