I have been wanting to write this for a while but I have as usual been procrastinating and convincing myself out of it. Have you noticed how easy that is to do? You wake up with the best of intentions but as the day wears on you lose your resolve, those thoughts creep in, they take over.
I need to tell you that you matter, you matter all the time, every day, even when you don’t feel it. I need you to know that those moments when you reach the end of yourself and you wonder if anyone will ever see the real you, or if anyone really cares about where you are right at that minute, or if you could ever begin to say it all out loud, that I see you and that I am ready to hear it all.
I want to thank you for every moment of yourself that you have given away to look after, care for and love other people. Every one of those moments matters and is noticed even if you don’t see it.
I know there are times when you question yourself, when you wonder if you will ever understand the craziness and chaos of this life, you feel you get it wrong more often than you get it right and at times it takes all that you are just to get out of bed in the morning and face the day. But you do it.
I want to ask you to be kinder to yourself, don’t re think every decision or replay every conversation and pick apart what you did and how you could have done better, the truth is you’re doing fine. All that time you spend focussing on pulling yourself apart you lose sight of all that you are, you dull pieces of yourself and every piece of you is essential and needed and beautiful.
You are loved, you are needed, you are wanted.
You – the you that you hide away,
the you that you try everything to avoid being,
the you that this world needs.
There are times when we all feel a little flat, times when we lose sight of our place in the world. It may be due to our current circumstances or just being stuck in a thought or a mindset that lingers for longer than we ever intended it to.
During those times, the times when we are less of ourselves, when we have less to offer the world and we feel lost is when we need the uplifters, the encouragers, the friends who will remind us of who we are and who will love us even when we don’t love ourselves.
This post is about those people, this post is for those people.
Thank you! Yes you! I don’t say it enough and I haven’t said it enough and for that I apologise because I am sure there are times when you also feel you are not enough or that you don’t have much to offer. I want you to know that you make a huge difference.
Your text, tweet, whatsapp that you send when you are half asleep on your way to work or when you have been awake all night with your baby or when you collapse on the sofa after ‘one of those days’ means the world. That small act of connection, reminds me that I am not alone, that I matter, that I am part of something bigger than myself.
The email you write when you don’t even know what you really need to say. The fact that you still send it, that you take time out of all that is happening for you because you just know, it makes my life all the brighter.
The words of encouragement you find to give out even when you are at the end of yourself. The commitment you show to ‘doing life’ with me, 24/7, at all times, through all seasons in all circumstances. The fact you show up, turn, up speak up, it amazes me.
The unconditional love you show in spite of my ability to be flaky, or quiet, or withdraw. The fact that ultimately who I am is more important to you than what I do, nourishes me.
Thank you. Thank you for not giving up on me even when I give up on myself. Thank you for being who you are and being consistent and caring and loving and encouraging and helping me to grow.
You will never know how amazing you are and how much those little things matter. I have tried to explain it in these few paragraphs but it doesn’t even come close.
To the mothers reading this, I want you to know that you don’t need to feel guilty.
We all do it to ourselves, we all allow those thoughts and feelings to build up and overwhelm us – usually at 2am and it leads to a restless night.
The ‘mum guilts’ I have named them. The I should have, shouldn’t have, could have etc…about any situation to do with our children.
Mine tend to focus around photos and momentos. I should have had casts made of his hands and feet. I should have started a memory scrapbook by now, I should have taken more photos.
I had a revelation this evening that all my ‘should haves’ have nothing to do with my son. None of those things are detrimental to him. They are about me and my needs.
What he needs from me is for me to focus on interacting and enjoying him. He doesn’t need a lens stuck in his face every five minutes. I have very few pictures of me as a child – it doesn’t make me feel deprived or affect my memories of my childhood. I don’t hold my parents accountable demanding why they didn’t take more photos!
I tie myself up in knots about it and I don’t know why I can’t be rational but I’m going to make more of an effort to try.
I get ‘mum guilts’ when he is awake too long and gets over tired, when he wakes in the night and I feel shattered in the morning and am grumpy, when I don’t live up to the expectations I have set myself as to what a mother should be.
I hesitate about going out to Zumba or for a meal if he is not settled before I go.
A week ago I went out to see a comedian and he cried for the first 45 minutes I was out but then slept until I was home. I battled and won against the ‘mum guilts’ then. He may have cried if I had been there anyway. He was fine when he woke up – he wasn’t holding grudges!
That’s the thing, that’s what I want you to remember. Ultimately your child wants to be loved. You are doing that every single day. You are loving them in the best way that you can and they don’t hold you even a fraction as accountable as you hold yourself.
So, whatever your ‘mum guilts’ are about. Whatever triggers them in you – let it go.
You are a mother but you are not guilty.
Guilt is such an ugly, all consuming thing and frankly you don’t have time for it. You are far too busy loving your child.
