Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Later...


In a conversation with my other half recently it came to my attention that the word I used most wasn't anything as normal as 'no' or 'yes' - it was 'later'. Things like...

"I'll do that later""I'll wash your training gear later""I'll start dinner later""I'll clean the bathroom later"

Even going as far as... 

"I'll come sit with you later""I'll have a cup of tea with you later""I'll talk to you later"

Mostly, because of my severe lack of self-discipline, later never arrives. And although this bothered me because I didn't get the things that were needed done, it didn't bother me that much, until I realised how much - or how little - value it gives to those around me. 

When my son asks me to see something he's built on Minecraft and I say "later" he realises I'll probably not look so just goes on to play. 

When my husband asks me to check the banks and I say "later" he knows I will forget and he'll have to remind me more than once before I do it. 

When my sister texts me and I say "I'll text you later" she would die of shock if I actually did it. 

Now I love each of these people immensely - yet each of these actions  show no love, to the extent of being rude, disregarding their feelings and acting as if they aren't important at all. 

That is NOT what I want to communicate to them. This is NOT what I want them to feel. Because this is NOT what they make me feel. They give me time, energy and help as much as they can. They fill me with joy and happiness. And they deserve the same back. 

"We love because He first loved us"
1 John 4:19

God loves us so much He sent Jesus to die for us. He wasn't too busy. He wasn't too occupied by all that He had going on. He didn't ignore us or say "I'll get to that rescue plan later". He sent Jesus at the perfect time to pay the price my sins  - including that of saying "later" so often. 

He loves us - so we can in turn love others. This is definitely something I'll be looking at over the next few weeks and months as I continue learning to balance my life - showing the people I love the respect and love they are due, and learning to limit my "later"! 

Keep shining xx 

Friday, 7 August 2015

It is finished...

Over the course of the lengthy drives we've had this summer, I found out my youngest son's favourite song. It's a bit of a strange one considering he's only 7!! 


It's a song called 'It is finished', written by Bill and Gloria Gaither, and the version we have in the car is by The Gaither Vocal Band. Here's a wee clip of them performing it : 




My son loves it because he has a really funny 'loud' voice which is slightly operatic sounding and so he sings along with the GVB. But he also loves the words. 

As I read through them I could see why. Not only does he have a legitimate reason to sing the word 'hell' (he is a 7 year old boy!!) but he also loves the imagery of a war going on - a war where God wins and the victory is ours. 

There are several lines that really touch me right where I am today.



"Yet in my heart, the battle was still raging
Not all prisoners of war had come home
These were battlefields of my own making
I didn't know that the war had been won
Oh, but then I heard the king of the ages
Had fought all the battles for me
And that victory was mine for the claiming
And now praise his name, I am free."


This is where I've been - fighting battles of my own making - battles with food. I think I've mentioned before about being a binge eater (if not I'll share that next week) and although I'm much better than I used to be, it's still a very real battle for me. 

But Christ gave my victory over everything and that includes food. There's nothing stronger than Him - not even my appetite! 

So as I seek to balance my life, one of my major issues is to get fit and healthy and to lose the extra 5 stone I accumulated over the last ten or fifteen years. 



This week I managed to lose 5.5 lbs and I am so happy. It's all in His strength - for without Him I can do nothing. I will be keeping you up to date with this battle - as I learn to claim victory in this area - but if you want to follow more closely you can follow my other blog/page - 'The Wonders of Dieting Together'.  

"So I say, walk by the Spirit, 
and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh"
Galations 5:16


Thursday, 6 August 2015

Mini adventures ahoy!!

One of the most exciting things I have tried to do this summer is to go on mini adventures with my boys. The summer is a time to relax, to enjoy a break and to spend some time together. But sometimes the summer can come and go as quickly as anything, and you can end up in September wondering what you did.



Last year I tried to 'fix' this problem by making a 'Summer Bucket List' but it caused more trouble than it was worth. I felt pressure to adapt our activities to tick something off the list and sometimes it went drastically wrong and I ended up being so cross - mostly with myself for trying to control everything. 

