Slow down

I am often in such a hurry, get this done and then move on to the next thing. Quicker quicker, faster faster.

Why are we always in such a rush?

This morning I’m posting half way round my dog walk. Yup, I’m that person in the woods on their phone!

But I noticed something, I was walking at a pretty speedy pace, unconsciously rushing to get the walk done and get back home, there’s homework to do, washing of uniforms, beds to make, dentist appointments and on and on.

And I realised I was missing the beauty of where I was. In my speedy pace I had seen the beautiful carpet of leaves on my path and the trees in their changing colours but other than that my head was already into the next thing.

How many of us do that everyday? So  focused on what is next that we don’t really see what is right in front on us?

So for a moment I stopped, dead still, and just looked at my surroundings and I listened, I properly listened. How often are we so focused on the next that we just don’t see and hear what’s right before us? And I could hear so much, the beautiful bird song of so many birds, the squirrels in the trees and the tapping and creaking of the trees, the light through the leaves. 


It was and is beautiful but in my hast I would have missed in, not heard it or enjoyed it, it would have been lost to me.

So my challenge to myself and to you is to just slow down, ever so slightly, and see what is right before you, what is God whispering so gently that in our rush we might just miss it and not enjoy what he has for us.

Advertisements

I don’t trust God with our finances

There I said it, I don’t trust God with our finances. 

There are a lot of other areas of my life I also probably don’t trust God with but finances is the area He is high lighting today.

I don’t trust in God’s provision for my family – it’s a bit uncomfortable when you finally realise what God has been gently trying to point out isn’t it!

Today was a bit of a lightbulb 💡 day for me. For a while now I have been feeling like I should get a job.

Notice I said should!

We have 4 kids and that was totally our choice and Carl works for the Church of England (his/our choice/God’s call) but that means that money for us is tight and there are a lot of things we can’t afford to do which we would love to do.

And so instead of looking to God to provide for us I start thinking about should, what I should be doing.

I don’t look at the times where God has been faithful in his provision, whether that be the love of our Church family which enabled us to have a family holiday, or the love of family which allows our children to pursue activities they enjoy.

I worry that I should be doing more to financially support our family, because I think God isn’t doing a good enough/reliable enough job? Because I can do better than he can?

Today I was reminded that for this season God has called me to be at home for and with my children. So I can take them to school and pick them up, so I can help in Toby’s class, so I can take them to clubs (taxi anyone?) so I can cook their dinner and do bedtime with Carl. 

That is what God has called me to do and be, no should but just be present. To stop thinking about what I should be doing but what I AM doing. And what I am doing and am called to do is different to what you are doing and called to do.

May God bless us all richly as we follow what he has called each of us to do and may the voice that whispers should be hushed as we are obedient to God x

Treading water

Do you ever feel like life is passing by and your just treading water? Nothing bad is happening, nothing rocking the boat, life is just easy and moving along.

Life for us right now is pretty good, unless you ask Phoebe – she would tell you Olivia’s nightlight is “literally ruining her life”. 

On the whole though, the kids are happy and settled in school, they are making good friends and are flourishing. Carl has settled into his role as Vicar/Rector (whatever he is) life has settled. And instead of always living thinking about what will happen next; Carl’s job…college…curacy…incumbency, we now just get to live and be fully here and not thinking about what is coming next. 

Now don’t get me wrong, that all feels good and it’s nice to feel we’re putting down some roots which will last longer than 3 years but I’ve realised I spend most of my life living in the expectation, the excitement/anxiety of the what’s next. So now I feel like I don’t quite know what to do or what I’m doing. And if I’m honest I feel a bit lost and a bit empty and a lot inadequate. And if I’m really honest, I feel like my old masks are slipping themselves back on again, protecting me and keeping me safe.

And I wonder if after the ‘honeymoon period’ people will start to see me for how I see me and maybe they won’t like me so much.

