Monday, 30 December 2013

As the year ends...

This year I have been thinking a lot about shining in my world - in the little corner I have been placed - but I haven't been doing a very good job of it! It's one thing to want to do it - but another to actually succeed. 

But the wonderful thing about 31 December - 1 January  is that we can go to bed one night and when we awake in the morning we have a brand new year waiting for us! 

Just like your new diary - which I LOVE filling in!! - or your new calendar, 2014 is full of space and opportunity to truly shine for my King and I am full of hopes of doing better at taking them. 

I wanted to leave you with this thought as we say goodbye to 2013 - every single moment of this year  God was with you. Through the good times, the bad times, the happiest and most wonderful times and the heart breaking crushing times. You were never alone. 

You may have felt alone - as we so often do when we are going through pain - as if nobody cares and even God has forgotten us... But He was there. 

So as we step into 2014 tomorrow, as we wake to a brand new day and a fantastic new year, let's try to remember that fact - He is always there - and He will never leave us - even if we fail Him; even if we stop talking to Him; even if we turn our backs... He will always be there waiting for us to come home to Him. 

Let's start the year off right - in the hand of the Father.
Keep shining xx

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Keeping Christ in Christmas #1

One of my favourite bloggers - Courtney from 'Women Living Well' - has a wonderful post about keeping Christ in Christmas. I have taken my favourite three ways and I'm going to share them with you over the next 3 weeks.

The first tip I read, and implemented is by far my favourite. I read it last year, but wasn't sure about how I would do it, but this year it was an easy decision to make.

This year, right beside my Christmas tree, I have a little table with an open Bible and a candle on it. The Bible is open to the beginning of Luke chapter 2, and when I pop the Christ,as tree lights on I light the candle as well, reminding me in a very visual way that this book - the Word of God - is the centre of my life, the light that leads my path and the real reason for this festive season. 

I did have a fleeting worry of how people - well, my husband and the boys in particular - would take this rather strange 'decoration', but they all have embraced it and commented on how nice and peaceful it makes our room seem. 

I love it - it's different yes - but it helps me to put Jesus in the centre of the season and helps me keep CHRIST in CHRISTmas :)

Keep shining xx 

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Breath of Heaven....

One of my favourite Christmas songs is Amy Grant's song 'Breath of Heaven'. I make sure to have it on all my Christmas playlists, and it's even more breathtaking with the video. 

(You may need to view in You Tube but it's worth it!!)

I have admit to tearing up every time I play it. There is just something beautiful about it and I hope it helps to get you even more into the Christmas mood. 

Keep shining xx 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Tuesday's thoughts....

I imagine that if you had never heard the Christmas story, and where reading it for the first time, it would read like the script of an episode of 'Jeremy Kyle' or 'Jerry Springer' - you know one of those shows where people have lots to complain about and then do so in front of the world!! Let's look at it - 

Mary and Joseph get engaged... And so the story begins
Mary gets pregnant... supernaturally... And here comes the aliens...
Joseph is told to marry her anyway... by an angel... Angels?? Really??
When she's 9 months pregnant she ends up in a different town, away from her family and support, having travelled on a donkey for miles and miles... What was he thinking dragging her all that way? 
He hasn't booked a room... so they have nowhere to go.... Typical men - never planning ahead!
Baby Jesus is born in a stable and wrapped in swaddling cloths... No way! He did not expect you to give birth there... and where were the midwives or at least someone with hot water and towels?? 

What a story! You can just imagine how stressful the whole thing must have been. This was happening in a country where women were stoned if they were caught in the act of adultery, so being pregnant and unmarried was a scandal. Then to have that long hard journey just before you are due to give birth.... horrendous doesn't even begin to cover it. 

But you never hear Mary complain. Mary acts with the grace of a woman who knows that she is right in the centre of God's will for her life. She knows that God has planned a very special birth for His Son and she knows that no matter what He will come through for her. 
And He does. His plan and His timing were perfect. Not only did they fulfill ancient prophesies, they gave Jesus a foundation and story that could only bring glory to His Father. For its only with God's help that Mary and Joseph came through these difficulties and hard times, and it's only with His help that they brought a beautiful and extremely special baby into this world, born in the roughest of situations, to bring ultimate glory to God on high. 

