Thursday, 27 December 2012

Heavens Perfect Plans....

As a mum of five rapidly growing children, I have times (like many other parents I'm sure) of wondering what life holds for my babies. I watch them interacting, learning, developing by the day and imagine them as adults...working, married, raising their own children...closer to today I wonder what they will be like as teenagers....which secondary school/s they will go to, if they will drive, how they will do in their exams. Whilst I'm most definitely not wishing the days away - lets face it, they go past pretty quickly by themselves - I do think about the future and how it may or may not look. Having just celebrated a lovely Christmas together my husband and I joked about one day potentially hosting all five of our married children and their children...a mansion will be required.....or a very long dining room at the very least!!!! ;-)

The truth is though, none of us knows what our futures look like. For good or for bad, we can't say from one day to the next what life will spring up on us. I have come to a point in my earthly existence of actually feeling really peaceful about this...only because I choose to put my faith in a God who I know and trust will uphold me and protect me. Even in the more challenging situations, God strengthens me and helps me through.

I pray for this peace over my children every day. I pray their futures would be purely in Gods hands, that they would trust Him to guide their ways. I pray for myself that I wouldn't feel scared for them...that I would humbly and graciously allow them to grow into the young adults God wants them to be...that the natural, earthly, motherly desire to wrap them in cotton wool forever wouldn't manifest into a weird obsession with them but that instead I would continue to know when to lengthen that invisible cord, and when to reign it in.
I look at the five miracles God has given to my husband and I, and I learn so much about how God must love us...that the love I have for my children....wow, Gods love for them outweighs it hugely. That He feels the same about me as He does about them....
.....and mainly that He has His Perfect Heavenly Plan in place over each one of them. He is their ultimate parent...I'm just the earthly caretaker whose here to encourage them when they doubt, pick them up and dust them off when life makes them stumble, love and kiss and hug them when no-one else's arms will do...I'm the one God has entrusted to pray for and nurture these little people....but in it all I must believe that He knows best...that without His guidance none of "this" can happen.

So, to my beautiful, beautiful children....I know we are on this journey together. I know that at times I make mistakes, I admit at times I wonder why on earth God felt I am worthy of mothering 5 children every single day...that at times it's overwhelming, that at times we clash...but I'm also delighted in my heart that we are united in our love, that we trust eachother through the tears and laughter, that we have fun, that we are learning about life together...and that I love you all so very very much. Daddy and you mean the world to me. Every day I claim I am blessed, I think of you and smile, I look at your sleeping faces before I go to bed at night and thank God that whilst I want to create lives full of only good for you all, that He knows best...He has your backs....that Heaven has a perfect plan for you!
Love Mummy xxxxx

Friday, 30 November 2012

"Baaaa" "Baaaa" ... We are all sheep...!



This morning whilst my older boys were getting dressed for school, Olivia our 16 month old was sat in front of CBeebies (it DOES have its uses!) watching a show called Timmy Time! For anyone who is not familiar with this show, it's a little carton based around Timmy - a lamb - and his nursery adventures. It's really quite cute and scarily very similar to how our little people behave!

I couldn't help thinking of our 3 year old son Samuel who is at nursery and if him and his little friends got up to the same antics as Timmy and his animal friends. So I asked him:

"Sam, do you have fun at nursery like Timmy with your friends?"

Samuels response was so sweet:

"Yes mummy, I like nursery and my friends....but mummy, I'm not a sheep!"

Our eldest son then had great delight in explaining to Sam that Timmy was in fact a lamb and the whole cycle behind natures young and their parents.
Whilst the boys had their little conversation, I got to thinking about what Sam had said, "I'm not a sheep!"

True! Last time I checked he was definitely human...but surely there is a-bit of sheep in all of us....let me explain my thinking!

Sheep aren't known for being very smart bless them. They have the ability to wander into deep water, get completely sodden wet, and then drown due to their wool getting very heavy and stopping them from getting out of the water.
Sheep also don't have a great sense of direction. They walk around aimlessly and require a shepherd and/or a sheep dog to guide them safely to their destinations. They require someone with more knowledge than them to care for them, teach them and keep them on the right track.
Summed up, without wise help and support, sheep are pretty useless by themselves!

Whilst hopefully most of us aren't growing wool from our ears and wandering into lakes and drowning, as with the animal species of sheep, we too require that extra help to get us through life more easily. As mere humans we do tend to find ourselves in situations beyond our control.
Isaiah 53:6 tells us "We have all wandered away like sheep; each of us has gone our own way!"

Truth is, we all need a shepherd in our lives, to guide us, protect us and help us reach our destination as easily and safely as possible...and how blessed are we that Jesus came to be that person!
Jesus said in John 10:14-15 "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me. Just as the Father knows me and I know the Father-and I lay down my life for the sheep!"

I feel pretty useless when I attempt to deal with things life throws my way myself...I know that when I trust in my shepherd....my saviour....my Jesus, things feel safer, more secure, easier....less heavy!

So, as a little encouragement today...whose your shepherd? When life feels heavy and you find yourself aimlessly wandering around like a lost sheep, who do you turn to?
Whilst friends and loved ones fill an earthly need in our lives of love, friendship, advice and real hugs...can I be truthful and tell you, they too are little sheep my friend...each needing to remember who their shepherd is. Draw close to the one who layed His life down for you...He loves you so much and really does have everything He needs to get you to where you're headed safely....

Be Blessed :-)

"Baaaaaaaaaa" 




Sunday, 25 November 2012

Baptism Boy!

Today is a special day in the Omokaro house! Adam, son number 2 was baptised at church this morning.
Adam has had a desire to be baptised since watching his older brother Josh take the "plunge" a couple of years ago. But it wasn't until a few weeks ago that he felt truly prompted by God to take this step of obedience.

Whilst we appreciate some people may not agree with children being baptised, for us as parents and also for the leaders of our church, we fully believe God can and does speak to children of any age and if a child feels led to be baptised, who are we to stop them on their personal journey with God.

Adam wrote his little personal story himself and bravely stood on stage in front of 500 people and declared his love for God. My husband and I naturally feel so proud. I am so so thankful to God that whilst some people may look down on us for having 5 children, we know deep in our hearts it was always His perfect plan for us, and He equips us in every sense to bring these little people up in His ways. He meets our every practical need and our daily prayer is that our children would grow stronger in their faiths and know Him for themselves.
To think that two of our five children have publicly shared their love for God and have chosen themselves to follow His word and seek Him for themselves just humbles me, excites me and makes me feel a sense of achievement as a parent.

I don't ask for much in life...believe me....but like most mothers, I want my children to have a better life than me. I don't want them to have the struggles I've had.....to see your baby being baptised at such a young age kind of confirms God hears your desire and words and is onside....that may sound silly...naive...but it sure does encourage me that having five children isn't hindering our family from doing what God calls us to do...that whilst our children still squabble, make mess, answer back at times, that actually God is already moulding them and using them for bigger things.

I'm so thankful God came into my life at 16, so that I could share His love with my precious babies. I pray they would all continue on their paths with Jesus...even 16month old Livvy who screeches Amen at the end of prayers! God touches the youngest hearts!

Today we have had a special family tea, shared gifts with Adam and I've got his favourite dessert for later...simple pleasures to cement the day....perfect! :-)

Mark 16:16 "He who believes and is baptised, shall be saved!"


Thursday, 22 November 2012

From the Inside...Out!



 So, I was thinking, at 3am this morning when I was soothing my poorly baby girl about how when there's a change on the inside of a person, it reflects on the outside.

Many people who follow my blog or facebook antics, are aware that in May this year I began a journey with a Bootcamp style fitness club. I made the choice to join and start a committed vigorous exercise programme as after giving birth to five children in eight years, my dress size had increased significantly (from a size 12 to a big size 18 to be precise), I felt sluggish, had poor self esteem with my body image and   having just turned 30 knew this was the time to start putting myself further up my list of priorities.

