Tuesday, 29 December 2015

A new year...

I love the thought of the new year - 366 days (yep it's a leap year!!) brimming with opportunities, like a blank page or book, just waiting to be written on. 

And each year I make lots of resolutions. And each year I fail miserably!! 

But 2016 is an exciting year for me. You see 2016 is the year I turn 40... And I think I may be having a mid-life crisis!! I want to make a to-do list which includes travelling, jumping out of aeroplanes and changing my life drastically... BUT realistically I'm a wife, mother of four, employee, and I have responsibilities that keep me from being the silly wee girl I feel like being. 

Why is it the thought of being middle aged terrifies us so much? Why do we need to make ourselves feel younger, more alive or different? 

I know for most of us life doesn't look like we imagined it would when we thought about being 40 - if we ever did because let's face it 40 sounded really old!! Maybe it's better. Maybe it's not. Maybe you are living your dream life with everything you ever wanted. Maybe you aren't. 

I'm not exactly sure why I am questioning my life because it's been pretty terrific up to now. I've been blessed with two wonderful families (my folks and my in-laws), a wonderful husband, four wonderful kids, wonderful friends and a wonderful job which let me stay at home with my boys, while telling people about God. Not much to complain about. 

And yet I find myself wondering. I wonder if I'm in the centre of God's will. I wonder if I'm doing right by my kids or if I'm giving them enough fodder for hours of therapy later in life. I wonder if I'll ever get a chance to live out the dreams I have. I wonder if I'll ever get to travel. Or to teach. Or to finally catch up on my laundry. 

So this year instead of giant and unrealistic to-do lists or resolutions, I'm going to take an area of my life each month and explore it. I'll keep you informed with this year's journey as I try to balance my 40 year old self with the person I hoped I'd be by now. 




January will be focusing on deeper Christiam living - on getting my relationship right with God so that I have the rest of my year - whatever that may bring - firmly on His foundation. 

I'm so excited!! I hope whatever God brings into your 2016 will be a blessing and a challenge to bring out a better you too. 

Keep shining xx 

Thursday, 3 December 2015

A bit of honesty...

2015 has come and gone. What type of year was it for you? 

For us it was a hard year. We enjoyed lots of wonderful times, made amazing memories and were blessed beyond measure. But there were hard times too. Not only did I end up in hospital with gall stone pains, only to later have to go back and get my gall bladder out, but I battled something slightly more hidden all year. 

I have struggled to live with what started out as post-natal depression for a long time now. I've been on and off my medication so many times that the last time I got it renewed the doctor very gently advised me that maybe this time I should just stay on it for good. I think after all this time (my youngest is 7 after all) it's gone past post-natal depression, and moved into plain depression.

I suffer from depression. 

I also don't know why I feel so defensive about it. Even to me there has always been a massive difference between someone who has normal depression and me - a girl with PND - as if the name made it better and less stigmatic. 

But it doesn't. And the root of the problem is the same. I'm broken. And this year has been hard. 

My medication had to be increased around March time for a series of reasons, and thankfully it really did its job. I tend to get 'stressy fingers' when I get bad and my head goes a bit haywire. I get really antisocial - closing myself off from everybody and just wanting to hide in my bed, or getting into my house and locking the door as quickly as I can. 

Obviously, with four boys and a very busy husband, my life can't just stop when a wee bout of depression hits. I still have to go to work, do runs to football, youth activities and after school clubs, and try to put on a smile. But it's hard. And I know that my boys (and particularly their daddy) get the worst of me and all the stressy bits when I can't put on a 'face' any more. 

But the worst episode I've ever experienced took place just after October half-term. I felt like I was split in two. One half of me was so focused in school - I was loving it and really enjoying every second. But the other half was distant, glazed over and not quite there. This was me at home - the place I'm supposed to be comfortable, happy and myself. Instead I was unemotional (and you know that's not me) and separated from my life. 

It was horrible. I've never felt more broken or more like a failure. 

But thankfully, the doctor was able to pinpoint the issue, re-evaluate my medication and get me back on track. 

Life is much better now, but it was a great reminder of how precious our minds are and how delicate out body's chemistry is. 

