Zeph Daily 11 – Everything Beautiful in its Time…

Morning Zephyrs! It’s Julie here – and I’ve got a little challenge for you…

I’m fascinated by mudlarking – hunting for hidden historical treasures on the Thames foreshore that have been preserved by the river mud. I’ve never actually been, but it’s on my bucket list! Here are three examples of the kinds of things mudlarks have found – any guesses what/how old they are?

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Some answers for you! Top left is a fossilized sea urchin and could be hundreds of millions of years old.

Top right is a genuine Roman lamp discovered in the Thames mud a few years ago – and almost thrown away as the mudlark assumed it was a forgery!

Bottom is a wooden shoe patten and buckle, also from the Thames mud, c.1710-1720 – correctly identified by Jenny as a thing to keep your feet out of the mud and dirt (and correctly dated too!) – ironic that it should end up preserved in the London mud!

Amazing that such fascinating, ancient things should be so well-preserved and, all these years after they were made for use, have a new beauty all of their own…

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When Julia led Zeph@10 on Tuesday, using the passage from Ecclesiastes 3, a line jumped out at me that I’d never noticed before, in verse 11:

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.”

That same day, I came across a post in my Facebook memories. It was five years since I took my eldest daughter to visit our friend, Heidi, at Wakefield Cathedral, where she worked. We spent most of the visit collecting discarded candle wax at my daughter’s insistence – all the bits that had melted, dripped off the candles, then re-solidified at the bottom of the metal holders. The bits that would normally eventually get thrown away.

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I don’t know what made her notice and want to collect all those broken pieces of unwanted wax. She saw something in them that I didn’t. I didn’t see any beauty in them; but she did…

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.”

Sometimes, we all feel a bit like those melted, discarded, re-formed pieces of unwanted wax; and when we do, God looks at us the way my daughter looked at the wax, he sees something in us that we don’t, he sees the potential for beauty. He doesn’t wait for us to be perfect.

WATCH: Anyway – Nichole Nordeman

Or read the lyrics here… https://genius.com/Nichole-nordeman-anyway-lyrics

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We’d gone to visit Heidi because she was getting married. And when we got home, my daughter announced that she wanted to use the wax she’d collected to make Heidi a wedding present.

So, we dug out my candle-making kit and set to work.

We melted the remnants of discarded wax and died them red. Set the wick. Poured the melted wax into a spherical mould. There wasn’t enough Cathedral wax to fill it, so we melted some new wax to top it up. Then we left it to set…

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The finished candle was a perfect sphere of two halves – the lower part smooth, new, bright red wax; the upper part perfectly, beautifully imperfect, reclaimed wax made new.

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We wrapped it up, popped it in a gift bag, and gave it to Heidi on her wedding day. And, although we occasionally remembered our Cathedral visit with a smile, we never really gave the candle much thought. Until a couple of days ago…

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You see, on Wednesday, five years to the day since we’d collected the wax, the same day I noticed that line in Ecclesiastes 3:

“He has made everything beautiful in its time”

– That same day, our Cathedral memory popped up in Heidi’s Facebook too and she left a comment:
“We just finished burning this the other day! It’s been lit on our table at tea time as we pray for and remember key workers and those who are ill.”

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What a beautiful destiny for that unwanted, almost unnoticed, discarded wax! When we collected and melted and poured and set and wrapped and gave that wax, five years ago, we had no idea that now, in these times, it would be giving light and shining strong as prayers were said for those who are suffering and those who are helping in these troubled times.

Everything Beautiful

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When the words we have and the prayers we say and the actions we take seem too small, too insignificant to be worth anything, may we remember this:

God can take the least wanted, the most useless things and turn them into things of beauty in his world, in their time.

We pray, now, for our world, for our communities, for those people and situations on our hearts, in faith that God can turn our small prayers into something beautiful. Add your prayers…

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Now go, like the repurposed old wax candles you are, and let your lights shine – “He has made everything beautiful in its time…”

WATCH: This Little Light of Mine – John Froud

Zeph Daily 10

Morning all! John here again today!

Ok, so it’s actually Yvonne writing today but, as John has spotted, today is April 1st! It doesn’t feel like a usual April Fools Day though, no usual pranks on the front pages of newspapers. But despite the lack of pranks, it did set me to thinking about my own general foolishness!

I have been known to do the occasional foolish thing over the years. What about you?

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When I was little, we used to go on holiday to a farm in North Wales every year. And every year, we’d get there, I’d get out of the car and run across the farmyard to where there was a big stone wheel with a handle attached. It was for knife-sharpening and I thought it was so cool! Unfortunately, it was in a small pit in the ground, surrounded by nettles. Every year, I’d run to this wheel and every year I’d fall in and get loads of nettle stings all over my legs! Every year! I mean, what kind of foolishness is that? To do it once, careless; to do it every year though!!?????

