Saturday, 28 December 2013

A New Years Revelation!

I've always been a bit of a romantic.
A far from perfect upbringing can do that to you I think.
Loving Disney tales with their happy ever afters...craving a happy ever after for myself...
But life, well life happens doesn't it.
Now a wife and mum of five, as I sit with my children watching some of the same, and some very new Disney tales, I understand, and I get it:-

The happy ever after doesn't exist, well not this side of earth anyway.
The story always ends with girl meeting boy, being saved from her awful life and entering a grand new existence together. What we don't see is the bickering over who will do which households chores, the 2.4 kids being born leading to sleep deprivation, less time together and putting yourself last....all.the.time.
Happy ever after isn't what I want anymore.

Please don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be a negative blob right now. I love that these tales don't show the aftermath of the initial romance. I love that we get to imagine in our minds how their lives ended up being. But as we end yet another year, with only four days remaining here back in 2013, I embrace a revelation.
Entering a new year - 2014 - to be precise, can be a great thing for many people. A loud sigh goes round the world of days got through, we remember encounters, big events- whether sad or happy, reminisce on days gone by and a chance of doing things better, as we see the calendar hit January 1st.
People confidently state plans of dietary changes, more time spent with trusted friends, family rifts to be broken, dreams that will be fulfilled....it all sounds so lovely...so romantic....until...reality sets in.

Because that's the grown up revelation I've been hit with this morning. Reality!
Whilst dreams can be fulfilled, whilst relationships can be healed and strengthened, whilst amazingly fun things can and will happen in our lives, reader, can I share with you that reality will also be very much a part of your new year...and mine too.
In fact, already we, as a family are entering 2014 with no washing/drying machine (it decided it wanted to hibernate 2 days before Christmas), a back garden 6ft fence to fix as the angry winds blew it down, and a very broken car - the main family car at that too. January was going to be a cheap, sensible month for us financially, following a very blessed and extravagant Christmas time....but reality stepped in.
Instead of crying, I've kept my head high and thought this:
"Reality is our gift from God, what we do with it, is our gift back to Him." 
With this in mind, yesterday, I trotted off to the local laundrette and embraced meeting random people, spending an hour and a half in their company sharing biscuits and conversations. Was it my ideal...my happy ever after...no, far from it...but it was a dose of real life-with real people, and I chose to make it count for something more than my brain wanted it too.

I look at the social media sites, and whilst I share friends and families joy at news of good things...well I see beyond it too. I know that life is very real, and hard for every single one of us -everyone has a battle to face right? And I feel encouraged. I let out a long breath and tell myself, I'm me, I'm unique, but I'm also very much like the next person.
My reality for 2014 isn't some big new years resolution, some romantic view of how life will be. I know I've grown up this last couple of years and instead I finish this year and enter the new one with a determination and expectation, that whatever happens, whatever we face as a family...or individually...that I'm going to ensure God stays at the centre of it all. 
Because my reality is His gift to me, and what I do with it is my Gift to Him. 

My very real prayer for each one of you who reads this post, is that you too would be able to end this year and enter a new one with a determination and expectation. That you wouldn't follow the crowd, but would instead invite God to reveal to you what your reality is going to look like, and how you will embrace it. That you would know your life is a gift-from Him, and what you do with it, stands for something....something so much bigger and better than you possibly understand-because it's your gift back to Him. My prayer is that you would be so blessed and a blessing throughout the harder times and the easier times, because the reality is, there will be both. But in both, He exists, and is already there paving the way. Stay strong reader and have a very happy new year xx


Friday, 6 December 2013

Reflect {5 minute Friday}

Today I chose to once again link up with the wonderful lisajobaker.com and participate in five minute Friday. The rules are simple...we write unedited, unscripted for five minutes only on the given theme, we link our post up, and then we encourage the person who linked up before us. Simple!
This weeks theme is Reflect....here goes:



~ The past three days I've felt poorly. Uninvited, an ear infection and awful head cold have taken over my physical being and seen me completely floored for two of those days. Lying in bed dosing up on meds and sipping honey and lemon concoctions, I found myself in a pondering mood this morning.
Looking around our beautiful bedroom, which in so many ways, despite being in our home for 14 weeks now, still feels so new to me - I thought back to where life was a year ago.
A year ago, December 2012-
-As a wider family we were clinging onto healing prayers for my mum who had become seriously poorly earlier in the year and had just undergone emergency life saving surgery to remove a huge section of her bowel. She was so so poorly and for many a moments during that period of time, we thought we were going to lose her....we had to have difficult conversations of long term care plans, financial wills and her funeral plan. It was...gosh, I can't even think of a word other than really tough.
-As a household, we were 3 years into our journey of crying out to God for a miraculous breakthrough in our journey of selling our home and buying a bigger one that would comfortably house all seven of us and would also be in catchment of good secondary schools for our children.
Our elder boys especially stayed involved in that journey with us -we had a little tick list of things we wanted in our new home. Some days though, I found it so hard to remain positive about our breakthrough ever happening. Years of clearing debt found us with no real savings and whenever we did start to get a little buffer in the bank account, something would come along that would desperately and greedily snatch it away from us. Those days when I felt that way, my husband and children were my encouragement that God could do anything and knew what we needed.
-In ministry I felt frustrated. I felt like God wanted more from me and for me, but that I was facing a brick wall with an answer to what I should be doing. I could feel a stirring deep inside that change was coming, but from where I knew not...and with so many other personal things going on, I decided that maybe I was asking God for too much and I should just continue being and doing what I was, and trust Him to open doors at the right time.

