Sunday, 26 April 2015

DAY 8 - A NEW ROUTINE

Today's challenge was to write about our routines and the things we do that help life to roll again the way we need it to. It got me thinking about how busy my life is at the moment, and how much I need a newly routine! 

So over the next four weeks I will be concentrating on part of this new routine, and helping me to get my life back to being beautifully balanced. 

So this week my focus will be on getting up early to start my day off right - spending time with God. This sets up my day in the best possible way and I really do love when I get up early to do it. Unfortunately in just a bit lazy!! So there will be lots of alarms, early nights and prayers going into this week!! 



I'm studying about HOPE at the moment - using a fantastic 'FOCUSed 15' study written by Katie Orr. These studies are a fabulous way of getting into the Word and I'd highly recommend any of her studies!! 

So here goes... 😀

Saturday, 11 April 2015

DAY 7 - WHY?

What is my why?
This next question in my journaling series is one that has really made me think. Why am I blogging? Why do I put pen to paper (so fingertips to laptop) and think that I should publish it? Why do I think anyone would want to read it? Does that matter? And if not then why am I doing it?
My hubby has asked me this question often – because as someone who is very private he can’t understand why I’d want to put thoughts that are private into the public arena. And each time it makes me consider what the purpose of my blog is.
When I started ‘Shine’ back in February 2012 I wanted to encourage others to take part in the Stewardship ’40 Acts’ Lent programme. It was fun to try and get my friends and family involved, and since I had been working with ladies in my job for a couple of years, it was a natural progression to keep the page going after Lent had finished, to encourage them. So we progressed to working through Elizabeth George’s book ‘Life Management for Busy Women’. That was a fantastic book!!!
So it grew from there. There have been high points and low points, times where I’ve written lots of posts and times where I’ve been silent. But I have loved putting my thoughts down on paper (or online!).
So why do I do it now? And has the purpose changed?
At the moment I am writing because I want to encourage women all over the globe to get closer to God and to know they are not alone in whatever struggles they are going through. When I say ‘all over the globe’ I mean whoever happens to come across my wee blog and reads it!
Things I’d like to change? I’d love to get writing more and I’d love more interaction – like comments from readers or feedback as to what they enjoy or don’t enjoy.
Things I’d like to try? To work on a couple of series type things and maybe write a devotional or a study or some sort. But that’s a dream for now!
So the future plans? I will, God willing, be continuing to blog a few times a week (maybe more maybe less but that’s life…) to continue encouraging anyone who reads it and hopefully get a guest blogger or two on. We’ll just see what God brings into our paths and what I learn during my own times with God. Meanwhile if you want to leave me some feedback (good or bad I’m open to all!!!) please feel free to leave it!
And above all – keep shining xxx

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

DAY 6 - DESCRIBE YOUR 'HAPPY PLACE'

The question of where my happy place is, is an easy one. My happy place is a beach. But not just any beach! I've always loved the sound of the waves against the sand and rocks, and I've always found solace watching the ocean if I've been upset or annoyed. I love all beaches - the one at Millisle is my most visited one where I could sit for hours, while the one at Whiterocks is a family favourite. 



But my very happy place is a very special beach at I visited once upon a time. It's quite a famous beach, as it was used in a chocolate ad, but a very private beach. It is, of course, the beach on Rose Island in the Bahamas. I visited it on my honeymoon with my husband and his brothers family. It's a place where I remember feeling safe, warm, content and where all was right with my world. I was with the love of my life and love going back there when I need a happy place to go to :) 

Short but sweet xxx 

Monday, 6 April 2015

DAY 5 - DESCRIBE A DAY OUT...


Today we had our annual Easter day out with my hubby's family and as I pondered what I was going to talk about today I thought about our Pastor's words on Sunday. So I'm going to use part of his illustration. 

We travelled to a beautiful part of our wee country - Rostrevor - to a forrest park. This park has lots of different layers. And I wanted to share my thoughts with you. 

The main attraction of Kilbroney are its spectacular views of Carlingford Lough and the Mourne Mountains. But to see them you have to get to the top. 



When you first go into the park there is a small car park on the right hand side. Here there is a small park office but nothing else. But you could still enter the park and think that was all there was to it. Nice trees, a log cabin office and a car park. To me this is like looking at Jesus and just seeing His love for us. It's lovely and nice but it's not anywhere near it all. 

