Jesus was not my focus!

Oh man…something is a shifting in me.

This weekend I am at the Hillsong Colour Conference in London with my big sister and I am #lovingit

I am 36 years young and I have spent far too many of those years putting myself down. Believing I am worthless, that I don’t matter, that I’m insignificant and stupid, ugly and a waste of space. Left wondering why God would even bother me when I can’t even bother to care for myself. Wondering what I could possibly offer to God when I believe I am, at the very core of me, NOTHING!

And I’ve heard the message before, so many times. I’ve heard it, made notes on it, shared it with others and yet NEVER taken it on board for myself. It’s not travelled the few inches from head to heart.

UNTIL TODAY PEOPLE…until today!

Oh my gosh! Yes day I stopped trying to earn and strive for it, I simply accepted it!

I am God’s beloved!

Today I heard talks from Bob Goff, Priscilla Shirer and Bobbie & Brian Houston. Incredible talks! And something has shifted.

In Bobbie’s talk she quoted the Beauty Myth

“an obsession with physical perfection that traps modern woman in an endless cycle of hopelessness, self-consciousness, and self-hatred as she tries to fulfill society’s impossible definition of flawless beauty,”

This is what I have been trapped in for countless years. The pursuit of something I could never achieve and the consuming self hatred which goes hand in hand with it.

I have believed 2 things, firstly that I have nothing to offer God and secondly that I am nothing to God. One of those is true the other is most definitely not!

I have nothing to offer God other than what he has given me. Yet the things he had given me I had hidden in a drawer, what use is that? Priscilla said that God gives us treasure, but the treasure he gave to me I hide away, believing it wasn’t as good or as worthwhile as what I believed he had given to others. Yet I was wasting what he’d given me, I was not reaching the potential he placed on my life. I played my gifts and talents down, I diminished my God given gifts!

Having never heard Bob Goff speak before I now adore him, he spoke right to the core of me! He said that Satan doesn’t need to destroy us he just needs to distract us. How true is that! He just needs to shift us off course ever so slightly, and he’s been doing that to me for years! Slowly moving God out of the centre of the picture and putting me and my self loathing in his place.

I need to STOP wanting to be like other women, STOP comparing myself to other women and start living as the woman God has and is making me into. I need to believe Biblical truth about who God says I am and not who the enemy claims I am. Because those are LIES!

So if God’s treasure is already within me all I need to do is give it back to God and ask him to make it sufficient.

Today I am taking the message from Bobbie and choosing to believe that I am a women of passion and potential, nurture and creativity, instinct and empathy, strength and wisdom, with a desire to live and excel! That is a pretty incredible woman to be, why would I hide that away in a drawer and not celebrate that with those who love me? Hiding it doesn’t give glory to God it just renders me ineffective and Satan has done his job.

I’m going to do like Brian and dig deeper and trust that God can do more that I could ever guess or imagine, even with the small amount I can offer him.

My 5 loaves and 2 fish can be multiplied by Jesus and they are more than enough for God to work with. If I will just give him the permission to.

Today is a new day and God is moving me forward.

Amen

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I am not ok…

I have a deep seated belief that in order for me to be ‘ok’ I must ‘do’ something.

For me to be lovable even likeable I must somehow be different to how I currently am or I must do more. I must earn acceptance both of God and other people in order to be accepted.

I tell myself that if I can just get control in this area or that, then I will be acceptable, if I can get these people to like me I will be ok, if I can be a Pinterest mummy then I will have a sense of self worth, of value, if I can look this way or act that way I will be good enough.

This is living under the Law, a system of Achieving (quoting LC). This is NOT what Jesus came to do in dying on the cross for me.

Philippians 3: 9-10 says ‘and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ’

Galatians 2:21 goes further by saying ‘for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose’

If I can earn it then Jesus came and died for nothing! I am still eating from the Tree of Good and Evil, putting myself in the place of God, making myself like God.

