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wonderfulAm trying to find a way to start today’s post – but not sure how. Except to say, looking at the last week or so of acts of generosity, kindness and general life sharing, I’m encouraged by the others who are on this journey with me. Looking at Twitter and Facebook feeds, it’s a simple and real joy to see that there are real life people out there who genuinely want to imitate Jesus, genuinely want to share God’s Kingdom and genuinely believe in the words, attitudes and behaviours that can revolutionise our world.

I just hope it lasts.

My prayer, is that this awakening of shared kindness, goodness, love, gentleness and peace is something that will actually not be constrained by the 40 days of lent, but will be something that explodes out of it and brings the kingdom of God that bit closer to our own lives and the loves of those around us.

Day 16  was cake baking day – except I didn’t get to bake a cake as I was out all day at a New Wine Worship Conference. It was a great day, there were some lovely songs and lovely people and I got to spend it with a few of my most favourite people. And I love sharing life with these people.                                                                                                                                          I will get around to the baking, I’ll be throwing together a marvelous flapjack at some point – today probably. Because baking and receiving baked goods is one of those indescribable pleasures which expresses our God-like creative instinct, stimulates all our senses, benefits ourselves and gives a little bit of indulgent joy to someone else. And indulgent joy is a gift and blessing not easily turned aside, a gift which lifts and keeps us lifted. So… gotta find the flour…

Day 17 – A day for “prefering others”. Politeness can sometimes be seen as old fashioned, or a cop out; a way to control others (children should be seen and not heard – a saying I seriously dislike); it can be used as a way not to have to talk because we’re hurt or scared or lazy ( eg. “how was your day?” – you answer “good” to be polite, but why? you can’t be bothered to talk about your day, you’re too scared the other person isn’t actually bothered about your day… possible?). So yes, politeness has a bit of bad press – at least in my head anyways. But I just don’t care how other people see it – I care how Jesus sees it; I care how it makes someone else feels when you don’t hold the door open, when you don’t say thank you, when you don’t pass the salt. I did eventually watch Chocolat – check out previous post – and realised I’d got one thing upside down. I watched as Vianne prepared to leave, and although her daughter was objecting, it wasn’t Anouk’s protestations that turned Vianne’s self protection around. It was the discovery that in her own kitchen some of the townspeople – even one of her own most strident detractors – were preparing chocolate for the Easter day Fertility festival. They had seen her preferring others, and here they were showing that same kindness to her. And that is really what politeness is about – it’s actually obeying Jesus words to prefer others before ourselves – in driving terms, to “Give Way” (I prefer the American road sign “Yield” 🙂 ). If it means waiting longer at a road junction, set off sooner; if it means being at the back of the food queue, take the opportunity of waiting to excercise your imagination for a few minutes. If it means saying thank you for something you actually deserve, then say it and bless the giver. Kindness is not optional in God’s kingdom, it’s part of his plan. Be in on God’s plan today.

Day 19 – yes I skipped a day – Charity Tuesday. I gave to World Vision US, they need more support than ever right now from disciples of Jesus. I encourage you to support them too. As for today – I believe words of encouragement are the order of the day. Hence the opening picture with random Wisdom 😉 And yes, there’ll be random notes of encouragement for strangers, for acquaintances, neighbours, work colleagues. But when you encourage and bless with words of beauty, the truest of those words go to and come from the people you know and who know you best. Leaving anonymous notes is all very well – and is kind and gracious and really does work to bless – but from my experience, the words that have reached deepest into my heart have been from the people who know me the best; from the people who know the dark shadows of my soul, but love me anyway; from the people whom I have hurt, but bless me anyway; from the people who really truly have my back in all things. And I have theirs. And their words have given me the strength and wisdom to share words in return. Words like Always; Never; You are beautiful; You are Brilliant; I will Never Give up on You.

Last thing – I’m one of those people who keeps hold of notes, letters and cards that folk send me – and I read them years later and hear that person’s voice, love and kindness. And I’m in that moment, and I feel their affection. And above all I feel God, through them, holding me. My Mum, who died  nearly 11 years ago wrote me a letter whilst I was on teaching practice and It lives in my little purse of precious things. I read it at least once a month, and it’s a real blessing. I also keep a card from a friend I love very much by my bed to read when I need reminding of love and blessing, but even better is a gift she gave me for one of my birthdays – and the words capture me every day. If you doubt the power of words, these two women hold me with their words and hold me up. They both had/have the power to shut me down, but used/use that power to lift up. Which one are you going to do for the people in your life.

If I had one gift I could give you my friend,                                                                                                                                It would be the ability to see yourself as I see you,                                                                                                                      because only then will you know how extremely special you are.