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, Lifestyle

When the waves rise

The skies are clear but my eyes are clouded. A storm rages in my soul. I feel torn in a million different directions, my heart beats I am staring at the waves rising around me and I want to run for high ground.

They say knowledge is power but the more I learn the more I wish I didn’t know. My head is filled with questions and my heart reels.

We are en route to the coast and these few days away with my tribe couldn’t be more timely. I feel like we need time to ponder and pray; to recharge and refocus. At home I am so busy looking at the waves that I forget to look at the One who walks upon them.

When the waves rise, look at the One who walks upon them

Family is everything to me. They are truth, consistency and unconditional love. They are ‘home’. I have craved unity and togetherness my entire life, searched for a place to belong. But the generation that was supposed to nurture and build up chose to tear down and destroy. Those we were supposed to follow didn’t speak love or truth and our hearts were left wanting with unanswered questions.

When it feels like your life is flooded with doubts and disappointment, where does that leave you? With empty hands and a broken heart.

Jesus loves making something out of nothing.

When we have nothing to give Jesus pours in love and peace. When we are hurting He brings healing. He gave the blind sight and He raised the dead to life.

In the beginning the Spirit hovered above the waters waiting to make his move, ready to command the waves to surge and recede.

If, like me, you have unanswered questions, if you feel the storm surrounding you and the waves surging, simply whisper “Spirit lead me”.

Just as the Holy Spirit waited with anticipation when God spoke the world into motion, he is ready and waiting to move today. Let Him still the storm and hold your hand, as you walk on the waters together.

R x

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Faith

Running with others

“Oh, I don’t run with others.”

This was my response to friends who had done Couch to 5k and wanted to join me on some of my regular runs. It makes me cringe now, looking back but there was a reason behind it.

Running for me is more than just getting fit. It is my headspace, my self-care, my therapy. It is my place to run away from my worries, to run through my frustrations. It’s often pretty messy and it wasn’t a process that I wanted others to witness.

When you run with others, there is an assumption that you are going to talk. Talking wasn’t always something that I was comfortable with, so it was easier to put my earbuds in, get my head down and keep going. I joined a running club last January and was the slowest runner there. I hated watching others overtake me, but what I hated even more was when people hung back for me.

Crazy, right?

But the kinder and more encouraging people were to me, the angrier and more embarrassed I felt. I have been conditioned to independence. Much to my poor husband’s dismay, I am fiercely stubborn and determined to things my way, on my own, in my time. (Our eldest son has sadly inherited this same fierce independence!)

If things get tough? Its okay, I’m tough enough to cope.

If things get messy? Its okay, I’ve got it under control.

If things get sad? It’s okay, I can paint on a smile.

Just run with it. Run through it. Run from it.

This philosophy is okay for a while, but running alone gets lonely. Running uphill gets hard. Running on empty is draining.

This is why God put people in our paths, to encourage us, to equip us, to energise us, to excite us. Those people who encouraged me are now seeing me keep up with them, hold a conversation with them. Over the past 12-18 months, I have entered races, run distances I could only dream of and smashed personal bests. All because I am running with others who propel me forward, running in a club that cheers me on.

We were never designed to live alone.

It is no surprise that we were never designed to live alone. We are made in God’s image, and even He doesn’t live alone. He exists as part of the Trinity; Father, Spirit, Son. The Bible is packed with men and women who needed relationship; with Jesus and with other people. God created us to live in community with others, and regardless of whether we are living the dream or lying at our lowest, we need people around us.

This week is maternal mental health awareness week. I have walked (and ran) through postnatal depression and anxiety twice in the last five years. I know first hand that despite all the treatment and all the therapy in the world, it was my community and my church that got me through. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, but I believe it takes a village to raise a mother.

As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child,
but I believe it takes a village to raise a mother.

Wherever this finds you today, whether you are a mama who is walking a rocky road alone, or running with others, know that you are not alone. God never left you and He never will. He sent Jesus to crawl, walk and run alongside you. He sent His Holy Spirit to guide you. Even on your darkest day, He will be your brightest light.

God never left you and He never will.

When running, especially uphill, you need to keep your head up and fix your eyes on a focal point ahead. This is the best way to keep going, keep moving and get to the top. Running the race of life is no different. We need to keep our heads up, fix our eyes on Jesus and run towards Him. And He will take you through the deepest valley and over the tallest mountain out to the other side.