Because now I’m listening to the old lies about myself again, that little stronghold that lets the devil in and it flipping gets me every time! “I’m not good enough, I’m boring, I’m self absorbed, I’m lazy, I’m fat & ugly, I need to do/be more” the list goes on but you get the idea of my areas of weakness.

And it’s so easy to listen to those lies and accept them as truth, and I say this from a place of currently believing them, I’m not out the other side but right in the fog searching for the truth. This isn’t my smartie pants post where I pretend to be all wise about what I’ve learnt but my cry from the pit of emptiness.

This is me reaching out to God asking him to reveal his truth and who he made me to be, not who I am as a result of x, y & z.

So that’s it, life goes along smoothly and we can sometimes slip back into relying on our own ability rather than God and then we get that reminder, sometimes gentle sometimes not, that it’s better to give the steering wheel of our lives over to God because thankfully he is a better driver and navigator than I am.

Learning to let go

I fall into the parenting group that wants to do everything for my kids, the longer I do that for the longer they will need me, right?

Having just come back from our family camping holiday and with our eldest daughters imminent 10th birthday I’m realising that I need to let go of them…just a little. And I realise that I probably should have stepped back before she hit double figures but she’s my biggest baby!

I know there are many things she does still need me for but she’s growing up, as are her younger siblings, and I need to take a step back and let them figure things out for themselves. Once in a while at least!

 But it’s so hard, watching them struggle at things and not stepping in and taking over, and it’s hard to see them hurt by life especially when we could easily have stepped in and prevented it, but life isn’t always the smooth journey we would want it to be and the lessons our children learn in the ‘safety’ of childhood give them skills and knowledge to draw upon in their teen and adult years (that’s the hope anyway).

It kind of makes me wonder how God does it, how does he step back and give us the space to make mistakes especially when we repeatedly do not learn from them? As a parent it drives me crazy when my kids do the same silly thing over and over and over and over… But thankfully God isn’t quite like me, he gently encourages us to have another go or to look at it from a different angle. That is true love for your child, giving them guidance when required, encouragement and showing patience when they fail but also giving space to work things through.

Yet I’ve realised something, I need and want to be needed by my kids, I want them to still hold my hand and come to me for comfort, I want them to snuggle up beside me, and so I regularly do rush in and do things for them, probably more because it fulfills a need in me more than or actually helps them. So it is deeply hard for me to take that step back and not rush in and point out all the things they could have done better or differently or more the way I would have done them! I am squishing their independence and creativity.

But when I do step back I see them flourish, I see the different talents and passions that they each have, I see what brings them joy and what their hearts break for. I do not want my children to stay as children and not be able to think and make decisions for themselves, I do not want to raise mini versions of my self and Carl, I want to raise passionate, creative, funny adults who choose to spend time with me still because we have built a relationship with foundations from childhood.

As long as they still give me the occasional hug!

Food vs God

I had a rather dissapointing wake up call this morning. It was a letter and then a phone call (what about isn’t really important) and before I knew it my body, brain and emotions were responding.

Your going food shopping, let’s load up on chocolate and you’ll feel all better!

I managed to text a friend who spoke some wisdom into my feelings and I managed to avoid the chocolate. 

My brain tried again…

Not chocolate? How about a gossip mag, you love those, let’s criticise others to make you feel better!

Again I managed to walk away and my brain tried once more…

No mag? Ok, ok. How about some new clothes? That’s definitely gonna work!

You can see the pattern of my brain. I managed to get through my shopping; almost in tears but, no chocolate, no mags, no clothes.

It didn’t help that I drove behind this car on the way homewhispers… buy Ferrero Rocher!! Oh come on!!

And then my realisation, did you notice it? Nowhere did I turn to God for help. Not once. And then it hit me, I crave comfort from food, trash mags & clothes more than I crave God. Ouch! 

I love to read but sadly 4 children has taken its toll on my brain so retaining what I read is a struggle, cue highlighter and notebook. I’m reading a great book at the moment on this very subject and it’s bringing up a lot for me. 

