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!!!! 

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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 

Monday, 29 May 2017

I am adventurous...

To be adventurous is to be willing to take risks or to try out new methods, ideas, or experiences. So, am I adventurous? Not really! 



I like everything to be exactly as it is, was and always should be. I'm willing to change things up a little, but not too much. Take my job, for example. I am a classroom assistant, but instead of working 1-to-1 with a special needs child, I am a general CA, which means I stay in the same classroom with the same teacher. Always. 


I love the routine-ness of it and the fact that, after 2 and a half years, I'm finally getting to grips with our curriculum and know what comes next or what craft comes with which topic etc. I just love the thought that I will always be prepared and not have to adjust to a new teacher and their methods each year as a class moves up the school. 


But as I thought about this email this morning, I started to think about whether I should be satisfied to be safe in my life. 


Where school is concerned I'm VERY happy being safe!! But, I would love to be a little more adventurous in my home life. This is something that has been on my mind as I started this challenge as I'm very boring at home! I would love to shock the boys one day and so something outrageous with them! 


So I'm going to think of some mini-adventures to do with the family this summer. We are all off from the start of July until the end of August  (roughly) and I want to please them and for them to actually enjoy my company this year. 


I'll be making myself a little list - places to visit (like the Giants Causeway), things to play (like mini golf or bowling), trips to go on (like to the beach or zoo) and memories to make. No doubt I'll have some posts on it before the summer ends! 


But why am I not adventurous? Why do I tend to stick to safe and boring activities like board games or movie nights at home? 


Well as you may have realised, I have 4 kids. They are all boys and 2 or them are now taller than me so they aren't that 'wee' any more. But up until now I have been a little scared to go and do things with them. 


Don't get me wrong - when my husband is at home we do lots of things with the boys - but that's two adults and 4 kids. I hate to admit it, but I tend to not go anywhere if I have all 4 on my own. 


That's a horrible thing to write. But I'll tell you why. I have always been scared that I wouldn't be able to look after them all, or that one of them would get hurt, or that I'd mess up, or they would misbehave... I was just too scared to try. 


The first time I did take all four of them on an outing we went to the Marble Arch Caves, outside Enniskillen in County Fermanagh. It was a lovely trip and we made it back safely and in one piece!! We even managed to have a great time! But I was so scared the whole way through - as if I could mess up everything by not being in control. 


But then I have to remember one very important thing... 



God has blessed me with a loving husband and four great children and guess what I've found out - He loves them all even more than I do. 


In fact He loves then so much He has better plans for each of their wee lives than I could ever begin to imagine. And He loves them so much He had counted every single hair on their heads! 


So that's why I should be able to go on my mini-adventures this summer and enjoy every minute of making memories with my boys. 


Because God has me, my cares, my worries and my family safe in His hands. 


Keep shining xx 

Friday, 26 May 2017

My journey

Well, here I am, half way through this amazing journey. I can't believe it! And then I realised that I hadn't actually introduced where I was getting prompts from, or who was running the challenge. 

One day, about 3 weeks ago, I saw an advert on Facebook for a 30 day challenge to help you 'Be brave'. 

Now I'm not exactly wanting to be brave as such but it looked interesting enough for me to click on and check out the website. 

The website is called "Intention Inspired" and it's found at 


and every morning they send you an email for that day's challenge. In the email you get a 'brave act'  - like doing an act of kindness, being more aware of your surroundings or standing like a superhero (and yes I did that one too!!!) 


You then get a couple of quotes, some words of affirmation, a little video and then the journal prompts. 

Now, this isn't a Christian site or challenge - but because God is at the centre of my life, I have taken the prompts and used them as you have been reading - trying to incorporate God into my journey. 

But my main journey here is to grow closer in my walk with God, identify areas of my life and my walk that need work and think about some of the past issues taking root in my head which I've never really dealt with. 


In regards to that end, I've been going to Christian counselling for a couple of months now and it has been a real eye-opener. I originally didn't want to go as I thought once I started opening up and exploring the inside of me, that I'd start to cry and never stop. (I am a very emotional person at the best of times!) 

And to be honest there have been a lot of sessions where I've literally gurned my way through. It's emotionally exhausting! But so so good. And I have so much more to explore. 

It's been a very interesting couple of months and I can't wait to see what happens next. But it's also very scary, when you open yourself up and start to think about the beliefs you hold and realise that some are completely wrong. It's all those lies we tell ourselves! 

Anyway, I'll be back tomorrow with the next prompt. 
Keep shining xx