I'm sure there were many other little things going on in my life this time last year, but I would say these three areas above were the most consuming of time, prayer and energy; all 3 of which at times I felt I had none left of. I learnt two big lessons during this season - I learnt that when we run out of energy and prayers-when words fail us and big fat sobs are the only sound we can make in desperation of not liking our circumstance, it's okay to let others keep us lifted in prayer, it's okay to be honest and say we can't do it at that moment in time, it's okay to allow friends to carry us in love.
But more importantly, I learnt that God doesn't sleep; He never, ever closes His eyes on our situations.
In fact, I would be as bold to say that I believe it's when He's at His most powerful in our lives. When we are flat on our knees, exhausted, scared and weak...He is firmly on His feet, strong, peaceful and at work.
I say that because coming back to today, well I can give you an update on all three of those areas I shared about.
Firstly, my mum. Well we've had a roller-coaster of a journey, but I think it's fair and correct to say she has received first class treatment and is doing amazingly. Her illness still hangs over our heads and it's unpredictable in it's behaviour...but she is so much better than a year ago and after a long period signed off from her job as a nurse, she is thriving back in her clinics, and is able to enjoy life. We continue our healing prayers...we claim her full healing, but we thank God for where she is now.

Secondly, Ministry-wow...okay, so very unexpectedly, I was asked to set-up a new group in our children's ministry earlier this year. We launched in May and it has been one of the most amazing journeys of my church life....well my personal life too actually. I am loving every second of what I'm doing and since September I've also been volunteering one day a week at church, working alongside our head of children's ministry. I feel like I'm being stretched, mentored, encouraged, challenged, and used in ways I've never known, and it excites me...because I know this is just the beginning. Already, I'm wanting more...already I have new visions...fresh stirrings...

And lastly, our house situation. Ohhhh, our house situation. This is where the tears still come. This is where I feel humbled beyond belief and just want to hug Him...because it did happen guys...after years of crying out to God, our breakthrough came....out of no-where. Throughout our prayer journey my husband clung onto the story of Abraham taking his only son Isaac to the top of the mountain; having to use him as a living sacrifice...just as Abraham went to strike Isaac with the knife-there it was...the breakthrough, Gods provision...the lamb - Abraham could use instead of sacrificing his own baby. The miracle; right there, coming up the mountain side just at the right time.
And that's exactly how we feel God has provided for us. We moved into our new home at the end of August, just weeks before we had to fill in secondary school forms for our eldest son. And that little tick list I told you of - well we can tick off every desire we were believing God for: a playroom for the children being the most exciting one I think :-) It amazes me every single day....I am beyond grateful every single day.

I honestly don't write this post to brag about how amazing my year may seem to have been. Believe me, we have had many a trial come our way - especially in the areas I've mentioned, because life continues being...well life doesn't it!?! A bigger house and a new ministry group certainly don't make us exempt from the enemy, but what they can do, as in my case, is make me reflect back on Gods goodness over time and confidently encourage you that no prayer, no situation, no person is unseen or unheard by Him. He knows what's best, and He will always come through. In the way we want? When we think we should have it? Maybe, maybe not, but definitely in a timing that we're ready for and can handle. And usually better than anything we could have thought of for ourselves.
I wonder what I will reflect on this time next year....

Be Blessed xxx

Sunday, 3 November 2013

When a challenge...shouldn't be a challenge!

I saw something on a social media site today that has had me thinking for the last few hours.
It was a post stating how we are to be vulnerable and real with people-and how this is such a huge challenge...
If I'm honest, as soon as I read it, I kind of disagreed- to stress-not with the being vulnerable and real segment of the sentence, but the last part...the part that says this is a huge challenge in day to day life.
I mean...is it...? Please reader, enlighten me with your thoughts on this.
Is it so hard to just be ourselves?

Of course I remember plenty a time,  I've perhaps walked into a room and felt a tad insecure through not knowing many people, or wondering what conversation is going to be had with the people I don't necessarily have much in common with, or I've had that one final check in my car rear view mirror to make sure the lip gloss is in place and the eye-liner meets a certain shade of .. um .. dark!
But...do I find it hard to be me, to be honest about where I'm at in life, how my day is going, what my views are on the latest topic? No, I don't think I do.
And if I'm fully honest, I struggle to see why others would...

Reading this, maybe you're thinking "well that's all good and well for you Stacey, but you don't know what I'm like, you haven't lived through what I've been through and felt my embarrassment...you're not me and if you were you wouldn't be real either..."
Can I reassure you now, that I have lived through my own fair share of crap. I certainly wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth, and I certainly have elements of a past that would make some people tut in disgust, keep me at the height of their morning gossip over a cuppa and question who the hell I think I am writing about the things I do...but I found this earlier...

