Bring the lies into the light

Over the weekend I went to a women’s breakfast in a nearby Church. They had a guest speaker in talking about how we live in freedom, what it looks like to walk in the freedom He has promised us.

Its so easy to get caught up in the struggles of life isn’t it; financial issues, daily practicalities of getting children here and there, heavy workloads, family relationship difficulties, marital problems, poor mental health, food difficulties and so on, we can forget that the Bible tells us in Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery“.

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Christ came to bring us freedom, imagine what our lives would look like if we could truly take hold of that truth.

One of the things that prevents us from walking in the freedom Christ offers us is that we believe the lies whispered to us. We need to call those lies out into the light and see them for what they are. But we can’t call them out if we don’t even recognise and acknowledge them!

One of the things which struck me at the women’s breakfast was the sentence “the crisis is not the problem, the problem is the lie you believe as a result of the crisis

SAY WHAT…??

the crisis is not the problem, the problem is the lie you believe as a result of the crisis” 

I know how quickly I blame what’s going on in my life for the impact it has on my mood, how I become short-fused, snappy and angry with my husband and children, how I become critical, judgemental, sarcastic and bitter. What if its not the event or situation which causes those behaviour changes but the lies I believe about myself as a result of those circumstances?

Recently we have had a difficult time with one of our children and I have believed a whole lot of lies as a result of that (and I only just recognised this yesterday!!) I have believed that I have failed her as a parent, that I am a rubbish mother and for that matter human being, that she doesn’t think I like or love her, that she resents me and thinks I resent her, that she feels excluded by me, and the lies just keep coming. But you know what I realised yesterday? THEY ARE ALL LIES! And do you know how I know that? Because they don’t match up with what God says about me. Satan was running rings around me and getting me to doubt both who God says he is and who God says I am. If we agree with the lie we empower the demonic, we need to reject the lie and break the agreement with the liar. The speaker yesterday said that “the only power satan has is the power we give to him – don’t give it to him!”

That was such a lightbulb moment for me, I have been giving satan all the power he could need to derail me, to send me off course and really I was doing all the work for him, he just sent in the little seeds of doubt and I watered them for him.

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That’s a lot of effort on my part for nothing but weeds to grow!

But you know what I’ve noticed, there doesn’t need to be a crisis for lies to creep in. Lies can come from just a little self doubt. I have been employed as the family outreach worker for our Church, there haven’t been any big crisis since I started the role but I have doubted my ability and believed my feelings “I’m not doing a good enough job, I should be doing this or that, things aren’t perfect, I feel like I’m failing, I’m rubbish at this, other people would do a much better job, I feel out of my depth”, lies spread out like wildfire from a little bit of doubt and there I am believing that I am not good enough, that I am not enough!

John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” that’s his main goal, and a whisper in my ear was all it took.

Yet these things are not what God says about me, It doesn’t say in the Bible that God sent his son into the world to die for a bunch of people who weren’t good enough, or who weren’t achieving enough,  or who he didn’t particularly care about

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It says that God sent his ONLY son because he loved the world SO much! And yes, we are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God but God sent his son because he wanted a relationship with us, he wanted us to know who we truly are as sons and daughters and not to believe the lies which rob us of that relationship.

So what do we choose to believe? Because it is our choice, we have free will. Do we chose to trust our doubts, fears, insecurities and anxieties? Or do we chose to trust the word of God? Do we chose to believe what we feel about ourselves or do we take those feelings and give them to God?

I know what I am doing, I am taking a step closer to freedom!!

 

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Food glorious food

I love Christmas, I love the decorations, the tree, the lights. I love the carols and candlelight and the Tom Fletcher Christmasaurus cd we have had in the car since mid November (still my favourite).

elf.jpg I love Christmas movies – especially this one! I love Christmas jumpers (I may have 1 or 2) and I love mince-pies, I love a cheeseboard and chutney, I love Christmas cake and Panetone (especially made into bread and butter pudding) and huge boxes of roses/quality street/celebrations…

Yet for me these things are also a real problem at Christmas. It seems that Christmas has become all about excess, why not spend all day grazing on food – who cares if your actually hungry or not, just grab another pig in its cosy little blanket, a few chocolates, glug it down with some Bucksfizz and carry on. Buy as much food as you can in the run up to the big day because the shops will be closed for all of 24 hours and you may run out of brandy butter – heaven forbid!!