It's been a yo-yo of emotions being a part of the group. The exercise sessions can be tough and now the weather is FREEZING here in the UK, it sometimes feels a drag to go out at 7.30pm three evenings a week to a cold barn with a wet floor.....but I absolutely LOVE the friends I have made there, and the fitness instructor who  tortures  sorry, takes our classes. Heidi just really inspires me, motivates me and encourages me constantly. She is pretty amazing and I'm thankful for her. I love that for the first time in my life I am eating sensibly...I struggled with an eating disorder throughout my teens and despite not actively being bulimic for around 8 years I can truthfully say I have always had a love hate relationship with food...eating too much...not eating enough...and so on. I have managed to cut caffeine and wheat out of my diet and know when it's okay to have a glass of vino, or when it's best to say no. I know I'm in a good place in this area as 2 weeks ago a weigh-in told me I have achieved losing 3 stone of the 5 stone I needed to lose. (For those wanting to work out dress sizes, I'm now a bigger size 14)!

What I really love most about the journey I'm on, is what it's doing to me mentally and emotionally. I stated from the start it was a journey I would 100% keep God in with me. I never take being healed from an eating disorder lightly...it is only by His grace and goodness I have overcome the areas there needed change in.
I feel so much healthier inside... I know my heart is healthier, I don't get out of breath as quickly as I used to, I don't feel bloated and yucky in my tummy area any more and I sleep well after getting through long days well! It's great to feel so alive even when life's situations can be tough! It's so true the hormones released when exercising boost you.

But, like with my exercising and eating plan only being able to make my heart healthier, my skin more radiant, my body slimmer and with signs of muscles being toned starting to appear (woohooooo) by me staying committed to my membership and attendance and efforts, I know this is the same of us when we are wanting to be healthy with God.
You may have just thought "healthy with God? Stace, what on earth are you talking about woman?" Well, let me explain abit...
It's so easy to get into a zone of "yeh...I'm a Christian. I attend so and so church, I serve in this ministry a couple of times a week and that other ministry the other days, I know the Pastor well, I attend a bible study group with other Christian women/men, I say a prayer when things get tough and always say grace at meal times....." If we allowed ourselves, it would be easy to fall into a trap of thinking that we are in good relationship with God because of the things we do or fill our week with. Whilst these are nice little factors to life and quite important when it comes to building community and friends, can I be really honest and tell you, they are not what make you a born again Christian!

Accepting Jesus died for you on the cross two thousand years ago is what makes you a born again Christian...but the decisions don't stop there. When we accept Jesus as our Saviour we know a change happens inside of us. The natural form of life enters the supernatural. Eternal destiny with God is promised to us and we are forgiven of the things we have done wrong.
We must however, continue pursuing knowing, trusting, seeking and praising God at every opportunity we get. Reading His word, spending one-on-one time alone with Him...talking but making time to listen, spending time in worship and speaking in tongues. Continually asking Him to refill, refresh, reaffirm His love and grace in our loves. As we do this the change on the inside manifests and spills out onto the outside.
People comment that you don't seem as nervous or angry as you did before...when life throws a curve ball, you may have more strength to fight through it and not crumble at the first hurdle, you feel more love and compassion towards people, you smile more, you walk straighter, you feel a sense of worth. You feel healthier! What's taking place in your spirit, shines out for people around you to see externally.

It's only natural that at some moments we may slip into a lazy few days, weeks, months even for some...whilst God understands and patiently awaits our hand to grasp His out-stretched one.... He wants us to take that commitment we made at the very outset very seriously. If you're in a contract at work or married...how seriously you take those commitments should only be a fraction of how you treat the commitment you made with God. The effort I put into my bootcamp life, I should put as much if not so much more into my relationship with God. Only He can do the changing within us...from the inside out! And He wants to, that's the great thing. That for me feels like a pressure off revelation in itself. Knowing there's a force so much stronger than us ready and willing to help us through is just love in it's finest form!

So, a question...what are your insides looking like? Is what's flowing out a good influence and attractive to the people you encounter? Whilst my physical appearance matters to me, whilst my physical health matters to me, let me be really real and say 10000% truthfully that what I am as a person is not defined by these attributes alone. I could achieve my full weight loss, but be a complete cow-bag to the people God puts in my life...I don't want that...I want to  reflect Jesus to the people who have yet to know Him, I want to experience every good thing God has waiting for me, I want to be known as the girl who encourages, loves and is generous to people she meets...I want God to need to continually refill me with more of His goodness because it just keeps pouring out. This my friend, should be your desire too!

Below is the chorus to one of my all time favourite worship songs "From the Inside Out" by Hillsong Church! My prayer for us all is this chorus really!

My heart, my soul, Lord I give you control
Consume me from the inside out Lord
Let justice and praise become my embrace
To love You from the inside out


Be Blessed :-)

Monday, 12 November 2012

Paint Pots!

As many people are aware we are a mixed raced family.
I was born in Taplow, Buckinghamshire here in the lovely UK. And whilst there is a real mix in my extended families of Irish, London Cockney, Spanish and Northern England, I was raised in the South in a county called Berkshire. I'm very fair skinned (that would be the Irsih side coming out!!!) have dark hair and greeny blue eyes.
My hubby, Robert is a British born Nigerian. His parents moved here in the 1960's and Rob was born in London and raised there until school age, when his parents moved back to Nigeria. Robert moved back to the UK in his late teens and has been here since. Roberts got gorgeous dark brown skin.

Together we have five children. Four boys and a little girl. They are typical children...fun, loud, naughty(!), clever little beings..and they have the most beautiful features. Big brown eyes, long eyelashes, their dads ears and the most perfect light brown shade of skin...you know, the shade us fair skinned girls wish we could have all year instead of having to use fake tan and sit in the sun for hours!
Our eldest three boys have all had conversations about our differing skin colours. Many times we've explained the science behind why they have the colour skin they have...many times we've answered questions on why daddy has dark brown skin, why mummy has pink skin(!) and why they all have light brown skin. And many times we've told our children just how beautiful they are and how they are created in Gods perfect image...their skin colours are not mistakes...their skin colours are nothing to be ashamed of...their skin colours are a particular shade of two people joined together and out of love creating these awesome little creatures! We know our family is no coincidence...God has great plans to use us and our children and our skin colours are all part of that plan! We fully believe that!

We're very blessed that we haven't received too many ignorant or racist comments as a family...there have indeed been moments, especially for our eldest son, who now he's in year 5 at school is an easy target for a child who wants to point out the obvious. But thanks to us being open, and secure in Gods plan of this little Omokaro legacy, our children are confident, can hold their own when it comes to identifying who and what they are, and adore being a part of two cultures. Christmas is an especially favourite time of year in our home to celebrate both cultures traditions. We consider ourselves very lucky :)

This afternoon, for the first time our 3year old son Samuel began a conversation with me about his skin colour. It went something like this:
Sam- "Mummy? You and daddy mixed together makes me light brown. Dark brown....you....makes me light brown."
Me- "That's right Sam, and look at your lovely skin colour. It's beautiful!"
Sam- "Yes! We're like paint pots...all different colours. You're a peach one!"

This little innocent chat with my youngest son, where he compared me to a peach paint pot filled me with delight. No negatives, no doubts...just PRE-school understanding of why and how he is... Just perfect :)

My prayer for anyone reading this post is that no matter who you are, what you look like, where you originate from, whatever your social circle...that like my lovely boys (Olivia's a tad young to understand as yet) you would have deep filled confidence...not arrogance...but confidence of who you are. That you are made in an image so much more beautiful than man can ever perceive. That you are special...you are worthy...you are precious and here for a great purpose.

And if like me that means being a peach paint pot, then bring it on! ;-)

Be Blessed :-)

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

When in doubt....