So tonight, get some sleep while you can, don’t re assess the whole day picking on your faults but instead remember the smiles and laughter that were just for you, remember the hugs, the holding of your hand and know your little one sleeps feeling cherished by you.
Being Valentine’s Day it seems fitting to post about love. The problem is, as a society our idea of love has become synonymous with flowers, chocolates and hearts or worse still we have confused the concept of love with lust.
For me personally Valentine’s Day is just like any other, not because my husband is unromantic, or because I myself am, but because I don’t think love is something you express on only one day of the year or that it should only be focused on for one day.
I was asked by yesheis.com to review their new video for Valentine’s Day – it is entitled ‘A different love story’ and can be found here
The video begins with a girl telling us she was waiting to be swept off her feet by a Prince Charming the way it is portrayed in films and songs. The fairytale of love we are taught to buy into.
In fact all she really wanted was to be treasured.
Then the voice changes to a male voice saying ‘We are all just looking, looking for someone.’
Both tell their own stories of seeking love as they believed it should be and how it left them wanting.
They tell the story of their own
journey in finding the love of Jesus.
What I like about this video is that it is based around the whole idea of personal story – we are being told about their journey first hand.
There is something powerful to me about someone’s story and experience – getting to know where they were and where they are now.
There is contrast in the two stories in their starting points and how they came to seek out love and although they both find that it is the love of Jesus that ultimately satisfies it shows how different that relationship is for each of them.
We are left with the text ‘Jesus thinks you’re to die for. Get to know him for yourself.’
A clever play on words – it makes you think and that is the ultimate success of the video – it makes you think.
If you were asked to define love what would you say? If you had to talk about your experiences of it would they be similar to the stories in the video?
You see even though they are two personal stories they could be any of ours.
This Valentine’s Day, why not watch the video for yourself and think, really think about your understanding of love.
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.’
Have read a lot of Adrian Plass recently. Completely compelling writing, tongue in cheek at times but also quite pointed. Has made me think a lot about Christianity and church.
‘The Church’ to the outside world is often viewed as a place full of pious, out of touch people who closet themselves away on a Sunday, sing hymns and feel that they are superior to everyone else.
TV does little to dispel this myth. Have seen a couple of dramas recently where the Christian character comes across as a ‘weirdo’. One of the most high profile churches in the media is Westboro Baptist known for their messages of hatred.
Church in reality is very different. I tweeted on Sunday that I had really enjoyed church because it felt like family. Now when we consider the word family, we think of different generations, personalities, characters etc who all get together and spend time together because they are related. For me, church is the same, I spend time with people of different ages to me. I love the fact that my friends would not be considered my peer group. I have learnt so much and been really supported by having friends of different ages. This is something that is often missed out on.
Also, like family there are times you fall out, people get on your nerves and it can be strained but ultimately what unites us is so much stronger than that. There is a shared mutual love and support and an inbuilt support system when things are tough.
Sometimes we get things wrong and that is because we are all broken, messy people. We don’t have it all together but we do have each other and recognise that we are better together than we are apart.
It is not an exclusive club it is an inclusive club.
Sadly, many people will not set foot in a church because of misconception, because of the message that has often been heard, because of silence when there should have been words.
Ultimately we are called to love and we all need to get that little bit better at doing just that.
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?
I haven’t blogged for a long while. This is mostly because somewhere along the way I lost my voice. It became swamped by the strains and stresses of life and I fell silent.
I have just got back from Spring Harvest, a Christian Conference. The theme was – Be, Say, Do. Somewhere over that week I found my voice again. I spoke in discussion groups, jumped up on stage to sing with Andy Flannagan and had discussions with my friends about all we were learning and what we wanted to change.
I have a notebook full of notes that I need to now re read and summarise. I have books to read and I have a desire to hold onto my voice.
A lot of questions have been raised for me about who and what I am going to be. How I am going to be. I question whether in all aspects of my online and offline life I have been authentic. What does that really mean and how do you ensure it? This is something I will be exploring more.
I believe we all have a natural filter, things we say and things that we hold back. I realise now that I have often held back in encouragement. I do and have always encouraged but not enough. I have remained silent when I could have brought words that would have helped and uplifted others. This is something I want to change. I have also stayed silent when I should have made sure my voice was one to be heard. This is also something I want to work on.
I realised when I was away that the main thing I do is work. I know that balance is important but also I have written off a lot of what I do at work as if it is unimportant. I have conversations with young people everyday who are marginalised and feel unimportant and I invest in them.
I also recognise there are times when I have withdrawn and kept myself to myself when I could have been out doing. I recognise now that I have often built things up and felt that doing meant something huge, something really time consuming and it isn’t about that.
I have massively over complicated what is really simple. So over the next few months I am going to work on simplifying and not tying myself in knots.