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Christmas has become about indulgence and buying way more food that any human needs or can consume. And in the past few weeks of Christmas shopping I have found it really hard, every time you go into the shops you are overwhelmed by boxes of biscuits, towers of chocolates, mince-pie stacks, platters, nibbles and appetisers. And for me it has reached a point where it is overwhelming and I am left with feeling guilty because I want to eat all of it! At the moment I feel I just have to look at a mince-pie and I gain a lb, smell a chocolate and thats another lb.

Yet Christmas should be about coming together with those you love and enjoying yourself, relaxing the diet or health regime and loosening the waistband of your trousers. But all I can think about is that if I eat that tasty little piggy, those mince-pies, that bit of cake and handfuls of chocolate then come the New Year I will be stepping on the scales and beating myself over the head for being so unrestrained and greedy. Because I am an all or nothing – stuffing my face or declining everything – all in or all out – go big or go home right?

weight.jpg  And I know that what these say shouldn’t matter so much but they do.

Over-eating has always been a problem for me, If I feel anxious, upset, out of control, unhappy or bored food is there to lose myself in. If I’m happy or celebrating food is again there as a reward for doing so well, a nice little chocolatey pat on the back. I think you get the picture, whatever is going on in my life food always has a way of showing up.

And I haven’t got any pearls of wisdom for how to survive this festive period, how not to dive off the deep end into a bowl of chocolates and I know I need to be kind to myself, blah, blah, blah, and really what is a few lbs gained (well to me its actually quite a big ‘head’ deal). I know in the past few weeks I have done really well in the not over-eating or using food to numb painful feelings or as a coping method for when I’ve had a crappy day and just because I may eat a little more over Christmas doesn’t mean I’ve ruined everything I’ve achieved in the past few months. I don’t have to use my previous negative experience of food as a measure of how well I am doing at being a human being.

The one thing I do know though is that my weight does not define me in the way it used to. Before I would spiral into self loathing – I’m so disgusting, I’m fat and ugly,I’m weak and stupid, I’m a horrible human being. While I may get frustrated by my lack of self-control (which I’m still working on) It doesn’t lead me to such dark places. I still don’t listen to the voice which tells me to use laxatives or to purge in some way. My exercise levels stay in normal healthy parameters. I know that I am loved by God no matter what the scales say, he doesn’t despise me because my weight went up by a few lbs. I know Carl loves me whatever weight I’m at and isn’t repulsed by the sight of me and I know my kids love their mummy and are only concerned when they think I’ve missed a meal (which doesn’t happen that much anymore). The thing I still need God’s help in is loving myself the way others do, believing that I am worth some self care, gentleness and kindness. This I am still following God’s lead on.

I don’t know how Christmas is for you, maybe the food quantities aren’t such a big deal for you, maybe you feel the pressure of the season in some other way, gifts, family, travel, finance. But for each of us my prayer would be that we can all find a way through the festivities to Jesus, that we wouldn’t consume so much that we are consumed by the season and forget the real reason. That we would know that we are each loved even if we find it hard to love ourselves.

Blessings to you at Christmas time xx

 

How do I care for my child’s mental health?

This is quite a tough one to blog about because it isn’t directly about me, well in some ways it is but in others it isn’t. The focus of this blog is about my child, who, for the sake of their privacy I will refer to as Brown. If you know us personally I’d be grateful if you did too and that you didn’t speak to Brown or in front of Brown about this.

It was about 18 months ago that my precious child started to struggle with anger issue. And I don’t mean little tantrums and paddies “oh yes every child gets angry it’s just a part of growing up” or “they do it because they feel safe and secure with you and Carl”, I mean full blown, out of control, screaming. I mean a complete change in their facial makeup where they are not themselves anymore. I mean frightening and upsetting for them and those in close proximity.