Mental illness is never funny and almost always hidden from view. It can take the most confident person and leave them in a heap on the floor. It can reduce the happiest person to floods of tears or make the most emotional person ever (ahem - that would be me!!) stoney, distant and unreachable. 

Please, as we start a new year, find friends who will be there for you, even when you shut yourself off; find joy in the little things in life - like a cup of coffee beside a warm fire; talk to people - no matter how weird you think what you're going through is; and know that you are not alone.

Here's to a great 2016!! 
And an extra big thank you to all of my wonderful friends who have been right there with me every step of this year. Love you all xxx

Keep shining xx 


Tuesday, 1 December 2015

The joys of parenting

We have a few Christmas traditions in our family. The first one involves the putting up of the decorations and is a lot of fun. 

Mainly it's fun for me because we get to go out for tea and then I get to decorate while patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) 'helping' the boys put up the tree. This year they spent more time drawing beautiful pictures on their Santa letters to allow mummy some quality tree time!!! Yep I'm that bad!  


Anyway - here's where the joy of parenting comes in. The difference between expectation and reality... 

THE PLAN
All meet up after school and go out to Holywood for a lovely family meal. Then come home to soothing Christmas music, a beautiful time putting up the decorations and then sitting down to watch a Christmas movie with a nice glass of Shloer. Bliss :) 

THE REALITY
• Ethan threw up in the middle of last night which meant he couldn't go to school (for fear he'd repeat the joy there) so went to my mum's for the day. (Thanks mum xx) So automatically our lovely meal out was cancelled :( 
• After running out to get some lovely pizza (2 for 1 Tuesday!!) we started putting up the tree... only to discover that I'm missing a set of lights. So only two sets are now string around a 3-set tree. I am not impressed :( 
• No Christmas movies where on (or none that didn't involve a dog!!) so we listened to music, read an extra long bedtime story and I curled up on the sofa to watch Taken 3 with hubby instead!! :) 

Life is very different to how we plan it or what our expectations are. Yet in this, it is beautiful. No we didn't get out to eat, but we all got in warm, comfy pjs as soon as we got home and closed the door to the world - quality family time. And I got some beautiful sneaky photos of my hubby and the boys picking out their wish list and looking at what gifts they want to give away. We sang, made jokes and truly relaxed. And I got to watch a movie with my hubby - something I'm usually too tired to do. 

Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. And a lot of the time, it is even better than any plans you could come up with. There's a reason so many people are slowing down for advent this year - letting the craziness pass them by and just being in the season.


God came down to give us life to the full - but sometimes we're meant to slow down and appreciate the 'little' things in order to fully live, focusing on Him and Him alone. 

So next time your plans get waylaid, and your expectations go awry, stop, take a step back and relax - life just might beat your plans hands down!! 
You gotta love kids!! 
Keep shining xx 

Monday, 30 November 2015

Tis the season....

I am so excited!!! I know I haven't been posting much (that's a story for another day) but it's Christmas and I can now officially play Christmas music around the house!! Eeeek!! And I've so much fun and mischief planned for the next couple of weeks I'm too excited to sleep!! 

But first - lets calm everything down a touch and remember why we're celebrating and why we need to be a wee bit more mindful this year than we've ever been before. 



You see this year I have two children in my house who are very excited to have a visit from Santa on Christmas Eve (Yes we do that and yes they know there is an almighty difference between him and God) and we've been thinking about how to approach their Christmas lists. They are tempted, as many are, to write a list that includes an Xbox One, a laptop and a new iPad mini - yep that's one list!!! - but they are also kind-hearted enough to know that they can't ask for all of that when there are so many in our world who won't get anything. There is so much need in the world today - more than at any other time, with the number of wars, refugees and lack of basics like food and water. There will be so many children who won't get anything on Christmas morning, never mind the latest gadgets. 

So we've taken the 'receiving' and turned it to 'giving'. We have taken their Christmas lists and made them into wish lists for others as well as themselves. 

