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You Came

I was at the Wilder Shores album launch last night with a couple of chums. The new tracks are beautiful worship cries penned by a truly anointed bunch and I can’t wait to share them when they’re available digitally. I’ve the good old fashioned CD ready so I’m excited about belting them out in the car with my girls. Drenched in love is Evie’s fave request at the minute but I’m expecting her to be asking for some of the new WS tracks when she hears them. 

As well as their own tracks we sang some Bethel tracks too. There was one I’d never heard before that really touched me – You Came (Lazarus). This week was a challenging week for me and some of those closest to me. I found myself pouring my heart into my prayers and I found it helped to add prayer points in my journal – within hours I felt the Lord step in and place his hand upon situations that I have no control over. The chorus of the track last night really spoke to me as it helped me make sense of what I’ve experienced this week…. 

“You came, oh, I knew that You would come

And You sang, and my heart, it woke up

Now I’m not afraid, I see Your face, I am alive

Cause You came, oh, I knew that You would come”

Why is it that when we pray we do it expecting God to come but yet sometimes it still surprises us when he does?! It’s human nature to be expectant but to prepare ourselves for the worst – we’re such negative Nellies sometimes! 

But whatever you’re facing today, remember we worship a God who loves to show up and remind us we don’t need to be scared. He’s our constant friend – holding us by the hand, leading the way through the crowds of confusion, doubt and fear. 

“Be strong and courageous. Don’t tremble! Don’t be afraid of them! The LORD your God is the one who is going with you. He won’t abandon you or leave you.”” Deuteronomy 31:6 GW

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Yes, I will go

Let’s be honest, when we think of key Bible figures we usually think of the men – Moses, Joshua, Abraham, Daniel, Paul or David maybe?

As it’s International Women’s Day I spent some time today looking at some exceptional women in the Bible. There are the obvious ones… Esther, Ruth, Mary, Hannah and of course Sarah. But today someone else jumped out at me – Rebekah.

I have to admit, any time I’ve read Genesis 24 in the past I’ve always found it a little sexist. Abraham sends his servants to find a wife for his son, Issac. They head off to find a woman that is ‘good enough’ for Issac. You can just imagine it, can’t you? They’d be watching for someone good looking, someone who stands out from the crowd but we know from the scripture they also knew to look for someone kind. They find Rebekah and her family were willing to let her go.

But here’s the bit that caught me by surprise today…

“So they called Rebekah. “Are you willing to go with this man?” they asked her. And she replied, “Yes, I will go.””
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭24:58 NLT

Rebekah was asked her opinion!? I’d never noticed that she was given a choice. I think I’d always pictured this young women being taken away from her family to become the wife of a man she’d never met, possibly with a little reluctance. But no, she was willing! She knew that there was a calling on her life – God had a plan and a mission for her to fulfill and she trusted in him.

So many people think the Bible is all about men being favoured and in charge. But there are some major leading lady roles in the Bible and the ultimate plan of God was heavily reliant on women playing their part. Esther was called for ‘a time such as this’, Ruth stood by Naomi declaring “where you go I go” and Hannah gave the son she longed for so badly back to God just as she had promised she would.

I wouldn’t call myself a feminist – I’m not burning any bras and I don’t subscribe to any women only groups that promote equality in the workplace by driving to empower women but I do believe it’s important we are all treated fairly and that we build each other up regardless of our gender.

I believe we should ALL be celebrated for our achievements, our hard work should be acknowledged and promotion should be based on merit. I am so thankful that I have had amazing female role models who have encouraged me, developed me and supported me throughout my life. I am also thankful for the men who have encouraged, developed and supported me – they are of course important too. But strangely, I’m also grateful for the men and women who have challenged me, who have fought me and knocked me down – because they have been the ones who have taught me important lessons, they have stoked fires in me, they have given me opportunities to get back up again and fight for what I believe in and what I know I can achieve.

Working in a very male environment can be frustrating at times but rather than fight to be treated equally I’d rather they didn’t even notice I was a woman. I would love to see Christians stand together regardless of gender and fight the status quo armed with faith – to offer a new hope and a new approach in the workplace. Instead of criticising how things are done or being deflated when things don’t go the way you’d like, wouldn’t it be great to make a change? Wouldn’t it be great to create a atmosphere where everyone feels equal, where everyone feels important and appreciated?

So today let’s continue to celebrate all the awesome women who have inspired and paved the way in so many ways – those who have proudly stood up to say “Yes, I will go”.

But let’s also remember to look for the opportunities for us all to do the same, with one purpose – to glorify God and see his will be done!

