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’
Today, as I sit writing this post looking out of the window at the sunshine, I want to ask you a question: What’s on your mind?
Before you saw the image with this post did you realise that is what Facebook asks you every time you update your status?
Why is it that we happily post on Facebook and Twitter about our thoughts but if I were to ask you that question right now I am guessing the initial answer might be ‘Nothing.’ or ‘Not much’ but is that true?
Even discussing ‘What’s on your mind?’ on social media is somewhat of a facade – no one ever really posts exactly what is on their mind. We post modified thoughts, acceptable thoughts, things that will appear funny and engaging. Things that will will portray what we want them them to.
What about with God? What do you say when God asks you the same question? Do you modify your answer? Go for the ‘acceptable’ stuff?
We are often carrying many thoughts in our mind, it is often full of questions, concerns, worries, to do lists. We can lose ourselves in it all sometimes.
I really feel that today God wants to free you from all of that. Free you from your ‘thought baggage’ the things that play in your mind over and over again that you have just accepted and learnt to deal with. The things that wake you up at night that you have never shared. The worries that you can convince yourself you have overcome but that catch you unawares when you are least expecting it.
We are told in the word:
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
Are you experiencing the freedom of a ‘sound mind’ today?
What are the things that are plaguing you, keeping you captive, holding you back?
Are you afraid to speak them aloud?
I believe today that God is calling us to speak them aloud so that he can deal with them, so that we are not held prisoner to them, so that they do not have control over us.
We do not need to be fearful – we do not have a spirit of fear.
We need to remember we are loved. We are love with an unconditional, everlasting love.
Perfect love casts out fear…
Will you tell God what’s on your mind today? The unmodified version?
I got a tweet yesterday in my timeline from @lisabevere with a link to the above message. I favourited it but did not listen to it until this morning. It is about the Holy Spirit and hearing from God. It feeds into exactly the journey I have been on recently.
While listening I got emotional with God. I had tears. It really spoke deeply into my heart.
Hearing from God is an odd phrase – often it is met with consternation and skepticism. It can fall into the weird category and can frighten people. We can build it up into something so big that we avoid it at all costs. We shy away from it and often times ignore it.
For me, promptings from the Holy Spirit are not big booming voice encounters – it comes from within a nudge, a sense that I should do or say something.
One part of the message really pierced my heart…
There are so many other things I said to you and you second guessed them.’
I know this is true in my own life – that I have felt promptings, to pray out, to sing out, to pray for people, to encourage, to acknowledge, to speak a word and I haven’t because i have second guessed myself. I have allowed fear and doubt to prevent me from doing what I have been called to do.
I started a journal a week ago – I can see evidence of hearing from God, of being prompted by the Holy Spirit and I have been following those promptings. It hasn’t been anything ‘huge’ just small things. Sending a tweet, an email, writing a blog post but there has been fruit. There has been a momentum building.
How often do we write off the small things? Does the word not say:
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin… Zechariah 4:10
The problem is that in our humanness we don’t want small, we desire big, we want more, we want fireworks and lights and fanfares. We go from following a prompting to wanting to build a ministry. We don’t want to start small but that is how it all begins.
Starting small is exciting and we need to recognise that. Do you want your faith life to be a journey, an awesome adventure? Do you want to be able to see how God has worked in your life? It doesn’t happen overnight, as much as we would like it. It is about the small steps towards greater obedience.
I love to praise and worship God. I have a real heart for worshipping. There is nothing better for me than singing my heart out to God. For me, it is through worship that the Holy Spirit stirs within me. It is through my recognition of who God is, of His love for me, of his amazing faithfulness that I feel the spirit stirring me and moving me.
On Sunday, I went from dancing around my kitchen lost in wonder, love and praise to praying fervently for the church and weeping. That was a prompting – it came out of my worship.
On Sunday, I was prompted to pray for a friend and I walked all the way to the back of the church, took them by the hand and said ‘Can I pray with you?’ Turns out they really needed prayer but wouldn’t have asked.
As I listen to preaches and talks, I often hear passages read and the Holy Spirit will speak a name to me and I know I have to send them that passage. I don’t always get a response, or know how that has spoken to or affected them but does that mean I should stop?
Following promptings is not about our glory but God’s. It should not be done to get recognition for ourselves but for God. So it doesn’t matter about the response to me, it matters that I have been obedient.
I don’t want to write off the small things. I want to make sure i don’t miss out. I want to follow every little prompting I get.
How about you? Have you been prompted recently? Have you been too busy second guessing that you have missed opportunities?
Can I challenge you to follow a prompting today and see what happens?
I want to finish with a video of a worship song that is constantly on my heart at the moment. It is about God’s faithfulness and the fact we are never alone.
