The school of Hard Lockdowns

It has been a long winter.

I have lived in the UK for 35 years now so I am used to this time of year but Covid lockdowns have added their unique bleakness to this winter’s cold, short days.

And so crossing the threshold into February feels good. This is the month that wild daffodils start to appear all along the roads near my house and the sun once again greets my morning coffee. Today I am typing in an upstairs bedroom, looking out on the trees that will have blooms in weeks. I can already imagine what that first whiff of Spring will smell like and how joyous the lifting of restrictions will be when they eventually come.

But I can also imagine how easy it will be to forget the lessons of this difficult time as soon as life is easier.

So, here are my personal lockdown take aways that I am determined to guard as hard-won treasures of this unprecedented time.

I want to always remember that Sunday church gatherings are a wonderful and precious privilege. After nearly a year of online church, I know now more than ever that church is not an interruption to my weekend or a spiritual box to tick. It is not solely a feel-good top up either. Church gatherings are my opportunity to turn spiritual gratefulness into love and service for God and others. They are my weekly reset, my chance to identify as a child of God and a member of His family above all other identities I may have. Corporate worship is God’s beautiful idea and it is designed for my flourishing and I hope I will always treat it as a joyful, non-negotiable necessity and a gift.

And I don’t want to ever forget that walking and praying is the simple answer to most of what ails me. In my pre-lockdown days, I would walk and pray when someone I loved had a serious need. It was an occasional event when I really wanted to show God how serious I was about interceding. But, with not much else to do and cabin fever so often nibbling at my soul, walking has now become an almost daily habit. And it has been a revelation. I have discovered that there aren’t many situations, worries, fears, conundrums or crisis that an hour’s walk and sincere dialogue with God won’t answer. This simple response to life’s twists and turns, its disappointments and challenges. has never once failed to give me fresh perspective, peace and direction when I needed it. Like the manna that God’s people collected in the desert, each day has it’s own spiritual provision; if I make time to gather it up I can feed myself. I hope I never forget that regular time with God to pray and to listen is the source of spiritual strength I so often look for in other places.

And I don’t want to forget that you can too much of a good thing. I can have too much busyness in my life but I can also have too much time to myself. The constant tension between these two extremes is the price of living life with purpose. I need regular refuelling, time to think and pray, to reflect and refresh. I also need time to spend fresh resources on Kingdom work. Filling up to pour out is the normal Christian life; anything else is either empty or stagnant. I must fight both the weariness that a lack of sabbath produces as well as the selfishness and introspection that comes from a lack of service. Either error falls far short of my calling in Christ. It is vital to take time to be a women with a heart that is good ground, but the purpose of fertile soil is for planting crops; I am created for good works. I hope I will never forget that following God well should always cause me to both value sitting at Jesus’ feet but also walking in His steps to make a difference in the world.

This winter, like every winter before, will end. The spring bulbs will win. The sun will strengthen and the grass will grow. Someday soon restrictions will finally begin to ease and life will warm up and get moving again.

And when that happens, Lord, help me not to forget.


It is amazing what you can find on televsion when you are bored.

The other day my son and I were channel surfing when we came upon a cooking show that has a kooky premise. The idea is that three amateur chefs are given a selection of leftovers and they have to see what gourmet recipe they can make from them.

In one round they were given fast food leftovers, including French fries and a McFish sandwich. I am not kidding. I won’t spoil it for you in case you decide to check it out by the results included gnocchi and a fancy seafood sauce.

If you know me, you will know how much I love January. I love the fresh start, the hopeful blank page stretching out ahead of me and the creativity it always sparks. But this new year is different. It feels less like a beautiful blank page and more like, well, a fridge full of leftovers.

And my leftovers from 2020 aren’t looking pretty.

I have accumulated a rather unsavoury stash of disappointment and discouragement. Months of cancelled plans and bewildering circumstances have taken their toll. There are hurts I haven’t processed and piles of regrets, mess-ups and missteps.

Thankfully, My God is not an amateur.

He doesn’t just whip up clever recipes. No, He makes feasts out of loaves and fishes and turns water into wine.

He doesn’t want to creatively disguise my leftovers; He wants to transform them.

He doesn’t want to just varnish over my brokenness or upcycle my pain, He wants to heal them. When I take my leftovers and place them at the foot of the cross, they become an offering and in His capable hands they are redeemed.

