Your value is in who you are

I recently went to Holy Island off the coast of Northumberland. As I walked with my family we arrived at a beautiful pebble beach. All along the beach there were beautiful pebble towers

Lindesfarne | Holy Island

I instantly began looking for the tallest tower. And then began to build my tallest tower.

Why do we feel the need to build?

I built my tower, and sat to enjoy the fruit of my labour. As I looked I found myself realising that my tower would be knocked down. This fragile cairn of stone would become rubble. I picked up a stone and looked at it. I saw beauty in that single stone. I didn’t need to build because beauty was already intrinsically present on that pebble beach.

Why do we find it hard to accept the value of who we are in our own right?

Today as I write, thousands of young people are receiving GSCE exam results. They will experience many thoughts and a range of positive and negative emotions. People will give them verbal and nonverbal messages about their sense of value, identity and belonging in the world based upon their level of achievement.

I would love to let you know this:

Your value and identity are not based on your achievements – they are based on the beautiful human being that you already are.

It is good to build a secure life through achievements and hard work, but the results should not define you.

Be defined by the love you feel from people who accept you unconditionally.

Be defined by the character of your heart.

Define your value by the love and warmth you share with others.

Determine your own value through how you hold your head up high, and how you view yourself.

We are all like my pebble on the beach: People will try to put you into their category; their box; their view of you.

BUT…

Your value, beauty and sense of worth are already present in who you are. Be encouraged that as a unique and wonderful human being you will make your mark on the world in your own way.

What we do is the overflow of who we are. Be the best YOU that you can possibly be. Hold your head up high and know that today you are heading into the world to show them who you are, not who they think you are.

And as you do, take time to Enjoy the journey 👣

You are a beautiful human being

Enjoy the little things

One of the things I’ve been doing throughout lockdown is finding joy in the everyday things that are around us. It has been a wonderful practice to develop.

Regularly Finding the joy in the little things helps us to develop a mindset of wonder at the beauty around us, as well as pulling our thought-world into a positive state (sometimes only for a moment).

The more we find enjoyment in the little things, the more we build up a well of joy and resilience within ourselves. Building joy also impacts and increases our level of hope that things will be okay.

But what if your life is full of pain? What about when you’re carrying trauma, or going through a hard time?

Here’s a few words from my experience of pain that I hope will encourage you…

Stuartwriting | a personal word

May we find joy in the little things each day – there is beauty, wonder and joy all around when we look closely. Enjoy the images I’ve put below – they are examples of enjoying the little things.

And Enjoy the journey 👣

Bumble bee
Clickity cluckity chicken
Canal walk
Rainy day

Even rain in the window can bring joy! 🌧

Be true to yourself

Did you know that YOU are the most important person in your life? There will never be anybody that knows you the way you know you. This is why it is important that you are true to yourself.

Being true to yourself starts with being honest with your self. It continues with presenting your true self to others. This is not always easy for us – people may not like the real you, or they may like the real you even more that the masked version.

Being true to yourself minimises the internal stress we place upon ourselves. It releases us from the pressure of hiding behind our masks.

Being true to ourselves is easier when we surround ourselves with people we trust, people who accept us for who we are rather than who they want us to be. We are not meant to live life behind masks, or living in the shadows. We live life best when we are in open honest relationship with trusted people who walk with us in life. Life can be hard – it is definitely much better to do life with others who empower us to be true to ourselves.

May we each life life well by being true to ourselves.

Enjoy the journey 👣

Are you open to the bible?

I’ve tried reading through the bible from cover to cover numerous times – needless to say, I don’t always get through it, but I do often sense God is speaking through what I did read. I began to think about how often I open the Bible. As I thought about opening the bible my mind began to wonder if opening the book was just the initial step to hearing from God through it’s pages.

It struck me that we do need to open the book, but also that we need to be open to the bible.

Will we open the Book and be open to The Book each day?

I’m not asking us to be legalistic and force ourselves to read everyday till we are gorged on words that come to mean little to us except guilt and failure at our own lack of self-discipline in reading it. Rather, I’m asking that we consider our heart-attitude to the bible. This is about how expecting a God to touch our hearts through it, rather than just reading from habit.
How can we do this?
I believe it’s simply just asking God to speak to us personally through the words we read in the bible.
May Christ set us free from the feeling that we need to read every day, and set within us a deeper need of hearing from God so that we live more like Christ every day.Enjoy the journey 👣

Fully restored

I wrote yesterday about how I was restoring an old bench – I thought I’d do a little update and show you the end result.

Bench restored.

The bench has had the debris removed.

The old rotten slat has been replaced.

We cleaned it up.

We repainted it.

We placed it in the garden to be used as a place of rest.

This is the art of restoration.

And this is the bench…

Restored to function as a place of rest

Whatever you’re doing, have a great weekend. I pray you will restore your strength.

Enjoy the journey 👣

An old bench and the Restoration of the soul

My neighbour recently threw out an old white, broken, mouldy bench. It wasn’t pretty to look at, but you could see it had been lovely in it’s time. I passed it four or five times and as I passed the bench I found myself wondering if I could restore it.