Why not start from a place of worship and see where the Holy Spirit leads you today?
“What is it about tears that should be so terrifying? the touch of God is marked by tears…deep, soul-shaking tears, weeping…it comes when that last barrier is down and you surrender yourself to health and wholeness” David Wilkerson, The Cross and the Switchblade
I read this quote today and it really struck me. It spoke to me deeply about my own reactions to tears, it brought to mind many instances when I have experienced exactly the above.
I would describe myself as an emotional person, I cry at adverts, I cry at new stories, I cry when I am angry, happy, frustrated. It seems to be a bit of a default and I suppose that is why when I experience tears in a spiritual context, I tend to write it off.
I have said on many occasions ‘Why do I always get tears? Why can’t I get laughter?’ Belittling in a way the experience, the deep work that is taking place within me. But why?
In society, crying or tears are seen as weakness. A sense that you have lost control or have become ‘over emotional’. People who cry are often written off and not listened to – they have shown themselves to be fallible and incapable of maintaining their dignity.
I have sadly bought into this perception all to often and in the process been happy to write myself of as ’emotional’ as if it is a dirty word, not to be seen as a quality but to sneered at and embarrassed about.
I believe that God is doing a work in me about this. I believe He has started gently with the quote above but I know need to accept it is a big part of who I am and who He created me to be.
On Sunday, as I prayed in my kitchen before church, I was overwhelmed by emotion and I cried. Thinking back to this now, this was about sensing God’s heart and I wiped my tears away and ‘pulled myself together’ ashamed, feeling silly. I repent of that now.
After the service, when I prayed for friends again I was overwhelmed by tears and it was again God’s heart – I realised it more then, I did not allow it to hinder me but to spur me on and I felt that God was working, that he was moving. I accepted the tears.
Who am I to deny attributes in myself when ‘I am fearfully and wonderfully made’? I have not been called to write myself off. There are plenty who will, there is an enemy who will make sure of it but I am not to join in with that – to belittle God.
Can we reclaim the word ’emotional’? Can we accept tears as the touch of God?
How often do we sing or pray ‘break my heart for what breaks yours’ and then berate ourselves for feeling the emotion and weeping? How often do we ask to see the world and people through God’s eyes and then put ourselves down for getting ’emotional’?
Will you join me from today and accept that tears are not a weakness but a sign that we have experienced something of the heart of God? The heart of God for those we are praying for, for our current situation, for the stories we read about and watch on the news.
Will you join me in recognising that compassion is something far more than just thinking ‘Oh that’s sad.’
As I was listening, I tweeted some of the content because I couldn’t help but want to share it. I also emailed the link to some friends who I know will be blessed by listening to the message.
I am so fired up and inspired by what I am learning and experiencing at the moment from changing my whole approach to my relationship with God and my Christian walk. I am seeing how God is moving and working in my life and the lives of others in such a short space of time.
Keeping a journal really helps – not in a strict, I must write in it everyday kind of way but in a Wow! I need to write this down – I need to remember this, I need to be encouraged by this and I will need this to keep me going kind of way.
There were a few snippets of the preach that really struck me…
‘A lot of us treat our relationship with God like a formal living room, to be looked at and admired but we don’t live with him.’
I was immediately reminded of my grandparents house. They had a formal living room at the front of the house and it was never used apart from on very special occasions. It was beautiful and awe inspiring but we hardly went into it.
How true can this be of our relationship with God? We acknowledge that he is amazing, awesome, wonderful but we don’t take it any further – an arm’s length approach. A head knowledge approach – we know how to describe him and all that he is but do we know him?
Abide – continue, stay, dwell, remain. Don’t treat God like an antique piece of furniture but an Ikea couch!
I have a carving chair in my house, it was my Granddad’s. When I first got it I didn’t want anyone to sit on it. It was just to be looked at. Now, anyone can sit in it, after all that is what it is for!
I love the analogy used here – you are far more free to let people live on your Ikea couch than your antique furniture – you recognise it is it to be lived on and in. The same is true of our relationship with God – it is to be lived on and in.
You have permission to enjoy God. You have permission to let him love you.
How often do we reduce ‘relationship’ with God to :
Daily quiet time
Reading the bible
Nothing wrong with any of those things but God wants all of our life and that means the making dinner, sitting in the sunshine, going for a walk, having a coffee, relaxing on the sofa parts of our lives too. The writing blog posts, posting on social media and watching a film parts.
We need to stop ‘doing’ and start ‘being’
We need to stop trying to earn God’s love and favour.
We need to accept – we are loved, we are loved, we are loved.
We need to enjoy God.
How are you going to enjoy God today? How are you going to give yourself permission to accept his love?
