Little life snippets

Back to School

As a full time working mum, the summer holidays don’t change much for me, except when we take a holiday or time off with the kids it’s pretty much business as usual (thanks to my awesome wee mummy and some additional childcare) with an exciting family trip to the school gates on Evie’s first day back.

But I think it’s important to view things from different angles, to consider other people’s perspectives and not just assume that we all have the exact same approach or thoughts – we’re all different.

So I asked a good chum of mine for some thoughts on “Back to School” from her viewpoint as an awesome mum of three boys…

“Everyone has their own feelings about their children going back to school. I know parents who would prefer to home school, I know parents that get upset when their children go back to school. I know grandparents that mind them all over the holidays and can’t wait to get the break but feel awful admitting it. I know stay at home mums who want to jump for joy that first day back because they knows they’re going to be able to breathe for a few hours and get their minds back to where it should be. (I know this mum because I am her). I honestly, truly had been counting down the days until school started.

When my eldest went back on Tuesday I was shouting “1 down, 2 to go!” The “middle one” started back on Wednesday and, yep, I was shouting “2 down, 1 to go!” I have a 3-year-old starting nursery on Monday, for 1 hour per day and I can honestly say, I cannot wait! He also cannot wait! That hour for us both will be glorious. We need a break from each other.

It has been a fun, love filled, long, worn out summer. We have had a wonderful time, together and with family and friends. But… I am exhausted.

I have felt myself this past 2 weeks losing my mind. My children have decided they no longer need to listen, they have decided that routine is not for them and that their house is a dumping ground.

I would consider myself a pretty laid-back person. Usually I can laugh my way through the tantrums. But, this past 2 weeks, I have cried my way through the tantrums. I have found myself on the floor of my landing, with my hands in my head, begging God to take over. The good thing about that is, He’s a God that likes to strengthen, He is a God who feels my struggle and knows exactly what we all need.

Ha-ha! I know reading this, some may doubt it, but I love my children very much and I am very blessed to have them and I in no way am looking rid of them. But, for my sanity and theirs, we all need a break, we need routine and we need to miss each other for a minute.

The two big ones are loving school and loving being back in contact with their school friends. My eldest is even enjoying homework!!!! And so far, I am loving the routine and the early nights.

So, whether you’re sad or glad to see your children go back to school, enjoy it! And don’t forget to pray for the teachers (they’ll need it).”

 

Worship Wednesdays

Your Hands

Until this week I had never heard of Andrew Stoecklein, the Lead Pastor of Inland Hills Church in Chino, California. Today I wept as I read the letter his wife penned just days after his death. I can’t imagine the pain of losing a loved one to suicide. I suppose the shock of this tragedy is that Andrew was a Pastor but then when you really think about it… we expect so much from our Pastors, they sacrifice so much of their lives and yet do we support them? Do we build them up? Or is it always a one way street? Are we always looking for them to show up with some big inspirational message to encourage us and to tell us that everything is going to be ok when they might be facing tough times and in need of encouragement or a shoulder to cry on?

My heart breaks for Kayla – her life and future have been turned upside down but she demonstrates so much strength as she continues to look to our Constant Friend to get her through…

To My Andrew,

It’s only been 3 days. Nothing can take away the suffocating pain I feel now you are gone. I miss every part of you, I see you everywhere. I replay the events of that fateful day over and over again in my mind wishing I could have done things differently. Wishing I could have held your hand one more time and prayed over you and told you how much I love you, how much I believe in you, and how God’s got this too.

You were right all along, I truly didn’t understand the depths of your depression and anxiety. I didn’t understand how real and how relentless the spiritual attacks were. The pain, the fear, and the turmoil you must have been dealing with every single day is unimaginable. The enemy knew what an amazing man you were. The enemy knew God had huge plans for your life. The enemy saw how God was using your gifts, abilities, and unique teaching style to reach thousands of lives for Him. The enemy hated it and he pursued you incessantly. Taunting you and torturing you in ways that you were unable to express to anyone.

Andrew I want to tell you from the depths of my heart and my pain I am so sorry.

