Gentle?

Oh my goodness when I read the word prompt for five minute Friday this week I just smiled at the irony, gentle on a day that was far from gentle for our saviour.

He was beaten

He was mocked

A crown of thorns placed on his head.

The nails hammered through his hands,

The spear pierced through his side.

Not gentle, not kind, not right.

Yet this man so gentle and kind bore this pain, bore this torture, died for us.

I struggle through Good Friday, I mean how can you find the words to honour this sacrifice. To breathe life into the holiness of the love Jesus had for me. I often find myself looking forward to Easter Sunday excited to celebrate the resurrection. Yet this time inbetween needs to be felt, this closed tomb needs to be understood.

How often in life do we focus on the good that’s coming. A journey is always about the destination, but is it? Shouldn’t we sometimes slow down and view the world that we pass As we start towards our end. Maybe we would see some wondrous sights or maybe not , yet to look is never a waste, to rush is to miss.

So as we sit in this in between time I often think of those that loved Jesus. How did they feel? Did they know without doubt that he would return? Did they trust? What would I have done, I mean I know I will be reunited with my daughter one day but I still grieve. This time in between feels hard. I know that come Sunday the tomb will be empty but this space is hard.

Yet I know without a doubt that I will hold my girl again.

Because of a gentle man who suffered a horrific death

because he loved me.

Jesus the gentle breath than fills my lungs with salvation. From nail pierced hands to my promise of eternity.

Not a gentle love, a saviours love.

Join in with five minute Friday. Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.

Mother’s Day love

Mother’s Day, a day where we come together to celebrate all things that are Mom in whatever form that comes, stepmoms, adopted moms, grandparents being mom and so many more.

Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs in the world. The exhaustion of pregnancy, the labour of delivery, feeding, sleepless nights and so much more but yet it’s often the most rewarding role we will ever get to hold.

It’s tough and this last year has been a real struggle , ‘wow’ is pretty much all I can say about the last 12 months. From home schooling to the deep pit of fear that has been in your stomach since the words Covid 19 were first spoken, it’s been a year.

Still if I wish to challenge all moms a little now in fact probably all parents regardless of gender. What do you think is the one thing that is the hardest to cope with when being a parent?

Exhaustion, worry, finances,

Shall I share what I have placed on my heart this week. What God has wanted me to share with you all.

The hardest thing about being a parent

Expectations

These pesky little things that penetrate our minds and hearts.

I should be

I could be

If only

All turn into

I failed

I’m useless

I’m letting them down.

Now I’m coming to you as a mom of a five so a little experience here and also as professional of therapeutic childcare and I just want to state something here and I really want you to hear me.

You are enough

You are enough.

Our children enter this world with only a few needs, to be fed, to be warm and to be loved. Speaking confidently right now I am sure that each of your children are having those needs met. They are either grown and off living lives that you have encouraged and nurtured. They also could be there in your arms snuggling tight or even kicking out in your precious womb. They could be causing complete mayhem running around the house but all done in the knowledge that ‘they are loved’.

You are enough.

Yet we only have to look back the last 12 months and the changes this virus has brought into our lives. Homeschooling, isolation, exhaustion, fear. How many of use have felt lost, that they are failing?

My hands are right up in the air, me me.

I have watched social media posts of moms with beautiful converted classrooms with their children willingly working away. Houses spotless, make up perfect and I’ve literally cried. I have cried as Daniels homeschooling paperwork fell off the printer for the 15th time, cried as he completely ignored me as I tried to encourage him to work, sobbed at the state of my house and as for being perfectly made up, well I’ve had a shower and I’m saying Amen to that.

You see I couldn’t reach the expectations I had put upon myself and that’s ok. Because Covid 19 or not, being a mom is hard.

We mess up, we lose our temper and we suck at patience some days. Because motherhood didn’t come with super hero powers just the responsibility.

Anyway where am I going with this, well I’m leading to something I have personally took a long time to learn.

You don’t have to do this life alone.

