WEEK TWENTY THREE: Melted in His Sunlove

 Frost can define the deadlike – but it is not here to stay.


I pray to you, O LORD, my rock. Do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you are silent, I might as well give up and die.  Psalm 28:1 (NLT) 

I feel dead sometimes – encrusted with ice and frost, dead to all emotion other than grief. Some days I am overwhelmingly frostbitten, lifeless. Don’t let me die, Lord; let your sunlove bring me life.


Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.   Psalm 31:16 (NIV)

I turn my face towards your sunlove, and know that your love is always there, always warm, always strengthening. Even at my most frozen, your love is pouring over me, O Lord.


Your unfailing love, O LORD, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Psalm 36:5 (NLT)

My heart can feel frozen still, Lord – but I look up at your immense heavens which show how vast is your love for me, and for my beloved. And I am grateful for all that You are to me.


Praise your God! He spreads snow like a white fleece, he scatters frost like ashes, He broadcasts hail like birdseed— who can survive his winter? Then He gives the command and it all melts; He breathes on winter—suddenly it’s spring!  Psalm 147:12-18 (The Message)

I want to believe that promise, Lord – that one day soon it will feel like spring again, that even without my beloved, the warmth of your sunlove will bring new life once again.


You let everyone  drink from Your refreshing stream. Psalm 36:8 (HCSB)

Even when the stream itself seems cold, the warmth of your love, dear Lord, rises to abundantly satisfy. May I be satisfied in You today.



Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything  in the One who makes me who I am. Phil 4:13 (The Message)

I am in my grief  – but Christ defines me, defines who I am, not my grief. I am IN my grief but not OF it. I am of Christ, He is my strength, and in Him I can make it through today, tomorrow, to eternity.


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And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times,

having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (NIV) *


And God is able

Do I believe that? Do I believe that God is able, even in this grief of mine, to do the best for me, to give me His grace, to comfort and strengthen me? And am I praying, living, walking, in that belief? Only by His grace.


to make all grace abound

All means all, not some. All the wonders and strength of His grace can abound for me today – so, that speaks to me of overflowing, abundant, even-more-than-I need-right-now and throughout today. His grace is more than sufficient, it constantly pours out on to me – like Niagara Falls.


so that in all things

All means all, not some. In all things, even this, God reaches out to me. Even to me. The Cross of Christ is big enough even for this.


at all times – always

All means all, not some. At all times today, wherever I am, whatever I am doing, whatever time it is, God is there with me in this. At all times. Older translations say Always. And always means always. Not just sometimes.     Grace abounds always.


having all that you need

All means all, not some. What do I need from God today? What special grace do I need from Him? Who might I meet today who needs to see God in me? To whom might I extend grace from God today?


you will abound in every good work

“How remarkable are these words! Each is loaded with matter and increases all the way it goes. All grace – Every kind of blessing. That ye may abound to every good work – God gives us everything, that we may do good therewith, and so receive more blessings. All things in this life, even rewards, are, to the faithful, seeds in order to reap a future harvest.” – Wesley’s Notes on these verses.

* I am aware that Paul is writing to the Corinthians about giving, but I believe that the principles apply to every aspect of our lives.

Image: “Niagara Falls” by George Stojkovic Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos

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Week Twentyone: there’s a new day dawning

Each new day dawns with the awakening moment of remembering. Each new remembering still hits hard, contracts my gut, releases tears. What will this new day bring in terms of memory, of pain, of loss? The anxious moment jumpstarts my day.



Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.   Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

That could read, sound, so glib. But it is true. Lord, this loss causes me anxiety about this day, about every day. So I bring that anxiety to You, thanking you for the good memories of happier days, of love and laughter in those long lost moments. Here is my anxiety, Lord. Take it for me.


Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:7 (NLT)

Again, Lord, I hold out this anxiety to you. Thank you for taking hold of it for me. I long for your peace, peace that I need yet can barely comprehend at the moment. Let it come, Lord.