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It looked a little like this but even older! It really was cool!

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My foolishness has continued through to adulthood, though I haven’t fallen in a nettle patch recently!

Now I suppose I could get depressed at the level of my foolishness (which sometimes really seems to know no bounds!) or…..I could turn to my Bible. I love, really actually love the number of people in the Bible who do foolish things.

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The list seems almost endless and, like me, some of the foolishness was repeated foolishness, not just a one-off. But, despite people’s foolishness, still God used these people, still God loved these people.

We all (even you, Jenny!) do foolish things sometimes but I love that no matter what we do, God is still going to be there loving us as much as ever, still wanting to use us to be His light to those around us.

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So whilst there may not be very much pranking or merriment about on this traditionally foolish day, why don’t we just take a bit of time out to be thankful that despite our own foolishness, we are loved by the most seriously awesome God. And do you know what, why not also, while we’re on it, take some time to thank God for some of our foolishness – after all, it’s in our weaknesses that God is strong. This morning, let’s just praise our God because we know He loves…whatever we do, wherever we go. We know He’s always got something for us…..

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Thanks Yvonne! Julie will be back tomorrow morning at 10am over on Facebook– see you then!

 

 

Zeph Daily 9

Autumn ZephDaily

Morning! It’s Julia at Zeph@10 today. Hello to you.

Question: what is your favourite season? I have a theory that people tend to like the season their birthday is in best – maybe subconsciously they associate it with something good. Mine is autumn.

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Traditionally my least favourite season is spring, because I feel like it’s pretty wet but without the cosiness of winter. However, in recent years I’ve realised that’s a pretty miserable way of looking at it (especially last year when we seemed to skip spring, and I found I missed it and felt disorientated for half the year!). There’s loads of things I realise I love about spring, like evening light, the scent of the air and flowers. Really I think each season has its hardships and its blessings.

I wanted to look at Ecclesiastes 3.1-14 this morning, where the author talks about there being a season for everything in life. Have a read if you like!

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There’s a few things I take from this passage. We’re currently in a very strange season- just a season, so it won’t last forever, but it is different and disorientating all the same. It brings with it various levels of hardship depending on the person and the situation.

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In saying that everything has a season, the author encourages us to accept our current situation first, acknowledging it for what it is. Even though we might naturally have “a desire to know the future” (verse 11), the task we face is the here and now, without having to know the whole picture, and that’s enough for the time being.

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The book of Ecclesiastes, where this passage comes from, is impressively, splendidly, miserable. Everything is useless and/or bad in some way. For a disillusioned reader it is either cathartic or going to make things MUCH worse – there is a time to read Ecclesiastes and a time to absolutely NOT do that.

This passage, in the midst of misery, is the author finding meaning in the idea that God is in control. I also found that the author seemed to keep returning to the same idea: the best thing is for people to eat, drink, and be happy in their work, which are gifts from God. Whatever your opinions on eating, drinking and working might be, my interpretation of this is that enjoying the small, “trivial” things matters.

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In other words, whatever season we are in, within that time God can give us the gift of peace, even through the smallest means. Most evenings in my house recently, we tend to go a small walk. If I’m honest I can rarely be bothered to go before we’ve set off, but once we’re out I’m always grateful we did. Peace can be a moment, watching the sunset reflect off the still waters of the canal. It can be spending time with people who mean a lot to us. It can be getting stuck into a long forgotten hobby – the author later says it is good when people don’t have time to worry because God keeps them busy with what they love to do.

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These moments of peace are important. And when we find ways to share this peace with other people, it becomes strength. Ecclesiastes 4.12 says a rope that is woven of 3 strands is hard to break.

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Let’s pray that God will be with us during this season. We pray for God’s help for those who this will be a particularly hard season for.

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Let’s pray for God to help us have peace within this season. We pray for glimpses of God today.

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And finally, let’s pray for God to give us enough strength to give light to others in any way we can.

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Amen! Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday!

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Yvonne’s up on Zeph@10 tomorrow – see you there!

 

Zeph Daily 8

Morning!
It’s Jenny’s turn to lead Zeph @10am today.

I have decided to give myself a framework to pin my weekly reflections onto. A few years ago I bought a chronological Bible, where the books are all jumbled to follow, as closely as scholars can discern, a coherent timeline. It means that the Psalms attributed to David are dispersed through the stories of David that appear in the first book of Samuel. I have decided to focus on these psalms, in order, and in the context at which they appear. The first is Psalm 59. I’m not going to focus on all of it, but you might want to read it before we get started. Verse 9 says, “You are my strength; I wait for you to rescue me, for you, Oh God, are my fortress”.

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masada

For a moment, think about a fortress – perhaps one like Masada, in the picture, with its position on top of a steep hill, surrounded by walls – or perhaps the more familiar motte and bailey-type castle we see in the UK, with it’s keep, high up surrounded by defensive walls and embankments, designed to ‘keep’ the inhabitants safe under attack.