It’s a funny one, when you say to people that your child struggles with anger they don’t quite get it. This is another level of anger. It’s not getting cross and having a shout or cry, for us this could be hours and hours of destructive behaviour, shouting and crying, physically threatening siblings and hitting out at Carl and I. Brown would go from screaming and lashing out at things or people, to trashing the bedroom or damaging things that belonged to other people.

In the past 18 months we have explored play therapy as an outlet for Brown, giving a safe space for feelings, thoughts, concerns and anxieties to come out. For Brown I’m not sure how much it helped. It didn’t seem to give Brown any strategies to put in place for when the anger starts to bubble up.

I have noticed that Brown starts to get angry when Brown doesn’t get their own way but from there it escalates so rapidly you can’t catch it, it’s already too late. It’s 0-60 and then some! Brown will lash out at whoever or whatever is nearest. Yesterday my clothes airer took the brunt of the anger, that and Browns two siblings who were home at the time. Both of whom were left crying.

As a parent of a child who struggles to express anger in a healthy way it breaks my heart to see. Brown can’t or won’t choose to find and practise healthy outlets. Lashing out and attacking is the easy path and the one that has been well travelled for 18 months.

The worst part is that as we don’t find ways to help and support Brown it becomes more and more natural for Brown to explode as a ‘normal’ expression for anger.

As a parent i keep looking for outside ways to help us and Brown; strategies to put in place, books to read, games we can play, words to expresses anger.

This morning I was listening to Lauren Daigle as I was getting ready for church and the song “Everything” was playing.

Even the sparrow has a place to lay its head
So why would I let worries steal my breath?
Even the roses, You have glowed them brilliant red
Still I’m the one You love more than this

You give me everything
You give me everything
You give me everything I need

Even the oceans push and pull at Your command
So You can still my heart with Your hand
You tell the seasons when it’s time for them to turn
So I will trust You even when it hurts

You give me everything
You give me everything
You give me everything I need
You give me everything
You give me everything
You give me everything I need

When I can’t see, You lead me
When I can’t hear, You show me
When I can’t stand, You carry me
When I’m lost, You will find me
When I’m weak, You are mighty
You are everything I need

This morning, after a weekend of anger flare ups, and after Brown had asked me if I hated them or if I’d rather they were dead (what parent who wants to hear that from their child??) I desperately needed to hear and be reminded that God has given me everything I need. When I can’t see the path ahead of us, when I pray to God for help but can’t hear him, when I feel like I just can’t stand as a parent anymore, when I feel lost and weak on this journey and want to throw my hands up in the air and just say “I quit”, God gently whispers to me that He has given me everything I need.

Even before this morning he was trying to tell me. I watched The Nutcracker yesterday and one of the lines reached out to me “everything you need is inside”
Everything you need is inside
God has given me what I need and it’s inside of me, God has given me the Holy Spirit, he is with me always. I am never abandoned on this journey of parenting even though I may feel as though I am.
I put this quote on Facebook the other day
And a lady in Church grabbed me this morning and told me it wasn’t true. That it is clear that I love my children very much and I have the light of Jesus which shines from within me.
Much better than caffeine!

We had a great preach in church this morning, and the speaker asked us “What is God restoring in your life?” From my current place of brokenness as a parent, what is God restoring? Because I KNOW that God is still working, he hasn’t left Carl and I in this place. He hasn’t given up on us, he doesn’t see our family as a lost cause but he is fighting for us and for Brown and for our other children who are massively affected by the emotional temperature of our home. He is still present and The Joy of the Lord is my strength.

He has given me everything I need as he has for you.

God bless you and your families, and mine!

If only you really knew…

One of the things about writing a blog is that I get some lovely feedback. It can be really encouraging and an affirmation that I am following a call I believe God has given me, to speak about my experience in the hope that it can give others a voice and place to be heard.

A few days ago I was given a lovely encouragement “you write very honestly and helpfully, keep it up”.

This was a beautiful expression of support yet my first thought was

if only you knew the bits that I keep hidden, the parts that I don’t share, the areas that are still shame filled and therefore kept away, not to be read or seen not to be shared publicly

That was it and for some reason it sent me into somewhat of a downward spiral.

When I write a blog post I get to choose what is written. I get to read back through and edit it to make myself sound more Christ-like, more worthy. I don’t have to publish the parts that are still a work in progress, those areas I struggle with. I get to paint myself however I choose to. I can present one face while keeping another hidden.

