God is Love

1 John 4:16 says

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

I am a Bible reader. I believe in it. I believe the Bible is the living word of God, that it teaches us and is relevant to our lives. I believe that if we have a question we can find the answer in the Bible. It may not provide a list of rules, or a clear answer to everything, but it will never fail to shine the light of God onto our situation… and it will never fail to reveal His love.

Now, that’s a lot of Christian jargon. So, what do I mean?

I mean that this book is, to those who believe it, a source of wisdom, a course of comfort, a source of much needed challenge to our broken human ways of thinking AND that it tells us WHO GOD IS.

And this passage, written by one of Jesus’ disciples, John, is one of the clearest that there is when it comes to talking about who God is. God, John says, is Love.

Here love becomes an active word, not a passive one. It becomes a doing word. A name. A way of being. God has many names, and many aspects to his character. Many put him beyond our understanding, but this one, Love, is something we can begin to understand.

We are all moulded by our experience of love. Either having it, or not. Being loved as a child or not. Being able to express love to another person, a partner or friend or child. We go through this life and are marked by our experiences of love. Each time we feel loved we remember, and each time we notice the lack of love we feel that too. We are built to notice, crave, give and receive love… it is an unmistakable and defining characterising of humanity… but why?

Here John gives us an answer. We are built to respond to love because the one who created us - God - is, in His very nature, the very essence of love. GOD IS LOVE. And He created us to be like him. He wired us to love, to be loved. He wired us to notice a lack of love. And He wired us to respond to his love for us.

John’s encouragement in this passage is for us to notice love, and to learn how to love each other, and God well.

He writes that All who love know God, because God is love.

What does this mean for us? Even if we don’t profess to know God?

It means that if we have tasted love, we have tasted God. Because all love comes from Him, and all love flows back to him. If we have known love - from a parent, for a child, for a friend, for a partner, for a justice movement, or for a stranger, we have caught a glimpse of God.

It’s an encouragement to us…

To reach out and ask ‘where does this come from?’… and to adjust our eyes to see that the answer is clear… we love because He first loved us. We see and know love because He is love.

John goes further - for those who know God, this passage is a challenge to love well. To love God well. To love each other well. To love the world around us well. To grow in love. Because God is love, and because the world will see God in how we love one another.

Wherever you are at today… either a cynic or a person wildly in love with God… can I encourage you to look around yourself and ask yourself the question… Why do we love? Where does it come from? And: How can I love better, How can I show love better? And how can I reach out to the creator of it all, the one who IS LOVE. to GOD HIMSELF. Because, I promise you, he is reaching out to you with more love than you can imagine.

Just look up.

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February - L.o.v.e.

Well… Duuh.

Of course. It’s February! It’s LOVE month…

Ok, ok, I know. I kinda hate it too.

Being of the chronically single variety of female unafraid of fulfilling the stereotype, I shudder at the thought of another Valentines Day spent bemoaning my relationship status and the lack of heart shaped chocolates waiting on my doorstep… SO, after our GO BE BRAVE January (which, by the way, you all ACED!!!) I thought it time for a slightly more out of the box (but not really) February.

While we WILL be celebrating LOVE this month (because really, what else could you do!?), I refuse point blank to make myself or any other singles out there feel abandoned. The truth is, that in all of the hype about love during Feb, when I think Love, I think of a word that means more than romance. More than partners, lovers, soul mates.

I think of God.

I think of his incredible love for his creation.

I think of the God from whom all love comes.

I think of the God who is, at his very core, love itself.

I think of a Bible that tells us that we are able to love because he loved us first. I think of single mothers giving up everything for their children. I think of nuns and monks with lives given over to love God. I think of sisters and brothers. Of best friends. Of the love we have for our planet. Of the love we have for each other. I think of all of these parts of love before I think of romantic love. The truth is that romance is as necessary an expression of love as any other… but there are others, and they all stem from THE ONE who Loved us FIRST.

So, guess what… this Feb we are gonna dive, together, into what Love is. Who this God of Love is, and what we, as amazing humans experience of love every day.

There will of course be some V-Day fun, but for the most part… I hope that Hope&Grace will be a little haven for us to have a little reminder of how much we know of love, how much love shapes us and forms us. And a reminder of that God that started the whole love story in the first place…

So, Come over to Facebook and let’s have a lovely L.O.V.E. month! HA!

