disappointment.

It has been said that a successful blog needs a niche.  A specialism.  So you’ll find cookery blogs, crafty/DIY blogs, foody blogs, mummy blogs, etc.  I don’t have a niche.  I just try to record the ‘little things’ that can easily be forgotten, make sense of my jumbled thoughts and share a little bit of me.  Sometimes I write about silly stuff.  Sometimes I write about good stuff.  And sometimes I write about struggles.  I’m guessing the former make for easier reading! But you don’t walk through life without struggles, n o-one does.  And I pray that as I write about stuff that I find tough, that it will encourage you wherever you’re at.

There’s always an ‘uh!’ moment when I wake up and my back/pelvis/legs are playing up. I’m like a disappointed child that’s been told they can’t go to the park, because this stupid injury stops me doing all I want to do. But right now, I’m grateful for what I can do. I’m so sorry for ranting and whining, the frustration might make a little more sense soon.

We had a load of Avon work to do Saturday afternoon and because it was so warm we combined it with a bike ride for my 4 yr old and 6 yr old. Never ever combine work with a bike ride with a 4 yr old and 6 yr old. It was awful. The girls were riding into the road. I totally misplaced a receipt I had for one customer. I was all sweaty in the ridiculous September heat (too much information) and delivered the wrong products to a different customer which meant I had to go back with my tail between my legs. I walked away feeling like possibly the most unprofessional Avon rep EVER. There was a slight turnaround in the whole experience when I delivered to the last customer. She was so lovely and a little amusing. She was asking me if I had popped brochure through a door over the road and kept saying she’s ‘gone away for the weekend’ – and she kept winking and grinning when she said it. it was a little bit wink wink nudge nudge. I grinned back. And had absolutely no idea what she was going on about. Maybe she’s a little ‘wo-hoo’ but hey, if she happy to buy with Avon… SAM_0855

On the way home we walked past some brambles and found blackberries, Much excitement followed and we improvised with Ruby’s bag to collect some. This is when a nice little picture of our foraging efforts would be fitting, but I didn’t have my camera with me. A lesson learnt. Take your camera everywhere.  So here’s what we came home with.

 

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Not quite enough to make a blackberry crumble but it was still a very cool little ‘bolt on’ to the afternoon.

We got home and almost immediately realised I’d walked way too far. For the first time in months I had all tingles and pins and needles down my legs. Gutted.  Some ice, rest and X Factor later my legs feel a little better but the ‘sciatica’ symptoms are still clinging on.

Yesterday I continued to ignore the pain and spent the morning in kids church, moving tables and carrying Ruby.  She has been exhausted since she started school and she’s not really caught up yet.  By the end of the morning church meeting she was showing major signs of flagging and so when The Husband took her this was pretty inevitable:

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Pushing my body when it was trying to tell me it was struggling took its toll and as we arrived back home at lunch time I crawled onto the sofa and upped my pain meds to the point that I was at before I started to reduce them.  Because I am chomping at the bit to get off all the medication I’m on, this was a bit of a blow.

Disappointment is rubbish isn’t it?  It makes you feel robbed and that all the hope has been sucked out of you, leaving you a little empty.  But it doesn’t have to be like that! There is hope in everything.   Here’s what the bible says about it:

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment.

Romans 5:3-4

We’ve heard its been said that we are what we eat.  It’s a good thing I don’t believe that or I’d be slow cooked chicken. I should eat more glamorous food.  We’re not what we eat.  We’re not even what we feel.  I wonder if our feelings get too much of a look in, and this comes from some one who mostly allows her heart to rule her head!  Feelings can be deceptive so we need to stand on what we know to be true.

Sometimes I just don’t feel I have what it takes, but I hold on to the truth that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).  Sometimes I can feel like plans have gone wrong but I stand on the truth that the plans of the Lord stand firm forever (psalm 33:11).

Sometimes I feel frustrated that ‘stuff’ just gets in the way of the important stuff – But I know that Our God is greater.
 

 

 

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You are what you see. But what do you really see?