I have written in the past about depression and my eating disorder but I realised a few weeks ago that I still struggle with my eating disorder. It has not been left in the past but is still a part of my day to day. While I no longer use laxatives to purge I do still use food as both a comfort and a reward, a way to numb and a way to celebrate. I still look at food in terms of ‘how worth it is to consume’ and whether I will regret it later. I still skip meals here and there and tell myself that it’s ok because I’m not purging. I still look at the scales with disappointment and frustration.

But it’s not ok, it’s hiding a part of me because that part isn’t ‘complete’, I am not able to stand on the victory and say “I have come through this and there is hope for you” instead it leaves me with shame. When it comes to food I do not seem to be able to practise what I preach to others. Others are allowed to make mistakes and start again yet I hold myself to a higher standard where failing doesn’t seem to be ok or allowed. Because by now I should be able to do this differently.

Today these feelings of guilt and shame left me feeling like a shell of myself. There but not quite there.

I found this Ann Voskamp quote the other day

So today this is what I hold true to, I get to take these messy feelings and give them to God. I don’t have to do anything with them I just have to hand them over and say

God I don’t know what to do with these but I know that you do

That’s it, no more no less.

The lady that gave me the encouragement also mentioned a verse she is due to speak on (which I looked up)

Zephaniah 3:17

The Lord your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing

God IS with me in the middle of my mess and he WILL have the victory. My story isn’t over yet, I will be renewed through his love for me and he sings over me at the top of his voice.

No matter how I see or feel about my present circumstance I am still Gods beloved. That I know to be true.

I pray you may know that for yourself too.

God is good. All the time?

In our Church we’ve talked quite a bit about mental health recently, and I love that.

I love that mental health and wellness is becoming more a part of ‘normal’ conversation, that it’s not so much of a thing to hide from or feel uncomfortable around. That we are feeling more confident to be able to say what we’ve been up to during the week and to talk about how our mental health has been. That they don’t have to be separate or only for a certain time.

Hey, so how’s your week been?

It’s been ok, I went for lunch with a good friend, I popped in on so & so for coffee, Wednesday I wasn’t doing so great so I gave myself some space just to breathe

Why shouldn’t it feel that easy? Not every moment needs to turn into a big counselling session, sometimes the most positive thing is for people to feel that they’ve been heard, truly listened to. Without fixes or advice being given but simply heard and validated.

This morning in Church we sang Blesséd be your name (Matt Redman)

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful 
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name
Every blessing You pour out, I’ll 
Turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name
Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering 
Though there’s pain in the offering 
Blessed be Your name
Every blessing You pour out I’ll 
Turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name
Blessed be Your name
You give and take away
God give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

And it struck me, it’s easy isn’t it, when things are plentiful and there is abundance, when the sun is shining on us, it’s easy to see that God is good, to trust that he is our good faithful Father and that he only has good for us. It’s easy to praise God for the blessings in our lives.

But…

When life is harder, when we’re in the desert, when all we see is the wilderness surrounding us, when there is nothingness, when we face suffering, pain and darkness is God still good then? Does he still have good things for us even though we can’t see the light in our darkness? Is God still our good faithful Father? Do we still sing praise to God’s glorious name?

We can easily fall into a trap where the Bible can be used against us and God, verses like Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.

So if I’m experiencing poor mental health, if I’m suffering, what am I doing wrong? why am I not prospering? why do I not feel God’s blessing? why do I feel so far from God or that God has gone silent on me, where is my hope? Is my faith just not enough because I’m not experiencing the blessing that the Bible promises me?

I don’t have an answer for that but I do know that suffering with poor mental health is not a sign of a lack of faith or that our prayer life just isn’t enough. I do know that this battle has already been won and we are victorious!

Suffering comes to us all in one form or another, whether that be through the loss of a loved one, illness, financial problems, mental illness, family breakdown. Following Christ doesn’t give us a golden ticket to a pain free life. So why bother? If following Jesus doesn’t save me from pain and hurt why give my life to that?

Because in that there is Hope.