As friends and family we are there to walk alongside one another. Reach out to friends, not only those at your stage at life. We have a wide breathe of generational wisdom to tap into.

But most importantly

Reach up, reach out to Jesus and ask him to walk alongside you. Ask for wisdom, hope and a big one for me, for patience.

Ask him to free you from the lies of the enemy that you are not enough. Free you from the untruth binding of expectations. To be beside you as you raise the next generation and to guide you as you walk this pathway of parenthood.

I ask you to look now at your child or if they are not with you bring them into your mind. As your heart swells of the love you feel for them as the love you have warms you to your very core, I want you remember.

I want you to remember

“We love because he first loved us.”
1 John 4:19

He loved us first,

He loved us first.

Remember that Jesus loves us as we love our children, that warmth you feel for your children he feels for you. He loves you to your very core.

and I want you to say this loud

“we are enough. “

I am enough.

With more…

Our God is a resurrection God. We believe in the resurrection of Jesus so we need to believe in the resurrection of our world, our country our people. 

Dont waste this time praying for what you had, pray for what you want your future to hold.

What has this time of fear, trouble, disease taught you?

What have you learned about yourself?

Are you going back into a job that you love, will you go back with renewed vigour? Will you look for a job that will fulfil you more?

When your children go back to school, will they go back with a more intense desire to learn, will you as their parents understand their way of learning better, be better advocates for them with a renewed understanding.

Have you learned of what you really need to survive? What is truly valuable in your life or maybe more importantly who is valued.

Will you understand yourself more, cherish your time more?

So often in life we forget that we live with the gift of resurrection. That we have the promise of more. So many right now will be heartbroken and believe me when I tell you I understand the pain of lost so deeply, so raw as if it was yesterday but I hold on to the promise of forever, the promise of our every tear being cherished.

May we come through this awful time and strive to live with more clarity, more truth, more time, more love and more hope. 

Seasons change.

“there is a time for everything

 and a season for every activity under the heavens”

Ecclesiastes 3:1 New International Version (NIV)

I have walked many seasons in my life, and I know one of the longest and hardest of these has been my season of grief.

From the time my daughter Livvy was diagnosed I have grieved for what should have been, the life she should have lived or it in reality the life I had expected, planned, wanted her to live. 

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Then when we lost her 11 years ago, I grieved for her physically, grieved for her missing, her smile, her touch and the blessing of her spirit.

My grief felt like darkness.  

My whole spirit crushed by the pain of missing. 

I didn’t understand the why and I was often angry screaming at the ‘why her.’

This was my season of darkness and no matter how hard I tried to pretend I wasn’t sure I would live a life with light anymore.

Yet Jesus knew. 

My dear friend sent me a link to Christian singer songwriter called Steven Curtis Chapman.  Steven and his wife lost their daughter the same year I lost Livvy. Through his grief he wrote and produced an album called Beauty will rise. This cd, these songs, the words broke through my darkness.  In the midst of my pain I could not see God in my Bible, the words lost as my tears blinded me from his love. Yet in these songs, in the lyrics, hope started to grow once again, and the promise that I could hear in the melody slowly healed my heart. 

One of the songs is called ‘Spring is coming ‘and this week as we have faced 11 years without our beautiful girl, I have held on tight to this. Not because I am waiting on the Spring though this cold weather is already getting to me, because I know the blessing of the new.  I have felt the new life burst inside of me. I give thanks and praise to the changing seasons and the love, the hope and the promise each one brings. 

So today I am sharing this with you, sharing my heart and my journey, because God has asked me to share my story. He wants all to know that he is the light in the darkness. 

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12 New International Version (NIV)

Jesus was and is my light. 

So, if any of you are now struggling in the darkness and if you are feeling the crushing weight of fear, doubt or anger, hold on to the fact that this time is a season and that seasons change. Life is a journey often full of pain and loss believe me when I say I know this but whatever you are facing, know that you are not alone, that Jesus walks beside you. 