And yet this is how I live my life, if I can control my weight, what I eat, what people think of me, the parent or friend I can be, if people like me then my sense of self worth tells me I am ok. If I can’t control these things, and invariably I cannot, my sense of self worth tells me I, at the centre of my very being, are not ok!

I am not ok, because I place my value on things I believe I can control or affect and in actual truth I cannot do either.

But I cannot earn acceptance, I cannot do anything which will earn a sense of self worth a knowledge of OKness. That is God’s role. I can’t read my Bible more/pray more/meditate more in order to be more worthy of God loving me. IT DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY, as much as I would like it to it just doesn’t.

And I know that, I KNOW it, I KNOW IT, I KNOW IT!! I’ve been in Church my whole life, I know it, yet I don’t know it in my heart. It’s purely head knowledge, it hasn’t traveled the few inches down into my heart, it hasn’t taken root in my soul. It hasn’t made that difference in my life that that truth has the power to do.

I hold onto my truth that I can earn God’s love by ‘doing’ not just by ‘being’. But that is staying under the law not living in freedom.

Just because you believe something does not make it true!

So how do I move from head knowledge to personal knowledge of God’s love for me? I don’t know! That’s where I am right now, I don’t know what that looks like, and while I hate that (because I’m not in control) I have to accept that God knows what He is doing and I have to come to a point of trying to trust him. That he will bring restoration and healing and that I cannot do that for myself.

Ephesians 2:8-9 finishes it off for me “for by grace you have been saved through faith. And it is not by your own doing, it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast”.

I cannot increase my self worth, I cannot earn my salvation, that has already been done for me, not through anything I have done or could do but what Christ did for me.

My debt has been paid and I wasn’t even the one who had to pay it, I owe nothing!

So here’s to God being in the driver seat and to being the map reader and me being the passenger in the back.

Pressing on despite discomfort

Why is it so easy to talk myself out of pushing forward?

Why is it so tempting to reward myself for reaching a goal but not pushing past that goal?

Why do I believe that I have ‘done enough’ and not see the discipline of being focused and reaching just that bit further?

I was finally out this morning for my first run in few weeks (I will admit that I am a fair weather runner, I don’t like the cold it brings out the complainer in me). I wasn’t sure how this run would go, my fitness drops very quickly if I haven’t been out for a bit so I set myself the goal of 3miles/5k. I was actually surprised by how comfortable it felt, I had thought even that distance might be a struggle but it felt good, helped by the sunshine I’m sure.

And yet, as I neared my goal distance I could hear a little voice whispering in my ear (other than the music I was listening to) saying

Well done you, haven’t you done well, you have tots earned a little walk, you got your 3miles, let’s just stop now, no need to go any further.

So back to my question, why do I set a goal which when I reach I don’t push on just that bit further? Why don’t I press on to develop perseverance and stamina? (Not just in running but in other areas of my life). I do this in relation to food, if I’ve had a good day or a bad day I can justify pretty much anything.

You did so well not snacking today, and you didn’t lose it with the kids, as a little ‘well done’ you can have a hot cross bun (or 2) and 4 creme eggs when the kids are in bed, well done you!

I also do it in my spiritual life.

You’ve done so well reading your Bible and praying everyday, your tired, why keep going? you totally deserve a few days break, you’ve worked so hard, come back to it next week.

Philippians 3:13 says “but one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead”

The author of Philippians talks of forgetting what we have already done and straining to reach what is ahead of us, yet I often find it really unappealing to push beyond something, to allow myself to feel even just a little uncomfortable, I complain and moan at ‘having to be disciplined’ but if and when I do I can reap the fruit of my actions. Why then am I so unwilling to do it?

Romans 5:3-4 says “suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope” maybe not such a comfortable refining process but how often does change or growth come about without us being called out into a place of discomfort? James 1:2-4 says “consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”.

