Faith, Lifestyle

HIIT with Habakkuk

Do you love HIIT? I do because I don’t have time for hour long workouts and need something that is going to give me the most impact. I have discovered that approaching my Bible as a HIIT workout right now is super helpful too. Let me explain why.

I have been studying the book of Habakkuk in the Bible and learned so many lessons about life in lockdown. Habakkuk had to wait. A LOT. Much like us right now.

Here is a recap; In chapter 1, Habakkuk complained to God about the Assyrian takeover that was causing chaos all around him. He waited for God to respond but God’s reply was to send an even crueller race – the Babylonians – to sort the men from the boys. Habakkuk was horrified, and complained a second time, before watching and waiting to see what God will do. In Chapter 2, God responds to Habakkuk and says that the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God. Another way of saying this would be that those who remain faithful while they wait, who don’t give up or give in, will survive this season. Why is this important? Because being faithful requires hard work.

Being faithful requires hard work.

I don’t need to tell you about hard work. You are already doing it. From navigating social distancing in supermarkets to teaching kids a curriculum, while managing businesses, keeping in touch with relatives, and trying to hold it altogether, you are already doing a lot of hard work. But I believe that above all this, God needs us to keep our eyes fixed on Him while we wait this out.

Right now, we are under pressure. We are facing a global pandemic, a crisis like the world have never seen before. People are losing their lives, their loved ones, their jobs, their homes. There is utter chaos all around us as everything that we took for granted now slides into uncertainty. While under pressure, it can be so easy to cut corners, to compromise, to let standards slip.  But God tells us that the righteous live by faith, so we need to exercise our faith while we wait for God to move.

We need to exercise our faith while we wait for God to move.

The best way I know to get to know God, and find out what He wants us to do is to spend time reading His Word. Time is precious right now, especially if you have a tribe of toddlers or teens in tow, and this is where HIIT comes in.

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training which shocks your mind and body into action. HIIT workouts increase your metabolism and your energy levels, while strengthening your muscles and cardiovascular system. Each workout typically takes 15-30 minutes max and are designed to repeated daily.

I believe that God wants you to approach your Bible like a HIIT workout, getting the maximum impact each time. He wants His word to shock your mind and body into action in order to strengthen your spiritual muscles. How can we do this? Here are some tips:

Be Intentional. Create a welcoming space somewhere in your home, with a candle burning, essential oils diffusing, coffee brewing, music playing; whatever works for you. Grab your Bible, a notepad and pen then set a timer for 20 minutes.

Bring Intensity. Pick a book and begin to work through it one verse at at time. Don’t just snack on the Bible or skim read through passages. Take your time and use different bible translations or commentaries online to help you draw the most out of each verse in a chapter. If you don’t know where to start the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are a great place!

Show Integrity. Make a commitment and stick to it! By choosing to show up with God each and every day you will discover the transforming power of God’s word for yourself. Because when we do the hard work, He does the heart work.

When we do the hard work, God does the heart work.

I believe that by bringing our intentions, our intensity and our integrity, each day, even if only for 15-30 minutes, God will reveal Himself to us. As we stretch ourselves He will strengthen our hearts. As we get into the Word, God will give us insight in to His plans and this will get us through the next few weeks of waiting.

It’s time to dig deep into the Bible so we can start flexing those muscles of faith.

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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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, 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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Faith

Sitting in the Son

Sitting in the Son. Yes the spelling is intentional. Because God knows I need His presence today. I didn’t make it through ten minutes of church because my two year old had other ideas. My ten year olds behaviour has been disgraceful on and off all week. Our belongings are scattered between about sixteen different bags that are rammed into every available space in our car. Tempers are rising as fast as the temperature. It’s safe to say we are ready to go home.

I hate leaving Wales because the mountains and the ocean soothe my soul like nothing else on earth. But I also hate the temporality of holidays, and by the end of the week away I find myself craving the comfort and familiarity of home.

But where is home? It doesn’t feel like Birmingham. With its rising crime and pollution filled air. It doesn’t feel like the hustle and bustle, the traffic, the sirens. But it is where God called us all those years ago. He asked us to serve and serve we have. Through redundancies, depression, anxiety and adoption, we have served. After a much needed year of selah, where we have leaned on God like never before, we are finally steady on our feet. As I start to feel my strength returning and as we get ready to start a new adventure, it should come as no surprise that the devil starts knocking.

You can’t do this. You won’t do this. You are going to fall again. You are going to mess up.

His whispers mix with my thoughts and mess with my mind. But Jesus. Oh Jesus.

When He was nailed to the cross, my fears and failures were nailed with Him. When He rose from the grave victorious, I too rose with Him. He won the battle for my life so I could win the battles in life.