"She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them."
Luke 2:7

No matter what hit them on their way to Bethlehem, they overcame it with God's help. And today, no matter what situations we are going through, be it financial difficulties, health problems, if you find yourself in a spiritual dessert or your marriage or home has been hit with problems you see no way out of, God can and will bring you through it. 
His love is such that it overcame the temptation in the dessert, the discouragement of having his own people turn against Him, and the finality of death, to bring us into the victory that we can only have through Christ. 

This Christmas, while we celebrate the birth of the most miraculous baby, don't forget that love that took Him to the cross for me and for you. 

Keep shining xx 

Monday, 9 December 2013

Shining lights....

Each week we want to focus on a group of people to help and encourage at this festive time. This week is all about love, so I was thinking about how we can show love to those in need.

I began to think about my local community and the people who live in my area. How could we show them the love of Christ - the love that was so strong it carried Him through leaving the glory of heaven to be born as a baby - through life as a human, going through and experiencing everything that we go through - to His death on a cross for my sins and yours... before it raised Him from the dead giving Him ultimate victory!!

There are so many practical ways you can show love to those around you -

  • Take your neighbours in some Christmas cookies and a card
  • Check up on the elderly living on your street to make sure they are doing well as the weather turns colder
  • Take a meal to someone in need - whether it's a new mum, someone who has fallen ill or someone who has hit hard times and is struggling to make ends meet
It was when I thought about the last option that the lightbulb 'pinged'!! One of the local churches in our town has opened the first food-bank in Northern Ireland and it is doing a great work. They even involved our boys' primary school at harvest time, when the children were invited to give in items from the list for the food-bank for their harvest donation. 

I'd heard about food-banks in the US, mainly from watching programmes like 'The Biggest Loser' where they have a challenge where the contestants help in and work in one for the day. I remember one season it being a very emotional challenge for one lady who revealed that a few years previously she had been one of the families getting food out of the food-bank rather than now helping to put food in. 

So my challenge for you, and my focus for our family this week, is to find out where your local food-bank is - or find out where there is a soup-kitchen, or somewhere else that is helping feed those in need this Christmas - and get involved.  For us that will mean doing a special 'shop' which will go in its entirety to the food-bank, but we will also be doing a shop for a family or two that we know that need a little extra help this year. 

I'm not saying this to look good - or to have you think 'what a good wee Christian she is' - but to make you think and challenge you to take a look around you this year. Take a quick walk into your kitchen and open your cupboards - and then say a prayer of thanks for all the food you find just sitting there waiting for you to decide to eat it. And now think about all those who don't have that luxury. 

These are the people - living next door, or on the next street, or in the next estate - that need Christ's amazing love more than ever this Christmas. And we can share a little of His love by meeting a very practical need in their lives. So what are you going to do about it? I'd love to hear your thoughts! 

Keep shining xx 

Sunday, 8 December 2013

A week of love....

This week's focus is love.  Here are the verses for Sunday.

We'll be thinking about this part of the story later in the week, but for now just read it and remember the awe of what is happening before our eyes....

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Shining the light....

We have been so blessed by God and everyone around us, so we like to take Christmas and use this festive season as a time to help encourage others and introduce them to the God who can bring them through whatever they are going through. Each week of December we take a different 'cause' to give to in a practical way, and discuss with our boys why they need some help right now. This week we want to think about a problem on streets all over the world. 

This is something that has been close to us recently - something our extended family was touched by - and something so many thousands of families are touched by every day. Some of us can easily walk past someone living on the streets and never look twice. Some of us take them to heart and want to do everything we can to help. Most of us are somewhere in the middle - not sure where to look but not sure what to do either. 

This wee video is amazing - and reminds us that any of us could end up in that exact position at any time - because those homeless living are our streets with no place to call their own - are people too...

