Hi, I'm Louise and my life's not perfect

Comments 3 Standard

image

On Sunday I did something new – I admitted my life wasn’t perfect into a microphone at the front of church.

I told everyone that I had a row with my husband right before hosting life group that week and that when my life group arrived I told them too.

I can see a few of you cringing at the thought of it – the thought of opening up your life like that, of exposing your humanness.

You see, we work so hard at hiding, hiding our faults, hiding our mistakes, hiding the very fact we are human and fallible.

All of this hiding has to stop. It has to stop because it is exhausting, it takes up almost every fiber of energy we have and it causes us to miss out. We miss out on the opportunity to let people into our messiness and the opportunity for others to feel less alone.

Guess what? After I admitted that Sunday no one accused me of failing at life, of falling short, of dispelling the myth of perfection. In fact, I am sure I audibly heard people breathe a sigh of relief, of release even.

I wasn’t mortified either, I felt very much more alive than I have in a while – it was liberating!

You see we’re very happy to model and be examples of things like prayer, giving, serving, bringing words, being out in the community, leading… I could go on but no one wants to be an example of messiness do they? No one wants to be an example of falling short despite the fact we all fall short.

The thing is until more people are happy to speak out and stand up and say ‘I’m a mess, I get it wrong a lot but this is how I’m working through it.’ all we are doing is perpetuating the myth of perfection and ultimately I believe that is far more dangerous, damaging and devastating than being vulnerable, open and sharing our fallibility.

So I’m making an attempt, my own little stand to stop it happening. I am breaking free of ‘Sunday face’ and attempting to fully embrace what it means to be real.

Anyone else want to join me?

5 things that prove you host a life group

Comments 2 Standard

image

1. Mugs – yes, mugs – you have hundreds of them, in fact you have a whole cupboard full of them and none of them match. Also, you begin associating mugs with certain people in your group or you may commit the odd faux pas when someone asks which drink is theirs ‘You’re the cow…’

2. Beverages – for one you actually use the word. You have enough varieties of teas and coffees to stock the local cafe – decaf, filter, flavoured, caff, chai latte, hot chocolate etc. Oh and things you will never drink but you know others like – decaf early grey or lemon and ginger anyone?

3. Coasters – You have an inordinate amount of non matching coasters. These are not for your benefit but to prevent the mortified looks when you claim people can put their mugs directly on to a surface.

4. The 30 min dash – Half an hour before everyone’s designated arrival you run around hiding mess in spare rooms, re-cleaning the bathrooms for the 3rd time (just in case) realising you have run out of milk and that you are down to the ‘boring’ biscuits like rich tea (aaah, the quintessential Christian biscuit)

5. Slippers – You know you have definitely arrived as a life group host when people bring their slippers to wear to your group. You yourself should also wear slippers and perhaps have a few different pairs to spark conversation while everyone waits for drinks.

This is by no means a definitive list – please feel free to add to it in your comments.

Things are all a bit messy

Comments 4 Standard

20130413-200227.jpg

So I am currently in limbo. There are a few things I was expecting to be resolved by today and they aren’t.

There are a few loose ends that remain untied, a few extra things yet to be ticked off the to-do list, an a couple of big unknowns.

Funny isn’t it, how the unknowns seem ok to begin with but then they creep up on you at the last minute ( 3am if you’re like me)

The fact is, things are all a bit messy and yet, in the midst of it all I find myself straying into a place of stillness and peace. Maybe it’s the eye of the storm? Maybe it’s a mirage? A created oasis in this desert place. But, when I find myself there, even though I can’t make sense of it, I am calm, at rest, my soul quietens.

I found that place at the end of my Zumba class on Wednesday, as we warmed down and the last song began my eyes were drawn to the wooden cross at the side of the stage. My Zumba class is held in a Salvation Army building.

It felt poignant so soon after Easter to find myself staring at an empty wooden cross and to be reminded of the ultimate sacrifice and then this song began…

I felt tears form and realised that I was having a moment, that something was calling deep into my heart. That this was a message for me.

You could write it all off as coincidence, I was just reading too much into it all but there in that moment I experienced God more closely than I had in a very long time and had a renenwed understanding of it all… The Cross, the love, His sacrifice, my response and although I have no idea how, I knew it is all going to be ok but at a cost.

At life group last night we sang the following words:

‘And no matter what the cost I will follow you. Jesus everything I’ve lost I have found in you…’

There’s a cost, a cost to all these loose ends, the unknowns and there has been loss but there is hope and right now I will hold on to that and to ‘My Salvation, my my’

Competitors or companions? How we define each other

Comments 3 Standard

image

I tweeted this quote from ‘Am I Beautiful?’ yesterday because it really spoke to me.

The world is too broken for us to be preoccupied with feeling ugly. And life is too short not to feel beautiful.

What I tend to do with books is devour them in a matter of hours and then reflect on them but something has prompted me with Chine’s book to take it one stage at at a time and not rush to the end. There are far too many gems and deep truths to decipher in one sitting.

This one quote provides enough to write a hundred blog posts on – it opens up so many avenues of thought.

Firstly, why, especially as women are we often preoccupied with feeling ugly?

For some, it becomes a default setting and it works in distracting us from the broken world around us.

What a master stroke of genius to ensure women ignore their attributes and abilities. What a way to keep us silent, static, solo.

Admit it, when you meet other women there is an element of comparison that takes place as a first thought.

There is a deep rooted sense of competition that hits us before we even consider the wider benefits of companionship. Why?

What are you and the world missing out on because you wrote that woman off as a competitor rather than a companion?

