Faith, Lifestyle

He who holds the stars

Are you a perennial planner? A self confessed striver? Busily plotting your life to the nth degree then panicking when things take a detour? Yup me too.

I like to know where I am headed, what I need to do to get there and how long it will take. But so often this doesn’t take into account God’s opinion on the matter.

Our future is something we obsess over, yet we so easily forget that the One who flung the stars into space has our life in His hands. We hope, but He HOLDS. We try but He TRIUMPHS.

We hope, but He holds. We try but He triumphs.

Funnily enough God has been whispering this into my soul over the last few weeks and months but today at church I felt like He sealed it in for good.

Our current sermon series is all about Peter, and today we looked at the last time he met Jesus after the resurrection. Jesus had told Peter that he would be the rock on which Jesus would build the church, yet Peter had denied Jesus three times. We pick up the story where Jesus is risen, but hasn’t visited the disciples in a while. Peter is sat in his fishing boat, heart heavy and head in hands after a long and unsuccessful night of fishing. He must have been thinking to himself, “What now? I thought I would be a great fisher of men, yet I can’t even catch a fish. I let Jesus down and everyone know it.”

It can be so easy to beat ourselves up when things don’t turn out as we planned. So often we get despondent and downhearted, but this isn’t what Gods wants for us.

There is no point trying to know every turn and plan every step. That is not faith.

There is nothing to gain when we do things in our strength. But God’s gets all the glory when we let Him take over.

We are called to follow Jesus, to watch where he walked and place our feet in those footprints. Why follow Jesus? Because we can trust Him. Our happiness is His priority and He will take excellent care of us.

He who holds the stars will hold our hand. He always has and always will.

So wherever this finds you today, won’t you stop and be still. Stop striving and start living, because Jesus didn’t die so you could find your future. He died so you could find freedom. And that my friend, is a gift that you can enjoy right here, right now.

R x

Standard
Faith

Finding me

All I have ever wanted is to belong. Isn’t that what we all want?

I grew up surrounded by abusive relationships, marriage breakdowns and bitter individuals. I have seen families torn apart by anger that was incited decades ago. I was fought over in the courts. I have never known, nor perhaps ever will know the full story behind the turbulent childhood I had. But what I do know, is that I have always sought to belong, to be accepted, to be approved of.

Thinking I could rectify the past with good works, I have always strived to be good – good at school, good at horse riding, good at art. I was always in the top sets and always pushing myself but this was never enough to gain the love and acceptance that I craved.

I went to university to study, one of the first in my family to do so, and I thought would impress, but it didn’t and I left without graduating.

I felt like a failure. But God.

He didn’t need me to do anything to impress Him or make Him take notice of me. God had watched me all along, He never took His eyes off me. He knew me inside and out, and He was insanely jealous for my affection. When I turned to Him, aged 21, He became the Cornerstone in my life, the anchor for my soul.

But I still strived. It’s all I knew to do.

I thought I could make up for the past by creating the perfect family. I pinned my hopes and dreams on creating the perfect home, the perfect family. I married an incredible man and we begin to build our family, but even so things began to unravel.

Sometimes it’s only when we are on our knees that we remember to look up

I found myself spiralling in anxiety and depression wondering where it had all gone so horribly wrong. I found myself floundering, utterly lost and asking Who am I? What am I here for? Do I need to be a Wife? Mother? Speaker? Writer?

I cried out to God and His reply was simple; You are my daughter.

Ever impatient, I asked, so what am I supposed to do?

His reply; Do what you love.

I sat back reeling, because I didn’t know the answer. What did I love? Jesus, family, friends? No the answer to finding me wasn’t in who I loved but what. And slowly over the last five years God has been peeling me back later by later, to rediscover my loves.

Do what you love ~ Father God

When we bought our first house, God whispered into my heart to get a piano. I found a beautiful vintage one on FreeCycle and arranged to collect it. My husband thought I had gone insane and that it was a fad that I would get bored with, but three years on I still play my piano almost every single day.

