One Thousand Thanks

The wonderful Ann Voskamp has begun reading her blog posts aloud. I had the privilege of listening to her read her book One Thousand Gifts from Audible. When Ann speaks, her words come alive. I might just listen again, when I finish The Blue Parakeet and Interior Castle. It is so, so good to recall everything for which we are thankful. Such a blessing!


Here, listen:



‘Be still, and know that I am God.’

                                                     Psalm 46:10


Be blessed.

Reblog: Abuse Is A Painful Fact, Not 50 Shades of Fiction



I just had the misfortune of seeing the trailer for ’50 Shades’. I have seen copies of this book on my friends’ and family’s bookcases. After watching the trailer I was incensed. It took about 20 seconds for me to spot the young, child-like, vulnerable female character and the manipulative, controlling, older male character (who saw his chance and grabbed it). By the end of the two minute trailer I could not believe that not only does a bestseller glamourise domestic abuse, but now Hollywood thinks it makes a good movie, too. No doubt it will do well at the box office. I cannot understand for the life of me why any woman would be attracted to a man like that… but then, I can’t understand for the life of me why I was married to a manipulative, controlling, abusive man for a decade, either. It makes me sick to think that women and men watch this stuff and think it’s ok.


Abuse is never ok.

Originally posted on #50ShadesIsAbuse BlogRing:

So today in the UK, I (@EmmaTofi on Twitter) managed to have a Lead Letter printed in The Daily Mail newspaper, discussing the abuse in 50 Shades of Grey and EL James’ reaction to abuse survivors who have dared to raise the subject. The Daily Mail is read by 4.3million people in the UK alone, so fingers crossed, we’re taking our awareness campaign to some pretty high numbers! For those who haven’t seen it, this is a full transcript of the letter (bear in mind, they edited it to a degree):

“I’m upset by the incredible success of EL James’ book Fifty Shades of Grey. A growing number of women, including me, see this book as romanticising abuse. This is not because of the BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, masochism) element of the story, but because Christian Grey stalks, manipulates and controls Ana throughout the trilogy. In the third…

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Reblog: Contemplation is Participation in All Stages of Christ’s Interior Life



My word! The post below, from Contemplative in the Mud (one of my favourite blogs) has sparked so many thoughts that I can barely put them into words. That quote has summed up, in a few simple sentences, what I have sensed God do throughout my life. I keep coming back to ‘why is God so good?’ which sounds daft but… It’s like Ann Voskamp’s post last week over on her blog (another favourite), A Holy Experience,How to Face the Problem of Evil and the Greater Problem of Good. I’ll let the posts speak for themselves; I can’t say it any better.

Originally posted on Contemplative in the Mud:

Charles JournetParticipation of the Church in all the interior states of the Saviour: that’s sanctity. The word “contemplation” does not suffice to tell it all. We need to enter into it all: the interior states of the Christ child, of Christ teaching, of Christ suffering, dying, risen… “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). This signifies that all the stages of Jesus’ life have repercussions in the lives of the saints… Contemplation makes the Church experience in herself the mysteries of her God-Saviour.
Charles Cardinal Journet (18911975)

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An End to Violence: Where is the Olive Branch?

I began praying for Israel and the Middle East several years ago. I pray for strength and courage for those who face terrible situations, I pray for the work of Mama Maggie in Egypt, and I pray for peace.


The olive branch                                           ~ a universal symbol of peace

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”*


The situation in Israel and Palestine is sad beyond words. It is tempting to want to portray one side as ‘good’ and the other as ‘bad’. After all, this makes any response much easier… but this is the real world. There are no such things as ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ unless you’re nine years old. Humanity is too complex, and ultimately too frail, to be viewed in this simplistic manner. There have been acts of good and bad on both sides. Evil has warped (some of ) the minds of both Israelis and Palestinians. My brothers and sisters in Christ who happen to be Palestinian have been on the receiving end of Israeli violence just as much as their Muslim neighbours.

he asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?” **


I wonder what would have happened if, during the decades of terrorism of the IRA at the end of the 20th century, Britain had bombed Dublin? Would there not have been international outcry? When I was a little girl my father’s London office was blown up by the IRA. If the bomb had gone off at the right time it would have killed hundreds of men and women who had nothing whatsoever to do with the political situation, my daddy included. I was at a railway station the day another bomb was due to go off. If the bomb had killed my dad, would I have wanted revenge? If the other bomb had killed me, would my family have wanted revenge? It is a natural response, but in Israel and Palestine, just as in Britain and Ireland, violence never solved anything. It never will. Violence leads to violence, which leads to more and more innocent victims  – be they Jewish, Muslim, Christian or none of the above. As I said the other day in my post about the turmoil elsewhere in the Middle East, evil begets evil. It has to stop.


When Love was flogged, when Love was spat upon, when Love was ridiculed and stripped naked and forced to walk to His place of execution, when Love was bound and nailed to a cross, He did not declare war or vengeance. Love could have called down all the angels of heaven with fire and trumpets and wrath. But He didn’t. Instead, the voice of Love said, “Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do.”


Please join me in praying for peace and a lasting end to violence.


