Faith, Parenting

Enjoy the view from the harbour

Nowadays we are always in such a rush. We simply cannot wait to be independent; as children we can’t wait to walk, ride a bike, catch the bus to school alone, to start secondary school, learn to drive… the list goes on and on. It is human nature to want to be independent, to learn new skills and to survive under our own steam, and we fight against anything or anyone that holds us back.

I was reminded of this during our recent holiday to North Devon. We made a quick whistle stop at a gorgeous little harbour town to try to get some panoramic shots of the coast, and as I stood on the harbour walls looking out at the vast ocean the small stone harbour to the right of my view kept drawing my attention. The tide was in and the waves crashed against it’s rocky walls, creating great swathes of white froth fizzing around the base, however the waves within the harbour were lapping gently against the boats that were moored there.

“You feel so restricted sometimes,” God whispered to me. “Like those boats bobbing along in the harbour, my sons and daughters are full of potential, ready and raring to go on the next adventure on the wide open sea as they peek through the narrow harbour entrance and glimpse the promise of undiscovered territory. Yet like these boats they are held back by an anchor, hemmed in by a harbour and they feel impatient. I hold you back to keep you safe. Your faith in me is your anchor in uncertain waters. My Holy Spirit is the harbour that protects your bows from the crashing waves as the angels fight unseen battles in the spiritual realms.”

A smile spread across my face, as I thought of how many times I tell my own children that I am keeping them from harm when I tell them they can’t cross the road unsupervised or can’t play out alone.

If you feel like you are in a harbour, desperate to get out on the open waters, just stop a moment and consider that the waves rippling around your feet were buffeted by your heavenly Father before they ever reached you. Don’t be in a rush to move forward into what ever you feel God has put on your heart. If He called you to it, He will bring you through it, but first you must fix your eyes on him and wait for Him to say “Come”.

When the disciples were on their boat in the middle of Lake Galilee, I am sure they would have given anything to be back in the harbour, to have their vessel protected from the powerful tidal waves threatening to capsize them. But Jesus was there in the middle of the storm, and when He said “Stop” the waters stilled, when He said “Come” Peter was able to walk on the water. When the time is right and you are ready for that new venture or the next chapter in your story, Jesus will say the word. He will give the command and will direct your steps when it is time to walk out on those troubled waters. He will be your strength and your stay as you dive into depths you have never been to or swam out to unchartered territory, but just as Peter soon discovered, the key is keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus at all times. (Matthew 14:22-33)

But meanwhile, if you are in the harbour, just enjoy the view while you get ready, relax in the rippling waters and trust that God knows the timing for everything.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV

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Faith

The private pain of perfect people

 
  “This one is perfect!” My five year old exclaimed as he thrust a smooth round pebble in to my hand. We were combing the beach at Porlock, searching for pebbles that were completely round, completely smooth and completely uniform in colour. 

As I examined his rather exceptional offering to my small collection, I couldn’t help wonder what it had taken to get that pebble so smooth. 

That’s when God whispered: That pebble didn’t start out that way, it was shaped. 

I thought for a moment about what that meant, pondering the fact that this lovely little pebble must have been buffeted by waves crashing over it, slammed against cliff walls and scraped against other stones. The shaping process of this solid spherical rock in my hand had not happened overnight, nor had it happened easily. It has taken years, decades even, of pummelling, grazing, chipping, smoothing and polishing to create this perfect pebble.

People are like pebbles, God whispered to my heart. You see that person at the pinnacle of their game, the height of their ministry and think you can never be like that, that they must have been born with that gift, but what you don’t see is the years of buffeting in the storms of life, the waves of ill health, the whirlwind of abuse, the rain of depression that they have had to endure to become the person you see today.

It is hard to measure up to someone else’s calling or ministry, it is difficult to visualise is in positions of influence when we are muddling through our messy lives. But we are called not to compare ourselves but to complete Gods vision for ourselves. Yes it’s true that we are born with a gift, a talent, an anointing, but very often these gifts are not realised nor released to their full potential until the bearer has gone through the shaping process that will enable them to use them most effectively. 

Don’t envy others for their situations or positions. Don’t wish for her anointing in worship, his gifting in evangelism or her passion for preaching. Each of us has a unique gifting and a God-ordained purpose. Don’t squander your individual destiny, embrace it. If you don’t yet know what that looks like for you then ask the Holy Spirit to reveal it to you.

For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord…plans to give you a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 

‘Perfect people’ like these perfect pebbles have been through the mill. We can’t have their Don’t shy away from your story, seek God and share it. 

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Faith, Parenting

The letter I wish I had read as a new mom

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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.

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