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…….)

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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

six.

 

Six years ago The Husband gave me a kiss goodbye and headed off to eat some chinese food and get a good night’s sleep.  I was lying in a hospital bed with ridiculously captivating baby in my arms.  This was real.  I expected someone to come in and tell me I wasn’t allowed to look after this precious little being.

 

 

I stared.  She stared.  I asked her if she was hungry.  She wan’t fussed.  The ladies in blue dresses weren’t massively impressed with that.  Apparently babies are supposed to be hungry.  I wasn’t impressed that noone prepared me for how much pain I’d be after a thirty hour labour.  Little trixters.

And just like that – blink and you’d miss it, she’s six.  SHE’S SIX!! I know all parents say but really I have the smartest, funniest, kindest girl in the world.  She blows me away.

She totally rocked it yesterday with her girlfriends.

Happy birthday baby girl xxxx

 

 

 

fathers.

A shout out to my dad on father’s day: I love you, I wish I was closer today so I could come by and give you a hug.

A shout out to my dad’s dad on father’s day: I love you grandad. I hope you’re feeling better soon. I’m praying that you have peace for tomorrow and that the doctors have some good old common sense!

A shout out to my babies’ father: I love you. Thankyou for giving your time to the girls. Thankyou for monkeying around with them. Thankyou for Tommy the Turtle.

I have a love-hate relationship with fathers day. I love it because it’s good to honour good parenting. But what about when there’s not so good parenting? What about when there’s no father around to do the parenting? Where does father’s day leave that person? That’s where the hate part of the relationship comes in. It’s a good day for some, and a really painful day for so many others.

Whatever experience you have of fathers, there is a Father that loves beyond our understanding.

For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

Zephaniah 3:17