Tuesday, 19 April 2016

E is for...

Empty... 

When my hubby and I were off during the Easter holidays we took a little trip together. It was lovely but one thing really struck me as we walked around and visited some of the places.


This was the scene in more than one church/place of worship. You see it was the week before Easter - known as Passion Week and the Roman Catholic Churches we visited all had their crucifixes covered because "Jesus isn't on the cross yet" (reply from one of the guides when I asked!!) 

It struck me as sad that the rest of the year they portray Him still on the cross with their crucifixes, yet cover Him during Passion week. 

I'm here to remind you that the cross is as EMPTY as it was during Passion week! He isn't there anymore - in fact He was only there for one day - Good Friday. 

We need to remember that He died, was buried and on the third day HE ROSE AGAIN - so not only is the cross EMPTY but so is the tomb!!! 

He's ALIVE!!!! 

So then next time you think about Him - while it's wonderful to remember what He did for us when He died for our sins on the cross - please remember He's not there anymore - He's alive!!!  




Keep shining xx 


Sunday, 17 April 2016

And we're back!!

'Happy Easter' and 'Happy Springtime' everyone!! 

(Photo - Dayspring Ecards)

I'm sorry I just kinda left you all hanging before the holidays but I've had a very busy few weeks and forgot to post on here!!! 

So what have we been up to? Well we had a lovely little holiday during the first week of Easter, enjoyed some quality family time during the second week and then we've been getting back into routine and school-mornings - oh the fun!!! - for the last two weeks. 

So I'm back and ready to share some very lovely things I found out over the last month and I hope you enjoy reading them. 

Plus - I'm involved in another book launch and so far I'm half-way through the book... You'll hear all about it soon but suffice to say it's FABULOUS so far!!! 

Speak to you tomorrow, when we'll be continuing our journey through the alphabet - with the letter E. 

What have you been up to over Easter? 

Keep shining xx 

Thursday, 3 March 2016

D is for...


dis·cern·ment

This is a word that has been very important to me over the last few weeks. And yet it’s only now, when I'm looking into it for this, that I realise how important it really is.

Discernment is a noun that comes from the verb 'to discern'. Let's look at a few definitions first. 


dis·cern·ment

NOUN

1. the faculty of discerning; discrimination; acuteness of judgement and understanding.
2. the act or an instance of discerning.


dis·cern

VERB (USED WITH OBJECT)
1. to perceive by the sight or some other sense or by the intellect; see, recognise, or apprehend.
2. to distinguish mentally; recognise as distinct or different; discriminate.

VERB (USED WITHOUT OBJECT)
3. to distinguish or discriminate.


Basically, from our Christian point of view, discernment is the ability to differentiate between truth and lies, decide between right and wrong, and to carefully consider everything we hear as we hold it up against the infallible truth of God's Word. 

At this time with so many new religions, so many branches of main stream religions, and so many ways to find god (yep - with a small g) it is essential for us as believers to know what we believe and to know where that belief comes from. Even in Christian circles, from big multi-million dollar ministries, to the prosperity gospel to mainstream churches, we need to know what we should be listening to. 

This past weekend I attended a women's conference and I loved it - as usual! However there was one major difference this year. This year one of the two main speakers was very controversial and said quite a few things that a lot of people disagreed with. At one point she said some quite potentially damaging things about ADHD, Alzheimer’s and cancer, so that put a lot of people off listening to anything else. But at the same time not all that she said was wrong. 

And so this is where the whole discernment comes into play. When we go to hear a sermon, talk or listen to a podcast, we need to ask God for the gift of discernment so that we can tell if things we are hearing are coming from Him or from someone who just likes the sound of their own voice. 


"Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. 
You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. 
For there are many false prophets in the world."
1 John 4:1


The issue I had with the guest speaker at the weekend was that she stated things as facts, even though they weren't necessarily facts, and she said things in her talks that could really have impacted ladies in a very negative way, but it was said as a sentence and then passed by as if it wasn't life-changing. Examples included talking about depression, anxiety, mental disorders etc - and as a sufferer of one of these, I found her rather lacking in love and compassion as she basically told us to pick ourselves up and think ourselves well!

But, as I said before, not everything she said was like that. There were several really interesting things that I am looking forward to implementing in my 'focus challenge'. But more about that later in the month!!


"Then we will no longer be immature like children. 
We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. 
We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies 
so clever they sound like the truth."
Ephesians 4:14

The main thing we have to go back to every time we hear something is whether or not it holds to the truth of God's Word. His Word will never contradict itself, so if we are hearing something that doesn't sit right, or goes against what we know from His Word, then chances are it’s not right. The Holy Spirit lives in us and we need to learn to listen to His voice because He's there for a reason!! He will always talk to us when we're listening to sermons etc - whether to help us understand what’s being said, or to caution us against what we're hearing. I know of several ladies who had to leave some of the talks at the conference because they felt so uncomfortable. But likewise I know several other ladies who loved the science-ness of her talks. The problem was it was too sciencey for a ladies conference, and didn't mention God as much as I would have wanted. 


"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. 
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, 
and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."
Philippians 4:8

So what do we do if we sit under false teaching, feel uncomfortable about a message or a speaker? We need to go back to the truth. We need to get back into God's Word, test out what was said and make sure we take time to listen to God in our times with Him. We can't get around this - time spent with God in His Word and in His presence is the only thing that will help us to really discern what we hear. 





So for World Book Day - get into the one and only book that will matter!!
So get those Bibles out, make some space in your day and get reading! 
And keep shining xxx



Tuesday, 1 March 2016

It's March!!!

Wow! This year is flying by!! This year I've been trying to focus on a different thing each month but honestly it's not been going very well! 

