HOPE OVERFLOWING

stories of grace, hope and life beyond cancer


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The October Yay Mail! Project

Yesterday on a trip into town, whilst in my favourite art supply shop I saw a book of blank watercolour card postcards on the shelf. The front of each postcard is blank ready for painty creativity to be unleashed all over it and the back is laid out like the back of a standard postcard. I couldn’t resist and so without a second thought popped them in my basket.
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As soon as I bought them I started thinking about what I could paint on them and about all the possible people I could send them to and I got excited at the prospect of sending all this lovely post. I love to receive nice post! It is always such a joy to receive a little card or postcard or note and even if the message is simple it always makes me feel loved and valued that someone was thinking of me enough to bother to post me something. I wanted these postcards to make other people feel how I feel when I get special post.

As I was thinking about this I had this thought, “What if I sent someone a little bit of nice post each day for a month?” I think it would bless others but also would be a brilliant opportunity to think of others and seek to encourage someone every day, which would be a blessing to me as well. As I thought more about this I got excited – this sounded like a fun project to me!

I decided I would send a card or a postcard or maybe a very small gift to a different person each day with a positive message of encouragement for a month and as October is starting next week, I would do this for the month of October.

As I thought about this a bit more I wondered whether anyone else might also like to send nice post every day for a month and so the idea of the “October Yay Mail!” project was born.

I told Joel about my idea and he said it sounded like fun and that he was in too. Yay! Two of us!

So Joel and I will be sending nice post every day in October. But, I thought there might be others that might like to join is so I wanted to invite any of you who fancied joining us to do so! It’s going to be a fun project and I think will be such a fun way to bless and encourage those around us.

In order to participate, here’s what you need to do:
Post (hand post is fine) something nice, like a card, postcard or letter with a kind and encouraging message to a different person each day for the month of October.

That’s it! Very simple!

You can send your post to anyone but if you’re stuck for ideas I’ve thought of a few categories of people that you might like to surprise:
–          Someone you haven’t spoken to in more than one year
–          Someone from your childhood
–          Someone who lives in another country
–          Someone with whom you have a tricky relationship
–          A member of your extended family
–          Someone who played a significant role in your life at a formative time
–          Someone that you know is going through a tough time at the moment
–          Someone that you wish you saw more often
–          A neighbour
–          An ex-colleague

Perhaps try and send one to each of these if you can and see what happens.

There’s a week before October starts so maybe have a go at making a little list of who you might like to send some Yay Mail! to and start getting their addresses together.

If you want to get involved on social media I would love to hear how it’s going. If you have any stories from the project that you’d like to share please do drop me an email, comment on the blog, on the Facebook page or use the hashtag #Octoberyaymail.

I am so excited to tell 31 people how loved and valued they are, to encourage them in their every day and to give them some mail to say “Yay!” about and I hope you will join me too!

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The Minionettes and the Moonwalk Marathon

Late on Saturday night, five friends and I joined 17,000 other walkers, all in fancy dress, on Clapham Common in London to walk a full marathon, through the night, to raise money for breast cancer charities.

Our team was called the Minionettes, we were dressed as minions and I, for one, was feeling really nervous. The atmosphere was buzzing, we were ready to go but we had a long wait as our group only got to set off at 11:45pm… way past my normal bedtime!

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Once we started, it was slow going. The roads weren’t closed and the pavements were very congested with walkers. But the mood was high and we cracked on! The route was great and we really did a tour of the London sights, walking past the London Eye, over Tower Bridge, past Buckingham Palace and St Paul’s Cathedral and finally going round what felt like endless loops of South Kensington.

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The slow pace and congested route started to get me down a little as after 3 hours we had only walked 9 miles which was so much slower than the speed we had walked in training and by about 3am I was starting to feel tired and frustrated, and we weren’t even half way there! For me, from about the half way point completing the walk became a case of mind over matter… I know I can walk one just one more mile, and then just one more and then just one more… Oh look there’s the sunrise… Just one more mile… Until eventually…

We reached the finish line.

Nine hours later!

Hallelujah!

By this point my body was objecting strongly to both the lack of sleep (the last time I had stayed up the whole night I was 15 years old! Seriously!!), and the 9 hours of walking but it was an amazing feeling crossing that finish line.

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I didn’t expect to feel particularly emotional on this walk, particularly as my Peru trip had really felt like my comeback moment, and for the most part I really didn’t feel emotional at all. But just at that moment, crossing that finish line, I once again felt overwhelmed and so thankful and grateful to still be standing. I felt thankful to be able to challenge myself, to push harder, to be stronger, to keep going. I felt so thankful for my friends and family that joined me in this slightly bonkers challenge and for all the love and support they, and so many others, have shown me over the past three years.

No tears were shed, but my heart was full and glad.

And in spite of not being able to walk for several days thereafter I am looking forward to doing it again and have already started planning my outfit! (Next time it will definitely involve lights and way more glitter!)

Doing the Moonwalk also challenged me in other ways… It reminded me of the power of determination, and how when we fix our eyes and hearts on something we will get there. But it also reminded me of the call in Hebrews 13 to run (or in this case power walk) the race marked out for us with perseverance, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.

In life, as in the Moonwalk, we are called to keep going, keep moving forward with purpose, not worrying about others’ costumes or the fact that they got an earlier start time or that they didn’t have to press the green man button again because there was so much traffic that they were getting slowed down… Rather, we are called to run our own race, that has been marked out for us, whatever that looks like. We are called to keep going and to run it faithfully with our eyes looking up. And when we are done, when we have completed that last ‘just one more mile’, how sweet will that day be when we finally cross that finish line.

I don’t know about you, but despite all of the distractions, at the end of it all I want to know that  ran focussed and ran well!

Thanks Moonwalk. See you again next time! I will be coming for you armed with glitter!

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Strength for the journey when the road is… unspectacular

Sometimes life is hard and sometimes it is amazing, but a lot of the time it can just feel kind of unspectacular and life just seems to roll along in an unspectacular fashion. Regardless of where we are on life’s mountain range it is pretty much always too busy and there are never enough hours in the day to fit everything in. There always seems to be laundry waiting to be folded, dishes to be packed away, emails to catch up on and the floor could always do with a hoover (or is that just in my house!)

So what a joy and what a gift it is when in the unspectacular mess of everyday life we can find moments of rest, moments of grace and others to share them with, and how much sweeter is this joy when these moments are unexpected!

On Thursday I had the privilege of spending the evening with four other ladies, only one of whom I knew. I turned up clutching a plate of brownies, ready to make small talk and hoping they would like me!

So it came as something of a surprise that this evening spent with strangers turned out to be one of these evenings of rest and grace and connection and at its end I came away from it reluctantly, feeling encouraged and uplifted and knowing that I had been in a safe place with amazing people.

What a gift!

What a gift it was to be able to share something of our stories together, real stories that mean something, that go beyond the pleasantries of normal conversation. What a gift it was to speak and to really feel heard, and to be able to offer that in return. What a gift it was to be quiet with others, to enjoy the warmth of the fire and the flickering of candles and the sweet presence of the Lord.

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What a treasure this is. What a spectacular evening.

As I have been thinking about that time, the phrase “strength for the journey” keeps coming back to me. And I think that this is what time being real with others and sharing something of ourselves, brings. Strength for our journeys. Strength and encouragement for our everyday, normal, unspectacular lives. Encouragement to keep going, strength to keep seeking God and courage to see the spectacular in seemingly unspectacular circumstances.

I think that this is what fellowship is really about. Being real and honest and sharing ourselves and in so doing giving others strength on their journeys and in turn receiving strength for our own.

What a spectacular gift!