I think for me this is summed up in the Fruits of the Spirit “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” Galatians 5:22-23. God does sometimes give these fruits simply by us asking for them but most of the time I believe they come about as a result of discipline, through our perseverance and commitment to working with God, by spending time with Him, through relationship with God, through reading our Bible and prayer, by keeping in step with the Spirit and being disciplined in these practises as He brings about change within us.

So next time I’m out for my run I will be more in tune with God rather than Strava (other running apps are available) and I will listen to when he tells me to stop not to the little voice that tries to rob me of the gift of perseverance.

Jog on!

Silence the doubts…

I don’t know about you, but I often find it is after the times I have stepped out and been obedient to God that I then face a torrent of self doubt.

This morning I had the wonderful opportunity to speak at a women’s breakfast at the Church of a lovely friend.

Now this alone would normally fill me with a vast range of doubts and fears. I have struggled with accepting I may have a calling to speak in public. I am left worrying…

  • You’ve only had a week to prepare
  • You don’t even know where your going
  • It’s snowing, you’ll get lost/stuck
  • You don’t know these ladies (as lovely as they may be)
  • What qualifies you to speak to others?
  • You haven’t properly practised
  • Your talk will not connect with them at all
  • No one will even turn up

Now that list could go on as on but as I drove over I managed to silence my fears and give them to God.

I sang out my fears along to the new Rend Collective cd which is still banging out from our car wherever we go and then I turned the music off and prayed – I kept my eyes open don’t worry!

I admitted to God that I was, again, going into this in my own strength not his and I asked for more of him and less of me. I allowed God back into his rightful place and I stepped back into mine.

And you know what, he totally delivered – was that ever in doubt? When does God ever not show up when we ask him too? I mean, he’s already there so doesn’t need to ‘show up’, he’s already done that.

So then it was just me stepping up, trusting that God has gone before me. I remembered the person God has and is making me to be and I didn’t hide that person, in all her craziness, away!

I find that when we speak from our experience we cannot get it wrong, it is speaking out our truth and the experience we have walked through.

And then I left and headed for home and surprise surprise, despite the lovely positive comments afterwards, back came the doubts and insecurities.

Well that wasn’t very good, no one could relate to that at all, no one even really listened, that was completely boring, you are a terrible speaker, they all just felt a bit sorry for you because you looked a bit pathetic!

NO!! I am not listening to that!! The more we look to other people for affirmation the more we will crave it and seek approval from others, the more we will need to ‘check’ that what we did was ok. But if I get my affirmation from God, that I did what was asked of me then I will not be so easily swayed by the lies that try to work their way in.

So I silenced the whispering doubts and trusted that I had been obedient to the call God had given me, that was all he had asked me to do, anything else was down to him and I’m ok with that partnership.

1% me and 99% God.

I worry that I’m worried I’m a worrier!

I might just put that out there and leave it at that, I’m worried what will come out if I keep typing.

It has come to the surface recently that one of our children is suffering with anxiety and this is displayed by outbursts of anger. To start with I just couldn’t understand what she had to be anxious about; she is loved, she has a safe place to live, is settled and secure. What has she got to be anxious about?

I was left frustrated and angry. She appears to be dealing with something which Carl and I didn’t seem to be able to help her with. We have now come to a stage where we are beginning play therapy to try to help her deal with her anger in more healthy ways. Why as her parents can we not fix this for her?

I feel like such a failure!

A few weeks back I began a parenting course and it has been really insightful. I just wish we’d both done it before we actually had children then I might not feel like I’m making such a hash of it all.

Tonight we talked about how children display needs and how that can trigger something in us as parents and make us feel uncomfortable, sometimes so uncomfortable that we are unable to meet their need. If that is the case then children express their needs in other ways.

For us that is ANGER and ANXIETY. Some need is not being met and the result of that is anger and worry.

So we’re back to the anxiety, where has that come from? You’ll be pleased to hear I finally spotted it this evening, It comes from me! Turns out I am extremely anxious although I try to bury it down and make light of it. I play it down and shrug it off.