As many people are aware, after being quite poorly the past few months, two weeks ago my mum was admitted into hospital as an emergency case to undergo major surgery to remove a large section of her bowel and a huge abscess that had formed in her lower abdomen which was causing her much pain and poorliness.
Whilst we had been praying for answers and developments regarding her health, it was quite a shock to receive the news on that Tuesday afternoon that she would be having such an invasive operation a couple of days later. In a way I guess it's sometimes easier to deal with suddenly's as opposed to big build ups which can drain you as you tick off the days...we agreed as a family that we had all been praying for Gods perfect plan and timing and so had to trust this was the right time for my mum to have the procedure done.

I consider myself a pretty strong rooted believer. I'm not ashamed of my faith and have never really faced any prejudice because I'm a born again Christian. I'm definitely a big believer in prayer and gathering trusted friends in times when I feel only prayer can and will make an impact.
But, if I'm fully honest when I heard my mum would be admitted into hospital and learnt more about the procedure, the risks and maybes that could come up during surgery, the recovery time and the potential impact on her life, I kind of had abit of an emotional meltdown.
Thank God when I initially heard the news I was with two good friends who were just amazing in comforting me and distracting the children from mummy being upset.
Thank God for my husband who took over and let me be...before giving me a light kick up the bum about the fact I am a believer and needed to root myself in God's word!
And, lastly, thank God for the many many friends who sent messages, stood with us in prayer, and sent little cards & yummy treats ;-)

These friends and family members stayed encouraging and loving throughout the whole couple of weeks my mum was in hospital, and many are still alongside us now my mums home and in the second stage of her recovery.

How I've personally coped mentally and emotionally during this time has been like a yo-yo. Loving God, trusting God deep in my heart, but also full of fear and doubt at times that all would be well. Especially when my mum developed an infection a few days post surgery. Her health deteriorated rapidly over a few hours and we were told to remain available during the night so if the hospital felt we should go in to be with her, they could contact us easily. I honestly thought my mum was going to die that night. I was scared, I reverted back to feeling like a vulnerable little child and just wanted this all to go away-to be small and sitting on my mums knee for bedtime stories and I felt God had forgotten us and wasn't watching over my mum. I allowed others to pray, but I couldn't really bring myself to. Words just evaporated into tears and I felt exhausted. I trusted Gods plan...but I knew His plan could be for my mum to go home to her saviour. As much as this gives me peace at other times, that night, I felt selfish and wanted her to myself.

My mum thankfully did respond well to the many drugs the doctors blasted her with and the infection eased over the following couple of days... Obviously we were so thankful and grateful and praised God who we know broke into the situation, but I did feel guilty towards God for doubting Him...not fully turning to Him in my time of hurting.
I wondered if He was cross with me, if this somehow had damaged my relationship with Him. And then I was reminded of a story in the bible found in Mark chapter 9, verses 14-29.
The story is of a man who brings his son, possessed by an evil spirit to Jesus to be delivered and healed. The man claims he believes but is still unsure of if Jesus can or will help him and his child. He says to Jesus in verse 22 "If you can do one thing, take pity on us and help us!" Jesus responds, "IF I can? Anything is possible for those who believe!" The father exclaims, "Lord, I do believe, help me with my disbelief!" And Jesus heals his son.
Jesus didn't get angry with the scared father in front of him, he didn't rebuke him or neglect his son...instead he gently reminded the father of his faith...what his faith meant...and what Jesus was able to do for those who rely purely on Him.

It was a refreshing revelation to me to read these verses, understand the meaning and message behind them and have that peaceful reassurance that God fully knows me...He created me...He loves me....and He knows that my mum means so much to me...He understands why I was scared and upset. The love I have for her, is nothing compared to how He feels about this precious lady.

I've learnt alot during this testing time...I'm sure I've had this test many times before...and I'm pretty certain at some other stage in life I will go through this test again. I know I'm not perfect...I know I love Jesus so much,  I know He loves me....but I also know that at times life gets and will continue to get overwhelming. Again, I tell myself..."Stace, don't put God in your little box. Don't think He can only do certain things at certain times...know that He can, does and will far exceed your hopes and expectations."

I'd like to encourage you with this message too. I may not know your circumstance. I may not have all the answers to the worlds problems. But I love a God who does. Whilst I don't always understand His ways...His plans...His timing...I know that like the man and child in the story above, He just wants to change our situations for the good. He wants us to stay rooted in His love, His word, His ways...but He is so gracious and compassionate, that if we fail to keep our eyes on Him throughout every second of our ordeal...He remains rooted in bringing hope and joy to us.

I'm so thankful. I'm humbled. I'm relieved. I'm grateful. I'm stronger than I was a week ago. I'm still learning. I'm not afraid to be honest. I'm imperfect. I'm blessed to be a blessing. I'm a believer in Jesus Christ. 
He believes in me!
HEY! He believes in YOU!

Lord God, we thank you that you know us so well. That you know the smallest detail about us including the numbers of hairs on our heads and this matters to you...we matter to you. I pray Father that you would you humble us to your teachings, your word, your love for each one of us. That you would help us Lord to overcome our times of dis-belief. That you would strengthen us and guide us to stay rooted in your word and promises of being a God who can do all things for those who love Him. I pray for miraculous breakthrough in our circumstances that would glorify your name and I ask father that you bring comfort and peace to all who read this pray. Thank you Jesus, Amen!

Be Blessed :-)








Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Oh you gotta have friends......!

Today's blog entry is dedicated to a very special person in my life.
I'm so blessed to be a friend and to have many good friends. I totally value people who welcome me into their world, entrust me, laugh with me, and allow me to spend time with them.
Equally, I am hugely blessed to have many many friends. I believe it is possible to cherish many people but that friendships fall into different levels or categories so to speak. You can have those friends who you see every now and then for a cuppa and catch up, and it's nice and you know you'd always be there for that person and vice versa but you don't necessarily share every in depth moment of your lives with eachother. Then there are the friends who are made through having kids of a similar age and with similar interests. You share the highs and lows of parenting, have park play dates, share birthday parties, etc...but again, you may not share totally personal stuff about your lives...simply because there is no need. Similarly, maybe you're involved in a particular hobby and have met some people through that joint passion who you love seeing but may not ever introduce your whole family too because again, that's not what that particular friendship needs.
I just love friendship.....I love praying, talking and laughing with people of all ages, nationalities and walks of life..but especially with a small circle of girls who I am extremely close too and know are there for me, love me and pray with and for me through all of lifes seasons.
After a couple of traumatic experiences in my teens, I found it hard for a long while to trust people....but over the years my guard has dropped...Jesus has softened me and I know the women who value me as much as I value them! I also have a truly amazing husband who I Love with all my heart and thank God for every day. He is my ultimate soul mate and I just adore him! I am blessed and I know it.

In particular though, there is one very very special girl who has just changed my life with her presence. This girl I class as my sister. The fact we have different biological parents doesn't matter...we know the bond we share is more than just friendship.
I first met this person when she was heavily pregnant with her third child. I'd seen her up on stage leading worship at church, I'd heard all about her, I'd been at the same social events as her, but we'd never really spoken much...until a toddler group Christmas event. A mutual friend introduced us properly and from that moment we clicked.
If I remember right, it was us leading a kids group together that saw us grow close and over the past five years our relationship has gone from strength to strength. She's one of the few friends I can cry and snot over, fart in front of, visit in my pyjamas wearing no make up, discuss ANY subject under the sun with and know she won't think me mad, horrid, stupid or plain crazy. I know I can reveal my full self to her-warts and all, share my worries, successes, ambitions, past secrets and they won't go any further than the four walls surrounding us. She's the person I can turn to ANYTIME of day...like last night...9.50pm to be exact when I heard my mums health had detoriated following major surgery and called this friends phone....I was a blubbering mess....but my beautiful friend took time to hear me out, encourage me, pray with me and love me...despite being shattered herself and dealing with her own family issues.

Friends such as these are pure gems....I'm sure you can think of a friend similar to mine, who you wouldn't be without...ever!

