Read this if you feel like you don’t make a difference.

It’s really easy to look around at all the cool stuff going on in the world and feel like you’re not quite there yet, that there’s soooo much more your could or should be doing, and why are you such a slacker?!?

Or maybe that’s just me πŸ˜‰

I woke up today not really knowing what I was going to share in today’s blog post. One of the things I love most about writing these each day is the way random thoughts and stories and ideas pop in my head (no prizes for guessing who I give credit to for those!)

And I get to share them with you in a way which sees the both of us skipping off happily into the new day. (That’s the plan at least!)

And so as I was walking back from dropping the kids home from school, I still had nothing.Β No stress, it’ll happen, I thought. I wait until I’m inspired to write but I make sure I always get inspired by 9.30am πŸ˜‰

So I’m chatting with one of the mums at school when suddenly, out of nowhere, a bug lands on my back and makes me jump! Except, it wasn’t a bug, it was the old guy from across the road sneaking up behind me while I’m chatting. He made me jump a mile!

This gent is a lovely guy. I only usually see him when the sun is out and he’s tidying up his garden at about the time the children come out. We had a quick chat and on we all went with our respective days.

Fast forward a few minutes and I was just up the road from my house when I caught up to another older chap who I say hello to whenever I see him. Apparently I say hello to lots of people πŸ˜‰

And we too stopped for a quick hello and a chat and then, finally, I got home.

And it was as I walked into the house that this thought popped into my head:

Never underestimate the difference you make each day, just by being you.

It’s really easy to look around at the massive things people are putting out into the world and feel like we’re not enough. And, yes, sometimes, we might be part of something huge, but for the rest of the time there’s just real life.

Showing up. Being yourself.

Even the big things that people do, when you break them down and actually look at them, are made up ofΒ smaller parts, daily actions, showing up and doing the work.

A smile. Eye contact. A conversation with a random stranger while you’re waiting in line. Holding a door open for someone. Saying “thank you” and actually meaning it.

Teeny tiny things that we oh so easily take for granted.

Never underestimate the difference you make each day, just by being you.

Until next time, keep being the wonderful you that you are! πŸ™‚

If something’s not working, try changing the view.

Creatures of habit that we are, it’s all too easy to slip into the same old same old each day. Days turn to weeks turn to months and before you know it, it’s Christmas, again.

And that’s fine (actually, that’s great. I love Christmas!) but if we’re wanting to build a life that we can look back on and smile about, sometimes we need to fight against the same old, same old.

This morning, after dropping the children off at school, I tried something just a little bit different. Instead of sitting at my desk to write this email, I grabbed a couple of boxes and set up my ad hoc standing desk. A really teeny tiny tweak but you know what? It feels fabulous!

I can feel my feet firmly on the floor, bare toes wiggling.

Every now and then I move a little, roll my shoulders, enjoy the sensation of a good back stretch.

And with each movement I feel a little breeze as my dress dances with me. Summer is back in my corner of the world today and, right here, right now, I feel a little more alive and connected with the planet.

All that from three boxes!

And it got me thinking … routine is great. We all need varying degrees of certainty in our day to day lives and without it, our brains would probably implode (and that would get very messy!)

But, for those times when things are feeling a little bit less than stellar, when things aren’t quite rolling along as we’d like, how might things be different if we changed the view?

One of the things I love digging intoΒ is the impact upgrading our environment can have on day to day life. And just like my teeny tiny tweak today, sometimes the smallest of changes can make a massive difference.

And so to your challenge for today, if you choose to accept it … πŸ˜‰

How might you change your view today?

This might be a literal change of perspective (things look a lot different from where I’m standing!) or, for you, we might be talking metaphors and brain gymnastics.

Whatever it means for you, remember, our God is a creator God, and you were made in his image, which makes you naturally creative too. Allow that clever brain of yours to mull over today’s challenge and see what ideas rise to the surface.

And then give those ideas a try, if only for one day. Try stuff out and see what fits πŸ™‚

And when you’re done, let me know how you got on. I’d love to hear about it πŸ™‚

Until then, keep smiling πŸ™‚

Does it sometimes feel like everyone else’s life is sooo much more exciting?

It’s no secret that I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Facebook.

I love how easy it is stay in touch with wonderful friends. I hate how compelled we feel to only show the brighter, more entertaining side of life.

I love it when the power of Facebook is harnessed for the collective good (like the time one of my friends was able to help her mother be reunited with long lost relatives on another continent – that was ace!) I hate how easy it is for us to get outraged about stuff that actually, if we knew the whole story (something Facebook doesn’t encourage us to tell) we’d never get so het up about.

