Monday, 3 July 2017

Priorities

I am useless at prioritising. Totally useless. You can ask anyone - it's just something I cannot do. 

You could give me a list of jobs to do, and ask me to do the most important, but I am really bad at picking what that is. 

Now ordinarily this wouldn't be a huge problem but it is starting to become one for me. It's affecting my life in all areas - at home, at school, in my housekeeping, my marriage, my parenting and my friendships. 

So I've decided to do something about it! I found a fantastic wee book in the depths of my Kindle. Its called "A Mother's Rule of Life" by Holly Pierlot. Now this is a slightly different book than I would usually read as it's by a Catholic author. Holly is a lovely lady who has an inspiring relationship with God, but there are a lot of Catholic references that I don't 'get' and sometimes don't agree with. But why that is, is a conversation for another day!! 


I also started re-reading some of my very early blog posts. Very very interesting!! 

So I'm going back to re-read my old favorite - "Life Management for Busy Women" by Elizabeth George - and I'm going to work on my priorities.


In her book, Holly talks about the 5 Ps :

· Prayer - my relationship with God

· Person - my emotional, mental and physical health as a woman

· Partner - my relationship with my husband

· Parent - my relationship with my children

· Provider - my work

And I love this. In order to get my priorities correct and my life balanced, I need to work on these five things - in this order. 

So I'll be focusing on my relationship with God first, before moving on. I can't wait to get into this. And instead of going through all my reading with me, I'll update you once a week with how I'm progressing! 

What are you working on at the moment? We'd love you to share your journey too. And whatever it is.. 

Keep shining xxx


Monday, 26 June 2017

But God...

So for the past week I have been in a very bad place - and I struggled to get out. I've been literally surviving one day at a time.


I've mentioned that I've been going to a counsellor - which has been a fantastic experience. BUT the down side of counselling is the having to process everything and deal with the fallout of delving deep inside. 


Thoughts I believed that weren't real mixed in with things I didn't dare believe. Achievements battered by thoughts of failure. Good experiences always drowned out by the bad. 


And when you stop to actually look into them and start to dissect them they get even worse. 


And that's where I've been this week. I have been constantly chasing thoughts around my head - to the point that even sensible suggestions or things asked of me totally threw me. It was as if I no longer could tell the difference between the truth and the lies. I could no longer tell the difference between life as it is meant to be and life in my mess of a head. 


It's a horrible place to be. 


But God... 


Those words follow so many stories because we have an amazing God! I know that I feel like I need a miracle to sort my head out, but I also know that I have a God that specialises in them! 


But God... 


He comes alongside and allows me to just be still in His presence. And that's what I need most right now. So that's my plan for the next weeks. To be still and know that He is God. 


So this morning I got up to do just that... 



I got a copy of "Pressing Pause" to work through this summer wih some friends. I haven't been the greatest at keeping up but this morning I made a special effort to reprioritise God and got up to read. It was the story of Mary and Martha, where Martha was busy busy busy and Mary sat at the feet of Jesus just being still in His presence. 


I do love how God just brings you  just what you need when you need it! This was so specifically for me and I actually laughed when I read it! God just keeps amazing me over and over! 


Keep shining xx 

Saturday, 17 June 2017

And now...

So I've finished my 30 day challenge - and I seriously loved it. Some of the issues and prompts were a little too personal to share here, but all in all I found it a very rewarding experience. I definitely know myself and my thought patterns a little better now! 


So what's next? 


Well - I'm glad you asked!!! 😀😀


Starting tomorrow I am starting to reorder my life, bringing back into balance all the bits that have either become my main focus in a wrong way,  or fallen by the wayside completely. I'm hoping to go through some study questions and blog my thoughts, as well as share some podcasts that I have been finding amazing as well! And the first was from last Sunday at AEC - my local church family. Our Pastor has been doing a great series on being more real in our relationships, I think I've mentioned it before, and last weeks was very challenging. So I'll share it with you tomorrow! 


But for now - a little tune to tide you over - one of my favourites! 



Friday, 2 June 2017

Rejection...

I think I'm finally ready to share this post!!!! 

---///---///---///---///---///---///

I love planning!!! 

Over the last few years, as I trained to be a classroom assistant / teaching assistant, I thought about continuing my education and going the whole hog to train to teach. I was excited. I was doing my CA course, enjoying my placement at the boys' school and loving learning again. 

I decided on my life plan. I'd finish this course, get a job in the school, get on the part-time BA Honours degree course at Stranmillis (our local teaching college/uni), work while I completed it, then do my PGCE and start to teach! Easy as pie! 