Real... its definition according to www.thefreedictionary.com is this
"...Genuine and authentic; not artificial or spurious"
"...Relating to actual existence"

...and it made me feel whole. Knowing the meaning of a word can do that you know. Because those definitions right there, well they're us reader...if we're honest and vulnerable and not ashamed to be ourselves, these definitions can carry us through our days confident that we're doing it right. Because I don't want to be artificial, I don't want to live a life fuelled by meeting the expectations of people who may, may just have elements of a past as messy as mine.
I want the people in my world to know, deep in their hearts that in me, they will find a genuine and authentic girl-who actually does exist...not an imaginary thing that I've spent hours thinking up.

I know it's difficult sometimes. I honestly honestly know it's difficult sometimes. And I don't take for granted that my confidence rests in knowing that I was created by a God who loves me so much. But to put it bluntly, so where you! If the One who genuinely hates all sin can unconditionally love us, comfort us and bring good things our way despite our mess ups, despite knowing the very real parts of our characters and DNA, why should we struggle with who we are?

I hope you get my point here, and I really hope this doesn't sound so matter of fact, that it reads as heartless. Because that is not my intention or belief. I'm just so frustrated right now though with people thinking they are on a lower level than someone else...that there are people out here who take the higher ground-when quite frankly, they have no right too. Please please don't find being real and vulnerable a challenge...please don't. Because vulnerability can be beautiful...realness heals lives, brings light into the darkest situations.

Jesus had to be vulnerable in order to fulfill the plans of God....Jesus was real every single step of His journey....that's the truth....and the truth will set you free!

Bless you! You were created in an image so stunning, don't waste the miracle you are by thinking any less!

xxx




Friday, 1 November 2013

Grace {5 minute Friday}

I've been out of action for a couple of weeks due to an unexpected operation, but today, feeling very rested I've made the decision to par-take in 5 minute Friday hosted by the fab lisajobaker.com
The rules are you write unedited for five minutes only on the given theme, link your post up and comment on the persons post who linked up before you. Simples....which is what we love in life :-)
Okay...so the theme this week is Grace....here GOES!
                                      *~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*

I love to sing. I especially love to sing songs of praise and worship. One of my favourite songs is Chris Tomlin's version of the classic 'Amazing Grace.' I especially love the chorus, which I feel sums up my life since choosing Jesus ..."My chains are gone, I've been set free; 
                                    My God, My Saviour has ransomed me. 
                                    And like a flood His Mercy Reigns;
                                    Unending Love...Amazing Grace!"
This song has the ability to get this well built girl on her knees in tears. Tears of letting go of regrets, tears of humbling myself to the goodness of something far better than I can ever be, tears of gratitude to the One who knows me...really really knows me and yet chooses me and loves me unconditionally day in, day out.

His unconditional love, His promises to take us from where we were...to where we are....to where we are going, His comfort in times of turmoil, His provision from the unlikeliest source, His miraculous - life changing ways, His Forgiveness - over and over again, His Patience, His son - His Jesus....My Jesus.....Your Jesus? Mocked, tortured, spat on, deserted, crucified - that right there....that my friends is GRACE! 
Who are we to think that we deserve anything from this life?
Who are we to demand what we think we should have?
Who are we to ignore what one man did all those years ago so that we could live in a freedom that the world doesn't offer?
I don't have all the answers, I don't write to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but I know what GRACE looks like in this life. This life that I abused in my teenage years. This life that has been radically transformed and continues to soar into a plan so perfect it makes me gasp to catch my breathe when I really think about it.

I pray you would know what GRACE looks like in your life today, that you would gain a fresh understanding of the love that is being poured over you from a place no human can ever match. It's incredible...and it's free for each one of us.."My chains are gone, I've been set free;
                                                                     My God, My Saviour has ransomed me.
                                                                     And like a flood, His Mercy Reigns;
                                                                     Unending Love...Amazing Grace!" 

Be Blessed :-)



Wednesday, 16 October 2013

When a chromosome makes you question His perfect image!

I've spoken before of my older sister Lisa.
Lisa is 34 years of age, lives in a lovely area of Gloucestershire, cares for and rides a horse weekly, attends college and has her own bedsit flat.
Lisa is also severely mentally handicapped with a syndrome called Smith Magenis - a syndrome caused by a defect in chromosome 17.

When Lisa was first diagnosed with Smith Magenis, it was a very rare syndrome, with approximately 70 known sufferers worldwide. I know that over the last 18 years it has become more well known and research has advanced into it.

Needless to say as a family its been a roller coaster journey learning how to support, care for and help Lisa. We love her unconditionally-and have always pulled together to shower her with that love...but at times it's really hard not having the sister relationship I'd so love.

Lisa has been struggling lately with her emotions and behaviour. She has lost two close friends who she has shared life with for many years, my family unit have moved house-which unsettled her-until we got her home for the weekend and she was able to see the place for herself, my mums on-going health problems scare her
and I think she just realises her life will never be similar to mine-which I understand must feel so hard.