We live in a technological world of social media where its easier to say what you think to a computer screen.  Blimey it’s easier to say what you think  to another person via a computer screen.  There is also a dangerous perception that words can be put out there and just deleted if regretted afterwards.  But it’s an illusion because once words are read by someone you can’t take them back.  The delete button is no-one’s safety net.

I wanted to share a little about some changes The Husband and I will be making in September, but before I do I need to be realistic and acknowledge that I’m in a position of influence both as a mum and as a youth pastor. The words I use matter. That’s not coming from a place of arrogance but from a place of responsibility that scares the baheebijeebies out of me.  But in my weakness HE is made strong and so on we go.  We want to live transparently, in our motives and actions.

So before I chat on about what September will probably look like to us, I want to put it all into context (this is sounding really serious, and it’s so not, ha! It’s just that I don’t want to risk any misunderstanding).

On Monday at The Link I talked to our young people a little about what it is to Give your heart to God…

When you are single to mingle and you find someone very cute and who like you back, its a pretty great feeling, right?  Having a crush on someone or even falling in love is often not a choice, it’s a progression of a relationship and before you know it you feel like your heart is not your own any more.  When someone has your heart there are a couple of things that happen that help us understand what its’ like to be in relationship with your creator, and what its’ like to be ‘in relationship’ with the world.  For now we’ll just look at one, but its’ a biggie…

When you’re infatuated, it’s very easy for your identity to be rooted in the object of your affection.  And before all the Mr and miss independents among you start heckling that no person will validate them – I say amen (!) but we have got to be real here.  People don’t complete you, but you’d be lying if you said that what the people closest to you say about you didn’t matter.  I’ve seen shy girls walk on air with a sudden spring in their step when their sweethearts have told them that they’re the best girl around.  And too often I’ve seen strong and amazing girls  reduced to nothing when the guy in their life has said they’re worth nothing.  Its’ gutting to see.  And this absolutely isn’t exclusive to the girls at all, its’ just been my experience because I’ve worked with a lot of young girls.

In today’s culture there is expectation screaming at young people.  The girls should be flawlessly beautiful (and when i say flawless I mean flawless, to the point of impossibility.  cough cough Photoshop cough cough).  They should be skinny but still have all the right curves and you know which two curves I’m talking about!  They should be outgoing, popular and affectionate but heaven forbid she fails to master the ultimate balance and be branded frigid or a slag.

 

 

And the guys don’t escape it either.  They are facing the pressure to be buff without becoming self obsessed, be reliable without becoming boring, be funny without be just plain weird and be sensitive without being a wimp.

 

Talk about a tightrope! whatever the pressure, there’s expectation to reach a standard.  So when you consider how young people place their identity and self worth in this culture its’ easy to understand how so many are gripped with eating disorders, anxiety, depression, behavioural issues along with so other mental health issues.

If we place our identity in God, its’ all about one thing: Seeing ourselves how HE sees us.  Our creator not only eases that pressure to conform to one model of human being but actually embraces diversity.  This gives us permission to relax into how he made us. Our bodies are to be loved, cared for and even celebrated, only, not in a way to objectify ourselves for someone else but to recognise that we’re made in the image of HIM.  The whole Bible is a love letter from God and is all about how he sees us.  and there are a lot of words in the Bible.  But here are just a few of what your creator has called you:

Precious                    Children of God                          Redeemed                        Restored

Worthy                 Accepted                                   Honoured                              Loved

God is passionate about us and is longing for us to recognise that so we don’t have to buy into the pressure to out perform each other in order like ourselves.

This isn’t new stuff, it’s the foundation of the Gospel – The good news of Jesus Christ.  He first Loved us.  We can approach him as we are.  We don’t need to be bigger, better, smarter, funnier, sexier, stronger to receive his acceptance – its’ already ours for the taking!

This is what grounds us as youth pastors.  This is what grounds us as parents.  This is what grounds me as a woman and its’ what grounds The Husband as a man.  Everything, everything is pivotal on  this, and its’ the safest place to be.

(To be continues in the next few days…….)

2032: letter to a 24 year old Ruby.