I am so sorry you were so scared,

I am so sorry you felt so alone,

I am so sorry you felt misunderstood,

I am so sorry you felt betrayed and deeply hurt by the words and actions of others,

I am so sorry you were fighting a dark spiritual war virtually alone,

I am so sorry you were unable to fully get the help and support you needed.

I wish I had one more chance to hold you and cry with you and encourage you. I wish you could see the outpouring of love from people all over the world who have been impacted by your story. I wish you could hold your boys one more time and tell them goodbye. I wish we could go on one more trip together, just the two of us. I am not ready to say goodbye. I am so madly and deeply in love with you. Every part of me longs to be with you. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I can’t function and I feel so lost without you. You were my life. I was so proud to be your wife Andrew. I was so proud to sit in the front row and watch you in your sweet spot on stage. I was always so amazed by you, every single day. You could do anything you set your mind to! You were handy, you made every home we lived in look beautiful inside and out. You were creative, you were funny, you were thoughtful, you were passionate, you had vision, you had charisma, and you were so special. You are irreplaceable Andrew. There will never be another man like you.

I want to tell you that I am never going to stop fighting for you. I will continue to tell our community and our world what an amazing man you were. Your name will be honored and you will be remembered as a hero. You fought the good fight, and I can only imagine the incredible place God had prepared for you when you walked through the gates of heaven. I can only imagine what it must have felt like to see your dad again, healthy and strong. I can only imagine how much joy you must feel now that you are truly free. I wish I could be there with you, celebrating on the streets of gold. But for now, I will continue to live for you. I will raise our boys to be men of God, just like you were. Your name will live on in a powerful way. Your story has the power to save lives, change lives, and transform the way the Church supports pastors.

I love you so much and I will miss you every single day for the rest of my life. When I think of you I will smile, knowing that I will see you again one day. Thank you for 10 wonderful years together. Thank you for giving me the gift of three beautiful blue eyed boys who all resemble you. Thank you for choosing me, for believing in me, and for showing me how to live fearlessly.

Until we meet again I will cling to my Father in heaven. He will carry me through every second, every minute, every hour of every day. I read a verse this morning and I know God is reminding me that even now, in the midst of my deepest pain that He has got this.

“Because you are close to me and always available my confidence will never be shaken, for I experience your wrap-around presence every moment.” Psalm 16:8 (TPT)

With all my heart and all my love,

Your Girl

 

I urge you to not only pray for this grieving family but to pray for your Pastors. Take some time to think about how you can help them, how you can encourage them and how you can take some of the burden from them as they give their all to serve God and you!

As I read this letter I thought of a beautiful song by JJ Heller that I hope encourages someone tonight.

 

 

Little life snippets, Thoughts & Ponderings

Be Extravagantly Generous

Last week, my big baby bird Evie decided to clear out her pyjamas – she is the Imelda Marcos of PJs! In the midst of her emotional strop about how some of her PJs didn’t fit her anymore I may have used the old Mummy guilt trip line “Well there are kids in Africa that would be glad to have one pair of pyjamas never mind seven!”. (Similar comments can be used when the kids try to waste food, complain about not having the newest version of a toy or when the Santa list is being prepared).

Well that certainly changed the mood and brought my usually very kind hearted 6 year old back down to earth with a bang. Next thing I knew we were discussing if we could or couldn’t ship PJs to India and how maybe we could organise a fundraiser for our friends at Angel House India so that the kids moving into the orphanage when it’s finished could have nice new pyjamas to wear. A week on, I’ve put the wheels in motion for some fundraising events (watch this space!) and the pile of PJs Evie has outgrown are doing my head in as they’re still lying in the same spot in the landing. But in a strange way, that pile of PJs has become my motivation to follow through with a little idea that was niggling in my head to what is now a crazy fun idea that I hope to share with you all in the very near future if we can pull it off!