‘There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.’****


* John 14:27

**Luke 10:29

***Luke 23:34

**** Galatians 3:28

Reblog: The Whole Man Becomes Spirit



‘Jesus went on into Jericho and was passing through. There was a chief tax collector there named Zacchaeus, who was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but he was a little man and could not see Jesus because of the crowd. So he ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus, who was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to that place, he looked up and said to Zacchaeus, “Hurry down, Zacchaeus, because I must stay in your house today.”

Zacchaeus hurried down and welcomed him with great joy.’

Luke 19:1-6 GNT


Originally posted on Contemplative in the Mud:

Marie-Joseph Le GuillouIt is not a spiritual work in the sense used by many modern texts, but rather a transformation of the flesh itself. It shares in the elevation of the other human faculties and rejoices with them in communion with God, and indeed becomes the place where God dwells… Thus the whole man becomes spirit. This supposes a constant memory of God.
Marie-Joseph Le Guillou OP (1920–1990)

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The ‘Arab Spring’ seemed so hopeful when it first began, but it has descended with sickening inevitability into turmoil and war. Violence begets violence; evil begets evil. Now Christians in ISIS-held Iraq have been told to convert to Islam, pay a form of ‘protection’ tax, or face death.



‘Iraq is home to one of the world’s most ancient Christian communities but its population has dwindled amid growing sectarian violence since the US-led invasion in 2003.

Prior to 2003, the number of Christians in the city had been as high as 60,000, but that had dropped to about 35,000 by June this year… [and] another 10,000 fled Mosul after Isis took control at the beginning of June…’ 

BBC News ‘Iraqi Christians flee after Isis issue Mosul ultimatum


Open Doors is a charity supporting persecuted Christians worldwide, most recently those in Iraq who have literally had to run for their lives. Can you help them in their work?


‘Open Doors partners in Iraq have responded rapidly as Christians flee intense persecution in Mosul from militant Islamic group, ISIS. They need your support and prayers to continue to provide emergency relief for 2,000 of the families most in need…

“When people are arriving without any food or water, on foot, having walked for half a day or longer, with only a plastic bag containing their belongings, you just want to provide help. What else can you do?”

A gift of £70 can provide an emergency family relief pack for a family of four for one month.

Each pack contains essential items like food, water, medicine, pillows, blankets, air coolers, cooking and eating utensils, and hygiene kits.

And please pray for safety, guidance and strength for local Open Doors partners as they bring God’s hope to these broken Christian families and many others who have fled their homes.’


To find out how you can donate, please click here and the Open Doors page will open in a new tab.


“Whoever has two shirts must give one to the man who has none, and whoever has food must share it.” 

Luke 3:11 (GNT)


Jesus said:The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me, because He has anointed Me [the Anointed One, the Messiah] to preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity]…”

Luke 4:18 (Amplified)

For those who have no choice but to stay, we must pray. Many of them will be too poor to flee, or too old, or too infirm. Some will be too scared to know which way to turn or what to do. We must pray without ceasing: pray for courage, pray for wisdom, pray for strength and most of all we must pray for peace – the peace that passes understanding and that only flows from the wide and gentle arms of Jesus. God help us all.

Pride Has Many Faces

‘The devil’s wiles are many. He would turn hell upside down a thousand times to make us think ourselves better than we are. He has good reason for it, for such fancies are most injurious. Sham virtues springing from this root are always accompanied by a vainglory never found in those of divine origin, which are free from pride.’

The Interior Castle

St. Teresa of Avila

Pride. It’s such a ubiquitous sin that we barely even notice it :-/ I wonder why? I’m sure pride makes God sad. Have you ever heard a sermon preached on pride? I certainly haven’t. Yet pride is a tenacious, deep-rooted sin that grows like a weed, so why is it largely ignored? Why are certain sins singled out over other sins? I don’t get it. I guess I don’t have to – God isn’t asking me to be anyone else, or to worry about why anyone else is the way they are (except, of course, my children). No, God’s just asking me to be me and you to be you. And that’s all (which is not to say we are to ignore other people – absolutely not! But we have to allow them room to be themselves, and we have to love, and to serve, without judging).

For me, the first lesson in humility has been a realisation that I am, frankly, rather useless. It is also the realisation that the whole of humanity is screwed up in one way or another. But the second lesson is amazing. The second lesson turns everything on its head (God does this, I’ve noticed). Far from living in a continual state of misery over my worthlessness, lesson number two is a life-changing realisation of my innate, God-given dignity. My recognition and comprehension of my unworthiness is what makes the knowledge of dignity so joyous, and so beautiful. When I acknowledge my God-given dignity I have no more need of pride. This is the working of grace. I don’t think I’m there yet, by any means, but… I’m on my way and the view’s good.

‘There was once a man who went out to sow. In his sowing some of the seeds fell by the road-side and the birds swooped down and gobbled them up. Some fell on stony patches where they had very little soil. They sprang up quickly in the shallow soil, but when the sun came up they were scorched by the heat and withered away because they had no roots. Some seeds fell among thorn-bushes and the thorns grew up and choked the life out of them. But some fell on good soil and produced a crop—some a hundred times what had been sown, some sixty and some thirty times. The man who has ears should use them!’

Matthew 13:3-8 (JB Phillips)