When I give my disappointments to God, faith and trust are the beautiful by-products. When I choose forgiveness, pain becomes worship. When I am humble and teachable, regret makes way for wisdom.

Because leftovers can’t just be ignored or they fester, taking up prime real estate in my soul, choking my faith and joy.

But if I bring them into the light and lift the lids, facing what is there, I can give them to God. And I can trust His unrivalled power to make something out of nothing, to create provision out of scraps and beauty out of ashes.

May 2021 be a year that I set aside the weight of leftovers and run my race well.

A full Christmas

A couple Easters ago I blogged about the fire that ripped through Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. The damage was extensive and pictures of the aftermath went round the world, particularly one photo a journalist took of a gold cross rising up from the charred interior.

I thought of that image this morning as the metaphorical remains of my Christmas plans smouldered, burnt by the flame of a virus nobody had heard of a year ago.

Wave after wave of government regulation has erased December festivities from my calendar. First, carol singing in church was off the cards. Next the late-night shopping trip with my girls. Finally lunch in a country pub was ruled out.

It has been disappointing and hard.

And yet this stripping back, this slow dismantling of all my regular Christmas activities has made space for a something really special. Like the gold cross in the Paris cathedral, I have been reminded that the manger is enough.

When I really lean in to it, the wonder of the Bethlehem miracle is absolutely and wonderfully sufficient. The reality of this Divine rescue mission, when all history was split between BC and AD, is enough to fill my Christmas with the meaning I crave.

The Bethlehem stable doesn’t need glitter glue or ambient music to make it magical. It already is. It doesn’t need rebranding or relaunching or rewriting. It doesn’t need professional lighting or backing tracks or better PR. It needs only one thing. It needs to be believed.

And I do believe it.

I believe God became man. I believe that single miraculous event changed history and believing in it has irreversibly changed mine. To believe God could become incarnate is mind-blowing. Believing that He willingly would has been life-changing.

The manger is enough.

There is enough wonder in the story to make this Christmas overflow with it. There is enough hope for us all to drink deep. There is enough joy to answer every disappointment 2020 handed out.

I look forward with anticipation to next year when those I love sit around my table, when our family traditions can continue, when church is in full voice and my Christmas is full of hugs and kisses and board games and laughter.

But for now the gift I have been given is the opportunity to put the manger front and centre of my Christmas, even more than usual. There is a quietness in my routine that has made space for worship. There is head space to pray for the recipients of gifts I am wrapping and slow mornings to read the gospel accounts with faith and wonder.

There is nothing I can add to make the Christmas story more beautiful. It sparkles without any lights, it shines with no tinsel, its melody needs no accompaniment.

And I am falling in love with this story all over again.

‘Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life.’ Corrie Ten Boom

Pillars and pauses

It is all start/stop here in the United Kingdom at the moment.

The government, in an effort to curb Covid, is trying all sorts of mini local lockdowns and soon another full-blown shut down is inevitable. It is a strange way to live. Just when you adjust to the ‘new normal’, the restrictions shift again and there are new perimeters to live within. The hopeful days of summer seem a long time ago now as freedoms that had been returned to us are now at risk.

The children of Israel knew all about starting and stopping.

When God led the people out of Egypt, He did so with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. If the pillars moved, Israel moved; if they stopped, so did the people.

Imagine the relief God’s people felt as they left Egyptian slavery behind them and imagine the excitement they felt for their destination, a land flowing with milk and honey. Little did they know of the long, arduous journey ahead.

But, as hard as it was to walk those miles over hot desert sand, I think waiting to move was probably harder.

Certainly that has been true for me.

Obeying God can be very hard but waiting for Him to move can be excruciating.

But waiting is always an essential part of faith. Otherwise it wouldn’t say in Hebrews 6.12 that it is through faith and patience that we inherit the promises of God.

There are always moments between the trailhead and the summit when all momentum is lost, when its too far to turn back but still so far to go, when your faith-legs are tired and your enthusiasm has gone AWOL.

But the God who made us isn’t worried one little bit. He knows the value of a Divine interruption. He knows there is a sweet spot between every promise and it’s fulfilment. It is in this space, despite the frustration, that He does His best work, refining our souls like gold.

What is life like for you right now? Is it two steps forward and three back? Have exciting plans ground to a halt? Has ministry gone on hold? Have prayers remained unanswered? Have you lost your way in the waiting?

Well, as Mark Twain would say, ‘There’s gold in them thar hills.’