Then I read Sarah Mae's new book 'Longing for Paris' and some of the fantastic blog posts where she discussed some of her book, and I realised I had it all wrong. 


Life isn't about planning every minute detail but about taking what you've been given in your life and making it amazing. It's about taking everyday circumstances and having an adventure. Its taking joy in little moments and making memories with those you love. Its about bringing your dreams into your reality wherever you happen to be. 

So this summer we went with the flow  - not planning too much - and we've had the best summer ever so far! 


I wanted to take part in things with my kids rather than just watch, making mini adventure memories as we went along, so this year I've done some archery, some target shooting, went on a scary ride by myself and even went swimming - yes I voluntarily went swimming - several times!!!  :) 

We took an impromptu 4 day holiday with my mum and dad and loved every minute - even the long drive there and home! And we enjoyed football camp and time with friends down in Fivemiletown. 



Today I challenge you to learn to take joy in the everyday and to see the mini adventures all ready to happen! 

This is something I've enjoyed learning - especially in this season where I'm trying desperately to learn how to balance all the different areas of my life. 

And don't forget our GIVEAWAY - comment on any of this week's posts with your mini adventure to be in with a chance of winning a copy of 'Longing for Paris' (along with some other goodies!!!) 





Tuesday, 4 August 2015

ITS LAUNCH WEEK!!!! (And a wee giveaway!!!!!)

I am SO excited!! Today is the official launch day of Sarah Mae's new book 'Longing for Paris'. This is a very big thing for me because I was so privileged to be on the launch team and helping promote her book.
 
 
 
Well... I wanted to share my story with you, as to why I am so obsessed with this book and why I think it is literally the bees knees!!
 
A year or so ago I wrote a blog post in a super secret blog and I really wanted to use it to change my life. Around the same time I was allowed to join a super secret Facebook group to help me do the same thing, but more about that later!! The first post went like this...
 
 
 
 
I wanted my life to change but I had no idea how to do it. It goes on...
 


 
 
Oh boy... have you seen the film or read the book? I felt like this so many times, but I love my husband and kids too much to actually leave... but I felt as if everything I was doing was crap - I wasn't good at housekeeping, cooking, cleaning, being a wife, a mum, a friend, a work-mate... Nothing was how I wanted it to be. And I wasn't going to be able to take a year off and travel the world to 'find myself' like she did in the book...
 
And then there was this...

 
I wanted to live God's plan for my life - and I was betting it wasn't to just survive each day and get by. I wanted the fullness of life that we are promised and the unspeakable joy that won't go away!
 
I struggled with this, and read many books and went to lots of wonderful conferences, but NOTHING answers my questions like Sarah Mae's book.
 
On the book's special website - http://longingforparis.com/ - you can read the first chapter for free as well as find out why she wrote it.
 
In Longing for Paris, Sarah Mae will help you:
  • Embrace your longings and dreams by having a Biblical understanding of them
  • Adventure with your kids in the everyday (no big trips or lengthy planning required)
  • See romance in a whole new light that doesn’t require flowers or jewellery
  • Savour your life without leaving your own backyard
For me it helped me to look at my life and cherish each part. Yes there are a lot of things that I don't do well... YET... but I have so many blessings, so many opportunities for mini-adventures with my boys and I understood that my dreams are important.

I really do recommend that you get this - you won't regret it. And to help you out we're having a GIVEAWAY this week!!

I have a copy of 'Longing for Paris' and I want to give it to you, so all you have to do is comment on my blog or my facebook page - and tell me some of the mini-adventures you have in the midst of your everyday life. It could be grabbing a croissant with a friend in the middle of a busy day, taking your child for a milkshake after everyone else has gone to bed, or just do something unexpected and enjoy your life right now!

Feel free to include pictures if you want!! I'd love to bless one of you with this book so there is no limit to the number of mini-adventures you can share or times you comment!
Enjoy the challenge!!!

The winner will be picked on Saturday night at 8ish...So get entering!!!

Sunday, 2 August 2015

A little lesson in planning...

