A funny thing happened on the way to Isaiah 30

Before we jump in, make sure to pop back on Friday when I’ll be starting the blog tour for the 2018 Chaiya Art Awards compilation, ‘Where is God in our 21st century world?’ I’ll be interviewing one of the finalists and sharing some images from the book.

For now, back to Isaiah…

I look back at the notes I made when reading Isaiah 29 and 30 and wonder why on earth I decided to share this stuff! I remember feeling challenged and chastised after 29, then after reading 30, going back to it again and again, I was burning with a desire to grow up and be humble in the church work I’m involved in. To rid my self of the attitude I had when reading 29.

I now want to qualify and quantify some of the things I wrote, cos I’m a bit embarrassed by them. But… I’m going to go ahead share my ponderings with you anyway. This would probably be a good time to remember what I said in, ‘The Isaiah Disclaimer‘ about you being gentle on me etc… 😀

Some verses really stood out to me in Isaiah 29

v.13 “These people come near to me with their mouth and  honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”

v.15 [They] hide their plans from the Lordwho do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?”

vv 23, 24  When they see among them their children, the work of my hands,
they will keep my name holy; they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. Those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding; those who complain will accept instruction.”

I started thinking about all the people who could benefit from reading these verses. People (I feel) honour God with their lips, but not with their lives.  People who (I feel) live as if the Lord can’t see them, and how foolish it is.

I made a little list in my head. A list of the wayward and complainers I know, wondering how long it will take them to recognise the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob!

I started to pray for those people and when it came to naming them individually the first name that came out of my mouth was my own. I realised how arrogant I was! I spent some time asking God for forgiveness and prayed more generously for my list of people. I felt quite sheepish after that.

Then it was Chapter 30’s turn to challenge me!

Once again, my ‘squishy’ view of God and my instinct to shy away from the image of an angry wrathful God was brought into focus here. There is no condemnation for those of us in Jesus, but God always has, does, and will, hate disobedience.

And he shows it in chapter 30. The accusations against his people are ones he could make about me too…
Going places I’m not supposed to go
Making plans without consulting him
Forming alliances that are not for my spiritual benefit
Wanting only to hear nice, pleasant things – and rejecting His correction

And though consequences of these actions are promised, verses 15 and 18 show that more grace follows…
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it…Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!”

I prayed a lot after this chapter. I felt like a weak and arrogant ‘leader’ after 29, but chapter 30 called me to sit up and suit up. Here’s the prayer I wrote down..

“Father God, please help me. Develop my service to you in the right way. Keep me humble. Make me like you – a hater of sin, a lover of repentance – and this nowhere more than in my own life. Help me be more gracious as a leader. Please guide me Give me confidence and let my confidence in you encourage others.
Lead me Lord I pray, in Jesus Name, Amen.”

Please pray it with me, or if you don’t need too, pray for me.
Sorry this was a long post. 🙂 xx

See you Friday when I kick off the 2018 Chaiya Art Awards blog tour…

Photo credit: Jonny Back
Photo credit: Jonny Back



Don’t blame your tools – Isaiah 28

If you’ve just joined us or haven’t visited for a while, hello and welcome 🙂 You might want to have a quick read of  “Isaiah and Me” or “The Isaiah Disclaimer.” They’ll give you a bit of background to this short series I’m focusing on at the moment. Sharing a few thoughts on my time reading the Book of Isaiah.

Hard going as it was at times, I ploughed through the chapters and was writing notes as I went. It was more of the same – disobedience, punishment and glimpses of the mercy to come.

I got to Chapter 28 and was praying as I read. As I mentioned before, I was asking God to teach me through Isaiah; to answer specific issues I’d been seeking Him about. One of the issues that troubled me was my work in the church.

Self doubt comes in waves; my writing, my day job, my work in church, my weight/eating, how awful I am in general, then it swings back around to writing and does another circuit. When I got to chapter 28, I was thinking about service to the church and the people; the usual doubts filling my mind. Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much? Did I say too much, or was it too little, or unclear? Could I have tried harder, or visited longer, or been nicer, or been firmer? How do I know if I’m getting it right?

I was reading through the verses of chp 28, trying to work out if these words could speak to how I was feeling. Then I read this, from the New Living Translation…

Listen to me; listen, and pay close attention. Isaiah 28:23

So I stopped. I prayed a bit, saying sorry for not listening. I sat in quiet, took a few deep breaths, then I continued reading from v.24

“Does a farmer always plow and never sow? Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting? Does he not finally plant his seeds— black cumin, cumin, wheat, barley, and emmer wheat— each in its proper way, and each in its proper place?
The farmer knows just what to do, for God has given him understanding.
A heavy sledge is never used to thresh black cumin; rather, it is beaten with a light stick. A threshing wheel is never rolled on cumin; instead, it is beaten lightly with a flail. Grain for bread is easily crushed, so he doesn’t keep on pounding it. He threshes it under the wheels of a cart, but he doesn’t pulverize it.
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is a wonderful teacher, and he gives the farmer great wisdom. Isaiah 28:24-29 NLT

I almost cried. Actually I think I did cry a little. I felt so relieved.