Rebekah went on to have twins with Issac, Esau and Jacob – making her the grandmother of Joseph who forgave his brothers after they sold him into slavery. Her choice set the ball rolling on a series of events that not only made a massive impression in their day but continues to impact hearts and lives today.

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Goodness of God

I find it hard sometimes to put into words the amazing strength and joy that comes from having a personal relationship with God. While God is available to us all, I think we all have our own unique story to tell about our faith depending on our circumstances and experiences.

It’s always easier to explain the goodness of God in the good times – we can point out blessings and be thankful. But what about when things don’t go according to our plan? When we miss out on something we dream of, something we want so badly but it’s not in Gods plan for now? It’s harder then, right? But not impossible.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I can look back on my life and see things that were painful at the time… a job opportunity that I missed out on, a lost friendship or an argument with a loved one – and realise, only in hindsight that God had his hand upon it and it was what was right for me at that time.

We sang a new song in church this weekend and it really touched me. Last week I missed out on a promotion in work and while I was a little gutted I’ve been reminding myself that God’s hand was upon the situation. God has never failed me and I trust that someday I’ll understand the why. I don’t need to know the why now, I just need to remember how good God has been to me over the years and remember it’s all in his plan – his plan that promises…

“plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope.”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭GW‬‬

It goes back to what I’ve been trying to focus on since the New Year – we can choose to feel defeated or we can choose joy in every situation.

The opening verse of this song presents us with a challenge, that if we choose to accept, can really help us hold on to the hope for the future and trust in the goodness of God.

All my days, I’ve been held in Your hands
From the moment that I wake up
Until I lay my head
Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God

So this Monday morning that’s my motivation … I’m in God’s hands – he’s got this! Whatever “this” may be – I will sing of the goodness of God.

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Focus for a fresh year – JOY

Moving from one year to the next is always a good time to reflect and refocus. What do we want 2019 to look like? Is there something you want to do or achieve? Maybe it’s being healthier, to run a marathon, maybe you’re clinging to a dream you want so badly, or maybe you want to change something about yourself. Whatever you’re adding to your resolutions or focus for the year ahead, you can guarantee it won’t just fall into your lap. You’ll need to work at it and make an effort to achieve your goal.

Having some time off work over Christmas has helped me really think about what I want to do in 2019. Obviously there’s the usual stuff – lose weight, be more active and get the work-life balance right. But there’s a bigger picture and a challenge I have set myself – and I would love others to join me on the journey.

One word keeps following me around and jumping out at me in everything I do – JOY. It’s taken me a while to really grasp the meaning and what it might look like in action.

In Philippians Paul teaches about genuinely living as Christians – what it really means to be a light in the world…

“Do everything without complaining or arguing. Then you will be blameless and innocent. You will be God’s children without any faults among people who are crooked and corrupt. You will shine like stars among them in the world as you hold firmly to the word of life. Then I can brag on the day of Christ that my effort was not wasted and that my work produced results. My life is being poured out as a part of the sacrifice and service ⌊I offer to God⌋ for your faith.

Yet, I am filled with joy, and I share that joy with all of you. For this same reason you also should be filled with joy and share that joy with me.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:14-18‬ ‭GW‬‬

Did you catch that? Paul’s life wasn’t easy – he was persecuted, imprisoned and ultimately executed for his beliefs. But in every situation he could find JOY and he wanted to share that joy with others too. Easier said than done right?! I know when we’re facing challenges or low points in our life it can be hard to find joy but please just give me a few minutes to explain how I’m approaching 2019 with my heart set on finding joy even on the tough days. Why don’t you consider joining me on the journey?

When I did my usual research to find the dictionary meaning of the word JOY there was of course a selection of explanations…

“The emotion evoked by well being, success, or good fortune, or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.”

A source or cause of delight.”

“A fruit of the Holy Spirit… having a sense of happinesss regardless of what is happening to you!”

Reading all of these descriptions I had a bit of a revelation – joy is a feeling. It isn’t something someone can give you or take from you. It’s something you choose to feel – deep down in your soul and your heart you have to make a choice to feel joy. You are the only person who can make that decision whether or not to feel joy. Yes what others do or say can play a part in how you feel – our actions and words can help someone or hinder someone in their quest for joy but ultimately we’re the only ones who can control our reaction and feelings.

To give you a personal example from the last month or so… when I was working long hours to meet important milestones on our project – it was draining, at times it pushed me to my limits emotionally and physically but when I came home each evening to my wee family I remembered that there is so much joy and love waiting here for me at the end of the day. It wasn’t always easy to switch off but a smile or a huggle from my girls and hubby filled my heart and soul with joy. I try to remember that, while the stress isn’t pleasant or ideal, if I focus on the joy in my life (beyond the moment I’m in) it can help me get through the every day trials. At my desk I surround myself with photos of the girls, bible verses for encouragement in my stationary (thanks Ali Marriott) and if I’m facing a particularly challenging task or review I say a little prayer and remember…

“I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:13‬ ‭GW‬‬

God never promised us an easy life – but he promises to be with us every step of the way and if you look hard enough there will always be something or someone he has put in your life to help you find joy even in the darkest days.