Hope that one day God is going to restore all that has been lost and taken. That we can hold onto Genesis 50:20 ‘you intended to harm me, but God intended it for good, to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives’.

Does that make our pain or suffering any less real in the here and now? Of course it doesn’t but it gives us strength, that whatever we face now we do not face alone. We have a God who has gone before us and yet is with us right now in the midst of our pain.

When we are in those dark places we often call to mind Ephesians 6:13 “therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand”. There are days when it even feels a struggle to just stand, situations press on us from every angle and they feel relentless. We can’t seem to summon even a small amount of strength to just stand, it’s too much. I think in these times God just wants us to reach out even just a finger to him. “God I can’t do this, it’s too hard, I don’t see the way forward and feel like I’m being buried under the weight of what I’m facing, all I can reach out is my little finger, is it enough?” And God is on it in a flash. We may not experience a change in our situation, we may still have pressure from all directions but God is in it with us because he never once left us in it.

One of my favourite lines from Matts song is

My heart will choose to say

We have a choice, either we choose to praise God in our suffering or we don’t, either we choose to believe in the God of miracles or we don’t, either we choose to confide in others or we don’t, either we choose to reach out even just a finger to God or we don’t. That is our choice, God isn’t going to bulldozer into our suffering without our permission. “You didn’t invite me in but I’m here anyway”. We are not passive in our faith, we get an active role.

So is God good all the time? You tell me.

International day of the girl

This is me aged 15! (Or as close a photo as I had)

If I was 15 again, I would tell myself to not be so desperate to grow up.

I would tell myself that school only lasts for a short amount of time. I would encourage myself to go and find out what my passions are and to follow after then. I would tell myself to take risks.

I would tell myself to be a little kinder to myself and to speak more positively to myself. I would tell myself “believe the nice things people say about you”.

I would also tell myself to allow people to take my picture and not hide from the camera so much.

Its International Day of the Girl I’m helping to raise awareness of girls living in poverty that lack trusted sources of advice on women’s health, relationships, education or employment. @CompassionUK has launched a new project in Brazil to empower girls, giving them desperately needed #AdviceForGirls and helping them make informed choices about their futures.

Join me in supporting these girls by posting a photo of your 15 year old self along with a piece of advice you’d give yourself looking back, and then donate £4 by texting EMPOWER to 70140 and give two girls in Brazil hope that their future could be different.

#AdviceForGirls #tbt #dayofthegirl (For text to donate T&Cs visit http://www.compassionuk.org/empower)

Not how many, but who!

A few weeks back Carl and I attended a conference on how to lead well while also taking care of your own mental health.

During that day World Mental Health day was mentioned a lot and I came away with a real sense of God saying “you need to do something on that day”.

We had 10 days to get sorted. No pressure!

I felt that something like a tea and chat would be a safe setting for people to come along to so we advertised a mental health coffee morning, the idea being that Carl and I would share from our individual experiences both as someone with poor mental health (depression and an eating disorder) and as one supporting someone with poor mental health and then we would leave the rest of the time to conversation.

A few days before our coffee morning someone said to me “I hope it is the success you need it to be”. Well I jumped on my little high and mighty horse thinking “I don’t need it to be a success, I’m doing what God has placed on my heart to do, it doesn’t matter to me how many people come along “, what a good obedient Christian I am look!

Ha, turned out I was wrong! I completely believe things to be a success or a failure on the number of people that come along not about what happens for them on a personal level. I want to boast with my trumpet “look at what I’ve done for God, aren’t I amazing, look just how many people came along”.

My worth is tied to doing not being

This coffee morning was about me striving to achieve worth from God (I know, I’m still working on it!) It’s like I think that if something like a coffee morning attracts a lot of people (if there’s weeping and wailing all the better) then God is looking down on me saying “well done my good and faithful daughter, I see what great things you’ve done for the kingdom”.

But it isn’t or it shouldn’t be about numbers!

There was a lovely small group of people who did come along this morning and who were brave and vulnerable, honest and open. Would they have been so open had the room been full? Maybe not, that’s not for me to guess at. The point is that for those who came this morning there was a space to say out loud “this is/was my story”, and it was precious.