  1. God is not first in my life and so when temptation comes along I have no leg/scripture to stand on. I get knocked down time and again. 
  2. I had no one to be accountable to, so I could inhale as much chocolate as I wanted and didn’t have to confess it to anyone (secret sin and guilt)…that has changed.  
  3. I don’t know what my identity is as a daughter of God, this is going to change!
  4. I have been stuck with the same ‘go to’s’ for the past 5 years, if not longer. 

So, as you can see, I’ve got some stuff to work on. I’m finally realising that I’m not going to get an overnight quick fix, God is not my fairy godmother and I need to step up and do my part and let God do his, otherwise I’m stuck here for a very long time.

Finally, this book has taught me something, which is becoming my mantra…

I am made for more that this, I am made for victory

And so are you!

Where does my strength come from?

This past weekend has been an emotional rollercoaster! 

I went away for a clergy wives getaway, they said it’s called a get away because we’re not quiet enough to call it a retreat. Having gone on the ‘getaway’ last year, it is now something that will annually go into my diary, it is such a lovely relaxed time and I learn so much about God and myself.

On the Friday evening of the weekend there are 3 people asked to give a testimony of God in the last year, this year I was one of those asked. What a privilege!

When I was asked to give a testimony my brain went into panic, speaking publically was something I would have said, over and over again, was not my ministry. Notice I said “would HAVE”.

So, I was asked, my brain went into overdrive but my heart had a peace that was definitely from God, he was calling me to do this. That very night God gave me the words he wanted me to speak.

And then the weekend came along.

Friday night – I got up to speak, hands shaking and heart racing. I got emotional but I spoke the words God had given me.

Saturday morning – I woke up feeling broken and vulnerable, empty and unsettled. Why did I feel like this? I had done what God had asked me to do and now I felt like a shell, what was going on? 

I kept getting positive feedback from the words I had spoken and all I could muster was a meek “thank you” feeling complete unworthy.

Saturday evening We had the wonderful Caroline Welby to speak. What a woman of grace, integrity, humility and wisdom. One of the things she said to me was that when we are stretched beyond our comfort zones, when we are uncomfortable, we grow.

Now I see the wisdom but at the time all I felt was that I wasn’t growing, I was shrivelling!

Sunday morning I had a gentle but honest message from a dear friend. She said that if I didn’t feel public speaking was my ministry (as I kept saying) then I shouldn’t do it. But, if I felt called to it but felt fearful and scared, then I needed to trust God to equip me.

Monday morning (back home) all the wisdom spoken has finally come together to give me a complete picture. Public speaking is way out of my comfort zone, I don’t like the sound of my voice, I think others could speak far better with a greater clarity and wisdom, I believe I don’t have the knowledge and my ‘go to’ answer is that Carl was the one called to be upfront not me! So it is way out of my comfort zone, does it then rightly follow that it is not my ministry? That is for God to tell me, not me to tell God. My heart is now open to what he asks of me and I will ask him to exchange the fear I feel for trust, faith and courage.

And the reason I felt so vulnerable on Saturday morning? Yes the words I had spoken were from God, yet I realise now that I delivered them in my own strength, not God’s. I gave from my own resource and not from God’s.

My prayer is that I have taken on board this lesson and in the future remind myself where my strength and help comes from.

I lift my eyes unto the hills

Where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord

The maker of heaven and earth

Why am I so angry?

I have two settings when it comes to anger. The first is to get extremely cross, very quickly. I shout, completely lose my temper and then walk away. The second is to swallow my anger down and bury it, deep, self protection for me and complete confrontation avoidance. Because I believe that if I let you know that I have been wounded by you then that will lead to conflict and an argument rather than a conversation. Right??

The way I deal with anger is seperated into two categories, one for my immediate family and the other for everyone else. I think you and I would both agree that neither is healthy, for myself or those in the firing line.