I love seeing photos when close friends and family go somewhere cool. I hate feeling left out.

I love the banter with friends who I probably wouldn’t otherwise chat with from one week to the next. I hate it when I allow myself to get sucked into the drama and, before you can blink, a whole hour has gone.

I love how easy it is to share stuff with people we probably wouldn’t get to know otherwise. I hate that I feel compelled to stick around because, otherwise, I might as well just kiss my business goodbye. (Or that’s how it seems at least.)

But most of all, I really don’t like the person it has turned me into.

In one breath I get frustrated because we only share the cool bits, which, to an outsider looking in, makes it look like life is amazing all of the time (which even for people who are really happy and content, isn’t the case every single second of every single day) but then I look at my Facebook timeline and I see I’m totally guilty of the exact same thing!

So, instead of complaining about something and doing nothing about it (again!) I’m challenging myself to be the change I want to see and I’d love it if you played along too.

It’s not about Facebook per se. For you it might be something completely different but here’s your challenge for today, if you choose to accept it πŸ˜‰

Think about the things you complain about most often and decide, how can you be the change? Decide, and then be it. Easy! πŸ˜‰

And if you feel so inclined, I’d love to hear how you got on. Click here toΒ send me a tweet.

Until then though, keep smiling πŸ™‚

What if people didn’t notice as much as you feared they might?

The eagle eyed amongst us might have noticed that yesterday’s blog postΒ was the first one for ages. No announcement that I was writing again. No explanation. It just showed up.

And yes, one or two people noticed. Thank you for that, very sweet πŸ™‚

And then there was everyone else. Everyone else for whom it was business as usual. No fuss and nonsense. Just life moving forward.

And it got me thinking … you know how sometimes we make decisions which, for us in that moment, feel like a pretty big deal? And we wonder how to make it known that things are going to change or that we’re setting new intentions.

And sometimes the fear about how to get started can hold us back from actually starting.

Because what if we change our minds?

Or what if we mess it up?

Or what if it’s amazing?

What if we just started? What if we just showed up, acted like it’s business as usual, no fuss and nonsense, just life moving forward?

One day at a time.Β One small step built on another.Β What might that look like?

Because you know what? Most people are far too preoccupied with their own stuff to notice what’s going on with you even half as much as you think they do.

And sure, sometimes our very first step might not be as neat or well put together as we might like (between you and I, I lost the original audio file for the podcast version of the daily dose and the temporary version I’ve pulled together is rubbish in comparison!) but done beats perfect every time.

And so your challenge for today, if you choose to accept it πŸ˜‰

Whatever that thing is that you’ve been holding off doing for fear of what other people might think, just do it. No declarations or statement of intent needed. Pick a first step forward and go for it.

Are you ready?

Get to it!
Until the next time, keep smiling πŸ™‚

Read this if you don’t know what to do next

Sometimes it’s really easy to know where we’re headed. We do the sensible thing and create a plan, mark a route with guide posts along the way. Sure, sometimes creating the plan is a whole lot more fun than having to do the hard work of implementing it, but at least we know what to do.

And then there is everything else.

The times when we know where we want to get to, the end result, but we don’t know how.

Or the times when we don’t even really know what the end looks like, but we’re fairly sure we’ll know it when we see it.

Or even the times when we know we want to get somewhere excellent, but we haven’t yet figured out what ‘excellent’ actually looks like for us and the people we love yet.

Frustrating, is it?!?

And yes, that was putting it lightly. Sometimes it’s a right old pain in the arse with a side-serving of other stuff we’re far too polite to say out loud.

So, what do you do when you don’t know what to do next?

On my way back from the World Domination Summit, whilst waiting to board my last plane before home, I found myself sat next to a man who I didn’t know. Not that surprising, I was at an airport in Amsterdam! Me being me, the man and I got chatting and it turns out that he was from a place not all that far from where I live, although maybe that wasn’t as much of a surprising coincidence as it would have been, had I bumped into him on my flight to Portland but still, it was a nice coincidence to hear a familiar accent.

He asked me about what I do for work and, me being me, I fudged around a bit, mentioned the project management stuff and then got to telling him about Heaven And El.

“I’m on a mission to reclaim Christianity”, I told him.

“How are you going to do that?”, he asked.

He didn’t ask it in an antagonistic kind of a way. He sounded genuinely interested and it was a very good question. A very good question that I didn’t have a very good answer to yet. I still don’t really.