Now, think about the place, or situation, in which you feel most safe, most secure. It may be a familiar place, like your own home, or even a specific place in your home. Perhaps your duvet is the ultimate shield against whatever life might throw at you.

Or it might be about the person or people you are with. Perhaps there is someone who, no matter where you are, has the ability to make you feel safe and secure.

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Bible verses

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The word translated as ‘refuge’ in this translation is variously translated as ‘fortress’ or ‘high tower’ in other versions.

This Psalm has been placed at a point in David’s life when he is hiding at home, knowing that Saul has sent his troops to kill him as soon as he steps outside his front door. He is neither in a fortress or a high tower. He has no physical earthly protection. However, his wife Michal (Saul’s own daughter) warns him and helps him to escape out of a window during the night. She puts an idol in his bed, disguising it to look like its him sleeping, and then lies to the soldiers saying that he is ill in bed. David is able to escape to safety. As suggested earlier, sometimes God gives us someone else who makes us feel safe, no matter where we are.

David recognises that ultimately God is his refuge, his fortress, his high tower, his place of safety, his means of escape and salvation, his source of strength. This turns the end of what is quite a grim Psalm into a song of joy and praise to God.

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Let us give thanks and praise that, no matter what life throws at us, God is there and he is our refuge and our strength. Give thanks that he protects and guards us. Give praise that his love is truly unending and unfailing.

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Let us give thanks and praise for the people that God has put around us – either physically or remotely at the moment – to help provide us with a safe place. Those who support and help us. Those who lift our spirits.

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Let us pray for those who we know who are feeling vulnerable right now, or who don’t feel they have anyone to turn to. Let us give thanks for those who are going above and beyond to reach out and help others at this time.

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Let us pray for ourselves, that we will hold fast to the knowledge that we are safe in God’s care and in his unfailing love. May we be inspired to sing songs of praise in the darkness.

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Just like it was for David, singing praise in the midst of difficulty can be tough. I hope that today you get a chance, not just to dwell on the difficulties of life right now, and the stuff we’re facing in the world right now, but to also to sing with joy about God’s unfailing love.  Have a good day!

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Thanks Jenny! We’ll be back with Zeph@10 tomorrow, when Julia will be taking the reins… See you then!

 

 

Zeph Daily 7

John Froud

Morning! The arrival of Friday doesn’t have the same magic, somehow…

Sheena and I went for a spot of exercise yesterday – just round the block. We waved at the Hardys and the Joneses as we sauntered past their houses. Actually we stopped and chatted with our grandchildren on mobiles through the glass of their front room window. Weird, but cheering.

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God said, “ I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God and they will be my people.”

And now, here’s the school formerly known as Clayton CE singing in tune! https://soundcloud.com/johnfroud/and-you-will-walk-with-us

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There is something indefinably warming about being with someone, especially someone you love. I love touring, but being able to take Sheena with me in recent times has been extra special. Sometimes we don’t say much, sometimes we don’t say anything at all. It’s the being there that matters.

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Anyone researching their ancestors? I’ve come up on some huge gaps in my knowledge of my grandfather, and I’ve decided to make sure that the next generations won’t have that about my dad. I knew him. I walked miles with him. Sometimes we’d talk, sometimes we wouldn’t. I’d be there next to him, looking up to him, just picking up the vibe. I admired his ability to talk to anyone on any subject for long enough for them to know they were important. But I was only a kid and there were others who were his friends who knew different parts of him. So I’m asking people who “walked with him” (while they’re still here to ask) what they remember so I can build a more detailed picture. Brian Goodall remembers my dad saying that someone had called him Mr. Shroud, to which he replied, ‘That’s a grave mistake!” Ah, the power of the Dad gag!

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We can ask people who know Him about God, we can read what others who walked with Him say, and we too can walk with Him. We may not always talk – it’s good sometimes to just listen – but to be there is the thing.

And we don’t have to stay still. Walking is active, we can share tasks with him. Remember doing things with those special people in your life? Special times.

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Pray for those you spend time with; those you wish you could spend time with; those you find it difficult to spend time with… God wants to walk with them too.

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Today’s out-song is a long one… you may want to continue praying, or make a coffee, or finally get to the loo. Just know that God is with you.

https://soundcloud.com/johnfroud/12-abide-with-me

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Zeph Daily takes a break over the weekend – Jenny will be back on our Facebook page live at 10am on Monday…

 

 

 

 

 

Zeph Daily 6

Morning Zephyrs! It’s Julie on Zeph@10 today.

