Faith, Lifestyle

Speaking from Faith or Fear?

The threat of lockdown is now a reality. The ‘what ifs?’ are ‘what nows?’, and suddenly we are faced with a endless sea of uncertainty stretched out before us.

While I was doing my house work today, I noticed areas that had been overlooked for too long; cobwebs in corners and dust gathered in dark places. As I began to clean, God spoke to me so clearly and downloaded a message in my heart. He challenged me, as I was ‘keeping house’ at home and asked me what I was doing to keep house in my heart. What areas in my soul were dusty, what habits need to be addressed and what attitudes need to be swept out?

Proverbs 31 talks about a godly woman, and God drew me to verses 25-26; She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.

I know I haven’t spoken with kindness this week. Fear and frustration have crept in and I have snapped. I have spoken harshly and made curt demands over kind instruction. It is easy to get fearful in this current climate. Coronavirus is sweeping the world and taking not just freedom, but finances, friends and family members. It threatens to devastate hundred of thousands of households physically, financially and emotionally. Yet we know that God is greater than any virus, and we know that God did not give us a spirit of fear and timidity but of power, love and self-discipline. 2 Tim 1:7

We need to dive into God’s word and spend time in His presence to be filled with faith for this season.

We need to practice being in His presence to be filled with faith

When I start to feel overwhelmed by the news reports, I need to turn to God’s report. I need to open my Bible and open my heart, and let the Holy Spirit fill me up so that I have faith to face the day. This needs to be a daily practice. Jesus knew this when He walked the earth and that’s why He modelled it for us by setting aside time to pray each day.

When we spend time in prayer and worship we are changed. We are clothed with God’s strength so we can laugh with no fear of the future. God’s love pours into us and flows through us, so we can better respond to news and better relate to others. When we are filled with faith we can better lead our families.

Take a few minutes today to consider how you are feeling, to consider what you are saying online and to those in your home. If you are overwhelmed, angry or frustrated you are likely speaking from a place of fear. Don’t worry, Jesus loves you too much to leave you that way. Hey into the word and into His presence and ask Him to fill you afresh so you can speak from faith.

R x

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Faith

Set your sights in 2020

Sight is a gift. (Ask anyone who doesn’t have theirs and they will tell you so). To be able to see is something that we take for granted every single day. But there is a difference between having sight and seeing.

You have no doubt heard the term 20/20 vision a few times already this year, but do you know what it actually means? It is the term used to describe the clarity or sharpness of vision at 20 feet. If you have 20/20 vision, you can see clearly at 20 feet what should normally be seen at 20 feet. If you have 20/40 vision then you must be at a distance of 20 feet to see what someone with normal sight can see at 40 feet.

20/20 vision doesn’t equal perfect vision

It doesn’t take into consideration your peripheral sight, depth, ability to focus etc. You can still see without 20/20 vision, but your clarity isn’t as good.

I don’t have 20/20 vision, and I wear glasses every day to improve my sight. But physics sight isn’t the only thing I need improvement on.

Since becoming a Christian, I have wrestled so often with not knowing what’s ahead. As a believer I have given my heart to Jesus but my giving my head is not so easy. I want to trust Him while having complete control over the curveballs heading my way so that I can intercept them and manage them. I want to know where I am headed, so I can find the quickest, most direct route to get there.

But God isn’t in the habit of letting us see the full picture all in one go.

2 Corinthians 5:7 says that we should walk by faith and not by sight.

This has always been real hard for me. I like to be in control, but that is not my job it is God’s. It is therefore unsurprising to me that in my experience, that God has used the unexpected, the unknowns and the uncertainties to draw me closer to Him. More often than I care to admit, I have had to rely on the Holy Spirit showing me what is right and wrong. I have had to talk to Jesus and delve deeper into God’s word than ever before to find insight for the situation ahead.

Do you know that God doesn’t want you to have control?