Growing up, I was disciplined and then sent to my room. It left me with a feeling of anger, that as a child I did not understand or know how to deal with appropriately. I don’t say that to be disrespectful to my parents but just to acknowledge that is the way I was raised.

As a young adult I went through a time of burying all feelings, that included anger, loneliness, sadness but it also robbed me of joy. As I have let feelings come back in, anger seems to have been the emotion to blow in like a tornado and I still do not have the coping mechanisms in place to deal with it in a healthy manner and so it wreaks havoc.

So I take this to God on my dog walk today and our conversation goes a bit like this…

Me “Father God, I’m not dealing with my anger very well”

God “Yes, I had kind of noticed”

Me “things aren’t getting better, I go from 0-60 faster than any sports car, I shout in a rage at my kids and Carl and then I feel like poo”

God “yep, it’s pretty tricky isn’t it”

Me “so I was wondering if you could you just take my anger away and give me peace?”

God “I do see what your asking, and I could do that. But..”

Me “I knew there was a but coming!”

God “but, I love you too much to do that! I am trying to teach you something important here. So I’m going to walk through this with you, and we may need to start over several times but I promise you I will be right with you and we will overcome this together, ok?”

Me”that sounds like hard work, wouldn’t my way be much easier?”

God “maybe it would in the short term but I have long term plans for you so you’ve got to trust me, do you?”

Me “hum, let me think on that!…yes, I do trust you”

My conversations with God can be somewhat long winded with lots of begging and sulking on my part and lots of patience in his.

But he’s right, he could flick a switch and give me exactly what I’m asking for but what kind of parent does that? 

With my own children there are countless times when I could sweep in and do things for them, it would sure save a lot of time, but what does that teach them? Carl and I are trying to raise children confident in their own skills to problem solve, to work things out for themselves, not children who look to their parents for a quick fix. Yes we are there to guide and advise but not to do all the work on their behalf. They are our dependants but I also want them to grow in independence.

And this is what God is doing with me, he is guiding and advising, he’s walking me through the messy stuff but he’s also asking me to do some of the work to find the solution and I am gaining wisdom and knowledge in the process. Yes maybe not the way I always want him to do things but probably a far more useful and constructive method with lasting tools for my spiritual tool belt.

Where is God when the darkness closes in?

Scrolling back, I think many of my posts come after God has ‘moved’ in some way. Posts about God being faithful and a provider. I don’t seem to be very good at praising God within the storm.

Because it’s easy to praise God and be thankful isn’t it, when life is going ok, the kids are happy, those glorious moments when I’m not shouting at them or Carl (it happens trust me).  

Sunday was one of these great God days, it felt like God was moving in the Church service and it was beautiful, after the service I made plans to meet the following day with a friend to pray together. Sunday was a good God day. 

And then it was Monday…

When days like yesterday come along, I’m just plain done in or undone, I don’t know. Days when there is no motivation to do anything, days that leave the emotions so close to the surface with seemingly no reason, days I don’t want to be around anyone; even myself, days when it’s easier to climb back into bed rather than do something I know will be life giving…spending time with God. Yesterday I retreated, instead of reaching for God and I went for the comfort of bed and chocolate.

I know depression is often referred to as “the black dog” but for me it’s not like that. It’s more like a fog. At first I can’t even see it and slowly it creeps further forward as it silently surrounds and leads me away from God, Carl and myself. Thankfully yesterday was just ‘one of those days’ and I’m not becoming depressed again, I’m just tired. Thankfully I can recognise the signs but sadly I haven’t quite learnt to go to the right place or person for rest and comfort. For now, when the darkness creeps around I reach for those things that bring immediate and short relief rather than the God who will bring lasting peace and assurance. I know God is helping me to address that.

So this isn’t an all singing all dancing post from the mountain top but it is an eye opening post, mostly to remind myself, that even in days like yesterday, when it feels like I’m in the valley, that God is still with me and he is still teaching me. It may be a little harder to hear him speak but he is still speaking. I just need to lean in to him and listen up.