See you over there!

Anna x

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FIND YOUR BRAVE

Ok, so what do we mean by ‘Find Your Brave’?

It’s a phrase I’ve been using for a while now. It’s one that helps me to think about a certain category of things… The ones I’m scared of or afraid to do or am intimidated by. The ones that feel alot like ‘being a grown up’.

I’m gonna get vulnerable and tell you that I struggle to be a grown up (whatever that means!), and I know a lot of fellow twenty-something friends who struggle too. We’re not to sure what it means, or how to do it, so a lot of times we are faced with thing that we need a little extra something to help us go and do.

That’s where the brave comes in.

Brave is something that we all have to be. Most days.

For some of us, ‘Brave’ looks like getting out of bed. For others its making that phone call that been put off for weeks. For others it’s walking back into that classroom after a class of teenagers got wildly out of control. Maybe it’s a meeting you’re dreading, or stepping across the playground to meet a new parent at pick up time. Perhaps there is a grievance you need to address or a carpet to be ripped up. Maybe there is an operation coming up, or a diagnosis that you want to ignore. Or all you want to do is hide on the sofa, but there is another load of laundry and washing up to be done.

Wherever you feel lacking, wherever you feel intimidated by the task at hand. Wherever you shrink back instead of taking a step forward, that’s where you could use some more brave.

Now, the Brave Philosophy (copyright pending) hinges on this one thing… that we do, in fact, have access to all the Brave that we need in order to tackle these tasks.

That within each of us there lies enough. Enough for this, enough for now…

That you can find the way to tap into it. Wether through prayer, a song to spur you on, or ONE MORE DEEP BREATH.

…And that, in fact, beyond us, there lies more than enough for every task we will ever face.

That we can tap into this too.

That it is ok to feel a lack of Brave. That it is, in fact, human. However, if we dig deep, identify the source and put it to use, we can WIN the tasks of the day, week, year… and even find some Brave to spare!

That together we can spur each other on to run this race well…

That we can encourage each other to tap into the ultimate source of our strength and joy… God, and that His promise to never leave us empty will stand through all eternity.

That there will always be more than enough Brave for you.

Always.

My brave comes from my Jesus, who replenishes my tired soul when I turn to him. My brave is activated most days, to help me with the most basic of tasks. I rely on His strength, and that is ok. That’s how I find my Brave…

How do you find yours?

I’d love to hear <3



Anna x

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BIG GIRL PANTS

No offence intended.

No, really. No offence. But, you all know what I’m referring to.

Those pants (literal or figurative) that we pull on (either figuratively or literally!) which spur us on to GET IT DONE.

Back in October, I remember talking to a good friend of mine about a hard and irritating task that I had to do. It was the right thing to do, and would result in exciting things BUT it required awkward conversations that I did not want to have. I said half to myself, half for effect ‘WELL, I'll just have to put on my Big Girl Pants and get on with it, won’t I!’ Queue my friend half splitting over with laughter ‘I’ve never heard that one before!’ she said. I was surprised, as I thought everyone knew that one! But, it stuck with me. This is a light hearted but also kinda serious saying I use on a regular basis to (for lack of a better phrase) buck myself up and just get on with it! It helps to add some humour to proceedings and also lighten the mood BUT it’s message is clear….. pop on the tools that help you be strong & GO DO IT!!!

So, what are the tools (Big Girl Pant’s (BGP’s)) that help us get it done?

They will vary, but I know a few that all can be strengthened by…

1) Worship, prayer, and turning our attention to Jesus. This focusses our mind and heart on the one from whom all our strength comes… and he is always faithful to give us the strength we need. For those of you who know Jesus - this HAS to be your first step. Your first port of call for the strength you need. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about… you can - if you ask God to help you, he always will.

2) The ‘I Got THIS’ outfit. You know the one!! Be it a pair of shoes that make a clip clop noise and make you feel like a grown up…. OOOORRRR a lovely pair of matching underwear (yes, I went there!!) OR even a particular hairstyle or outfit… or the classic Bridget Jones Big Pants situation… sometimes its ‘just’ our uniform or the daily armour we donn to go about our lives… but there are no ‘just’s when it comes to our BGP’s - it’s simply whatever YOU NEED to access to go get winning!