Then further up the mountain and into the forrest park a little more, there is another larger car park on the left. Here there is a cafe, a play park and a picnic area. You could easily be mistaken in thinking this was what you'd come for. A little bit of a view but mostly just things to do and to entertain you. 



Just like when Jesus died for us. You could easily be mistaken in thinking that that was all we needed and all we were going to get out of Christianity. Having someone die for your sins is a pretty good deal, but you are still missing the big picture. 

If you keep going - right up the very top of the mountain - you reach what you came to see - the view. The big picture. It's amazing. Breathtaking. And very very worth the effort of enduring to the top. 



And in order to see the big picture and understand my faith you have to read to the end of the Easter story. Because without the end we have nothing. Jesus isn't dead - He's alive!!! He rose on the third day. The tomb is empty. And because of that we have life and life everlasting. Because of the resurrection we have victory over death and sin. And we have hope and joy and love. 

We need to go right to the top to see the view, and we need to read right to the end of the story in order to truly understand why I believe in Jesus Christ. 


Hope our lovely Pastor doesn't mind me stealing bits of his sermon, but it fitted so well with what we did today. 

Keep shining xx 

Sunday, 5 April 2015

DAY 4 - WRITE A 15 STEP 'HOW TO...' LIST

Sorry it took me two days to write! I'm going with my first thought here! I'm sure I could do this several times and come up with different ideas!! So here's the list :) 

HOW TO MAKE YOUR HOUSE A HOME...

1. Make up a to do list - walk round your house and have a look at what you see. Imagine you are a visitor and look at it objectively. Write a list of things that need done - now, soon and later. 

2. Declutter - go round your house and declutter as much as you can... you cannot have a restful, happy home if you aren't free to move around. 

3. Deep clean - sorry but this is essential! We can't get round it - a happy home is clean. So get all your cleaning supplies together and go for it! 

4. And now the fun stuff!!!! We've cleaned and decluttered and you've a 'to do' list for all the big things. So let's start as we mean to go on - we're going to engage our senses! Firstly, find, but, make or create a welcome sign for your house :)



5. Make one of the rooms look good - whether by changing the lighting, adding little touches like flowers or something handmade, add your family's character to the room so it looks good to you. 

6. Make your home sound good - there is nothing like having some soft worship music playing in the background to set the tone of your home. And it's even better to kick up the beats when it comes to cleaning time! Singing along to 'Something in the water' at the top of your voice definitely makes cleaning the toilet a more blessed experience!! :) 

7. Make your home feel good - cosy cushions, blankets, handmade goodies and knitted jumpers or quilts will help your home to tease your touch sense and help it feel better. 

8. Make your home smell good - this is a great one :) Cookies, a roast dinner or a pile of hot scones engages your sense of smell and your taste-buds. And when you get to enjoy them with friends it's even better. 

9. Decorate for the seasons - eg put hearts up for Valentines Day, or spring flowers for Easter. It helps change the house up a little while not being dear! 



10. Create some peaceful spaces - especially in the bedrooms. Try to keep technology out of the bedroom and use things like candles and soft lighting to create your own private haven. And above all keep it tidy! 

11. Have tv / technology free days so you can recreate easy childhood days. There's nothing like sitting before a roaring fire, reading or having a family game night - we're a competitive lot!!! 

12. Make it yours - make sure you have photos up because it's lovely to see the people we love all round us. I'm not talking stalky type photos! But we do need photos - there's nothing worse than a house that has no photos or character. 

13.  Invite people in - a house filled with friends and family is a happy house indeed. Even if you don't enjoy entertaining, invite your best friend in for a cuppa and immediately your house becomes a home. 

14.  Laugh more. 

15. Give it to God. There is nothing that will make your house more homely than making sure God is at the centre of it and that everything you do in your house is for Him.



So that's it!! I am going to do this a wee series very soon - so keep an eye out in May!! It was so much fun to think of these and I really am excited to get my house done now!!! :) 

Friday, 3 April 2015

DAY 3 - PROMPT WORD - FINISH...

It's not a word I'm good at. And it's not a word I like. 

I am great at starting things - like my chemistry degree (which I did for a year before changing) or my maths degree (which I messed up completely) or my WSF course (which I almost completed... but also isn't finished...) or my ballet classes or piano lessons or decluttering the garage or tidying our bedroom... My list of things I've started is endless. 

My list of things that I managed to finish is not. 

And that does make me incredibly sad. It makes cringe when I realise how bad my willpower, motivation and stick-ability is. And it makes me question why I am so bad at riding out the boring, tough or seemingly impossible times to make if to the end. 