Thy God hath sent forth strength for thee.  Psalm 68:28 (Prayer Book) 

Another new day, another time of not knowing what lies ahead. Another fear that I haven’t the strength to meet the unknown, the unexpected, the reminder. And yet now I know that it will be all right- because my God  (yes, mine, even mine ) has already sent out the strength I need, ready for when I need it.


My God with his lovingkindness will meet me  Psalm 59:10 (ASV)

That difficulty coming to meet me, that unexpected reminder, that clearing out of a beloved’s things which I have to do  – all that and more, I do not have to confront alone. Before it can meet me, my God will meet with me, with all the love and kindness that I need, poured out upon me. Meet me today, Lord. Meet me before I meet that anxious moment.


I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.  Psalm 63:8  (NLT)

Cling is the Hebrew word for glued, or stuck to. It is also the word for following after in order to grab hold. So that’s what I need to do today, Lord – make sure I don’t let go of You. But could you please hold me securely – not let go of me? I love that image of your right hand holding tightly to me, not letting me fall or sink.


An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.  Luke 22:43 (NIV)

When there was a need for special strength, the Father sent an angel to His Son, even though the Son had already said He had overcome the world (John 16:33) . Lord, I need your special strength to keep going, through all of this. Thank you that I can tell You what I need; thank you for all you have already done.



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WEEK TWENTY:The Hand of God

image courtesy of Ann Voskamp’s free downloadables



 I will not cause pain  without allowing something new to be born,” says the Lord.   Isaiah 66:9 (NCV)

Did – does – God allow this pain? Does he cause it? Sometimes it is so confusing; I don’t know where the pain comes from, why God doesn’t stop it. I ache, Lord, with this pain, deep deep in me. I carry it around with me and there is no escaping. Might there be something new and good from it one day?


But I am trusting you, O LORD, saying, “You are my God!” My future is in your hands.  Psalm 31: 14-15 (NLT)

Help me to trust in you , Lord – it’s not easy today.   I think it is a comfort to know that my future, whatever it may hold, is in your hands. I need to trust the future to you.


The Lord says: See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.  Isaiah 49:16 (NLT) 

The Lord loves me so much that he has not just written my name on his hand, but tattoed it there permanently. What a sign of his love and care for me! Lord, I know now that you won’t forget me.

For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13-14 (NLT)

What a picture of a loving father, holding a small child by the hand. Take my hand today, Lord and help me. I AM afraid – afraid of what this pain and grief might do to me. Let me feel safe with you.


The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel  –  he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted… Luke 4:18 (KJV)

I am the brokenhearted. My heart is broken. God can mend a broken heart – but I have to give him all of the pieces, every single one.


The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things. Psalm 118:15 (NIV)

 “I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.” – Martin Luther. I put myself into the Lord’s strong hands, knowing that there is no safer place.

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WEEK NINETEEN: Punched in the stomach

This, I think, will probably be earlier  – maybe week two.  It’s out of order for now.


Psalm 142 is attributed to King David, when he was feeling his enemies and hiding in a cave.  That’s all I want to do right now – to hide, curl up in the enveloping darkness, sleep away this time. But I need to learn to copy David – to bring all my troubles to the Lord, to look up at God, knowing he will bring me out of this dark place, knowing I need to praise him, even in this horrendous time.  Being grateful in the brokenness.



I cry out to the Lord;  I plead for the Lord’s mercy.   Psalm 142:1 (NLT)

This grief, this unexpected  grief (for death and  bereavement are always unexpected even after a long illness)   – it feels as if I have been punched in the stomach. My internal muscles clench with the shock and the agony of it all. I feel nauseous. All  I can do – and what better thing to do is there? -all I can do is cry out to the Lord.

Lord, save me from this agony.



I spill out all my complaints before him,  and spell out my troubles in detail Pslam 142: 2  (The Message)

Throughout a sleepless night, tears coming and going, deep sobs racking me through and through, I pour out what I feel (or don’t feel) to God. It spills out of me as I cry out to him.

Lord same me from this agony.