R x

Photo Credit: FreePik
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Faith, Parenting

To moms who need their moms

I just read a beautiful instagram post where a new mom honoured her own mother. Her simple statement read; “when Mom arrives and everything’s OK again”, and the deep vulnerability in this heart offering brought tears to my eyes.

Being a mother is such a magnificent, messy miracle. As a mom, I get to hold my babies every day, to kiss their sweet faces, to breathe in their scent, to ruffle their hair, to throw them into the air and hear the fits of gleeful giggles. I get to pour love out on to them, I get to build them up and tell them they can do anything, they can reach the very stars in the sky if they want to, and I will be the first one with a step-ladder to help them do it. As a mother, I get to hold their hands and guide them as they walk, to catch them if they fall and to carry them when they are tired. I get to kiss them and make them feel better if their teeth are poking through, or knees are grazed, or their temperature is raised.

Mother’s have an ability to make things OK. To reassure that you are safe, that you are loved. That you are doing great, that you have got this and they have got you. And even if you fail;  if the grades weren’t good enough, you stumbled at the last hurdle, you didn’t make the cut or one of the plates you’d been spinning came crashing down, your mother will scoop you up and soothe you.

But what if your mother can’t be there?

I understand that not everyone is blessed with a mother close by, either geographically or emotionally, whether separated by words or worlds.  understand that no matter how old you are, or how far you have fallen or how you are hurting, everyone needs their mom, that unequalled individual who loves you so fiercely and so unconditionally, that person you can turn to, day or night, about anything and everything. My heart grows heavy as I think of

I understand that no matter how old you are, or how far you have fallen or how you are hurting, everyone needs their ‘mother figure’, that unequalled individual who loves you so fiercely and so unconditionally, that person you can turn to, day or night, about anything and everything. My heart grows heavy as I think of

My heart grows heavy as I think of moms who may be all alone, either single or without a mother or mother figure in her world. I wonder how on earth she could navigate the precarious path of motherhood without the guidance of a mother who has already dodged or overcome the pitfalls she is now facing. How would she be strong for her children with no one to comfort her, how would she know which way to turn without her own mother to lead her?

Then I remembered what God has said to me.

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in His arms
and carries them close to His heart;
    He gently leads those that have young.

Isaiah 40:11 (NIV)

He gently leads those that have young. The words sprang off the page and wrapped themselves right around me like a warm hug.

Dear friend, being a mom is the most precious gift, one that you will cherish for the rest of your days. One that will transform your world in every which way, one where you have to find your ‘new normal’ and learn to embrace it. There will be times when your little one doesn’t sleep, when you don’t know why they are crying, when you find yourself fighting back guilty tears as you dream about your old life. There will be days when you feel like a hero and days when you feel hopeless. There will be moments when you lock yourself in the bathroom because you just. need. five. minutes. alone.

You may find yourself in these moments wishing that your mom was here with you, and for whatever reason, she may not be able to.

But in every moment, good, bad or ugly, there is always Jesus.

When you feel overwhelmed or alone He will comfort you. When you fall, God Himself will come down and scoop you up into His arms and soothe you. When you don’t know which way is right the Holy Spirit will lead you.

If you are a mom who needs her momma, please remember that Papa God is here.

He always has been and He always will be, watching and waiting for His daughter to seek His face and rest in His embrace.

R xx

 

Feature Image Photo Credit: sundaywomen.com 
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Faith

God is faithful in our failures

So I am supposed to be working but my heart is so full and my mind is racing after an amazing morning at church. Today I was invited to speak at our church and it gives me such a buzz, I can’t even tell you! As a writer, I know how to write good content, however, when you are writing down words whispered by a Holy God, that is a whole different ball game.

Just to be clear  – I am nothing ‘special’. Okay, I know that is controversial because we are all special and unique in Christ, and we were created by a loving God for a heavenly purpose. But seriously, day-to-day I am just a working mom of two, going about my ordinary everyday life like everyone else. I arrive screech up to the school gates late, sans makeup and hair scraped back in a ponytail, and usher my charges into class before slumping back at the wheel of my car, thinking; did I really go out in public looking like that? I get angry at life and throw tantrums that would make my kids proud when things don’t work out. I am impatient, I jump in with both feet when I should only be dipping my toe in the water, and the proverbial dummy is well and truly spat out when my well laid out plans disintegrate in front of my eyes. I get distracted by things of the world when I should be in devotion to my heavenly Father.

But do you know what? God is faithful even in our failures.