Yep. That’s right. He doesn’t want you in control of your life anymore than you want your toddler in control of your car. In the wrong hands, a vehicle meant for driving can lead to our death.

God knows the plans He has for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future ~ Jeremiah 29:11

So does all this mean are we supposed to walk blindly? No. We are meant to walk with Jesus. He knows the Father’s heart, and He also knows the trials we face on this earth. Jesus wants to walk with us, to strengthen us and to equip us. He is not just a character in a book; He is the living breathing Son of God, who died for you and me and rose again from the dead.

We are not meant to walk blindly, we are meant to walk with Jesus

I am a recovering control freak. I like to know what’s ahead. I want to see what’s around the corner, but without spiritual insight I may as well be walking around with a blindfold on. Jesus is teaching me to trust Him, to take His hand and let His word illuminate the path. He didn’t say He would give me the road map, but He did promise to shine enough light for me to take the next step.

New Year is the perfect opportunity to change. But in order to see change you need to see things differently. It’s time to set our sights.

Can I encourage you today to get a spiritual sight test. Take off the tinted glasses that the world would give you. See things through the lens of the Holy Spirit and let Jesus be your guide.

R x

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Faith, Parenting

Learning lessons

At first glance this looks like a father and son moment; a lesson in handling a saw and managing a garden. The truth is it is a lesson in handling consequences and managing poor decisions.

Look closer at the picture, do you see the tree on the right? It has a huge branch torn off the trunk because my son swung on it and it ripped the tree.

That wasn’t just a tree, and the damage isn’t just a broken branch. That was my favourite tree, adorned with lanterns and bird feeders. It was special to me because it helped me manage my discontent in living in the city, it brought me such joy to seeing the wild birds hopping around in its branches and it provided shelter as we played in the garden

As a new homeschooler I am trying so hard to cultivate an environment of love and joy both in my garden and in my home, but I rarely seem to succeed of late. We have strong willed children who challenge us often and at the end of the a tough week this broken branch spoke of my broken my heart.

I knew parenting wouldn’t be easier but I never dreamed it would be so hard. I didn’t know how much it could hurt when your flesh and blood acts out. I want to fight for my children, not against them. I often wish I could ‘fix’ them, but perhaps this has more to do with my own iniquities rather than theirs.

I am not just a mom, I am a daughter of the King. And when I feel like I can’t, He can.

God created me to be a mama and He gave me these children to raise. I am going to need to learn some lessons of my own in raising my wildlings.

So today as I gather the remains of my beloved boughs, I gather my thoughts and give them to God. Time to go back to the Source to find our Selah. 

R x

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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

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Faith, Homeschool, Parenting

The Home School Diaries #3

I got it wrong today. Okay not just today, but spectacularly so on this occasion. This time it was with my middle child, my easiest by far and my least demanding. He is so often overshadowed by his more vocal siblings or overlooked as he is generally happy to go with the flow.

We were doing our daily devotions (yes I know, the irony is not lost on me) and I was asking him to read aloud from his Bible, like I do every morning. He was dragging his feet, messing about and flicking through the pages at a snails pace. My impatience boiled over, my little boy crumpled, his tears tumbled and my heart broke.

I drew him into my arms and said I was sorry. He said he didn’t understand how to find what I had asked him to read and I realised he needed me to explain it better. All too often I expect so much of him as I am busy dealing with his two year old sister (I had already dealt with two potty incidents before I finished reading my devotional page aloud).

I lifted my son onto my lap and I asked if he wanted me to sit with him and talk it through with him. He looked up at me with tearstained cheeks and nodded. We then spent a happy half hour together, my boy snuggled on my lap while I spoke softly and encouraged him. I showed him the different parts of the Bible, how it is made up of the Old and New Testament, and contains 66 books. We looked at the content page and we found today’s scripture together. He read it beautifully and we finished our devotional with smiles on our faces and love in our hearts.