This year a beautiful - inside and out - cousin of mine decided to take a collection of clothes up to one of the homeless shelters in Belfast. She put in on facebook that she was planning a trip up and asked if anyone had anything they'd like to donate. The shelter was looking for warm clothes, blankets and sleeping bags to deliver to those who couldn't find a bed in the shelters and would be on the streets this Christmas. She had so many offers that she has to take two car loads up! It has been amazing to be able to talk to our boys about how easily people can find themselves with no options and nowhere to go, and that these charities and shelters offer them hope - just like Jesus offers us hope. So what better way to pass that on than to help out where its needed...

"For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ "
Matthew 25:35-40

I'm sure there are charities all over the world who try to reach the homeless at this time of year, but for those living in good old Northern Ireland here's a link for one the Belfast ones. 
and it tells you how you can get involved this Christmas.
Keep shining xx 

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Mary, did you know....

It is amazing how the young woman Mary is fully obedient to the Lord, even though she doesn’t fully understand the implications of what is about to happen to her. We hold up Mary as a woman of strong faith – her faith is strong not simply because she listens, but it is strong because she accepts God’s Word, even when she doesn’t fully understand it. She just knows that something amazing is going to happen. And because she obeyed, her special baby became the hope of all nations. 

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
Luke 1:38

This is something that we all need to remember, especially at this time of year. We have that many times in our lives when we question our faith because we can't fully understand what is happening in our lives. We don't see the full story - just a little bit - and we struggle to understand why the things that are happening happen. But we need to stand strong and have faith that God knows the outcome of everything going on in our lives and He holds us in His hands. 

There are so many situations we can find ourselves, and so many times that God helps us to persevere and trust Him. As a family we have gone through a couple of 'interesting' situations and the only way we have come out the other side is to trust Him completely. Tomorrow we'll talk about how to take these thoughts and turn them into some practical hope. 

But for now - a little tune which makes me think about Mary as a young mother, bringing up the Son of God. I have so much admiration for her, especially since having my four boys, but just as God chose Mary as the special mother of His Son, He chose me to be the mother of my boys.... And He chose YOU I to be your children's mum. What an amazing thought! :)

Keep shining xx 

Mary, Did You Know.... by the Gaither Vocal Band 

Monday, 2 December 2013

Monday memories....

My boys and I watched 'A Christmas Carol' the other day - the Muppets version of course :) - and it made me think back to Christmases Past and think about some of the reasons I love Christmas so much. I thought I'd take a wee moment every Monday to share one or two of those memories and hope you can remember some wonderful things about your Christmases Past as well.

This week we are looking at hope.... The hope of a sinful world - a Saviour who is Christ The Lord. What better way to look at hope than to focus on the One who gives us that hope and the One who IS the hope for all nations. 

One of the most important traditions we had when we were younger was that we always attended the Church service on Christmas morning - in fact everything about our day revolved around it. We had certain things we did 'before Church' and others we didn't do until 'after Church'. It was usually in the morning - at about 10/10:30am - but it was truly the centre of our Christmas. No matter who invited us where, we didn't do anything until we had gone to worship and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. Even though my parents didn't come to know Christ as their Saviour until slightly later in life, it was always a focus.

In our family now, we have taken it one step further, adding to it to help our boys focus on Jesus rather than their Santa presents - which they are all ultra excited about!!  Each year we gather at the top of the stairs and my eldest son reads out one of the Christmas passages about Jesus's birth. We then talk about the reason we are celebrating, and give a 'gift' to Jesus - one from our hearts. Last year one of the boys said he wanted to fight less with his brothers and I said I wanted to encourage us to be more peaceful (with less mama shouting!). Then we put them in a box, pray together and the following years we see how it went! It's interesting to see how astray our plans go, and to remind them that this might be a gift to Jesus, but we need His help to actually do it!

We need to make sure that this Christmas our focus is on the King - the hope for our salvation  and the only way that we can spend eternity in the presence of God - the baby Jesus Christ who grow up to be the man who bore my sins on that tree...