God doesn’t love me more or less dependant on my actions or how many people I signpost to him, he loves me just because he does.

So this afternoon I looked after my own mental health, I spend time with a friend and I got outside and went for a run and I realised (again) that God loves me just because he does. I can’t earn it. It is just a beautiful fact that I am learning to accept a moment at a moment.

It is beloved not doloved

I’m a VSP and so are you!

Today Carl and I attended a conference called Lead Well from the incredible Mind and Soul foundation. The idea being how we, as leaders in the Church, can both take care of our own mental well-being but also that of those within our community.

WOW, what a conference. So much content packed into one day. The big thing I’ve come away with is that yes the mental health conversations going on are great and very important, but now is the time to move beyond just conversation into how we as the Church point people towards wellness. A bigger vision of enabling people and releasing them into a better place.

Mental health MATTERS

Emotional health MATTERS

Wellness MATTERS

As a Church we should be leading the way in educating, equipping and encouraging.

Is that what we’re doing?

As a people we can all too often believe that we can change ourselves just enough so that we will become acceptable in Gods eyes. In truth we can’t do it in our own strength, there is just no way! It can only be Jesus in us. Will Van Der Hart said Jesus became our shame so we could become his righteousness. God looks at us and sees Jesus.

The powerful reminder I received today was that we can be in the midst of struggle, we can feel hemmed in on all sides, completely surrounded by adversity BUT, and here’s the cracker, there can still be life in the midst of it all. We don’t have to believe the lie that God can’t/won’t use us because we have panic attacks, suffer with anxiety, am on medication for depression, have an eating disorder or suicidal thoughts. God can still use us despite the circumstances we believe discount us. What we think counts us out can actually give us integrity, compassion and authenticity.

How amazing is that? We can be in the greatest difficulty but also experience our greatest freedom.

We all too often believe that if things around us are difficult we must be acting outside of God’s purpose for our lives but we can actually be exactly where God wants us and still be encircled by suffering and affliction. Do we give up and fold or do we press in? It may look like we are surrounded and have no way out but we are also surrounded by an almighty omnipresent omnipotent God, the God of the impossible and He is ready to fight on our behalf.

As Christians we live in a world where we have to balance our FAITH in God with our call to ACTION. We are not passive when it comes to our mental wellbeing. Rob Waller used the analogy of a Church roof, which is not only held up by prayer but was designed by an architect, is held up by massive supports put in place by skilled people and prayer. Rachael Newham said she takes two pills a day, one for asthma and one for depression. We are not passive, we hold a tension of faith in a God who heals and action, what we practically need to do.

I have many times wondered what the point of my blog was, was it not just self indulgent and proud? Today God gave me a glimpse of why he lead me to do it. Patrick Regan said we need to step out of the shame of our experience and own our story. Blogging is one way for me to step from the shadow of shame and say with vulnerability and honesty, This is me! My blog is not about self indulgence and blowing my trumpet check me out. It is me practising self care and self compassion. I am just like you, I don’t have this life figured out I’m still on the path, just one foot in front of the other. I’m broken and you’re broken.

The fantastic Patrick and Diane Regan from Kintsugi Hope used the Japanese illustration of repairing broken pottery with gold powder.

The thing which was broken cannot just be glued back to its original state but it can be made into something with far more beauty.

The scars of our lives are not to be hidden, for they make us who we are. There is treasure in life’s scars

I want to be part of a church which welcomes people however they walk through the door, whatever they carry with them. I want people to feel they can forget the mask of “okness” and crawl through the door on their knees saying I made it! The church needs to be ready, ready to pray with people effectively, without condemnation or judgement or trite platitudes.

So why are we VSP’s? We are VERY SPECIAL PEOPLE and God looks at us and smiles. Despite the things we see in ourselves which we believe to be unlovable. Can we own that?

I misplaced my compass

So this morning I had a little lightbulb moment. I think it was as I was congratulating myself on doing a great parenting job (haha) as Phoebe seems to be settling well into secondary school. Credit to ME!!

If she was unhappy I would be beating myself up for somehow failing her. She’s happy and content so somehow that’s down to me making the “right” choices for her. Even though I don’t actually step through the school doors. I’m not even the one walking her to the bus!