So...to finish...my precious beautiful sister...Sally Roper...I love you so much. I thank God for your life...I thank God for your realness, your humbleness, your love, your wisdom, your time for me and my family, your beautiful creative gifts you randomly drop through the door. I thank Him for your funny laugh which makes me smile, that you accept me for me, you always have time for me, you never judge me or make me feel silly or worthless, that you have never ditched me for someone better, that you treat me with respect even if our opinions differ, that you try so hard to not eat that second slice of cake...but think oh what the hell sometimes and have a third ;-)
I just think your awesome my love. Everyone needs a Sally friend in life, and I'm so blessed to have you. Thank you huni xxxxx

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Breakthrough!

I have a bit of a testimony to share of some recent breakthrough in our personal life. Where better place to share but my trusted little blog :)

So as many people know I'm a stay at home mum to our kiddies and have been blessed to have been in this role since our eldest son was born nearly 10 years ago (can't believe he will soon be in double figures!) The reason I've been able to stay with my children is because of the job of my amazing hubby who works so hard. He contracts his limited company to Siemens and is a testing manager for them placed at Royal Mail. It's a great job which he loves and excels in, but the hours are long and not always family friendly. We've always ploughed through this quite graciously I think and know God has met my desire of being available full time to my children in this season of parent hood with the provision of Roberts job.

However, once a year in September we always endure the waiting game of hearing if Roberts contract has or will be renewed. Whilst we have the slight "worldly" re-assurance that during the years contract Siemens have to give him 3 months notice, when it comes to the end of that year, he could literally be out of a job within days.
Usually, if I'm honest, I quite struggle through this time. I feel scared, I worry about our future and how we would provide for our children should the contract not be renewed and I stress. I do pray about it, but sadly it is my one "thing" that I happily take back from Gods control and put the burden on myself. I believe this stems from a childhood of financial uncertainty. My parents struggled during the 80's recession....my dad lost his business...this resulted in them being re-possessed and losing our family home and having to start all over again. It was a daunting time, and I know an experience I wouldn't want to endure as an adult with a family.
However, with Robert and myself, his contract has, for the last 10 years been renewed each time and I always thank God and wonder why I stressed myself quite so much.

This year really has been a year of me "finding myself," as a grown woman- yes, I know at 30 I've been an adult a long while but having married at just 20 and having children throughout that time, I'd kind of put truly knowing myself on the back burner and concentrated all my energy into my growing family. I think knowing our daughter is our last child had made me wake up about getting to know who Stacey is...outside of parenting and everything else. So, anyway, throughout this year I've really given myself, my worries and fears, how I live my life and spend my time and energy to God. The woman's conference at my church in July really helped me kick start this change of heart.
So as we approached the time of Roberts contract for 2011-2012 coming to an end, I made a conscious decision that I would give the situation to God and leave it right there...with Him...not take it back and lose sleep over what could be....but rest in His promises of a secure future....rest in His love that if Roberts contract wasn't renewed that I would trust that, that was because God had a better plan.

Not as easy as it sounds actually, but by making this a prayer point everyday and not discussing the what-ifs or even really the fact that we were once again at that time of the year with anyone, asides from my husband, I can honestly say I felt so calm and peaceful as the days went by leading up to d-day!

And the outcome...well Robert has another years contract with Siemens and as a little bonus a 2% pay rise aswell! Amazing in the currect financial climate our country is in! THANK YOU JESUS! I feel as if it's a double reward because God is saying, "Stace, atlast my love, you have understood your role and my role....have the little 2% thing as an extra gift of my goodness!"

But, you know...it's not just with the things we class as the biggies that we should do this with. God wants us to trust Him for breakthrough continually. I think the most important thing we can do is dedicate ourselves to praying, believing in our prayers, believing our prayers are not wasted words but us giving God the chance to answer, and ultimately resting in the answer He gives us.

Whilst I can't guarantee how I would have felt had Roberts contract not been renewed,  can say very honestly, that I was at peace and secure about the decision and like to think my faith through this time would have remained had the decision been different.
But God knows what we need, what we desire and He truly works His very best to meet those without hindering His plans for us.
I love Him so much....He's so good to us...even in the hard times...He keeps us going more than we'll ever know...He protects us from so much more than we could ever comprehend.

So, to finish....a question! What is the breakthrough you're trusting God for?
I'd just love to encourage you to give it fully to Him...pass it over, and close the door on trying to manipulate the outcome yourself. Have faith my friend in the supernatural goodness of your creator...He loves you so much! Challenge yourself to do what I done in our situation and rest in knowing that He's got your back...whatever the outcome! You WILL see and reap HIS reward over you!

I believe it for you! I truly do...
Isaiah 26:3 "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you!"

Be Blessed :-)

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Disappointment!

Disappointment: To fail to satisfy the hope, desire, or expectation.


 Since starting junior school, our eldest son Josh has held onto the dream of getting into year 5 and trying out for the school football team. He loves sports and has been so excited at the prospect of representing his school in this area.
Tuesday of this week saw him lugging an extra bag to school with his gorgeous, vibrant football kit and boots in, so that he could stay an extra hour and take part in the trials to get on the team.

We prayed for him, encouraged him that Gods was with him and all he had to do was try his best...whatever the outcome we would still love him and be very proud of him. But, if I'm totally honest, all of us including Josh felt him getting onto the team was already "a done deal!" His P.E teacher practically told him to expect to get a place on team and we were all so excited when Josh came home from the practise full of happiness and hope that today he would hear the news that he had indeed been chosen.

Fast forward a couple of days to now, and when I collected the children from school, a very upset Josh came out to meet me. He eventually shared in the car that he hadn't made the team, when many of his friends had, and burst into tears!

At first, sitting there looking at my biggest baby sobbing his heart out, I was lost for words. Whilst I'd had a lovely day with my mum and younger children...Josh had lived a day of extreme hurt and disappointment. After a few moments I drew him into a big hug and just held him close..."oh Josh, I'm so sorry," I whispered.
We began the drive home, and trying to not cry myself, and stay strong for my boy, I encouraged him that he still had his athletics and the community football team he'd been offered a place in but had held out on due to the school try-outs. I told him God had a great plan and although it was hard to see that right now, we would eventually...but his reply surprised me: "mummy," he said, "it's not about the other things I have or could have. I so wanted this, it hurts me that Gods plan is a sad one for me and that my friends are doing this together, that I'm clearly not good enough...if it's okay, I just want to have these feelings..."

I replied that of course it was okay for him to have feelings and deal with his hurt however he felt best, but I also reminded him that, him not making the team didn't mean he wasn't good enough..it simply meant God does have another plan and that sadness would soon turn into joy, that as hard as it feels, sometimes in life we don't always get what we want, but we have to trust that that's because better things are in store for us.

Of course, there is a part of me that wishes my boy had made the team, that at 9 years old he didn't have to experience hurt and disappointment, that as parents, we'd somehow prepared him for this news instead of being overly optimistic, but deep in my heart I honestly do cling onto the fact that God knew my son before he was even conceived...whilst we are his earthly parents and carers, God is the ultimate parent over Joshua's life. He really does know best for Josh....not just Josh...all of us!

When was the last time you felt disappointed? How did you respond to that feeling? The truth is, we will all face disappointment and hurt at some points in our lives....some of us, more often than others...whilst to some Josh not making the football team may sound trivial, to him, it's a really big deal. God knows your heart and life, and whatever your disappointment, hopes, fears and desires, He is in control of them all.

PAUSE & THINK: If you remove the "D" and replace it with an "H" you turn "Disappointment" into "His-appointment!" Instead of dwelling on what could have been and the why's and not-fairs, lets be a generation who encourages one-another to put everything in front of God and allow Him to have His way in us and over us!

The bible tells us in Psalms 55:22 (NIV) "Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall." 
What an amazing truth! God isn't just about the good and pretty situations. God is telling us here that He has shoulders big enough to carry our worries...and the heart to bring forth solutions!
All we have to do, is come to Him.