It comes down to this seed that plants in us, this word ‘ugly’.

In my previous post Beauty, Identity and asking the question I asked when we first acknowledged and had an understanding of beautiful and now I ask the same about ugly.

We all have our own definitions but where did we get them from and when? Why do we allow ourselves to be held captive by it?

What have you failed to do, say, step out into because you have allowed yourself to become defined by these words?

Think about it. Think about the women you know, those who you have allowed to become companions and those you keep at arms length as competitors. Do you need to have a rethink have you unwittingly caused someone to feel ugly because of your decision?

Do you need a rethink? Do you need to reach out? Do you need to be vulnerable and admit exactly where you are at?

Do it today. ‘Life is too short not to feel beautiful.’ this applies to you but who else needs to know it today?

To those women who I have written off, made to feel ugly or placed as competitors – I am sorry.

We need each other – we are not enemies.

Making the most of your 'moment'

Comments 7 Standard

image

This image popped up on my Facebook page a few days ago and it spoke exactly to where I am right now.

Today, I am 39 weeks plus 6 days pregnant. Part of me can’t believe it and another part feels I have been pregnant forever!

So my next ‘moment’ will be motherhood. The thing is, I have no way of knowing when this ‘moment’ will arrive.

At this point it would be so easy to just become static and wait. To count down the days and hours until I reach it.

I have been offered the common place advice of eating curry, hot food, pineapple, drinking raspberry leaf tea, walking and of course sex to kick start my labour.

There is a sense of expectation and excitement of what is to come.

The quote above got me thinking though. What about right now? Does the fact I am about to have a baby make all of this time pre baby redundant? Does this current ‘moment’ I am in not matter?

I have a choice here. I can believe that as I am in a transition, I have nothing to offer until I become a mother or I can do all I can, as I can right now.

I don’t want to miss out by rushing ahead. I don’t want to miss opportunities that I will not get to have again.

Maybe this strikes a chord with you? You may not be pregnant but are you rushing to get to a new ‘moment’ rather than making the most of the one you are in?

It may not be where you want to be. It may feel uncomfortable, difficult or dull but right now it’s your ‘moment’

Will you make the most of it?

A new season – no holding back

Comments 4 Standard

image

On the eve of the first day back to school it seems only right to blog.

Usually, at this time of year there is a real sense of expectancy about what is to come over the next academic year – how will I engage the students, what ideas can I use, when will I hit the wall? This has been routine for me for over ten years.

This year however, things are different. Yes, I am going back and excited to see the students but this time it will only be for a week. After that, maternity leave starts and along with that a new season in my life.

I had never really entertained the idea of becoming a mother, mainly because a doctor felt it was a good idea to tell me at 15 years old that I would have trouble conceiving because of having X-rays.

This was a seed that planted in my mind and I believed I would not be able to have children.

Whenever people asked, I said I wasn’t ready yet but what I wasn’t saying was that I was too frightened to even consider the idea as the doctor’s words echoed in my head on a daily basis.

3 months into trying and I fell pregnant. Still now at 37.5 weeks it is so surreal to me.

This is a new season for me, I am moving from years of being very comfortable, having a career and a routine that worked for me. Moving on from knowing what to expect, planning, organising and feeling in control.

All of that is about to change…

I believe that this is part of me growing in my faith and going on with God.

I am to be taken out of my comfort zone, which is where we need to be for God to fully work in us and through us.

I am no longer in control. I don’t know when the baby will come or what my life will be like.

I have a choice, I can either wait in fear of what is to come or wait in peace, believing that God has plans and purposes for me.

I choose the latter. I am looking forward to the adventure that lies before me. I am expectant for what is to come and I truly believe that the best is ahead!

Are you heading into a new season?

Are you letting words spoken over you hold you back?

Are you expectant for a new adventure?

How are you dealing with stress and worry?

Comment 1 Standard

Last night at life group we were discussing ‘Jesus on Stress’ from Phil Moore’s book ‘Gagging Jesus.’

It was interesting to have a frank discussion about the things that we get stressed about and how we deal with stress. For many of us prayer was last on the list. 

That is often the case isn’t it? Prayer is our last resort – when we become desperate, when we get to our wit’s end and there is nothing else we can do to sort out what is worrying us and causing us stress.

What’s interesting in the book is that it explains that Jesus teaching on stress:

It tells us that stress is the chief symptom of our idolatry and self-worship

Read that sentence again. Quite hard hitting isn’t it? Few of us would care to admit that we partook in idolatry or self worship. The truth is, many of us are.

“I’m worried” is just another way of saying “I’m not convinced that God will do his job without me… I’m feeling stressed” is just another way of saying “I’m trying to do God’s job for him and it’s not working out for me.”

How often do you use those phrases in your everyday life?
How often do you attempt to do God’s work for Him?

In our human nature we like to be in control and the truth is we can’t be. We need to fully rely on God.

Our stress and worry draws our focus away from God and puts it onto ourself. We do all that we can to solve our own problems. We forget about prayer, talking to God. We lack faith that God will come though for us.

There were a number of contemplative silences as we discussed this last night. As the realisation sank in.

It is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life, in the issues that arise, in the striving and problem solving and desire to force things to work themselves out.

It is so easy to become self reliant, to feel that we are masters of our own universe and that we can do as good as or even a better job than God. We will sort it out faster, we know what needs to happen and we will fix it all.

The thing is, we are not called to go it alone. We are not created to be our own personal saviour.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

So, today at the end of the week how about taking Jesus up on his offer?

Go to him, find rest for your soul. Free yourself from the weight of worry and stress.