I love plans. I love lists. Even more, I love writing lists for all the plans that float around my head 24/7!! And in this season of trying to balance out my life I thought I had to plan even more. But lately I've been taught a very valuable lesson and I thought I'd share it with you. 


So, since January I have been working a little in my boys school as an emergency cover classroom assistant. It has been great fun and I absolutely loved being in P1. The job in itself was an answer to prayer as it came at a time when we needed to raise some more support, but I figured God had a plan that was going to be somewhat different to usual... Cue a lovely phone call from a lovely principal... 

But although this is what I was training for, and I was VERY excited, I was caught between being delighted and gutted because of the circumstances of my placement. Someone else (and it's worse when you actually know them) had to be ill for me to be in. Thankfully the lady I was covering for has since been given the all clear and is getting better by the day - praise God!! 

I was truly thankful for the opportunity to work in the school and I was starting to think about what was going to happen next year... 

And this is when I started to go wrong the other day... 

I was trying to figure out my life without giving God any room to move. I was trying to plan my life away - from now until the end of the summer, and then through to Christmas... I was writing down thoughts, coming up with neat 'if this...then that' scenarios for work and making up in my mind what would work best for everyone around me. 




Then God intervened in a most marvellous way! I had downloaded an app for my phone - First5 - which helps you to remember to focus on God and give Him the first moments of your day, rather than going on social media etc. One of the perks of downloading it early was that we got to watch a live stream of Lysa Terkeurst's opening talk from this year's "She Speaks" conference. And this is what she said...

She told us a story of how she was making plans, bringing them to God, and basically saying - here are my plans...don't be messing around with them or changing them because I have them just right...but if you could just bless them then we'll all be just fine...

Oh my - that's exactly what I was doing. Here I was telling Him what I had decided needed to happen - what I, in my small earthly closed view, had planned out for everyone around me, and asking Him to make it happen. 

Oops... Not good. Not good at all. 

And then, to really get the message home my reading (from the book 'Jesus Calling') was this... 



I had to stop and really think about this. Did I really not trust God enough to stop over-obsessively planning my life and let Him move? Did I not trust that He could see the bigger picture and make a much better decision than I could? Did I not remember that God's timing is always perfect? 

In the end I had to have a few words with my Father - of the 'sorry' variety - as I realised, yet again, I'd taken control of my life back from His hands. It's something I keep doing... (And I know I probably will continue to struggle with this in the future) But He keeps being so patient with me and reminding me to let go. He has it. He is in control and I really don't have to obsess and plan my life away. 

This morning I had a reminder of why I'm very glad I've given this over to Him. He does know best and how much more exciting is it when we can see Him work miracles and see His perfect timing than when we plan every last second of our day. 

'Be still and know that I am God....'

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Balancing life...

When it comes to trying to balance my life, I know that I can't 'do it all'. Its about finding out my priorities and working on them in a deliberate and focused way, giving glory to God and blessing those around me. So this is my plan!!
 
Week One
 
The most important thing to remember when I'm trying to learn about balancing my life out this summer, is that I need to give the first part of my day to God - every day - spending the first moments of my day giving Him my plans, and thanking Him for all He is and all He has done.
 
This can be hard, especially since I've told you all many times that I'm NOT a morning person!! But it makes such a difference. So part one of my 'balancing' will be to focus on spending time with God.
 
So my aim is this:
 
Get up a little earlier
and give God the first of my day.
 
So it'll work like this. Starting tomorrow I'll be getting up a little earlier - I'm starting at 7am and working backwards so that by the time school starts again I'll be regularly getting up at 6:00/6:15 to have a good hour to focus on God and plan my day, before the kids get up.
 
 
Week Two
 
The second area of my life is being a woman! You know the joys that being a woman brings out! The moods, the emotions and for me, the massive issue with food. This is something I've been struggling with for a long time, so I need to really give it over to God. I have prayed so many times, but I keep taking it back and then making a mess of it. Its embarrassing - to think that I could do more about it on my own than I can do with God... yeah... Nope!
 
