Faith, Lifestyle

Failing forward

If there is one thing I really dislike, it is losing face in front of others. I am a firm believer in go big or go home; I like to dream big, bold dreams and put them ‘out there’ for all to see. This brings a certain level of accountability on my part, and also makes me stretch my faith. But it also means that if I don’t achieve the dream or see the miracle happen then the world and his wife have a front row seat.

There have been a few ‘failures’ over the past few years. I haven’t reached the goals I wanted to in my business, I didn’t get the job that I thought was ‘mine’, I didn’t continue homeschooling past 12 months and I didn’t move in to my new house by the time frame I expected. The galling thing for me is that with all of these things, I felt called by God into each and every one of them. And I told the world that.

Does that mean that God let me down? Does that mean that I didn’t hear from God in the first place? I don’t think it means any of these things. I think God has called me to each and every business venture, job application, educational experience and relocation for reason. Let me explain…

In 2017, a much wanted little girl came into our lives and my mental health came crashing down. As a family we were very much in the trenches, fighting for our faith, our marriage and our kids. We lost so much, but Jesus kept us together and kept us strong. It was during my illness that I discovered the power of aromatherapy and my business was born out of awe, wonder and my love of science as I shared what I learned. Essential oils played a huge part in my recovery and continue to support our health and wellness.

By Autumn 2018, my health was vastly improved and I was excited about a glittering future in my business, however it was at this point that God challenged me about home schooling my children. Believe me, this was never part of my plan… but God kept challenging me and as I prayed into it I felt that He truly wanted me to do this. We discussed it as a family and in March 2019 we pulled out children out of mainstream school.

The business took a backseat, but what a year we had! We basked in our new found freedom and found kindred spirits who will be life long friends, yet I felt stifled and at times overwhelmed being with my children 24/7. Yet another venture that wasn’t panning out as I thought it would… I began to consider whether homeschooling was for us, and whether both my children and I needed something ‘more’. We had committed to giving it a year and then reviewing the decision.

In December 2019, I felt compelled to apply for a part time role. This didn’t sit with my business/home school plans either! Surely I had enough on my plate with a wellness business, aromatherapy diploma underway and being a full time homeschooling mama to three? The job was a ministry role which I felt was perfect and would enable me to use my skills in pastoral care, networking and leadership to further God’s Kingdom. I felt that God was leading me to this role, yet despite being shortlisted to the last two, I was unsuccessful.

Fast forward to March 2020. We had made the decision to put the children back into school, only for them to come back home again after two short weeks (thanks coronavirus!) What in the world? I felt like everything was crashing down, my plans were going out of the window and I literally went to God saying what the heck? What was I meant to do now?

As we prayed during lockdown and felt that God was leading us to relocate to Wales – a dream we had had for years, but each time we pushed the door, God had always said “not now”. Now He was swinging the doors wide open.

Here is what God has shown me about the importance of every step in my journey:

After adopting our daughter, God led me to a wonderful Christian mama who became a mentor and a friend, supporting and educating me in how to support our family wellness. Without her, I would never have started this journey.

Homeschooling was never about bucking the system – it was about pressing reset as a family. It was about recovering the lost year and rediscovering each other, and who we are in Christ. It was about becoming stronger in out faith and as a family.

The slow steady growth of my business, rather than the massive growth I dreamed of kept my options open and my heart humble. It meant that my hands were ready to receive what God had in store rather than trusting in my own provision.

The job application was about obedience – saying yes to God, yes to His plans and purposes even when it seemed to be outside of our plans or time frame. It made me realise how far we had come and how I was now ready to step into the next phase of my life.

This step of obedience then prepared us for the next yes – relocating to Wales. If I had gotten the job, if I hadn’t been flexible due to home school, if I hadn’t been certain in my faith due to relying completely on God, if I hadn’t started my wellness journey and continued my personal development I wouldn’t be writing this from Wales right now.

These events were ‘failures’ to me because I didn’t set out to achieve what I wanted to achieve, but I can now see that I was failing forward into what God had planned for me. He set me up to be here, right now, and even though I continue to wait for the final hurdle allowing us to move into our new home, I can say with confidence that God has never let me down and I can trust Him with this too.

If you have something you need to trust God for, can I encourage you with this:

I wait patiently for the Lord. I expectantly wait, and in His Word do I hope – Psalms 130:5

Hold on friend, He’s got you.

R x

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Faith, Lifestyle

Consuming content or choosing content?

Staying home has meant more time on our hands. We are scrolling more, reading more and watching more. But what are you watching?