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If you had asked me 11 years ago if I would know joy again, I would have said no easily, my heart was broken. I still miss Livvy so desperately and often still fall under the weight of grief but now my heart knows the promise, the promise that one day I will be reunited with her. Yet in this life whilst I walk it without her physically right now, I know that Jesus has great plans for me and joy it does come in the morning, not promising what morning but it does come. 

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So, I just want to remind you that whatever you are facing you are not alone. That you can do this and even in the crushing darkness there will be and always will be a light, the light of Jesus. 

Compassion Sunday

Today I want to introduce you to two special members of my family.

Nyiranzayakira and Diana.

I may have never met these beautiful girls but they are my family.

They both have special places in my heart and are always in my prayers.

As a family we sponsor both with the charity Compassion UK

I have mentioned Compassion UK here on my blog before but as today is Compassion Sunday I really wanted to share with you the heart of the charity.

 

The children

 

We first started sponsoring Nyiranzayakira about 5 years ago.

My youngest daughter Brodie just felt she was the one for us from the profiles we got to view.

Nyiranzayakira is now 11 years old and she comes from Rwanda.

 

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She loves to learn and help take care of her family.

 

Diana is 5 and from Tanzania.

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She loves to colour and play.

 

We choose Diana for a very special reason.

Diana was born on the day we lost Livvy.

By sponsoring Diana we hope to give life when one was lost.

 

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Sponsoring these girls has been true gift for us as family.

We love receiving letters and learning about their lives.

Reading about school and how their families are.

 

Compassion UK are a wonderful charity they work through local churches in poor communities around the world to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Programme is the heart of Compassion’s ministry to children living in poverty. It aims to disciple, equip and enable children to develop into fulfilled and responsible adults.

We are so blessed to sponsor these two beautiful girls and having them both in our lives has really enriched them.

Reading and watching these girls flourish has impacted on us as a family.

We value the little things so much more.

I ask you today to consider sponsoring a child with Compassion UK.

For £25 per month you can transform a life of a child.

 

Tell a child today that you are here for them.

 

My greatest gifts.

With Christmas a day away I have been thinking a lot about family and in particular the joy I get from being a mother.

17 and a half years ago I began the journey of motherhood and not for one second have i regretted it. From the moment my children were planned they were loved. From the moment they were conceived they were cherished.

Being a parent isn’t easy. I have made mistakes and I have struggled but my girls were and are the greatest gifts ever.

I look at my children now and they are nearly grown and it scares me. Next year my eldest will leave for university and my heart is fearful.

How do you let them go?

From the moment I saw that second blue line I have done all that I can to protect my beautiful girls. I feel I failed when Livvy died. I couldn’t protect her from Rett Syndrome.

Now I’m scared I will not be able to protect my girls from the world.

How do you let them go?

How do you find the courage to loosen the ties and give them the freedom they need to grow.

I guess this is where it comes down to trust.

Trust that you have raised them to be wise and keep themselves safe.

Trust in them.

It’s not easy and I think now of Mary and that moment when God asked her to carry Jesus.

How brave she was.

How faithful she was.

Did she know her son was to be persecuted?

Did she know he will become our Saviour?

I cannot imagine her pain.

But I can admire her courage.

Her trust.

She knew that her son was in the hands of God.

I know my girls both here and in heaven are also in his hands.

I trust.

Never the same

So Christmas is upon us and I am going crazy with lists, shopping, concerts, carol services and so much more.

Yet deep in my soul I am aching. Aching so deep the caverns in the earths core know my name.

The missing of Olivia at times is so very overwhelming that I cannot let myself go and fall into the whole spirit of the season.

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My joy is tinged with a sadness that will not release me.

I buy presents for four children yet not for my blond haired blue eyes beauty.

I pack stockings but the one baring the name Olivia stays empty.

I’m trying to lift my head and be thankful for the season.

To remember the true reason for this celebration.

The gift of the birth of Jesus.

The hope in that stables birth.

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Hope of eternal life.

Hope I can only find in my faith.

Peace in the promise.

Missing Olivia is so hard. Even now five years on the brokenness is so very raw.