Our house is in a busy area and it wasn’t until we lived somewhere so urban that I realised how much I craved the great outdoors. We make an effort to get the children outside the city and into the woods, fields and mountains as often as possible. Both Dave and I grew up in the countryside and we continue to feel such a pull towards a simpler, rural way of life.

And then there is my writing. I have written as long as I can remember. Poetry, stories, songs and later blogs. But only in recent years have I realised the power in sharing my musings. I have always searched for a niche, not feeling that I fit into the usual parent blogger or lifestyle blogger categories. God gave me incredible tools in essential oils to support my emotional and physical health, and lately I have used this platform to share more about my wellness journey with others.

So what have I learned in all this? That God has given me gifts and talents. He has given me hopes and dreams. And He doesn’t need me to ‘be’ anyone or ‘do’ anything. In the same way that I take delight in seeing my children come alive in their giftings, so too does God delight in me. I don’t need a label, or a category. I just need to rest in the knowledge that I am a child of God and do what I love.

I am still finding ‘me’. But there are less layers to peel back and she is starting to peek through.

R x

Standard
Essential Oils, Faith

Finding my purpose

I’ve written so many blogs but not published them. I’ve poured my heart into pages and pages of notes. I’ve felt Gods presence so powerfully and cried so hard while writing that I’ve had to catch my breath.

Many of these words need never be read by anyone other than Jesus. Like many prayers that we just can’t find the words to express or the energy to utter; they are heard in heaven.

So tonight as I sit in my garden, thinking of the rollercoaster that has been the last 12 months, hot tears of gratitude fall in place of grief. No longer am I lost and overwhelmed, not knowing where I belong or to whom. I know that I am a daughter of the King, a precious child of God blessed beyond measure.

And I am blessed to be a blessing.

You see, if I hadn’t have gone on this journey, if I hadn’t experienced the rollercoaster I wouldn’t have found my purpose.

I believe that God has called me to help others. He wants me to come alongside His children and support them, pray with them and empower them. I’ve been told by some lovely people that my blogs have encouraged them, and to hear that as a writer just blows me away.

But God didn’t just give me a gift of writing, but a gift of communication and compassion. He has also brought some beautiful people into my world who have supported me physically and emotionally through Young Living Essential Oils. I was sceptical at best when given some oils to try but when they helped me sleep for the first time in weeks I was sold. I am now completely in love with the products and am building a business to support my family financially just by sharing what the oils did for me.

Sounds crazy huh? But it feels so right. I feel like my blogging and my business go hand in hand; I can communicate what God reveals to me, show compassion to my lovely readers and also care for them practically by offering oily support suggestions.

I don’t want my blog to become a sales pitch. Far from it. But I do want to share the Good News – of the gospel of Jesus and of a way to live a healthier, happier life using the very things that God created.

Their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing – Ezekiel 47:12

Never heard of essential oils? I’d love to share them with you. Want to get your own? I’d love to hook you up with some.

I am hosting my very first oily event – An Evening of Summer Essentials – on Saturday 14th July 2018 and I would love it if you could come! We are planning a relaxed, fun evening of treats and pampering so you can come and be spoilt, hear my story and go home with a goody bag, for just £5! We have only 30 tickets available so book fast. Click this link to register free online then please forward payment to me via PayPal. (We are a fledgling business so haven’t paid for the Premium Eventbrite package where they charge us per ticket booked!)

I would love to see you and meet some new faces for the first time!

Until then my friends

R x

Standard
Faith

Should old acquaintance be forgot…

So tomorrow is New Years Eve. When the clock strikes twelve and we ring in 2016, each of us has the chance to start afresh. We can’t wait to recreate ourselves, promising to be better, fitter, or more committed. Just like getting a brand new diary with fresh crisp pages that we cannot wait to fill in with our very best handwriting, we enter the New Year with heady expectation of promise and potential, filled with excitement and awe at the possibilities that 2016 might bring.

