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Set a fire!

 

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Ever Ancient, Ever New

Lo, you were within,
but I outside, seeking there for you,
and upon the shapely things you have made
I rushed headlong – I, misshapen.
You were with me, but I was not with you.
They held me back far from you,
those things which would have no being,
were they not in you.
You called, shouted, broke through my deafness;
you flared, blazed, banished my blindness;
you lavished your fragrance, I gasped; and now I pant for you;
I tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst;
you touched me, and I burned for your peace        

St. Augustine of Hippo

“Late have I loved you.” 

The above verses, clearly speaks of a passionate love – the kind of love you long for, the kind of love that leaves you, forever changed.
I don’t know if many people upon reading this poem without context, in our secular world would necessarily conclude that the passionate love St Augustine speaks of; is that of his love for God!
Perhaps, as you read this it may also not speak to your ideas of God or indeed your own experience of faith.

“you flared, blazed, banished my bindless”

 

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Through the power of the Holy Spirit it is possible for us all to be ‘set on fire’ with love for God! We can also allow God’s love to enter our own heart and transform us from within.
So many people in the world have not come to know Jesus and so many people through perhaps their experiences or lack of opportunity have been left lukewarm about their faith.
So how do we ‘set a fire’? How do we ignite or renew our own faith? How do we deepen our own relationship with God?
If that sounds like an impossible task to you or you are unsure of where to start, I can tell you that the good news is you don’t have to do it alone.

 

You called, shouted, broke through my deafness

 

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You may be seeking God or seeking a deeper relationship with him or you may not be seeking him at all. Regardless of where you are with your own faith journey, you can be assured that God is seeking you!
God’s love is already certain, it is already waiting for you; and through the Holy Spirit we can be set on fire with that love!
As we approach the great feast of Pentecost we can turn to the Lord and ask him for help to come to know him better! We can ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit! We can ask to be set on fire with this love.

We can reach out to the Lord in prayer, open our hearts to him and pray…..

 

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful.

And kindle in them the fire of your love.

Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.

And you will renew the face of the earth.

Who You Say I am!

success-846055_1920 (1)Who am I that the highest King
Would welcome me?
I was lost but He brought me in
Oh His love for me
Oh His love for me

Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am

I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am”

Hillsong Worship – “Who you say I am

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When I was University my most difficult piece of work came in my final year and it was not my 10,000 word dissertation! Instead it was a short piece of self evaluation, where we had to list areas of improvement and also write about all our positive qualities.

I started well in as much as I was able to list areas of improvement with practiced ease, I had been mentally making that particular list for quite some time.

When it came to reflect on my positive qualities however, I became stuck; in fact the page stayed blank for days. I at 21 years old could not think of one positive thing to say about myself!

Who do we say we are?

My example might seem quite extreme and I was personally in a difficult place then, but how often do we think negatively about ourselves? How often do we allow others or the world put negative values on us?

Who does God say you are? 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Through the scriptures we hear time and time again of God’s love for us. For me personally, it was only when I encountered God’s love in a very personal way that I began to view myself differently – that I began to view myself as God had always intended me to.

“We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he had meant us to live it.” Ephesians 2:10

I was talking with a friend the other day and I listed the above song “Who you Say I am” as my favourite worship song; for me it speaks so much to the transformative power of God’s love.

” Who am I that the highest king should welcome me?”

I will,  I think remain forever astonished that the creator of the universe, God himself- seeks a personal relationship with me. It’s a thought that awes and humbles me daily!

“I’m a child of God” “I am Chosen” “Not forsaken”

I found that it is hard to think too negatively of yourself when that knowledge of God’s love for you takes root in your heart. It is healing, freeing and utterly transformative!

I am not now of course suddenly perfect but through experience of  God’s perfect love, I am free to grow in Christ, to live my life to the full, no longer held back by negativity or fear.

There are still times of course when I lack confidence or when I let negative thoughts get the better of me. When that happens or on days when that voice of doubt can be strong, I often quietly say to myself in way of a reminder ” I am who you say I am!”

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The Tree!

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This week has been as they say, one of ‘those’ weeks! If it could go wrong, it really feels that it has and I have not been, shall we say in the ‘best’ of moods – in fact I’ve been a total grouch. Sorry friends and family by the way!

It certainly feels for me that this week has been stormy, and of course we are all in the midst of a great storm at the moment. After a particularly bad day this week, I went for a walk and found myself stopping by a tree in my local park; and as I stopped and reflected for a moment, I immediately began to feel better.

Stopping by that tree had reminded me of an earlier moment of reflection that I would like to share with you now.