I’m anxious about oh so many things. Let me give you just a few…

  • My children love daddy more than they love me
  • Terrible things happening to my children if I lose sight of them for a moment- kidnap, torture…
  • That I don’t spend enough time with my children
  • That I don’t know how to be around them
  • That I’m not as ‘fun’ as Carl
  • That I am failing them EVERY SINGLE MOMENT and have been since they were born
  • That I’m a failure because I couldn’t breast feed (because we all know that makes you a terrible person)
  • That I let my children cry as babies so I’m a monster and I’ve left them with abandonment issues
  • That actually no one really likes me because I just plan boring

I could go on but that will just turn into a pity party!

And right now I don’t think I have a nugget of wisdom about all of this but I do know that God hasn’t washed his hands of me. I know he has given me people who love me and my family and support us and I KNOW that he can bring good from the suffering we are going through! I KNOW THAT!

A great line that I am trying to take hold of from tonights parenting course is that blaming ourselves or our children is a dead end street. What good comes from blaming ourselves or myself?

Its my fault my daughter is anxious, I caused this, if only I had…

It just leads to pain, hurt and regret.

I am loving the new Rend Collective album and one song in particular really speaks to me right now.

Weep with me

Lord will You weep with me?

I don’t need answers, all I need

Is to know that You care for me

Hear my plea

Are You even listening?

Lord I will wrestle with Your heart

But I won’t let You go

You know I believe

Help my unbelief

Yet I will praise You

Yet I will sing of Your name

Here in the shadows

Here I will offer my praise

What’s true in the light

Is still true in the dark

You’re good and You’re kind

And You care for this heart

Lord I believe

You weep with me

Part the seas

Lord make a way for me

Here in the midst of my lament

I have faith, yes I still believe

That You love me

Your plans are to prosper me

You’re working everything for good

Even when I can’t see

You know I believe, yeah

Help my unbelief, oh

Yet I will praise You

Yet I will sing of Your name

Here in the shadows

Here I will offer my praise

What’s true in the light

Is still true in the dark

You’re good and You’re kind

And You care for this heart

Lord I believe

That you weep with me

Turn my lament into a love song

From this lament, raise up an anthem

Oh I’ll sing it in the darkness, oh

Turn my lament into a love song, ’cause I love You Lord

And from this lament, raise up an anthem, oh

Oh I’ll sing it in the darkness

Yet I will praise You

Yet I will sing of Your name

Right here in the shadows

Right here I will offer my praise

What was true in the light

Is still true in the dark

You’re good and You’re kind

And You care for this heart

Lord I believe

That you weep with me

It’s a beautifully honest account of being real with God and acknowledging that we can be going through that toughest of times but that even in those times, and it may be really hard to do so, we can still praise God.

So that is what I choose to do, pour out my anguish to God because he’s big enough to take it and to keep worshipping him.

Just a bit broken…

Tonight I stood outside my daughters bedroom and I cried.

Over the past few months, as a family, we have all had to deal and cope with outbursts of anger. But tonight it has pushed me to the point of feeling just broken.

The flare ups started in spring last year and our lovely daughter was replaced by this child who’s temper would blow up at the smallest thing…

She/he looked at me

I can’t do my homework

I don’t want to be on my own

I don’t want to go to bed

I want another biscuit

It’s not fair

I don’t want to eat that

The list of complaints could go on and on. But my point is that the cause of the blow up was usually a very minor issue and not deserving of the severe response we got.

In the summer term our daughter met with a teacher in the school – whether this actually helped or not I don’t know but it at least felt like we were doing something to support her.

By autumn it felt like we had turned a corner and the frequency had lessened…until recently that is.

In the past few weeks the frequency and severity of her flare ups has gone through the roof.

She is regularly physical in her anger; things are thrown, people are pushed and shouted at and it can take till gone 10pm to actually get her to sleep.

We are exhausted and at a loss of how to help her.

She is like Jekyll and Hyde, we are never sure which one will wake up, which one will greet us from school, which one we will kiss goodnight and it has reached a point where I feel broken by her.