God has been really speaking to me out of Proverbs 31 and I wanted to share some thoughts from verse 27 with you.

She carefully watches over everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness ~ Proverbs 31:27 NLT

She carefully watches. She watches what is going on in her home, what her children are watching, what they are watching her watching.

Over the last two weeks I have found it so easy to mindlessly scroll, reading reports that bring fear and despair, watching programmes that make me angry or on edge. What we watch has an impact on our soul.

Jesus said “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body.” What He meant by that was that we need to be mindful of what we look at. Be careful what we watch, because we cannot unsee something we have seen. The truth is the world is a scary place right now. But rather than consume content which further heightens our anxiety, we need to choose content that fills us and builds us.

The dictionary tells us that the noun content is a thought, a subject, or subject matter. Content can be a burden; as we consume it it can sit heavily in our hearts, dominate our thoughts. Jesus doesn’t want us to hold these burdens, He wants us to exchange them for His peace. But even more than that He promises to show us how.

Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fighting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly Matthew 11:29-30.

I won’t lay anything heavy on you or ill-fitting on you.

There is a lot of heaviness in the world, but we aren’t called to hold it. There is a lot of darkness in the world but we don’t have to be a part of it. If the eye is a lamp to our body then we need to make sure that what we are watching floods our soul with light not darkness. Watching movies and scrolling Facebook isn’t the problem, but what we are looking at can be.

As Christians, we can choose to be content despite the chaos. To choose to be still when the storms rise around us. But to do that we need to be carefully watch everything in our household.

R x

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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, Lifestyle, Parenting

You are not alone

“Are you scared Mommy?” My wide eyed ten year old looked up at me from the sofa, where he has been watching the latest news unfold. I thought for a moment and took a deep breath before I answered him. I am a firm believer in telling our kids the truth, where appropriate, and I wanted to honour that while protecting my 6 and 3 year old who were also listening in.

Here is what I know; Covid-19 is gathering pace. The global pandemic is far from contained, and there is no telling what the true fall out will be in months and years from now. People are dying, grieving families are unable to mourn properly, and the elderly, infants, pregnant women and the infirm are facing months of solitary confinement. Right now we are facing some of the most challenging times in world history, with the government response being likened to a country at war. Only we are fighting an unseen enemy. The truth is, we have been fighting an unseen enemy since the beginning of time.

We have been fighting an unseen enemy since the beginning of time.

When the Devil was cast down from heaven, he made it his life’s mission to take us all down with him. He has been fighting tooth and nail, summoning all the powers and principalities to wage war against God and His children.

That means you.

You were created by God, for relationship with God and He loves you with every fibre of His being. Whether you believe in God is irrelevant, but you better believe that Satan believes in Him. The Devil is busy whipping up a perfect storm right now; stealing people’s joy, dripping doubts and fear into their every day and distracting them from God.

So what can we do? We need to be on our guard and we need to know what God says about adversity. Get in to your Bible, because lets face it the early Christians had their fair share of persecution, plagues and pestilence. We need to keep pressing in to Jesus, asking for guidance, praying for protection and resting in His peace.

Knowing Jesus isn’t going to guarantee you an easy ride. But when the storms come, it is far easier to keep putting one foot in front of the other when you fix your eyes on Him.

Peter and the disciples were facing the perfect storm; the waves rising, the boat capsizing. At first glance it looked like Jesus was doing nothing – He was asleep in the back of the boat! But when the disciples turned to Him and woke Him, He stood up and spoke to the storm. (Mark 4:35-41)

Jesus is in your boat, you just beed to ask Him to speak to the storm.

You may feel surrounded on all sides, you may see the water pooling at your feet, you may even feel the waves pulling you under. But look up, fix your eyes on Jesus and ask Him to speak.

Why did He let the storm happen? I believe that Jesus was giving the disciples a wake up call. He needed them to be shaken up to get their attention, and when they finally turned their attention to Him, His power could be revealed.

When our lives are shaken, our focus shifts.

Friends, Coronavirus is here and I believe that God wants to get our attention. The whole world is being shaken and we need to turn our attention to HIM. Am I scared? No, but we are facing scary times. We are fighting an unseen enemy, but please know that we are not fighting alone.

“The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Exodus 14:14

R x

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Adoption, Homeschool, Lifestyle, Parenting

Why we stopped homeschooling

I am sat drinking coffee alone in my favourite coffee shop reflecting on the last 12 months. Today is the first day back at school for our boys after we spent a year home educating them. The irony is not lost on me that it was in this coffee shop that we spent our first morning of homeschool last Easter.

