Monday, 12 December 2011

God uses children too!

Today I feel led to write a blog post because of the acts of my eldest son Joshua. I feel I need to honour him publicly for his recent experience!Joshua is your average 8 year old...he's sporty, fun, back-chatty, inquisitive, and starting to become a bit smelly and hormonal ;-) But one thing quite unique about our Joshua is his deep rooted love for Jesus. His desire to have more of God in his life and heart.
Josh is in year 4 of junior school. He's always been a popular child, attracting many friends, but at the start of juniors in year 3, he faced a part of life we never want our children to experience...let me explain....!
Josh came home from school one day the beginning of this year clearly upset and angry. When asked what had happened in his day, he explained to us that during a religious education debate, he fell out with one of his best friends. The teacher had asked if any children believed in God and heaven. Josh raised his hand and said he did and that he believed that by loving Jesus he would go to heaven. This other child disagreed with Josh and said she knew that her grand-father who had passed away was in heaven and he hadn't believed in God.
This led to a disagreement between the children and the other child became upset and Joshua was forced to apologise to her and told he wasn't allowed to say such things in future. Joshua did apologise and after school told the teacher that he went to church church and that in KonstructionKrew he is taught that he should be strong in his faith and not be afraid to talk about it. We were proud of Josh but did remind him to be sensitive to other peoples beliefs and to perhaps stay away from this other child for a few days.
The next day when I collected Josh from school, the mother of the other child quite rudely confronted me about the previous days happenings and made it quite clear she didn't want my son near her daughter, and that we were clearly (I quote) brainwashed and stupid! I walked away quite upset...for my children and hers...but knew it was a test to see how we dealt with it.
From that day onwards Joshua experienced daily taunting for admitting he is a Christian. He would often come home from school angry, upset and frustrated. As parents it broke our hearts to see him experiencing bullying and unkind-ness. We regularly prayed for him, informed our childrens pastor and had her pray with him and encouraged him about his faith and friendships.
This continued for months and at times I felt helpless as a mummy to help my son. We considered moving him to another school...but then saw that by doing this we were running away from the situation...and despite his trials, Josh still loved school and his unit of friends there. Plus, we want to teach our children by being examples that you can't run away...that's not solving an issue, it's just delaying the process of reaching an answer...
The situation with the other child wasn't getting any easier...she made threats of getting family members to "beat" Joshua up, regularly taunted him in front of his peers, and made up lies about him such as him tripping her up...even if he was no-where near her. We kept in constant contact with the school and everything came to a head, when one day two or three months ago, Josh came home from school sobbing and clearly frightened. As he had walked across the school field after school to the infants area to meet Rob and the other boys, the girl he had been having problems withs mother came up to him and made an inappropriate comment.
I was so angry, and felt like my head and heart would explode...thankfully Robert was on a late shift and so was home at the time. He kept the situation calm, and encouraged me to call the school...which I did. I spoke with the pastoral care teacher and she promised that she would look into the situation and get back to us. I suggested to her that we meet with the other childs parents and resolve the whole thing once and for all and she informed me she would put this to them.
The next day she called me to say she had spoken with the other parents, and they didn't want to meet with us, as they apparently had no issue with us, and felt we're a nice family. The mother apologised for her comment to Josh which she claimed she'd meant in a tongue-in-cheek way but appreciated that a child may have taken it differently.
We accepted the apology and encouraged Josh to meet with the teacher and other child to resolve things. This happened and we felt a peace had been made....Josh seemed happier and I knew the school were very much in control of things their end...I think their headmistress and team are fantastic!
Then 4 weeks ago, Josh came home with a birthday party invitation from this particular child. I felt apprehensive about letting him go, but he was so excited that we agreed. So the next day after school, I went to the other mum and told her he would like to go and thanks for the invite. She burst into tears and apologised for everything that had happened. She told me there were alot of family problems for them, and she felt that herself and her daughter had taken it out on us...but weren't sure why. She told me that she was humbled by our GRACE and LOVING attitudes. And she also informed me that for the last month my beautiful boy had been praying with her daughter about the family issues and encouraging her. He had spoken to her about Jesus's love for her and her parents. He had witnessed to her about what Jesus done on the cross for him...us...them....YOU!
I was so overcome with pride and love for my boy that I too became emotional. We hugged (us mums) and from that moment I knew a real PEACE had come over the whole horrible situation...which we believe fully stems from Joshua defending his faith that day in class.
Wow! Just writing his little testimony makes me feel emotional. An 8 year old child...so innocent to many many things this life has to throw at him....yet so filled with Gods promises over his life and the lives of others.
The reason I wanted to honour my son for his behaviour in this situation is because like we were, I want people to be encouraged by it. All too often I see, hear, witness catty comments...adults damaging themselves and others with their words. I hate conflict...I want to raise my children to hate conflict. I don't understand people who get a thrill from it...who thrive in feeling negative and therefore pushing others away from them...I have rough days of course...we all do, but man, I think of my son and how he pushed everything this child had done to him to the side to talk with her, pray for her and love her and I just know that's how I want to constantly be. We have a duty to our children to behave in a way that is a positive Godly example to them. I want to see children constantly behaving how Josh did in that circumstance....we are that example to them. If I had retaliated by shouting at the mum...smacking her (I wouldn't have)....swearing...threatening etc...would my child have been able to have acted with the grace he did...? I think not.
Please be encouraged by this also that Gods love is here right now for each one of us. I am so proud to be a Christian and raise my kids (all 5 of them) with God by our sides, leading us and guiding us. We get things wrong...we're not perfect...Josh gets things wrong...choosing the right behaviour is a new mantra in our house...but when I think of the good things he does that we may not get to see, I know in my heart we're doing okay.
So....really....no matter what your age...your race....your story...God can and will use you. Just let Him! :)

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

In every season, YOU are STILL God....

