Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Tag: gift

The Best We Can Be

Why do we write? Is the world a better place because our words are in it?

I want to encourage us to be the best we can be in whatever genre we favour.

King Solomon urged the readers of his day to do with all your might whatever your hands find to do. Very applicable to writers! Go for it. Don’t be timid or half-hearted, full of doubt. If a thing is worth writing, then do it to the best of your ability. Believe in the gift God has given you. But don’t strive about it, enjoy what you do.

We are free [read more]

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.

 

Father of Lights

During the recent brief spell of hot weather, Adi and I headed for a department store and air-con. The lights in the store looked like wrapped Christmas gifts and reminded me that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of Lights.

I love the Father of Lights because He is who He says He is: the creator, the saviour, the Father, the only true God. He never gets moody or changes His mind. He always sees things through, and I can trust Him absolutely. He gives me everything I need to live an abundant life. That doesn’t mean no problems. Abundant life is the life within: having peace and joy deep inside that are real and present despite circumstances.

The Father pursues me with goodness and mercy. Even when things go awry with illness or job loss or whatever, I can trust Him because everything has to pass through His hand first. Nothing is able to get to me unless He allows it so that He can grow faith and hope in me, always developing my character.

SunsetThis Father’s heart blazes with such immense love and purity that it’s no surprise He is keenly interested in mine. What are my attitudes and thoughts? Are they pure and lovely like His?

There is no darkness in the Father of Lights. For one who suffered from demonic nightmares, oppression and evil presences, this is of vital importance and a great comfort. He is Light. Just as He is Love. It is impossible for Him to do anything wrong or badly. If anyone thinks He does, they don’t know Him.

I never knew how father-like this Father is before last week. But He has pursued me over the years, culminating in Him drawing near to this much-loved daughter in a bungalow in Norfolk. He entered the room, His eyes locked on mine, a huge smile on His face. I lay in awe, almost unable to breathe at His magnificent presence. He scooped me up in His arms and tossed me in the air like a loving dad having fun with His child. I giggled delightedly as He did it again and again. And then He gave me a glimpse of His burning heart, red-hot with love for me. I don’t think I will ever be the same again.

The Father of Lights, the one from whom comes every good and perfect gift, has adopted me as His daughter. One day I will shine like the sun in His Kingdom. This isn’t airy-fairy stuff; this is real; this is truth. I love the Father because He first loved me and has shown me what is love.

Christmas Party

I received an invitation to a party. Was it really meant for me? The people inviting me seemed certain they wanted me there. Not sure I should go, it’s not my thing, I don’t think I’d belong….

It was bitterly cold today and I couldn’t get warm. That party to which I was invited began looking like a good idea. Maybe I should go for a bit, just to get warm. I didn’t have to stay.

As soon as I walked through the doors, I was met with big smiles – not cheesy or weird, just friendly. I accepted some mulled wine and sat in a corner to people watch but someone joined me, chatting and drawing me in so that I wasn’t just watching but a part of what was happening.

We all moved through into a long room with a tall Christmas tree at one end and twinkling fairy lights strung from the ceiling. We sat at large round tables, still chatting, while being served a delicious, hot Christmas dinner with all the trimmings: turkey and stuffing, sprouts and pigs in blankets. This was followed by Christmas pudding or chocolate gateau with cream. We sang carols and laughed a lot.

In laughing till my sides ached at the ridiculously funny audience-participative nativity, I forgot that I didn’t think I belonged and simply enjoyed being part of this fun family atmosphere.

Food Bank Christmas BagsThere were even party bags to take away with important Christmassy food items: mince pies, chocolate coins, tinned soup, cheesy nibbles. We were each given a beautifully wrapped gift for Christmas. Tears blinded me for a moment when I unwrapped mine. It wasn’t some second-hand tat that had been set aside for someone like me, but was a decent gift that had been generously bought for someone like me. I’d done nothing to deserve it, I’d simply turned up and accepted all the love and generosity showered upon me.

Grace Church held our first Christmas Party for Social Hub users this afternoon. It was an absolute joy to be able to host Christmas dinner for some of the people who have used our food bank this year. It’s something the Social Hub team have been looking forward to for months, and to see our guests relaxing and enjoying themselves was really special.

As someone said in the pre-party prayertime, Jesus knows how to party. His enemies made snide comments behind His back and called Him a drunkard and a glutton. Not that He was ever greedy or got drunk, but He didn’t hesitate to spend time with people who were looked down on and called ‘sinners’. We wanted to be a little bit like Him.

Food Bank Christmas PresentsAs I gazed at all the presents and Christmassy food parcels to be given out, I was struck with the similarities between me and our guests.

I, too, have received an invitation to a party. I, too, have been welcomed in, and given a gift.

Jesus has invited me to a party that He has promised to host at the end of time. It’s a major event on His calendar – He died and came back to life to make sure this party will happen. And everyone is invited. For everyone who accepts His invitation, Jesus welcomes us. He brings us into His Kingdom and into His Family; in fact, His Dad adopts us and makes us His heirs. He provides for all of our needs and He sets us free to enjoy Him more and more. He has given us the most astounding gift of eternal, abundant life.

And that gift is something that we can start enjoying right now.

 

Photo credit

Grateful

Five Minute Friday

I’m joining Five Minute Friday again this week, which is where bloggers from all over the world write on a theme chosen by Lisa-Jo Baker for five minutes without stopping to edit or self-critique their work, and then post the result on their blog. Today, the topic is: Grateful.

BEGIN:

Jack RabbitI’m grateful that God created animals. Jesus took the time and trouble to speak all the different species into being.
I’m grateful for the pets I’ve known: for Jack the rabbit’s comfort when my dad died, for Pickles the guinea pig enjoying our races up the stairs, and the way he stood up on his hind legs with his front paws on my calves to let me know when he wanted to race.

I’m grateful that God is light and there is no darkness in Him.  I’m grateful that His name reflects His character: love, light, beautiful, merciful, gracious, faithful. Jesus’ name is the most powerful name in the universe – darkness and demons flee before His name, and only through His name am I saved.

I’m grateful for my health. Thank You Lord for healing me! And for strengthening me every day.

I’m grateful for the tree outside my study window and for the pigeons that sit cooing on the fence.  I’m grateful for my nephew Stuart weeding the garden for us this week, so that I look out on tidiness and that gives my mind rest.

I’m grateful for Adrian – and for fifteen happy years of marriage. I’m grateful for the memories we share, for his faithfulness to me, for the fact that our marriage vows were more than just words uttered in the front of a church building – they were promises that we aim to keep, and that brings security.

I’m grateful to God because every good and perfect gift comes from Him, and He gives me all that I need. I’m grateful that God’s desire for me is that I have abundant life.

STOP.

 (Photo added afterwards)

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