These times of waiting are rich veins of God’s goodness. If we mine them, they are abundant in a way that busy, doing times can never be. What we lose in forward motion we gain in the character of Jesus formed in us.

You see, God is far less worried about a loss of momentum than we are. That is because His Spirit doesn’t need momentum to work, He only needs a moment.

One day that cloud is going to move and you will be off and running again and you will be glad you didn’t waste the waiting because it will have produced something of great eternal value in your soul that cannot be produced in any other way.

And when the work starts again you will have renewed strength and wings like an eagle. You will run and not get tired, walk and not faint.

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40.31

Hope forecast

DSC_0292 It was our wedding anniversary recently and having neglected our favourite spot during lockdown, we decided to head to the coast for a day out.

The weather that had been glorious for weeks had now turned, as English summers often do, and the forecast for the day was a cool and cloudy morning with rain arriving at lunchtime.

Never mind, we would plan our day carefully with a walk on the beach early while it was dry and then head to lunch and some shopping when the rain set in.

So, we fed the dog, put lunch out for Paul’s mom and packed the British summer combo of raincoats and sunglasses before heading south.

But, the closer we got, the less accurate the weather forecast appeared to be. By the time we reached the beach it was, as the locals would say, ‘tipping it down’. We sat in the car, the windows fogged up and my mood tanked.

I wasn’t upset that it was raining; I had expected that. I was upset that my careful plan had backfired. Now the walk would be wet and cold and the dry weather would arrive just as were heading inside to eat.

I pouted for 20 minutes while my husband, thinking on his feet, found a local coffee shop and promptly ordered strong coffees and bacon sandwiches. He knows me well.

Thankfully my blood sugar and my mood improved so we pulled raincoats and hats out of the car and began to walk the beach towards the town. It was drizzly and cool but still beautiful with dark clouds colouring the sea grey.




As we walked, I had a redeeming thought.

Actually, it is nicer to have the good weather ahead of us than behind us because it is more fun waiting for the sun than dreading the clouds on the horizon.

And sure enough, as we walked through damp sand and broken seashells, past families with soggy dogs and toddlers in rain boots, slowly the horizon began to brighten up. It was gradual and sometimes we thought we might be imagining it, but after walking for an hour it was definitely brighter out over the sea.



And then I had my other redeeming thought.

This is just like the Christian life. The best weather is ahead of us.

Let’s be honest, life on earth is a mixed bag. Some parts of the journey are all skipping and dancing; other days are much more of a trudge. There are busy seasons when hours run out before the to-do list does and all our edges are frazzled. There are longed for celebration days that are full to the brim with good news and confetti and smiles. And there are sad days, good-bye days and letting-go-before-I-want-to days.

But all the while, slowly off in the distance, the sky is getting brighter as our eternal hope, warm like summer sunshine, comes closer.



Is today a trial for you? Is it a ‘holding on by the skin of your teeth’ kind of day, damp with disappointment?

Look out to the horizon with eyes of faith. The good weather is ahead of you.

Or maybe today is a blue ribbon day for you that drips with blessing and flows with milk and honey.

Still, look to the horizon so you don’t forget.

Every one of your best days are still to come.



For children of God there is an endless summer ahead where rain and tears are banished and where disappointment, disease and death will fade from our memory like a bad dream we had once had. 

CS Lewis describes this place in his book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, like this:

The term is over, the holidays have begun.  The dream is ended; this is the morning….. and now at last they were beginning chapter one of the Great Story which no one on earth has read; which goes on forever, in which every chapter is better than the one before.’

What is ahead of us is more real, more glorious, more beautiful than anything we have experienced or can imagine.

This truth allows us to live the hard days with confident, expectant hope and to live the really great days with open hands. It makes us people who aren’t running from clouds but looking for the sun to break through, people who live this life well because it is short and it matters but there is so, so much more.

And when we breathe in our first breath of heaven, we will exclaim, like the guests at that wedding in Cana, that our God has saved the best for last.

‘Wake up for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.’  (Romans 13.11b)DSC_0313






Letting go and traveling light


The end of July was an unexpectedly crazy time for our family.

Because of Covid19, our children’s wedding dates had begun to slide all over the place until our daughter and our son’s weddings nearly collided, finally landing eight days (and eight time zones!) apart.

So, five days after celebrating my daughter’s day with our families, I found myself on an empty plane crossing the Atlantic with a facemask and feet still sore from my impractical shoe choice days before.

