Tomorrow is of course Remembrance Sunday – a special day to remember lives lost, lives torn about by loss and lives changed forever by experiences on the battlefield.
There is always one word that overwhelms me on the 11th day of the 11th month – LOVE. Those who went to war did so for the love of their country and to protect those they loved – they sacrificed everything to serve. #LestWeForget
During the Great War & WW2 those left behind rallied together – there are so many tales of kindness amidst the heartbreak and loss. Children from the cities welcomed by countryside families they’d never met before, communities keeping spirits up during air raids with songs and neighbours digging through rubble in the hope they might rescue friends. The sacrifice and love wasn’t restricted to the battlefields – it was in the every day as well.
Where along the way did the world lose that love for their neighbours? When did we become a dog eat dog world that looks for what it can get instead of what it can give? When did it become every man (or woman) for themselves?!
Tomorrow as we proudly wear our poppies, let’s (as always) honour those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom but let’s not also forget how we can honour their memory by serving one another. Take some time to think about how we can love one another, how we can embrace the attitude of so many who were willing to give EVERYTHING.
“For the greatest love of all is a love that sacrifices all. And this great love is demonstrated when a person sacrifices his life for his friends.”
John 15:13 TPT
I’ve spent a lot of time studying, researching and praying about this week’s Worship Wednesday. I’ve really felt the Lord speak to me in a big way this last week and I wanted to find a way of sharing that but I struggled to find the right worship track. If I’m honest I’d actually got to the point where I was going to skip today’s post all together.
As we enjoyed a little Halloween fun with the family tonight I remembered a beautiful slightly Halloween themed track by Martina McBride. Not only is it a fab song, it also has a gorgeous video full of autumn leaves (my fave) and to be honest it really sums up what I want to share with you. The last couple of months I’ve been struggling with some stressful elements of life – I’ve prayed, turned to God’s word and talked to friends and family. That’s all helped and encouraged me greatly but I think I was waiting on a big profound “Hallelujah Amen” moment where my whole situation would turn around and everything would be brilliant. Those crazy miracle moments can and do happen but most of the time God uses the people we already have around us or with us to subtlely send a message to guide us or simply hold our hand as we fight through the storm.
These last few weeks I have found myself moved by comments from my little baby birds, chats with friends & family and also some random encounters with strangers – and I just know that God put the words in their mouth at that moment with a purpose to help me. God puts people in our paths at the right time with the right message when we need to hear it. That’s what this song I’m sharing today reminds us. I could write a very long list of times in my life when God’s will smacked me bang in the face when I least expected it – in the strangest or least predictable ways. He is constantly moving and positioning people and things ahead of time to ensure that everything is in place for his purpose and plan for your life to be fulfilled! Don’t ignore it!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”
Jeremiah 29:11-13 NLT
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.
I’ve been toying with sharing this song for a while and as today is World Mental Health Day it seems fitting that I share it now.
The Bible commands us…
“Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.”
Hebrews 13:1 NLT
What would the world look like if everyone obeyed this command?! If there was more love than hate – for ourselves, for others, in our school playgrounds our workplaces and our wider communities?! But that’s not the world we live in today is it? Hate is raising and it’s creating new anxieties, new fears and increasing the stresses in our lives.
I’m a chatty person, I like to get things off my chest and talk if I’ve a worry or something/someone is stressing me out. While, I always sing this song to myself with the word ‘Brother’, it is my reminder that I have a great bunch of “Sisters” who always make me feel that I can turn to them (on top of my fab family circle of course who are such a great source of strength for me) – and they’ll always remind me that I am strong enough to face life and the challenges it throws at me.
Lately, I have shared a little on this blog about how the challenges have really started to push me to my limits. I’ve shared about how I need my Constant Friend’s guidance and love to help me through the tough times and I am truly thankful for all the fab experiences he blesses me with.
But just because I put my trust in God’s promises 99% of the time doesn’t mean I don’t have a 1% wobble from time to time when I listen to the negative voice inside my head telling me that it’s all too much and that I’ll never measure up to who the world wants me to be.
When I had both my girls I remember the ‘baby blues’ hitting shortly after their birth but after a lot of tears and emotion it quickly passed. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for mothers who face so much worse through no fault of their own – I have so much respect for those who not only battle Post Natal Depression but who speak out about their experiences in order to encourage and provide hope for others.
Now as my girls get older I have started to notice my mental health declining a little. The same way in my younger years I was focused on ensuring I exercised and looked after my body (Not a lot of time for that now so I embrace my size 12/14 shape and get on with it!) I’m now having to think more about my mental health – it starts by loving me for who I am and appreciating the things I have achieved instead of focusing on my shortfalls. More practically it’s about taking time out for me, spending quality time with my wee family, scheduling catchups with my friends and meeting up with my church Tribe at HOW. Love really can lift me when I’m down – simply feeling loved and being with those I love can really shift my mood.
And if I feel like this, then I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one so it’s important to share with others and understand how they cope with life and the bumps in the road. I rely so heavily on my Constant Friend but sometimes you can’t beat a face or voice on the end of the phone and I know that God uses others to guide me and encourage me too because those people aren’t there by coincidence, they’re there for a reason with a purpose and he has it all planned out.