But I am truly thankful that no matter how many things I have finished or how's many I fail to finish, the most important thing in my life is already finished. 

You see when Jesus hung on the cross to take the punishment of my sin, He said three little words that make my heart sing. 

"It is finished"



Those three words remind me that I don't have to earn my place on heaven - it's already been bought and paid for by His blood. 

They remind me that He loved me so much He died just so I could have eternal life - despite my failings and my sin and inability to stick with it. 

And most of all it reminds me that even when I fall and can't seem to do my Christian walk like I should - or read and pray like I should - He has me in the palm of His hand - safe and secure - because I am His and that's the end if that. 

He died on the cross for me. He died on the cross for you. 

Is it finished in your life? Are you sure and certain you are going to heaven or do you still have something to prove? Do you think you need to earn it? Or pray more for it to be the case? 

He is enough. He paid it all. Job done. 

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Life...

DAY 2 - ONE OF YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTES...  

"Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans..."

I think this is a John Lennon quote but I can't be sure. It really hit me this evening as I read the kids a bedtime story. The book was called 'A friend like you' (by Julia Hubery) and is about a panda and a monkey going on a special adventure one day. 



The monkey is quick on the move, always rushing and misses everything around him. The panda plods along enjoying each sight, sound and being still and quiet enough to see the beauty around him. 

It really got me thinking about life today. It's so busy and everything is so rushed - things are needed yesterday and out to do lists are endless. It gets so hectic we can miss the little things. We need to pause, slow down and smell the roses. And I really mean that. There is nothing nicer than walking past flowers and taking a moment to breathe in their beautiful God-given fragrance. 

Life is busy - and it will continue to be busy long past our lifetime - but don't miss out on what's around us. When was the last time you watched a sunrise or a sunset? When was the last time you sat outside, with no distractions, and just listened to the world around you? When was the last time you slowed down enough to catch a moment of beauty? 

Don't let the plans we make and the things we're trying to do run away with you. Take some time to enjoy life. As it happens. Here and now. 

And don't forget to praise the Creator for whatever blessings you find along the way. 

Keep shining xx 

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Christ is enough for me...

You may have noticed that I haven't been blogging much recently... Life has been a bit busy and unfortunately something had to be set aside, that something being my blog. I love writing and sharing things I've found with you all, and I would really like to get back to it, so I've set myself a little blogging challenge. I am going to try to blog through April, using a great wee blogging challenge I found online. It will get me back into writing, hopefully be a challenge that I can get my teeth into, but also be a platform for me to share my heart to all of you. There is a real mixture of prompts, so let's get started!! 

DAY 1 - USING YOUR IPOD ON SHUFFLE, WRITE SOMETHING INSPIRED BY THE FIRST LINES OF THE NEXT SONG TO PLAY... 

Oh I love this - I get to include music with my first post back!!! My iTunes collection is very strange and varied, with albums from Casting Crowns, Glee, Hillsong, One Republic, Carrie Underwood and Pitch Perfect to name a few... so the next song on could have been absolutely anything!! 

Thankfully it was something that is easy to write about and very apt for today. The song is 'Christ Is Enough' from one of the Hillsong Live albums, and the first lines are :


Christ is my reward
And all of my devotion
Now there's nothing in this world
That could ever satisfy

Through every trial
My soul will sing
No turning back
I've been set free

Christ is enough for me
Christ is enough for me
Everything I need is in You
Everything I need


And today it is especially important because it's my spiritual birthday!! 29 years ago today I gave my heart to Jesus in a small meeting in a local church. I recognised that I was a sinner - that even though I was a 'good girl' I still had a big problem called sin in my life and I needed to ask God for forgiveness. 

From that point on God has been my constant companion, trusted friend and questioning conscience as I have made my way through the teenage years, uni studies and into married life. I am never alone, He is always there. He never lets me down, He never fails and He always has an answer to my prayers - even when it's something different to what I'd like it to be! 

Christ is enough for me - I am blessed to have a wonderful husband, four wonderful sons and an amazing extended family around me, but even if I didn't - He is enough. When things go right - He is enough. When things go wrong - He is enough. When my focus is on Him it makes me a much better wife, mother, sister, employee... Because He is enough and all that I need. 

As we draw near to Easter and really think about what He has done for us, let me ask you this question - is Christ enough for you? 

Keep shining xx