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

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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Lifestyle, Parenting

Dear Harry and Meghan

Two days in to being parents, congratulations! The adrenalin is still running, hormones flowing, body aching and heart bursting. You are besotted with your beautiful boy and cannot bear to take your eyes of him for fear of missing something. Netflix has nothing on watching a newborn sleep.

Any parent will tell you that raising children is the most exhilarating and exhausting, beautiful yet bewildering role they have ever had. Being a mother was, and still is, my greatest ambition and my greatest achievement. But it has not been without its challenges, namely around maternal mental health, which was overcome with a lot of love, faith, prayer and communication.

I want to encourage you both that you have a winning formula to start your new role as parents. When we watch you in public, we see warmth, love and respect, a genuine affection for one another that overrides the world around you. This love, this bond is your greatest source of strength as you navigate your new normal.

To any new parents I say this; keep checking in on each other. Sleepless nights can strain solid marriages, teething tests a mother’s bond to breaking point and tantrums can make the most patient parent tear their hair out. These seasons of motherhood are messy and miraculous.

It’s normal to find the days long and the nights longer. It’s natural to go into survival mode as the days blur from one to another in the early weeks and months. My advice to all new parents is to keep looking at one another. Keep locking your gaze and speaking words of love, encouragement and understanding through your eyes in the way that only couples can. Talk often and openly about everything and anything.

Be patient with each other, hold hands, hold your tongue and hold on for the ride. And above all, trust God as you embark on the best role there is.

Enjoy every minute.

R x

Photo Credit: Chris Allerton ©️SussexRoyal
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Faith, Parenting

Don’t Speak

I know what you’re thinking… That’s kind of an ironic title for a blogger with an ability to overshare just about anything and everything. I have always been drawn to bloggers who are authentic, open and vulnerable. Writers who put their whole heart into their writing, whose words move me to laughter or tears, whose stories resonate deep within my soul, and whose honesty makes me realise I am not alone. Yet here am I, writing a blog titled Don’t Speak, when I have so much to say.

Don’t speak. Don’t say. Don’t post. Don’t share.

My heart is full to overflowing, my head is filled with awe and wonder, my spirit is soaring. Yet I can’t share why. As a chronic over-communicator, keeping schtum practically kills me, yet it is not for my own benefit, but for that of my family.

It is for this reason that I haven’t blogged in months, not because I have nothing to say, but I don’t know what I can say. Close friends and family know our story, and God’s evident hand in it, and I am eternally grateful for their love, prayers and support over this past year or so. But as the year has gone by I have become more and more aware of the need to protect my little family and the only way I know how to not share too much is to not share at all.

So where does this leave my blog? I would love nothing more than to write from the overflow of my heart, share my experiences and give testimony to God’s goodness and grace, but I feel an overwhelming sense in my spirit to hit pause and save this for another time. This story is only just beginning, and as glorifying to God as it is, there are yet more chapters to write, and perhaps they will indeed unfold into one of the greatest stories I have ever told.

While I wait on God to see where He takes me next in terms of my personal writing, I am just so happy to breathe in my babies and breathe out gratitude for the blessings that God has bestowed upon me. As a momma of three, I can safely say that my children have never been higher on my priority list, and I am so in awe of these precious lives that I am privileged to watch over.

So for now, I won’t speak, I won’t say, I won’t post, I won’t share.

I will just be.

R x

Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger ~ James 1:19

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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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Faith, Parenting

They are what you speak

I am so tired of hearing the phrase ‘He is a bad boy’ or ‘She is naughty girl’ bandied around the playground or toddler group.

Now, as a mother of particularly boisterous boys, who have been more than a little challenging at times, I am only too aware that sometimes our children do misbehave. But I have learnt (the hard way) that confirming negative behaviour to a child will only entrench the behaviour even deeper, as they start to believe what they are told about themselves. These fleeting comments, these seemingly harmless words fly through the atmosphere like arrows, piercing the open, soft hearts of impressionable small people who are looking to us to see how to handle situations, how to speak over people and, heartbreakingly, what to believe about themselves.

Children are NOT bad. They are NOT naughty.

Despite the cutting remarks or physical aggression, their behaviour is not malicious and is not a personal attack on you or others around you. Children are tiny human beings who are learning what is right and wrong and are pushing the boundaries socially and physically to discover what is OK, what is acceptable. And yes, at times they will make the wrong choice. They will choose to snatch that toy, to push that child, to hit that parent or answer back in the middle of the playground. These choices and the resulting behaviour exhibited is naughty, not the child, and I would encourage any parent, guardian or carer, myself included, to isolate the behaviour and condemn this not the child in question.

Furthermore friends, if it is not your child exhibiting the behaviour, please stop before you judge them or pass comment; that little boy lashing out may be struggling with separation from a father who left his mother six weeks ago, that little girl may have a poorly sibling who is requiring all mom and dad’s attention so she is acting out to get noticed by someone.

Our words have more power than we could ever realise. The Bible tells us that our words have the power to destroy and the power to save lives (Proverbs 12:6) and for anyone who has ever been criticised, put down or gossiped about, you will know that words can wound deeper than any sword. When someone casts a careless comment to a child, saying ‘You are a naughty girl’, ‘Why do you do that? What’s wrong with you?’ or ‘He is a nasty piece of work’, they are speaking into their little, impressionable minds, into their soft vulnerable hearts and dealing them the most hurtful blow that can stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Having done The Five Love Languages, I am aware that my top love language is words of affirmation, so for me, words have a lasting effect that can have immeasurable repercussions on my emotional and mental well being. I remember harsh words spoken about me or to me from a very young age as if it were yesterday, and the comments still cause me to question my image, my ability or my talent some twenty five years later.

God spoke the world into being with his words and as we are made in His image, we are responsible for the words we speak out into and over others. Jesus himself said; “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgement for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” Matthew 12:36-37

If you have guardianship or relationship with a child of any age, please, I urge you, be careful what you say to them, in front of them or around them. Children are like sponges that soak up all that flows in and around them, whether that is good or bad, positive or negative. Don’t fill their heads with your own judgements, doubts, fears or frustrations. Make sure the words you speak into them are full of praise, encouragement and gentle love-filled discipline that will build your child into a strong, secure man or woman in the future.

And perhaps most importantly, if you do speak harshly (which we all do) don’t forget to say you are sorry. The simplest way to undo an injustice on either side of the fence is the humble apology which has the power to right the wrongs and set you both free from a vicious cycle of word flinging. Modelling to your charges how you want them to conduct and handle their behaviour – good and bad – will set them up with a solid foundation on which to build positive, loving lives.

R x

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