3) That song. You know the one. Wether it’s been on you Spotify rotation for three weeks straight, or just popped into your downloads today. Wether its a song you’ve sung since you were a child, or one that brings back memories. We all have THAT SONG, that album, that artist who gets us excited for life. Let it become your anthem, let it become your song. Let it spur you on… Pop it in your BGP kit.

4) That Prayer. That mantra. That saying. Those words. Did your parents say something to you that made you feel safe and loved and strong? Do you have a prayer you offer up sometimes? Do you have a mantra that you recite, one that you draw strength from when things get tough? If the kids are screaming, the students won’t work, the laundry is non stop and then your car breaks down… what is it that you mutter under your breath that stops you from letting out the homocidal monster that we all stuff deep down? (Cause that takes brave too!!) For me, it’s a prayer - one that takes nothing from me to say, but yields control and sets my heart at ease. A simple prayer that invites my God into my crazy, and asks for help… Sometimes it’s a simple ‘Jesus give me the strength I need to do this’… or a ‘Let’s go Lord’ accompanied by a deep breath that gives us our GO.

So, there are some ideas. But friends, lets do this this January…. Let’s locate our BRAVE, pop on our BGP’s, use our tools and GO GET IT DONE.

See you and your Big Girl Pants soon

Anna x

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January - let's get brave.

I don’t know about you, but for me, the end of 2018 felt like an invitation to shake things up in life.

For me, 2018 ended with leaving my job, my town and getting rid of 90 percent of what I owned, putting the rest in a backpack and heading off around the country on the trains. By Christmas I was needing to decide where to land and settle for life going forward… so, my 2019 began pretty open ended with lots of opportunity for bravery.

Now, not all of us go to that level of crazy in life. But I’m sure, that like I did, you have found yourself with new opportunities in 2019. Wether it be the choice to pick up where you left off in 2018 with renewed energy and enthusiasm, or to totally overhaul your life… all of what we do each day, be it brand new or the same old, requires a huge amount of BRAVE.

The beginning of this year felt like an invitation to to tap into the brave that we all know we have. Which is often so hard to find. The simplest task can take up all our reserves. Some days we wake up feeling empty of brave, and other days we feel like we could conquer the world. In order to consistently step out and live the life before us this year we have to remember where our Brave comes from, tap into it and live in it…

It is my conviction that all the Brave that we will ever need comes straight from the source of our strength, love, hope and joy - Jesus. It is through returning to Him that we get filled up with the strength and Bravery we need to walk the steps that he has laid out before us. It’s all about Him…

Through remembering this, going back to long loved passages of the bible, songs that anchor us in His love, and also choosing to step into our brave, that we are able to pick ourselves up and be the bold people we are called to be.

Here comes our mission for January 2019 - to remember where our Brave comes from, look in His face, say thank you, identify what He is asking us to do, and choose to step boldly out in all of our Brave to do the job in front of us.

During January at Hope&Grace you will find a series of paintings - prompts and nudges - to help us tap into our brave.

It is my hope that together, we will find all we need to start this year off with a bang…. and WIN this January!

I hope you’ll come along for the journey. See you on Facebook!

Anna x

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New Year... New Website...

Christmas’18 in progress.

Christmas’18 in progress.

it’s happened!!!! we’ve done it!!!

Hello and welcome to the new home of Hope&Grace.

It’s been a long time coming… approximately three previous incarnations of this little website ended up on the preverbial cutting room floor over the last year or so, but now - thanks to the talents of my amazing friend Paul (check him out at Paulfolio Photography… they’re the bees knees), we now have a home!!

The idea for this website is as simple at it comes - to have a base, a home, where people can come to to get an introduction to Hope&Grace. With our facebook community steadily growing, I wanted a place that we could have all our information in one place without having to scroll through years worth of posts! Having things here and clear means you guys can come and get all the info you need, when you need it.

It’ll grow as we go I’m sure, but my thought is to use this blog as a way of sharing more with you guys and in greater depth. Blog posts will be the perfect place to give y’all a peak at workshops, prices, how to’s, behind the scenes aaaand other thrilling things like the inner workings of Anna’s brain! Ha!

So, here’s to a new website, new blog, and new home for all things Hope&Grace.

Let’s not be strangers… please comment, share, email me, and say hello!

None of this is about me, its about us all together, finding a little light and a little inspiration.

Together, I think we are something special…

So, welcome home. It’s gonna be fun.

See you soon!

Anna x