And that’s where I’ve been sat, since July 15th, until today.

The summer holidays arrived and the children finished school for the six week break.

Never mind, I thought. I’ll have plenty of time to figure it out when they get back to school.

September 1st. School starts tomorrow. Do you think I’ve figured it out yet?

You guessed it, nope, I’m still stuck, not knowing what to do next.

So, what do you do when you don’t know what to do next?

I don’t know about you, but I did what any self-respecting writer does when she’s stuck, I wrote about it. I doubt it’ll be winning me awards any time soon, but it did serve one purpose … it got me taking a step forward.

Oh, alright then, a shuffling half-step forward, but the net result was the same (forward motion) so I’m taking that.

I figured that while I don’t know all the answers and I haven’t yet got a clear grasp on the “how are you going to do that?” piece, I could choose one tiny little shuffling half-step action and do that, safe in the knowledge that lots of little half-steps have the uncanny knack of working together to add up to one giant leap, if given enough time and provided the one taking the half-steps doesn’t quit too soon.

And so that’s your challenge for today, if you choose to accept it πŸ˜‰

If you think you’re stuck and don’t know what to do, ask yourself and God what that one tiny little half-step action is. Listen for the whisper (or even the loud clanging of a whole new idea that you have no idea from whence it came!) and do that.

Are you ready?

Get to it! πŸ™‚

Sometimes you’re just not meant to get over that wall!

Thanks to the wonders of technology, as this email lands in your inbox, I’ll be somewhere in the south of England, watching my youngest brother graduate from the RAF.

I’m super excited, and not least because I get to dress up fancy, but that’s a whole other story.

Nathaniel wants to be a fireman.

After he graduated from university, he did all the usual investigation into how one becomes a fireman. The local brigade didn’t have any jobs so he looked at the option of being an on call fireman but my parent’s house was too far out of town so that couldn’t happen.

Because it was seeming like fireman wasn’t going to happen, he applied to join the RAF as an officer. He did loads of fitness work leading up to the big day and eventually it was time to go through the testing process.

On one fateful day, he had to scale a wall. (Yes, literally. I love metaphors but this one was an actual wall.) He did it during the practice run but during the real thing, he couldn’t do it.

He was gutted!

And yes, I’m projecting somewhat. He was really grownup about it but after all that training and preparation, I’m pretty sure he was disappointed.

Fast forward months and months and I’m standing in his RAF graduation and next month, he starts his training to be a fireman.

What the what?!?

Sometimes you’re just not meant to get over that wall.

Sometimes getting over the wall would mean saying hello to a whole load of stuff that isn’t really what you want.

Sometimes, maybe, you have to get around the wall via an alternate route?

In Nathaniel’s case, that meant going home, applying to join the RAF (again!) but this time as a firefighter (wanted he wanted to do all along – hooray!)

In Nathaniel’s case it meant months of interviews and training and preparation (he even went for a run on Boxing Day!) before finally facing that wall again.

In Nathaniel’s case it meant getting slap bang in the centre of where God wanted him, the long way round.

And I couldn’t be prouder of him.

Sometimes you’re just not meant to get over that wall πŸ™‚

Do you think God smiles?

Walking with Molly dog yesterday morning, we did our usual loop across the field. We’d already done a decent lap but there is something about wide open spaces that she loves so I like to find at least one field per walk.

I’d like to pretend that I do it for her benefit but that’s not true.

Watching her bound around the field in wider and wider circles makes me smile. Every single time. Without fail.

We walk across the fields for me because it brings a warm glow to my heart to watch her.

I love it because as she’s running around the field, she seems at her most natural. It’s like it’s what she was born to do and the sheer joy and abandon she displays is priceless.

And it was yesterday, as I was smiling, that I had a thought:

Does God’s heart warm a little when he sees you being totally you?

You know that moment when you’re totally all in? Fully absorbed and free to be, with absolute abandon?

Do you think it brings him pleasure?

We’re made in his image. That we love is because he loved first. Not sure if God has a sense of humour? Do you? Well yeah, where do you think you got that from?

So smiling as we watch another creature be fully all in?

I think it’s fair to say that we feel that because God does too.

What do you think? πŸ™‚

Do you think it’s possible to live in a world that’s inherently good?

Imagine the scene … you or someone you love is out for the evening. A few drinks. A little dance in a local club. All good.

And then someone touches you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. Your stomach in knots, you take a deep breath and tell the guy that it’s not acceptable for his hands to go there.

And then he beats you up and breaks your nose!

Seriously?!?

