Faith, Parenting

I will never leave you

I write this post propped up against a giant stuffed tiger on the bottom bunk bed watching over my youngest. He awoke in the middle of the night shouting for me as he was sick. He seemed instantly brighter afterwards, and even smiled his heartstoppingly sweet smile to crack a joke while washing his hands. 

He lay back down in to bed and I gently stroked his hair and prayed for him, but he seemed fitful and he kept looking up to check that I was still there. He waved my fingers away from his hair, not wanting to be mithered, so I simply sat in silent prayer watching him. 

After a few minutes of sitting on the floor next to his head, I shifted my weight slightly and he immediately looked up and said, “Where are you going Mommy?”

“No where baby,” I replied, “Do you want me to stay?”

He nodded quietly, so I grabbed my dressing gown, pillow and a book, and settled down at the bottom of his bed to watch him instantly relax and drift off to sleep.

As I watched him, my momma’s heart sad and prayerful, I felt the father heart of God remind me of how He watches us. He knows that sometimes we don’t need to be held,  we just need to know that someone is watching over us.

Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber or sleep. Psalm 121:4 NIVUK

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭NIVUK

Our Heavenly Father never sleeps, He never slumbers. He never lets you out of His sight, not even for one second. You may not feel His hand on your shoulder today, but I guarantee you that He has His eye on you today and always. 

Rest easy tonight knowing that the One who flung the stars into the sky and set the world in motion has you firmly in His sights and gently in His hands.

As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Joshua 1:5 NIVUK
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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, Parenting

Are we ever really ready for parenthood?

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If someone had told me what motherhood was really like I wonder if I would have gone through with it.

Now don’t get me wrong,  I adore my sons and I would not part with them for all the world, however I don’t think I was entirely prepared for parenting. I am not talking about the sleepless nights associated with newborns,  or even the challenging tantrums that lasted way beyond the terrible twos, I am in fact talking about the huge heart wrenching responsibility of raising a little life. From the moment they were placed in my arms as wriggling newborns, my life and world was completely turned inside out and I was captivated by my sons, and my maternal instinct towards them flooded my soul.

My heart swells with pride whenever I think about my boys, they are both so individual and their smiles simply light up my day. Their personalities are so different yet so complimentary, and I love how they approach life so differently. The thought that my words and actions will mould them into the men they become is more than a little daunting however, and I reminded daily of how much I need to teach and invest in myself in order to do the same for them.

More than this though, I realise that it is external influences, often that are outside my control, that can have the greatest impact on and be the greatest threat to my children. When I look at them together, playing so innocently with no realisation about the atrocities committed across our city never mind our world, the fear I have for their safety, their happiness and their future in a somewhat hostile world just overwhelms me. I know that we are privileged to live in a civilised, democratic and relatively safe world, however the news tells a very different story with rapes, murders and most recently the horrific beheading of innocent victims from IS extremists being reported on a daily basis.

As a mother all I want to do is protect my children. They are literally my heart walking around outside my body, and they are on my mind every single minute of every single day. When they are not with me I want to know who they are with, where they are going and what they are doing. I want to know that they are safe, that they are happy and that they are not alone or afraid. My job as their momma is to love them, care for them, teach them and ultimately make everything okay but there are so many things I have cannot protect them from. I can deal with bad mouthed bullies or bumps and bruises, but how do I counteract the cowardly acts of criminals who seek to hurt and destroy? How do I protect them from fundamentalists and suicide bombers? How do I keep them from the clutches of child traffickers and paedophiles hiding in society waiting to prey on innocent children while their parents are distracted?

I yearn to offer my children the fun and freedom that I enjoyed as a child, so that they can learn and grow in the same way that I did, but I fear that this will never happen as the world we live in now has changed so much since the eighties and nineties. Where I was allowed to play out all day every day in the holidays, I know that no matter how street savvy my sons are, I would massively struggle with them playing out alone in our street much less away from home unaccompanied. Of course,  there will come a day when I have to let them go, and I will have to trust that the education we have given them at home, church and school will stand them in good stead to keep safe while out and about.

I pray for the safety of both my sons daily, not only that they would be physically safe and unharmed as they go about their day at school and at home, but also that they would be spiritually and emotionally protected, that they would guard their hearts and minds. The Bible says in Jeremiah 29:11 that God has plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future, so as Dave and I keep sowing the seeds of God’s word into our family life, I trust that this truth will prevail as my handsome boy’s become grown men and find their own way through this life.

Knowing how fast they grow up, this mommy is going to enjoy every precious moment with the undivided attention of my young charges, so that I can invest into their lives, influence them and help them to make good life choices as they enter manhood in the future, but in the meantime I am happy to stick to supervised park play dates and having friends round to stay.

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Faith

No man is an island

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.

~ John Dunne

It always amuses me that God likes to speak to me on my morning run. It makes perfect sense when I think about it, as this is probably one of the few times in the day that I am not running around after little people or being distracted by a mountain of housework.

Island NestWhilst I was running I spotted this lovely little moorhen sitting on her nest, right smack bang in the middle of the canal. I was struck by the thought that she obviously thought that this was the safest place for her brood as it was nowhere near the canal walls where predators might sneak up on her, however her location left her terribly exposed and isolated.

That’s exactly what people do every day, God whispered into my heart. My children bear terrible trials, pain, loss and heartache through life, being hurt by others around them, or from predatory people who want to bring them down or abuse them. So, war-torn, and battle-scarred by their previous experiences, my beautiful sons and daughters choose to exclude themselves from everyone, including me, they put barriers around their hearts and moats around their lives so that no one can get in. However, when they do falter, when they are lonely and when they do need help, they are so far removed that no one can or will reach out to them.

My heart pounding, I wondered what on earth I could do to help those who have become an island, who have shut out the world, who have rejected love in favour of battening down the hatches to prevent further heartache. God simply said; Love them.

This extract from the poem by John Dunne beautifully illustrates the words of Jesus, who said that we are the body of Christ and we each have a role and a function to play in the kingdom of God. We were created to be in relationship with one another, to be in a community that shares life events and every day moments, not live out solitary lives.

As Christians we are called to live such a life, and to attract and invite others to be a part of it. The best way to show others that we are followers of Jesus? Put on love. Love others, forgive others and speak well of others. By loving the unlovely, the unloved, the unlovable, we will start to break down barriers and build bridges that will lead them to the one who IS love, God in heaven. He will protect and uphold them like no one else can.

Remember, no man is an island:

“It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.
Share the work, share the wealth.

And if one falls down, the other helps,
But if there’s no one to help, tough!

Two in a bed warm each other.
Alone, you shiver all night.

By yourself you’re unprotected.
With a friend you can face the worst.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

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