Sunday, 28 February 2016

Passion 2016

Wow girls!!! I'm so excited!! Not only did I just turn 40 but I got to spend the weekend with an amazing bunch of girls worshiping God at Passion 2016 in Ballymena. I have so much to process and I'll probably be referencing this conference A LOT in the weeks to come but here's a little taster of what it was like. 

Keep shining xx 

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Nothing I hold on to

This week is a big week for me. I have a nice big birthday at the end of the week and I'm mega-excited!! But as I was thinking through this week, it's aims, goals and plans, this song was playing In the background and it really struck me. 



The lyrics really spoke to me (they always do) as I'm about to hit the big 4-0 on Friday. 


I have now been on this earth for 40 years. That's a heck of a long time so this year has really made me think much more about life, it's purpose and my plans. I'll be talking a bit more about this later in the week, but the one thing I have to keep remembering is that I am not on my own. I don't know what tomorrow will bring - I have no idea what ways my life will change, or stay the same, in the year to come. But I do know who holds my future. My life is safe in my Father's hands - He has me and thankfully He sees the big picture. He sees what has to happen in my life for the tapestry to make sense and for the glory to go to Him. I can rest assured in the fact that ...

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."

Romans 8:28




I think I may be having a slight mid-life crisis as I start to consider my life and what I'm doing with it - for instance I'm beginning to think that things like jumping out of an aeroplane, abseiling down the Europa or getting my ears pierced for a second time sound like fantastic ideas! I start to think about my life and get a little down - have I done what I wanted to? Have I achieved what I set out to do 20 years ago when I was in university? Or did life get in the way? 

Whatever plans I had for my life - whether they have come to fruition or not - I have come to realise that there is no point in worrying over what ifs - I chose to put my trust in God - resting in the knowledge that He alone can take my life and create something beautiful that will honour Him. This is part of the reason I love butterflies so much - God is still working in me and one day I'll be able to spread my wings and fly bringing Him glory. 

"Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. 
He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, 
people cannot see the whole scope of 
God's work from beginning to end."
Ecclesiastes 3:11




At this point in my life I can sing this with a truthful heart. No matter what life throws at me, I know that God's grave is sufficient to help me overcome any and all of my weaknesses. No matter what battle - whether it's with food, alcohol, drugs, sex or anything else - I know that when I come to God with my hands outstretched, and with a humble heart, He is there to give me all the strength and power I need to make it through. 

"Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. 
My power works best in weakness." So now I 
am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that 
the power of Christ can work through me."
2 Corinthians 2:9



Finally, I have realised that the only thing worth holding onto in this life is God. There isn't any amount of money or things that could satisfy your soul and give you the peace that God gives when we cling to Him. It took me a while to get this, as I clung to my books, my shopping, my family and my church - but nothing I hold on to now except Jesus. 

I hope you all have a fabulous week and keep shining as you hold fast to Jesus xx 

Thursday, 18 February 2016

C is for...


Have you ever been in the situation where you have had to make a choice whether to sin or not? I'm talking about doing things you know are wrong - making them a decision rather than a reaction. 

Should you go and meet that person you are emotionally invested in, even though you know where it could lead? Should  you eat that bun, despite being addicted to sugar and the battle that brings? Should you tell that wee white lie that won't hurt anyone and will make your life so much easier in the short term... ignoring any long term problems that might arise? 

Today I had one such occasion happen. I had a conversation with someone that got me a little upset and annoyed, so what's the first thing I did? I went into a shop bought a whole pile of sweets and sat and ate them - one after another - in the privacy of my car. 

Emotional binge eating at its finest. 

And afterwards I felt even emptier than when I started. I felt dead inside, annoyed and totally ashamed at myself. 

You see I know what I should have done. I should have paused, lifted my eyes and asked my Heavenly Father for His help dealing with the call and especially with my emotions. I should have continued to let God be in control but I didn't. 

Instead of letting God control my emotions, I let my emotions control me. 

It's something I continually battle with. When I worry I take back control, as if I'm telling God He isn't big enough to handle it. 

When I get emotional I take back control and react wildly, without thinking and often with terrible consequences. 

And all the while I have to remind myself that if God wanted me to take control and wanted me to deal with all of this on my own, He wouldn't have sent Jesus for me. 

He gave us freedom when He died on the cross. And part of that freedom is knowing that the one who hung the stars in the sky is holding onto my heart each and every second of each and every day. It's understanding that when God is in control He sees the big picture and knows when and where we need to be.

There is beauty and peace knowing God is in control as I need to remember not to take it back. 

Keep shining xx 


Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Half-term fun

This week is our school half-term holiday so we're having a bit of extra fun (while fighting our various bugs!!) But that doesn't mean that it takes away from our focus for the month. This months focus is supposed to be :



as well as continuing with getting into the Word each day and spending quality time with my Father God. 

So what has this week got in store for me? My challenge is to cut down the amount of sugar in my diet - not completely off it but reducing it to almost gone. I've already come off fizzy drinks so that's not an issue but I am still using processed jars etc when I cook, so this will be a cooking from scratch week. 