And then off went the tiniest little ping of a lightbulb switching on in my head

I think I’ve been pretty clear in how I have struggled with the changes to our family as our eldest has gone from primary to secondary school. The pain of letting her go out a big further into the world and away from us. These past couple of weeks have felt a bit like being in a storm. (and I get seasick). This morning God gently pointed out that during this storm I had put down my compass and tried to take hold of the navigation map for the lives of me and my family.

Only problem is, I don’t know how to read the map!! (Spoiler alert…I’m not meant to!)

I could suddenly see that I had desperately been trying to keep control, so much so that my knuckles were turning white and I was making myself feel ill.

If the kids are happy in school, if Phoebe loves secondary school and never has a bad day, if they never get told off or have someone be mean or spiteful to them, if they never feel pain or rejection or their hearts hurting through humiliation then I will be ok, because I have protected them and kept them safe from a cruel world. I will have fulfilled my roll as the perfect parent.

But how wrong is this?!

If I have not given each of my children the foundations they need to go out bravely into this world, with their identities firmly rooted, knowing that difficult times will most likely come their way then when the storm comes they will be blown off course. If they do not know and rely on their true north compass then they will believe they are going in the right direction only to find out there been slowly going off course for a long time without even realising it. And you can go a long way off course before you notice the mistake!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

I wasn’t doing this, I wasn’t trusting God and I wasn’t submitting. I was fighting for control, thinking I knew best and believing I could navigate an easier smoother path. Trusting myself rather than God, relying on myself rather than God, leaning on my own understanding and not Gods. But as I was reminded by Jennifer Dukes Lee, the goal is obedience not wisdom! And it’s a daily choice.

The path isn’t always going to be bump free is it. And it’s my job as a parent to give my children the tools to call on when the weather gets a bit stormy. Because I won’t, I CAN’T always be there. I will fail them, make the wrong choices and let them down – I am a human, but God is God and he is with them all the time.

I can trust in the truth that God loves my children more than I ever could. And when the hard times come I can deeply know that they have a God who is always with them, always for them and who can bring good from any situation.

Gods got this!

I just wasn’t prepared

Here we are at the beginning of week 2 and I still feel like the hot mess I was last week, despite the fact that Phoebe has (so far) enjoyed her first few days of secondary school.

This morning we changed it up for her and we had her get the bus to school, this small thing left me feeling like such a horrible mummy. Phoebe has never got on a bus on her own before, what if there are mean girls who pick on her everyday? what if she gets lost? (she can’t, the bus stops right outside school) what if, what if, what if!

I see my friend at school and have a little cry because this letting your children go, even if it’s just this little bit, is so flipping hard and it hurts so much. When you have a baby everyone tells you how it’s like this love you’ve never experienced, this love for this tiny human. What people don’t tell you is that as these precious human beings go out into the world and step away from you it’s like they take a chunk of your heart with them.

I can’t even think what I’ll be like if/when they go to university.

I go food shopping with Abigail all the while worrying about Phoebe, is she going to spend the whole day worry about getting the right bus at the end of the day? will she keep hold of her ticket? what if she ends up on the wrong bus headed to who knows where, will anybody help her out?

So I worry. I worry about it more than I pray about it. I try to send little arrow prayers up to God

Please be with her

Send her a friend

Don’t let her be anxious

Hold on to her for me

Keep her safe

I know this is all part of life, having children and guiding them as they grow up and head out into the world, I just feel that we could have prepared her (and me) slightly better for this stage.

She is still my baby, she’s my first born and I desperately want to hold her hand (while she’ll still let me) and walk with her. But I can’t, (I mean I could get the bus with her but that would be embarrassing) I can’t step in every time someone says something hurtful, I can’t go to every class and meet her for lunch just to check she’s ok, I have to trust that there is a God who loves her more than I do, who is with her every moment of every hour, who is there when the teacher is cross or the classmate says something hurtful or when she gets lost or doesn’t understand what’s being asked of her. I can’t be there for all those things, and it hurts so much that I can’t be. But God is, God is with her just as he is with me as I wobble and get teary about letting go, even if it’s just a little, of my beautiful young daughter.