We decided last year that we'd try something a little different and we asked them to put something for someone else down on their list, and we were delighted with what happened. Each of our boys (and we have two that 'believe' and two older ones) had a look at the Compassion Ministry gift books that comes out each Christmas, and the first thing they put on their list was a gift for someone else. 



One boy picked to send a food parcel out to a family in Africa. Another sent a set of Malaria testing kits out.  A third sent solar lights out to a village and the fourth bought a goat!! 

They knew they only allowed to write down four things on their list - and these were right at the top. Had we talked about giving and keeping the real meaning of Christmas? Yes. Had we forced them to do this? No way. They took our idea of something small and rolled with it - and would have bankrupted us in the process if we hadn't curtailed them!!

So why am I boasting about my wonderful boys yet again? To remind you of what a great mum I am? Hahaha!!! Yeah right!!! Not a chance of it! If my boys are loving and have a heart for giving its straight from our Heavenly Father. And that's why I'm sharing it with you.

You see right from the start we need to keep Christ in Christmas, keep the real meaning - God's love come down in His precious Son - at the forefront of our minds, and make sure that we don't get all caught up in the season that can make, break, unite and cripple families. Let's put away our joy of presents under the tree and see how we can make this year a giving extravaganza, magnifying God's love above everything else. 



And not that I've said that I'll probably go a little mad, but sure how else do you share Christmas cheer?? 

SING OUT LOUD FOR ALL TO HEAR!!!! 

Keep shining xx 

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

EVERY WORD...

Apologies for the day long delay.... But better late than never!! 


This is a hard verse to write about. And yet it's a very easy concept. Tell people - and make sure to tell them everything - not just the nice bit. Unfortunately today's world is so PC that we are too worried to do this. 

Let's go back to the start. In the passage above God gives Jeremiah a task. He is to go to the courtyard at the front of the Temple and tell all the people God's message. God wants them to turn from their evil ways and repent. All Jeremiah has to do is tell them the entire message and if they repent God will change His mind and stop the punishment for their evil. But they don't act favourably and he has to flee for his life. Not the outcome Jeremiah would have wanted. 

So now to modern day. We have a task as Christians. And this is a task ALL believers should be involved in - not just Pastors or youth workers or missionaries... EVERYONE. We are tasked in Mark 16:15 to “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation", sharing the good news about God's plan for salvation and His amazing gift in Jesus. We are told to tell everyone. To share with all of our families, friends, co-workers, neighbours... everyone. 

And what should we be sharing? We are told in John 3:16 that "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." We need to share that while all humans are born with sin inside them that separates us from God, He has an almighty rescue plan and sent Jesus to take our punishment on the cross. We need to share God's love, His compassion, His mercy and His grace. Yayee - we get to share all the wonderfulness of God. 

BUT we also need to share everything else too. We need to share that sin is a problem - and that it comes in many different forms. We need to share that the consequences of sin are way more than being grounded or getting caught doing something wrong. The wages of sin are death. Plain and simple. If we don't repent we are going to die and spend eternity separated from God. 

This is the hard part. When was the last time you told someone about hell? Or about sin in their lives, or your life, that needed to be confessed and turned away from? When was the last time we shared the ENTIRE message and not just the amazingness of our Father? God is righteousness, forgiving and loving but He is also judge and cannot abide sin in any form.

People need to hear it all, God gave us the entire message to share. But in today's society we are so completely obsessed with not offending anyone that we've missed the point completely. We don't want to offend people who don't share our faith so we stop saying prayers, say  'Happy Holidays' instead of 'Happy Christmas' and don't help people to understand their sinfulness for fear of being labelled judgemental, hypocrites or narrow minded... 

It's a sad day when we change the Gospel to suit our hearers. Because when we do that it ceases to be the Gospel and instead becomes a fairytale. God gave us His truth to share and we need to get out there and tell people the entire message no matter who is going to be offended. Jeremiah had to run for his life. The Christians in Oregon paid the price for their faith and the fact they admitted it. Chances are the most we'll get is being taunted, called names or told we are narrow minded bigots. 

What are you going to choose to share? Part of the message or every single word? 
Keep shining xx 

Sunday, 4 October 2015

TEST ME...


