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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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

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

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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Faith

Time to take out the trash

As a busy mom of two, it has never ceased to amaze me how quickly my bin gets full to the brim.

(Yes I realise this is probably a little gross, but bear with me on this, there is a valid point!)

With school runs, grocery shopping, laundry and a million other errands to fit in around keeping the house in a relative state of organised chaos and raising little children, it would seem that emptying my bin has become one of those tasks that I keep putting off. This largely because it is a grim job that involved handling stinky bin liners *gags* and almost always having to pick up a third of the contents that spills over the top or out of the split at the bottom of the overflowing bin liner in the process. I realise that if I just emptied it before it got quite so full then this chore would be far easier and dare I say more pleasant (if that is even possible), but when I get to the bin with two hands filled with dirty tissues, the contents of the breakfast bowl and empty wrappers I am far more inclined to simply squash the rubbish down to make room for more. Of course, its goes without saying that a bin that is not emptied often is usually fairly fragrant, and not in the welcoming cotton linen kind either.

Life can be a bit like a bin at time…. as women and mothers we take on other peoples troubles or ‘trash’ to help lighten their load and show that we care. This in itself is an admirable thing to do as we empathise with girlfriends and help them to work out their difficulties, but sometimes we take on so much and forget to empty our bin. If we don’t take out the trash so to speak, then we are left fermenting over bad attitudes, negative thoughts and stinking thinking which will affect our day to day lives. Negativity is like a cold, it is super easy to spread and will jump from conversation to conversation, clinging to each person and affecting their day too.

The devil loves it when we gossip, moan and whine about each other/our spouse/our family/our house/our job*  (*delete as appropriate.) He can simply sit back and watch us spread discontent and anger across our circles of influence so we must watch what we say and how we say it to everyone, so that a) we will be consistent and b) we do not contaminate everyone else with our own insecurities and issues. That is not to say that we shouldn’t share our thoughts and feelings, but there is a right place for us to take our trash so that we can be rid of our negativity without affecting others.

We can take any requests and petitions to God, no matter how big or small they seem, or whether they affect us directly or not. We can also carefully choose a trustworthy friend who can best advise and/or pray with us about our situation. When writing to the Thessalonian church, Paul states that we must never stop praying and praising God in all circumstances, therefore my advice is don’t let the trash bring you down, give it to God and put it out for the dustbin men to collect, because when things are looking down it to time to start looking up.

R
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