And of course there's the inevitable training... I'll be committing to doing at least 15 minutes each day and going from there!! It'll be an interesting week to say the least! 

Keep shining xx 

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Eat Pray Love

Well it's the round up of my week time :) The time when I think about what I've done and what I've really loved this week.  

 

This week I've been trying to start a challenge - a personal challenge I set myself with regards to eating little or no sugar - and it's been disastrous. Yet again my lack of willpower won over my desire to be the best version of me. But I will not be beaten!!! This week coming I'm off on a half-term break and we've lots to achieve in the house - changing rooms, decluttering and setting up new routines for the boys. It will be a busy week but also, I hope, a week to try new things - new recipes, new tastes and new ingredients. AND I got this so it'll be good to try!!!


So I'll be sure to have lots of photos of my attempts to share with you next week!!!

 

This week my spiritual life has been a little lacking. The main purpose of this blog is to encourage women to shine for God, and part of my remit is to be honest and share my life with you. Well this week it's been hard. I could tell you that it's because I've been dosed, and not sleeping well at nights, I've been sleeping in and not had time, but I have time in the afternoons so that would be a lie. I could tell you that I've been so busy that it just kinda got lost in the mix but I could have 'squeezed' it in somewhere if I'd wanted to. 

No, the truth is that this week I've been struggling with a chaotic mind and most days I've lay down in bed and thought 'oh crap - I didn't do my quiet time today'. On a positive note I'm glad I noticed. But on a negative note I know that if I let it continue that will soon disappear too. So this week in back to setting my alarm, getting up and getting it done!! I know how much I get out of it and I know how it settles me for whatever the day brings. So here's to another go at getting up early!! 

 

It's been weeks one and two of my birthday celebrations - I turn 40 at the end of the month!!! I am determined to hit 40 with a bang!!! So these past two weeks I went out for dinner with two great friends, cut my hair cut and coloured, ordered some brilliant cookbooks to try and some much needed pretty matching lingerie - a basic need!!! 
 

My new hair!! 

So that's my week! Overall its been a quiet week, especially since I've been fighting a lovely cold, but this week is half-term so I've plenty of time to get back on my feet! See you all next week.
Keep shining!

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Part 2




So yesterday we looked at our first reason to be brave - standing up for our beliefs. Here are my next couple of thoughts... 

2. Be brave as you face your demons...


Oh this is a good one. I have so many demons, problems and struggles that I need to be brave to face. And in this next one I'm talking about me - preaching to myself - because is something I need so much. I struggle with greed and gluttony, a lack of self-discipline, a lazy streak a mile long and an attitude that makes me think I deserve everything. You may read down that list and think it's not too bad compared to such and such... But it is - even if I was to compare - which I don't, because everyone has their own battles to win. 

My problem has always been pretending that I'm doing something about these issues, or blaming my problems on someone else, instead of being brave enough to take a long hard look at what each problem is, where it stems from and thinking about how I fight it. Because it is a battle. A hard, long one with many casualties. But I am blessed to have so many brave examples around me of women who have fought their demons and won - like we all should because Christ has already won the war and set us free. 

“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 
Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm 
against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against 
flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities 
of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, 
and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
Ephesians 6:10-12 NLT

Oh I think I'll be coming back to this one later in the year for sure!!  But for now - be brave, we've already have the victory. 


3. Be brave as you learn to love yourself... 


I don't know about you but I find it very hard to love myself. I know all the head stuff - I'm created in God's image and He doesn't make mistakes, etc.... but I still find it very hard to love me. When I fight daily battles against my demons and struggles (see above), find myself stuffing chocolate bars into me like they were the last ones on earth, get into bed for yet another quick nap (which realistically just drains me more) or have an argument where I think I'm right and so won't apologise ever... I find myself not liking the person that I am. 



“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body 
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
Psalms 139:13 NLT


Now I know that I'm a work in progress - thankfully I can say with assurance that God hasn't finished with me yet!! He has taken me from where I was, but I've still a good bit to go - But I still have big self-confidence issues and still lack the self-assurance that should come with being a child of God. I struggle to understand why anyone would want to stick around me. I struggle when I do things - am I doing them right? - or when I'm talking to people - did I just sound really stupid? The list goes on. 

This is a big part of my journey this year - to finally see myself as God sees me, and to finally be happy and content in my own skin... 

Which leads ever so nicely onto number 4...


4. Be brave becoming the best version of you...





This is where we need to be really brave. In order to be the best version of ourselves we need to stand up for what we believe, identify, fight and conquer our demons and struggles, learn to love ourselves and see ourselves the way God sees us, and remember that we are daughters of the King. 

There is a wee picture floating around the web - I'm sorry I don't know where it's from so I can't give credit - but I simply love it. 


We all have days like that - where our demons are out in force, where our struggles seem to overwhelm us and where we feel like we're failing everything and everybody... But remember one thing - we are daughters of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We are royalty. And we have the victory. 

