Welcome to the Patchwork Blog! I hope you enjoy reading my random thoughts about life, Jesus and the freedom he offers.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Letting Go

Tregonings Ope
www.colinsart.org.uk  ©Colin B
In my post before last, Emotionally blackmailing God, I shared about how Father God had asked me to surrender to Him three things if I were to learn how to trust. God spoke to me very clearly through the painting on the left, "Tregonings Ope" by Colin Brown (www.colinsart.org.uk). On my way to being out in the openness of trusting God with my life I had to place pride, expectations and independence into the rubbish bins on my way out.

Letting go of pride and independence
Since then I have been working on letting go of these things. I have managed to let go partly I think but still have much more to learn. I'm realising just how independent I am. I want to do it all my way, have what I want when I want and how I want. I want to be in complete control. Boy, am I learning an awful lot about the kind of person I am. Pride takes over and I don't want to admit to myself what I am really like even though admitting the truth leads to freedom. Both my pride and my independence keep me thinking I can do it all alone, that I should do it all alone. It makes me angry that I have to accept help from others while I don't have enough money to live on. Although I have more to learn about letting go of pride and independence I feel I have made progress in the area. I am learning to depend on others more. I am learning not be proud. 

Expectations or expectancy
I looked at this subject nearly 3 years ago in a post called expectations or expectancy and I find my thoughts coming back to the subject again now. Expectations carry with them a sense of burden. When I have expectations about myself, other people or God I am looking at that person always trying to judge whether they have met the requirements. I am looking at them with a judgemental eye. 

I realise now as I type this that I have not dealt at all with my false expectations of God. This is one of the major things I am learning at the moment. I have false expectations about what my life should be like, what should happen to me and what God should do for me. I am so angry that God has not done for me what I want Him to. I put expectations onto God and  then got angry when He didn't live up to them. 

What I need is to have a sense of expectancy about what God will do. If I have a sense of expectancy about someone, myself and God included, I don't have a list of dos and don't that must be met. I am looking through the eyes of grace and allow the person to be all they can and all they are meant to be. I am looking to make the best of what happens. 

Letting go
So can I let go of my expectations of God. I am expecting Him to do things He never promised to do (i.e. give me what I want, when I want and how I want). Can I allow God to be God and to look to Him through the eyes of expectancy, trusting that whatever happens He will be true to who He is. Trusting that He is love, mercy and grace. Trusting that He will always be with me just as He promised. 

This is my prayer for myself over the coming weeks - that I may learn to let go of my expectations about God and looking to Him instead with the eyes of expectancy. For this is just how He looks at me. He looks at me with the eyes of expectancy not expectations, with eyes of infinite love and grace. 

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Broken Dreams, Kintsugi and Jesus

Ars Electronica / Foter / CC BY-N
I recently gave a sermon at my church, Coastlands Church, in Peacehaven. As I planned it I started out thinking about veneers. I was thinking about how in churches we often put a veneer over what we are really thinking and feelings. In the course of my research I came across websites talking about the Japanese art of Kintsugi, or Kintsukuroi. This ancient Japanese art fascinated me immediately.

Kintsugi (Japanese: golden joinery) or Kintsukuroi (Japanese: golden repair) is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with a lacquer resin sprinkled with powdered gold. The beauty of this pottery captured me straight away. It spoke not just to me as a thing of beauty but the spiritual message that goes with it seemed to shout off the page to me.

We all go through hard times. We all suffer. I have found that sometimes going through those hard times has left me feeling like broken pottery.  As the Psalmist says,
"I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery". Psalm 31:12 (NIV) 

tinowa / Foter / CC BY-NC-SAC-ND
My guess is that we have all felt like that at times. But at those times it is good if we can remember another truth from Scripture, a truth found in Isaiah 64:8
Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

I realised that if we surrender the broken pieces of our lives to the Heavenly Potter then something beautiful happens. He will put us together again with gold, the gold of His healing, His Holy Spirit.

This is what Hannah, the prophet Samuel's mother, did in 1 Samuel. She poured out her heart, with all its broken dreams to the Lord, and He heard her pain and He put her back together again with gold.

Surrendering the broken pieces of our lives is hard - it is oh so hard, But worth it, oh so worth it!  I have found this to be true in my life. I pray it will be so in yours too.

If you would like to hear the full sermon you can do so either on YouTube, or via my website,  http://www.lyndaalsford.com.