But that's about to change :) This weekend I was at a conference and one of the speakers explained a very interesting thing about why people say it takes 21 days to make a habit. I'm a bit of a science fan so this really appealed to me!! Apparently (because I know nothing about this!!) after 7 days a 'bump' type thing forms on your dendrites (the finger like things at the end of your brain cells) - then after 14 days it's increased to a lollipop - and after 21 days it becomes a mushroom and is able to be stored in your memory as a habit. 


Sounds fantastic doesn't it!! It may be a load of rubbish, but the thought of something real actually happening as I put the effort into focusing on things really helped me visualise why I'm doing this year.  

Well we've the start of March and a new month means a new focus... 


I have 4 wonderful boys and I really do want to spend some time focusing on them and learning more about what they need from me in this season of life. They are 14, 11, 9 and 7 so they are all experiencing different things, from picking GCSE subjects to attending a Lego club in school!! Each week I'll be focusing on one child and doing something fun with him as well as loving him and giving to him. 

"Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him."
Psalm 127:3

I'll let you know how it goes!!! In the meantime I'll continue to focus on my Bible readings and my health, so it'll be a very exciting month!!! How is your year going so far? 
Keep shining xx 

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Passion 2016

Wow girls!!! I'm so excited!! Not only did I just turn 40 but I got to spend the weekend with an amazing bunch of girls worshiping God at Passion 2016 in Ballymena. I have so much to process and I'll probably be referencing this conference A LOT in the weeks to come but here's a little taster of what it was like. 

Keep shining xx 

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Nothing I hold on to

This week is a big week for me. I have a nice big birthday at the end of the week and I'm mega-excited!! But as I was thinking through this week, it's aims, goals and plans, this song was playing In the background and it really struck me. 



The lyrics really spoke to me (they always do) as I'm about to hit the big 4-0 on Friday. 


I have now been on this earth for 40 years. That's a heck of a long time so this year has really made me think much more about life, it's purpose and my plans. I'll be talking a bit more about this later in the week, but the one thing I have to keep remembering is that I am not on my own. I don't know what tomorrow will bring - I have no idea what ways my life will change, or stay the same, in the year to come. But I do know who holds my future. My life is safe in my Father's hands - He has me and thankfully He sees the big picture. He sees what has to happen in my life for the tapestry to make sense and for the glory to go to Him. I can rest assured in the fact that ...

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."

Romans 8:28




I think I may be having a slight mid-life crisis as I start to consider my life and what I'm doing with it - for instance I'm beginning to think that things like jumping out of an aeroplane, abseiling down the Europa or getting my ears pierced for a second time sound like fantastic ideas! I start to think about my life and get a little down - have I done what I wanted to? Have I achieved what I set out to do 20 years ago when I was in university? Or did life get in the way? 

Whatever plans I had for my life - whether they have come to fruition or not - I have come to realise that there is no point in worrying over what ifs - I chose to put my trust in God - resting in the knowledge that He alone can take my life and create something beautiful that will honour Him. This is part of the reason I love butterflies so much - God is still working in me and one day I'll be able to spread my wings and fly bringing Him glory. 

"Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. 
He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, 
people cannot see the whole scope of 
God's work from beginning to end."
Ecclesiastes 3:11




At this point in my life I can sing this with a truthful heart. No matter what life throws at me, I know that God's grave is sufficient to help me overcome any and all of my weaknesses. No matter what battle - whether it's with food, alcohol, drugs, sex or anything else - I know that when I come to God with my hands outstretched, and with a humble heart, He is there to give me all the strength and power I need to make it through. 

"Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. 
My power works best in weakness." So now I 
am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that 
the power of Christ can work through me."
2 Corinthians 2:9



Finally, I have realised that the only thing worth holding onto in this life is God. There isn't any amount of money or things that could satisfy your soul and give you the peace that God gives when we cling to Him. It took me a while to get this, as I clung to my books, my shopping, my family and my church - but nothing I hold on to now except Jesus. 

I hope you all have a fabulous week and keep shining as you hold fast to Jesus xx 

Thursday, 18 February 2016

C is for...


Have you ever been in the situation where you have had to make a choice whether to sin or not? I'm talking about doing things you know are wrong - making them a decision rather than a reaction. 

Should you go and meet that person you are emotionally invested in, even though you know where it could lead? Should  you eat that bun, despite being addicted to sugar and the battle that brings? Should you tell that wee white lie that won't hurt anyone and will make your life so much easier in the short term... ignoring any long term problems that might arise? 

Today I had one such occasion happen. I had a conversation with someone that got me a little upset and annoyed, so what's the first thing I did? I went into a shop bought a whole pile of sweets and sat and ate them - one after another - in the privacy of my car. 

Emotional binge eating at its finest. 

And afterwards I felt even emptier than when I started. I felt dead inside, annoyed and totally ashamed at myself. 

You see I know what I should have done. I should have paused, lifted my eyes and asked my Heavenly Father for His help dealing with the call and especially with my emotions. I should have continued to let God be in control but I didn't. 

Instead of letting God control my emotions, I let my emotions control me. 

It's something I continually battle with. When I worry I take back control, as if I'm telling God He isn't big enough to handle it. 

When I get emotional I take back control and react wildly, without thinking and often with terrible consequences. 

And all the while I have to remind myself that if God wanted me to take control and wanted me to deal with all of this on my own, He wouldn't have sent Jesus for me. 

He gave us freedom when He died on the cross. And part of that freedom is knowing that the one who hung the stars in the sky is holding onto my heart each and every second of each and every day. It's understanding that when God is in control He sees the big picture and knows when and where we need to be.

There is beauty and peace knowing God is in control as I need to remember not to take it back. 

Keep shining xx