When I am overwhelmed,  you alone know the way I should turn. Psalm 142:3 (NLT)

I can barely hold on; it is so overwhelming. But my trust is in God, who is my strength, my love, my fortress, my strong tower. There is no-one else who knows me, knows what I should do.    Lord save me from this agony.



I look for someone to come and help me,  but no one gives me a passing thought!
No one will help me;  no one cares a bit what happens to me. Psalm 142:4 (NIV)

I know I have friends and family; but never have I felt so ALONE. Not lonely – although that too sometimes – but this aloneness, this being estranged from normality, makes me feel as if there is no-one who realy understands. But you do, my Lord and my God.

Lord, save me from this agony.


Then I pray to you, O Lord. I say, “You are my place of refuge.   You are all I really want in life. Hear my cry,  for I am very low.”  Psalm 142 : 5-6 (NIV)

Oh, am I low. So very low. But I think it was Corrie Ten Boom who said something about there being no hole so deep that God isn’t deeper still. I am plumbing the depths wth you, dear God. Lord save me from this agony.

Bring me out of prison  so I can thank you. …..    for you are good to me. Psalm 142: 7 (NLT)

You alone, Lord, can bring healing and comfort and security. Even in the depths I can look for things to be thankful for, blessings to turn my burden into blessings.

Lord, save me from this agony.


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Grief is strange and changes us. Step by step we move through its different stages – whether we want to or not. Sometimes it feels as though I am becoming resigned to this state of sorrow; sometimes it rises up like a mighty ocean and crashes wave after wave upon me, and I am all but subsumed in the tidal waters of grief.


“Swallowed By The Sea” by Evgeni Dinev courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net


You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them. Psalm 89:9 (NIV)

The waters of grief pour over me, Lord. They are crashing about me, threatening me, all but subsuming me. Still the tempest, Lord, quieten me, in your love.


The waves of death swirled about me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. 2 Samuel 22:5

That’s exactly how it feels.  David knew that feeling too, as he wrote those words in a song to the Lord. What did he do? “In my distress I called to the LORD; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears.”  Lord, I am calling out to you. Hear my prayer.


I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.  Psalm 55:8 (NIV)

Some days I want to be far away from this season of my life, free from all of the tears and torrents of grief. I want to be sheltered from it all. Where can I go? Only to the Lord.


You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm.  Isaiah 25:4 (NIV)

I know I need to allow the Lord to shelter me in this stormy sea of sorrow. Yet sometimes, perversely, there are days when I seem to want to be right in it, to feel the sorrow in all its power and depths, and not to be out of it for that might feel like not being sorrowful enough. Emotions are strange sometimes.


He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”  Mark 4:39 (NIV)

The Lord  has to be the one to quieten my emotions and quieten my feelings. He can do it – I just have to ask him and then allow him to do it.


He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.  Luke 8:24 (NIV)

Even the wind and waves obey him! As I pass through this storm of my life, I know that God is in control and he will not permit me to be drowned by it all. He rescues me and keeps my head above the deep waters.  Thank you Lord.



image from www.worldwideflood.com 



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WEEK EIGHTEEN: Learning to Lean

Grief, all consuming, is draining. I had not realised how tiring it is to mourn, how little I seem to be able to accomplish, how exhausting it is to do things I used to rush around and do comparatively easily.  And so sometimes I need to allow myself a quieter day, whether physically, spiritually or emotionally – to let go and allow God to be my all-in-all, my tower of strength.



He who trusts in, relies on, and confidently leans on the Lord shall be compassed about with mercy and with loving-kindness.  Psalm 32:10 (Amplified Bible) 

I love the idea of leaning – leaning into the Lord, letting him take the weight, the strain, today, knowing that I will be surrounded with his love. Leaning into him, under his arm, feeling his love throwing a cloak of protection around me. Knowing that the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who leans on him.