What a thing to say as a parent!

My child has broken me

I hate it.

I hate that sometimes I just have to walk away from her and let Carl step in.

I hate that there are times I want to scream right back at her.

I hate that I want to point out every single little way in that she is hurting everyone she cares about and is pushing them all away.

I hate that I want to reason with her and get her to acknowledge the impact of her actions, not only on herself but on her family.

I hate that I feel like we are failures as parents.

I and HATE that nights like tonight make me want to throw the towel in and say I’ve had enough, I’m not doing this anymore.

So why write this post? Especially while Carl is still having to be upstairs with her?

Because maybe I’m not the only parent in the world who’s child is pushing them beyond their limit and almost to the point of breaking? Because maybe I not the only parent who feels like they’re banging their head against the wall in frustration? Because maybe another parent out there needs to know that they are not alone either! Because maybe this is my outlet for the pain I currently feel, this is my screaming out This isn’t fair!!!

So I’m not going to walk out on her.

I am going to try my very best to stay with her in her anger and to try and empathise with her feelings. I am going to try to help her get to the root of what is causing her so much pain and I am going to make her feel safe and secure. And I am going to love her, man I am going to love her!

I am going to trust that God is with all of us and that he will bring our family through this still in one piece, that he will protect Carl and I, not only as parents but also as a couple as we struggle forward.

But for tonight I am going to try my very best not to plant my face in a box of chocolates in a bid to ease my hurting.

The Greatest Showman

So, I am hoping you have seen the screen EPIC that is The Greatest Showman, and if you haven’t, um…what are you waiting for?? GO, like right now, I think it’s on at 8.30!!

I am probably not the first to say but this film has a banging (hope that word isn’t too cringe?) soundtrack, oh my goodness it is powerful!

I also doubt that I am the first to say the track This is me is an ANTHEM!!

Just have a read of these words…

I am not a stranger to the dark

Hide away, they say

‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts

I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars

Run away, they say

No one’ll love you as you are

But I won’t let them break me down to dust

I know that there’s a place for us

For we are glorious

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down

I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out

I am brave, I am bruised

I am who I’m meant to be, this is me

Look out ’cause here I come

And I’m marching on to the beat I drum

I’m not scared to be seen

I make no apologies, this is me

Another round of bullets hits my skin

Well, fire away ’cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in

We are bursting through the barricades

And reaching for the sun

(We are warriors)

Yeah, that’s what we’ve become

Um..WOW! Like, mega wow!

Those words surely don’t just resonate with me but they must resonate with every single person who has EVER been told that they don’t matter, that they are insignificant, that they have no worth, that they are too damaged, or too broken. Isn’t that all of us? At some point I’m sure it has been.

Because we all have those things that we hide away in the dark, the parts of us we are ashamed to bring into the light. But the overriding message of this film (for me at least) is that we should run into the light with our scars and bruises and they should be celebrated, because truly it is those things that make us beautiful!

I love that the song acknowledges that yes, the character is brave but she is also bruised, and while the words may be fired at her she won’t allow the shame of them to sink in or to take root! She recognised that she brings her bravery along but she is also marked by the scars and bruises that life has given her along the way, DESPITE this she is triumphant, it’s not one without the other, it is all things together. She may as well sing from the rooftops for all to hear, that these are the very things that make up who she is.

The bruises, the scars, the wounds.

ALL the baggage that she carries from her past, the humiliation and the repulsion she has faced. They don’t have to be the thing that stops her but they can be the driving force in her victory.

She will no longer hide in the shadows but that she will ‘burst through the barricades’, that is some deep inner strength. And strength like that can only come from knowing that someone will fight for you.

For her that is the rest of the ‘curiosities’ but for us it is God the Father. He is our great defender, protector and provider.

When people bruise us or we are battered by life God is there, right by our side. He is there when we feel that we just can’t keep going, when we are to tired to keep pushing on, he is the thing that we can hold onto, he is our anchor, our rod and our strength.