So now, when I start to fret or get annoyed by the lies the devil puts into my head, when I start to wallow in self-pity or get my 'entitled' attitude on, or when I think everything's just going wrong - I pull myself together, give praise to my King and straighten up my crown. 

Calling all of His daughters - lets those crowns straightened and be brave for Him! 
Keep shining xx 





Wednesday, 10 February 2016

B is for Being Brave...

In my life I had the immense blessing of being surrounded by strong brave women. Women who have come through adversity, faced demons, stood up for people and for their beliefs when no one else would and women who have learned to love their life - no matter what life has thrown at them. 



In my 'blogging through the alphabet' mini-series I wanted B to be for Brave - because it's something we all need to look at. There are many times when being brave means doing something, being something, going through something... And many times being brave means waiting - on God, on other people, on ourselves. I've a couple of examples for you today but I think I may revisit this later in the year and share some of the amazing stories of the women in my life. 

So when I sat down and thought about when I need to be brave, four things came to me. Today we'll look at part one. 


1. Be brave for your beliefs... 



Now this one might knock off a few readers before I even start, but I truly do believe as Christians, that we need to stand up for our God, for our faith, for our moral compass and for the values we live by. I've spoken about this a little when we talked about how we need to tell the whole story - not to offend people but to tell everyone all that they need to know. When it comes to issues like whether or not you should be sued for refusing to bake a cake that goes against your beliefs, well, that's where it's extra important to stand up and be counted. In this example, a local family-run bakery refused to bake a cake that had a logo to support gay marriage on it. Why? Because they don't believe in any marriage other than the marriage defined in the Bible - between one man and one woman. And I agree with them. That's my view of marriage, that is what I believe, and regardless of who disagrees, if asked that's what I would say. 

That doesn't mean I hate gay people - I don't. It's not about hating people or about persecuting them. It's about standing up for what we believe, sharing what we see as God's truth, the truth, and trying to help others understand it. I think the bakery above had served the person who ordered the cake on lots of occasions - it's not the person they were objecting to - they were only objecting to the pro-gay marriage message - in the same way that they would have objected to any other message that went against Biblical tenets. 

So what about when you offend someone? Well I know it's a tricky one, since everything is SO politically correct in this day and age, but Jesus loved everyone, served everyone and died for everyone and I think we need to share that. If we offend people because we don't agree with their beliefs - tough. Yes I know that sounds hard, but if we truly believe in what we say we believe in, and we truly want to honour God with our lives, then we will let people know - regardless of whether they are offended, unfriend us or never speak to us again. That's not to say we should go about with the intention of upsetting others, but that we should stand up for God and pray that He speaks through us in difficult situations when we must stand up for Him 

This is why this comes under the category of being brave. You will find people who don't want to listen, who disagree with you and who cry offence because your views don't match theirs. The liberal viewpoint seems to take the view that there is freedom of speech so long as you're worldview is like theirs - live and let live - but a person with a Biblical worldview also has the freedom to state their positions and MUST in order that we protect that right! God didn't call us to cower in fear or hide our beliefs in case we offend someone... 

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, 
but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
2 Timothy 1:7

Another example happened when I was on jury duty. While having lunch one day one of the other jurors and I were having a conversation about church, when someone else started a deliberately provocative line of questioning about our faith. I am ashamed to say that I let her - my fellow juror - a younger girl who was extremely chatty about her faith - take the lead and answer all our inquisitor's questions, while I just sat and nodded in agreement. It's not something I'm proud of. If I had it to do over again I would definitely take a different approach. But we don't get do-overs in life and I always keep that at the forefront of my mind any time I'm tempted in shy away into the background and not answer for the hope that I have in me. 

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to 
give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for 
the hope that you have...”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭3:15‬ 

Wow - so that's part one!!! The next three points will be in tomorrow's post!! 
Keep shining xx 


Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Fantastic February!!

I love the second month of the year - mostly because it is the month I was born so I get to look forward to my birthday!!! And this year is especially fun because I'm about to turn the big 4-0... 



I was a little worried about this as we edged closer to the start of 2016, but I've decided to embrace it because next year will be a rather boring 41st birthday!! So I'm going all out - a month of fun activities, time with friends and family and just having as much fun as I can!!! 

It already started with a lovely meal out last night, and will continue with an appointment to get my hair done in Friday, but my treats-to-come include a day spa, an afternoon tea and a weekend away with my besties at Passion 2016. 

But back to February!!! This month's focus is going to be my health. I'm continuing to focus on my relationship with God, and growing that, but each week I'll be incorporating something healthy into my life too. 




This is something I struggle with big style - from having a stress eating/ binge eating disorder to having a sweet tooth a mile long! So it's a big one this month. A big challenge for a big month - what could be better!!! 

So where are we starting? Well this week's first mini challenge is to try to cut down my sugar intake and to eat cleaner food - i.e. no take outs, jars or processed food. 

So far this week we've done a rather large 'meat' shop so I'm excited to get cooking and really put some effort into our meals. I'll share one of my new attempts at the weekend!!! (If it's edible!!!) 

What are you focusing on this month? 
Keep shining xx