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Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 139:13-14’

I wonder if you can remember a time when you saw something on display somewhere and felt you just had to buy it. That happened to me almost a year ago, not long after we moved into our beautiful village unit. At the time, I was strolling around a plant nursery, trying to decide which roses to buy to put in the small garden beside our balcony. Apparently, the previous owner had had several different roses growing there, but once he was unable to care for them any longer, they had been removed. Despite this, one single rose bush had defied all odds and come back to life. So in order to balance the garden out a little, I asked if I could plant a couple more and was told that would be fine. Yet what rose should I choose, out of the many on offer?

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Just Joey

Finally, I found a deep red rose called ‘Mr Lincoln’ and decided on that one. Its blooms were not quite the shape I wanted, but they had a beautiful, strong scent and the plant seemed vigorous and hardy. Then a label on a pretty, apricot-coloured rose nearby caught my eye—‘Just Joey’. Now how could I resist? After all, my name is Jo-Anne—and the name I was often called by my family when I was growing up was ‘Joey’. So I felt I had to have that rose in my garden, as we began this new phase of our life.

Yet there was another reason the name of this rose had caught my eye too. For a long time, I had kept the idea for a kind of memoir on my computer, until I felt the time was right for me to explore it further. Eventually, I did—and gradually, it morphed into my second non-fiction book, Becoming Me, published in October 2016. But my original idea for its title? You guessed it—Just Joey.

Apparently, my rose ‘Just Joey’ was named after the wife of the head of a nursery company in the UK. But to me, it kind of symbolises my own life, as I have learnt and grown and made mistakes and grown some more and stepped out and taken risks to become more of the person I believe God created me to be. God knew all about me before I was born—and created me as a unique person, with my own personality and gifts.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:13-14

God knew every twist and turn in my journey too and has been with me all the way, even when those winds threatened to snap my fragile stem, as occasionally happens to my rose. Today, I feel so blessed to be ‘Just Joey’, to rest in who I am in God, to be less afraid to be all I was created to be and to be less jealous of those with different gifts and abilities from me who seem to have achieved more in life than I have.

My ‘Just Joey’ rose is unique, with its frilled petals and gentle perfume. And you and I are unique too—just as God created us. May you rest in that truth today and be thankful.

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There we were, the whole family seated at the restaurant, waiting for our meals to arrive. The moment had come for me to open my birthday gifts. The first was a small, slim parcel in purple tissue paper and ribbon—my favourite colour. Inside, I discovered a beautiful, handcrafted pair of earrings, chosen for me by one of our daughters—a special gift I now wear with pride. The second was from our son and his family—an intriguing looking box with a brightly striped ribbon keeping the lid in place.

As soon as I lifted that lid, my senses were assailed by a wonderful mix of interesting perfumes. I peeked inside—and there lay an array of beautiful soaps, bath salts and other similar items, of all different shapes, sizes and bright, contrasting colours. It was a delight to pick them up one by one and enjoy those different aromas—mango, orange, peppermint, vanilla, rose, lime, lavender. I loved them all—each one was so intriguing and unique. Again, I had been given a gift I truly love.

‘I chose all them,’ our big, burly Maths teacher son told me then. ‘I spent ages in the shop—the ladies there were laughing at me because I took so long to decide! And did you notice the purple and black tissue paper in the bottom of the box? I had to find just the right colours to go with it all. The box had to be the exact right size as well–and I wanted the ribbon to match all the different colours of the soap too. It looks good, don’t you think?’

I assured him I loved it all. Yes, I laughed, along with everyone else, at the way he was so proud of his gift and the story of how long he had taken to choose it all. But I was touched as well at his labour of love on my behalf.

I open that box again now and admire all those special little gifts it contains. I wonder then if I will have the heart to use them. At the moment, my carefully chosen gift is just that little bit too precious—precious in that it speaks not only of a human love that will go to such trouble to select a special gift for me but also of God’s extravagant love for each one of us. It reminds me how God created us with such care and intricacy—each unique, with our own special shape, size, aroma and flavour to offer this world as only we can.

You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14

And God has given each of us gifts with which to bless others, as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12, and to enable them to function as God intended them to. As God’s children, created in God’s own image with God’s own Spirit living within us, we have all we need to make a difference in this world and to take that light and love of the Lord everywhere we go—surely a labour of love we can all approach with thankfulness and joy.

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We had been waiting for that text message for a couple of hours by the time we finally heard. There had been some delay in our son-in-law’s being able to use his phone. ‘It’s a girl!’ the text told us—and the next minute we were off to the hospital, along with the new baby’s two-year-old brother.

I walked into the Special Care Unit and there was our daughter, still looking somewhat dazed after her caesarean but proudly holding her new baby. We later learnt the baby had been wedged up under her ribs in a perpendicular position, so had needed some firm extricating. But there our daughter was, so grateful this little bundle of joy was now outside rather than inside her still! I walked up to the bed and gazed at our new little granddaughter—our fourth grandchild. At first, I found myself merely thinking Oh that’s lovely—the baby’s well and it’s a girl. But as I stood there, I realised I was looking down at another unique and absolutely amazing example of God’s incomparable handiwork. Here was a brand new little person, created in the image of God to live and do and be in a way no one else on this planet ever could.

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Maxine Marie Antwi Konadu

This past week, I have been able to cuddle little Maxine quite a few times and examine her more closely. Her little fingers attract me first—lovely long ones with beautifully shaped fingernails. Her toes too, so minuscule. I love her sweet, button mouth—such a pretty shape—and her cute little ears, tinged on the top with darker skin. Her father is from Ghana and has beautiful, deep black skin and we have been told that the colour on Maxine’s ears is the colour she will end up. We found this to be true with her brother Zain, whose skin is now a lovely, milk chocolate colour. I gently stroke her mop of black, straight hair and cup her head in my hand. I know much of this hair will soon go or change to a lighter colour. Then eventually, those gorgeous tight curls, just like her brother’s, will hopefully appear and her mother will be delighted!

For a moment, little Maxine opens her eyes and seems to want to work out who is holding her and where she is. A puzzled look appears on her face and then her eyelids droop closed again, as if it is all too much effort. I stand looking down at her, smiling and rocking her gently. And all the while, I marvel. How amazing that our God can create such an exquisite little creature, down to the minutest detail of exact skin colour and curl of hair! How wonderful that right now, God is doing this same thing all over the world for all sorts of families this very moment!

I love Psalm 139 in any shape or form, but here are verses 13-14 from The Message version of the bible:

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvellously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation!

May these be Maxine’s own words of praise from her heart too in the years to come, by God’s grace!

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