Going back a year or so ago, I had been at meeting and one of the people there had offered to share the following spiritual exercise. She spread a number of pictures out in front of us and after a period of silence, we were to pick one that spoke to us and reflect on that image. I picked a photo of a person holding on to a tree in the middle of a storm; the image had really spoke to me. When I came to focus on it, my first thought rather sardonically was that there wasn’t much depth behind me choosing this particular picture, the day in question had been full of gale force winds!!! However, I  felt called to go deeper. There was more to this picture than the obvious; a deeper reason it had caught my attention. At first glance I thought the picture looked very bleak; black and white, a lone figure amidst the storm. However as I looked at the picture, I didn’t feel lonely, isolated or overwhelmed or anything like my initial impression of what the picture seemed to suggest. I looked at it and felt hope and gratitude! My eyes were drawn to the lone figure and what they were holding on to. The tree!!!

I sat transfixed, as I stared at the tree, and the hope that image filled me with. The figure wasn’t alone in the storm, they were in fact stood firm, grounded, they had something to hold onto!

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A few years ago if I were to have put myself in that picture, I would have found myself stood alone, with my umbrella inside out, braced against a storm, that threatened to sweep me away with it.

I remember coming to the realisation that day; that though I still may get caught in a storm from time to time; I am no longer like the person in this picture; I no longer feel like the storm is about to sweep me away. I am instead like the person holding onto the tree; standing firm and grounded.  The tree of course is my faith; my faith in Jesus.

I am grounded now, rooted in faith. In Jesus I find my hope and strength and with him, I know I can face anything. The fear of the storm, the fear of being swept away is gone; for he will catch me when I stumble and pick me up when I fall.

The insight I had that day was an important one. One that I perhaps needed a gentle reminder of this week; as I had been feeling a little battered and bruised by another one of life’s storms.

So I end this week, perhaps a little worse for wear, but also renewed once more in the hope my faith affords me and the knowledge that through the storms of life, there is always my faith to hold on to. I just need to remember to reach out and take what is already there, waiting for me!

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Well, you just have to laugh! Don’t you?!

a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” — Ecclesiastes 3:4

When my son was around two years old, we were invited to a garden party and, in the centre of our friend’s garden, was a very deep, circular pond. All of the children were cautioned to stay away from it and – I think recognising the inherent wisdom of this advice – obeyed!  My son, however, saw this as a challenge. After several thwarted attempts, eventually, inevitably, he slipped past us and dived straight into the pond. It felt like a very long walk to the car, past smartly dressed party guests, wrestling my soaking wet, green slime – covered son, who was declaring with outrage at the top of his voice, “BUT I WANT TO GO SWIMMING!!!”
As we reached the door a party guest said to us, “Well, you just have to laugh, don’t you?
And we did laugh… eventually!!!

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There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven” — Ecclesiastes 3:1

We are living in an extraordinary time; this current situation has turned all of our worlds upside down and has, for many people, meant losing loved ones to this virus. It is a time to mourn and to weep for many.

However, within the darkness and difficulty of the current situation I do think that there is also a time for laughter and we should try to make room for it. Let me explain what I mean by that.

The story of my son’s ‘pond swimming’ is a light-hearted illustration of how laughter can come to our aid in a situation. I have found that a shared sense of humour has benefited me most in my darker moments.
I have a very clear memory of laughing with my family on one of the saddest days of my life. There had been a hiccup with a particular arrangement at my mother’s funeral and we all somehow found ourselves laughing together – perhaps rather hysterically, but laughing none the less. Within the desperate sadness of that situation, it was a moment of release and it helped us cope a little better with all that we had to face that day.

A sense of humour is such a wonderful gift from God and one that’s so important right now.

Laughter can come readily to us in times of joy, but I am most grateful for this gift on the days when laughter is slow to come.

On so many difficult lock-down days, a call from a friend that has started in stressful tones has ended in laughter; we have laughed with the children; and I have laughed with (and sometimes at) my husband.

Sometimes, when faced with adversity, you really do just have to laugh! I thank God for our ability to laugh and, more importantly, for the people in my life that share in that laughter.
In our shared laughter there is release, there is hope and there is the reminder that God can turn all things towards the good, until ultimately, one day, all our sadness will be turned into joy!

 

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Prayer, Panic and Pandemics!

“Don’t panic!” is perhaps one of the most panic-inducing phrases in the English language and usually precedes the announcement of a piece of very panic-filled news!
At the start of our current crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic, it was a phrase we heard often. News reports would outline the governments ‘no need to panic!’ messages, alongside footage of empty supermarket shelves – the result of widespread panic buying. For many, the natural response to such crisis was panic and, of course, this is entirely understandable; a completely human response to such a significant threat.

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The Bible also recognises that the normal human response to trials or suffering is to panic or to feel fearful. Time and time again, we are counselled to not be afraid:
“But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
Psalm 94:19
However, the message we find in the scriptures is not a simple “don’t panic” message, it goes much deeper than that.
Through the scriptures we are also given a reason not be afraid. Time and time again we are shown that those who are close to the Lord have no reason to fear. This message comes to its ultimate fulfilment in Jesus, as he says:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
Have I been afraid during this pandemic? Absolutely, I have.
Have I felt panicked, when I turned on the news or read a government report? I have, often!
I have, however, also been consoled. I have also been reminded. I have been strengthened.