Isn’t it funny how when you get something in your head the Lord keeps popping up as if to reinforce you’re on the right path?! The other evening I was watching wee Aimee Joy washing her face whilst wearing her new PJs and trainers that I picked up in Tescos for a wee bargain at the weekend when it struck me just how blessed my kids are to have what we see as basics but so many would consider luxury – but do my kids realise it? In a world obsessed with Kardashians can I convince my girls to consider looking for inspiration for life by reading about the work of Amy Carmichael, Corrie Ten Boom or the founder of the A21 Campaign, Christine Caine . I think that’s a challenge we should set ourselves as parents – to teach our children what is best summed up in 1 Timothy 6:17-19 (MSG)…

Tell those rich in this world’s wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage – to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life.

Then today, my wee chum Janet popped up and shared this short video update on Facebook from Angel House India (copy and paste link below into browser or go to our FB page for video) and I knew I just had to share it in the hope that it makes someone else think about how they can be even just a little generous (although extravagantly would be fab!) with what you have – whether it’s time, money, creativity or passion, can you help the team put the finishing touches on the orphanage?

https://www.facebook.com/janetraja/videos/10156454765170281/

 

 

Thoughts & Ponderings

Aspire to make a difference

I skipped Worship Wednesday last night due to a busy work day and rare date night with hubby. I’d grand ideas that I’d get the girls to bed tonight early and share a fab worship song with you all. But sometimes in life God steps in and we realise that he has better plans.

Bedtime wasn’t easy, I’ve only just had a wee snack as a late dinner and I didn’t know where to start! But our Constant Friend spoke to me in a way only he can. So instead of my thoughts on a worship song tonight I’m going to share with you an awesome message from Oscar winner Denzel Washington. It totally blew me away and I really would urge you to spare 8 and a half mins to hear what he has to say – it certainly gave me food for thought!

 

 

Little life snippets, Worship Wednesdays

Clear the Stage

Tonight, after we got the girls to bed I took the head staggers (Not sure how to translate this for non-NI followers! Lol) and cleared out my clothes! I’d been putting it off for weeks and my wardrobe had morphed into a ‘floor-drobe’. As we’ve family coming to stay this weekend I decided I couldn’t put it off any longer – my mother would have been horrified if she’d seen it (Sorry mum!).  So everything else was put on hold, hubby stayed out of the way downstairs (sensible man) and I had a ruthless clear out – 3 bin bags later I’m ready to head back downstairs and continue on with the rest of the evening tasks. I’ll be honest, before I started I hadn’t a clue what I was going to share for today’s Worship Wednesday.

By refusing to put this massive task off any longer and facing it head on I feel like I’ve really accomplished a lot in a couple of hours and I’m well pleased with myself. It reminded me of a song that I heard just last weekend that keeps looping round in my head …

Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze

Sometimes in life, we will face situations that require us to take time out, putting everything else on hold while we spend time alone with our Constant Friend – we might have a dozen chores waiting on us but if we really want to hear from him and seek his plans for our life then we have to be willing to…

Take a break from all the plans that you have made
And sit at home alone and wait for God to whisper
Beg him please to open up his mouth and speak
And pray for real upon your knees until they blister

I think the words of this song really give us something to think about and it doesn’t need me to elaborate any further. But let me share one final thought from the book of Matthew..

““Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Matthew‬ ‭6:6-8 ‭MSG‬

Just like I’m glad I finally did my wardrobe clear out – you’ll never regret setting that time aside to clear the stage and seek the Lord.

 

 

 

Little life snippets, Worship Wednesdays

My Lighthouse

I’ve just returned from a lovely holiday in Auld Reekie with hubby and the girls. I keep welling up just thinking about how fantastic it was. It wasn’t the type of summer holiday we normally organise – we walked for miles, did lots of fun activities and enjoyed quality time with extended family (last year we did a soak up the rays and spend the day in the pool type holiday in Portugal).

Edinburgh holds a unique place in our hearts, especially hubby’s as he spent a lot of time visiting his family on the Royal Mile in his younger years – and this trip was long overdue. From start to finish it was so very special; yes the girls threw a few tantrums and eating out was a little difficult at times when they didn’t want to play ball but we still had an awesome time. There were little moments that were so personal and emotional that I can’t find the words to describe them right now and I may never – I’m a real believer that sometimes truly extraordinary memories should be kept private.