God will use us even when we aren’t at our best, He will be faithful even when we are not. Some of my most profound moments of witness for Jesus have been in most profound moments of pain and pouting. Some of my biggest testimonies have been off the back of my biggest tantrums, some of my most defining hours have followed my most undignifed days.

No one is perfect, least of all me, yet God so graciously pours His love and grace into my soul and whispers His words into my heart. None of us set out to mess up yet we still manage it, but my friend, never doubt that God can use you. Your biggest mess could be the biggest miracle for someone else, as God uses your experience to enable you to help others.

If God can use a murderer like Moses, an adulterer like David and a prostitute like Rahab, then He can sure use you and me to fulfill His purposes on earth and bring glory to His name. The very idea that God would speak to me, and give me a word to share with others astounds me. The fact that He would choose to use my imperfections and idiosyncrasies to illustrate His perfect love and grace is unfathomable. Yet He does so, day after day.

Have you had a tough day?  a tough week? a tough year? Are you circling the same old sins and battling the same old demons? Have you failed to quit something you should never have started or failed to start something you should never have quit? Are you tired of trying and failing?

God is saying; “My child, don’t give up.”

You have not failed, you are not on the scrap heap of life, you are not second best. God keeps no records of wrong and His mercies are new every morning. He has not forgotten you, He is working behind the scenes and He is going to use this trial for your good and His glory.

Keep going.

R

 

 

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Faith

Are you listening?

The Lord spoke to me powerfully through a scripture today. I was listening to a sermon on YouTube whilst working at my laptop, and as I heard this verse read aloud, a wave of emotion swept over me.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27 ESV

I have heard and read this scripture many times, yet it reverberated in my soul so powerfully that I had to look it up in different versions of the Bible.

The Message says My sheep recognise my voice. I know them, and they follow me.

My favourite, the NLT says My sheep listen to my voice, I know them, and they follow me.

I stopped and thought; well Lord I believe, I pray, I worship… but I felt the Holy Spirit quicken my heart as He whispered;

But are you listening?

You see it is not enough to just do church, to talk to God, to read His word. Yes these are all good things, but first and foremost in God’s heart is that we are in relationship with Him, and this is a two-way transaction. If I talked to my husband only when I want something, if I gave him a two-minute download then bustled past him to move on to the next thing on my to do list, if I didn’t ask him how he was or if I hurriedly thanked him for something then turned to walk away, I would not be entering in to a relationship with him. In order to be in a relationship there has to be a two-way conversation, both parties have to speak and be heard, and in order to know a person intimately, you need to regularly spend time with them to watch their face and hear their voice.

Are you listening?

My husband can call me on the phone and tell that there is something up as soon as he hears my voice. He recognises the slightest crack, the sharp intake of breath, the slightly too bouncy tone trying to belie my inner turmoil. He knows I am hurting because he knows what my voice sounds like. He hears it every single day, he has heard it when it laughs, when it sings, when it sobs. He hears it and he knows it. The frustrating beauty of him knowing my voice so well is that even my bravest efforts to fake a smile are futile, because his knowing look or discerning ear disarms me instantly.

Are you listening?

God wants you and I hear to hear His voice. Every. Single. Day.

He wants us to become so used to hearing His voice every day that when we changes His tone we listen and lean in. He wants us to be so in-tune to what the Holy Spirit is saying that He doesn’t need to keep repeating Himself over and over again, the minute He changes tone, the minute He speaks with urgency we recognise it, because we know His voice and recognise the change. He wants us to be ready to be disarmed by His love, by His grace, by His presence, by His voice.

Are you listening?

God is challenging me to stop look and listen. He hears my prayers, and by His grace He answers them, but He wants more for me than that. He wants me to hear His whispered words above the noise in my busy world, He wants me to lean in close and listen to His agenda above my own, He wants me to pick out His voice in a crowded room.

Can I encourage you today to join me on my knees, crying out to the Lord saying,

“Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10 NLT

R

 

 

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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

Love isn’t pretty

I am writing this blog from the foot of my son’s bed. He has a particularly bad case of chicken pox and is having a very fitful restless nights sleep. I try to sleep myself but am so aware of his every move, moan or murmur that I flit in and out of consciousness so that I am immediately present when he needs me. He wants me close, wants company and asks for me to stroke his arms. I see the sore spots and I swoop in with virasoothe and piriton, gently massaging the angry areas and praying over his little body.

