Little life snippets, Worship Wednesdays

None but Jesus

The word SILENCE has a few different connotations for me – some positive, some negative!

Silence” – with French pronunciation always reminds me of my first year French teacher! Our class loved to chat so she was always telling us to be quiet in a dramatic French accent.

In the crazy madness of life a walk in a peaceful silent forest or park sounds like bliss to me most days. How lovely it can be to escape the rat race and get out into the wild nature to relax and enjoy some fresh air.

Today I took myself off to a silent office to get some very important work done without interruptions. The silence helped me concentrate but boy was it lonely.

I love it when my girls cosy up on the sofa beside me, silently watching TV or reading a book (it doesn’t happen often but it’s so lovely when it does). Or when I’m putting them to bed and we cuddle in complete silence – I usually relax so much I doze off beside them.

About this time four years ago I remember facing a challenging personal situation in work and one of the things that really struck me was the silence of some people. Friends and colleagues who I would have expected to be supportive and reach out to check I was ok, didn’t bother – their silence really surprised me. On the other hand, and more positively, people who I would never have expected to care got in touch or stopped me in the corridor to offer support and kind words.

Silence can be such a good thing at times, there can be a calming side to it but it can be discouraging too. As C.S. Lewis put it best…

Spiteful words can hurt your feelings but silence breaks your heart.

I get it! As I grow older I seem to find myself dwelling more on the silences rather than nasty words that are thrown at me. I think it’s because if I have a disagreement or face a challenging relationship I can talk it through (I’m a talker incase you hadn’t realised) with someone else to understand the motive or the intent and then move on. But silence, well it drives me slowly crazy as I never know if it’s an intentional snub or not. I don’t discuss it most of the time as I don’t want to sound paranoid or insecure when maybe it was just because someone was too busy with their own life to care about what is going on with mine.

I’ve been sharing on this blog for over a year now and I’ve been privately reflecting lately on a few different aspects of my journey. I can say hand on heart if I was doing this for likes, reactions or comments I would have given up a long time ago. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect so human nature does kick in and sometimes I get a little discouraged when I pour my heart and soul into a post that doesn’t result in a lot of engagement – silence. And equally, when I get a random message from someone unexpected to say they were encouraged or really liked a post that does give me a wee boost.

I remember not long after I started the blog someone asked me how many followers or subscribers I had. I wasn’t sure, as for me that didn’t matter, I wasn’t keeping a tally – because sometimes in life there’s a word or a story or a person that touches your heart and they never know that they made an impact. I can look back on the last year and know that in the silences there was only one voice that really mattered to me – the voice that spoke to me and through me – the voice that reassured me that this was part of the plan, this is how, in my current season I can serve the Lord.

It’s been a wonderful learning experience for me and I’ve encouraged myself through the studies and research if nothing else. By putting my heart and life stories out there – sharing what matters to me and how I get through life I think I’ve become more focused on my purpose, more focused on what really matters in everything I do – turning hearts towards the King.

So if like me, you struggle with the silence, remember that there is an opinion and a voice that matters more than anyone’s silence. So much can be achieved if we focus on what we can do through and for God.

Embrace the quiet, embrace the stillness and trust in None but Jesus…

In the quiet, in the stillness
I know that You are God
In the secret of Your presence
I know there I am restored

That is the message I cling to and want to shout from the rooftops – so I’ll keep sharing in the hope that just one heart will be encouraged or interested in learning more about my Constant Friend and the benefit of a life with him by your side.

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).”

 

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/

 

 

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.

 

 

Little life snippets, Thoughts & Ponderings

Scars to Your Beautiful

So yesterday I kinda forgot it was Wednesday and missed my weekly WW post – oopsies. But that’s ok because today I want to share a Thursday Tune with you that isn’t a worship song.

I first heard this song back in the middle of May when we went to see my big baby bird perform in her end of year showcase with Vibe Academy. I’d never actually been to any of Evie’s classes because her auntie takes her an afternoon that I’m in work so I didn’t really know what to expect. Within 30 seconds of the show starting my eyes filled with tears and I was completely overwhelmed by how fantastic this dance school was. Their motto…

Instilling character and confidence into the lives of young people through dance, encouraging them to be true to themselves and passionate about their talents.

It wasn’t even Evie’s group that were dancing first! I had wee baby bird on my knee and luckily it was pitch black so I managed to hide my tears so no one thought I’d lost the plot.