My Dear Ruby,

We’ve just celebrated your 4th birthday and you threw yourself so much into it that you could hardly climb the stairs to bed in the evening.  This didn’t surprise us because you throw yourself into everything, rarely showing fear or uncertainty.  I love your courage and confidence and I’m praying that you’ve clung onto these over the years.

In your fist couple of years you’d cut our head open twice and dislocated your elbow.  I’m amazed that we’ve managed to keep you out of plaster casts so far.  When you were three the specialists were investigating your ears, balance and cognitive development because you were so accident prone.  All tests came back clear and you were officially diagnosed with clumsiness.

You have always captivated the attention and affection of everyone you meet.  People can’t help but smile when they listen to you.  I think of recently when we had some work done in the house and you couldn’t wait to pop your head around the door and meet the builders, and you delighted them within seconds, asking them what they were doing and telling them all about the picnic you were about to have.  You’re hilarious and your laughter is contagious.  Don’t let anyone put out that spark inside of you Rubes.  It’s what makes you so incredible.  You were fearfully and wonderfully created and God does not mistakes.  Be yourself and embrace all that you are my beautiful girl. 

Only, your not just a girl now are you?  I can feel a lump forming in my throat at the thought that you’ve developed into a young woman.  My baby, a grown up all in her own right.  I can’t help but wonder what you’ll be doing?  As I ponder over what career path you’ve decided to wander down, whether you’ve found the man of your dreams or you’re living it up as an independent woman, know that the good stuff is to be relished and all problems can be sorted out in some way.  Be respectful always and meet insults with grace.  Don’t hold onto hurts, it’ll only eat you up inside.  Protect your friendships, invest in them and seek out the lonely.  Use that enormous heart of yours.    You were made with purpose so follow that Purpose, Rubes, and chase after God with all you have.

Know that your daddy and I have prayed for you since you came into existence and as you’ve gone through the joys and trials of growing up we’ve continually lifted you up to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

Keep going, my girl! I hope you still love to hug and cuddle into those you love.  Continue to be courageous, to live loud, love hard and honour the Lord in everything.

With all my love,

 

Mummy x

Holding on.

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So I wrote a little while ago about not going on holiday this year and feeling very grown up about coming to that decision. We played around with the idea of house swapping with my parents and weeks later, here we are. In the Middle of the Yorkshire Dales.  And I’m very, veryhappy we’re here.

In my limited experience of the world I reckon the Dales has to be somewhere at the top of the list of God’s masterpieces. It’s stunning. I’ve been to the cottage and back so often over the last ten years and I’ve not grown tired of its’ breath-taking landscapes.  And, believe me when I say this, I’m not the ‘oooooh-look-at-the-pretty-scenery’ type.

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I hope you appreciate this picture, I was hanging out of the car window to take it.  It didn’t occur to me to ask The Husband to stop the car.

I am seriously grateful to have avoided the post-Soul-Survivor slump.  Crashing down from the mountain top can be painful and it’s a common affliction to those who enter back into ‘reality’.  Sure , I feel ultra reflective and a little dazed – we came home to the news that one of the guys on our team who had driven a caravan back the night before had been in a horrific accident.  Pete’s ok, and by the grace of God he walked away from it with a bust nose, when reality tells us he shouldn’t have walked away from it at all.  I’ve been told that the policeman at the scene of the accident told him that Someone’s obviously looking out for him.  He was right there, I have absolutely no doubt about that.  That afternoon we all felt a mixture of emotions – shock, worry, fear but most of all gratitude God who is the ultimate protector.

Now, in the aftermath of the accident, instead of loosing all God had done at Soul survivor to the shock that clung onto everyone, we’re holding onto it for all its’ worth.  We’ll not let it go.  And we love Pete all the more for it.

I’ve come back from serving teenagers – it was their hour – only to feel like I’ve been fed myself and, oh my life, I want more.  I want as much of God and His Word (the bible) as I can get – not for the sake of knowledge but for the sake of the kingdom of God.  And get this; I am so captivated by a book I bought from Soul Survivor (Influential: Women in Leadership at church, work and beyond. By Jo Saxton) that I passed up on getting magazine for myself (The confession of my addiction to home/lifestyle magazines is widely known!) today in Hawes.  Modern day miracle, I know.

