Thursday, 25 May 2017

It's OK Not To Be OK

Honestly, of late, there have been a lot of times when I am not OK. Life has taken me down a very different path to what I had expected and it feels like there have been far too many moments that have not been OK.
At times, life hurts or it can feel just so unreal or it is simply just really hard work!

However, overtime I am realising that it really is OK to not be OK. 

There are times when something hurts and my immediate response is to push it aside whilst putting on a brave face. Or, I find the strength, in that moment, to be still - to breathe in and out and then let it go. 
Yet there are times when I am not able to hide the pain and the hurt and I know I am not OK. I may be alone or I may with be others and the 'not being OK' is about to spill out...
What I am beginning to appreciate is whilst it is OK for me to not be OK, no-one else should have to bear the reaction to my hurting.
Yes, I might get frustrated, however if I overstep the mark with my words or my tone then I must apologise. I should also consider how I would like to be spoken to and speak to others in this way. I may feel overwhelmed and even though I pause, I am unable to find the strength to let it go, so instead I can try to show gentleness in my response. 
The day may be a tough one, yet I must remind myself not to take that out on the people around me. However if I am honest and admit I am struggling they may well respond by supporting me through a hug, a prayer, a kind word or a smile. 

In choosing to be open about not being OK, I am choosing to be real and true. I am choosing to accept that in that moment, there is pain, however I also choose to hope that in the moments to come there will be things that are brighter and new. 

There is vulnerability in standing up and saying, "in this moment, I am not OK." I guess I would rather people thought I had it all together, yet the truth is I do not! I wobble, I stumble, I hurt, I cry, I shout and I despair. 

Through it all, I am so grateful that I have discovered the beauty in knowing that with every sun comes a new day. For I know even though this day may be one that is not OK, tomorrow is a brand new day, full of opportunity for things to be more than OK. 

Friday, 12 May 2017

What Takes Up My Space?

I think Pinterest is fab! A search on Pinterest can lead to the discovery of all sorts of wonderful things. Pins that help in so many ways - being mum, my job, and even what nail colour I might have next! What I find particularly helpful is, that as I scroll through the home page, the quotes and verses I come across can really lift my gaze or bring a smile or even make me laugh out loud!

Just this week I realised that sometimes I really do not do myself any favours. I have given too much space and time to negative words and thoughts even to the point where I had started to believe them. Setting off from a negative place where insecurity had begun to guide me, was not proving useful and my steps were not very productive.

So as I was scrolling through Pinterest I suddenly realised that I am the one who allows this negativity room in my thoughts. Each of these positive quotes and verses should be the truth I give space to. Instead of being discouraged, I would like to be encouraged - then I am able to encourage others. Rather than allow myself to feel that I am not good enough, I shall stand on the truth that tells me 'I am loved' - then I am able to love others.

With every sun comes a new day and what I find exciting is that there is opportunity to keep discovering something new. The negative thoughts and words are still likely to come, however when they do, I hope to run from them and instead run toward truth along the brighter path.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Take The First Step...

Over the last few days I have been reading the story of a man called Joshua, who was the guy who took over from Moses. Joshua was given a task to do and not only was this task absolutely huge, it may also have sounded a little bit crazy!

God asked Joshua, along with his army, to march around the city of Jericho for seven days and then the walls would fall down and Joshua and his men would take the city. These walls were between four and five metres high and almost two metres thick.
I wonder if I was asked to do the same whether I might have just laughed out loud?!?!

Yet, Joshua did as he was instructed. They marched around the city once a day for six days and then on the seventh day they marched round seven times and at the sound of the trumpet and at the shouts of the men, the city walls collapsed! WOW!

Joshua faced a monumental task yet he doesn't appear to argue, instead he simply follows the instructions he has been given and also inspires others to do the same.

I would like to find the courage to follow Joshua's example. I believe he saw with eyes that were wider than the situation he found in front of him. Joshua had a faith and a trust that was steadfast because, when faced with what seems a crazy solution to the situation he and his men were facing, they still marched on out.

As they stepped out to take new ground, they went boldly because within them, they had confidence in what they knew about God and what they had seen Him do - deep inside of them must have been the courage to trust. This gives me confidence as I step out into a new chapter of my life.