But while we are very good at welcoming the future, we are not so competent at forgetting the past.

Should old acquaintance be forgot… the old song sings of forgiveness and forward thinking not bitterness and reminiscing.

2015 has been something of a miraculous year for us personally as God has provided us with our very first home – something that was a physical impossibility for us in the natural but God ordained it and engineered it in the supernatural. My husband and I have grown hugely in our relationship with each other and with God as we have navigated new territory in pastoral care at our church Renewal, and I have been blessed with some of the very best friends that a girl could wish for. They truly are a support network like I have never known and we have shared laughter, tears and tantrums (our children’s!!) over the past 12 months.

However 2015 has also brought private pain, loss that has cut deep in to my heart, rocking my very core as I have questioned my identity and worth while struggling to hold onto things or people that no longer want to hold on to me.

I have had to lay down gifts for a season and pick up new batons, I have had to learn to hold things loosely and understand that God is working through each and every season for a reason.

I have had to accept that I am not in control, nor can I control others, I must leave them in the hands of my heavenly Father who loves them more than I will ever know and sees them in a way that I cannot right now.

So as I sit cross-legged on my sofa, tapping away onto my laptop while my hubby watches Top Gear, I am contemplating tomorrow evening as my little old clock strikes twelve and we commence that age old tradition of singing Auld Lang Syne. Will I truly be able to let go of the old acquaintance of  abandonment? the despair of disappointment? the heartache of not being held? the wonder of what else I could do to make myself more worthy?

Then, once again I am rocked by the revelation that Jesus loves me just as I am.

That I don’t need to do or say anything to make Him love me more than He does right now.

And that the gifts He has placed within me will be grown in due course and give glory to God and God alone in His perfect timing.

I don’t know what you have been through in 2015, nor are facing for your future but I know this: My God has a plan for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.

Because of His love I urge you my friend to take a cup o’ kindness and not bitterness as you raise a glass to toast the New Year.

So why not let this years old acquaintances be truly forgotten and grab hold of the promises of prosperity, of hope, of love and of faith in your future.
R

 

 

 

Standard
Faith

Fall in love with autumn

Autumn (or Fall to my American readers) is hands down my favourite season. There is nothing better than walking in the last of the summer sunshine breathing in the sweet smell of chestnut trees, my eyes feasting on the vibrant russets and golds all around me while savouring the crunch of fallen leaves beneath my feet. Creation sings and begs the world to gaze upon it’s beauty and, for me, there is simply no other season that compares.

While enjoying one of many walks through our local park recently, I couldn’t help but think how terribly sad it was that such beauty was temporary; that these exquisite trees who proudly displayed their autumnal décolletage were about to lose the very leaves that gave them this beauty. Furthermore, this beauty was at its most splendid right before it was lost.

When something is beautiful, attractive or successful we don’t like to let it go.

I have found that almost every autumn I have been faced with a difficult decision or experienced a turbulent time as a result of a change in attitudes of those around me, the environments that I am in or the circumstances that present to me. From redundancies to cancer scares and two house moves, the past autumn seasons have brought me to somewhat painful periods where I have fallen from the heady heights of a blissful summer holiday and hit the ground of reality with an unceremonious thud. As the beauty of health, home stability or financial security that defined me fell from my fingers I had two options – panic and scrabble around amongst the fallen leaves of my life, or embrace the new season and allow my heart and soul to rest and heal in the winter.

Because after winter comes spring.

The circle of life is perpetual, and as winter follows autumn, so spring will follow winter, and with it the promise of regeneration and new life.

Don’t be frightened of letting go of this season’s leaves. You are not defined by your job, the success of your latest deal, or the pay packet in your purse. You are not defined by the friends that support you or your marital status. You are not defined by your current health situation.

People will come and go in your life, health will improve and decline, love will ebb and flow, finances will increase and decrease and the only way to navigate the changes in life is to know when to let go of people, possessions and positions.