I just want to encourage you today to get a hold of your disappointments and turn them into His-appointments! Use the opportunity to trust in God and see your situation unravel into something so much bigger and better than you could of ever imagined. Hurt may linger for a while...I'm not saying your journey will be completley smooth rolling, but I know He can mend hearts, heal lives, and restore hope!

I pray this for my lovely Josh, who right now is in the garden with his brother kicking a football around. I know when he goes back into school tomorrow and the next days...it's going to hurt. When his friends start properly on the team and share stories and laughs and experiences...for my boy, that's going to hurt. But, I claim right now that God would mould his heart, turn his sorrow into joy, and my little man would trust God as he has done before for a breakthrough like no other.

James 1:2-4: 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.



Be Blessed :-)

 





Sunday, 9 September 2012

Time.... more or less....?


One thing I've noticed about our generation and society is that we're quite obsessed with time. Whether it be asking someone for it....every few minutes, wishing it away, wishing for more, planning ahead, squeezing in as much as we can ...we seem to constantly have time on our minds.

I'm guilty of it I admit. Life as a very busy mummy, wife, daughter, friend, and ministry worker sees me constantly diary keeping, time planning, hour watching, chore juggling...and dare I say, staring at a clock trying to freeze the hands so it stays 12 mid-day for a few hours longer! (That by the way is the time everyday Monday-Friday that I have a whole hour to myself... three children in school, one at nursery until 1pm and a sleeping baby....I do like my 12 mid-days!)
Be honest, I'm not alone in wanting that as my super-power am I? ;-)

Anyhow, God has really spoken to me over the last couple of months- since I went to the ladies conference at my church, (see my previous post - "Enjoy knowing rest is okay" for more about that) about how I prioritise my time. Trying to fit too much in, pressuring myself and trying to please many people saw me reach a state of feeling burnt out, and whilst I'm so far succeeding in the little rules I've put in place to overcome that feeling and behaviour when it comes to my family life, my friendships and ministry, I kind of feel God pressing me about  the time I spend with Him. Or atleast the quality of it!

PAUSE & THINK: You know, in the King James version of the bible the word TIME is mentioned 623 times. The bible speaks of Gods TIMING, spending TIME with God and what Jesus done with His TIME on earth, regularly. The fact is, it quite clearly is a very important aspect of life.

Every morning I read my devotionals before I get out of bed...I have actually succeeded in setting my alarm 15 minutes earlier to do this...BIG achievement for the girl who loves sleep! ....and then, every morning I pray with my children on the way to school, every evening I pray with my children before they sleep, every ministry meeting/Bookgroup gathering/when the moment arises I pray with or for other people. Throughout the day I might listen to a worship song or see some inspirational verses shared on Facebook or Twitter....if I'm really good I may get to read a couple of chapters of the latest book I'm reading by a great female Christian speaker.
Now whilst this sounds great and lovely and all ribboned up...and it is all those things, really it is....the last few days I've felt stirred that it's not enough...that I'm not getting my timing completely right when it comes to spending time with the one being who loves me unconditionally, constantly pursues me, protects me, strengthens me and saved me.

I feel God whispering to me, "Stace, you can't live your life just slotting me in when it's convenient!"

Wow! Big truth there daddy G! He knows, I absolutley try my hardest to spend as much time filling myself with Godly things to keep me on the right path, give me wisdom, fill me with more patience, strengthen my relationships and so on...and whilst these are so important for us and to God (He really does love us doing all those things) what He wants more of, is us (me) just stopping...sitting...being still, keeping silent, open to having real TIME with HIM. Not DOING, just BEING!

We dont always need some huge glossy, pretty, wrapped up gesture, song or book to fill us with what God wants for us...we don't need to cram ministry, bookgroup, bible time, a worship slot, and then abit more ministry into one day to gain HIS APPROVAL, LOVE, or TIME for us.
The TRUTH is my friend, what we need to do, is stop the busy-ness and get more rest with our beautiful saviour!

Now, I'm not silly (I'M NOT!) and so I totally recognise, like myself, you also have a busy life... maybe you work long hours, have a busy family, are a single parent, poorly and have constant hospital visits...maybe you do manage, like me to have God moments in your day! Please know I'm not knocking these atall...every little thing we do that fills us with more of Gods love and promises over us, which we can then share out to others is brilliant...important...needed! I'm merely stressing the point that we need to check our hearts and ensure we are spending quality time with Jesus, not just managing him as another "5 minute filler!"

The bible states in Luke 12:34: "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
It is so important we check our hearts, our motives and our priorities in life, to ensure we are living the life God set for us.

And...spending quality TIME with GOD, puts everything else into perspective!
Dont just fill your week with chores, friend coffee dates, shopping trips, watching tv, reading magazines, depending on other people to fill you with Gods word, checking Facebook and so on, and not leave restful, enjoyable space for TIME with GOD!

And for those of us, who like to have organised days, who believe there must be more in store for us...a bigger calling...we don't need to worry about the perfect plan coming over our lives, we don't need to stress that God has forgotten about us, we don't need to get frazzled and upset that it's too late for us, that our miracle isn't going to happen... that time is against us...our bible tells us in
Psalm 62:8: "Trust in Him at all times people!"

God has so much time and there's no denying He uses it differently to us ... but He knows what He wants us to achieve, share, live, breathe, and do at the perfect times in our lives. As humans we can all to often want to hurry up that job promotion, speed up that house move, see our children grow up too quickly, lead the ministry we feel we'd be good in when we're ready to do it, serve on our terms...but you know, quite bluntly, it's time we grow up, shut up and get filled up with knowing how God wants us to do things!

To finish this little rambling, God put on my heart, I really want to encourage you...keep on pressing on with God. Don't stop reading, singing, sharing with accountable friends, serving in the right area, attending church and lifegroup...BUT...check your heart my friend...are you getting REAL, QUALITY, RESTFUL, ONE-on-ONE TIME with God too...? He is so ready for that time with you...you just need to sit and meet with Him...not DOING, just BEING!
Hear His words, feel His love rain down.... enjoy not clock watching and live a little!
I also want to share a great scripture which I feel sums up this post:

Ecclesiastes 3: A Time for Everything
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.


Be Blessed :-)

















Monday, 27 August 2012

Other side of the Mountain...

Gen 22:14 ~ And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

Last night the husband and I were having a chat about our thoughts on tithing, sowing and Gods Provision. This was prompted by a friends very humble, honest and encouraging blog post I'd seen on Facebook which had led me to thinking about our situation with believing God for a house move in the near future.
Whilst Robert and I share pretty much the same views on the above subject, we do differ in a couple of opinions (very healthy I'd say) and this led to Rob reminding me of the story of Abraham in the bible and the miracle God provided for him and his family.

Abraham and his wife Sarah had desperatley wanted a baby to complete their family. They stayed faithful to trusting Gods promises and words over their lives for many years and eventually when Abraham was 100years of age, God did indeed bless them with their promised child, a son, who they named Isaac. God done many miracles through and for Abraham and his family, but still He was to test them further....as we read in the book of Genesis, chapter 22:2-14-
2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. 5 And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go further and worship, and we will come back to you.”
 6 So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. 7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!”
And he said, “Here I am, my son.”
Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”

 8 And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together.
 9 Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
 11 But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”
So he said, “Here I am.”
 12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
 13 Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day,“In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”


I don't know about you, but when I first read these verses I felt in complete awe and in bewilderment of Abraham...I felt sorry for the innocent child Isaac and I wondered how on earth God could ask Abraham to kill his beloved, precious, much wanted son.
Then when you look closer, and really open your heart and mind to the story, you see that God wasn't trying to be cruel or evil. He wasn't trying to trick Abraham or spite him. God was indeed bringing forth His perfect plan and conclusion on Abrahams whole life story. And whilst as mere humans we can say "wow, God, that sure was a pretty in depth way to test this man who had already been so obedient and faithful to you," we can also marvel at Gods miraculous provision and timing for Abraham...and indeed Isaac!