When I am afraid, I will trust – lean –  in you.  Psalm 56:3 (NIV)

Many of the newer translations use ‘trust’ where it might originally have read ‘lean.’ When  I am afraid – afraid of the depth of my grief, afraid I will never be the same again, afraid I will never be confident and capable again, I lean on the Lord, knowing he will protect me, strengthen me, refresh me.


You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock. Isaiah 26:3-4 (NLT)

Perfect peace – because  l lean – lean forever on him – for the Lord is my everlasting strength. How I crave that peace and strength. Learning to lean deep today.


The Lord is my strength and my shield;  my heart trusts in him, and he helps me ….with my song I praise him. Psalm 28: 7 (NLT)

My heart leans and I am helped; when I lean into him I am able riskily to look up – and praise him.


Surely, it is God who saves me; I will trust in him and not be afraid. For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, and he will be my Saviour.  Isaiah 12:1-2 (Canticle: The First Song of Isaiah)

God is strong, like a rock, fully able to hold me up when I lean on him. When I need to lean, to let him take the strain, so that I can have a rest, he is always there for me. This canticle has a beautiful tune – those who know it can hum it throughout today as a reminder of leaning and trusting.


Whoever leans on, trusts in, and is confident in the Lord—happy, blessed, and fortunate is he. Proverbs 16:20 (Amplified Bible)

I am grateful that I have a Saviour who is such a strength to me, on whom I can lean, and who will give me peace. Even if I don’t feel it now, one day I will. I will.



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WEEK SIXTEEN: El Shaddai and breastfeeding

There are several powerful descriptions of God’s names in Scripture. El Shaddai  אני אל שדי
is one of the best known – and perhaps one of the best loved – partly due to a song which has this name of God repeated in its first line several times. Many people have known the power of El Shaddai,  when they have run to God for comfort and strength.
The LORD appeared to him (Abraham) and said, “I am El-Shaddai–‘God Almighty’….   Genesis 17:1 (NLT)
El Shaddai – which seems to mean ‘The All-Sufficient One.’  The One who is powerful, who has infinite strength. Lord, I need to know you as my El Shaddai today: my powerful one.
 I am the Almighty God  Genesis 17:1 (AKJV)
EL – this very old word for God means might, or power. But  SHADDAI has a very different sense – that of provider, the one who pours out all that is needed. Just as a mother feeds her infant, and provides everything – strength and nourishment, love and contentment. The Lord God seen as a breastfeeding mother. Lord, I need to know you as my El Shaddai today:  the lover of my soul.
I am God All – sufficient  (Old English, quoted by Wesley)
Wesley’s notes say, “he is enough to us, if we be in covenant with him; we have all in him, and we have enough in him; enough to satisfy our most enlarged desires; enough to supply the defect of every thing else, and to secure us happiness for our immortal souls.”  Lord, I need to know you as my El Shaddai today:my sufficiency.
The sound of the wings of the cherubim could be heard as far away as the outer court, like the voice of God Almighty when he speaks.  Ezekiel 10:5 (NIV)
The voice of Almighty God, of El Shaddai, is penetrating and far reaching (and so the sound of the cherubim’s wings is compared to it) . The voice of El Shaddai can penetrate even the thick fog of my grief, reach deeply into me  – to bring his comfort, love and sustaining. Lord, I need to know you as my El Shaddai today:my foghorn, almost!
The LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.  Genesis 17:1 (NIV) 
Live in my presence with integrity. (NLT)
God is provider, sustainer, comforter; all powerful, all sufficient. And his relationship with me  is unconditional. I live in his presence, and I want to be blameless before him – living with integrity. Even in my grief. Lord, I need to know you as my El Shaddai today: giving me strength to live with integrity in your presence.
 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:9
Lord, I need to know you as my El Shaddai today and everyday. Thank you for your promise to be all sufficient. Your grace is all that I need.
image (c) Ann Voskamp/One Thousand Gifts/www.aholyexperience.com
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WEEK FIFTEEN: Where is God when it hurts?