I think I'm going to have to get the craft things out and make a decoration like this - such a great reminder of who we are worshipping. Why not take some time to think back on some of your Christmas traditions from years gone by and think about who and what you focus on each year.
Keep shining xx 

Sunday, 1 December 2013

It's Christmas!!!

I love the Christmas season - it just brings thoughts of family times, love, gifts, kindness and thoughtfulness to my mind and I love it! 

This year I am doing a wonderful Advent study with the girls at GMG which starts today, so as it fits with my theme for December, I will be sharing the Advent Sunday readings with you. 

Each week comes under a different heading :

  • Week one - Hope
  • Week two - Love
  • Week three - Joy
  • Week four - Peace

So today we start off a week of Hope with Luke 1:26-38

Keep shining xx 

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Be joyful... Pray continually... Give thanks....

The reading for today's GMG was found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. These are some of my favourite verses so I thought I'd share some thoughts with you.

Joy is a choice - a decision to look past the situation that you find yourself in and to look and focus on the one who lifts you above every circumstance and loves you more than you could ever imagine.  

Your prayer life needs to be so much more than a line or two of grace at the start of a meal, or a few lines asking for things when you find yourself on trouble. Prayer is like a conversation between friends - between me and my best friend of all, my Heavenly Father. He knows everything I am going to pray for, but I know He likes to have me come to Him and pour out my heart to Him. It's the difference between our faith and so many others - a relationship with our Creator God instead of a religion with a list of dos and don't to follow. He is ALIVE so take time to talk to Him! 

And lastly we are told to give thanks in every circumstance - no matter what is going on in our lives. Things may be tough for people at the moment - with money worries, the loss of a loved one or even trouble at work or at home, but we're not to be thankful just when things are going well for us. When you think about it - God gives us breath on the days that go badly just as much as He does on the days that go well... And He gives us everything we need - it may be somewhere to lay our heads, food to eat, a job to pay the rent or a person to love. You may have to look a little to find things to be thankful for, but I guarantee you'll find something. From the smallest of things - a smile on a child's face when you walk in from work - to bigger things - like seeing a rainbow as you travel home in the pouring rain - to the miracles that happen each and every day - when your child who has been ill wakes up and talks to you, or you get your dream job when you thought you had no hope, or someone you thought was lost to you forever walks back into your life... Life is full of things to be thankful for. God is so so good. Just take the time to find them and give thanks. 

Keep shining xx 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


I have been having one of THOSE weeks!! I had a wonderful weekend - hectic though it was - full of food, fun and plenty of wonderful godly fellowship - but then all of a sudden I found myself on Monday morning being so disorganised it was funny!! Or maybe I just found it funny because I knew if I didn't laugh I'd atart to cry.... And probably never stop!! :)

Yet exactly when I needed to focus on something other than my awful week, God found time to send me the 'Good Morning Girls' study on.... thanksgiving :)  The  Lord of all creation knew that the one thing that could get me off my pity train and into His Word was the topic of cultivating a heart of gratitude and thankfulness. 

Do I think He got the girls at GMG to write this study just for me? You ever know!!! :) But what I do know is that He is my Father and He knows me better than I even know myself. Over the past two days I have read, absorbed and prayed His Word, and I am starting a gratitude journal, to help keep my heart focused on Him. God's timing is perfect and already I can see so many things to add to my journal! 

So while I apologise for stopping Proverbs for a while - we will get back to it - I want to delve into His Word with a focus on Him and not on me. If you want to join me, why not have a look at the Good Morning Girls website at and join the thousands of other women all around the world, focusing their hearts on gratitude this fortnight. 

Keep shining xx 

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Proverbs 6 Study

Following on with our chapter-by-chapter study, we reach chapter 6. This chapter is another warning - this time about liability and laziness.