Jesus said I am with you today and always. You are not alone. I’ve got you and we’ve got this. You are loved, you are precious, you are a child of God.

Oh Jesus.

Don’t listen to the lies of the enemy of your soul. He will do everything He possibly can to derail your destiny. Listen to the one who defeated hell and holds the keys to hades in His hands. Listen to the one who loves you so completely and unconditionally, just as you are. His words in the Bible and His actions on the cross shout louder than any of the devils whispers.

Today I am sitting in the Son. Because His presence calms the storm in my heart, soothes the troubles in my mind and restores my soul.

R x

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Parenting

Just a mom?

You are more than just a mom. Those words actually make me wince.

Today is International Women’s Day and social media is all lit up with phrases like ‘you are more than just a mom, you are a woman, you can rule the world’. Hashtags like #girlboss #bossbabe #girlpower and #thisgirlcan constantly remind us that we can have our cake and eat it, that our identities are not found in the mouths we feed or in the nappies we change, but are found in the very core of our being, in our passions, gifts and talents.

As the next generation of powerful women, we are called to use our passions and become entrepreneurs, CEO’s, politicians and public speakers. We are women, hear us roar, and we are destined for greatness.

But what if you are destined to be a mother?

But what if you are destined to be a mother? What if, since you were a little girl, all you have dreamed of is holding your very own baby in your arms and raising a family?

What if you just wanted to be a mom?

I am a big advocate for women achieving all they can be and more, and I don’t want to offend anyone who thinks I don’t approve of their life choices. Your personal path in life is exactly that; personal. I love that women can run FTSE100 companies and manage to run a household at the same time. I love that women can hustle with the best of them in the board room then come home to read bedtime stories. I love that women can lead our country, do all these things and more, providing that they are happy and fulfilled while doing them.

As for me? I have always just wanted to be a mother. Sure I have talents; I am a voracious reader and as you might have guessed an avid blogger to boot. I love networking, communicating and being creative. I am passionate about writing, in pretty much any form, from web content for a client, to worship songs on my piano. But I don’t see myself as a writer who is also a mom, I see myself as a mom who is also a writer.

I don’t see myself as a writer who is also a mom,
I see myself as a mom who is also a writer.

Rightly or wrongly, motherhood is an identity that I truly identify with. I see it as less of a label and more of a mantle bestowed upon me by God Himself. Yes, there are days when I might gladly trade my beautiful children for wild animals, in the hope that the animals will be easier to control, but by and large, motherhood is, in my humble opinion, the greatest role I will ever have. And if you don’t agree with my thinking, then guess what? That is ok too!

Alongside my husband, I am responsible for shaping three little lives. I am responsible for keeping them safe while teaching them how to eat, drink, speak, dress and navigate this dark world in which we live. As a mother, my role is to ultimately prepare my children for life without me, and I don’t want this responsibility to fall on anyone else’s shoulders but mine.

I am so incredibly grateful for my self-employed businesses, which means I get the best of both worlds; the freedom to raise my family and the finances to help support our home lives. I love my work and I don’t take it for granted. But I do want to acknowledge the stay at home mom’s who have chosen to commit to the most incredible, selfless and, at times thankless, job of raising their family full time.

On International Women’s Day 2019, whether you are high flying career mom or homeschooling hippie mom, (or both!) please remember this:

You are not just a mom, you are a manager of a human being.

And that, my friend, is pretty awesome.

R

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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

No more drama, no more pain

I daren’t rest my fingertips on the keys for fear of what I will type, yet I can do nothing but type for fear that my rising emotions will simply overwhelm me. I find writing cathartic yet insanely frustrating as my head tries to disentangle the jumbled thoughts, words and sentences spilling out of my heart.

Last week I messed up. Yep, the smiley, happy-go-lucky, girl-who-has-got-everything-sorted spat her dummy out and once again engaged her mouth before her brain.  It wasn’t the first, second or even third time, more likely the hundred thousandth since I became a follower of Jesus. Being a Christian doesn’t make you perfect, it doesn’t make you better than anyone else, if anything, the constant pruning and shaping only serves to highlight how very imperfect we are in comparison to a perfect God. Yet all too often my faith is either flung in my face by people thinking that my stance on life is because of a ‘holier than thou’ attitude, or they remind me that I should know better, because, well that’s not a Christian thing to say/do now is it?

No, it wasn’t. Yes, I messed up. Yes, I got angry and frustrated, and rather than bite my lip, my bruised heart screamed that it couldn’t take anymore and I screamed with it. I threw my toys out of the pram, I threw a tantrum that would make most children stop and stare. I sent the words flying through the air like daggers, and then I hung up the phone.

Why? Because hurt people hurt people.