As a kid I remember “auditioning” for P.E. squads, dance groups and sports teams – only the best got a spot. And while I wouldn’t say it upset me or impacted me much if I wasn’t picked, looking back it could have really affected some kids to tell them they weren’t good enough to be involved. But that’s not the Vibe Academy approach – each dance group had kids of all shapes, sizes and abilities. It really touched me that every single one of those kids had the spotlight on them, no one “put Baby in the corner” (sorry, Dirty Dancing reference) and they loved every second of it!

The showcase included all of the different age ranges from the Lurgan and Belfast classes and towards the end some of the older kids danced to this song I want to share today. My eyes filled up again watching the teenagers dance to this beautiful track with such a strong message.

Since May I’ve wondered what the song was and who sang it. Then last week when I was out for one of my walks it came on my random Spotify daily mix…

You should know you’re beautiful just the way you are
And you don’t have to change a thing

Wow! My biggest concern for my girls as they grow up is this world’s obsession with a completely unachievable image of what women should look like. Magazines, TV and social media are constantly throwing photos of celebs at us who have spent thousands of pounds to look how they do or who pay people to photo shop the paparazzi snaps to make sure they look a certain way so that the world loves them. As a kid I was bullied for my appearance – some of the boys in my year at school even had a nickname for me! (I’m not ready to share that one with you just yet) So I speak with experience when I say it’s not nice to be judged by our appearance, but in life it does happen.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could stop it from happening?! I’m a realist – we can’t wipe it out overnight but we can take baby steps and have an impact on our family, ministry, youth groups, dance classes etc. By preparing kids, the way my parents did – to help them have confidence in themselves and realise the true meaning of being beautiful, on the inside. Because ultimately our Constant Friend has no interest in how we look on the outside – he only cares about the state of our heart..

“Let your true beauty come from your inner personality, not a focus on the external. For lasting beauty comes from a gentle and peaceful spirit, which is precious in God’s sight and is much more important than the outward adornment of elaborate hair, jewelry, and fine clothes.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭3:3-4‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Don’t get me wrong, we should look after our bodies (good hygiene is important) and it’s lovely to get dolled up once in a while and put a nice dress on for a special occasion but it shouldn’t be our focus and priority. As the Word says, lasting beauty is more than slapping on some make up, sticking some product in your hair and getting that latest trendy treatment to impress the World!

Let’s teach our kids (and remind ourselves) that we are all loved unconditionally and to focus on having kind hearts and beautiful spirits first and foremost.

 

 

Little life snippets, Thoughts & Ponderings

Beauty Comes From Within

Every Saturday morning I have an internal debate with myself about whether or not I should wear make up or give my face a break. The answer usually depends on where I’m going and who I’ll be seeing – there is an unwritten acceptable list of people who I don’t mind seeing me bare faced (strangers surprisingly make this list!). This morning as I had the debate in my head about whether or not it was acceptable to drop Evie off to a birthday party bare faced I saw this really interesting article that shows celebrities without make up…

http://uk.businessinsider.com/actresses-no-makeup-photos-2018-1?op=0

I felt a mix of emotions as I scrolled through but mainly it made me a little cross – cross because the photos that are rammed down our throats every day in the media with make up are the ones that women everywhere (including me) measure themselves against and they’re not real life or attainable unless you spend two hours in makeup being pampered. The rare glimpse of bare faced celebrities is encouraging and gives us all food for thought but let’s face it we’re not likely to do it all the time unless the celebs start walking down the red carpets like that.

So today I want to share my bare face in the hope that others might do the same to encourage women everywhere to embrace their natural beauty that God has given them because let’s be honest, regardless of how much the world convinces us that we need to be caked in make up and hide every blemish we have – the Lord is very clear that beauty is more than the outward appearance. That’s something I admit I struggle with – especially when as a teen I was called names because of my appearance but my husband loves every inch of me and more importantly God loves me regardless so why should I really care what other people think?!

Instead of spending time trying out new beauty products to make me look as good as the celebs maybe I should be spending more time ensuring there is beauty within!

“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4

#BeautyComesFromWithin

Little life snippets, Seasons

#MeYouDontSee

Today we went for a quiet family lunch in a nice restaurant like normal people do – this photo my hubby took while I wasn’t looking pretty much sums up how that went.