Read chapter 6 and answer the folowing questions -

• Summarize the instructions of verses 1-5 in your own words. What are the key principles for living that are found in these verses? 
• What are the principles for life found in verses 6-11? What characteristics of the ant were helpful to the author in developing these principles? Can you think of any other examples that would teach the same truths? 
• What do the seven abominations to the Lord listed in verses 17-19 have in common with each other? How would you state a positive principle that would summarise the point of verses 16-19? 
• What do you think the author means by verse 21? What things can you do to bind the teachings of wisdom to your heart?

Keep shining xx  

Monday, 4 November 2013

Proverbs 5 Study

Today we start looking at the chapters individually, digging a little deeper into them. We're starting with chapter 5 - a chapter about the folly of immorality and its consequences. Our society today could learn so much from this.

Read chapter 5 and answer the folowing questions -

• Summarize the teaching of verses 1-2 in your own words. Why do you think the author mentioned "lips" in verse 2? What is the relationship between wisdom and what a person says?  
• What is the basic point of verses 3-6? What consequences of involvement with a "loose woman" does the text describe? Have you ever seen such consequences in the life of someone you knew?  
• Does verse 21 sound a positive, joyful note for you or a frightening message of judgment? Why? What are the advantages and disadvantages of having the eyes of the Lord on your life?

I hope you  get  time in God's Word today to realise how amazing He is and how much He can actually save us from - pain, destruction, shame, consequences.... Praise God for His wonderful love and words of wisdom!
Keep shining xx

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Week 3 : Proverbs 5-9 Overview

This week we will be having a quick look at Proverbs chapters 5-9. Our plan looks like this - 

Sunday - read through the chapters prayerfully

Monday - study for chapter 5
Tuesday - study for chapter 6
Wednesday - study for chapter 7
Thursday - study for chapter 8
Friday - study for chapter 9

Saturday - some reflective questions

This is a rough guide, and each of the 'studies' have only a couple of questions to make you think, but hopefully it will help you to really dig into Proverbs. There are lots of amazing individual verses, but when you read it as a whole there are lots of amazing life lessons.

So for today we are going to take some time to read through the 5 chapters (5-9), jotting down any favourite verses or anything that strikes a chord with us. 

Keep shining xx

Monday, 28 October 2013

Week 2 of our Proverbs study

This week I am heading away for a couple of days with my family over our half-term holidays, so I'm putting the complete week's plan in this post! Just don't want any of you to miss out!! :)

So this week we are reading Proverbs chapters 2-4.

• Read Proverbs 2-4 and think about the reading outline:

• Ch 2- Solomon states that the search for wisdom will be amply rewarded
• Ch 3 - Solomon establishes that true wisdom is linked to trust and obedience
• Ch 4 - Solomon adds his personal testimony as he holds wisdom supreme

• Read Proverbs 2-4 and think about these questions:

• What type of diligence is needed to find wisdom?
• Whom does The Lord discipline?
• What importance are placed on the words of our mouth?

• Read Proverbs 2-4 and think about these further study questions:

• What sort of zeal does Solomon suggest is needed to find the wisdom that comes from God? Proverbs 2:2-4
• Which of the Ten Commandments comes into play when we think of having a 'prolonged life'? Proverbs 3:2; Deuteronomy 5:16
• What insight do we have here about Solomon's upbringing? And what lessons can we learn as parents? Proverbs 4:3-9

• Read Proverbs 2-4 and think about these reflective questions:

• When do I prefer the seductions of the world to the study of the Word?
• How often do I consult God when making decisions?
• What can I teach my children or those in my care that will equip them for life's challenges?

• Read Proverbs 2-4 and spend some time in prayer:

• Ask for help to get your priorities right
• Pray for help to seek directions from God.
• Ask for opportunities to encourage others to seek God.

I hope and pray that you will get as much out of Proverbs as I am - it is a wonderful book! 
Keep shining xx

Friday, 25 October 2013

Proverbs 1 - reflective questions....

The final day of week one of our Proverbs 1 and its time to get into some reflective questions  - questions that will hopefully get us thinking more about how to put God's Word into practise in our lives. 