Restoration is the process of returning something or someone to it’s intended state or status. It is the process of refreshing and cleaning up; of applying a little tender loving care, and gently renewing again.

And so I asked my neighbour for the bench. He was happy to have been let off taking it to the dump, where most old benches end up, and I was happy to carry it home.

I wonder, do you ever feel like life has just left you in the dump?

Do you ever feel you are no longer valued or respected or able to do what you were previously able?

I think most of us feel that way at some point – at many points! If you haven’t been thee, keep reading, because one day you may feel that way.

Do you ever feel like an old discarded bench?

So I took the bench home. I cleaned it with warm soapy water (the equivalent of TLC for a bench) and I removed the mould, dirt and dust. I replaced the broken piece of wood. The bench looked much better.

Restoration looks like this: tackling the pain, the hurts, the habits that destroy us. It is an internal washing of the heart and soul that prepares us for what is yet to come. Restoration itself can be a painful process because it means letting go of what is in the past in order to move forward in the present.

How do you restore your soul?

For some of us it is in the faith we hold. The Old Testament scriptures have a poem with the lyric “He restores my soul” (Psalm 23:3). Millions of people across many centuries have found that God can indeed restore (heal) and refresh the soul. The soul is that part of us that cannot be seen. It is the invisible, internal aspect of being human. When we experience heartache, loss or hurt it can scar wound our soul. When we experience joy, kindness and love our souls are refreshed and can be healed. This is one reason finding joy, sharing kindness, and experiencing unconditional love are so vitally important.

Psalm 23:3 | The Bible

I digress.

The Psalmist is saying that restoration of the soul ultimately comes from God. Now that doesn’t mean that restoration can only come to a person who has faith in God. The bible God is presented as pouring grace, love, forgiveness and mercy upon ALL humanity – in grace he provides friends, family, therapists, colleagues, sunsets, creativity, activity, etc. All of which can help to restore our souls.

So, how will you see your soul restored? Will it be through activities or sports that reinvigorate the body? Will it be through intellectual pursuits that can restore the mind? Perhaps it is in being creative? (that works for me!) Or in drawing closer to God? Perhaps it can be found in being surrounded by the natural beauty of the world? For some of us restoration occurs through interaction, while for others it comes through introversion and solitude.

If you are feeling like my broken old bench, in need of some tender loving care, take time to consider how you might restore your soul. If we neglect to care for the soul everything else can eventually unravel. Look after your ‘inner person’ in order to keep functioning effectively in your work, relationships and pursuits.

For me it is back to the bench. It needs another coat of paint, and then it will have a lovely space in my yard among the flowers and plants we are growing. It will allow us to sit, rest, reflect, and restore as we watch sunsets, eat, and talk together – just as it was created to do.

May you find restoration for your soul so you can live as you are created to do.

Enjoy the journey 👣

An introduction to living on purpose

Living life on purpose is about choosing to live life according to what makes you feel most fulfilled.

Live life on purpose

Many of us just go through life being knocked here and there in life, career and interests, without thinking about what we really want. Purpose is such an abstract concept: it is hard to pin down, which is why I love the idea of finding a sense of purpose. Purpose can change as we journey through life, although some variables will not change much. We get an idea of what makes us feel most alive; what connects us with others; what contributions we can make. These things help us define our ever-shifting sense of purpose, and to live in the joy of that purpose.

So here’s my few tips. You will need to click the links to read, but I think you will find it’s worth the read…

Finding your purpose is a real key to joy

Why knowing your purpose may well bring you joy

There are so many benefits to living life on purpose. I’ve listed a few here. Could your life benefit from having a clearer sense of purpose?

Benefits of living life on purpose

Identify what your ‘sense’ of purpose is. In Japan there’s a word used for that sense of purpose: Ikigai. What gets you out of bed in the morning? Click the link for a very practical and helpful on identifying your purpose

A practical process for finding your purpose

Hopefully this serves as a very small introduction to the idea of finding your sense of purpose. Feel free to comment and share. I’d love to know your thoughts and endeavour to answer any questions.

Enjoy the journey 👣

Stillness is the key

I’ve recently been taking time to just “be still”. Our world has become a noisy, chaotic place where it can be difficult to find peace and quiet.

StuartWriting| Stillness is the key

Stillness refocuses our attention and our hearts towards what really matters to us. When we take time to be still our minds wander into the thoughts we need to process. You could say that stillness is the gate into the garden of contentment because when we settle into quiet contemplation we find ourselves heading towards contentment.

The monastic movements such as the Benedictines understood this and made contemplation and silent meditation part of their daily rhythm for living. In silence we reconnect with the spiritual in life – the Old Testament poet wrote “be still and know that I am God”.

Whether you just need peace, silence, contentment, or a deeper understanding of God, stillness is still a great non-activity to recenter your mind, soul and spirit.

Enjoy the journey 👣