Today's verse is one that used to scare me. The idea that I'd actually pray this and willingly let God test me, try me and look into my heart and my motives wasn't a notion I was comfortable with. 

And if you were me, at that stage in my life, you'd have felt the same. At that point in my life my Christian walk was wavering a lot. I struggled with a lot of things, but not what we'd consider the 'big stuff'. I never drank, swore, smoked or dabbled in drugs. 

On the outside I was this good wee Christian girl. But underneath I was lying, full of envy, boasting, acting full of pride, lust, being disrespectful, rude and generally not a nice person. Underneath I was not living a Christian life at all. And there's no way I wanted God to see that. 

I mean I know that He already knew, that He could see into the depths of my heart and yet He still loved me... but the shame was too great. 

Then I realised that the only way I was going to get better, turn my life around and actually live the way God wanted me to, was to confront the person in the mirror. The only thing I could do was pray this verse and ask God to test me, try me and tell me where the problems were in my life. 



And boy did He ever!! I've already written about my love of books and that was one of my first big purges! God helped me see that I wasn't reading the right things - too many sex scenes that I didn't need to pollute my mind, or two much romance that was unrealistic and made me feel dissatisfied. 

Then came the watching TV and my choices of movies... While I could read lovey dicey scenes I never watched them - so smutty films/TV programmes weren't my problem. No - I had to stop watching anything that has a supernatural twist - from Buffy to Harry Potter to Charmed... Not good for my gullible mind. And film wise my problem was violence. I had come to not even really 'see' it. That all had to change. 

And then my big issue - my body. This is a battle I'll fight for life because I know what my natural tendencies are - but God loves me so much more than I love myself and He gently reminds me every so often, what I'm doing to my body with my sedentary lifestyle. 

I am not the same person as started out on my Christian journey - and praise God I'm not yet the person who will be finishing it. He has the power to test me, try me, challenge me and change me, and I thank Him daily for changing me. 

In this Psalm David was asking God to test me, to prove His love for God and so that God could see His heart. When was the last time you prayed this prayer? When was the last time you allowed God to seriously audit your life? 

I'll be looking more at this personally - I need to do it again much more often. 

Keep shining xx 

Saturday, 3 October 2015

GIVING THE FIRST

So I've made it to day 3!! (Only just!!) And what a verse we have today... 


At the start I had lots of ideas skipping round my head to write on, but this is one of my favourite times of year, so I want to share it with you. 



'Harvest' is traditionally the time of year where we thank God for His provision after we've brought in the first crops and give back to the One who made it happen. It brings back many fond memories - from bringing fruit and vegetables into school for the annual Harvest assembly, singing hymns like 'We plough the fields and scatter...' And going on Autumn walks gathering different coloured leaves. 


But the idea of harvest - of giving our first fruits back to God - is a much bigger idea that we need to really think about. When was the last time you gave your first to God? 

What about in your money? Do you tithe? 

What about in your time? Do you give to God first? 

And what about your focus? What are your first thoughts when you wake? Facebook? Emails? Or God's Word? 

Lisa Terkeurst recently spoke about her daughter giving her first 15 minutes to Hod - 5 minutes to read God's Word, 5 minutes to pray and 5 minutes to worship. It really did change her daughter'a perapective and I know it changes my whole day when I get up and give Him my first moments. 

So my challenge - when did you last do that? And if you've never tried it - give yourself a week of giving God your firsts and tell us how it's changed your life! 

Keep shining xx 

Friday, 2 October 2015

SUNDAY WORSHIP...

This is a verse that I have never heard before, but one on a topic that I desperately need to be reminded of. 


I have a couple of big problems in my life and unfortunately they all come together on this issue. I attend a wonderful church just outside the town I live in, and it really is home for me. We have a relatively new Pastor who is fantastic and really easy to listen to, while not shirking at challenging individuals or the church as a whole. I've gotten so much out of his ministry to us - and I'm just one of the congregation. 

Why am I telling you this? Mainly it's so you don't think my next confession is because of my church. It's not. 

But those issues I mentioned - oh boy do they beat me up. I have three main problems. 