There were many reasons for choosing to bring our children home, but the main reason was that we wanted Jesus to be at the centre of everything; our home life and the children’s education. They were in a faith school, and one that they loved, but we felt that we needed to give them something more. I was more concerned with their character than with their class performance, and decided to spend a year working together as a family at home.

I was more concerned with their character than with their class performance

The homeschool lifestyle is incredible. We thrived outside of timetables and schedules, we loved the freedom and spontaneity that homeschooling afforded our family, and we found such incredible friends within the homeschool community. We read books on books, we spent endless hours outdoors and learned a great deal about ourselves and each other. It was such a privilege to watch my boys grow in confidence, learn new social skills and make new discoveries.

So why end it all? That is a very good question.

We always said that we would homeschool for a year and then review our decision. On reviewing, we realised that our eldest was missing school terribly, and the truth was, I was floundering under the demands of educating two very different children while running two very different businesses. Home education is most definitely a ministry in and of itself, and is a huge sacrifice for parents.

I felt that God called me to homeschool, however it wasn’t my ‘calling’ and at times, I struggled to find my identity over the last year. I loved being with my children all the time, but as God continued to speak into my heart I felt a tension between teaching them and spending quality time with them, alongside doing things that I wanted to do or felt called to. It is fair to say that the children have missed corporate learning, and although their social lives have been off the charts, the majority of their education has been in the home, one on one with me.

So what was the purpose of these last twelve months? Well, I believe that this year has not been about heart education not head education.

Our homeschool journey has been about heart education not head education

Prior to homeschooling, we were struggling at home. We were still blending as a family of five following our daughter’s adoption and still recovering from my maternal mental health challenges. Last Easter we needed to press the reset button. So we did.

As we took school out of the equation, and put God and family first in our home, we have gotten to know each other again. I believe that we have grown tremendously, in faith and in relationship. As we leaned in, God bound us together and we have now laid the foundations for a stronger family unit going forward.

Since December, God has been challenging me, guiding me and equipping me in so many areas; business, serving, faith and family. I believe that He called me to homeschool to lay down the foundations for our family future. God never said for how long we would homeschool, He just asked us to step out in obedience. We now believe that this season has come to an end and we need to build on what we have started. I am pressing in and listening hard. It feels like I am listening to a new song on the radio and God is tuning the dial so I can hear it clearly. I can hear the melody but now I need to let him refocus me so I can hear the words too.

Can you homeschool? Of course you can. Should you homeschool? Yes, if you feel led to.

I absolutely advocate home education and have seen firsthand how my children have thrived in the home environment. But I have also seen the delight on my children’s faces as they walked into their classroom, watched their eyes widen with excitement about the things they will get to see and do and the friends they get to meet.

So although my heart was a little sad as we waved them off this morning, I also felt incredibly excited for this new chapter of our story – both for them and for me. Here’s to the first entry on the page.

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, 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, Lifestyle, Mental Health

Just Another Manic Monday?

Monday’s are the toughest day of the week for many. Statistically, it is the day with the highest number of heart attacks and suicides. At some point our mind or our bodies gives way to mounting pressure, at work, at home, at school, at university.

I used to dread Monday because that was the day Dave went back to work and I was left all alone with three kids. It was a time when I was struggling to love myself much less anyone else, and my mental health left me reeling, afraid and anxious. If you had told me two years ago that I would be healthy, happy and homeschooling I would have laughed in your face.

But God. 🙌🏻

He never left me and I know He won’t leave you. Even when I felt like I was crawling through Monday on my hands and knees, even when I felt alone, even when I wanted it all to end, to run away and start again, when I look back now I know that He was with me.

No matter what has happened, no matter what you are facing, know this: you are loved by a creator who finds such joy every time He lays eyes on you. And friend, He never takes His eyes off you. Not for a minute.

Progress can be painful, change takes time, and life can seem like a struggle. But I want to encourage anyone who is gong through something that you are also growing through something. God doesn’t leave us foundering, He can make a miracle out a mess. I can say this because I was there, and He has brought me here today.

Write down where you have come from and what you have been through. I promise you, the seeds you have sown, the toil that you out in, and the tears that have watered it, will bring forth growth. It may be slow and steady but it will happen. Shoots will spring up and buds will form. Even if you can’t see the growth right now, rest assured that just like a spring bulb wrestling in the dirt to find the light, there is movement happening in the darkness.

One day you will read your story again and see God’s love, grace and provision woven through every page. There is a plan and a purpose on your life, just sit still in the Son and trust God to get you there.

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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