Today I received the results from my parents of a physological assessment Lisa had a week ago due to her behaviour. The results have upset me but also helped us to understand her even more. Basically Lisa has an emotional age of a four year old, the capabilities, insight and understanding of a seven year old, but the desires and interests (music, fashion, the odd malibu) of a late teen.

I know we need time to process this news and then man up, and just continue alongside Lise as we always have...but I have this nagging voice in me...the same one I shared with a friend over a cuppa last week about being made in Gods perfect image...about heaven being full of perfects-no hurt-no illness-no handicaps..???
I think, hand on heart, us mere humans, have a very very long way to go before we can even comprehend what Gods perfect image is. Today I say honestly and humbly...I don't know what that image looks like-society would tell you, nothing about my sister is perfect, nothing about her existence is fair or nice or to be celebrated...Gods word would tell you she is a princess, a daughter of the One true living God who knew her before she was even conceived...that He knew her then, and knows her now!
Stacey would tell you...I'm grieving today, because the one relationship I've always wanted in my life, now feels even further from being how I would want it to be. I've had facts...and facts can hurt.

I love my sister so so much. I'm so proud of her, and I believe she is possibly one of the kindest, funniest and sweet natured people I could want to have in my life.
I refuse to let today's news keep me crushed in spirit. I trust my God...I trust He knows best and I trust that He will ensure Lisa's life isn't in vain...isn't a waste...and this made in His perfect image young lady would understand through it all, her worth, her potential and her value - because she is all three to us <3 p="">

Monday, 14 October 2013

Domesticating God...?

A post or two ago, I shared that I have committed myself to reading through the old testament. I'm pleased to say I have continued on my plight and have just finished reading the book of Leviticus (the third book of Moses) And what a great read it has been.
Whilst some of the rituals and sacrifices spoken of are a little strange to comprehend in my modern day life, I was able to see beyond those and understand the message of Jesus's ultimate sacrifice for us and the instructions of how we should conduct ourselves - from hygiene and moral conduct, to protecting the environment...the pearls of wisdom are genius!

One thing that really stood out to me though, was the number of times "God spoke to...." was written. I think it stood out because recently in another area, I've been challenged on how often we speak, but how little we listen at times....to ourselves, to others, but mainly to God.
Leviticus reminded me God LOVES to speak and when He does, it's because He knows what He's talking about-no wishy washy conversation from this fella I can tell you!
In fact, alongside reading the book of Leviticus and living life-and seeing glimpses of other peoples lives I've come to the conclusion that all too often, we say we love God, we say we know God, but regularly we drown out His commands and plans for us. We DON'T want to be told what to do deep down do we?
As we can with other aspects of life, we insist on domesticating God. We try to tame Him and figure out ways to harness God to our projects. All too often we try to reduce God to a size that conveniently fits our plans, ambitions and tastes....

BUT...because my friend, there is always a but...He doesn't settle for that. In fact another old testament verse springs to mind at this point from Isaiah 55, verse 9: "As the heavens are higher than the earth; so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." {NIV}
The truth is God can't fit into our plans-it's not how He's designed to be-we MUST fit into His-whether we like it or not! We can't use God-He's not a tool or appliance that should meet our every practical need...it's so much more than that. Because the core of living is God, and God is a Holy God, we require much teaching for living in response to God as He is-not as we want Him to be. And the book of Leviticus begins that journey-as we read of ancestors travelling from Eygpt to settle in Canaan-a place where they would be tempted and met by many things that would meet that carnal desire of having what we want when we want it-we see how God is present in every detail of our lives-as He was then too. As He provided a way throughout the book of Leviticus, He provides a way today...

It's a challenge for us all isn't it...to recognise the times we humble ourselves to God-the God we say we love and rely on, and the times we (usually unwittingly) try to domesticate Him to fit in with what we want!
I know there are circumstances in our family life where we want breakthrough-the type of breakthrough that is sweet, brings healing and makes life easier...but today I choose to humble myself to trusting, really fully trusting that Gods plan IS best-that I won't just believe it for others, but for my family unit too, that I will shout it out in worship, seal it in my heart and not spend my days complaining and stressing...just resting...resting in knowing that the same God who delivered Isaac from being sacrificed, the same God who brought the Israelites to the Promise land-is the same God who has filled my life with much goodness...so much goodness...and He doesn't have plans to stop now! The same is true for your life too.
The nature of our Holy God is to bring a Holy joy and a Holy promise...that nothing can break in us when we understand our position with Him. God doesn't reside in a far away land, He makes His habitation in us and among us as believers and says "I am Holy; you be Holy!" Once we grasp this, only then do we appreciate how much He cares! Because He does, He really truly does!

Be Blessed :-)

Friday, 4 October 2013

Write {5 minute Friday}

Five Minute Friday~ Once again, I'm stepping out of the that zone called comfort to link up with the fab Lisa-Jo Baker at http://lisajobaker.com to par-take in the frenzy that is 5 minute Friday.
It's a simple little event really...5 minutes of unedited quick thinking writing related to this weeks prompt, then link it up on Lisa-Jo's page and encourage the person who linked up before you (although I always end up reading many many more posts!) So...this weeks theme is WRITE....