I know I have said this before but I think it is worth saying again, how often do we let our past define who we get to be today an tomorrow? We all have hurts and wounds we carry, words that have been spoken over us that have taken root, parts of us we are ashamed of, BUT, if we will let him, those are the things that God can work with! Don’t let the things you hide in the darkness remain there, that is where the enemy gets the victory over us. He tells us that if we dare to bring them to the light that people will reject us, the will disown us and even worse, (sharp intake of breath!)

they will judge us!!!

But here is the winning line or the grand finale if you will(sticking with the film theme here!) if we can dare to bring those things into the light then they can have great power and can give so much glory and honour to God. The testimony of our own brokenness and restoration through God love, grace and mercy is the thing that will allow us to come alongside others and might very well just be the key in unlocking their isolation and darkness and allow them to walk or run into freedom.

What greater thing can there be that that?

Look out ’cause here WE come!

I’m actually meant to read my Bible??

I know what your probably thinking, she grew up in a Christian home, went to Church every week, she’s a Vicar’s wife, she must have lost count of the number of times she’s read the Bible.

Wanna know the truth??

I don’t think I’ve ever read the whole Bible…like EVER!!

I’m probably quite like you in that I have good intentions

I’ll read it from start to finish

(That didn’t last long)

I’ll read this novelised version

(That didn’t last long)

I’ll get fancy detailed Bible notes with extra reading

(That didn’t last long)

Oo I know, I’ll bullet journal my way through the Bible

(That didn’t last long)

I always manage to get so far with reading the Bible and then something’s happens, I miss a day, then two days, then a week and then…yeah, I’ve already given up!

So when I heard from IBRA (International Bible Reading Association) about their Fresh from the Word campaign I figured I’d join in, what do I have to lose? I might actually read some more of my Bible!

All they asked of me was to use their Bible reading notes for a week and then blog about it, so here I am, I week later tapping away!

And I like these notes, you know why? Because they are short, to the point and simple. A short Bible passage followed by a thought about the passage followed by a prayer and then a further thought or a challenge. And some of them have been a real challenge!

For me God has highlighted the fact that I judge others all too quickly

Oo, did you see that? I’m no way near as bad as they are, did you see what they did?!

‘We call people monsters if they commit horribly violent crimes…and the people who want to lynch them or who demand their execution’

Um…ouch! How many times do we put ourselves as judge in the place of God? I do it all the time, I read some horrendous news piece and demand someone be punished. These notes have reminded me again that I have my part to play and God has him. Just like passages from this first week have included people’s ‘Here I am send me’.

I have been reminded that without this simple statement, here I am, send me, we could be leaving ‘potential heroes to stay in isolation and darkness’.

Now I’ll admit there have been a couple of days where I have sped through the reading but there have also been days when I have taken my time with them, to really place myself into the setting, to almost see these people around me, to watch Samuel as he is called by God. And when you do that, you notice the detail. Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Hello?? That is one holy place to be laying your head down!

And I have been challenged too. So many times if I have been given a Biblical word from someone I have been quick to brush it off

Oh that’s nice but really that was meant for so and so way back when…

When truthfully, and this hit me hard,

‘Jesus is simply taking the whole of God’s message in scripture seriously, responsibly – and personally. Jesus never forgets it applies to himself: the call to trust, to suffer, to serve, to resist temptation and to confront fear, but above all else to listen and to say yes to God. It’s all about him. And therefore it’s all about us.’

Let me say that again

It’s all about him. And therefore it’s all about us!

‘The invitation is personal. It’s there in writing. And it’s serious.’

I don’t get to just brush Biblical truth off my shoulder like it’s a piece of fluff.

These notes have also reminded me that I don’t have to have it all sorted and together to be used by God. Because we think that don’t we.

