Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Tag: celebrate (page 1 of 2)

Celebrate the Seasons

You have made the seasons:
winter, summer, autumn and spring.

I live them each day of the year;
praying for a heat wave
(of which we Brits have had enough after one day),
and longing for snow each December.
Every season following the last,
because You have promised that summer and winter, springtime and harvest will never cease.

You have made the seasons in my life:
winter, summer, autumn and spring.

An autumn of pruning, a laying down of ministry,
quiet time to wait on You.
There is beauty to be seen even in the shedding.
A winter of waiting, of chronic illness,
the bleakness of no ministry, no fruit, loneliness,
what’s my purpose?
Then a spring of fresh hopes cherry blossoms on a tree,
For me it was a spring of healing,
of new dreams and possibilities.
Summer fulfils the promise of spring,
new ministry, fruitfulness,
a sense of being Your workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.
Not boring, religious stuff either.
But adventures with Jesus, growing in faith,
laughing for joy that I’m Your daughter!

I celebrate the seasons Lord,
You have given a time for everything.

Celebrate: Good Plans

I’ve loved looking at Rahab’s life these last few days. She was a ‘woman of the night’ who sold sex to men. Someone it would be easy to look down upon, but God had His sights set on her.

God loved Rahab from the depths of His heart. He had plans for her life: to rescue her out of the brothel and bring her into friendship with Him. Although Rahab couldn’t have known it at the time, she played in integral part in the Jews’ history. Her son Boaz married Ruth, a widow from a despised nation. Ruth was an outsider, but Boaz had been taught by his parents to welcome those who are ‘different’.

And God chose this family line through which to send His Son. What astounding grace to a prostitute! No one seeing Rahab working in Jericho could possibly imagine the wonderful plans God had for her.

How amazing it is to know that God has plans and dreams for us. He has good things for me, and He has good things for you.

I have dreams and hopes for myself. Some of those dreams I’ve had to lay down: the dream of having children. Does that mean God has a second-best plan for me? Or that He doesn’t love me as much as He does someone else to whom He has given children? No way! He is crazy about me. It just means His plans for me are far better than the best dreams I have for myself.

I love that God plants hopes and longings in my heart, and then fulfils those desires. And He always has far better planned for me than anything I can imagine.

Knowing Him is to know true life. It really is. And so I celebrate God today, and the way He fulfils my heart’s desires and that He dreams over me good plans. Whoop! What a God! Yee haaah!!!

Celebrate 300

This is my 300th blog post!

If not for Adi, this would never have happened. He persuaded me to start blogging, back in October 2008. It took me a while to settle into the groove and find my ‘voice’, and there were lots of doubts and angst. Through it all, Adi believed in me and in my God-given gift to write.

This blog started as a memorial of our tiny twins’ extremely short lives. They were only about twelve days from conception when we lost them, but it seemed wrong for their existence not to be acknowledged. Today, I celebrate our precious Two and Three. You can read more of that story on my About page.

I celebrate my readers. Thank you for every ‘like’, retweet, and comment. You are such an encouragement and blessing.

I celebrate the seekers who have been directed to my blog specifically because you can identify with some of the issues I write about. Thank you for getting in touch and trusting me to pray.

Writing itself is a way to rejoice in who God has made me and what He’s done in my life. Without my fingers tapping on the keyboard trying to keep up with flowing thoughts, there’s every chance I might explode. Being able to share my reflections in this blog is such a privilege.

And finally, I must celebrate my Jesus. He has chosen me, made me a royal daughter, calls me His very own. Why? So that I may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called me out of darkness into His marvellous light.

 

Celebrate: He’s Alive!

He’s alive! Whoop, whoop, whoop! He’s alive and I’ve seen Him!

Let me calm myself and start at the beginning.

Friday was the worst day ever. I saw Him die and the soldiers man-handling Him off the cross. My friends and I followed and watched at a distance as His body was quickly washed, wrapped and laid in a tomb. It was a race against the setting sun to lay His body to rest; our holy day was about to start which meant we couldn’t do any work.