When I arrived in California the usual customs and immigration set up was even more thorough than usual. My passport was checked several times and so was my temperature. When I finally arrived at customs the airport arrival area was within view. I was tired and frazzled and not at my best when I was asked if I had any fruit and vegetables in my bag. No. Any meat products? No. (Who brings meat products in their bags? I wondered, picturing pork chops.) However, as the agent leaned towards my bag I had an awful realization. I remebered that I had some salami in my handbag.

What had seemed like a clever low-carb snack for my trip, suddenly became illegal contraband in violation of US import legislation.

In my jetlagged fog I found the whole situation rather funny. Typically the agent did not.  He confiscated the pesky meat snack and warned of fines if I broke the rules again. As I walked away I remembered with horror that I had more in my suitcase I had forgotten to mention! All I could think to do was quickly walk away and eat it in the car.

It is a funny story but there is a point.

We should know what is in our bag because sometimes there are things that need to be left behind.

God is always doing new things in our lives, moving us on. 2 Corinthians 3.18 calls it glory to glory. He is changing us; He is making us more like Jesus. We are on a glorious journey with the Good Shepherd of our souls that takes us over mountains and through deep valleys and around strange corners, every step moving us closer to who we are created to be.

My favorite passage of scripture, Psalm 84, calls this process of pilgrimage, strength to strength. Disapointments and difficulties are no match for a heart set on a divine destination. Experiences along the way, both good and bad, are all used for our good and for God’s glory.

And all the while the Spirit works gently, encouraging us to shed what isn’t needed anymore, to travel lighter and lighter.  

New seasons have new challenges.

New wine needs new wineskins. (Matthew 9.17)

Ground that has been neglected needs to be prepared for planting.  (Hosea 10.12)

In the well-known passage in Ecclesiastes we see that life has different seasons. There are times of planting and times of weeding, times of celebration and of mourning, times of building and times of tearing down.

And these different seasons of our lives need very different mindsets.

New challenges require new packing lists.  

Perhaps you sense that God is leading you into a time of rest after a time of kingdom busyness. Maybe you have experienced a long season of waiting and now feel it is time to obediently act. Perhaps you feel God leading you back into ministry after years of focusing on family life, or vice versa. Maybe you sense God drawing you to sit at His feet and just listen with no agenda. Or you know it is time to step out onto new territory with new opportunites for God’s kingdom to advance.

Whatever it is, there may be things that have served you well in a previous season that it is now time to let go of. Commitments that were right for a time may need to be reconsidered. You may need to rethink how you are using your time and resources.  Schedules and well-worn routines may need to be reimagined in light of new priorities.

This is a precarious time. It can feel uncomfortable and confusing, daunting and dangerous. You haven’t been this way before.  But don’t be afraid. This is the time to dig deep in God’s Word; The Bible is our compass in unchartered waters. Take one step at a time.  Make faith your default position. Let go and move on. Be radically obedient, full of love and covered in humility.

Decide that anything you have to leave behind is worth it if it means you can know God better and love others more deeply and fulfill every drop of your destiny in Jesus. 

‘And how blessed all those in whom you live, whose lives become roads you travel; they wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks, discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain! God-travelled, these roads curve up the mountain, at at the last turn – Zion!  God in full view!’ Psalm 84.5-7.

















Psalm 46



Psalm 46 tells us that sometimes mountains fall into the sea.

Sometimes something that you thought was true turns out to be a lie.  Sometimes good seasons that you imagined would last forever, don’t.  Sometimes the roles in life that have defined you come to an end before you are ready.

And sometimes the earth beneath you gives way.

Sometimes the one person you thought you could utterly rely on lets you down.  Sometimes things that you thought were safe and solid, crumble.  Sometimes life turns out differently than you had hoped and the disappointment is hard to shake.

Sometimes nations rage.

Sometimes politics and 24-hour news can leave you pessimistic and tired.  Sometimes what you can’t control in the world taunts you and the brokenness on your television is too much.

An unexpected crisis can rattle your core and knock you off your feet.  It can change the landscape of your life and disorientate you.

And too much bad news can eat you up inside.  It can slowly steal your faith-filled optimism and make you older than your years.  It can jade your soul.

But there is an answer.

‘Be still and know that I am God.’

The picture painted here with the original Hebraic language is stunning.