Being a mom of three, I feel constantly pulled in every direction, and never more so than when it comes to teaching my children. They all need different approaches, different atmospheres, different content. But one thing that they all need is love.

The one thing that my children need most is my love

I need to teach them from a place of love, of patience and of acceptance. I am their mom first, educator second. My job is to love the bones off those kids so that they feel safe and cherished, which will empower them to learn. I need to not bark out instructions but learn alongside them.

That is just the way that God works too. He is a loving Father who wants to love the bones off us, if only we will let Him. He doesn’t want us to flail around or panic because we don’t know what to do. He wants us to come to Him and say Papa I don’t understand. Then He can swoop down and scoop us into His arms and talk us through it.

When I experience the love of God it makes it far easier to love in all circumstances.

As they say, every day is a school day, and this new homeschool mama is on a learning journey too.

R x

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Faith

Sitting in the Son

Sitting in the Son. Yes the spelling is intentional. Because God knows I need His presence today. I didn’t make it through ten minutes of church because my two year old had other ideas. My ten year olds behaviour has been disgraceful on and off all week. Our belongings are scattered between about sixteen different bags that are rammed into every available space in our car. Tempers are rising as fast as the temperature. It’s safe to say we are ready to go home.

I hate leaving Wales because the mountains and the ocean soothe my soul like nothing else on earth. But I also hate the temporality of holidays, and by the end of the week away I find myself craving the comfort and familiarity of home.

But where is home? It doesn’t feel like Birmingham. With its rising crime and pollution filled air. It doesn’t feel like the hustle and bustle, the traffic, the sirens. But it is where God called us all those years ago. He asked us to serve and serve we have. Through redundancies, depression, anxiety and adoption, we have served. After a much needed year of selah, where we have leaned on God like never before, we are finally steady on our feet. As I start to feel my strength returning and as we get ready to start a new adventure, it should come as no surprise that the devil starts knocking.

You can’t do this. You won’t do this. You are going to fall again. You are going to mess up.

His whispers mix with my thoughts and mess with my mind. But Jesus. Oh Jesus.

When He was nailed to the cross, my fears and failures were nailed with Him. When He rose from the grave victorious, I too rose with Him. He won the battle for my life so I could win the battles in life.

Jesus said I am with you today and always. You are not alone. I’ve got you and we’ve got this. You are loved, you are precious, you are a child of God.

Oh Jesus.

Don’t listen to the lies of the enemy of your soul. He will do everything He possibly can to derail your destiny. Listen to the one who defeated hell and holds the keys to hades in His hands. Listen to the one who loves you so completely and unconditionally, just as you are. His words in the Bible and His actions on the cross shout louder than any of the devils whispers.

Today I am sitting in the Son. Because His presence calms the storm in my heart, soothes the troubles in my mind and restores my soul.

R x

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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

Finding my way

January 2018 is here and I for one couldn’t be happier to see the back of 2017.

As years go, we have had worse; previous years have seen us navigate redundancies and relocations, while witnessing health and marriage difficulties in our nearest and dearest. In fact, on paper, 2017 saw the realisation of many of my dreams, from preaching God’s word and leading worship to becoming a mama for the third time.

So why so negative about the last 12 months?

Because I lost my way.

As a self confessed control freak and obsessive planner, I like to have everything set out before me. I like to organise and plan every detail of my life, and submit my requests to God expecting Him to simply rubber stamp my suggestions.

My path was laid out before me, I thought I had it all figured out.

At the start of 2017 I was brimming with excitement. My head was full of ideas and plans, my heart was bursting with love for my new family, and my faith seemed stronger than ever. I relied upon God for every piece of the puzzle and rejoiced as I watched them slot into place. I was on my way.

Then it happened.

The Enemy crept in, so stealthily that I didn’t even see it coming. As my arms were filled with joy, my mind was filled with lies. Like a thief in the night, the Devil stole my joy and replaced it with doubt and fear. He made me doubt that I was on the right path, he made me doubt that I ever heard God, he made me doubt my purpose.

