Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Collar up, chin down

Alright, God.

So there's a howling gale blowing outside. It's whistling around the corner of the house and the silver birch is bending, bending and whipping its bare branches back and forward.

The sun is shining for now but the sky is that purply black that says rain is on its way. And when it comes it'll be heavy. Combined with the wind, that means the rain will be horizontal right about the time I'm leaving to collect my girls from school. 

Oh joy.

Today is one of those days that an umbrella is no good whatsoever. They haven't invented a brolly that will deal with the high-wind-and-precipitation combo. Certainly not the handbag size miraculously opening out one like mine that wobbles about on a stick that's hard to hold and flips inside out at the drop of a hat. 


There are days when all I can do is pull my collar up a bit higher, tuck my chin a bit lower and resign myself that I will be the woman with no hairstyle by the time I arrive at the playground. Even more so than usual, that is. Might even plug in a set of earphones and crank up the volume on a bit of something inspiring as I trudge along. 

I have days like this. Sometimes life feels like this on days where the sun shines, the air is still and the sky a peaceable blue. Sometimes it's a collar up/chin down day even then. 

I've been having a few of them lately. To the outside observer there's nothing particularly wrong; only the usual low-key day-to-day stuff like aches and pains, over-thinking and not enough sleep, a handful of children's problems ranging from mysterious repetitive throat clearing and rashes to playground friendship issues and then there's demise of my favourite pair of boots. Sigh. 

Still, nothing earth-shattering. All in a day's work. 

So that's not it. 

Something in my head says it's hard at the moment, that's what it is. I'm just collar up/chin down instead of chin up and defences down. I'm trudging rather than dancing. My hands are holding my coat close rather than swinging by my sides. 

So here it is. When the wind is whistling around my ears in a little while, this is what I'm hanging on to:

'Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.' 
Luke 12:6

I am not forgotten. When life is grim and bleak and it all comes crashing down, you are there. 
When life is wonderful and exhilarating, you are there. 
And when life is humdrum and monotonous and I feel like a hamster on a wheel, there you are still. 

"'For I know the plans I have for you', declares the Lord, 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.'
Jeremiah 29:11

There is a Plan. Whether I sense it or not, whether I'm on board or not, whether I have the energy or not, there is a Plan which is best for me, which is what you want for my life.

'For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.' 
Psalm 57:10

I am loved. Even when I feel all alone and solitary, I am loved. When I feel unlovable, I am loved. When I bow my head because I don't want to meet anyone's eye, I am loved. When those skies are full of rain, my hair is plastered to my face and my nose is running, I am loved. When I'm the size of a house in my winter coat and jumpers and I know the diet must start before spring, I am loved. 

'I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.' 
Isaiah 42:6

You think I'm great. Even when I'm more inclined to dwell on all that I'm not than all that I am, you see all that I could be. You think I'm worth working on. You will take hold of my hand and lead me. 

'...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.' 
Philippians 1:6

You are at work. I have come a long way, following you. There is a way to go, but you have promised to carry on changing me into the person you want me to be.

'Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.' 
Joshua 1:9

You will never leave me. When my hands are thrust in my pockets, and my head down against the wind and rain, eyes focused only on putting one foot in front of the other, you are there, right with me, waiting for me to lift my eyes to you. 

You are the God of all weathers. The God who calmed the storm, the God of the still, small voice. You are in the rain and the wind and the sunshine. The rainbow and the thunder. You walk with me on the school run as I bend into the gale and you smile when a small hand slips into mine and asks if there's any chance of nipping to the sweet shop. 

I'm walking with you, Lord. 

Collar up and chin down, maybe, but my heart is whole, for you're holding it in your hands. 

There's no safer place.

Picture used:
kr015118_034.JPG by Krosseel
From withpermission


  1. How amazing. We are having one of those rainy stormy days right now here in Atlanta, Georgia where we live. Three trees snapped and fallen in our yard. Tornado warnings in the state. Lots of damage so far.

  2. Wow. Well, nothing like that here. Just a bit of a wild one.
    Thanks for reading - stay safe.

  3. In sympathy with you, Helen, regarding the weather and the 'collar up, chin down' experiences. Since the heavy winds have blown in, we've just had a small part of our roof edging crumble off and dislodge some tiles with it. Another occurrence to add to the feeling of being swamped and deluged by the sinking tides of life. Life can feel hard and painful for us when too many problems hit all at once.
    But, as you remind us so wonderfully here, we do have the Calmer of the storms, the Peace through the pain, the Voice of love and reassurance to walk with us through it all. There is certainly "no safer place" to be than in His Presence and no better thing for us to do than walk with Him. Thank you for this great reflection. Be blessed as you seek His shelter.

    1. Thank you Joy. I know that I have so little to complain about in comparison with some, but those days when you realise that you left the freezer open, or tiles blow off the roof... sigh.
      Thank you for your encouragement. As always.

  4. I've been having a few days like that too. Thanks for such a beautiful reminder that God is with us in all circumstances.

    1. Thank you Mandy. Thinking of you.

  5. Again I'm so blessed Helen. I'm always able to relate to all that you write:-) heart felt on so many levels. You're not just a face in the crowd to God:-) and you're not just a blogger with a dab hand at tweeting and writing! You're anointed, gifted and play a very significant role building us all up. You have an ability to shift focus giving God glory. So blessed:-) Rowena

    1. Rowena thank you so much for your kind words. I'm touched.
      So glad that it spoke to you. You bless me too.

  6. We've all been there, Helen, and it's good to be be reminded that God's in there with us and for us. And (for your encouragement) - I love your style of writing! You come up with some brilliant phrases. 'Trudging not dancing' for example - vivid and pithy!

    1. Your writing never seems to inspire and challenge and bless. Thank you :)

    2. Paul - thank you. That means a lot coming from you. Thank you for reading and taking the trouble to comment.

      Emma - thank you! I'll take that in the spirit it was meant... :-)

  7. Hahaha! Sorry Helen! It was a third re type trying to upload the comment... It was supposed to say ALWAYS :-) good job we are good friends!

  8. So beautifully written. I am reminded of so many of the Psalms where the psalmist begins in pain or sorrow or anger, but knows that, even there, God is to be found. And as we read on, the light begins to shine and we, too, discover something of God in the pain and sorrow of our own lives. You've managed to capture that so beautifully.
    Thank you.


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