I planned with my friends to go early Sunday morning to the tomb to prepare His dear body properly for burial. I spent the whole of Saturday grieving and getting the burial spices ready. I couldn’t sleep that night and got up before dawn. The birds were singing and trilling into the darkness; I wiped my wet cheeks with the edge of my head-scarf, the beautiful sound pierced my heart.

I stumbled and fell, almost dropping my jar of spices. There was a rumbling sound. What was going on?

When the ground was still again, I walked forward, heading for the garden where He was buried. I knew soldiers had been put on guard outside, and I’d watched them heave a massive boulder across the mouth of the tomb. Who would move it for me? My heart beat fast and I tried to steady my breathing.

TombI arrived outside the tomb. It was open.

This was freaky. I picked up my dress and ran. I knew where Peter and John were staying. I gave them a shock, banging on their door. ‘Come quick! They’ve moved His body and I don’t know where He is!’

Peter and John didn’t waste time, they rushed past me to the tomb. John looked inside but Peter went right in. They just shook their heads, looking distraught and went home.

I stayed behind, sobbing. I wondered if there were any clues in the tomb that Peter had missed so I poked my head inside.

What I didn’t expect were two angels! They were kind. One said, ‘Why are you crying?’

‘Because they’ve taken my Lord away and I don’t know where He is.’

There was a look on their faces, and I turned around to see a man standing behind me.

Great, the gardener was starting work for the day. Maybe he could give me some answers. But before I could speak, he said: ‘Why are you crying? Who are you looking for?’

‘Oh please tell me where you’ve put Him.’ 

‘Mary!’

It was Jesus! He was alive! I didn’t even recognise Him at first. But oh He’s alive 😀

Jesus really is the Son of God, the only One to conquer death.

Notice

 

Celebrate: Books

From the days of reading The Magic Faraway Tree to my teddies and dolls, I’ve loved books. Hard backs, paperbacks, smooth paper, pictures, no pictures. I love ’em all.

I disliked learning to read. Thankfully my mum was firm, insisting that I practise each day before going out to play with my friends. I owe her a lot – thanks to her teaching me to read, whole new worlds have been opened up.

When I had surgery on both wrists for carpal tunnel syndrome, I was unable to hold a book for a few days. It was torture; I’d almost rather read than eat. Eventually, I got around it by pinning the book open on my lap with both elbows. Not very comfy, but it did the job.

One of the hardest things to bear when I was ill was occasionally forgetting how to read (sometimes I’d try to follow words diagonally down the page instead of reading left to right, at other times I couldn’t recognise the words). Then there was being too weak to physically hold the book and turn the page. Adi found a solution for that by downloading the Kindle app to my iPhone and buying me Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place to start me off.

I love my books and having nice bookcases to store them on. Good books are like old friends that you can come back to time and again. Sometimes I’m in the mood for John Grisham, other times I reach for Lee Child. I’m built up by Bill Johnson and Heidi Baker and John Piper.

My favourite book is the Bible. Some bits are hard to understand but I love reading it because it’s alive. There are jewels to be found even in the boring bits of the law in the Old Testament. And the Gospels read like a riveting adventure story. I get to know God by reading the Bible and the Holy Spirit makes it real to me, opening my mind and helping me understand. I’ve been reading the Bible since I was ten, and I’m thrilled when He surprises me by taking me deeper or unlocking the meaning of a verse or passage.

So today, I celebrate books. Especially the one God Himself authored.

Celebrate: My Life

Adi and I have just been watching the documentary He named me Malala. It made me realise again how much I have for which to be thankful.

I had an education. Maybe not the best (my senior school has since been bulldozed), but I got my GCSEs and went to college.

There is freedom of speech in the UK.

I’m free to be a follower of Jesus and to pursue His present calling on my life to write and to work with women in the sex industry.

I’ve never been in a war or had to flee my home in fear. There is a scene in the documentary where Malala meets Syrian refugees on the Jordanian border. She could relate, having become a refugee inside her own country before seeking asylum in the UK. It’s so far out of my experience that I can’t begin to imagine what they are going through. But Malala knows, and it showed through.