To ‘be still’  is so much more than stopping our forward motion.  The meaning in the original is to let go, to sink to the ground, to stop fighting, to desist.

And why is this important?  Why is surrender the correct response to the crisis?

Because only then can we really know that He is God.

And this knowledge is a kind of discovery that goes beyond our heads. It is when circumstances are tough that we dig deep enough to uncover the treasures of God’s character that would otherwise be a secret.  God’s love and goodness are displayed so much more clearly against the dark backdrop of discouragement and disappointment.  His miraculous provision can only be experienced from a place of need. Answers come after painful questions.  Revelation comes out of blindness.

Sometimes mountains fall into the sea.

Sometimes the earth beneath you gives way and the nations around you rage.

The best response is to sink to our knees.  When we surrender to God’s ways we more fully discover the depth of His love. He is closest when we are most in need; He is strongest when we are not. It is at the end of our ideas and solutions that we are in touching distance of His will for our lives.

Adversity is the most beautiful doorway to communion with Jesus if you can view it that way.

Whatever challenges you face, His presence is the answer, His voice is the cure.

Seek Him and thank Him. Find Him and worship.

He is safe.

He is good.

He is near.

He is fighting for you and He always wins.

‘God, you’re such a safe and powerful place to find refuge! You are a proven help in time of trouble – more than enough and always available whenever I need you.  So we will never fear even if every structure of support were to crumble away.  We will not fear even when the earth quakes and shakes, moving mountains and casting them into the sea.  For the raging roar of stormy winds and crashing waves cannot erode our faith in you.  God has a constantly flowing river whose sparking streams bring joy and delight to His people….God is in the midst of His city, secure and never shaken.  At daybreak His help will be seen with the appearing of the dawn.  When the nations are in uproar… God simply raises His voice….Surrender your anxiety! Be silent and stop your striving and you will see that I am God….The mighty Lord of angel armies is on our side!  The God of Jacob fights for us!’                                                                                                                                                         Psalm 46.




Therapeutic grace



‘Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.‘ Psalm 23.6

I suffer from a disease.

It is called fearful indecision-itis and the prognosis without treatment is grim. It results in a life of untapped potential, capped by caution and riddled by regret.

But thankfully there is a successful therapeutic; its called grace.

God’s grace, His unmerited favour, is the birthright of His children. It is underserved and unreserved. Grace means that God’s goodness and mercy follow me, even through my mistakes or missteps or mishaps. Grace isn’t scared off by wrong turns.  

And this God-grace, if I will let it, can embolden me to step out of the boat and onto the water. God’s grace can give me the courage to invest myself, my time and resources, instead of fearfully burying them for safe-keeping. Grace can and should make me brave.

Jesus explained to His disciples that in order to enter the Kingdom of God, we need to be like children. Have you watched a child recently? Have you seen how they are free to try things, to explore, to create? When did I trade freedom for caution?

Probably about the time I first experienced the shame of falling short and the uncomfortable feelings it produced. And then, like my firstborn daughter who determined to learn to ride her bike without ever falling over, I started to live very cautiously.  Soon I gave up bike riding altogether.

It has been a miserable trade.

Because it was for freedom that Christ set me free. Fearful indecision is not what I am made for. I am created to walk on water, to do great exploits for the kingdom. My inheritance is boldness, my spiritual DNA is undaunted. My God is so, so big.

When I get it wrong, He forgives and helps me clean up the mess. When my own stupidity robs from me, God’s grace redeems and restores. When I blow it, He is my soft place to land, where truth and love can fix me.

When I am lost He doesn’t ask me to find Him, although He would be well within HIs rights to do so. Instead, He finds me. He comes close when questions and doubts take me down dead ends and when I am stranded by indecision. He is there to help when I bite off more than I can chew or when restlessness takes me off track.

God’s hand is long enough to save.

It reaches down into the valleys of my life and rescues me. No situation ever surprises my Good Shepherd or lands outside of His jurisdiction. I am never more than a breath away from His goodness and unending mercy.  

Neither are you. If you know Jesus, His mercy and goodness are your life-long companions. His grace is sticking to you like glue.

So keep your heart soft and your ears listening. Always listen, obey, and trust. But don’t be afraid.

You are the child of a good father. 

Live free and open. Have a go. Learn from your mistakes and move on. Shake off regret.  Face fear and do it anyway. Pray for the impossible. Try something really hard. Dream. Create. Ask. Try.