God bless you

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Emotionally blackmailing God?

© Natelle - Fotolia.com

If God is waiting to catch me 

why can I not jump into His arms?
This post was originally going to be called 'training in trust' after a friend replied to one of my Facebook status updates "It seems the Lord is training you to the enth degree in trust!". I agreed with her through gritted teeth at the time. She is right of course. So many of our difficult situations are opportunities to trust God more. So often I fail. My last year has been really tough and I have spent a lot of time being anxious. I have become gradually aware over the last 12 months that God is trying to get me to learn trust. He would like me to trust Him for all my needs and not to worry. I read passages like the one below, Matthew 6: 25ff.

25 ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?
28 ‘And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
When I read Scripture like this I realise now I often read it in a condemnatory tone to myself. I heard the 'do not worry' of this passage and the 'do not fear'  of other passages as a reprimand spoken in a sharp voice. I heard these words spoken to me through a filter of my fear of God's displeasure. But the truth is so different. A loving parent doesn't usually shout 'don't be scared' at their child. They know that to calm the child one must speak in a soothing voice, a gentle voice that aims to ease away fear with love. 1 John 4:18-19 says,
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us.
As I look back over my year I see that God's loving response to my fear is to show me love, to speak gently and soothingly to me.  And still I am filled with anxiety at times. My question is why? Why am I still anxious and not able to trust as I would like to? I have spent a while thinking about this and praying about it too. What is stopping me from giving up worry?

I think one reason, if I honest, is that I hope to achieve something through my worry and anxiety. In the above passage from Matthew, in v27 Jesus says, "Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" . He knew that we try to achieve something by worrying. That is what I am doing. I want to keep control of my situation. I don't want to let go to God, or anyone else. My response to the lack of control is to worry - i hope to change the situation by worrying. How do I think worry will change the situation? It is because through worry I try to emotionally blackmail God into doing what I want Him to do and to do it quickly. "Look what is happening, Lord. I am anxious. I can't sleep. You must do something so I don't feel like this. Don't you care?" This morning in  my prayer time I realised this is what I was trying to do.

Tregonings Ope
www.colinsart.org.uk  ©Colin B
Then I remembered something God said to me while I was at the Church Army Gathering in April. I was preparing for a workshop led by Church Army Evangelist Colin Brown who is based in Cornwall. He was talking to us about Faith and Art, and how God uses art to speak to us. Some of Colin's artwork was on the wall. One picture(the one to the right) spoke deeply to me. It is called "Tregonings Ope". See more of Colin's work by going to www.colinsart.org.uk. There are three bins in an enclosed passageway (called an Ope in Cornwall) that is leading out to the harbour in Falmouth. I knew God was saying to me I had to put something in  each of the three bins as I passed them before I could get out into the open. After praying I knew God wanted me to lay down pride, expectations and independence.

Today I realised that those three things are each a hindrance to trust. I have pride that my way is best, not God's way. I have expectations that my life should go a certain way and I have expectations about God too - false expectations. And I am independent, wanting to maintain full control over my own life. To learn trust I have to lay down these things before God and yield totally to Him. Trying to keep hold of all these things causes worry because things are not happening as I want. Yielding to God is the answer! Therein lies true freedom. Therein lies trust! 

I'll let you know how I get on with letting go of these things! 

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Free from food addiction!

My new book 'Being Known; My journey to freedom from food addiction' is now out on Kindle. My  desire is that those suffering in a similar way to me will find hope for their own journeys in its pages. Freedom from food addiction is possible and I hope my story can encourage others.

Being Known description
“Food is an anaesthetic and its anaesthetising powers have me imprisoned”Lynda Alsford was a captive who dreamed of freedom from addictive overeating. 
“I had a hole in me somewhere… a black hole of pain sucking in all the food around me”Would she ever work out how to fill the hole in her soul with something other than food?
Being Known describes Lynda’s long, arduous journey to find freedom from addiction to food. Share her triumphs and disappointments over many years of searching as she edged her way to freedom.

I've had some lovely messages from people who read my first book, He Never Let Go, telling me how it helped them in their time of doubt, so I hope this will be the case with this one too.

'Being known' will be published in paperback in the next few weeks too. I will let you know here when it is out in that format.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

In praise of Martha

A week ago I posted about the story of Mary and Martha from Luke 10, Lord, don't you care...?. In response I had a tweet from @WorshipLeaderUK who quite rightly pointed out that Martha gets a bad press. And it is true, she does get a bad press. This tweet got me thinking more about Martha. A lot of what I am going to say here is based on  my knowledge of myself and  it is not a Biblical exegesis by a long shot!

