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

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Faith, Parenting

Learn the unforced rhythm of grace

 

The words appeared to jump off the page straight into my heart. The impact was so physically felt that I had to sit down as I steadied myself for the realisation that I am HIS.

And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters
2 Corinthians 6:18

The truth is identity is something that I have struggled with as long as I can remember. My worth has always been found in my identity, in who I am, in what I do. If I fail at something, no matter how insignificant it may seem to others I take it so personally. I remember as a young girl of no more than 8, failing a spelling test at school. Now when I say failed, I mean I got 9 out of 10 answers right. Now to many this would be an astounding achievement; wow only one incorrect answer? Well done lovely! Yet I sobbed when I closed the door to my bedroom, away from prying eyes. This little girl was heartbroken because she had failed at the one thing that she could control in her life – her intelligence and academic success. She had let herself down, let her family down, those who were looking to her, willing her to do well, expecting her to succeed, relying on her to raise the bar.

And the word I got wrong?

Opportunity.

I can still see it now, written in smudged pencil marks in my spelling book. I had spelled it as oppurtunity not opportunity, and I remember being so distraught that I wrote that word out about a hundred times in the privacy of my bedroom to make sure I would never spell it wrong again.

Why? Because I craved the love and adoration of my parents. I so desperately wanted them to be proud of me, to want me. Because my daddy hadn’t been the man I needed him to be, because my  mom was busy raising two children single-handedly while I tried so hard to be a grown up girl. And grown up girls were good girls. They did their homework, they listened at school and they got good grades. So a bad grade meant I hadn’t lived up to the expectation, no matter how unrealistic that expectation had grown in my little 8 year old head.

24 years later and I still love words of affirmation. I still thrive in situations where I can succeed, where I can do good and where I am needed and noticed. That’s not to say that I do things just to get attention, far from it at times, however my love languages of words of affirmation and physical touch are the very same as that 8 year old girl sat in her bedroom all those years ago.

Perhaps this is why identity is so important to me. To me, what I do affirms who I am, my purpose, my usefulness, and I have spent years chasing dreams and trying to be the best I can be in the many phases of my personal life and professional career.

The truth is that I think that a lot of us are good at a lot of things. I have sought labels and titles, believing that once I achieve a certain position at work, a certain level of responsibility, a certain martial status then I will have ‘made it’. Only problem is that each time I reach the next ‘level’, the goal posts change, and along with it my capacity or my desires. All of a sudden I am not pigeon holed neatly into one box, I seem to fit into three and this does not sit well with my organisational OCD that likes to compartmentalise my life.

My daughter, don’t you know that your identity is not in who you are but in whose you are?

These are the words that caused my world to stop spinning just for a millisecond, as I held my breath, stunned at the truth being spoken into my heart by my Heavenly Father.

I am the Dad he could never be, I am the mother that you missed, I am the parent that holds you close on your darkest day, I never missed a single moment of your life. I was there at every precious milestone, when you first rode a bike, when you won a writing competition at school, I was there when you lost your loved one, I was there when you passed your exams, I was there when he betrayed you in the worst way, I was there when you made the decision to follow Me, I was there when you were baptised in My name, I was there when you married the man I created just for you and I was there when you gave birth to his children.

And I am still here now.

Still watching, still waiting, still listening.

So lean in close and hear my heartbeat.

Floored by the brand new revelation of God’s love for me, He gently told me;

Learn the unforced rhythm of grace. Matthew 11:28 (The Message)

Stop striving, stop searching and simply be. Stop trying to control your circumstances, stop trying to predict the future and stop trying to conceal your past. Stop trying to be all things to everyone, stop trying to fix broken things and embrace their new shape. What if the road ahead doesn’t look how you had envisaged? What if the dream doesn’t come to pass as you had expected? What if the path isn’t clear but is in fact blurry, with the final destination hidden from view?

Learn the unforced rhythm of grace. Learn to abide in Me, learn to trust in My plan for you my daughter. Learn to rest in my arms and enjoy the view. Learn to embrace a love you could never earn.

Because His grace covers every sin, every circumstance, every history and every hurt, every disappointment and every failure. Because it gently guides and never causes guilt. Because His timing is perfect and because you deserve it.

And so today I fall at His feet, fall in love with my Saviour all over again, and thank Him for loving me.

And I start to learn the unforced rhythm of grace in my life.

R

 

 

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Faith, Parenting

Are we ever really ready for parenthood?

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If someone had told me what motherhood was really like I wonder if I would have gone through with it.

Now don’t get me wrong,  I adore my sons and I would not part with them for all the world, however I don’t think I was entirely prepared for parenting. I am not talking about the sleepless nights associated with newborns,  or even the challenging tantrums that lasted way beyond the terrible twos, I am in fact talking about the huge heart wrenching responsibility of raising a little life. From the moment they were placed in my arms as wriggling newborns, my life and world was completely turned inside out and I was captivated by my sons, and my maternal instinct towards them flooded my soul.

My heart swells with pride whenever I think about my boys, they are both so individual and their smiles simply light up my day. Their personalities are so different yet so complimentary, and I love how they approach life so differently. The thought that my words and actions will mould them into the men they become is more than a little daunting however, and I reminded daily of how much I need to teach and invest in myself in order to do the same for them.

More than this though, I realise that it is external influences, often that are outside my control, that can have the greatest impact on and be the greatest threat to my children. When I look at them together, playing so innocently with no realisation about the atrocities committed across our city never mind our world, the fear I have for their safety, their happiness and their future in a somewhat hostile world just overwhelms me. I know that we are privileged to live in a civilised, democratic and relatively safe world, however the news tells a very different story with rapes, murders and most recently the horrific beheading of innocent victims from IS extremists being reported on a daily basis.

As a mother all I want to do is protect my children. They are literally my heart walking around outside my body, and they are on my mind every single minute of every single day. When they are not with me I want to know who they are with, where they are going and what they are doing. I want to know that they are safe, that they are happy and that they are not alone or afraid. My job as their momma is to love them, care for them, teach them and ultimately make everything okay but there are so many things I have cannot protect them from. I can deal with bad mouthed bullies or bumps and bruises, but how do I counteract the cowardly acts of criminals who seek to hurt and destroy? How do I protect them from fundamentalists and suicide bombers? How do I keep them from the clutches of child traffickers and paedophiles hiding in society waiting to prey on innocent children while their parents are distracted?

I yearn to offer my children the fun and freedom that I enjoyed as a child, so that they can learn and grow in the same way that I did, but I fear that this will never happen as the world we live in now has changed so much since the eighties and nineties. Where I was allowed to play out all day every day in the holidays, I know that no matter how street savvy my sons are, I would massively struggle with them playing out alone in our street much less away from home unaccompanied. Of course,  there will come a day when I have to let them go, and I will have to trust that the education we have given them at home, church and school will stand them in good stead to keep safe while out and about.

I pray for the safety of both my sons daily, not only that they would be physically safe and unharmed as they go about their day at school and at home, but also that they would be spiritually and emotionally protected, that they would guard their hearts and minds. The Bible says in Jeremiah 29:11 that God has plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future, so as Dave and I keep sowing the seeds of God’s word into our family life, I trust that this truth will prevail as my handsome boy’s become grown men and find their own way through this life.

Knowing how fast they grow up, this mommy is going to enjoy every precious moment with the undivided attention of my young charges, so that I can invest into their lives, influence them and help them to make good life choices as they enter manhood in the future, but in the meantime I am happy to stick to supervised park play dates and having friends round to stay.

R

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