Post-natal depression - realistically I'm wondering if I can still call it this when my 'baby' is 7, but this has been a real struggle for me. The main problem was the way it manifested itself in my life. I had panic attacks and a fear of having to see and talk to people who I knew would be asking me how I was, or praying for me. In other words I had a fear of everyone in church. Totally illogical since I needed their prayers more than ever, but that was it. So even now I often feel the urge to hide up in my bed with my duvet over my head, and let my husband take the boys to church on his own. 

A horrible attitude of laziness - I am a naturally lazy person unfortunately and Sunday mornings have become a time when I get to laze around the house, watch a little tv and not get dressed until the boys are on their way home. Not an ideal routine for someone who claims to love God, but a spiral I've fallen into. I need to purposefully get out of it and let Sunday  mornings regain their proper purpose - as a time to worship my Father in heaven. 

A lack of self-discipline - when you add this to the top two points you can see why attending church regularly is a problem for me. It's not that I don't enjoy it - I'm just stuck in an endless battle, every Sunday morning, where I fight to get out, only to fall and stay home. I know things like being better organised, having all the church clothes ready the day before, and lunch sorted and prepared can all make a big difference, but I also need to work on having the self-discipline to just do it, especially when it's so important. 

And I truly do believe it is. We need the fellowship, the meeting together as a family of believers and of course the getting into God's Word together that church provides. It helps us grow, it helps us to remain on fire for God and ultimately helps us to worship and get to know our Father better. 

So my excuses for not going? Non-existent. My issues? Pathetic. My attendance at church? Necessary for my spiritual growth and vital to encourage my friends and fellow believers. 

So what am I planning to do about it? 

I'm delighted to be able to tell you that I'll be out at church on Sunsay - because it's my turn to be on Senior Bible Class!! But I'll take any chance I can get to get me out and worshipping God. So this is my desire - to start this week and work through the whole of October, going to church each Sunday - enjoying it, worshipping God, respecting everything about our great wee church, and moving forward from there. I know it won't be easy because the devil loves to hit you where you're vulnerable, but I'm determined. 

I'll let you know how I get on at the end of the month!! How is your church attendance? What problems do you have to overcome and how can we pray for you? 
Keep shining xx 

Thursday, 1 October 2015

STOP RIGHT THERE!!

I know I was going to share more about my inspiration boards but guess what... It's that time again. The month of October is traditionally the month that bloggers all around the world link up and write a "31 days of..." series. And every year I start with the greatest of intentions, only to fall a couple of days into it!! 

So while I am really excited about doing it again - or at least attempting it - I'm also realistic enough to know that I won't be posting every day, and while I'd love to do one of the many series ideas running through my head, I'm just going to share a few verses and what they mean to me. I'll also be sharing more about the boards during the month!! :) 

So my first verse that I want to share is this. 




In the chapters running up to this we read about Isaac and Rebekah having their twins, Jacob and Esau, and learn how they fought and bartered over their birthright. Then, at the start of this chapter then, there is another severe famine which causes Isaac to move. As he moves, he has plans in his head - plans he is thinking about and that he has mapped out - he's  going to take the family to Eygpt and settle there... But God has other plans. 

God speaks very clearly and tells him to STOP. He tells him that he is to stay where he is because this is where God was going to fulfil His promises - this was where He was going to honour His promise to Abraham. God had big plans for Isaac and his wee family, bigger than even Isaac could imagine. 

I don't know about you but I often set up my own plans and map them out in my head - exactly as I want them to go, and exactly how I think will work best. But the best times in my life are, without a doubt, when God comes in and says "STOP! This is where I want you and this is what I want you to do, " 

I have so many examples I could share with you, but I want to tell you about the time I was doing too much, trying to do every idea that came into my head, and not really letting God have any control - even though it was all ministry - for Him!! I wasn't really listening to His still small voice, so He came and said "STOP" in a way that was very noticeable! Everything I was doing - and I mean everything - stopped within a week or two, and all for reasons totally beyond my control. God had my attention and it was one of the best and most exciting times in my life as I regained my perspective and really found out what He wanted me to do! 