Sometimes thoughts overwhelm me as do my feelings of fear and insecurity. I can get caught up with feeling that I cannot possible take on this huge task in front of me because I feel that I am not good enough.
However, deep within me, I am able to find the strength to trust and to know that is simply not true. I am able to step out and collapse my wall.
With every sun my faith and trust grows and my eyes see further than the situation I find myself in. My heart has hope and I feel able to march on believing and experiencing that I am held.

I do not know where my marching will take me, yet I will continue on because I know that the One who marches alongside me has also gone before me. I will bravely step out into the newness with expectation and with hope because He makes all things good!

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

What I Think

There are times when I just want to not have to think. When I would like to switch off my brain because all the thoughts running through my head are 1) taking me in the completely wrong direction and 2) painful. 

Usually, in moments like this, I will reach for the iPad and play Suduko or watch something on TV - although TV is not currently an option as I gave it up for lent and I have come to the conclusion that I play Suduko just a little bit too often. 

So, I have been trying to use these moments more constructively. Sometimes it works other times I manage to convince myself that I really do need more practise at placing the numbers 1-9 in a square!

Although when I do persevere it often brings blessing. There have been times when I have picked up a book instead of the iPad and I so needed to read the words of that particular chapter. Sometimes it may be a chapter I have read before but because I could not remember where I was up to, it is now a chapter I have read again! Yet, those words were meant to be read again because they were the words of encouragement I needed to be running round my head - far better and more helpful than the negativity and fears that had been chasing around previously. 

It is an effort, however when I talk myself into talking to God rather than just listening to my voice, I find myself fixing on truth rather than on unhelpful uncertainty.  

When things happen of which I have no expectation or seemingly no control over, the first thing I tend to do is think. These thoughts often go into overdrive and when there is no one there to interject or to give support, then there is no telling where these thoughts may take me. 
However if I stop. If I change direction rather than just trying to switch off then I give myself an opportunity to find those better thoughts. 

It's almost like having a little supply of 'good thoughts you can go to when negative ones are dragging me down'!!

If I choose to not make the effort to read and absorb these words of truth, then how will I top up my supply of what is good? Instead if I build up that supply I have a better chance of being able to deal with whatever it is that is causing the need to feel I want to switch off. 

This treasure that I am learning to build my foundation on provides the opportunity to fix on what is good and true, which can then bring peace. When fear and worry is chasing round my head I do not have peace. Thinking negatively is not helpful and leads me in completely the wrong direction. 

One of these treasures I am continuing to learn is that with every sun comes a new day. So in this new day I will aim to not take myself to a place where I feel I need to switch off my thoughts. Instead I will switch my thoughts to what I know is true and good and I will hope to keep these things running round my head, however tricky that might sometimes be. 

Friday, 31 March 2017

Fixing My Mind

As I look back over today I see that on a couple of occasions I could have reacted completely differently and my day could have been a whole lot worse than the good day that it was. I am not saying that I got everything right today as I so did not! I most definitely made some not very good choices as well!

Often I find myself at a place where I need to make a choice. On the odd occasion that choice is made with no thought as the response I choose is 'just something I do'. Yet, more often than not the choice needs more thought and consideration to make the better response. Sometimes I need to give myself a real talking to in order to make the better response. 

Today, almost unexpectedly, I found myself quite overwhelmed by everything. I could have fixed on being overwhelmed and let my day become a gloomy one, however encouraging words from a beautiful friend meant I was able to lift my gaze and not be swept away by my emotions. This conversation happened at exactly the right time and because they were brave and kind enough to take the time to speak those words, in that moment, my day took an upwards turn rather than a downwards one. 

I am realising that I have the potential to determine in which direction my day goes and all this can happen in a split second moment. I also realise that it is not always easy to make the better choice. So do I just hope that on the majority of occasions my choice will be the right one or is there something that will help me along the way?

Yes, I believe there is something...fixing my mind on what is true and on what is right and on what is lovely. Filling my mind with things that are excellent and praiseworthy surely leads to a better place. A place that gives strength so that when my gaze falls, as it certainly will, I can find so much to lift it back up again. 