It wasn’t what I would call fun to be honest but the food was nice – poor Hubby ate his lunch one handed while trying to keep control of the littlest one and the big one spent a lot of the time moaning before they discovered the window sill for dancing! Thankfully the place wasn’t very busy and no one complained. Don’t get me wrong, I love my girls with all my heart and I appreciate how truly blessed we are to be their parents but like everything in life there are difficult moments and situations. If I only shared with you the picture perfect moments I’d be living a lie and pretending that I don’t have challenging days.

Seeing this photo got me thinking about something I read about recently – the #MeYouDontSee photo series started by @have.you.seen.that.girl

If you haven’t heard of it I would suggest you search the # and get more info. It’s such a refreshing approach in a world where social media creates false images and expectations.

The #MeYouDontSee in this photo is thinking I wish we’d got a babysitter while trying to keep it together and not lose it with the kiddies who are simply enjoying themselves and their new surroundings. Just because we have kids we shouldn’t lock ourselves away at home or only eat at KFC or Pizza restaurants – as parents we need to try and introduce new social settings into their little lives or they’ll never learn to behave correctly!

The Lord never promised us a smooth ride and there will be times we will be challenged and we will struggle to find the calm within but no one is perfect and all we can do is keep looking to him for guidance and instruction.

“Fathers [Mothers in my case!], don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:4‬ ‭MSG‬‬

#Littlelifesnippets #Keeplookingup #Mummylife #PostBedtimeReflections

Little life snippets, Worship Wednesdays

Sparrows

My eldest baby bird has been experiencing some anxiety lately which has led to night terrors – we talked to her about what was worrying her but we didn’t seem to be able to pinpoint anything in particular. So we’ve started this little ritual as part of the bedtime routine – she blows her worries down the toilet and flushes them away. Every night we’ve done that one little ritual she’s slept through the night soundly without any screaming and crying. And the couple of nights we forgot or she refused to do it she’s had the terrors again. I also spent some time in prayer with her explaining that the Lord will protect her and help her sleep through the night but it takes the physical act of flushing them away for her wee brain to really switch off the anxiousness.

Even as adults it can be really hard to switch off our fears and worries. My life verse is the start of this passage from Psalm 91:11 – it’s my go to in times of trouble, a reminder that I can look back on my life and identify times when My Constant Friend sent his angels into my life to protect me and pull me through whatever I was facing.

He will put his angels in charge of you to protect you in all your ways. They will carry you in their hands so that you never hit your foot against a rock. You will step on lions and cobras. You will trample young lions and snakes. Because you love me, I will rescue you. I will protect you because you know my name. When you call to me, I will answer you. I will be with you when you are in trouble. I will save you and honor you.
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭91:11-15 GWT

Today’s Worship Wednesday track reminds us that we never walk alone – even if physically it appears you’re alone, spiritually there will always be someone close by. You just have to keep trusting that he will carry your worries and help you fly – just like the little Sparrow!

 

Little life snippets, Thoughts & Ponderings

Sunday night thankfulness

Back to porridge tomorrow in the ACF house 😩 Big blue eyes has been off school for two weeks and the grown ups have been off work for a week – the little one isn’t going to know what’s hit her when mummy’s packing the car to go to nanny’s at 7:15am!

We really can’t complain though as we’ve had an absolutely smashing time off – we ate too much (mainly chocolate and bread), stayed in a stunning cottage using AirBnB for the first time (we’ve now made our second booking a little further afield for the summer) and had lots of fun and giggles with the girls making lots of memories.

I don’t think I’ve been this relaxed or chilled out for a long time – and I think part of it is down to the Count Your Blessings Challenge I followed with Christian Aid for Lent. Taking time every day to be thankful and appreciate the blessings really helps put life into perspective. Don’t get me wrong, every day I can find something to moan about and I probably do but thinking about how how fortunate I am compared to others can quickly snap me out of it. If you haven’t ever done anything like this before I really would encourage you to think about doing something similar in April or May as it really is a great eye opener and positive thinking tool – even consider doing it for just a week.

Right I’m off to sort lunches, pack clothes for the kiddies for tomorrow and set my alarm for 6:15am. So very thankful for the week we’ve had and I’m already trying to figure out how many days it is until our next week off. Without the tough working days I’m not sure we’d appreciate the time off just as much and we certainly wouldn’t be able to treat the girls to little breaks away so I suppose I should be thankful that I have a job to go to tomorrow! (Not sure I’ll find it a blessing at 8am but a lot of caffeine should help keep me going!)

I hope you all had a fab Easter too!

“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this.”

‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:17-18‬ ‭GW‬