So today I’m celebrating my life, thankful to God for the generous benefits He’s given me. I am who I am by His grace alone.

Celebrate: Women

It’s Mother’s Day.
I think I prefer the phrase Mothering Sunday.

There are many who ‘mother’ without ever having the official title.
If we use it as a verb, the term means to bring up a child with care and affection.
Millions of women do this.
Every day.
They mother those who don’t have mums.
They care for others without necessarily having a biological bond. They’re no less mothers, nor would we think of them as less.

Some ‘mothers’ are grieving today. Some because they wish they’d had a chance to own that title.
Some, because their children aren’t alive anymore. Others because their children are estranged or in other parts of the world they can never get to.
Some of our ‘missing’ is because our mums aren’t here anymore, and that hurts to our very core.
Mothering Sunday is important; a chance to say thank you to those that mother us.
Be thankful for your mum. Be grateful for those who mother you.

Look out for those today who feel the day more keenly and need a little care and love.
I’m so thankful to God for my mum, and also those that care for me with mothering skills.

Spare a thought right now for those who will smile today, but behind that smile are 1000s of tears. Weep with them if you need to, but show them you care.

Mothering Sunday is for us all.

Keren Baker

Found

Jesus told stories about lost things being found.

A sheep strayed away from the flock and got lost. The shepherd went looking for it. When he found it, he brought it home on his shoulders, rejoicing.

A lady lost a valuable piece of jewellery but she cleaned the house, moving every bit of furniture until she found it. She was so happy that she invited her friends in for cake and wine.

A rebellious son ran away from home and lived the high life before losing his money and his friends. He crawled back home hoping he might be taken in as a servant but his dad was looking out for him and rushed to give him a massive hug. Then his dad threw a party to celebrate that his son had been found.

The sheep, the jewellery and the son never became worthless or reduced in value because they were lost. They were still precious.

God thinks of you like that. If you don’t know Him, it’s like you’ve wandered off and got lost. But He will never stop pursuing you because He wants to find you, because He loves you. (If you don’t believe God is pursuing you, consider the fact that it’s no accident you are reading this blog post. He’s crazy about you.)

Celebrate: Jesus

I celebrate You, Jesus,
I exult in You because You’re worthy of praise.

You saw me in my mess,
and lifted me out of a pit.
You set my feet on solid ground,
and steadied me as I walked along.
You put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to my God – yeeee haaaaah! You’re ace!
Many will see what You have done for me, and will put their trust in You.

You’ve broken my chains of fear and rejection,
You’ve set this prisoner free.
My broken heart is healed and made new.
You give me a crown instead of ashes,
You pour Your oil of gladness into my heart,
I spin and dance for You in my robes of righteousness,
I didn’t deserve this, but You gave it anyway.

You call me an oak of righteousness,
a beloved daughter in whom You display Your splendour.

I celebrate You Jesus,
I exult in You.
I love You because You pursue me with relentless love.

WOOO HOOO JESUS!!!

Celebrate: Freedom

My piggies’ favourite thing in the world was to play in long grass on a sunny day. The second they heard me moving their run to a fresh patch in the back garden, all eight of them set up loud squeaks and squeals of excitement. They could barely keep still in my arms as I lifted them carefully from hutch to run. As soon as they landed on the grass, they raced around before settling in for a day of contended grazing.

Another favourite activity was having the run of our long living room. Once they had gotten over being in such a spacious place, I delighted in watching as they celebrated their freedom: racing around in circles and bunny hopping across the carpet.

They had simple faith in me to meet their needs. So long as the fresh broccoli and carrot came their way every morning along with dry food and water, they were content. But having their freedom was cause for celebration and, boy, did they know how to do it.

Jesus bought my freedom 2,000 years ago. When I get trapped inside a hutch of my own making, He is always willing to open the door and set me free. Over and over again.

Today I’m celebrating freedom in Christ.

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