~GO~

I like to read and write...actually scrap that...I LOVE to read and write.
From that first moment as a pre-schooler when I learnt to hold a pencil and scribble my name, a passion was formed. English was always my favourite subject at school - the area I excelled in, always gaining an A* no matter what else was going on in life. As a young child I would play schools in my bedroom-my poor sister was usually the long suffering "pupil" but I'd happily inflict my bossiness on dolls and teddies too.
As an adult, 2 weeks after becoming a mummy for the second time I enrolled to study a BA Hons in English Literature and Language degree and three years later, now a mummy of three with number four on the way, graduated with a 2:1...why? Because I LOVE to read and write.
The knowledge that is gained from exploring books...the lessons that are shared and learnt...the worlds to be explored...the characters to meet...the unconditional love of my Saviour ready to be absorbed through words so loving....
And writing...wow...the endless exciting things we can write! Letters to loved ones who live far away... birthday cards....lists (oh how I love lists)... messages of hellos and little friendly encouragements when times feel tough... and for me, this humble little blog...a space for me to zone out and be who God has called me to be...no pretence...no shame...just me and my heart felt thoughts and ramblings...a safe place where I can write.

I truly believe that music and written word has helped me get through some really tough trials in life. At the times when I've felt lonely, scared and anxious, I've been able to, through listening to a favourite song-whether that be worship or a blast of Bon Jovi and then reading some inspirational scriptures or encouragements that others took the time to write or indeed sitting and writing myself, gain a fresh perspective on my circumstance. It really all is a natural healer at times of angst.
I feel so blessed at this gift....

Why not take the time to write something today...whether it be a little list or an encouragement to a friend...or perhaps a brave blast at 5 minute Friday...why not open your mind to trying something new and seeing what world it opens up for you...
Be Blessed :-)

~STOP~




Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Then Joseph said....

Then Joseph said to his brothers, "I am about to die, but God will surely come to your aid, and take you up out of this land to the land that He promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." 
~ Genesis 50:24 (NIV)

I find it's so easy for me, when finding the time to read my bible (which sadly I don't do as often as I should) to focus my attention on the New Testament. The stories of Jesus and all He fulfilled during His time on earth amaze me, fill me with a peace and hope and I feel humble at His Goodness.
But more often than not, what we need to do is go back to the beginning of an adventure, even if we feel we've heard it many a time and it can't possibly shine a light on circumstance and then we must open our minds to the wonders of our God, and the message being shared!
So, that's what I've been doing. Quietly reading deeply through the book of Genesis-the first book of the bible, found in that cob-webbed section called The Old Testament...and what little gems I'm finding. Last night, the verse above really touched my heart...at first I wasn't sure what it meant or why I couldn't shake it from this active mind of mine, but this afternoon I've had my *light bulb moment* and I think I know, and I want to share it with you too...so sit back and forgive me if this little rambling doesn't stay so little!

Genesis 50:24 follows on from Joseph (yes, the techni-colour dream coat guy) and his family burying their father Jacob. Joseph's brothers - who are famously known for treating him very unkindly throughout time were eager to make peace with their brother - Joseph being the Godly man that he was forgave and reassured them of his love for them by living alongside them for the rest of his days. In verse 24, Joseph recognises that at the ripe age of 110 years, he is dying. He gathers his brothers and informs them he doesn't have long left to live, but that they shouldn't be sad or worry, because God will visit them and fulfil His promise to take them from where they currently were to a better place.
To get a clearer perspective on the situation unravelling, I think it's good to know that Joseph wasn't just a regular guy...Joseph lived a life led by Gods favour...he achieved great things and lived trusting in and depending upon the promises of God. Whilst I'm sure his family would have been saddened at his revelation of his nearing death, I'm pretty certain they were also scared of what was to potentially be of them once Joseph- their human providence in a way- was no longer alive.
But Joseph didn't end his speech with the news of his poor health, he continued and once again re-assured those around him that there was better to come....that God had a way paved for them....that the here and now wasn't the end of their story....

Wow...when I picture the scene, I feel so emotional. When I think of the relevance this verse has in my life...our lives...today, I am once again reminded that there is a God who eases the pain, soars through the suffering, calms the storm and comes to my rescue each day.

The reality is sometimes in life, our "Josephs" die and a whole load of comforts die with them. Just as Egypt was never the same to Israel after Joseph was dead, our worlds too are rocked when certain things come to an end or aren't working out as we would hope. Whether it be the passing of a loved one such in the instance above, or the rejection of a job promotion, a friendship ending, a child coming of age and moving away, continual poor health despite the faithful prayers, financial hardship even though two jobs are being worked...whatever the situation, as with the passing of Joseph in Genesis, the sadness of "death" can be alleviated. As Joseph shared with his brothers that they were promised a visit from God...Jehovah himself....we too can rest assured that His favour is very much alive amongst us today.
Just as He did it then, God today, can and will deliver us to the promise land! He won't sit back and watch us fade in circumstance, He won't let our weary heads droop and not gently lift them back up, He will never allow for his eternal promises to be drowned by fear and lies...