This story is so relevant in our lives today as believers. I'm sure pretty much everyone who reads this post, is waiting upon a miracle of some sort from God...maybe you are in financial need... perhaps you are trusting God to heal you, a family member or friend from a serious illness....maybe, like us, you are resting in Gods timing for that house move you so believe will happen...but as yet it hasn't....perhaps you are unemployed or have just been made redundant... whatever your need... whatever your miracle... God can and will provide it for you.

Think of yourself as Abraham... on that mountain, desperatley in need of a breakthrough but unsure of when or where it will come from... then ...BHAM!...right at the last second, when it seems all HOPE has gone...there it is ...Gods PERFECT, BEAUTIFUL, HOLY gift...just in time...just for you!
It's there...it's coming my friend...we just to need to ensure we live as Worshipping, Hopeful, Obedient, God Loving, People Loving, Faithful, Scripture dwelling sons and daughters of our Holy God who so loves us and has His Will for our lives very much in place.

Don't try so hard to control the situation you find yourself in, instead, as the bible tells us in Matthew 6:33 "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need."

It's not always easy, this I know... but hey, no-one ever said it would be my love. Do we really think Abrahams most glorious joyful moment in life was leading his son up that mountain side that day....no...I'm sure it wasn't. But, guess what, by staying faithful to God, I bet the journey back down was!

My encouragement to you today is to continue trusting in God who loves you so much. Don't let life zapp you of His Glory...don't let situation rob you of His joy...don't lose your hope of amazing things to come.
We are already so blessed. Jesus dying for us is the biggest gift we couyld ever receive, keep your eyes on the heavenly things already sent your way and God will continue to unravel the rest of His plan over you!

Lord God, we thank you for your word which is still so relevant to us today. Thank you for the story and example of Abraham and your miraculous timing and provision over his life. I pray Lord that you would help us stay focused on you, that you would bring breakthrough into our situations O'God. Help us keep our eyes firmly on you, our trust rooted in you...and help us be a blessing throughout!
In Jesus name, Amen!

Be Blessed :-)

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Landscape of human life...

Have you ever found yourself at the end of the day thinking, "I had no idea when I woke up today that by tonight my life would have changed so much?" Perhaps you just discovered that you are going to be a mummy, or perhaps you heard the doctor say, "Your cancer is back." Maybe you recieved a promotion at work, perhaps a loved one passed away. The truth is just ONE day can definitley change the landscape of a human life.

We see this so often in the bible, moments defining peoples lives. Think of Moses standing before the burning bush, or Mary learning she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. What about Noah being given the assignment to build an ark bigger than a football field, or Simon Peter being called from his career as a fisherman to be a preacher? Then there was a shepherd David chosen to be King of Israel and the Christian killing Saul, chosen to be the amazing preacher, evangelist, theologian Paul. These are dramatic examples of God's life changing power, a power we encounter in quieter moments as well...such as when He comes to alongside to calm our worries, to remind us of His FAITHFULNESS, to shine HIS guiding LIGHT into the darkness of our confusion, to TOUCH our HEARTS with HOPE when circumstances seem hopeless, to whisper to us of His LOVE!

Even a gentle touch from our HEAVENLY Father can change the landscape of our life!

I encourage you today...whatever your day may hold, whatever circumstances you find yourself in whether by choice or by life just being life...whatever your day looks like come evening time, to keep hold of the truths that God is with you, for you and does have a plan in place for you. You don't need to pray for Him to have a perfect plan...that part has been done already for you my sweet.
You just need to immerse yourself in the LOVE of the HOLY SPIRIT and feel your HEAVENLY FATHERS gentle touch...

Lord God, we thank you that you love us so much. That in good times and challenging times, you don't change, your still the same with the same love, promises and grace towards us. Help us seek you first in our days and soften our hearts we pray.
In your name, Amen!

Be Blessed :-)

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Childlike Faith...!

For people who know me well, you know my real passion and calling is working in children's ministry. I adore meeting and getting alongside the kids on my Sundays of serving and absolutley LOVE teaching them biblical truths and seeing them connect with God, believe in the power of prayer and worship with open hearts. It's an amazing experience...it of course comes with its challenging moments, upsetting moments, deep moments and plenty of fun moments.

From serving in children's ministry for the last 8 years at my brilliant church and also being a Christian mum of 5 children, I see how hard it is for our younger generations to sometimes have the confidence to share their faith. I'm so blessed that my eldest two boys love Jesus and are proud to share it...if you read an earlier post, this has caused a whole host of problems for my biggest boy Josh at times...bullying, name calling, telling off from a teacher to name but a few....but through it all he never lost his faith or doubted it. He stood strong in his beliefs.

Whilst many people overlook children in this world, when many people don't believe children can possibly connect with God or are too young to have a living relationship with Jesus, I stand firm on what the bible tells me...let's have a look at a particular passage taken from the NLT version of the bible:

Mark 10:13-16
13 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.
 14 When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” 16 Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.

I love this snippet from the new testament. Jesus clearly loved children. No matter how busy or tired he was, he liked to have children in His presence, by His side.
He valued them as people, He even taught as we read in verse 14, that adults should become like children in their Faith.

How?

Well simply, as children trust and depend on their parents, we should trust God and depend on Him for our needs. We need to strive to remain pure in our thoughts and motives, as many children do. Children are usually pretty quick to forgive a grudge...squabbling followed instantly by displays of brotherly love are a constant scene in my home.
As the parents in this passage were so excited to have their children meet Jesus and want for Him to bless them, we too, should daily be bringing our children to God. Seeking His guidance as parents, His patience, compassion, wisdom and love towards them. Lifting them in prayer for success, right decisions, to be good examples in the communities they mix in....we shouldn't be like the disciples in this chapter and be quick to dismiss the time Jesus wants to spend with our children or His love for them!

I started my journey with God at the age of 16...and whilst I know this was His plan and I'm secure in who He has made me to be in His timing, I have to be honest and say, I often wished as a new believer, that I'd had the foundations of Gods love for me poured into me as a young child...I believe it would have saved me from alot of hurt and nastiness...whilst I can't be sure of that and whilst I know many children who attend church at a young age can move on from it, one thing I truly believe is once you've experienced the true amazing-ness of our God, you never fully turn from it. Once He has pierced your heart with His love, you have it there, even if your not actively living it.

It is SO important for us to recognise what God CAN and WANTS to do in the lives of the children around us. We don't have to wait until they become teenagers to disciple to them (teach them). Why wait, when the youngest, purest heart is there...ready...willing! Children love to learn, children love to share....Jesus loves to use them to do amazing things...in their schools, in their activity clubs, in their families...as Jesus wasn't too busy and corrected His disciples attitudes that day, we too must learn from His actions and humble ourselves to ensure our children are on the right path...His path. And I have seen so many children experience the power of God in their lives, answers to prayers, families reconciled, parents who had divorced...remarried and happy, bullying stopped and complete favour over friendships, children baptised and praying for their peers...amazing! Truly amazing :)

Whilst I totally appreciate not everyone will agree with my post, I pray for hearts to be softened towards our precious children...who one day may be parents themselves...that we would open our eyes, ears and hearts to them and be there to love them, guide them and re-assure them.
It's not a coincidence we are alongside the children we have in our lives...it's a calling, a deeper purpose than just making them 3 meals a day...yes, that's important of course, but I consider their eternal destinies at the top of my list!

And to encourage you further...take a look at your faith. Have you made it complicated and messy? Are you making your walk with Jesus harder than it should be by trying to have all the answers, the conclusions, the perfect plan you want your life to have?
Or is it like a childs...pure...easy...quick to forgive...ready to learn...not shy to share?
I'm challenged by that too. I know the times I make it complex, but I continuously strive to be more child like and accept Gods ways and plans...we can learn much from the younger generations around us, this I know!

Lets pray!

Jesus, THANK YOU that you have a deep rooted love for children. Thank you for your example in the bible verses above, that when your friends were quick to overlook the children around you that day, you hushed them and spent time blessing them. Thank you that your word is alive today, that when you look at our children and the children around us, that you have great plans for them, that no life is an accident but that you have ordained their days...you have great plans for them. Help us to recognise the responsibility and role we have in their lives and help us to seek that child like faith you taught of for ourselves, help us Lord keep it simple and about you. In your holy name, Amen!