It is so important to remember that God's Word is alive - and that it should make a big difference in our lives when we read it and meditate on it. He gave us the Bible so that we could learn more about Him, more about His will for our lives and more about how we can share His love with those around us. 

We need to make sure that, as we read these verses and think about the questions, that we ask God to reveal Himself to us and speak to us personally. I pray that we will all be able to answer them and move forward thinking about shining for Him! 

Keep shining xx

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Proverbs 1 - further study questions....

Day three of our Proverbs 1 study. Today we are looking at the chapter a little deeper, using the 'further study' questions, and getting into other sections of God's Word as well. I love how God's Word works together as a complete work yet was written by so many different authors and over so many different years!! 

Again we'd love to hear from you if you want to contribute any thoughts so far!! 
Keep shining xx

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Proverbs 1 - study questions....

Day two of the Proverbs study. Today I want to encourage you lot re-read chapter one and think about the following questions -

I love getting into God's Word and really mulling it over in my mind. That's why we read... and re-read chapters!!  And as usual if you want to contribute any stand out thoughts please feel free to do so.
Keep shining xx

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

A new study!!!

Welcome to the start of our study together in the book of Proverbs! I am so excited to be starting this series - I have wanted to get into God's Word with you all in a deeper way and I have big plans for 2014!! So what better way to end 2013 than looking at the beautiful writings of Solomon in Proverbs. 

We are going to follow a reading plan found in the book "An Overview of the Old Testament" by a wonderfully godly man I know called John Malseed. We are blessed to be related to him, and I am excited to actually get into his wonderful book!! 

So for starters today I want you to read Proverbs 1, taking note of the outline of the chapter as below. Tomorrow I will add the study questions, with further study questions on Thursday for those who want a wee bit more depth, finishing on Friday with some reflective questions, to help apply God's Word to our everyday lives. 

The rest of the weeks will follow this plan as well, God-willing, starting on Mondays and running through to Thursdays. I really want to encourage you to get involved, and to feel free to write any thoughts or questions you have in the comments section, as iron sharpens iron. 

So to end - a prayer for us all....

Thank you that You have given us Your Almighty Word to study, meditate on and live out in our everyday lives. Please draw close to us as we seek to get into Your Word and learn more about You and Your will for our lives. Help us to be disciplined to come meet with You each day, and help us to never forget that You are there with us every time we read Your Word. Help Your Word to come alive to us as we read. 
In Your precious Son's name.
Amen xx

Monday, 16 September 2013

Living by faith....

A decade ago, if you had asked me what I thought when I heard stories of people "living by faith", I would have answered that I imagined them sitting hungry at a table and the doorbell ringing and a mysterious box of groceries being left on their doorstep.... You know - weird things happening that could only because they are so in tune with God that He truly provides their every need. 

Since then my husband and I left our jobs to join Campus Crusade for Christ, working in their sports ministry, Athletes in Action. All of a sudden we were "living by faith" and I was totally blown away by how wrong and yet how right my ideas had been! Let me explain. 

When you make the decision to "live by faith" you have to trust that God really is as powerful, loving and all-providing as we think He is, and that He is interested in little old me and will actually help me when I need it most. These are things we, as Christians, take for granted. I mean we just assume that God loves us, that He will supply all our needs and that He is truly interested in everything we do. But what happens when you are forced to put your beliefs into practice? 

When we first joined Cru (as its now called) we started support raising and got a wonderful team around us to support us prayerfully and financially, through monthly standing orders and one off gifts. These people felt led by God to give to us and we are so humbled and amazed when it happened. But this process, finding our team, took a while, and there were plenty of times when we actually were sitting around a table trying to figure out what was being discarded so that we could buy our groceries that week. 

Once, when we were just on the verge of panicking - I say 'we' were on the verge but my husband wasn't worried at all!!! - we went out for a meeting and when we came back there, sitting on our doorstep, was a mysterious box of groceries - with everything that we would have chosen to buy if we'd been asked for a specific shopping list!! I couldn't believe it!! 