Nine years ago today I met my handsome hubby – it’s a date that means a lot to us so it was lovely to finish our trip off this morning with a yummy brunch with the girls in one of our new found faves on The Shore in Leith (Mimi’s Bakehouse).

Fast forward to thirteen months after we met and we got engaged after a very romantic proposal just beside Nelson’s Monument on Calton Hill. You’re probably understanding now why this trip was so special for us. This morning I got to thinking about that tower built in memory of Admiral Horatio Nelson and it’s history. It was built in the early 1800s as a signal mast and a time ball was installed in 1853 to act as a time signal to the ships in Edinburgh’s port of Leith. I quickly fell down a rabbit hole of Wiki and Google links to learn more that led me to a quote from the man himself – six simple words but so poignant..

I cannot command winds and weather.

Evie’s favourite song at the minute is the track I’m sharing today – it’s been in my head for weeks but it spoke to me in a very special way today. We can’t change the weather, we have no guarantee of a smooth sailing every day – but our Constant Friend will always be there standing firm and guiding us through whatever wind and weather we face..

My lighthouse, my lighthouse
Shining in the darkness. I will follow You
My lighthouse, my lighthouse
I will trust the promise
You will carry me safe to shore

I’ve always understood the first part about the Lord being our lighthouse but it’s the last line of the chorus that touched me today. He’ll carry us safe to shore – God won’t just drop us any old place hoping for the best. He will carry us safe to shore and leave us exactly where we need to be. When I look back on my life, in fact even in the present, I can see the Lord carrying me safe to shore…

After a hard day at work I come home to my loving family who cuddle me and care for me. My safe shore.

When we get some time off from the craziness of life – the Lord blesses us with great adventures and a time to chill together as a family. Our safe shore.

As we were about to settle down and start a family the Lord showed me the tree to climb just like Zacchaeus to set me on a different course with a new church family at House of Worship (that’s a story for another day). Our safe shore.

Our family home is a miracle in itself and the Lord was definitely moving during our house moving “adventures” (I’ve vowed never to move again after the experience we had but we got there in the end). Our safe shore. 

That day nine years ago when I set off paintballing with friends and met the man who would capture my heart, become the love of my life and an amazing daddy to my daughters  – I know it was all part of the promise and plan my Constant Friend had for my life. My safe shore. 

“ Lord , help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor!
Psalms 107:28‭-‬30 NLT

We aren’t promised a life without storms but we need to be prepared to trust in the Lighthouse who leads us through the storms and offers us peace in our troubled seas if we let it guide us.

 

 

Worship Wednesdays

Forever on your side

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about the friends and family that the Lord places in our lives. I’m truly blessed with a strong support system in my hubby, family and friends to help me through the crazy days and to make fab memories with on the good days. God never intended us to walk this journey alone, spiritually or physically…

“The Lord God said, “It isn’t good for the man to live alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.””
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:18‬ ‭CEV‬

I was listening to this Needtobreathe song this week and it struck me that this is what friendship and love is all about. We should be taking the example of our Constant Friend in all of our relationships to strengthen each other and support each other through every high, low and in between. Because one thing we can be sure of is that we won’t always have an easy ride, there will be times when we want to curl up in a little ball and shut out the world but God meant for us to support each other.

Oh I can’t promise that a day will never come
Where the ground beneath us falls out and you got nowhere to run
Oh but you won’t be alone when the water starts to rise up
No you won’t be alone my darling when the rains come

In Belfast we’ve seen a rise in suicides – it breaks my heart to think that someone could get to that point but in a world that is so self-absorbed, so full of pressures and unattainable images it’s increasingly common to find someone who doesn’t realise just how loved and special they are. Imagine if everyone knew they not only had a friend in Jesus but also a friend who will literally stand beside them and hold their hand no matter what they face.

Think about the words of this song and consider who in your life might need a hand to hold or someone to carry them for a little while just like that image in the well known Footprints poem. Why not reach out and let someone know that our Constant Friend has taught us to pass on the love and friendship that he offers us…

Take my hand when you can’t see the light
‘Cause I’m forever on your side
I will carry you every time
Because I’m forever on your side