There are seasons for each stage of farming. Preparing ground, sowing, harvesting… Each seed has its time and place to be sown. Each crop has an appropriate tool for harvesting. Some crops just need a gentle tap, others need a stronger approach. The farmer is given wisdom by God not to use the wrong tool at the wrong time.

I have been trying to work it out myself. Where as I should only be relying on the teaching and wisdom of ‘The Lord of Heaven’s Armies.’ I’m not saying I won’t get anything wrong, but I have peace about it now. I’m not so tormented about what to do next and where and when and with who. I just need to ask him for his wisdom.

Every time I examined my service I pulverised it! God wouldn’t do that to me, so I shouldn’t do it to myself!

photo credit: faungg’s photos Harvesting Sugarcane via photopin (license)

The A to Z of the Pastor’s Wife – Z is for Zig Zag

ZZ is for Zig Zag

So, here we are at the end of the challenge. I’m so glad I made it. I didn’t quite do it last year.

I feel that I’ve Zig-Zagged and wandered a lot in my thoughts over this A to Z Challenge. Thanks again for your comments and likes and for sticking with me.

This PW thing is still very new to me, and I’ve used the A to Z to think out loud about the questions and concerns that I have. For all my bravado and chuckles, I don’t want to make a pig’s breakfast of the whole thing. These posts have been helpful to me and the responses from readers has encouraged me to see the merits of some worries and meaningless of others. So thanks for that.

I do most things in a Zig Zag style. I’m a bit of a here, there and everywhere person, but that’s not always a bad thing. Let’s call it flexible. 🙂 Being someone who can zig zag will hopefully help when some unexpected stuff comes. I’ll be able to adapt and change. I just hope that over time, I will learn to balance that flexibility with consistency. I’ve a lot to learn, but lots of time to learn it.

In the mean time, by God’s grace and with himself beside me, I’ll do my best to be a good PW.

Farewell AtoZ friends. See you for the tour 🙂

The A to Z of the Pastor’s Wife – Y is for Yahtzee

YY is for Yahtzee

Himself introduced me to Yahtzee when we met. We love to play it, it’s a great game when there’s just the two of you – not many of them about.

He had the same 5 dice and little plastic tub to shake them in, for years. So one Christmas I decided to buy him a new set, complete with bright new shiny dice, colour score cards, a funky collapsible small dice shaker, all fitting in to a larger tub also used to throw the dice in (reducing risk of having to chase them around the floor). The wonderful thing is that he bought me the exact same present that year. One of them went back and was exchanged for another game which I’m not sure we’ve ever played.

Playing Yahtzee represents ‘our time.’ There’s no TV, usually some music in the background, we chat, we get a little bit competitive and we laugh. I suspect life will get busier and more stressful, and he won’t always be able to share things with me.

Part of my job as PW will be to make sure we always have time for Yahtzee (and that I win 😀 ).

The A to Z of the Pastor’s Wife – X is for Xenial

XX is for Xenial

Xenial is to be hospitable, especially to strangers or foreigners. (It is also defined as having something to do with pollinating flowers, but we’ll leave that for now 🙂 )

Himself and meself have been made so welcome by our church family. Already we feel like we know each other; since the very beginning we’ve felt at home. Back when it was new and a bit unnerving, waiting for the final decision to be made, we were always welcomed with open arms and hearts.

I grew up hearing a particular phrase regularly. “You’re in your Granny’s.” It means, you can relax, sit where you want to, help yourself to whatever you’d like. I remember a few years ago a missionary couple were doing some church visits near us and the accommodation they’d arranged had fallen through. We were asked to put them up. We had plenty  of space, so we said yes. I was worried though. They were going to be with us for a week; going out to different meetings; sometimes here for dinner, other days for lunch. I wanted them to feel like they were ‘in their granny’s’ and desperately hoping that wouldn’t mean them driving me mad.

They arrived late the after a meeting, and then they’d unpacked their car and coats were off, I asked if they would like anything before they went to bed. The answer came, “Do you mind if I have some toast please?” That night over tea and toast we became firm friends. I love that they felt comfortable to ask, and they loved the toast. To this day they are dear to us and we’ve visited them a few times for toast and chats.

Living on site means that we could have more visitors than we expect, at unexpected times. We want to keep the balance of having time to ourselves, but also sharing our time and our home with others. I hope we will always be ‘xenial’ as others were to us when we came here first. The only reason I cannot call them ‘xenial’ anymore is that we are no longer strangers, we’re family. x

The A to Z of the Pastor’s W…

WW is for Writer, Worker, Wife, Worshipper

I am a massive fan of Les Miserables. One of my fave songs, and moments of the show is when Jean Valjean sings. “Who am I?” He cannot deny who he really is and at risk to himself and his soon to be adopted daughter, he reveals his true identity.