As the doubt grew, so too did the darkness that fell over my soul. As uncertainty tightened its grip on my heart, my hand loosened its grip from my Heavenly Father. I suddenly found myself drifting from His path, doubting my purpose and feeling totally afraid.

Oh the Devil loves fear. It’s the very life force for him; he preys on our panic with pure glee.

But God.

Even on my darkest days, my God never left me

Even when my doubt threatened to overwhelm me, my God upheld me.

Even when I lost my way, my God pursued me.

Then when I couldn’t take any more, He took it away.

Oh I have come to rely on God in a more personal way than ever before in the last year. I have literally fallen to my knees, shouting, screaming, sobbing. I have laid things down and I have lifted things up.

And He has given me beauty for ashes.

The Enemy thought he had won the battle, but my Jesus has won the war

I may have been blindsided, I may have been broken, but God works everything together for the good of those who love Him. I may have lost my way, but God never lost sight of me. Like a loving parent who stands back while their child wanders off, God was always watching, always waiting for me to turn and look at Him.

And when I did, He came running.

Jesus gave everything – literally – so that I could have a relationship with Father God. I am starting 2018 hand in hand with Jesus with renewed hope and a reliant heart. He has saved me and strengthened me.

Jesus replaced my doubt with destiny, my fear with faith

Together we are on a journey and He is showing me that He knows the way, I just need to follow Him.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.

Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

If you don’t know Jesus, can I suggest that you start 2018 by following Him too.

R x

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Faith

Put it down

“That’s not yours, put it down”

If I had a pound for every time I say that to my boys. They grab hold of everything, fighting over toys, books, magazines you name it. They always seem to want what the other one has, and rather than receive the gift, toys or sweets that I have kept aside, intended for them, they would rather clutch tightly to what doesn’t belong to them.

“Like mother, like son then” God whispered to me.

You see I am so quick to hold on to something that wasn’t intended for me. I may have grown out of holding on tightly to a toy or a teddy that I didn’t want to give up, but I have a hard time releasing my grip on habits that I should have dropped a long time ago. I cling to relationships that I cannot redeem and I continue to carry baggage that could have been unpacked a long time ago.

When we are holding something in our hands that does not belong to us, we are not free to receive what we do deserve.

God intended for me to be free in a bound society, to be full of joy in a negative atmosphere and to be a light in a dark world. Jesus died so that I could live life and live it to the full, (John 10:10) and the Holy Spirit lives within me to encourage and empower me. The God head three in one did not intend for me to be weighed down with worry, to be burdened with bad relationships or to be fearful of my future.

As a parent I urge my children to drop what they don’t need or what isn’t theirs so that their hands are free to hold what I want to give them. Our Heavenly Father operates in exactly the same way with us, His children. The burden of guilt or shame is not yours to bear, the weight of financial worry or wayward children is not yours to carry, the heaviness of grief and loneliness should not lay upon your shoulders.

It was and is all carried by Jesus on the cross.

I don’t for one minute want to assume that the Christian walk is an easy one, much less that you can click your fingers and forget all your troubles. But instead, can I encourage you my friend to lift your eyes to Jesus and lift your arms so that He take the load from you. In return He will place in your free hands His peace, His love and His strength, in even the most dire of circumstances.

Jesus knows what you are going through, He knows the muscles you have developed from carrying this unnecessary load over the years will not release your load without a fight. Jesus knows it is not easy to change your habits and start shedding the weight, but shed it you must, because when your heart is humbled and your hands are empty, it is then that God can place the greatest gift in to your hands; The Present.

And this is truly a gift to be cherished each and every day.

 

R

 

 

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Faith, Parenting

Testing the barriers

Parenting.

They say its the most rewarding job of your life. They remind you they don’t stay small forever. They whisper don’t wish the years away because they’ll be gone before you know it.