I started reading a book this morning ‘A life unleashed’ by Christine Caine and one of the suggestions she makes in the first chapter is to have a coffee with God.
This got me thinking about the way I often approach God – with a list of requests or some hurried thank you or a few rocket prayers. How at times, I can fall into the trap of over spiritualising my quiet times and over complicating them.
What is it about coffee? Coffee shops are springing up everywhere. Our language has been infiltrated with hundreds of descriptions of different coffee combinations. Our high streets are saturated with them, often next to and opposite each other and sometimes even more than one branch within a few hundred metres.
I don’t actually think it is because we have become a nation of coffee connoisseurs ( you may beg to differ) but more to do with the activity and act of going for a coffee. Common parlance is ‘Shall we go for a coffee?’ Let’s meet up for a coffee.’ This is rarely about the coffee itself but more to do with sitting together, conversing, enjoying each other’s company – sharing with each other. Coffee shops offer the opportunity to sit, watch the world go by, enjoy a hot drink ( which we all know makes everything infinitely better) and to talk, face to face.
I love to ‘go for coffee’. I find it relaxing and one of the best ways to catch up with someone.
So, the question is why, when faced with the suggestion to have coffee with God did it seem like a revolutionary concept? Why have I separated something I do so easily and commonly from God?
The conversation over coffee flows easily, it is not hurried, there are moments of stillness and silence that are not uncomfortable. There is a sharing, a bonding and an important part of relationship building and strengthening that goes on. Surely, it could also be this simple with God?
Conversations are two way – so today as I sit with my coffee ( decaf latte, no sugar) I am going to invite God along. There are a few questions I have for Him, a few things I need to say, some asking of why? about situations people close to me are facing. How are certain things going to happen and come to fruition? I also know there is going to be a lot of listening on my side too – moments of stillness and moments of silence.
Who do you most need to have coffee with today? When did you last have ‘ a coffee with God’ moment?
Today is one of those moments, beginning a new journal full of hope and expectation – determined that you will record in it regularly but deep down knowing it will tailor off, you will become complacent, it will become another part filled book.
The thing is, that is not an option this time. This time is different. The difference is I recognise my freedom and I won’t give in to fear.
I have ‘couched with fear’ (to quote Livy Gibbs) for far too long and it has done nothing but hinder me in my spiritual life. I won’t do it anymore.
As I sit here, 28wks pregnant and feel my baby kick, I am reminded that ever since I became pregnant, I have felt The Lord is birthing something new within me. A new vision and a new hope. (I was recently reading ‘Lioness Arising by Lisa Bevere and was encouraged by her feelings when she was pregnant) The veil has been removed and I now see clearly what I haven’t before.
Now is the time to dream big dreams and to step out in all God has for me.
So what does that mean? Speaking aloud the dreams I have, not being afraid to say I want to be influential for God. Not being afraid of what people might say.
1. I want to write a book
2. I want to preach
3. I want to develop the gift of prophecy and healing
4. I want to impact my society
5. I want to live by faith, no longer constrained by worry.
Pretty big dreams right? Things I cannot do on my own and in my own strength, which is exactly the point.
I have spent too long constraining myself to do the things I knew I could do and relying on myself and not God.
That is not an option for me anymore. The journey begins…
What are your big dreams? Are you brave enough to speak them aloud? I would love to hear from you.
Broken, messy, used to failing. Not the adjectives you would expect to be used to describe a Christian. I would use them to describe me as a Christian.
You see the opinion a lot of people have is that Christians are pious, judgemental and have it all together. The ‘holier than thou’ approach.
Is this unfair? I don’t think it is. I think the issue is that we have forgotten how to vulnerable, forgotten that ultimately we are broken and that we need help to be fixed, we can’t do it alone and that help comes from Jesus not from working on it ourselves, by doing as many good deeds as we can in the attempt to earn goodness.
Human achievement – society is based on this concept. That everything is earned through doing enough, working hard enough, being busy enough. The problem is in the attempt to earn goodness and achieve accolades we have lost the art of vulnerability. We have created a culture where vulnerability is synonymous with weakness. We strive to out busy each other, to prove we are better than the next person. We lie about the fact that we are struggling. We pretend we don’t care about others.
I myself have fallen into this trap. Why? Because I am broken and messy and at times I fail.
We don’t like the word fail but the truth is that we all do but rarely will we acknowledge it to ourselves let alone others.
In the church we have become adept at hiding our failures from one another. Forgetting the very reason we are there. We need to return to a culture of vulnerability. We need to be prepared to say to each other that we are broken and messy and that we fail. That we can’t fix it all ourselves.
If we don’t, there is the danger that we create a place where people feel they have to live up to a certain set of standards to belong and that is far from the church we are called to be.