I'd like to say I live my life being a Joseph in every moment of every day...but the truth is I'm not...and I don't think you are either. I think that's okay as we're not designed to be. I have many a moment where I feel as I imagine Joseph's brothers felt upon hearing the words that he was dying...right now, in the middle of this Thursday I'm clinging to this verse, I'm praying its meaning, its value and worth into my life...into the life of my children, my husband and others I hold dear in my heart.
I'm aching at the pain of a relationship not being how it once was...but reminding myself that the God who never changes, never departs or deserts, is here, right now in the midst of it all....waiting to visit me in my rawness and fill me with His love afresh. Because, simply put, that's what He does...all the time!
I'm so grateful. 
Grateful for this day, grateful for His word, grateful for His Greatness, grateful for His Promises!

My prayer for each one of us is that we wouldn't be scared to go back to the beginning of the adventure, that we would know that there is truth just waiting to be absorbed and that unconditional encouragement flows into open hearts.
I pray you, my reader would today see the goodness of our God in your life, that "death" would not leave its sting on your circumstance but instead you would be delivered into your promise land...that you would not lose your focus but would know that you matter...that you are loved...by Him...the One who is love and who made you with a purpose and a vision...

Amen! xxx



Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The love of a sister stands the test!

I've never truly experienced what I imagine to be a "normal" sibling relationship...being the youngest of two children, with my sister having a severe mental handicap has meant the dynamics of our relationship have always been..."different."
Whilst I don't much like the words "normal" and "different" I really hope for the sake of my humble point being made, you can excuse me for including them and open your heart to what I want to say.

My sister is really very special to me and I love her and thank god for her every day, but over the years I've craved having that sister bond I feel I've missed out on.
I have been so blessed to meet a circle of girls who I have had the privilege to share life with...it's a precious thing...letting someone in...revealing yourself...making yourself vulnerable and having them know the full you.
I've been blessed to be able to do that.

But I also know the hurt that comes with realising someone you treasured so deeply in your heart has ditched you. No explanation...no signs of things about to change...just being ignored, pushed out and left feeling like a spare part.
Part of me has naturally felt saddened that someone I thought was in my life for the duration of the race has suddenly had a change of heart...who wouldn't take it like a slap round the face?

But after spending time reflecting on who I am in Gods image, tonight I feel at peace that like all seasons, some friendships naturally must come to an end...no matter how sad it feels. It's not my burden to carry...He loves me, He protects me, He puts the right people around me...
And I've come to realise that whilst her handicap may have made our relationship "different" my real sister...well she loves me so so much and yes, granted whilst I can't share the depths of my hearts worries and desires with her, I know she'll always be there...rooting for me...standing the test of time.
Sometimes I wish Lisa wasn't handicapped....sometimes it feels so cruel. They are the times my friends fill the gap in more ways than they could realise.
The ones who matter and won't walk away unannounced.
I'm grateful for you all xxx



Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Today I recognised....

Today I recognised something about myself.
Today I recognised that I have in fact spent way too many days of my life feeling insecure about myself.
Today I recognised that despite being confident in my abilities in ministry, as a mother, wife, friend and daughter...that when all those attributes are stripped away and it comes to me...just me...that for too long I haven't really embraced what's left.

Today I recognised that in too many moments I have allowed that little nagging voice to stop me from experiencing new things...friendships...hobbies...ministry opportunities.
Today I recognised that I have grieved mistakes from my past, and carried them for too long.
Today I recognised that I have at many a times let that little nagging voice whisper to me what I believe others think...not taken time to find out for myself or think the best of people...but instead tell myself that they must think bad of me for this reason or that...

Today I recognised that when I step out in Faith and with a sense of Godly boldness, I quieten that little nagging voice and live out Truth in all its Glory.
Today I had a lovely afternoon with a girlie I have wanted to have a cuppa with for a while...but had been too nervous to ask because "why would she want to spend time with me?"
Today as we chatted and shared tales of motherhood, dreams and dado rails (yes really!), I recognised that I don't want to be held back in invisible chains in any area of my life...I recognised afresh, the sacrifice Jesus made all those years ago, to ensure I didn't waste this gift He has given me...that I would stand tall in His Love and Grace over me...and know deep in my heart that they are enough to sail me through each day....whoever and whatever I face.

Today I recognised, I am enough....

Today was a good day! :-)

Friday, 6 September 2013

Red {5 minute Friday}

Today I choose to link up at lisajobaker.com for five minute Friday. A time to write for 5 minutes unedited on the 
chosen theme! This weeks theme is RED...here goes!!!


 He looked up at me with his huge, five year old, brown teary eyes..hand at an angle not usual for bones so fragile.
A visit to minor injuries, an X-ray and the consultants words confirmed that whilst at football camp, 
my little boy had indeed suffered a broken wrist.
For a few days he had to wear a temporary cast to protect the injury and allow swelling to go down, 
and then excitement despite the cause...on return to the hospital, he was able to chose
a full cast that would mend his little bones, in any colour he wished for...