Live life with a carefree boldness that shows you know whose child you are and that you believe His grace is always more than enough.  











Doers not thinkers



Unfortunately, lockdown is a perfect storm for over-thinkers like me.

With its combination of empty diary pages and the daily flow of pandemic news, my tendency towards analytical overdrive has only gotten worse.

And the busier my mind gets, the less I seem to achieve.  Like a fairground roller-coaster, my thoughts, dilemmas, worries and fears go round and round never reaching any kind of conclusion.

It is exhausting.

Indecision brings confusion. It leads me into a paralysis of analysis that achieves nothing of value and steals my peace and forward motion. Over-thinking tells me that fear is carefulness; it persuades me to trade accomplishment for ‘keeping my options open’. And like the hall of mirrors in a Fun House, it leaves me in a dead end with an distorted view of myself and my circumstances.

There is a book in the Bible that speaks strongly to us over-thinkers, the Book of James.  If you haven’t read it recently, open it up. I did this week and the familiar words were still painfully challenging.

‘But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.  For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.  But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, will be blessed in his doing.’  James 1.22-25

James is clear. Power lies in doing things, not just thinking about them. And the first dangerous step towards deception is to stop doing anything. The minute my faith becomes something I only think about, when it only consists of theories and metaphors, I have moved away from the mirror and I am in danger of losing my way.

There is somethings very grounding about looking in a mirror.  It helps us see things as they are, not as we wish them to be.  After weeks of quarantine, every glance in the mirror reminds me how I desperately need to see my hairdresser!  It also reveals that I haven’t been outside in the sun enough recently and that I better ease off the snacks or I won’t fit into my mother-of-the-bride dress when it is needed.

I can’t escape the truth when I look in the mirror.

But I can walk away and forget.

God’s truth is my mirror. It reminds me of the reality of my condition. If I look at it with an open heart it restores perspective and helps me to resist the unnecessary rabbit holes that over-thinking leads me down.

But is the acting on that truth that keeps me from forgetting it.

Before experiencing this season of enforced rest, I really believed that a quieter routine would automatically lead to a quieter soul. I have now discovered it is not that easy. It is perfectly possible for me to sit in my garden, surrounded by peace and tranquillity while I reap a whirlwind in my mind that churns out anxiety and fear. And it happens more often than I wold ever want to admit.

But James gives us a key to ending this cycle.

Be a doer.

Act. Begin. Obey. Follow through.

Create. Design. Fix. Build.

Thank. Praise. Worship. Pray.

Sometimes we need to tell ourselves to file away questions and to put pending decisions on the back burner. There are things we don’t know, things we can’t control, things we don’t understand. Clarity will come soon enough but until it does, there are things we can do.

Because that is where the power is and that is where the blessing is.   

The enemy is quite happy when I am over-thinking, living in the busy world in my head.  Because in that world there is no grace for me. Grace is only found when I live in the present. When my mind is stuck in lockdown limbo I can’t make promised-land progress. God’s promises in my life are only ever received by faith and an atmosphere of over-thinking only produces hesitancy, fear, indecision and doubt.

It is okay that there are circumstances we are confused about right now. It is okay to feel unsure about certain decisions and bewildered about how the current situation will play out long-term. But it is not okay to stop being a doer.

In the midst of waiting for God’s direction, we can still move forward in faith. If we are experiencing indecision in an area of our lives, we can turn our attention to other ways to obey.

This is a great time to pull out old journals and sermon notes and remind ourselves of truths we heard and never acted upon. It is the time to dig deep in God’s Word and to put into practice what we find because even in times where we have little control of our lives there is always something we can do, something we can obey, someone we can bless or serve.

And I suspect when we choose action over endless thinking, wisdom from God’s heart will come and we will see the right way ahead for our lives when the time is right.

So lets’ get out of our heads and back in the real world. Let’s choose sunshine on our faces today, petting our dogs and Zooming our friends. Let’s turn off the news. Lets create something good to eat or make something pretty to look at.  Let’s breathe and trust and worship and laugh.  Let’s do something.

Let’s look for every opportunity to do good and to obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit so that lockdown, despite its frustrations and worries, will be a beautifully fruitful season in our lives.
















My Seven stages of quarantine



Our family quarantine started with a big dose of denial.