The Message Bible puts it this way;

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

2-8 A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

9-13 But in the end, does it really make a difference what anyone does? I’ve had a good look at what God has given us to do—busywork, mostly. True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time—but he’s left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he’s coming or going. I’ve decided that there’s nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That’s it—eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It’s God’s gift.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-13

There is a time for everything, there is a time to gain and a time to lose, there are some friends that you have for a season and some you have for a lifetime. There are some positions and promotions that you must accept and many more that you must turn down, there are many doors that you could open but more still that you need to firmly close. My friend, if you are in a season of change, don’t panic. Embrace the pruning and the shedding, the dying away of the old and look forward to the new life that will spring forth in due course.

R

Standard
Faith, Parenting

The letter I wish I had read as a new mom

old-envelope-2-1157386

Dear beautiful,

Congratulations! You have joined the prestigious, bleary eyed, milk stained, caffeine fuelled club that is motherhood.

Firstly I want to tell you to enjoy these precious few moments as a brand new family.

Ignore the phone, wave off visitors and bed down with your baby. Cherish each gurgle, each smile, each milestone. Hold your baby. Yes, I mean ignore the do-gooders who advise you not to carry them too much in case you spoil them, there is such a thing as the fourth trimester and baby-wearing has proven benefits for both mother and baby in these first few weeks. You don’t see 14 year olds being carried by their moms. This phase will pass as your child grows too big for you to carry so jolly well make the most of it now.

Your role as a mother will not define who you are.

This is an important statement for you to hold on to when you are knee deep in nappies and can’t remember the last time you looked in a mirror, much less brushed your hair. You are more than a cook and bottle washer, more than a cleaner and laundry attendant. You are an independent woman who is strong, confident, accomplished and gifted, no matter how you may doubt and question yourself. Can I really do this? Can I ever be good enough? Am I qualified? The answer to all these questions in God is yes. If He has called you to it He will bring you through it.

Rather than breaking new ground in ministry, just getting dressed and brushing your teeth is your greatest mission right now and that is OK. Your girlfriends are your world and social media helps you stay connected to fellow moms who are going through the same stages as you. These wonderful women that you have so much in common with will be the lifeline you need to sustain you through sleepless nights and tantrum-filled days so invest in your relationships even if only through midnight whatsapp messages and mid feed tweets.

Make your motions effect your emotions.

There will be days when you want to flop in a heap and sob uncontrollably after six days straight of sleep deprivation, and this is ok, but remember this too shall pass. Allow the hormonal (and non hormonal) emotions to wash over you but don’t wade in the waters of self pity. Ride that tidal wave like a boss and get yourself to the shore asap with positive attitudes and a lot of prayer. Also don’t take things to heart when your worries or opinions are not received the way you would like. You have a tendency to wear your heart on your sleeve a little too much so why not protect it and keep some things just between you and God. He knows your heart, He knows your desire to be loved, accepted and to belong which is why He sought you out to become a daughter of the King, part of the Kingdom of Heaven. This is also the reason He gave you a great marriage, a husband who knows you intimately and loves every part of you. A strong man who will uphold you and strengthen you in every area, a man who has got your back. Open your heart to him and to God first.

In the years to come you will face trials and tribulations but you will never be alone. God is with you, He is for you and He has gone ahead of you. You will overcome redundancies, health scares and depression. You will rise above doubts and dilemmas, bad decisions and bad behaviour. You will learn the difference between being a friend and being faithful and your personal faith will reach levels you never dreamed of.

Take courage and stand tall, the future is bright, you just need to believe it and grab it with both hands.

R

Standard
Faith

Let’s keep running the race

inclinetraining

I love running. The fact that I even profess that has come as something of a surprise to me however. I have never been what you might call a natural athlete, always the curvy girl (or downright fat in my university days), however I have always been fairly active and enjoyed the great outdoors.