If only I get get this sorted out (my daily Bible reading) then I will be a “better Christian” and then God will use me

It’s not like that, that is one big fat lie!! God will use us as we are, however we are, wherever we are, as long as we are willing! We just have to stop believing that the things we hide about ourselves are the things that stop God using us. God will use me despite my low self esteem and my constant comparison with others. He will use you despite your depression, addictions, perfectionism, striving. Whatever it may be for you, God still wants to use you. We (the Church) are God’s great plan to bring humanity back to him, he hasn’t got a plan B! So either we accept the truth written in the Bible and raise our hand

Here I am send me

Or we say

Well God, I’d love to help you out, just let me sort x, y and z and then I’m all yours. By the way, x, y and z will probably take my whole life time so I wouldn’t hang around if I were you!

For me, this week of daily Bible readings (which I hope to continue) has been about reminding myself of my simple YES to God. A yes as a step of faith, a yes to trust him and for him to guide me.

One of my biggest yeses this past year has been this blog. To speak out and to not know where the words will fall but to speak them out. And there have been times these works have come from deeply personal places, from pain and doubt and that is costly but it is more costly not to!

My part = speak and obey, God’s part = all the rest!

So, what are my tips for actually reading your Bible?

  • Find notes you get on with – Fresh from the Word has been great for me
  • Don’t put pressure on yourself, so what if you miss a day (or two) just pick it back up, don’t bother trying to catch up what you’ve missed – you never will!
  • Slow down, these notes only had a few verses to read so take your time, let the words sink in
  • Find a time that works for you, but do try to plan it in, if you don’t you just won’t do it, it’s a bit like exercise!

So get into your Bible this year, maybe for the first time and meet with God on the pages!

2018…not the greatest start to the year

So 2018 didn’t exactly get off to the greatest of beginnings.

Don’t get me wrong, we had a great New Year’s Eve spent with a fab family from Church. We played silly games, ate great food, drank and watched the fireworks. New Year’s Day started great, we had 30 people from Church round for bacon butties (a great way to start the year I must say!).

And then…

About 4.30 I go out to call the dog in from the garden. She is our great escape artist and loves to go into our neighbours garden so I’m out there for a while before she comes back.

I come back in (with dog in toe) to see I have had 6 missed calls from my sister. Now my family are not massive callers, we are a family of texters. So I of course text her back.

hey there, was out looking for the dog, what can I do for you?

She rings straight back, I pick up.

Um…there no easy way to say this but mum has had a heart attack.

…silence…brain tries to process what she has just said…tears…

I’m sorry, what? Mum has had a heart attack? Our mum? A heart attack??

Yes, she’s had a heart attack and is on her way to hospital

…silence…tears…brain struggling to process…I can’t breath properly…

Sorry, can you say that again? Our mum has had a heart attack and is on her way to hospital?

Yes, they took her to Cheltenham hospital and she’s been transferred from there straight to Bristol

…struggling to breath…tears…thoughts everywhere…

Is she ok? Is dad ok? Why has this happened? Is she going to have another one? Is she going to die? Do I need to come up right now? Will I get there in time? WHAT IS HAPPENING???!!

Dad is with her, don’t come up right now, I will keep you updated, breath and tell Carl

I put the phone down and sit in stunned silence trying to get hold of my thoughts and my breathing.

I’m in shock!

I have another beautiful quote from my current book (if you haven’t read My Grandmother seems her regards and apologises by Fredrik Backman then do!)

Only one person collapses with a heart attack…but two hearts are broken, and the house is never quite the same again

My mum had a heart attack, but there is also my dad, my sister and two brothers and her 8 grandchildren. That is a lot of hearts hurting.

And in all of that I have lost my trust in God and placed it in myself and I didn’t even notice it happen.

God, I should be there…I need to do this or that…I’m not there…I need to speak to her…I need to tell her this…

And God whispered back

I’m there.

Yes God, but I’m not and I should be.

I know Lindsay, but I’m there, I’m with her, I’m with them.

Yes, but, what if…

I know, I know! But I am with her, I am with her!

How quickly does that happen to us?