But this wasn't the only 'mysterious' happening! We've had money dropped through the door matching the exact amount of a bill that needed paid. We've had people donate the exact money my husband needed for a flight to Africa - so many times its unreal!! We've had people give us clothes their kids have grown out of, just when some of mine have had a growth spurt and they've grown out of trousers or track bottoms. The list is endless, and not once did we say to anyone or ask a gift or anything that we got.

God really is that good, and He really is that powerful that He can talk to others on your behalf and ask them to help you. And if you listen, He really does use us to help bless others in amazing ways. He really does provide for His children and we can be witnesses to that.

But where my thinking was totally wrong was that I assumed that these Christians who were "living by faith" were provided for because they were so in tune with God and walking extra close to Him. This isn't the case. God is our Father. And while He wants us to be that close to Him that we are truly in tune with His will for our lives and our desires are His desires.... He knows we are human and sinners and that we will stray or be distracted on a regular basis. We don't need to be walking extra close and be extra holy for God to provide our needs. He does it anyway. Even when we are distracted by every day life and finding it hard to read or pray. Even when we are struggling with something in our faith and don't know where to look. God is our Father. He loves us despite our failings and when we are His children, He will provide us because He loves us. 

This doesn't dissolve us of the responsibility to live our lives for Him and to worship Him by drawing close to Him and growing more Christ-like each day, but it is wonderful to know that we have a Father who loves us so much. 

So my challenge is this - take some time to spend quality time with God and ask Him to help you to hear His still small voice as you go through each day. And when He prompts you to make someone a meal, or take them a gift, or go shopping for something.... Take heed and do it because you'll never understand how much it can not only bless a family, but be a visible reminder of God at work in their lives, just when they need it most. 

"For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ "
Matthew 25:35, 36, 40

Saturday, 14 September 2013

All you need is love...

So we're back to relationships, so it's about time I mentioned the one person who knows me better than anyone else - flaws and all!! My husband is my best friend and my soulmate and I truly love him with all my heart. Here's a wee picture from our wedding 13 years ago :)

We started dating when we were in university and we had a typical relationship - we were going out... then not... then going out... then not... You get the picture!!! :) 

But when we made the plunge and got married on 14th June 2000 it was one of the happiest days of my life. Even the hairdresser not getting my hair to stay up dampened my day!! (Seriously - she couldn't get it to stay up and had to keep going for a wee walk to calm down and focus!!) I was marrying the man I had dreamed about spending the rest of my life with. Everything was going to be perfect. 

But you know as well as I do that marriage is not perfect and it never will be. Marriage is made up of two people who at their base are sinners. Two people who have their own plans, their own personalities and their own flaws. No matter how well the yet on, their will be inevitable conflict and arguments. But that doesn't mean that it has to be bad. We need to work out how to deal with the conflict and how to work together day after day. 

My husband and I have rows, conflict and good old fashioned fights!! But I love him and respect him as the leader of our house and God has truly blessed us together. We have learned how to deal with any disagreements or conflict that arises and end up more in love than ever! Apart from our four wonderful boys, God has blessed us with a job that allows us to work together and to share our ministry with the children. 

My husband is not perfect but he is the perfect man for me. He puts up with my lack of organisation and time management and eats everything I set down in front of him, edible or not! He never complains about me when we are in public, even though there is plenty he could say. And he even treats me like a princess - with treats like a lovely bubble bath run for me when I came in from a Bible study or putting a cover out in front of an open fire and then taking the boys out for the afternoon so I can read :) 

He is also a wonderful man of God and the way he leads our family in God's Word is so special. And of course he is a wonderful father and the boys adore him!! I'm not going to pretend that its all fun and games all the time, but we are committed to each other before God and we intend, with His strength, to make it last 'til death do us part'.

I am so blessed to have my husband, and I know I take him for granted far too much. So my challenge to myself and you is this - take some time to really show and tell your other half how much you love them. Find out their love language - it's worth it - and then fill them up the way THEY need it - not the way you think they need it - trust me there is usually a difference!! And if you aren't married, then take time to celebrate those special people - friends and family - who are in your life. They all have love languages too!! 