Sometimes bereavement, loss, grief, stems from the death of a loved one; sometimes it is a result of other losses – work, home, culture, for example.  Someone who knew that kind of grief was a woman who lost her home, her work, her security. Thrown out by an unkind, unrelenting boss, forced to leave and feeling like a failure, feeling inadequate and rejected,  wondering if she could have acted differently …  and wondering whether God had any idea of what had happened and where she was. Did God see?


EL – ROI  You are the God who sees me     Genesis 16:13 (NIV)

Hagar, used and misused by those who employed and owned her, at the end of her tether because she had run away to escape the misery at home, pregnant, destitute and alone. But God saw; God saw her situation and God sent an angel to help her. Lord, help me to know that you see – you see me in my grief and desolation.



Have I also (or have I not also) looked after him that seeth me?  (Clarke’s Commentary) 

The literal translation of these words imply that Hagar was looking for the Lord – she had looked after him in the sense of looking for. In her misery, in her grief, she wondered whether God was near, whether God knew. Thinking of him revealed him to her. Lord, I look for you  – please show yourself to me.


The angel of the Lord found Hagar.  Genesis 16:7 (NIV)

Where is God when it hurts? When it seems he doesn’t know, doesn’t care? Are his eyes shut, is he asleep? Actually, God was looking for Hagar and sent an angel to her. Lord, I need your angel today, maybe a friend who understands and cares, maybe a letter or a phone call, maybe just a sense of your nearness to me and my dearness to you.


You shall name him Ishmael   Genesis 16:11

Ishmael, the child Hagar was carrying deep within her. Ishmael: whose names means God hears. Lord, hear my crying, my sorrow, my need for you as I call out to you. Thank you that you promise to hear.


The LORD has heard your cry of distress.  Genesis 16:11 (NLT)

Forever after, both Hagar and Ishmael would be reminded that God hears, because of the boy’s, and then the man’s, name. The Lord has heard. Thank you, Lord, that you hear me. May I be constantly reminded of that today.



Truly here I have seen him who looks after me. Genesis 16:13 (ESV)

The result of God’s comforting words was that Hagar knew without a shadow of doubt that the Lord was looking at her – looking out for her – looking after her. Lord, may I know the truth of your looking today – and tomorrow, and always.


All imagies courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net

help – Simon Howden

sunrise over desert – James Barker

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WEEK FOURTEEN: God’s arms around me

The prophetical words of Isaiah 33:2 were written to give voice to the Jews when they were threatened by an invasion from Assyria. These are deep, heartfelt words, giving voice to a longing for God to rescue and support. These words speak to me in my grief, and in my longing to know God helping and supporting me as I go through these deep waters.

Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in times of distress.  Isaiah 33:2  (NIV)



Lord, be gracious to us (have pity on us – God’s Word Translation)  We long for you.

I know you are faithful and your love is eternal, dear Lord. And you are gracious and take time to comfort me. My heart feels as though it is broken and I need you to tenderly heal it.


We wait with hope for you. (God’s Word Translation)

Sometimes hope seems far away, and it’s hard to wait. Lord, restore my faith in you and in your promise of life after death.



Be our strength in the morning.

I need your strength all day, Lord. I invite you into my day, all through the day, knowing that you have all that I need. When I am weak through grief, your strength is sufficient. Thank you that are constantly my strength and support.



Be our arm every morning (ESV)

I love the picture of you extending your arm to me Lord, so I can lean on you for support. Your arm is around me to protect me, and I depend on you today.



God, treat us kindly. You’re our only hope.
    First thing in the morning, be there for us!
    When things go bad, help us out!  (The Message) 

You are indeed my only hope, Lord. I long for your kindliness today, as I walk this lonely valley of grief.



Yes, be our savior in times of trouble.  (God’s Word Translation)

We have a Saviour who is mighty to save. I know that, Lord, and today I want to reaffirm my belief in you and your strong arm. You are in this time of trouble with me. Thank you for your presence beside me.



I don’t know where the photo is from – I was given a copy years ago, and would love to know its origin, if anyone else knows.





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