As I said a week ago I have a tendency to be more like Martha than Mary. The tweet mentioned above got me thinking about why I am a Martha. What is going through my head as I do things rather than simply sitting at Jesus feet?

One thing I confess is the fact that I am a people pleaser. I like to please those around me. Now this is not always a good thing. I need to learn to listen to God and to work on pleasing him more often. But my Martha attitude isn't always based on that. It is also based on the fact that I care for people. I want them to be happy and fulfilled. I want to do things that bless them. I want often (but not always  - I'm not a saint!) to put their needs before my own.

I think Martha may have been in the kitchen preparing things out of a deep love for Jesus. She knew he would be hungry and she wanted to help meet his needs. I think she probably had the gift of empathy. She could easily imagine how tired he was, and she wanted to ease his tiredness, hunger and thirst. Jesus wanted to teach her about putting herself first sometimes. She needed to know that sometimes putting yourself first leads to good things for everyone. In this case both Mary and Martha would hear the words of Jesus they needed to.

But I also got to thinking this week about John 11. In it we read about how Mary & Martha's brother Lazarus dies, and is eventually raised back to life.  Martha seems to show more faith at this point. She says to Jesus  (paraphrased) 'Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died but even now I know God will give you what you ask for'. Mary tells Jesus she knows that Lazarus would not have died had he been there but doesn't go on to say what Martha does. Martha seems to show more faith here. Her thoughts take her a little way further towards believing for a miracle, although neither sister actually knows Lazarus will be raised until Jesus does it.
I'm learning to sit with Jesus and simply watch the sunset
sometimes. What about you? What steps can you take to
 spend more time with God?

I like to think that Martha's empathy kicks in here. She knows how Jesus loved Lazarus and she therefore finds it slightly easier to imagine what Jesus is feeling. Maybe that enables her to see how Jesus would want to do all he can for his friend.

If you are more of a Martha than a Mary I'd like to suggest you look honestly at all your good points. Take time to sit at Jesus' feet and allow him to show you how he loves you as you are, and to show you how he can use you as you step out in faith.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013


Ahhhh, I was trying to use my new Nexus tablet to moderate a lovely comment from someone called 'Stop Binge Eating', but accidentally deleted it instead. If this is you please leave it again I didn't mean to delete it. The touch screen and I (with my clumsy big fingers) are on a learning curve together to get used to each other. The touch screen is not changing so I fear I must!

Sin, cross, forgiveness, Jesus
I have decided as a result to have a time with comments not being checked on any posts before they are left. If this proves to be an invitation to mega loads of spam then I will re think. But for now I would rather risk that then have someone think I didn't care about their (very kind in this instance) comment. 

Comments once deleted cannot be retrieved at all. They are gone for good I have now found out. This reminds me of our sin. When we come to the cross, to Jesus, and ask his forgiveness our sins are deleted. And they too cannot be retrieved. Gone for good! Amen. Isn't that good to know! 

If you are like me once you have taken your sin to the cross and is deleted you try to retrieve it every now and again. The true meaning of grace is that once it is gone it is really gone. It's like it never happened. One day I will get that into my head I hope and stop trying to retrieve forgiven sins. 

Friday, 1 March 2013

Lord, don't you care...?

I was listening this morning to a Liz Babbs meditation CD. This one is called Immerse. In it she was talking about Mary and Martha from Luke's gospel, chapter 10 (v 38-42). Here is the story from the King James Version of the Bible.
Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.
But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

I have always been a bit of a Martha person. If there is work to be done I want to do it now, get it out of the way then I can switch off. When I read this story I so sympathised with Martha. I saw it all from her point of view. Jesus should have told Mary to go and help Martha, I thought. Then they could all sit down and enjoy his company together afterwards.  I could always see why Martha says to Him, 
Lord, dost thou not care...  It all seemed most unfair to poor Martha. I couldn't see why Mary should sit and do nothing. It seemed to me that Jesus was favouring Mary, and treating Martha badly. 