There are no excuses for bad behaviour, Christian or not, and I have wrestled with my conscience and apologised for my outburst. I don’t like drama, other than a Friday night movie with my husband, but somehow drama always seems to find me and after several months of smooth sailing I find myself being battered on the rocks once again.

2016 was a year of soul-searching, stock taking, and stripping back for me, and I am learning more and more about what I need. I have realised that I ache for a simple, inclusive, family focused life, and have strong opinions on how to keep it that way. I long to include, but I won’t waste time trying to accommodate agendas that could jeopardise my walk with Jesus or my fledgling family.

Family is at the core of who I am, being a wife and a mother is undoubtedly the greatest joy I have ever known. A self-confessed optimist and romanticist, I love to love and I long to embrace. But, to quote R’n’B queen Mary J.Blige,  I dream of a day where there is no more drama, no more pain. I desperately want to wash off the words that have stuck like glue, I want to feel accepted despite my belief, not excluded because of it. Rather than celebrate our uniqueness, different paths can create islands separated by oceans of tears. Our strong wills can build impenetrable walls that keep changing tides out and challenging emotions in.

I am all for saying embrace difference, embrace life, embrace love, but sometimes this all-in, exposed and vulnerable love has a cost. Are we willing to pay the price? Sometimes love looks like holding hands into the future, and sometimes it looks like forgiveness and moving on.

No more drama, no more pain.

I daren’t rest my fingertips on the keys for fear of what I will type, yet I know that I can do nothing but type in order to open the floodgates and calm the storm raging inside my heart. So I will write and write, and pour and pour, and cry, and rest, and write some more.

And I know that my God will hear my cries and He will whisper; Don’t worry my girl, I have got this, I have got them and I have got you, and tomorrow is a brand new day.

R

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Faith

Give me strength

Have you ever done Strengthsfinder? If you haven’t, I highly recommend it, even if only to use it to justify your individual quirks as qualities to be celebrated. My top five strengths read like this:

  1. Positivity
  2. Empathy
  3. Woo
  4. Achiever
  5. Activator

Sounds okay right? Well at first glance its pretty cool, I have always been a glass full kind of girl, happy-go-lucky, bubbly, and outgoing, so positivity wasn’t a huge surprise. Woo? Well lets face it what woman doesn’t know how to use charm to add gentle persuasion to a conversation. Achiever? Yep, I am the girl with the lists that only feels like she has a productive day if said list has at least three lines crossed through it. Activator? I have two children who are fed, dressed, watered and delivered to school (mostly) on time. Enough said.

But Empathy. Yep, that one smacks me right between the eyes every time.

You see, my other strengths are all forward thinking, go getting, lets-live-life-to-the-full kind of strengths. They require decision, motion, action, all of which my energetic caffeine fuelled self is happy to deliver – after at least one cup of the aforementioned coffee.

But empathy? Well that is an inward feeling, heart sinking, conversation stopping strength. Empathy is feeling another person’s hurt, disappointment, anger and betrayal as if it is your own. It stops you in your tracks and demands you to be still, to look at it, to touch it, to hold it, to feel it.

And some days I wish I didn’t.

Some days I wish I was unable to feel the incredibly cruel twist of fate suffered by my loved ones. Sometime I wish I could not feel the searing pain of a knife going through their back, I wish I could not sense the unbearable weight of grief placed upon their shoulders. Sometimes I wish the tears didn’t fall from my eyes as I watched them welling in the eyes of others. Sometime I wish I could be objective and offer practical solutions rather than stifling my own outrage.

But I can’t. Because that is not how I am wired. And if I couldn’t feel, then I wouldn’t be able to act out of my anger to see justice, I wouldn’t be able to cover the wounds of betrayal with soothing words, I wouldn’t be able to replace the heartache with healing love.

Even Jesus empathised. He wept with Mary and Martha over the death of Lazarus, He was moved when He met Jairus who begged Jesus to heal his dying daughter, He sensed the pain of the widow burying her only son.

And because of His empathy, Jesus acted.

Because He was hurting, He brought healing.

We are all given gifts, ‘strengths’ if you will, by God. Some of us are born leaders, able to strategise at the drop of a hat, some can teach, bringing a subject alive like no other, some can host, some can illustrate, some can manage, some can counsel…. the list is endless.

I love that I am positive, I hope that I am fun to be around, that I woo in the nicest way and that I encourage and equip others as well as myself. But I think that these strengths only seek to support my most challenging and yet my most rewarding element; empathy. I can only operate in my strengths because of the strength I find in Jesus, and in Him my positivity will help others to look on the bright side, my woo will persuade them to lift their eyes to the King, and my achiever and activator elements will encourage and equip them on their journey, holding their hand every step of the way.

R x

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