In amongst his suffering, struggling to ignore the itchy blistering skin across his body, my beautiful boy turns his feverish flushed face to me, and whispers “I love you Mommy”. As my heart bursts with sadness at his visible discomfort yet tender thoughts, I whisper “I love you too baby.”

You see love isn’t pretty. It isn’t instagrammed perfection, it isn’t neatly presented. Sometimes it is picking your way through the sore spots, sometimes it involves sleepless nights while we watch over each other and sometimes it is applying healing balm to open wounds.

The cross wasn’t pretty. It did not behold beauty, it displayed horror, it displayed suffering that no man should see nor experience.

Yet one man did, and in doing so He saved the world. And that is love.

Jesus saw our restless spirits, He saw our open wounds and aching hearts, and He took our sin upon His shoulders in order to take away our pain. As Jesus sits at the right hand of His Father God in Heaven He still sees us, He instructs the Holy Spirit Himself who sits at our bedside, watching us as we sleep, waiting to rush in and soothe us if only we invite Him in.

And the most beautiful thing we can do in return is to turn our own feverish flushed face to Jesus and whisper “I love you” out of our suffering. Because He whispered it over us before time began.

R

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Faith

On my knees…

Yes I know it has been a few weeks months since my last post but my heart has been so full I worried that when putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys) I might never be able to stop the out pour.

You see, my heart has been broken this year.

2016 did not start the way I expected to say the very least. Christmas came and went as an emotional blur as I was left reeling in the wake of revelations that my parents marriage had broken down. So too were others, who like me, didn’t see this split coming and we were left to pick up the pieces of broken promises and shattered dreams in the aftermath.

Relationship breakdowns hurt. A lot. And perhaps, naively, I never realised the impact of the separation of your parents, especially later in life. My parents had been married 20 years – what a feat in today’s society! Sure, their marriage had its nuances, but they both seemed blissfully happy and we were so proud of all they had achieved.

Then the bombshell came.

What can you say when one party isn’t happy any more? You can not argue with emotions and feelings. You simply have to nod and accept the decision then walk away to process the hurt privately. Having left home at the age of 18 and now being a happily married mom of two, a ‘grown up’ standing on my own two feet, surely the separation of my parents shouldn’t really affect me?

Oh but it did. The hurt, the anguish, the anger and the tears flowed thick and fast, surprising even me. I cried for the pain felt by my parents, I mourned the marriage that was sanctified by God yet had now been disregarded, and I sobbed for the separation already so apparent in our family unit.

I am blessed with an amazing husband who loves me completely, but if it wasn’t for the overwhelming, unshakeable love of God, the closeness of the Holy Spirit and the precious blood of Jesus covering me, I know I would not have been able to walk through the past few months. God has been my strength, my stay, my abba father who has kept my feet on the ground and my eyes looking up.

Humans are marvellous creations, we are created by a loving God to love, yet we are so very capable of inflicting the most terrible pain. It is because of our capacity and willingness to give and receive love, that we experience heartache, betrayal, disappointment and tragedy as such a physical pain. We are created by God who formed us in His own hands and not only knows us, but cares deeply about us. God cares when we are hurting and He wants to share in our suffering so that He can heal the heartache.

My story is still unfolding, I don’t know what the ending will be. But one thing God has prompted me on in all of this, is to get on my knees. To pray without ceasing, to lift up my parents, my sister and our wider family as we sail these stormy seas. I won’t let this family get dragged out in a rip tide, not on my watch, so I will continue to pray that God will restore relationships, heal broken hearts and soothe open wounds. I will keep praying, keep trusting, keep holding on to His anchor in the storm. And while I pray, I feel His love wash over me, His gentle correction as He guides my thoughts and actions and His peace takes up residence within my heart once again.

It is whilst on my knees that I discover who I really am, what I am made of, and more importantly, who He made me to be.

I don’t know if your story is similar, I don’t know if you are experiencing gut wrenching emotions that consume your mind and choke your voice, I don’t know if you lie awake at night wondering how to fix the mess that you find yourself in, or wrestle with anger at the injustice of what has happened. I don’t know if you are angry or afraid for your future, but I do know this; the God of heaven, the King of kings and Lord of lords sees you, He knows you, He loves you and He is fighting on your behalf but He needs you to engage. God has great plans for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, but you need to make the first step towards Him in order to move into victory.

My friend, can I encourage you to join me on my knees, pour out your heart to Him and let Him direct your words and your ways today.

R

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