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Turning to prayer at this time, spending time with the scriptures, has been – for me – the antidote to fear, the remedy for panic and the ultimate reminder that “perfect love casts out fear” 1 John: 4-18.
While we may all feel afraid; it is ok not to be ok!
Prayer reminds us of Jesus’s love for us and that, through his love, fear and panic will never overwhelm us.

The Sacrifice of the Mass!

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During this global pandemic we are all, of course having to make many sacrifices – some great, some small.
Not being able to receive the Eucharist at this time, has for me been one of the hardest losses to bare. Yet of course it is a sacrifice I make willingly, even eagerly. I know I need to do all I can, no matter how small, to help end the terrible suffering caused by covid-19.
The sacrifice of the Mass is of course still being offered eveyday, in churches everywhere and we are invited to enter into spiritual communion with the Lord.
Yet personally, I still feel that Sacrifice of not being able to receive our Lord sacramentally at this time a significant one, and it has made me reflect on what this absence will mean for me? How might I grow from this experience? What I might learn?
During the last Mass I attended before lockdown, I remember being deeply moved to know this might be the last time I would receive the Eucharist for a long time and one thought in particular struck me forcibly. I remember thinking, “Of all the those times I could of gone to Mass and didn’t go!”
Growing in faith has of course meant I have grown a much deeper appreciation of the Eucharist, yet still, there is always room to grow closer to Jesus, to grow in faith.
Absence does, I think really make the heart grow fonder and my prayer for myself during this time of absence, of loss is this:
“Jesus, may I find that during this extraordinary time, when I cannot come to Mass, when I cannot receive you in the Eucharist, I can use this time to grow ever closer to you. That in the absence of my normal routine, I will find you in that stillness and learn to love you anew. Amen.”

The family that prays together stays together.

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God our Father we come to say, thank you for your love today. Thank you for my family and all the friends you give to me. Guide me in the dark of night and in the morning send your light.”

Since my children were very little we have recited the above prayer at bedtime together.

Any parent of little children will tell you that establishing a good bedtime routine is key to getting children to sleep. Our bedtime prayer was part of that routine but I’ll admit at that time, it was just about the only prayer said in our house.

When I was a child, prayer was much more constant for me or at least the reciting of prayers was. My mother was a very devout Catholic and would include me in reciting prayers and we would often pray the Rosary together. While I enjoyed that time with my mother, I remember really only seeing prayers as something to memorise and repeat.

A deepening of my own prayer life and that of my husband’s however has caused both of us in recent years to look at not only how we pass our faith on to our children but also how we deepen our family prayer life.

We still say that prayer every night but it is no longer the only prayer said in our house. Rather prayer has become a more constant presence in our house and indeed our life.

We also have encouraged the children to pray themselves and at night they always have a little chat to Jesus about their ‘thank yous and sorrys’ for the day.

Routine is still as important as ever for our family and we now gather daily, morning and night to pray together.

It was only recently, during the stress of our current lockdown situation that the importance of this routine really struck me. I commented to my husband how blessed we were for our family prayer routine and how much it was helping us.

My husband agreeing with this, was reminded of a quote that someone had shared with him recently.

“The family that prays together, stays together”

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“Sing a new song to the LORD!” Psalm 96:1

People often comment on the change they have seen in me, since I have come to faith.

“You’ve changed” they say or “You’re like a new person”

I have, changed! I am different!

I like to think rather than changing me into someone new however, the Lord has freed me instead, to become who I was always meant to be.

My song

My song was one of fear, one of anger, one of pain

It was a song I had learned to sing

The lyrics of which I learnt from the world

Each word stamped unto my heart, engraved on each broken piece

A silent symphony! The song of sin and scars

It was a song I had learned to sing, I sang it well and I sang it loudly

It was, however, a song I was never meant to sing

For you gave me my own song, when you gave me life

You gave me your song 

The song of love, of hope, of life

It’s a song that I realised – once I began to sing – the lyrics and the melody have the power to drown out all other songs

Until it becomes the only song you want to sing; the only song you can sing

It’s my song; the song I was born to sing

A song I sing to you, Lord, each day; a song of thanks, a song of hope, a song of love

It is your song

And now,

It is my song.

 Caroline Sadd, 14th April 2020

Hello and Welcome

My name is Caroline, I am a wife and mother to two very energetic children.

Once upon a time I used to write regularly and it was a great love of mine. Over the years however, I seemed to find less and less time to write – until it became something I just ‘used’ to do.

Over the last couple of years my experience of coming to faith has changed my life in many ways and part of that process has been that my love of writing has being reignited.

Raised a Catholic I have known of Jesus my whole life but it only in the last couple of years that I have come to truly know Jesus and enter into a personal relationship with him and that experience has changed my life.

My journey of faith has not followed a straight path but it truly has been a journey from darkness to light.

Now that I find myself ‘Walking in the Light’ – the light of Christ, I hope to be able to share some of my continued journey of faith with you all.

 

 

 

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