And what about our roles as sisters and brothers in Christ to share joy just like Paul wanted to do? My dear friends have no idea how much a simple text asking how my week is going or offering a little encouragement can help me hold on to the joy in my 9to5. God’s timing is perfect, he uses us all in different ways but one thing I am sure of – we can all impact the lives of others and bring joy in any situation.

There are massive projects like our dear friends in Angel House India who are literally giving everything to build the orphanage the Lord has set on their hearts – what an awesome work they’re doing. But we have smaller personal ministries like the mum at home with three kids who by simply being there and offering support and encouragement to others via coffee dates, text messages or a Facebook post can lift spirits and hearts.

God uses the resources we have at hand in order to use us to help bring joy to the world – we may be blessed with money, it may be abilities and talents or it may be giving your time and energy. You may feel inadequate, you may think you don’t have anything to offer but that’s not how it works – throughout the Bible we hear of the Lord taking little and multiplying it beyond what we could ever imagine. The boy who gave his loaves and fish, the widow and her pot of oil and of course the awesome miracle we’ve heard so much about in the last few weeks – the baby born in a manger who became the sacrifice and salvation for us all. You see God doesn’t need you to be rich or famous – he needs you to be willing and faithful.

So this year – I urge you not only to consider searching for the joy in your own lives but consider how you can boost others and help them choose joy!

Is there someone you know to be lonely? Go spend time with them.

Can you help that person who is down to their last penny before pay day? Slip a tenner into their purse.

Do you see a couple struggling to get out of the house without the kids? Offer to babysit for a couple of hours.

Is your heart touched by a good cause or charity? Volunteer to help with a fundraiser or do something practical to help them.

When you notice your work colleague is under pressure and stressing out – why not offer to help them with their task? Or if you can’t help practically could you make them a cuppa or ask if they fancy a walk at lunch time?

Do you see that mother or father struggling and feeling inadequate? Remind them they’re awesome!

Do you know someone who is facing a health battle and you feel helpless? Simply reach out to offer your prayers and support.

That may be all it takes to help bring some joy to others – a simple act of kindness with no expectation of getting anything back in return.

In this crazy dog-eat-dog world that is driving so many to depression let’s make 2019 the year we shine like stars and focus on choosing and sharing joy.

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Spinning Plates

I normally love September – the start of a new school year and a new season on the horizon. But if I’m honest, this year I struggled a little bit with the juggling act as my big baby bird matured and progressed into P3.

As I took her into her first day back at school I had a sudden realisation that I miss so much of her wee school life. I am so grateful to my parents for being our free of charge breakfast club, school drop off, pick up and homework club – we’d be lost without them! But as the stress of work built up and I was getting home later at nights I felt all the plates I was spinning were going to collapse around me and I was going to start failing in that very special role I’ve been blessed with – being mum to my beautiful girls.

So I took a step back, prayed and shared my concerns with family and friends. Hubby and I even managed a wee adult only escape to Lusty Beg that really helped us find our priorities again and get a break from the usual busyness of life. Talking about it helped and as I thought about better ways to manage the spinning plates I felt a real peace from the Lord and I had so many affirmations in the weeks that followed that I was doing the right thing!

I’ve adapted my working hours slightly to allow me to do the school run a couple of mornings a week and enjoy some precious time with the girls before I go into the office. Thursdays are all about Evie – our wee sneaky fun morning! If she gets dressed quickly enough, we drop wee AJ off to daycare and race to McDonalds for brekkie and some Angry Birds on the built in tablets! (Of course there’s the added bonus of no breakfast dishes!)

A wee kiss and hug at the school gate and I’m walking on air as I head back to the car – although I’m not used to the 9am traffic just yet! 😩

October is looking brighter and I’m now fired up to take on the world again with my constant friend’s guidance encouraging me and strengthening me every step of the way through his Word and the people he’s blessed me with on this journey.

#reflections #findingbalance #honestmummymoment

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The Serenity Prayer

Following on with our Mother’s Day series – a good chum of mine sent this lovely contribution ….

“Thinking of Mother’s Day – it’s about being thankful for all your mummy has taught you. A prayer that is particularly special in our family and something my granny used to say and now mummy reminds us quite regularly is the Serenity prayer – a summary of a lot of things my mum has taught me!”