As news of Coronavirus came in from other countries we dismissed it. When a handful of cases finally reached the UK, our lives went on as normal. We were busy finishing the wedding favors, booking someone to do our make-up and putting homemade cookies in the freezer for visiting family. Surely this won’t be as bad as they are predicting!  Maybe the UK will dodge the bullet.

But denial soon became dread as all our plans unraveled. First, international flight bans decimated our guest list, then venues and suppliers pulled the plug. We did everything we could and even brought the wedding forward twice, hastily rearranging ceremonies and lunch, each time for a smaller and smaller group. Finally, we managed to whittle it down to just the bride, groom, two witnesses, and a willing vicar. With 24 hours to go, we rushed around with gloves and masks, buying supermarket flowers for the bouquet, laughing at the comedy of it all.

But in the end, we just couldn’t outrun government restrictions; weddings were banned indefinitely and we cried.

At this point, our quarantine experience moved to a new stage – acceptance and comfort eating. For the next two days, we wallowed in our pajamas, ate croissants and chocolates and commiserated with each other. Friends and family were wonderful;  their texts and phone calls brought a much-needed perspective. We didn’t do much for a couple days but just let ourselves recover, nestled under quilts with mugs of coffee and the cookies from the freezer.

Having accepted the wedding would have to be postponed, comfort-eating soon gave way to the shopping stage. We had bought some extra food and put it in the freezer but we needed a bit more so we headed out, hand gel in our pockets. We filled the fridge with fruit and veg and the cupboards with rice and pasta. We got extra dog food, soap, and medicine.

And this seemed to spur us on to a more productive stage of quarantine. Sure, this crisis was frustrating and unwelcome, but we could use it well. We added exercise to our routine and tried some new recipes. We Skyped family and Zoomed with our church. We pulled together to make the best of it, and, if we didn’t watch the news too much, it was all quite fun, kind of like an episode of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ or a weird summer camp.

That enthusiasm lasted a week and a half.

And now I am not sure what to call our current stage. Maybe the way harder than I thought’ stage, or ‘when summer camp feels like prison’ stage.

Like everyone else in the UK, the novelty of isolation has worn off. Being apart from family and friends is really starting to hurt. We have become lethargic from too many cupboard carbs and irritated with our roommates. The fun food has all been eaten, the news is depressing, our income is fragile.

So what stage is next?

I guess that is up to me.

I could choose the ‘box-set stage’ where I escape into endless episodes of something harmless but pointless  Or I could go into the ‘organizing-overdrive stage’, cleaning out drawers and labeling jars of supplies to keep my anxiety neatly in its place.

I could vlog or jog for days. I could batch bake or learn Latin.

Or I could just stop for a minute and take myself back to the time before Covid19 and canceled weddings, and remember what I would have done with a few weeks that were completely empty and quiet.

And then I could do that.

When I first started this blog, I wrote about the secret ingredient of timeSo often in my life, it is time that has been the difference between defeat and victory, dilemmas and solutions, confusion and clarity.

So many good things can happen when we have time. And in this strange quarantine-quiet, schedule-scarce existence, that is the one thing I have.

There is no excuse, there are no distractions; I have time.  These empty days and weeks are an opportunity. And, Ephesians 5.17 tells me what to do with an opportunity. I must capitalize on it, multiply it, increase its value by using it carefully.

Because hidden in the frustration and fear that this crisis has brought, are moments of God’s grace we have been longing for. Our quiet homes and schedules are actually breeding grounds for spiritual breakthrough. Our financial needs, our worries, and concerns can be the catalyst for going deeper with God than we have ever needed or desired before. This unwanted, unplanned, sad time can lead to open doors, spiritual victories, and life-changing encounters with God if we don’t waste it.

Soon enough some kind of normality will return. Wedding planning, university lectures,  and church ministry will all kick in again. There will be good, wonderful, blessed noise; but it will be noise all the same.

So this morning I chose a new stage of quarantine.

I got out of bed like I had something important to do.  Because I do. 

I watched the sunrise for the first time in weeks and I thanked God that He has made this day.

I embraced the quietness of this time by sitting and listening because I really want to hear.

I accepted the uncertainly by choosing worship because I want to learn to trust.

And for the first time in months, I sat down to write because I remembered that I had something to say.

Oh sure, I will tidy today and do some wash.   I will probably exercise and cook some good food.  But I won’t let these quarantine days slip through my fingers.

Because opportunities, especially hard ones, are only useful to us if we don’t wish them away.

Seize the day.  It is from God’s hand.