But it’s not that easy for everyone and in different situations/environments it can feel like you are all alone. So today I simply want to share this song to remind everyone that there will always be ‘Brothers’ and ‘Sisters’ you can call on – they might be family members, friends, work colleagues, neighbours or they might even be strangers or acquaintances that you know have faced similar storms. Reach out to someone, let them be your lighthouse to guide you safely home…
Brother, I’m right here
And on those days
When the sky begins to fall
You’re the blood of my blood
We can get through it all
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.
Fear you don’t own me
There ain’t no room in this story
How different would our lives be if this was our reaction to the fears we face everyday?
Fear of failure
Fear of disappointment and hurt
Fear of letting others down
Fear of making the wrong decision
Fear of being inadequate
Fear of losing someone
Fear of redundancy
Fear of standing up to the world
Fear of missing out
Fear of not meeting deadlines
Fear of what other people think of you
Fear of being a bad parent
But the Lord’s word tells us…
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and sound judgement.”
2 Timothy 1:7
Did you catch that? He doesn’t want us to be owned by fear – he wants us to live the life he’s plotted out for us in all it’s fullness. We have to allow his power to work through us, while doing everything in love and trusting that the choices we make are good enough! We ARE good enough!
So as you listen to today’s track by Francesca Battistelli – think about the fears that are holding you back in any aspect of your life and don’t let them get comfortable, don’t allow them to control you. Stand up to them and tell there’s no room for them in your life because you want to pursue all of the promises that your Constant Friend has for you!
Thankful that I am mummy to two cuties who bring us so much joy – even if from time to time they give us sleepless nights and worries.
Thankful that I am blessed to be a wife and that I have my awesome hubby walking beside me, holding my hand on this crazy life journey.
Thankful to have both of my parents loving and supporting the four of us every day.
Thankful for loyal and kind friends who support me and encourage me every day.
Thankful to have a job that pays the bills and keeps a roof over our heads.
But mostly I’m thankful I woke up this morning!
I heard of the sad passing of a beautiful young mum at the weekend and while I didn’t know her personally it’s really shocked me and made me realise just how precious life is. So today I want to share this beautiful song that touched my heart with four powerful words…
“Only God knows why”
It’s the hardest thing for me to get my head around as I walk with Christ – angels being called too soon. This song paints a lovely picture of the angels singing and praising as they welcome another angel into heaven – what a scene that would be!
We may never understand why something happens or why we lose our loved ones when we do but if we live a life of faith and put our trust in our Constant Friend then we know that we will see them again at the throne.
I feel like the word ‘blessing” is following me around this week. Since church on Sunday, it’s popped up in conversations with colleagues in work, chats with family/friends and then Evie’s devotional tonight (from her new book she was given as a prize at our Tribe Kids Takeover – great choice Pastor L!) had the title “What a blessing” and shared this awesome verse…
““But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.”
Jeremiah 17:7 NLT
It goes on to explain in a lovely but simple way what it means to be blessed and as I was reading it I thought about this great wee tune from Rend Collective. When I’m having a rubbish day or I’m facing challenges that seem impossible I find it so hard to stay positive at times. But the lyrics of this track remind us to find strength and hope in our Constant Friend. Aren’t we are so blessed to have him by our sides through it all?
At our Tuesday Connect group at church last night we talked about living life with a “can do” attitude. It’s hard sometimes to see how we can overcome and achieve our dreams when our own internal voice and others around us fill our heads with “I can’ts“ or “You can’ts.”
God believes in every single one of us just like he believed in Moses, Joshua, Ruth, David, Esther – the list could go on and on… They may have seemed ordinary and unimportant but God took them and made them great. He gave them all a “Can Do” attitude and encouraged them and inspired them to do great things for him no matter what they thought of themselves or what others thought of them.
You see, no one else’s opinion matters, including your own doubt and fears – when God says we can then we better prepare ourselves for what’s coming next when we simply believe…
““Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because GOD, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.””
Deuteronomy 31:6 MSG
Ally McBeal was of my favourite TV shows when I was a teenager. It was really quirky, absolutely hilarious and at times the storylines were heartbreaking – but the best bit was the fab music! Last weekend I was talking to some friends about the importance of having a life verse or life verses to live by and to help us stay focused and encouraged. It reminded me of Ally McBeal because the main character and her chums all had life songs that they used to motivate them and help them through the challenges in life. At different stages of my life I can recall using that approach, inspired by the show, to help me through life by repeating a song over and over in my head. Sometimes the song would be a war cry to help me fight mental battles, other times a nice happy upbeat song to help me skip through life remembering how blessed I am and on occasions when I’m emotional it might be a song to help me have a good cry to clear my head and tear ducts!
I first heard today’s Worship Wednesday track a few weeks ago but when I heard it again at the weekend and I really listened to the lyrics I thought about what a wonderful life song this would make…
I got an Old Church Choir singing in my soul
I got a sweet salvation and it’s beautiful
I’ve got a heart overflowing ’cause I’ve been restored
There ain’t nothing gonna steal my joy
If I sang this song to myself every morning and all day long and truly believed that line – “ain’t nothing gonna steal my joy” – how different would life be?!
When the craziness of balancing everything as a full time working mummy and wife hits me and sends me into a diva strop, wouldn’t it be fab if I could imagine that gospel beat and fight the temptation to allow someone or something to steal my joy!? Easier said than done though – when we face challenges it’s so easy to fly off the handle and forget how we should show gratitude to our Constant Friend for all that he’s done for us!
So I’ve been listening to this tune on my morning drive to work this week to get it into my head in the hope that I can hold on to my joy from Sunday to Sunday!