I’ve got myself a coffee and I’m good to go this morning. How’s everybody?

coffee cup

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When you’re a storyteller, sometimes you have to grab a thought as it flutters through your brain and follow it down the meandering paths to see where it takes you. It may be it goes nowhere, drifting eventually into a hollow tree trunk in your mind and bedding down under some leaves, when it realises it should never have been out in the first place. Then there are those thoughts that trip lightly on the breeze until you arrive at a sparkling stream and there, beneath the rippling waters, spy a nugget of pure gold…

You never really know which one it’s going to turn out to be until you pay it some attention.

For today’s Zeph@10, I thought I’d give you an insight into that process and take you on a thought journey.

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And the deep and meaningful thought that begins our journey, is this…

I like my glasses.

Arran 4 (2)

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That is the thought that flashed into my mind yesterday. And I really mean it. I like my glasses. I mean, I really like them. I’m short-sighted and, without them, everything is blurry – even my laptop screen. WITH my glasses, the world is transformed. Rather than just being able to tell vaguely what something in the distance is, I can see finer details – colour, pattern, facial features. With my glasses, I can drive safely, I can read subtitles when I watch Scandinavian crime drama, I can pick my child out of a crowd in a school performance or on the football field. I can look further ahead and see things more clearly. They’re great. I mean, I REALLY, REALLY like them.

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But… There are times when it is nice to take my glasses off and let the world blur. Times when I need to lie down and rest but the glasses press into my face. Times when dirt has built up on the lenses and looking through the filter of the immediate grime to see further ahead makes my eyes hurt. Times when I’m tired or stressed and the effort required to focus threatens to bring on a migraine.

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Most of the time, I love and am thankful for the ability to focus on what’s ahead of me, to see as far into the distance as I can and know what’s coming. But occasionally, I need to stop, take my glasses off, let the distance blur, and focus just on what’s right in front of me, now. On this moment.

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When things feel uncertain in our house, if one of us is worried or stuck and isn’t sure what their next move should be, we have a mantra – “One thing at once.” And in those moments, God is there, guiding us, lighting up each step of the way, one at a time…

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a Light to my path.” (Psalm 119: 105)

Your Word is...

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It’s great to look into the distance, to focus on the future, to make plans; and God takes an interest and is present when we do that. It’s also great for our wellbeing and very necessary to look beyond whatever struggles are right in front of us and remember that these things shall pass. But we also have another, different opportunity, and now seems a perfect time to grasp it. Today, slow down. Pop your future plans somewhere safe. Take off your glasses for a few minutes. Pick up a Bible. Spend some time with God. Let his lamp light up your next step. One thing at once.

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Father God, we pray for calm today, calm enough to slow down and stop and spend some time with you, so that you can light our next step. One thing at once.
We pray for those who are feeling wobbly this morning. Draw close to them and let them know that you are near.
We give thanks for those who can offer us wisdom and point us to you.
You are here. And we choose to recognise that today.
Amen

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Remember, God’s got the bigger picture covered…

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Have excellent days, Zephyrs – may you find peace, sunshine and lots of God in them!

See you tomorrow at 10am when John will be taking the helm…
www.facebook.com/zephaniahmusictrust

Zeph Daily 5

March 25 2020

Hiya! Y’alright? So this morning you’ve got me (Yvonne, newest member of the Zeph team). How’s your morning going so far? Things started as normal here – big mug of tea!! Followed by putting the washing on, 2 games of Cluedo played (and lost) with our Thea, washing hung out on the line (got to love the great weather we’re having; got to be slightly depressed that the highlight of the great weather is that I get to hang the washing on the line!!), brekkie and now……. Zeph@10!
So, how’s your morning going so far?

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Following on from Julia yesterday, she reminded us that time and again in the Bible we see Jesus meeting and befriending people wherever and whoever they were.
Another thing we see time and again in the Bible is God promising that He is with us, no matter what. That He will never leave us or forsake us. Time and again, to various people in all sorts of situations. God’s promise is that He will never leave us or forsake us, no matter what we might be going through.

Zeph Daily 5

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Those of you who know me will know how this idea of God never leaving us or forsaking us particularly resonates with me. It particularly resonates because of a song that has Huge Importance to me and never fails to move me and always gives me goosebumps, You’ll Never Walk Alone. Over the years, it has come to mean so much from a footy perspective. But when you think about the words, and think about God’s promise to never leave us, it becomes an even more awesome song!

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Standing in the Kop singing You’ll Never Walk Alone is incredible. Holding onto God’s promises that He is the reason we will never walk alone takes it to a whole new level.

This may not be Gerry and the Pacemakers, but have a watch…

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However we may be coping with all that we’re going through right now, remember, hold fast, cling onto God’s promise that He will NEVER leave us or forsake us! YNWA

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Following Zeph Daily this morning, we took part in the global call to say the Lord’s Prayer at 11am – God hears us, our voices joined, whenever we can pray. Join us now…

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Julie will be back on our Facebook page tomorrow for ZephDaily@10am – join us there or check back here afterwards…