The above list doesn’t sum me up totally, I can make a mean banana bread and am also a high-ranking expert in The After Eight Game. 🙂 I have always liked to have a mix of interests. I prefer to work, my least productive seasons are always the ones when I have lots of time on my hands. I work better when I’m busy.

I’ve had to rethink and rejig my time a bit over the last while. My writing has never really taken off again since I came back to the UK at the end of 2014. It’s a great source of frustration for me, but I have to let it come back in God’s time and at his pace. I know I’ll get into my stride again.

My job is not ‘difficult’ as such. It’s wonderful to be just around the corner and just part-time. Having been 15 years in donor support for charities, this is a different type of customer service. I can’t always give the customer the answer they are looking for, and I don’t like that. I’m much happier always being the bearer of good news…

I love being married. Himself is an absolute star and reminds me that he is my husband first and my pastor second; so i give myself permission to be his wife first, the pastor’s wife second. 🙂 We’ve been through the mill over the years. He’s been a steady rock in many stormy seas. I am blessed.

More than anything though, I want to be a worshipper. If I put my energies into that, my hope is that the other parts of my life will fall into place, in the right way at the right time. The only way I’ll do this thing right, is to stay close to God. Worship Him. Keep my eyes fixed and my heart open.

Who am I?


The A to Z of the Pastor’s Wife – V is for Variety

VV is for Variety

Don’t worry, I’m not going to do songs from the shows with some comedy and a bit of juggling thrown in. Although I wouldn’t rule it out in the future 🙂

I thought it might be good to hear from another pastor’s wife, and her thoughts on this life. Harriet is one of the ladies I meet, mentioned in the F is for Fellowship post.

The following link will take you to a blog post she recently wrote about ‘Being a Pastor’s wife‘.


The A to Z of the Pastor’s Wife – U is for Useful & Useless

UU is for Useful and Useless

We’re nearing the end of the AtoZ Challenge. ‘U’ marks the start of the last week. Thank you all so much for reading and popping by; for liking and commenting. It’s been a great encouragement.

I haven’t read nearly as many as I would have liked to, but the AtoZ Reflections post and the AtoZ Roadtrip will give me time to catch up.

If you haven’t been following from the start, I used the theme of being a pastor’s wife so I could explore the many thoughts and feelings I have about the whole thing. Himself has been a Pastor since December of last year. We’re a few years older than most who start this work and still finding our feet. As I’ve mentioned before, the role of the ‘Pastor’ is well defined and a lot clearer than that of the spouse. I’m trying to learn what I should do and what I can do.

I don’t want to swoosh around in a flurry of activity hoping to look and feel useful, like I’m fulfilling some previously unattended purpose. Nor do I want to sit around doing nothing – which I could do because the church is very well run and looked after.

In Wednesday’s ‘W’ post, I’m going to explore this a little more as I write about who, and what, I am. One thing that has come up in a few posts is this – I can only be who I am. if I try to be anyone else it’ll be false and unnatural. I wish I could be, and give, more; but I’m pretty sure being myself is how I can of most use.

The A to Z of the Pastor’s Wife – S is for Sisterhood

SS is for Sisterhood

Once a week, a group of ladies from our church and other churches meet together for Sisterhood.

I had an idea of Sisterhood meetings in my head. They didn’t seem like my cup of tea at all. Far too quiet and formal for my liking.

I’ve been joyfully surprised by the Sisterhood meetings at our church. They are lively and fun. We have a mix of speakers, a couple of songs, some lovely chat and prayer; and of course a cup of tea and some cake.

I have been blessed far more than I thought I would be. I’ve been challenged too about my preconceptions and presumptions. I have laughed my head off, and cried my eyes out with these women. I’ve learned a lot and had an opportunity to share too. (Including children’s songs with actions – these women are nothing if not young at heart. 🙂 )

Amongst this group, there’s a love for God and His Word. And a love for each other that has shown me what Sisterhood really is. Not a meeting; a family.

The A to Z of the Pastor’s Wife – T is for Tea

TT is for Tea

Himself loves an ol’ cup of tea. His mother tells me that since she put a drop on a spoon and gave it to him, when he was still in his high chair, he loved it and has been a serious tea drinker ever since. (We can only thank God it wasn’t whisky she put on the spoon!)

The cup of tea (or coffee) after our church services is such a great event. Being a small church, most people who are on refreshments duty know who drinks what. So when you get to the counter, often your drink is handed to you just as you like it. I’ve done refreshments once or twice and the queue always takes longer to pass as I don’t have the list off by heart – yet.

Fellowship over a cuppa is a marvellous thing. It’s a vital part of church life. It’s how my brothers and sisters in Christ have become my friends. It’s how I’ve learned about their lives. It’s how I’ve come to understand a little more about what makes them tick. Not for general information gathering or to be ‘in the know’. I want to know so I can be of use, so I can pray intelligently, and I want them to be able to do the same for me.

The kettle is always on in our house, and regularly on in the church hall.
I find that very… refreshing 🙂