So my second focus - alongside continuing to get up early - is
 
To REALLY give my journey with food to God,
to keep a food diary EVERY day
and to exercise or go for a walk EVERY day
 
I need it to happen for my health as well as to feel better about myself, so its a good focus for week two! Yeah!! Let's keep going!!
 
Week Three
 
This week's area of focus is my role as a wife - oh yes - something I sometimes get too busy to focus on. But not only do I want to love my husband, I want to set a good example of a loving marriage for my boys, and I want to glorify God through it. Not an easy job when you are as moody, emotional and selfish as me!!!
 
So my focused aim for week three will be -
 
Aim to show love and kindness to my husband,
meeting his needs and being a true help meet
and showing him how much I value and love him
 
Sometimes in the busy-ness of life, our marriages can be shoved down the list of priorities, yet what better way to show the love of Christ for His bride, the church, than to mirror that in our marriages, sticking together and putting the necessary work in to protect our spouse and protect our relationship.  
 
 
So that's my plan for the first three weeks - building on each other - to bring balance, harmony and a sense of beauty and adventure to my life, just where I am.
More tomorrow =)
 
Keep shining xxx
 
 
 
 


Sunday, 28 June 2015

Movies, books and dreams...

Tonight I watched a wonderful film - 'Shaun the Sheep - the Movie'. Yes I know you'll probably all have a laugh at that, but it helped hit home something I've been thinking about all day. Let me explain!!
 
Without giving too much of the film away, its based around the sheep trying to have a 'day off' from their usual daily activities. Their life has become dull and mundane, and they have happy memories of what life used to be like, before responsibilities and 'grown up' duties made every day seem to be in the same endless cycle. As you can guess it doesn't exactly go to plan, and I laughed my head off at their antics!! Today I am VERY easily amused!!
 
But it got me thinking about my life, about balancing all the different areas of my life at the moment and about a wonderful book I'm reading at the moment.
 
I am a wife, mum of 4 boys, friend, daughter, sister, classroom assistant, missionary, church member, Bible Class leader, housekeeper, student... as well as many more roles... and I struggle to balance it all and to thrive in everything I do. At the moment, as we head into the summer months, I want to find the balance of work, home, love, responsibility... I want to find excitement and distraction in the mundane housework and laundry... and I want it all to glorify God.
 
And that brings me to the book I've been reading this week. Its the newest book by Sarah Mae (author of 'Desperate', 'Frumps to Pumps', 'Core Lies' and '31 Days to Clean') and it is truly brilliant. Its called 'Longing for Paris'. She manages to cut deep into my inner thoughts, and it could be my life she's writing about. Its a must read, and I can't wait to have a give away when it comes out in August!!
 
 
 
Her website has this to say...
For anyone who has ever daydreamed of another life . . .
Most days, you wouldn’t trade what you have for the world. You love your husband and your kids, and you are grateful to God for your life. But there are days when you feel as though life is rolling over you in waves and you are just going through the motions. You find yourself aching for something more, something that is calling to depths of who you are, maybe for something you can’t even name.
For Sarah Mae, it was Paris, a place that is known for breathtaking beauty, inspiring art, and exquisite food. But as she searched her heart, she found there was more to her longings than she anticipated. Join Sarah Mae in Longing for Paris, a soul-searching, light-filled journey for the woman who knows she can’t uproot her life to discover herself and her longings, but who desperately wants to uncover them so she can get unstuck and choose a life that is filled with beauty, adventure, and deep joy . . . right where she is.

I will be writing my proper review shortly, but this book is one that has truly impacted my life and helped me to realise that I need to have my adventures and truly live in each moment that God has given me - no matter where I am.

So this week I will be looking at how to do that... in all the different areas of my life. I will be continuing to look at the reasons I blog next week, but as we move into the last week of school I want to be prepared for a summer of fun, balance and life rather than 8 weeks of fighting off boredom, struggling to get the necessary chores done and achieving nothing.

I hope you'll enjoy this, and if you can, pre-order the book here!!!