So I started off. My course started in September. By November there were several jobs up for CAs in my school - I thought this was it! Happy days!! I applied for them ALL - all 5 or so! (By the way - that's an awful lot of application forms to fill out at the same time!!!) I waited. I heard rumours of the interviews and I didn't get one. 

Realistically I knew that it was because I didn't meet the criteria - I was only in the middle of my course, and I had no experience. But I was a bit sad. I had thought my plan was starting. But it wasn't. I had to be patient. 

Christmas came and I got the surprise of my life. Unfortunately one of our staff wasn't well and I was asked to do some emergency cover hours. Wow... I was on top of the world, apart from also feeling gutted for M as she really wasn't well. It's a very weird situation to be in - feeling happy and sad at the same time! But yet again my plan was starting to unfold in front of my eyes. I was getting experience and that could only help get me a proper job! 

And so we reached the end of my course. I was still working, so that was great, but I found out I was too late to apply for Stranmillis (our local teaching college). I told myself it was probably for the best and that a year to get used to working was a great idea, before continuing my education. 

Fast forward six months and I got to apply for my course. I was more excited than anything, and when I finally got an interview I was more nervous than I've ever been in my life. This was my chance. I could do this. I'm smart, I'm chatty and I know what I'm talking about. All I have to do is show them! 

And then I got this letter... 



What? What? 

How did I not get in? 

It's not a big course but there are places in two campuses. How on earth did I not get in? 

I asked for feedback. I wasn't planning on appealing - I just couldn't understand why I had failed.

And the result -  I didn't talk enough. 

It was fine that I knew what to say and had it all planned out, but unfortunately the staff at Stran are not mind-readers and since it didn't come out, they had nothing to go on. 

I can talk ten to the dozen, but I didn't talk enough when it mattered. 

I have to admit I took it quite hard. This was my plan. And it was wrecked. This was what I was going to do and now I couldn't. I felt like a failure. And I cried all afternoon.

And the devil jumps when he sees saints crumble like this. Straight away I found all my thoughts going back to other times I'd failed, to other times when I had felt not good enough, and to other times that I had not performed as I needed to. I felt awful. And the worst was still to come. 

Instead of it stopping there, I had another important interview to come. My job - the one I'd been doing for 18 months now - had to be advertised as M had officially retired, and I had to apply for it. 

Thankfully I did get an interview, but now all I could think was that I was also going to fail it, and have my job taken away for good. I was convinced that someone else would interview better than me, or would have better experience or just be better... It was debilitating.

But it's funny how God gives you the exact verses that you need when you need them? I got a couple of verses right after each other - from this one :




To this thought : 


To this: 


Our Heavenly Father is amazing, isn't He!!! 

Alls well that ends well and I was overjoyed to get my job permanently!! I did have a very funny interview, as God does have a wonderful sense of humour, does He not, but I'll maybe share that another time!!! 

My point is this. You cannot let the devil and his minions into your thought process. He comes to kill, steal and destroy and he will do it any way he can. For me, he started by helping me plan my life away - in a plan that took no account of God's divine plan for me. I decided what I wanted to do and figured out how I could do it. But that's obviously NOT God's plan for me right now. 

Then he took my disappointment, which was perfectly natural, and made it into a time of self-pity, failure and self-loathing. I was lost for a couple of days in a 'what if' scenario and it was horrible. He killed my self-esteem, stole the joy of getting an interview for my job in the first place, and destroyed all my confidence. And I let him.

But then I turned to the one person I should have started with. HE took my self-esteem and reminded me how much He loved me - enough to die for me. HE took my disappointment and showed me a bigger plan than I could have ever imagined. HE took my mess and reminded me that He is in control. 
Hallelujah!! What a saviour!!! 

So next time you get a rejection of some sort - pause and think whether it's really a sign of failure or a reminder that God is in control and we need to trust Him. (Hint: it's all about God!!!)

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A year has passed since that letter arrived through my door. And what a year that has been. It's been hectic and full of activities, running here there and everywhere and lots of fun! 

So today one of my prompts was this question and I finally thought it would be time for this! 


And my reply? 

"Thank you Stranmillis teaching college for giving me a group interview which I didn't talk enough in, thus leading you to reject me from joining your university. Thank you for seeing what I couldn't and for understanding that this mum of 4 was never going to be able to drive up and down to Belfast two days a week just to do another degree. Thank you for pushing me towards maths yet again, as I enjoy getting to prove things day after day and getting giddy when I get things right! "

Keep shining xx 

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Games

Have a look at this. 



It occurred to me the other day that I have now played this 'daily challenge' on the Flow Free game for 178 days IN A ROW... that's almost 6 months! That's some achievement - or is it? 