My boy...being the football crazy little hobbit he is, chose red...a beautiful, bright red to represent his favourite football team. And he rocked that little red cast, he really did. And we grew to accept it, work around it ~ especially at bath times when we weren't able to get it wet.
Today, after four weeks of being in cast, little man had it removed.
Delight as his skinny little arm was revealed, and the words "your wrist is healed" were spoken. Laughter as he told the consultant, he had found the whole experience "great!"
Contentment and words of thanks murmured by this relieved mummy to the One who made it possible.

We decided to keep the red cast...memory boxes are made for such life treasures in my opinion. And as I laid it in my boys box this evening, it dawned on me that my whole life I have associated the colour red with danger...with stopping in order to avoid collision...that red has never been a colour I particularly like....yet it has a deep significance in my life when it comes to my faith and my belief that Jesus shed His blood for me on the cross.
Just as the little red cast healed my baby's bones, Jesus's blood healed me...rescued me and delivered me from a life that just wasn't nice. I have experienced feeling emotioanlly, like my little mans wrist...set back in place, yet weak from the ordeal...but in time strength comes...in time, confidence grows....in time, the trauma lessens, the memories fade and a thankful soul presses through.
Just as a bone doesn't have to stay broken in a world where medics can plaster it and fix it....a life needn't be lived in confusion, hurt, desperation and despair when a saviour came to bring us unconditional love, peace, happiness and rest. 
It's here for the taking...for every single one of us....we need simply open our hearts and minds and let Him in...


Friday, 9 August 2013

Lonely {5 minute Friday}

Today, I once again take the plunge and link up with Lisa-Jo Baker for 5 minute Friday.
An opportunity to write unedited for five minutes on a theme for the week. This weeks theme is Lonely... okay here goes!


When I saw the prompt title for this week, the first thoughts to go through my mind were those of trying to think of times I've felt lonely...to be honest this thinking led to me feeling abit confused, and so I decided to look up the full dictionary meaning of the word...this is what Onlinedictionary.com says... Lonely: Without companions; Unhappy as a result of being without companionship.

I felt confused because I'm married to a wonderful guy, have a very busy house with five beautiful children filling the air with melodies of squabbles, laughter, questions galore and play a plenty, I serve in ministry with a great church family, have loving parents who we see regularly, I have a huge number of acquaintances who help to make life interesting and am blessed with the sweetest circle of close friends who I love as sisters - we make the utmost effort to share life together ~ days with our babes in parks, evenings sharing tales of family life over a chilled glass of vino....or in pjs with tea and toast...whatever the occasion or setting, I have many companions in my life...

.......yet......
Today I realised I have often felt lonely!

I had a little cry if I'm fully honest. I cried because it dawned on me, the times I've felt lonely, are the times when I have distanced my heart and mind from God. I cried because in that instance I felt a conviction of having let circumstance overwhelm me and feeling lonely because no matter how good and honest and willing a persons actions are to help us, the truth is only the peace of God can fill the hole of companionship in messy, upsetting circumstance.
I never feel lonely in happy, easy, fun times....I feel lonely when the going gets tough and life feels daunting. God never shifts His presence, focus and love in either times...but us humans...well we do, don't we...maybe not all the time...but certainly a hefty percentage of the time. We question, we doubt, we pull away from people, and usually, lastly, we try so hard to cling on to biblical truths we've learnt over the years...but really all we need to do is first look up to our Heavenly Father...our eternal companion and rest in His friendship...His love...His promises of Goodness, Fulfillment, Hope, and know that He's always with us...

I want to hold onto this little revelation every second of every day...I want others to know the truth that life needn't feel lonely - and that lonely doesn't just mean a lack of human relationships...that lonely runs so much deeper into our souls...that lonely is, in my lightbulb moment 'a distance from God' It's the absence of His beautiful presence....a presence that can take you into a crowded room of strangers and be your confidence, a presence that can carry you through poor health, financial difficulties, trials of parenthood, marriage problems, and career struggles with a determination of hope, dignity, strength and positivity. 

I'm so grateful for Him....my eternal companion....I need not feel lonely!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

A Letter to the one who noticed {Letters to}

To....
 My Knight in Shining Armour,

          From a really young age I loved fairy tales. Stories of Disney princesses hounded by nasty step mothers and evil witches.... Beautiful princesses locked up in towers, treated like dirt... suffering at the hands of the not very nice one....until one day, there He is....her knight in shining armour...her Prince Charming...ready to save the day and whisk her away for a life of Happily Ever After....
As a little girl, I imagined myself as that beautiful princess...but often asked myself "who would notice me?"
As it turns out, in my early teenage years quite a few people did notice me...well atleast the rebellious, crying out for attention me... sadly, their intentions weren't to bring me happiness, love me and care for me...they were drawn to the rebellion, the naiviety, the longing to be noticed....
I suddenly found myself living a young life of feeling vulnerable and scared.

Until....one day, there you were!