I wait for it to become easier but it won’t!

How can it be?

How can my heart ever beat to the same tune of five years past?

How can I ever be the same again?

Will Christmas ever been the same again?

Will anything be the same again?

It cannot be.

Because simply

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Trusting in more than the sunset

I find comfort in the setting of the sun.

 

The knowledge that today is over and night is on its way 

 

Like the rhythm of the tides the pattern of sunrise and sunset are the timetable of the earth.

 

 

When all the world around me feels like its lost its beat. God reminds  us that its all in his hands.

 

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

(Matthew 6:34, NIV)

 

I sometimes find myself smiling at the above scripture, Jesus is teaching about letting go of our worries and just focus on today. Just like the sun tomorrow will be here at some point just focus on the now.

 

The reason I smile is this though the part where Jesus says “each day will have enough trouble of its own”. It reminds me that life is chaotic and sometimes unpredictable and what seems like gigantic today will maybe seem trivial tomorrow.

 

I look back down my life and see those days where I was so stressed about bills or health issues, when I couldn’t sleep due to anxiety for something that may happen only for the next day to bring a solution or the worry not even to manifest. All that anxiety, that stress for nothing.

 

Then on the other side, in 2008 Livvy had the best year in a long time, walking independently when doctors said it would never happen. Seizures coming all under control. 2008 was the time I finally stopped stressing about losing her and look what happened. She was gone in a blink of an eye.

 

No one knows what tomorrow may bring but as the day ends with the setting of the sun and rises at the next dawn I find comfort in the one who does.

 

The creator of the gift of nature, the painter of that glorious night sky , the artist of the majestic dawn.

 

Our Lord knows the plans he has for us.

 

I trust in him.

 

Stepping out in-courage

I sat there alone basking in the irony.

Here I was watching a conference on community, hearing stories of wonderful God blessed friendships, of lives fulfilled by the roles they play as the friend.

I wondered as I logged in, why am I doing this to myself, am I just torturing my soul? Doesn’t it ache enough?

The videos began to play and my heart began to search, my heart began to listen, then finally it began to hear.

In these stories I had found home, my hurts, my pain. The soul tearing I had felt wasn’t just mine to own. These ladies too had feared community, feared stepping out, felt alone within a crowd.

How can these videos effect me so much, why are these stories resonating through my whole, why oh why are the tears falling down my face?

Because they speak the truth, they guide me towards what the heart knows but the head was refusing to accept. I am afraid, I am fearful, I am scared.

Friendship is a word that reaches into my body and stopped the blood from pouring into my heart. It leaves me cold.

I’ve tried it once before and it failed miserably, women I walked along side left when the road got rocky and obstacles stood in the way. I didn’t help, I don’t help. I didn’t cry out please don’t leave me, I too just stopped returning calls or making invitations.

Seasons of life,

I’ve heard this said before but had I let the understanding, the acceptance soothe my soul as the healing balm it could be.

My answer is simply no!

I’m not new to the stories I’m hearing , I have followed the writings over the past year or so. 

But have I been reading but not understanding?

YES 

Have the words really penetrated the walls that I have surrounded my heart with.

NO

The excuses got in there first, “They have it all together” “I could never write like that” “or maybe its different in America” are just a few that I resurrect each time the words got too close.

 Raising my shield against stories, against the truth.

 Reading in-courage but having none.

 Lying to myself about acceptance of a life alone. “Hey I don’t need friendship”, “I have great kids a wonderful husband” etc etc lies told to my own heart.

Ignoring the passages of God’s word where he calls us together to be a fellowship, to be all parts of the one body of Christ.

That can’t be for me, Ive tried it once, it just isn’t me, it wont work out.

Yet here I was signing up to watch the conference!

From the moment I pressed play I wasn’t alone, I felt the love of God surround me, Jesus was crying out to my heart, please listen,this is what I want for you. 

Friends are my gifts to you, they are the physical beings of my love. Open your heart dear child, let them in.

You have never been alone and you are so loved. Please step out in-courage.