And I’ve brought my knitting! I’m not sure if the bringing of the knitting is more worrying, or the excitement about it.  Either way I think I’ve just aged 30 years.

rest.

 

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Life is fast, right?

 

My lower back and legs are slowly getting stronger and I’ve started decreasing the pain medication.  I get to do normal things now, but I know I do too much.  For the life of me I cannot find my ‘in moderation’ button.  So many people that that we do life with and that love us have comment on how much we take on – and they do it with ‘that concerned look’ on their face.  And I’d probably do exactly the same if I wasn’t me, but someone else who knew me…(I’m not even sure how that works – but do you see what I mean?!).  I’ve wrestled with it for so long, uncomfortable with not being able to ‘do less’.  But for now, until I find that ‘in moderation button, I’m coming to peace with my pace.  And being at peace with it means doing what I can to make it work and taking responsibility for myself as well as my family.  So although I can be ‘spirited’ when The Husband tries to tell me what to do (I’m working on that!) I thought he might be onto something yesterday when he suggested I had a morning in bed and just stop.

Chloe woke up at silly o’clock which is now unusual for her now and out of fear of her waking Roo up I told her to jump into bed with us.  I tried to doze but every other minute she was tickling my nose or sticking her fingers in my ears.  By the time they were getting dressed and I’d done their hair I was wide awake, uh! Don’t you just hate it when that happens?? It wasn’t a morning wasted though and I disciplined (!!) myself to ignore all the jobs that needed doing floating around in my head.

If you do life in the fast lane, there has to be a time to stop for a moment – stop everything that ‘needs’ to be done.  For a little while, everything can wait.  These moments (or mornings, or a snatched hour) need to be scheduled in – for me they do anyway or it doesn’t happen and i keep on going and going and going…..!

Stopping can be snuggling back into bed for an hour, picking up an untouched book or a magazine, going for a walk (if you can avoid all the rain!).  Anything.  It reminds you that even you needs a little TLC and at the risk of sounding like a Loreal advert – it reminds you that you’re worth it.  And that in itself lifts you, right? 

In Psalm 46 it says

“Be still and know that I am God…”

Doing can be great.  Trust me I am a doer.  An impulsive doer at that so watch out.  But the way we think, the direction we’re heading in and our focus has the potential to explode when we just stop.  When we’re still.  In the quiet place.

No matter how crazy busy my life is, no matter all I’m trying to do; when I ‘m still, and I look up, and I know that He is God, everything stops.  Because, although I trust that God increases my capacity as he increases my territory, it’s not about how much I do or what I achieve. Thank goodness for that because I’d flat out fail.  But God’s grace is sufficient for me – blimey it more than sufficient for me.

And that’s where I find rest.

cherish.

Sigh.  I don’t know where to start.  Around about a month ago I signed up late for Cherish2012.  It’s a women’s conference.  First off I signed up when I was still in so much pain I couldn’t balance all the meds I had to take.  Crazy I know.  Plus – I’m not the women’s conference ‘type’.  I thought there’d be lots of…’fluff’, you know? I can’t explain it, just fluffy stuff. AND I’m so rubbish around people I don’t know very well.  It’s like I’m socially schizophrenic, I turn from a confident woman into a ridiculously immature introvert that forgets the art of conversation.  So why I jumped at the chance to go to Cherish only God knows.

But it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

I’m not good with numbers (and these are poor images taken on the balcony) but this gives you a good idea of how many girls came to hang out for a weekend.

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What grabbed my heart straight away was the effort that went into making us feel welcome and important.  There were so many ‘little details’ that I couldn’t begin mention everything.  They covered the place with tiny butterflies, paper pom-poms and a big message for everyone walking through the car park.

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No massive reason for it, just to love us, appreciate us and embrace all things girlie.  Each woman at the conference received a gift, delivered by a team of amazing suited-up guys who served us the whole weekend (the gift was a veeeery pretty candle holder).

 

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Gifts – and no strings, it’s pretty counter-cultural right?! And another thing – no ‘fluff’ in sight!! Just a team of ordinary (but very annointed!) women who love Jesus pouring truth, affirmation and a spiritual ‘kick-up-the-butt’ to hundreds (?) of other ordinary woman that love Jesus too.