You couldn’t make it up. This happened to a young lady from Oxford. She has the bruises to prove it.

What kind of world would someone need to live in, to believe that that’s the way to treat another human?

It’s easy to blame up-bringing and society but we’ve both heard too many stories of perfectly lovely children with nice families suddenly flipping one day and going bonkers, to believe that it’s all about nurture.

Sure, as parents, we do our best and I really, really hope that it helps our young ones develop into well rounded, kind, loving adults, but it’s never a dead cert. There are too many unknown factors and outside influences that we can’t control. And don’t even get me started on the media and the messages we unconsciously inflict on our loved ones.

Yeah, when I said yesterday that all this gets a bit messy in my brain, I really wasn’t kidding! πŸ˜‰

But then I got to thinking … if we all value kindness and love so much, why can’t we change the world around us?

If people are inherently good and made in God’s image, can that be encouraged and fostered so that, over time, it really does become like heaven on earth?

Paul talked about us being new creations. Jesus announced that the kingdom is right here, right now.

And yet the same bible that makes those promises also talks about how all of creation is groaning in anticipation. Paul talks about doing what he really doesn’t want to do and you can often hear his pain coming right off the page.

Maybe the messy conflict in my head isn’t that surprising after all? πŸ˜‰

I have no answers to this one but am compelled to believe that, as conflicted and messy as we are, ultimately (God helping us) we are to live by Jesus’s teaching:

Love God and love other people.

People of faith are commended throughout the bible but of faith, hope and love, the greatest of these is love so here’s to loving, even when we feel like our faith is shaky and our hope might run out.

Because as The Beatles once sang,

Love is all you need.

If we’re all basically narcissists at heart, how does that work when Jesus talks about “dying to self”?

One of my friends became an auntie at the weekend. Her sister named her daughter Ellyson, Elly for short. My first thought?

Ooooh, another El! πŸ˜‰

We’d already heard of another El entering the world (and that time, she was a fully fledged Eleanor, just like me) so I was delighted!

It got me thinking though … deep down, we’re all just a little bit narcissistic aren’t we? Or maybe that’s just me?!? πŸ˜‰

What’s that really about? And how does that work when Jesus talked about dying to self and the need to lose our life in order to save it?

I mean, if everyone who was friends with Jesus literally died for him, that would leave no one to love everyone else on God’s behalf so it can’t be that exactly.

What if “dying to self” was about every day, asking God to help us show up as the people he created us to be?

What if he never meant it as a negative thing (because if I’m being totally honest, I’ve always thought ‘carrying my cross’ and ‘dying to self’ sounded like an awful lot of hard work!)

What if he actually wanted it to be something that made day to day life better?

You being you, the “you on a good day you”, God’s best version of you, is an act of love and worship.

It’s like taking your time over a gourmet meal, enjoying every bite, and being sure to thank the chef.

It’s like walking around the Louvre, drinking in the colours and textures of the art, thankful to whoever invited you.

It’s like belly laughing with your children, free from distractions and stress and screens.

And sure, it should come naturally to us, seeing as it’s just us being us, but this is life and sometimes it’s not all that easy. It’s so, so much easier if you don’t try and do it alone.

What if “dying to self” was about saying “no more” to trying to do it alone?

That I could get on board with πŸ™‚

How about you?

You might just be amazed at what you find under the hood!

Sat in church yesterday morning and the chap preaching started telling us a story from his days managing a children’s home. This came after a story about the time he and his wife bought a new house so as to accommodate four brothers they’d been asked to foster.

Did you ever listen to someone and find yourself realising that there is so much about them that you really don’t know?

Yeah, that πŸ˜‰

This gentleman is in his 60s. A fairly quiet, unassuming man. He met his wife when he was older than average. They couldn’t have children of their own so they adopted then fostered. This after she’d already mothered five children with her first husband.

The stories they could tell!

But, other than the occasional gem (like yesterday’s) they generally don’t. I know bits of their story but it’s pretty clear that I’ve barely scratched the surface.

Look around you. Every person you pass on the street has a story.

Reminds me of that Native American proverb:

“Don’t judge a man until you walk a mile in his shoes.”

But more not judging someone, I find it absolutely fascinating to think of all the things that other people have going on and it’s usually impossible to tell.

Get to know someone and the two of you might share stuff with each other but how honest are you really, even with the people who think they know you really well?

And if there’s stuff that you don’t let anyone else in on, the same is almost certainly true for the people around you. Don’t you think?

People are amazing. Every single one, made in her creator’s image.

Makes you pause and think for a moment, doesn’t it?