Exercise and I have had a somewhat tumultuous relationship in the last 30 years, with spurts of activity before my wedding and after the birth of my first son when it was clear that breastfeeding and healthy eating was not going to get me back to my pre pregnancy state. However I really got into fitness and running in a big way last Summer and have been particularly committed to getting fit in 2015. Taking the obligatory pre-fitness regime photographs was painful, but I was ready and raring to go with 5k runs, regular workouts and a moderate nutrition plan all mapped out for the next few months. However only a few weeks in I was already getting despondent. I couldn’t understand why the scales still weren’t telling me something different, why my clothes didn’t feel any looser yet. Worse was yet to come, when after three months I still didn’t feel that there was anywhere near a significant enough change in my appearance to match the discipline and effort that I had put in.

My CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer) and hubby, Dave, was super supportive, telling me how great I looked and how he could really see a difference. He reassured me that I had shaved inches off my face, arms, back and hips (that troublesome mum tum appears to be the last thing to go!), but the most vital thing he kept telling me was that I was embarking on a lifestyle change, not a four week wonder diet to shed weight only to regain it shortly after. Dave also reminded me that if anything, I was likely to put on weight initially during my fitness programme as I was asking my muscles to hulk around my excess weight on all these runs and work outs, therefore the muscles would have to bulk up to accommodate the additional load. In time, when they were larger and stronger, and burning more calories, these muscles would then start to burn the fat away and begin to reduce in size and elongate, giving me the strong, toned physique I was longing for.

I think that our journey through life can feel so much like a workout programme, especially when we are walking with God and testing new boundaries and developing new skills. It is only when we are physically pushed that we learn, grow and strengthen. Our muscles must first bear weight and pressure in order to grow. During the workout itself the tissues will endure injury and tearing in order to knit back together and grow larger and stronger.

When we are going through tough times at home or at work, or simply turning away from our old ways, the physical pain and despondence we feel can seem unbearable and endless, and everything within us screams run back to the beginning, to the familiar ways, to our old self. God promises that He will never give us more than we can bear, (1 Corinthians 10;13-14) but he also tells us that living a faithful life is like running an endurance race. There is no sprint finish, we must run, and run, and run, through traumatic childhoods, through failed relationships, through abuse, through addictions, through dysfunctional families.

“Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 NLT

When I run uphill, my legs burn incessantly as my muscles bunch together and force my legs to continue pounding the tarmac. It is only my sheer will and determination that stops me from walking, because I know the elation that awaits as I reach the summit and start to go downhill. Ah yes, the stretch is my favourite part of running uphill. When your legs are screaming at you to stop, your lungs are burning and the sweat is running down your brow, you suddenly start to descend. As gravity pulls you faster, the cool breeze fans your face, rushing into your thankful lungs and your legs stride out, stretching and elongating your bunched up muscles with each footfall.

In life, faith in God is the driving force that will see us up and over that obstacle. Faith in the fact that Jesus loves you, He died for you and He is with you every single step of the way will push you through the pain barrier, help you to press in and run on with endurance to reach the summit. And then, when you have fought with all your might to get there, God’s abundant, immeasurable grace is like the gravity that will remove the pressure, ease your struggles and speed up your journey.

God knows where He wants to take you in your life, but He also knows that you need to do some learning and growing on the way, and the only way that our faith muscles grow is by bearing weight. If you are under pressure today, carrying a heavy burden or desperately trying to run from a past, a sin or an addiction that keeps catching up with you, don’t despair. God sees you clenching your fists and pressing on, and He will guide you and strengthen you as your muscles begin to repair and rebuild during the uphill struggle. But the most beautiful miracle awaits you on the other side of that hill. Rest assured that when you reach the summit post workout your once flaccid faith muscle will now be strong, and your toned limbs will be able to stretch further than you could possibly imagine in to all the things of God that are awaiting in your future.

” I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.”
Philippians 3:12-16 The Message

The best is yet to come. Stay strong my friend, as a son or daughter of the King you are in training for reigning.

R

Standard