And yet they don’t tell you that its the most heart wrenching, headache inducing, life changing challenge that you will ever face.

I loved to love when I was a child. An avid stuffed toy collector and baby doll carrier, I would spend hours lavishing love, care and attention on to my little audience, and longed for the day when I could care for a child of my own. Fast forward twenty years or so and there I was in the delivery room, a tired, red faced girl of 26, holding a slippery baby boy who loudly protested his arrival in to the world. As he was placed in my arms it was like my world tilted on its axis. My perspective shifted, my eyes widened and my heart enlarged. This little boy was going to grow to be a great man, and I had been given the immense responsibility of raising him.

As we grew together we faced more than our fair share of challenges, and my fair faced little baby proved to be as strong willed as he was sweet. It seemed the more I lavished him with love the more he would test me and push me, and when his little brother arrived his outrage at sharing his mother was clearly evident. I felt challenged in every way by the torrent that came from my eldest, who obviously felt so unwanted, disregarded or pushed aside in some way despite my constant reassurance. I read book after book, attended multiple classes and sought advice from teachers, and although they gave many welcomed methods and approaches in parenting, my little pocket rocket still challenges me to this day.

Only very recently I listened to a brilliant clip about how to handle teenagers. I have always joked that having had a threenager perhaps I would get away with a well behaved teen, but nevertheless, I  had time to kill while scrolling Facebook one day so I decided to watch the clip. The script went a little something like this:

Raising teenagers is a lot like riding on a rollercoaster. As a rider on a rollercoaster, you can’t wait for the ride to begin, you are excited and nervous all at the same time. As you sit in your seat and the barrier comes down and locks in to place, what is the first thing you do? Test the barrier.

Boom. The answer to my parenting struggles over the past six years right there.

Your child is testing the barrier, the safety mechanism in their lives. They are about to embark on the craziest journey with twists, turn and loop the loops, and they want to know that the barrier isn’t going to fail and release them in to the unknown. And so they push, pull, poke, prod and rattle that barrier until they are satisfied that it is going to hold them in place.

When they test your boundaries and push your buttons,
your child wants to know that he or she is safe.

I know that this isn’t always the case, of course, and there will be many times when they simply want to go against the grain for arguments sake. BUT I urge you, as I urge myself, that when they start pushing, pulling, poking and prodding you, please take a minute to step back and look at your child. Think twice before taking offence, before raising your voice or inflicting punishment, and remember that maybe, just maybe they are pushing back on their safety barrier to check that you won’t move. They need to know that you won’t be shaken by their tantrums, you won’t be pushed over the edge by their whining, you won’t resort to flaring your temper when they flair theirs.

But how can you remain calm in the face of such anger? Because your Heavenly Father can.

He knows what it is like to watch His sons and daughters go against His will for their lives, ignore His advice and choose the guidance of others over His, and all this in spite of the unconditional love He offers out to them over and over and over again. God loves. The Bible says He is love, and we are created in His image, so He knows emotion. God gave us free will so that we could choose to love Him back and not simply be robots programmed to do what He wants. God knows what it is like to be hurt by words that wound, and to see His beloved children make bad decision after bad decision, choosing to go their own way and not the way He had planned. He knows how hard it is when a child just won’t listen, when they answer back or worse, when they choose to ignore.

But God never changes. He never moves an inch, He never compromises on His values or His instruction, on who He is or who He has called His children to be. Yet He loves them completely any way.

And He never stops loving them.

Now age 6 and 3, my boys are growing closer and closer by the day. Their personalities are forming and they make me cry with laughter and burst with pride as I watch them grow in to young men. They continue to challenge me, they can reduce me to tears after a particularly trying day, or they can spontaneously shower me with kisses and cuddles, filling my heart with such joy like I have never known.

Parenting is not easy, it is certainly not for the fainthearted, but it is God breathed and God ordained, and I for one am so blessed to be on this journey.

R x

 

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