Friday, 13 September 2013

Food glorious food!!!

Today I want to talk about food!!! :) I love food - as evidenced by my need to go on a drastic diet!!! - but much than I love eating, I love making food for others. I mentioned before about my love of having people round for meals and supper and being able to welcome them into my home, but we also love being able to bless people with a meal ministry. 

This is a photo from Comfy in the Kitchen 

But what exactly is a meal ministry? I hadn't really heard of it before - as a ministry - until I read a wonderful blog by Janelle - Comfy in the Kitchen - and she opened my eyes to the possibilities!! A meal ministry is something every single woman can do - making a little extra when you cook or bake and blessing another person or family with it. Simple!!

What makes it a brilliant ministry to do, especially if you are in a stage of life when you think 'I'm not doing anything for God', is that if you can put together any type of food, you can do this. All it takes is for you to double your ingredients when you cook your dinner, and either give the second meal away or put it in your freezer for when you need it. 

Excellent examples of when this comes in handy include new mamas and their babies, if anyone is sick, if anyone has been recently bereaved, or if a family is struggling financially. The article here tells you all about Janelle's top tips for meal ministry and her website gives you plenty of ideas on meals you can make. It really does make a difference. And do have a good read at the website - it explains everything so much better than I can! 

So far this year I have made meals for a couple of ladies going through surgeries, a couple of new mamas and a friend who went through a loss. But we have not only been blessed to take part in a meal ministry, we have been totally blessed by receiving meal ministry! We have had lots of meals arrive at our door at such perfect timing it had to be God's hand and every time it has been something that our whole family would love. 

So my challenge today is a pretty obvious one!! Take some time to pray and ask God if there is anyone that you could bless with a meal ministry. Trust me when I tell you that you will get as much out of it as you give :) 

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Religious freedom...

Religious freedom.... What exactly do you think about when you hear that phrase? And how often do you actually thank God for it? That's our topic today. 

I must warn you that I am not doing today's post from a religious and very theological point of view, but from a "stay-at-home-mum" point of view.

Wikipedia - that font of knowledge where maybe every other word might be true - defines freedom of religion as "is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance". For me it's the freedom to worship my God in any way I chose, without the state or government interfering. 

But how often do we actually thank God that we can play worship music in our homes, meet together each Sunday as a body of believers - for the most part in a public building - and hear God's Word preached, meet other believers in a public restaurant and bow our heads to say grace before we eat, or talk openly about our faith to anyone we meet? 

There are so many people that don't have that freedom. We constantly hear about Christians being persecuted for their faith. In countries like China, North Korea, Burma and Sudan it is dangerous to even mention God. They have to use secret signals to alert others if they think they are being followed, or meet in secret places, turning music up full volume if then want to pray together. My husband has travelled a lot and some of these situations have actually happened to him. It is horrible to think that what we take for granted is something amazing and special to others. One country he worked in allowed foreign nationals to have a church but local people were forbidden from attending. It is truly shocking.

But the amazing thing is that some of the people that we have met, who have to endure these circumstances, are some of the most godly people we know. They know sections of the Bible in a way I never will. They pray more than I ever could. They rely so much more on God than I ever have. They are simply amazing. A child-like faith that means more than all the fancy talking theology you'll ever hear. 

So my challenge today is two part. Firstly take some time to truly thank God that we live in a country that allows us religious freedom and allows us to worship God freely. And secondly, take some time to read up about some of the amazing people who don't have this freedom. There are lots of ways to help, support and pray for them, and as it says in Hebrews 13:3 -

"Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies."

and Romans 15:30 says

"Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love
given to you by the Holy Spirit."

A couple of links are below but this is by no means all there is. So please take some time and actually think about our brothers and sisters in Christ from all over the world. And if you need a reminder, why not take a leaf out of this family's book - read there story here!