Be Blessed :-)




Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Part of the crowd....

I felt stirred this morning about crowds, whilst watching a news report about the 2012 Olympics which has just finished here in the UK. Thousands upon thousands of people gathering together to watch different sporting events over the past two weeks cheering on their hereos and countries. Crowds aren't a modern day invention. Over history there are many times, we hear of large groups of people gathering to witness an event and the Bible speaks of several times where the crowds of people spent their time following Jesus.
 The people followed Him because they were amazed at the miracles they had seen, the authority He taught with, and the exorcism of demons.
Below are a few scriptures about crowds following Jesus:-

Mark 3:7 "Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed."

John 6:2  "A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick."

Matthew 7:28-29  "When Jesus had finished these sayings [the Sermon on the Mount], the crowds were astonished and overwhelmed with bewildered wonder at His teaching, For He was teaching as One Who had [and was] authority, and not as the scribes."

Jesus was very used to people being intrigued with Him. He enjoyed teaching crowds of Gods love and promises over their lives. He adored seeing people changed through their encounters with Him. Jesus just had a heart for people and his love, compassion and delight in humans was what brought Him both many "fans" and many enemies. Jesus was God in human form on earth. He knew His destiny and purpose and so knew that he was going to have a big following of haters who were constantly willing and waiting for Him to mess up in some way.
But this didn't stop Him from being Him. This didn't stop Him from fulfilling the role He was called to live.
I have thought before about how if I knew I was going to die at the age of 33, all the things I would want to cram in, places I would want to visit, people I would want to spend my days with, memories I would want to make...whilst I can't say what went through Jesus's mind, one thing I know from what the bible tells me is that despite knowing how and when he was going to die, Jesus constantly put himself out for others...whether they liked Him or not.

One particular chapter of the bible I was drawn to whilst thinking about crowds and how they responded to Jesus is John 7:12-41, where we find Jesus teaching openly at the temple before a crowd with very mixed reactions to Him:
12 There was a lot of grumbling about him among the crowds. Some argued, "He's a good man," but others said, "He's nothing but a fraud who deceives the people."13 But no one had the courage to speak favorably about him in public, for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders.
14 Then, midway through the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach.15 The people were surprised when they heard him. "How does he know so much when he hasn't been trained?" they asked.
16 So Jesus told them, "My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me.17 Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own.18 Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies.19 Moses gave you the law, but none of you obeys it! In fact, you are trying to kill me."20 The crowd replied, "You're demon possessed! Who's trying to kill you?"
21 Jesus replied, "I did one miracle on the Sabbath, and you were amazed.22 But you work on the Sabbath, too, when you obey Moses' law of circumcision.23 For if the correct time for circumcising your son falls on the Sabbath, you go ahead and do it so as not to break the law of Moses. So why should you be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath?24 Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly."25 Some of the people who lived in Jerusalem started to ask each other, "Isn't this the man they are trying to kill?26 But here he is, speaking in public, and they say nothing to him. Could our leaders possibly believe that he is the Messiah?27 But how could he be? For we know where this man comes from. When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from."

28 While Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he called out, "Yes, you know me, and you know where I come from. But I'm not here on my own. The one who sent me is true, and you don't know him.29 But I know him because I come from him, and he sent me to you."30 Then they tried to arrest him; but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come.
31 Many among the crowds at the Temple believed in him. "After all," they said, "would you expect the Messiah to do more miraculous signs than this
man has done?" 32 When the Pharisees heard that the crowds were whispering such things, they and the leading priests sent Temple guards to arrest Jesus.33 But Jesus told them, "I will be with you only a little longer. Then I will return to the one who sent me.34 You will search for me but not find me. And you cannot go where I am going." 35 The Jewish leaders were puzzled by this statement. "Where is he planning to go?" they asked. "Is he thinking of leaving the country and going to the Jews in other lands? Maybe he will even teach the Greeks!36 What does he mean when he says, 'You will search for me but not find me,' and 'You cannot go where I am going'?"37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, "Anyone who is thirsty may come to me!38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, 'Rivers of living water will flow from his heart."
40 When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, "Surely this man is the Prophet we've been expecting."41 Others said, "He is the Messiah." Still others said, "But he can't be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee?

PAUSE & THINK: The crowd had such mixed thoughts and emotions that day about who Jesus was...I'm sure the doubting would have affected even the most secure mindset amongst the people there. All each person had to do was stand secure in what they were being told, as Jesus was willing them to do, regardless of what the person next to them was saying. Why do we feel the need to talk about every opinion we have? Why can't we just accept that whilst one person prefers sirloin steak, to another rump tastes so much better...

There was deep confusion amongst the people in that crowd before Jesus. Whilst the leaders at first appear secure in their knowledge, with the whisperings amongst the people around them and Jesus's words, they too start to doubt what they thought they believed.
Lets think back for a moment to the riots that happened in the UK last August. What started as a small gathering of people protesting about the fact a man they knew had been shot by police officers, soon turned into a fully fledged horror of homes and companies being torched and vandalised. People being hurt, killed even. Crowds of people looting (stealing goods), shouting, fighting and so on. I read an article in a magazine about a young girl who was imprisoned during the riots as she had been caught stealing a tv from a well known shop. Her actions were described as "out of character." Usually a nice, friendly, gentle person who had been training to be in the army...she claimed she had been drawn in by the crowds around her, and had a moment of madness - "the atmosphere had been contagious," she claimed. Her allowing herself to be influenced by the people around her, led to this young woman spending 8 months in prison and losing any hopes she had about joining the army and representing her country. How often do we scupper our chances of success or opportunity because we allow ourselves to be influenced by the people around us instead of trusting in what Jesus has already told us thousands of years ago?

Another modern day example we can look at with a more positive outcome is what Mo Farah said in an interview following his triumph in the mens 5000m race of the Olympics I mentioned at the start of this post. That the crowds cheering him on that day, helped him to find that extra burst of energy to sprint the last 100m and claim gold for the UK. If the crowd had been silent throughout the race, would he have found it so easy to have won...possibly not!
The truth is crowd psychology is a branch of social phsychology. It's so easy to be influenced OR be an influence to the people around you. It's so easy to forget your morals, beliefs and standards when your around people who don't share the same views as you. Wanting to be a part of the "IT crowd" so to speak. Seeking approval from whoever you happen to be sharing your time with at that moment. Fear of rejection, fear of being gossiped about if you don't join in with the latest gossip...wanting to know the latest gossip...wanting to be accepted by every person you encounter...wanting to be liked...wanting to be invited to every social gathering whether your friends with someone or not...wanting...wanting...wanting.
 Why are we so concerned with being a part of the crowd? Why can't we just be content with being more like Jesus and happy to be one person strong in our beliefs and purpose? No matter who or what we face?

PAUSE & THINK: As Jesus stood in front of crowds declaring to be the Messiah, sharing truth and hope to the doubters around Him, I so want to share His attitude of being secure in me...whatever people think...whichever crowd that means I "miss out" on being a part of.

Whilst crowds can be an amazing atmosphere to be a part of in many friendly settings... church... music concerts... theatre... fun family beach days... olympic stadiums to name but a few, lets be aware that like the crowd in front of Jesus that day, sometimes the people around us can confuse our knowledge...influence us in a negative way and lead us to being tempted to drop our standards and behave in a way we may not usually do so.

I guess my challenge to myself and any one reading this post is to think about the crowd your already a part of...or the crowd your desperate to push yourself in to. What do you contribute to these settings, what do you gain from them...what's your motive with being a part of them?
Our purpose - in different ways - is to be like Jesus to the people around us. In order to do this well, we must spoend time in His presence...absorbing Him...spending time listening to Him...A CROWD OF TWO...just you and Him. Just me and Him.
And whilst we must associate with people in all walks of life and circumstances, we must NEVER let our guard down with standing secure in what we know to be TRUTH, what we beleive WE are CALLED to be and do.