So next time you are tempted to over-plan or go off on a tangent by yourself, remember that God's plans are always better and if you don't listen, He will get your attention in some way!! 

Keep shining xx 


Friday, 25 September 2015

Inspiration

So I wanted to share my journey over the last while with you - the one that started with a call for volunteers to help Sarah Mae to do research for a new book. If you know me at all you will know that I LOVE reading, I LOVE books by my favourite authors and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE being involved in launch teams. So this sounded even better!! 

I signed up immediately and was delighted to be one of the chosen group. At this point I need to say something - this group of ladies that Sarah Mae chose - what a beautiful and godly set of women - it has been such a joy to be able to follow them, chat with them and become friends with them. They may mostly life in the States, but I'll meet them someday and I'm excited for that!!! 

So our first challenge was a creative one - after being given six 'sub-titles' she asked us to create an image board where we'd write down some ideas, plans and anything to inspire us. I am going to share mine in detail with you, but I also want to share a couple of others designs too. As we were in a private group I don't want to share the other girls' actual boards, so I'm sharing a few Pinterest boards - to show you how abstract and individual this process is. There is no right answer. There is no wrong way. It's a personal journey between you and God, so go have fun and create!! 

My board : 



And a few other ideas: 




You can use colour, pictures, fabric, Bible verses, quotes, journaling - anything you want!! 

Next week I'll take you through my original board and explain how it has helped me over the last year, and then I'll reveal my new board and tell you how it will help me as I plan my next 6 months. And I'll have a couple more examples!! 

The funniest thing about this - when we got into it, God changed Sarah Mae's ideas into a book - Longing for Paris - and a course - Longing for Life - so we got to be involved with two amazing things instead of just one!! 

See you tomorrow!!
Keep shining xx 

Monday, 21 September 2015

Longing for life...

I know it’s been a while since I wrote – I feel as if I’m starting all over again!! But this last couple of weeks has been a hectic time! Since I last wrote a proper blog post I have started back at school, been admitted to hospital for my gallbladder surgery and have been ‘enjoying’ some quiet time at home as I attempt to get over this and get back on my feet!
 
So I have had a lot of time to think about what I want to do with my life, my blog and what I need to do to balance it all out. It’s a topic I’ve been thinking about for ages – I’ve mentioned trying to be more balanced, living out my priorities, loving my life and having lots of mini adventures right where I am!!
So I’ve decided to take the next 6 months and really focus on my life, how I live it and how I can integrate God’s Word into it in a much more practical way. But first I want to share something very exciting with you.
Last month I shared that Sarah Mae’s new book ‘Longing for Paris’ had been released. Well this month she has something equally as amazing out! She has written and recorded a video course called ‘Longing for life’ – and it is fantastic!! Here’s the blurb from her website -
 
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Do you ever find yourself saying,
“I wish I could get my life together”?
I created this course, Longing for Life, to inspire you to live an unregrettable life, one that on the arc of it all you chose it. You didn't stay stuck, or let people-pleasing or fear or lies hold you back. See it matters how we live and the choices we make because God has a purpose for us on this earth, and if we are stuck in past wounds or pain or fear, we are not truly free. When you are healed and free you will bring relief to a weary world...and to your own children.
I'd love for you to journey with me as we long for life...full, faithful, satisfied, unregrettable life.
 
 
---------------------------------------------
 
Please go over to the site - http://longingforlife.com – and have a look round. As well as the excellent teaching, you have to watch for the beautiful location, the fabulous clothes and there is even a blooper reel – it’s hilarious!!!
 
But on a more serious note, Sarah Mae is one of the most honest, transparent writers that I have read, and I love her books. She has such a heart for women and for helping us to see part lies, overcome pain and live our lives for the glory of the Father, enjoying each and every moment. I was privileged, and I mean totally privileged, to be part of an online group that helped her with this course. When I say helped, she gave us challenges, which literally changed our lives, as she wrote the course, and we all fell in love with it and her! It has been amazing, and I am hoping to share some of the gems I have discovered with you, over the next week. It ties in to the aim of my next 6 months so perfectly, and I really hope it will help you as much as it’s helping me!
 
Keep shining xx

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!!!)