Friday, 3 March 2017

It's Going To Be OK

As I sit here life is not what I had imagined or hoped for. At times I feel tired, weary, sad and hurting. However I can still find peace - in this moment I still know that I am OK. I hold on to the promise that it will be completely calm.

I may feel all these things however I choose to not be defined by these feelings. I am able to look back and see that feelings do not last, they may be fleeting or they may hang around for a while...yet they change.

The way I feel about things today is not how I felt in my yesterdays, therefore I can almost guarantee that I will not feel the same in my tomorrows.

Here and now I know - and it is not just a feeling - that it IS going to be OK. I have no idea what 'OK' looks like, yet I absolutely know that is where I am going. What I would like to hold on to even more is that actually I am going to be more than OK because with every sun comes a new day...

Sunday, 12 February 2017

My Story So Far...

In June 1984, when I was almost 8 years old I made the decision to give my heart to Jesus. 

Billy Graham had come to Norwich City Football Ground on the Mission England tour. 

I was sat with Dad in the choir and when they gave the opportunity for people to respond I went forward knowing that I wanted Jesus to be my friend. I knew that I wanted Jesus to be part of my life. 

There wasn't a dramatic transformation and I continued on going to church and bible club. I also had the privilege of going to CUTS or Bible Club Camp as it was known then. 

Each year, Mum and Dad took us on holiday to guest houses that were run by the Methodist Guild. It was great as we made some fantastic friends, some of whom I am still in touch with and I would always look forward to going just to meet up with our friends - although I did always try and go to the morning prayers! 

To be honest I wasn't the easiest daughter in our household and I was a times a little bit rebellious. However I never let go of God, I may have ignored Him or chose not to listen or do His will...yet He stayed faithful. 

As I look back now I can see that God has always been building on to the foundation of my first choice to have Jesus in my life. What I might have seen as routine or just what Christians do, kept adding to the work that 'He began in me'. 
...going to Church
....having Christian friends
....reading the bible 
...listening to Christian music
...knowing that people were praying for me
....going to Spring Harvest, on Christian holidays, to a music conference
...attending House Group
...being involved at church 
And more recently having the privilege of working for our church.

Without all this I wonder if when my world fell apart I may have chosen to run in the other direction and leave God behind. 

However that is not what happened. I know that God is faithful and God is so good and all that He had provided in those first 30 years of being a Christian gave me a strength that I did not know I had.

Over the last couple of years my relationship with God has gone deeper. I thought I was doing ok as a Christian when actually what I was doing was keeping God in a box. I was the one in control of our relationship. What God did in my life was on my terms not His. 

Now I want God in every part of my life. I am thankful that I am discovering more and more of who God is and how much I am loved. 
A couple of weeks ago I heard someone speak about how Jesus wants to come into every room of our lives. I know that is what I want. I know that my life is fuller with Jesus in every part.

I have learnt that by inviting Jesus into every room, every relationship, every hurt, every circumstance I find myself in, means that I am held. It means I find peace. 

There is a verse in the Bible that says...

I am learning more about what it means to live by faith, I have no idea what my future holds however I do know who holds the future! 
 I am thankful that when it feels too much of a struggle God provides what I need - a hug or words or a smile from a friend, a reminder from His Word or through the wonder of creation - God knows what I need. 

When I gave my heart to Jesus I had no idea of what my life would bring. Yet as I stand here now I have so much to be thankful for. For the most part that is being mum to three beautiful children and what a privilege and responsibility that is. 
In Jesus, God has given us so much and I do not want to keep that to myself. 
I hope that as I keep on with my loving Heavenly Father I can share and show Jesus to Kate, Noah and Lily. I don't always get it right, however I am learning that you can never say I love you too much and that I should always be the first one to say sorry. 

I am discovering that I am best if I take a day at a time or even a step at a time. I believe that is all God asks us to do - when he provided manna for the Israelites and when He taught us to pray, it was just for the day. 
I hope that as I continue on in my walk with Jesus I can find the strength to lift my gaze, to know I am perfectly covered by His love. I choose to do His will through the power of His spirit in me and I hope that I can live a life that loves God and loves others.