We even had a free afternoon to head into Bradford city centre for a bit of retail therapy!

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Becky didn’t go for the batman top in the end Smile.  I shared the weekend with a handful of women – some that I already knew well, others not very well at all.  I came home loving every single one of them, and blessed that I get to do life with these lovely ladies.DSCF3018DSCF3020

I couldn’t think how to get this picture in – but it can’t not, its too funny! Yes that is two grown women sitting in the boot.

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I ‘ve gone through the notes I made from the weekend and I’m committing to work through them over and over until they’ve settled nicely into my mind and my heart.  A weekend that made you feel special, where you are able to just be filled up afresh, spend time with some awesome friends and enjoy some ‘ mummy-off-duty’ time – Even the pain in my back couldn’t spoil it.

On the closing evening I had a tap on my shoulder only to turn around and see my old youth pastor standing in front of me.  Tears, laughter and lots of hugs followed and it was the perfect end to a very memorable and special weekend.

 

 

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Intentions.

Sometimes you’ve got to slow right down and simplify to notice something.  This week we’ve been able to slow down and simplify big style.  Our default setting of autopilot was shut down at the door and everything became intentional.  Wensleydale hasn’t gone digital yet so to watch any sky channels we had to log onto our laptops and sign into Sky Go.  This has been great for the girls to have an hour’s downtime on the sofa but meant that for the first time in our family’s history (shocking I know) we’ve not had background TV on.  TV is a funny old thing.  I don’t have a problem with it at all.  In fact I quite love it.  Sometimes all we need is to collapse in front of the Box and be idle for a while.  But that’s the thing – it makes active people idle, unless you count ironing because that is something you can do while your watching the TV.  Or running on a treadmill, you can do that too I guess but I don’t.  On the whole when we watch TV we generally become physically and mentally disconnected from reality.  So this week I have felt very much reconnected, so much so that I know I need to be more intentional of my time from now on.

 

I reckon the killer of many great ideas is busyness.  We mean to do this or we mean to do that, but we just didn’t get around to it and we just ran out of time.  It just falls off the radar.  And this is why we need to be actively intentional, carrying through with good idea on purpose.  We live in a culture of speed and convenience.  Everyone is always rushing.  Maybe we’re trying to do too much that we’re getting too tired that we don’t end up doing nearly enough as we wanted.  I tease The Husband because so often he walks through the front door and before he says hello he’s looking at his watch and telling me what time he has to be somewhere else.

 

A guy called Robert A Heinlein warned us to “not handicap your children by making their lives easy”.  When I first read this I thought it was just another old-schooler trying to take us back to Victorian parenting.  Don’t cuddle them or they’ll be grow to be spoiled, leave their pram out in the garden or they’ll grow to be demanding etc.  Bear with me (Bear? Bare? I always forget!) I’ll come back to this.

I’ve noticed recently that Ruby struggles with a couple of things that I’m sure Chloe was fine with at Ruby’s age.  It’s not that Chloe’s more clever.  When a second child comes along everything becomes more rushed because there is double the mess and, well pretty much double everything.  So when you’re rushing out the door you fasten their coats because it’s quicker than waiting for them to fumble with the toggles themselves.  You make decisions for them because otherwise you know you’ll still be waiting there long after you should have been on your way.  Earlier this week Ruby wanted me to fasten the button on her jeans.  Because we weren’t rushing anywhere and my mind wasn’t on a million other things I sat down and explained to her that if I kept fastening her button for her she’d never learn to do it herself.  Immediately I thought of Robert A Heinlein’s words.  Ok, maybe there was just a little bit of sense somewhere in there.  So while we’ve been away we’ve tried to hold back from doing things for the girls.  Such a simple thing that reaps so much growth.  We watched as the girls chose and asked for their own ice creams and we waited while Chloe chose which two gems to get from the Gem Shop (it would have been sooooooo easy to just back down and say she could have the three that she was looking at but I’m totally glad I didn’t).  We’re gonna have to be intentional in raising these girls if we want them to grow up to be the awesome world-changing women they have the capacity to become.

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