Lets pray!
Lord God, we thank you that you are a God who loves all people. That whether it's a large crowd, a small gathering or a lone person, you see evry heart and mind before you and love each one of us so much. We thank you that you sent your son Jesus to earth to teach your good news. That despite the trials he faced...the crowds who followed Him in life...and leading to death, that He came so that we could live life in abundance.
I do pray Lord, that you would bless each person reading this blog. Reveal to us O' God the crowds and persons you want us to be involved with. Help us to be secure in the people you have put in our lives and help us stop striving to be accepted by people, but to know our acceptance in you.
Thank you Jesus!
Amen

Be Blessed :-)





 



Tuesday, 31 July 2012

How Deep is Your Love....

Last night I spent the evening with a group of close friends at one of our homes catching up, sharing food and generally having a lovely mummy evening together.
The tv was quietly switched onto a music channel throughout and random songs were playing one after the other.
At one point the BeeGees song "How deep is your love" came on and whilst it didn't stir any real interest, I had noticed and hummed along at one point.
It's a slushy song, but actually I quite like it... Sssshhhhhh, don't tell anyone I admitted that ;-)
I didn't think any more of the song until this morning when I read this scripture:
Ephesians 3:17-18 "...I pray that you would grasp how WIDE and LONG and HIGH  and DEEP is the LOVE of CHRIST..."

In our everyday encounters it can sometimes be difficult to comprehend Gods love for us. As we go about our routines and flit between different people in our lives... spouses / partners / children / friends / colleagues and so on, how often do we feel loved, how often do we think about how much we love and how often do we rest in the ultimate love for us...the love of Christ.

I'm a mum of five children. I love each of my children from the depths of my heart. I cherish them, I adore them...but at times I don't like their behaviours. Our eldest is definitely entering his PRE-teen season of life, and whilst he is an amazing child in many ways, right now, his attitude absolutely stinks at times. I would die for my children, but when they mis-behave, squabble, draw on the wall or spill a drink and don't tell me so it's left for the baby to slip on, I feel hurt. Whilst I know they're "normal" children, it's at times so easy to take their behaviour as a personal full on slap round the face... it never affects my love for them, but because of that love, I can feel sad.
If we have a row with someone, it can build an insecurity in us of that persons feelings towards us. We can doubt how much they love us...when we feel hurt, we can distance ourselves from people as a way of guarding our hearts and believing we're not hurting as much as we'd like them to think.
The truth is as humans, we will all at times hurt one another, and as individuals we always will seek love and acceptance from others.
Sometimes...people fall out of love with oneanother. Couples get divorced, friendships end, families become torn apart by conflict...love is questioned...

Whilst God made us to be fully functioning humans, with feelings, emotions, longings, desires, the want to feel loved...He doesn't want us to be so caught up in what we feel we need or made hard by the situations that we endure that we stop loving, or that we stop focusing on His love for us.
It's only when we can comprehend like the above scriptures says how wide, long, high and deep Gods love is for us that we feel fully secure in how we love and receive love from others.
It's easy for all of us to wonder how much God loves us when we're going through a tough season in life.
I'm sure if we're all really honest we can all put our hands up and say, "Yes, I've asked God, if you love me so much, why has this happened to me?"
Truth is, God never lets us go through anything He knows we can't come overcome, He never deserts us to struggle through alone, He never whips out a big stick to smack us down with when we shift our focus from Him to how we want to do things, He understands our hurt and our questions, and wants to guide us and answer us...if we let Him.

He NEVER stops loving us...NEVER! He sent His one and only son, Jesus to die for us so that we could live in His Freedom, without condemnation, be forgiven, strengthed....sat by His side!
That in itself is the ultimate act of love. Why do we feel we need so much more, when two thousand years ago, the purest act of love was given to us...free...without Him asking for anything back.

I just want to encourage anyone reading this post, that yes, maybe you've been really hurt in your life. Maybe you loved and had that love thrown back in your face. Maybe you trusted someone and they betrayed you and in doing so knocked the confidence out of you to love and trust others...maybe you get jealous of others success and lives that inside you know you hold onto bitterness, resentment and your not fully loving as God intends you to love.
Today, that can change. As much as I feel for you and understand...I too have been hurt and betrayed in my life...I so urge you to let go of the bad stuff. Stop seeking approval and acceptance from people who may not be the right ones to give it to you, and instead shift your focus onto God. A God who loves YOU so DEEPLY that He sent Jesus to die for YOU! If  YOU were the only person to ever live, Jesus would still have died for YOU!
YOU HAVE been and ARE so LOVED... highly, deeply, forever loved.
And when you recognise His love for you and dwell in that, I guarantee, your earthly relationships will flourish.

Psalm 136:26 "Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast LOVE endures FOREVER."




Sunday, 22 July 2012

Daisy...

I really like daisies. They're such a simple yet pretty little flower, and when I was younger I could sit for ages either alone or with friends making daisy chain necklaces and bracelets...such lovely memories!

A friend posted a picture of a vase of homegrown daisies on Twitter the other day, and as I admired their natural beauty, they made me think about how God should be placed in our lives.

If we refer to the picture to the left of some daisies, we can see the vibrant yellow centre of the flower with delicate white petals dotted around it...if that centre was to be damaged in anyway, the delicate petals would struggle to stay put, some may even fall off the flower. If any of the petals were to be damaged and not cling to that gorgeous yellow circle, the flower would have bare patches and the design of the flowers roundness wouldn't be as smooth and full...the flower would look, be and feel incomplete.
This, I feel can be said of us when we don't keep God as the centre of our lives...every little aspect of our everyday happenings. Imagine yourself for a moment as a daisy...your in the yellow centre of the flower and the white petals represent all the people and activities in your life. One petal is perhaps your job, one represents your children, another your friendships, and so on... It can be pretty hard maintaining every area in life and ensuring you give 100% to everything your doing or being.
Just as an unwatered Daisy's petals would become limp and gradually fall away, without God as the centre of our lives, our relationships, tasks, interests etc can make us feel overwhelmed, weary, tired if we don't water them regularly with Gods wisdom, grace and guidance. If you want to be the best looking, healthiest daisy in the vase, you need God right there as that shiny yellow centre with you!

I honestly believe and practice keeping God at the forefront of everything I do and everyone I encounter in life. I totally appreciate some people may not understand this, but for me it works and I know through experiencing God fully in my heart that I do life so much better with Him in the driving seat. I don't just pray for wisdom in my marriage and then expect my parenting skills to be amazing...I don't just pray for one particular friendship then expect to get along with everyone....we have to learn to pray and put God at the front of EVERY thing we do, EVERYONE we share this life with, every dream we dare to turn into a reality if it be Gods will for us.

So, my challenge to you is this...draw a daisy! Seriously, draw a daisy...then in each petal write an area of your life...now write "GOD" in the centre of the flower, and then write "ME" under it, and as honestly as you can think about the areas God is lacking in your life.
When was the last time you prayed for your marriage...really really prayed and put God in control of your relationship with your spouse?
When was the last time you asked for more patience and wisdom at work with "that" difficult colleague or customer?
When the last time you asked God to reveal to you something He'd like you to do for yourself...rest time?
When was the last time you asked God to give you wisdom with each of your children...if you have more than one child...do you seek individual wisdom or put your kids in one box (so to speak)?

It may sound abit of a silly task, but I think if you tried it (what do you have to lose) you'd be
surprised at how much you do in life, and maybe just how little you ask for Gods help. I know I'm a much prettier, upright flower when I'm at peace with Gods will...when I give things to Him and rest in His direction over them... are you also?

Hmmm, who'd have thought a daisy could conquer up such thoughts..thank you Jesus that you speak to us and through us in the simplest forms....again I say, when we make life complex, you keep it easy.

Be Blessed :-)