As Liz spoke on the CD today though, I had a different picture in my mind. I could see the scene as Jesus would have liked it to happen. I believe now that he would have loved for Martha to join him and Mary. He would rather they all sat together, and that both Mary and Martha would have sat at his feet, just enjoying his presence and hanging on every word. Then at some point later in the day they would prepare the things that were necessary together.  Jesus wanted them both to sit and enjoy his presence first. Mary had priorised correctly, she had chosen Jesus above all else, above the social norms and pretensions of the day. She sat and drank in the presence of the Lord, immersed totally in all he said. 

Over the last few weeks I have been in a tough situation. Since Jesus released me from food addiction last year I no longer bury my emotions. I wrote about this last year in these posts, Emotions playing catch upSpiritual Battles and Trusting in God's goodness and love. What has been tough is learning to feel difficult emotions. This has been a steep learning curve for me. It's been a tough year but I know I am learning. This have been rough recently but I am learning to spend time in God's presence just resting, and drinking in his presence as Mary did all those years ago. At times I am still worrying and fussing like Martha, but good friends sit and listen to me; they pray for me and remind me of the love of Jesus. Then I am gradually calmed again. I am glad I have had this tough time. If all had been lovely and rosy in Lynda's garden I would not have learnt these new vital skills. 

view, sunset, blessings of God
View from the window where I live. Wish I could take it with
 me when I leave (which I will be doing imminently)
Things that help me enter into God's presence are beautiful views, like the one in the picture to your left. It is the view from the window of the house I am currently staying in. I never tire of sitting in the window drinking in the view of the sun sinking into the sea (I'm not often awake enough to see it rise! ). I also listen a lot to Liz Babbs's mediation CD's. My favourite one is 'A quiet place'. I feel bathed in God's love afterwards. Sitting in the window listening  to that CD is such a blessing. 

I've switched sides. Now I want to be a Mary. I long to sit at His feet and drink in His presence. Oh, don't get me wrong. I still have my Martha moments. But I am learning and that is good. God is good! 

Monday, 21 January 2013

Being Known - Freedom from food addiction

Since writing the post below I have learned a lot about why I found freedom from food addiction. The post below talks about my identity as as a Christian being key to my finding freedom. But now I know that actually it is more specific than that.  It is coming to know more intimately my identity as a child of my Heavenly Father that I have found freedom. Jesus died on the cross to remove the barrier than stopped me having intimacy with Father God. So often I concentrate on Jesus and forget Father God.

I had an emptiness inside me that I tried to fill with food. But the hunger was never sated. It couldn't be because I wasn't really hungry for food. I was hungering for intimacy with Father God. 

And now I am learning to allow Father God to fill those empty spaces and the need to binge has gone. I had to let go of it but once I knew that love of Papa God I had the courage to do it. I knew the emptiness was being filled with something that would really fulfil me. 

To read more about my discovery of the Father Heart of God read my post, Discovering our Father's Heart on here or read the same post on More than Writers, (the blog of the Association of Christian Writers) for which I am regular contributor. 


Saturday, 19 January 2013

Ashamed of Jesus?

I've had this thought floating in and out of my mind for a couple of months now. Am I ashamed of Jesus? If so why? Why don't I talk about him more to others more than I do? I can dress it up in spiritual language to myself. For example "I am waiting for the Holy Spirit to prompt me" or "I don't want to proselytize so I will keep quiet". I am guessing many Christians are like me and have moments when they could have said something and don't do so. I am sure I am not the only one who comes up with excuses like these ones.

Maybe I am a coward because if I am honest I think I am more concerned about what people think of me than I am about what God thinks of me. There is at heart a fear of rejection by people, even if they are complete strangers!  Jesus has very firm words to say on this subject. I should take heed of them. 

The sculpture depicting the Holy Trinity at
Holy Trinity Church, Hounslow, Middlesex UK
(You have to look carefully  to see the dove
between the Father and the Son.)

Mark 8: 34 - 38
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

I want to start being bolder in letting folk know what I believe  And for those reading this who are not  Christians. Please don't worry that I am going to be a Bible basher taking every opportunity to tell people the  gospel in full whenever I can. I will be sensitive I hope but I do need to be firm as well in what I believe if the subject comes up. After all  the gospel I believe in is one of love, it is a gospel of how a God loved the world so much he sent his son to die for us. God does not condemn us, he accepts. He doesn't reject us. he longs to welcome us. 

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:16-17

Jesus came to us from heaven, God himself came as a vulnerable baby who would grow up to die for the sins of the world. The least I can do is tell folk that when it is appropriate.
Please Father, give me boldness when it is appropriate to speak about  you to those who need to hear about you love and grace. Amen