Since becoming a Christian, I have many times heard the phrases "It's a season....." or "Every thing has it's season..." concerning life and situations.
At first it kind of fascinated me, as I hadn't really thought about life and it's seasons...for me seasons very much summed up the British weather...not what a person may be going through.
But...I guess I'm now a fully fledged memeber of the seasons club, as I too find myself encouraging others with those phrases and myself too. And as I grow both in my walk with God and as a person, I appreciate the full extent of the comfort that can come from knowing that the episodes we face each day can be described as something that will indeed past...just like all the weather seasons past us by each year (yes, okay, I know Britain feels like on big winter mainly....but you get my point) so do the seasons of life.

Sometimes, life can be full of lots of "summery" seasons where everything feels nice. So for me personally this would be where my family and friends are all healthy, happy, my boys are doing well at school, we're sticking well to our budget and can even afford a sneaky take away at the end of the month, Robs job is going well and he's had some great family friendly hours, my toddler hasn't got anything stuck up his nose or in his ear and all 4 boys are actually being nice to one another...for more than an hour!

Other times in life, we may find ourselves in the "autumn or spring" seasons, where generally things are going really well, but maybe we've not quite budgeted correctly and so can't have that family day out we initially planned, or Robs had a lot of night shifts which means we don't see as much of him in a week...or month, maybe one of the boys has fallen out with a school friend or has had a minor illness like a cold or something. Generally, these seasons are okay...may have a few little rocky patches on the path of life, but we can easily shake them off and continue on...

And then we come to the "wintery" seasons of life. I sum this season up as being cold, lonely, and so testing that each day can sometimes feel like we're banging our heads on a brick wall. For me, if I'm fully honest right now I kind of feel like I'm in the middle of a wintery season in my life. Our youngest son Samuel has been quite poorly for the past month. Doctors have 3 times made a diagnosis on what they think is wrong with him...only for his body to not react well to the medications and us being back at square one. The last diagnosis from them was that he has a rare form of psoriasis and will need steroid and uv light treatment. Whilst some parts of his body are already responding well to this treatment, other parts are so sore, and inflammed and for the past two days he's had a temperature of 39 which won't shift and is very feverish, resulting in a trip ysterday to the hospital, and another one this afternoon.
Another situation we have found ourselves in, is that last Wednesday my husbands father quite unexpectedly passed away. This is a sad time for any family, but especially added to for us as most of my husbands family live in Nigeria which is obviously a far distance from us here in the UK, and our children had yet to meet their funny, loveable grand-pa who despite not knowing in person, they very much had a personal and real relationship with. Rob has flown to Nigeria to be of support and comfort to his mother and to help arrange the funeral and all the other little practicalities, but as I'm heavily pregnant I'm unable to travel with him...which mainly upsets me when I think of daddy's funeral which will take place in a couple of weeks time...I so want to be there with my family, but am unable to due to not being able to have the necessary immunistaions, etc..
I am trying to find comfort in the fact I have a very special role to fulfill here to our 4 boys and unborn baby, but sometimes...you want to be more than just the mum who keeps things going, sometimes you want to be just yourself and in this case hold the hand of your husband as he deals with his fathers death....

So, those are the main reasons that right now my life feels quite winterish, and I'd be lying if I said it doesn't makes you want to hide under your duvet for the rest of the year and come out when the "summery" season arrives....but I can't do this, for the real obvious reasons of having responsibility but mainly because when I look around me, I very much see God everywhere in my life...all over every situation we're in. Its hard at some moments to fully trust that His plans are indeed taking place right now in this instance because I'm human and can't help that natural thought process...but I know His plans are very real. Even if I felt like giving up, I couldn't, because there is a being who is so much stronger than me that supports my back and says "Stace...I'm with you, I'm for you, I'm in you...you can do this my daughter!" I love my Jesus so much, and I know and believe that when He died for me (and you) that He didn't do that so that we would hide under our duvets and not cope with the "wintery" seasons of life, He done that because He knew that after every "wintery" season we would still be whole and strong enough to see and appreciate the bright, beautiful warm summery sun when things are well. It's so easy to thank God when all is good in life...but right now I stand strong and thank Him that despite the hurt and tears and tiredness that I have Him to trust and He does carry me through. I thank Him that my father-in-law despite all his stubborn ways, has a very real relationship with Jesus and so is now having a blast in heaven. I thank Him that Samuel is alive and so beautiful and is my baby boy and is getting good care...watching Comic relief last wek made me realise how lucky we are, when some parents can't even afford 35 pence in some countries to catch a bus to the hospital for their child to be seen! I thank Him for my other 3 children, my friends who have been a huge encouragement, my home comforts, my church, my ministry teams, His GRACE and LOVE for me!!!

So, please...let this be an encouragement to you that we all go through seasons and whichever one you find yourself in, that you will and can come through it, head held high, feeling, knowing and believing stronger in yourself, in God and in His plans. Don't hide behind those dark shades, acting like life is one big summer for you, when in fact you feel like your constantly banging your head against a wall....what's the point..? Seriously, think about it...what's the point? I have the pleasure and privlege of serving God in in ministry and know by being real and honest and trusting, that other people are then able to share and overcome their trials and pasts...think about who in your life could benefit from you being real and honest. And if you are genuinely in a summery season of life, don't be scared either to share that with those around you...HOPE is something we all need and want...let your examples shine through to those who are nearly in that summery period with you.
In all things, in every season we give thanks, beacuse God is very much with us and doesn't change His ways or HIs promises over our lives...in every season He is still God...

"And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:28

Have a truly blessed day xxx