This represents 178 days where I MADE SURE I didn't have to start all over again. Yet I don't think I've ever made it to 178 days straight in my quiet time. 


And yet God is the main thing in my life. That's what makes me tick. 


Why do I find it so hard to spend daily time with the most important person in my life? 


I struggle with discipline in all areas of my life, not just this one. But it really does annoy me that He is there waiting for me to meet with Him, to talk to Him, to spend time with Him, yet I choose to check Facebook, read an email or play a game. 



I do know that when I press pause and give God the first moments of my day, immersing myself in His love and guidance, things go so much better. I may still experience problems, but even then my attitude to them is completely different. 


So why not make it a priority every day? Because I'm lazy that's why. When it boils down to it, id rather hit the snooze button and have an extra 5 or 10 minutes in bed than spend it in God's presence. I'd rather sit down in the evening and play games on my phone than take the time to read His Word. 


And that's not good. 


So I am deliberately NOT going to play my game tomorrow. 


And then, on Saturday morning, I am only going to do the daily challenge if I have already spent some quality time with God. And the emphasis is on quality. No rushing through it to get to play my game - I want to sit in God's Word and spend time talking to Him. 


Then I'll see clearly how many days I can go before I miss a day and have to start again. Hopefully we'll check back in another 178 days and you'll see a much changed me! 


Keep shining xx 

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Conversations

So the combination of prompt questions and daily verses I got this morning was this... 


  • What conversation do I need to have that I’ve been putting off?
  • What am I scared of that has prevented me from having this conversation?


Ok then! So I've been thinking all day about any hard conversations I need to have. To be honest (and I really do try to be both honest and as transparent as I can be in this) there aren't any coming to mind yet. But I'm still praying through it. 


However, on a slightly different topic, I had one of the most freeing conversations of my life last week. During one of my counselling sessions we talked and she encouraged me to explain my thinking about a certain thing more clearly. What a challenge... 


Wow! This completely opened the flood gates as I sat and explored the subject we were discussing. It is amazing the clarity you get when you open up and talk about issues you just assumed you were ok with. I believed things about myself (from now and from years ago) that were totally wrong. Yet I believed them totally and utterly. 


Talking about them was so freeing. Saying them out loud made me start to question my sanity - how on earth could I be that stupid as to believe this stuff? And then hearing me try to rationalise my thoughts made me cry even harder! It's hard hearing the words out loud but so so empowering. 


Sometimes the person we hate the most is ourselves. Let's change that - not so that we love ourselves in a conceited way, but so that we can rejoice in the women that God created us to be and in the beautiful bodies He gave us. 



So my advice - have a conversation - whether to a counsellor, a best friend or a family member - or even to yourself in the mirror. And of course, the most important conversation needs to take place between you and God and let Him tell you exactly how amazing you are. 


Keep shining xx 

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Silver linings

When things inevitably don’t go my way today, how can I respond with optimism to overcome adversity?


This is a great question! Life has a way of messing with you - just when you think you have everything sussed. Whether it's a flat tyre when you're late for work, a washing machine that breaks down when you've just forked out money for a new bed or a necessary change in job when you've finally settled into your work place. 


As Christians we believe that God is in control - no matter what life in this sinful world throws at us. This brings me so much comfort - I really don't know how anyone does life without God by their side. 


But it can still be painful when we get rejected or 'let go' or find ourselves in difficulty. So how do we come out the other side stronger and with the victory we know we have in Jesus? 


Seeing positivity in negative situations is a great way of turning obstacles into opportunities. 


It means that each situation is an opportunity to rely more and trust God, to show His love to those around us, to prove Him in the face of our doubts and to tell others giving God the glory. 


Let's face it - there are certain circumstances that we may see ourselves going through, that can cause us to feel that God isn't there any more. Either He's forgotten us, He's busy somewhere else or He just isn't there. But that's never the case. 


1 John 4:16-19 tells us : 


“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.


God is always there for us because He loves us and will never leave us. I once heard this - I'm sorry I can't remember where - but I loved it. 


Instead of saying "but what if..." start the sentence with "even if..." and finish it with "God is enough". 


What if I lose my job?
Even if I lose my job, God is enough. 
What if he doesn't like me? 
Even if he doesn't like me, God is enough. 
What if we don't have the money to get by? 
Even if we don't have the money to get by, God is enough. 


It changes everything because it puts our focus on our Creator, the One who loves us and has everything we need. And guess what - no matter what, God always provides what you need when you need it. 


So when things don't go my way, as they often don't, my desire is to turn it around, focus on God, and find my silver lining. And above all 


🎵Rise, shine and give God the glory glory! 🎵


Keep shining xx