We need to be prepared to say to the world that we don’t have it all together, that we struggle, that we don’t have all the answers, that life is hard. We need to be vulnerable. We are no better, we are not ‘holier than thou’.
We need to display that we love each other in our messes, in our troubles, in our failures. We need to show that ultimately we love.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t live out of my brokeness but I know I have brokeness. I don’t live feeling a failure but I know I fail. I don’t call myself a mess but my life can be messy.
Vulnerability is hard because it means being susceptible to attack because you let people in to your life as it is without hiding anything.
I think that means being prepared to die to self doesn’t it? forgoing reputation?
This post is my first step towards true vulnerability. What will yours be?
Image courtesy of [Master isolated] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”
‘Be yourself everyone else is already taken’ Oscar Wilde
I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about what it means to be yourself. I often comment that I am not feeling myself today, but what do I mean when I say that?
I think sometimes we have this idea that there are people who don’t care what people think of them, experience complete freedom in thought, word and deed, never experience anxiety or worry. This idea that there are people who can go through life, day by day, unaffected by the comments of others or their own analysis of situations.
I think this is a myth.
Deep down, we do care about others opinions of us, despite our protestations to the contrary. We are relational beings, as much as we may strive for independence and to do it all alone. We can’t.
We need other people, each other, relationship.
The thing is, because of this need for relationship we often spend our time trying to craft ourselves into the person we think others want us to be. We have a created ideal.
I need to appear strong, not too needy. I shouldn’t talk about myself too much and make sure I listen. I mustn’t appear too grumpy or angry, but on the overhand, I need to ensure I am not overly emotional. Being classified as emotional is close to be written off in our strange, created ideal.
Where do these ideals come from and why do we insist on maintaining them? Why do we have a natural bent towards criticism rather than encouragement? Judgement rather than grace? Fault finding rather than recognition of strength?
We need to start with ourselves, accepting who we are, what being ourselves means for us.
So I am going to tell you who I am, what being myself is for me.
I am emotional. I have highs and lows. In the highs, I experience euphoria and am able to take on most things that are thrown on me, I can give and give and give and feel no effect. In the lows, I feel lethargic, begin to second guess everything and everyone. I misread situations and withdraw.
I experience stress, anger and frustration. I can be very vocal about how I am feeling and my default expression of emotion is tears. When I am happy, sad, angry, frustrated, tired, I cry.
I love to spend time with people, but I can be affected by the moods and attitudes of others. I worry about what people think, my appearance, finances, health and the future.
I expect the best of myself all of the time and will often beat myself up about the slightest of errors. If I speak out of turn, I replay the moment continuously and cringe at my behaviour.
I giggle a lot, sing at every opportunity and find any opportunity I can to smile.
The authentic me is the person I have described above. I don’t think she sounds too bad actually.
What about the authentic you? What does being yourself mean for you?
Leave a comment, tell me who you are, let’s start destroying the myth and start enjoying being ourselves.
“Image courtesy of [James Barker] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.
Today, I went to work dressed a pirate. Children in Need, meant that we had a fancy dress day. The students gave me an A for effort and it caused a lot of amusement.
I then spent the next four hours hiding away in the meeting room, with the HLTA, writing medium term plans for our new curriculum. I had the radio on and they were playing Christmas songs, plus I was sat in a Tri corner hat with red feather edging. It was a surreal day to say the least.
Being in Ofsted ready mode is taking its toll. There is so much that needs to be in place, paperwork that needs updating, plans that need adapting, new courses that we are implementing. It feels never ending.
Today, I felt I could breathe and it was also acknowledged what I have been doing and that I am making good progress. Extra support has been put in place in terms of time and resources and I feel we are getting somewhere.
Next week, I am only in for two days, I am visiting our primary school to observe students who will be joining us in September and then on Read Write Inc training. My week will be quite disjointed and I am not sure how that makes me feel.
Sometimes, I think I am the only person who can’t switch off. My mind is like a constant treadmill.
Tonight, is Friday night. I finished reading WarHorse for book club a couple of hours ago. I am looking forward to a few glasses of wine and a good discussion with friends. This will put me more at ease, help me to transition into the weekend. Help me to relax.
Our Internet is fixed, so we are back connected to the world.
The John Lewis Chrsitmas advert has just been on and set me off again, have already cried my eyes out reading WarHorse.
I am definitely on a journey to be more accepting of myself, my emotional nature, my quirks. I need to learn to let things go, to pause, to rest.
Thankfully, I know that He who began a good work in me, will carry it on to completion.
I have the weekend to spend with those who nourish me, support me, remind me that the me I so often beat myself up about being is the me that they love.