I’m doing ok

I think a lot of my posts tend to come from struggles I’ve either faced or am currently going through, so I thought I’d mix things up a bit and share from what feels like quite a good place.

When we moved just over a month ago I felt really anxious about what faced us, new friendships for the children and us, new routine, new church, a loss of security and ‘the known’, Throw in the old question of ‘how much you share of yourself when you’re the vicar’s wife’ (or Rector’s wife thank you very much 😉) and it felt like a mountain infront of us and if I’m honest I felt panicked, physically sick and like I’d rather just run back to the safety of Burgess Hill.

Yet I have noticed that by just stepping out in very small ways, (trying) to be myself and be honest about who I am, that what I thought was a massive thing has actually been ok (ssshhh, don’t tell anyone) and actually I feel pretty happy where we are. We have been so welcomed by our new church family and people genuinely want to get to know me and us. Our children are happy, we spend more time as a family and I am less cross and grumpy, I hope my children would agree and we dance more.

I think what I’m trying to say is that when we actually face the things that fill us with fear and dread that they are sometimes not as terrifying as we think they are going to be and even more, sometimes we can be surprised by actually enjoying them far more than we could expect.

So I just wanted to give God the honour and publicly be thankful. I’m thankful for how He has gone before us and prepared this place for us, all of us and not just Carl, I’m thankful for the friendships we are all building and for the friendships I still have in Burgess Hill and I’m thankful for our new church family who show us love and kindness. God is good.

Well I might as well…

If I’m honest, which I try to be, the past few months have been somewhat unsettling.

Not only did we spend 7 weeks driving Phoebe back and forth to school in Handcross everyday whilst also getting Olivia and Toby to school in Burgess Hill. We then had to say goodbye to many dear friends at St Andrews in Burgess Hill, writing this I sense I still haven’t let myself truly grieve that massive loss yet, it just seems to big and painful. We then, finally, added in the house move. It’s very strange to watch your possessions slowly leave your house while you still live there. Christmas passed in a bit of a blur, Carl was licensed as Rector on Thursday, I think I survived the evening without being sick or crying and today was our first Sunday in our new Church, St Mary’s Slaugham.

It’s been exhausting!

At the moment life feels very in the spot light and in all truth that leaves me feeling unsafe and vulnerable, desperate to make a ‘good’ impression with all the lovely people introducing themselves. In all of that I have become aware of the temptation for me to try and regain control. When I feel out of control I frantically search for a way to feel back in control. For me, and I think we all know, that control comes in the form of food and exercise so I sit thinking of diets to try while eating a lot of mince pies. I realised this week that I have a ‘might as well’ attitude. I might as well eat all those mince pies/chocolates/biscuits because then they’re out of the house and I can get on with my healthy eating, I might as well drink that bottle of wine because then it’s gone and I can get on with being healthy and just drinking water. It’s a destructive pattern that I return to time and again. 

And what spurred me to write this post now? I was reminded by the lovely gentleman leading the prayers in Church this morning, David I think, of the power of our story. The power of my story. I am not the perfect Christian/wife/mother/daughter/friend… and thankfully for me God doesn’t expect me to be. Carl, in his preach this morning, see I do listen, spoke from 1 Timothy 1 v 5 “a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” and that is the place I need to live from “God I trust you but I need your help to trust you” because I can’t live in a place where when life is good then I’m happy for God to be in control but when I’m struggling I try and take control back. You’d think I would have learnt by now that when I’m in control things spiral downwards very quickly. 

So for the next weeks and months as we settle into life in Handcross and to a new Church family, I need to look to God more and trust that He has gone before me. I need to remind myself, daily, that this takes time, the pain of leaving Burgess Hill will take time to heal and the building of relationships here will take time, it isn’t meant to be instant and that’s ok! I need God’s help in living in the present and not desperate to fast forward to the future because in doing that there is so much I will miss.