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, 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, 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

Little life snippets, Thoughts & Ponderings, Worship Wednesdays

This is Living

Oops! Sorry for the radio silence and late posting for Worship Wednesday – we’ll call it Thursday Tune this week!

Easter is my fave time of year – we had an awesome weekend at church. I am part of an amazing tribe at House of Worship and I am so blessed to be able to share such special celebrations with them – from our beautiful Good Friday communion service to our party to celebrate Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday morning. Then me, hubby and the girls escaped to a remote cottage on the Lough in Co. Fermanagh for a few days and switched off.

Do you ever go to a concert or  a big event and people are so busy trying to capture the moment on their mobile phone that they actually forget to enjoy the moment? Don’t get me wrong, I love taking photos to document special events to remember in the future and I do post a lot of the photos on Facebook and Instagram to share with friends/family or so that when I’m looking for photos for an album or a personalised calendar I can log on and pull out my favourites. But I do sometimes find myself forgetting to live in the moment and make the memory first!

So this week I made a conscious decision to enjoy living the moment first and foremost – finding time for photos only if it seemed natural and it didn’t ruin the essence of the moment.  In doing this and really soaking up the beauty of God’s beautiful creation in the peace of our surroundings – it occurred to me that through Christ and our acceptance of him as our Saviour we are offered a whole other way of living. In the mad world of clashing priorities and challenges we face it can be difficult to remember what he offers us and how truly miraculous it is  – there’s nothing else like it and today’s Thursday Tune captures the amazing energy and unique qualities that a relationship with Jesus brings …

You lead the way, God You’re right beside me
In Your love I’m complete
There’s nothing like living with You
This life You created, I choose

See the sun now bursting through the clouds
Black and white turn to color all around
All is new, in the Savior I am found

This is living now

 

Thoughts & Ponderings

Happy Mother’s Day

Our final contributor for this week shared a beautifully honest account that I think many of us can relate to.

“When I think of Mothers Day I think, probably a bit differently than most, I think about rest! It’s a day when I decide that everything can wait. As mothers our minds never stop (whether it be worry or excitement). Our love never stops growing and our bodies never seem to stop moving. It can be so exhausting but we do it all because we love our children and want the best for them.

Lately God has taught me (through my exhaustion) that it’s ok to rest. In Mark 6:31 Jesus told his apostles:

“Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.”

He knew they hadn’t ate and that they needed rest. I don’t believe that God means for us to go hide in the cupboard for 5 mins (my kids always find me anyway). I believe He means for us to go to a place and spend quiet, peaceful time with Him. To forget about the worries or excitement on our minds. To forget about the dishes or washing for a while. To get our hearts and minds set on Him and then we can use the strength that He gives us to get through the rest of the day. Our children need wise mums and it’s wise to rest.”

Enjoy your day and try to take the opportunity to get some rest –  I’ve already been spoilt rotten with some lovely gifts, cuddles and yummy breakfast!

Little life snippets, Thoughts & Ponderings

Daffodils

It’s a beautiful sunny day here and I so hope this lovely weather lasts the weekend for Mother’s Day. I bought a little pot of daffodils last weekend and they’re blooming nicely beside my little handmade flower from my baby bird.

Daffodils hold a special place in my heart – I always remember as a young child planting them in our school garden to raise money for the local Marie Curie centre and taking them home to plant in our garden and my Granny’s garden. My Granny loved daffodils and even after she passed away the daffodils would continue to bloom in her garden year after year.

When we were kids there were loads of daffodils that grew in the fields and paths near us – we thought it was fab to bring bunches of them home to my Mum. I never knew if it was allowed or not but we didn’t see any harm in sneaking a few!

The daffodil is also the flower of March and both my girls were born in March so as soon as I see them in the shops I love getting them in a jar or vase in my kitchen to brighten the place up. I keep saying we need to plant some in our garden just like Granny did – so maybe this year I’ll be organised enough to have our own blooming next spring!

I’ve just realised how much I’ve written about these cute yellow flowers – who knew they could provoke so much emotion!

Just like my memories of daffodils Mother’s Day can be a bittersweet occasion for so many. A good chum of mine contributed this for our Mother’s Day thoughts and I have to say I totally understand what she means…

“Mother’s Day for me is a day to show thanks to my mum for everything she does for me. It’s also a reminder that I am very lucky to have my mum still in my life and to have her as my best friend. It’s also a day that’s tinged with sadness because I can see the hurt that it causes my mum that she doesn’t have hers anymore and how much I wish I could change that.”

Thoughts & Ponderings

International Womens’ Day

Today, as it’s Interational Women’s Day we’ve been challenged by Christian Aid UK to share a photo of a woman who inspires us. It got me thinking – what does it really mean to inspire? The Oxford Living Dictionaries defines the word inspire as a verb to:

Fill someone with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative. 

I’m surrounded by women who inspire me every day and my wonderful mother has taught me so much but the woman who inspires me the most is the woman of Proverbs 31…

 

Her strength, her selflessness and her diligence can teach us so much. In a world filled with woman  trying to be like the Kardashians and other “reality” TV stars the Proverbs 31 woman should be the example that we look to for inspiration and guidance – even in 2018 we can learn so much from her precedent.

Imagine how different our lives would be if more women were working to achieve the standards set by her.

Her hands reach out to the poor, and she extends her hands to the needy.

Proverbs 31:20

 

Thoughts & Ponderings, Worship Wednesdays

Always love you

Following on from our post earlier today on unconditional love I wanted to share this beautiful song by Tori Kelly which pretty much sums up how I feel about my mum. I was a bit of a moody teenager and didn’t always appreciate what my mum did for me – it took me a while to understand that my mum is the best friend I’ll ever have! The words of this song sum it up so well…

And now I realize that
Nothing I could
Ever do will make you turn away
No matter how much I mess up
You will always love me

Just like the unconditional love of our constant friend, the love of a momma is strong and can endure so much!

 

Thoughts & Ponderings

Unconditional Love

Continuing on our Mother’s Day theme we have a really touching post from a different perspective – today’s guest contributor is a father, husband and son.

“There’s an image in a Children’s book I saw recently by illustrator Sam Usher which I think depicts perfectly the tender love a mother has for her child. As this was in a Christmas book the image depicted was of Mary with her new born son, Jesus.

An image paused in time like any similar picture uploaded to social media doesn’t always tell the full story. The tears the tantrums, the stress, the mess; all aren’t necessarily visible but they’re very much apparent as any mum knows! Little did Mary know in this candid image that there would also be pain and suffering. The sword that would pierce her soul. Her son who would become the saviour of us all.

There will be hard times ahead, but there will also be unmistakable joy, and through it all a mother’s love is undiminished. It remains strong, tender, forgiving, unconditional. The exact same love God has for us all.”