Something unexpected happens and we get knocked sideways, we completely lose our footing and stumble. We retreat from those who love us and want to support us, we shut down emotionally as a way of self protection and we go it alone!

In that moment I did that to Carl and to God. I barricaded myself in, protected myself from being vulnerable and they both stood outside of my impenetrable fortress and gently knocked.

Please let us in, let us be with you in this, let us sit with you

But it’s so hard isn’t it, to admit that we are hurting and to reach out and accept love from others, especially God.

But like any parent, God sees our pain and suffering and he just wants to be with us in it. That’s not to say that by letting God in all our pain will magic away (he’s not a magician!!) but he will stay with us in the midst of the mess, and he will hold us. While we thrash about and scream, he holds us.

In that phone call my hand slipped from God’s pretty quickly, I relied on myself rather than trusting that whatever the outcome may have been that he was still with me, with my mum and my dad and my siblings and our children. He had us all right in the palm of his hands.

And like any loving parent God has been gentle with me, he has t pointed out my mistakes but as I have looked back at the past week he has shown me that in it all he was there. When I wasn’t there he was. And now I’m not there he is still there. And he is with me too, as the reality sinks in he is still walking me through it.

What a good Father we have.

Don’t be foolish…

Nowhere does it say that just because we follow Christ that somehow we get an easy ride in life.

Sorry to disappoint you!

I will admit that what I know about God, life, the universe and even myself is far outweighed by what God knows about all of it (even the me part). I’d like to put it around 1% but I think God may chuckle at that (if he does chuckle…just thinking about that for a moment) and he may put it somewhere closer to 0.0000000000000000000000000000000001% of what he knows – and even that is probably a stretch!

There are so many things I just plain don’t understand, and here’s the kicker I’M NOT MEANT TO!! Doesn’t that just stink? We’re not meant to have all the answers and to have it all figured out. So why do we try to so hard?

I read this beautiful scene in my book last night

I mean, you know, do you believe in God? asks Elsa.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe in God, answers the woman.

Because you wonder why God didn’t stop the tsunami?

Because I wonder why there are tsunamis at all.

There is so much pain and suffering in the world and I can’t answer the ‘why’.

Why is there depression, sickness, violence, terrorism, poverty, family breakdown, organ failure, dementia, children starving and dying, divorce, abuse, cancer?

Why is it that Adam and Eve screwed up and the whole of humanity suffers because of that one choice? I don’t know!!

There is a picture, in the chasm of the inter web somewhere (I can’t find it) of God standing in front of a man who has his back to God. God is catching all these things that are being thrown at the man but a few get past and one hits the man. He turns to God in anger and is all like “what the heck God, that hit me” and God is like “that did but look at all the stuff I stopped from hitting you”. I used to really like this image but on my run in the rain this morning I realised this isn’t God at all, because for something to hit us like that would imply he has taken his eye off the ball for a moment or been distracted or couldn’t physically catch one more thing and I doubt that a God who doesn’t even miss the fall of a leaf would be capable of that.

We have Premier Praise one in our house all the time and this morning I heard Matt Redman singing

Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes

But that’s not always true of us now is it?It’s easy to sing when life is going well but how quickly do we turn on God instead of too him when things take a turn for the worse, when suffering come.Because like I said, we are never promised an easy ride in life. That’s not the goal here. The aim isn’t to get to Heaven with the least scratches and scrapes in life “phew that life on earth wasn’t so bad, I don’t know what people were moaning about” the aim is to trust God, that even in the mess and pain of this lifetime that there will be a day of restoration, when all of those things will come to and end, that we will be healed and truly made whole.In the past, when pain and suffering have come I’ve pointed the finger of blame and accusation at God. But I am not the judge here, I am not God and I don’t have to have all the answers. God is God and I have to remember that. I have my part to play in life and God has his part (and I’d rather not have that responsibility so I’ll leave that job to him). All God asks of me, ALL HE ASKS!, is for me to trust him, whatever I’m faced with, whatever storm or trial may come.My question to me and to you is, Do we?