I'm not totally sure who made the move to speak first...but I do remember your huge smile...the gap in your two front teeth...that you were cheeky and kind all rolled into one. I do remember that you asked me questions about me, you made sure I got home safely when we realised we lived close to me another. And I remember that you continued to build relationship with me, and my "mess" didn't scare you. My "mess" gave you the confidence to tell me about a love unconditional...a Saviour who died for me...a Father who adored me....that there was another way....a way out of being "locked up" in negativity and fear....you showed me Jesus....and you helped rescue me from the not so nice one.

That was 16 years ago now, and here we are today, married for nearly 11 of those years, with five beautiful children and a new story to tell....our story...some fun chapters, some sad chapters, some hilarious chapters and some yet to be written chapters.... but I want you to know that you will always be my Knight in shining armour....that without you noticing the real me....my life could have been so so different. We both know that!
This letter is a public declaration to say that you, my beautiful husband, made my personal princess fairy tale spring to life...and I love you so much! Thank you for noticing me, thank you for sticking with me, thank you for being you....here's to our Happily Ever After.....Amen!

Love Always
Sweetie xxx



















Today, I'm being brave and linking up with the lovely Sabrina at http://sabrinafowles.blogspot.co.uk on the topic of "Letter to the one who noticed!"

Monday, 29 July 2013

Shell....

This post has the potential to become a random ramble!
I just wanted to throw that in there from the start okay! I know I've been stirred to share a message laid on my heart...but I'm not quite sure of its direction as I type letters into the formation of words that will become the sentences you read...but hey, spontaneity is always good in small doses right...so here goes!

So, most people are aware we are in the process of selling our current home and buying a bigger house in a new area. It has been a prayer point for a few years now, with the reality of it all happening just kind of overwhelming us in awe. I don't quite know why I'm so emotional about our time finally coming to move on and upwards as they say...I mean, when you pray for something, you should know it will happen right...? But I sit here today so thankful and humbled at His goodness over us. I'm always so surprised God would want to do anything good for me if I'm truly honest.

But He does, and here we are almost ready to exchange contracts in our moving process.

This has seen me de-clutter and sort through ALOT of "stuff!" Quite abit of stuff we've got rid of - whether it be to the rubbish dump, chairty shops, friends or others who could benefit from it, some stuff we've laughed at through memories of young love, dodgy haircuts, fun days out, naughty romantic gestures and scribbles that represent our children growing up and learning how to draw and write - these bits are to be treasured of course....and then there's the stuff that will be kept and used straight out in our new home. The stuff that will be kept, now rests wrapped neatly in boxes...boxes now brown taped together, stacked against walls.
My home of ten years, will very soon belong to someone else. And the process of slowly detaching myself from it has begun.
But it is hard...despite the fact that no ornaments or photos adorn our shelves and walls, that no plants blossom on the window sills and no CDs or DVDs rest in their now broken, ready to be dumped racks....this place has my heart. I look around at the bare-ness, and it still feels like home. One thing I had to ensure I kept out, are my two big vases, which still stand - one on the living room mantle piece and the other in the kitchen window filled with pretty flowers. Flowers make me smile, they make my heart swell and my mood brighten.

I am coming to realise that in this life on earth, many things are just shells. A house is just a shell...a shell we fill with "stuff" to make it personalised, more comfortable and liveable. But if you were to come to my home today, in all its bareness, I feel secure in saying we'd have a nice time...I'd make a fresh pot of tea, and we'd snuggle each in our own chair and chat the time away.
If my kids happen to be here, they'd fill the air with laughter, play and squabbles. I think you'd leave having felt at home despite the bareness.

Because its not the stuff that makes a home a home...it's the life happening within it. And my friends, there's a whole lot of life in these walls. Including the presence of an amazing God who fills the atmosphere with His spirit.
The same can be said of us right?! It's not what you see on the outside that makes me a fixture in your life...it's from knowing the true inner Stacey that you want me as a friend I think....I know that if you're here, having tea, that's what I like about you....the INNER you! The part of you that makes you, you! The rest is just a shell...a shell that needs to be cared for, well looked after for sure....but it doesn't contribute to your soul...the you who goes out of your way to share an encouragement, a kind word, a gesture that someone else has missed....YOU! The you that Jesus wants as friend too. The you that God so loves, more than you can ever fathom.

Please don't hide behind your shell. Please don't let your shell determine how much life there is around you. Please don't make your shell fake so the real you can't shine out. Please let your shell just be a thin layer of who and what you are and have to share with those in your life.

So, for now...My family and I are living in our home of a decade....with boxes around us full of our stuff. Stuff that makes life nicer, but doesn't bring life into our walls. And whilst I know, once we are in our new house...this stuff will help us to settle in and make it our own....I have a security in my heart that with God leading the way, and seven Omokaros running wild....life will be there...life will settle us and our new shell will soon become home.

Be Blessed :-)

Oh....and sorry for the random rambling!!!

Friday, 19 July 2013

Belong {5 minute Friday}

It's Friday, which means it's the day to link up with Lisa-Jo Baker for this weeks five minute Friday. The rules are five minutes of un-edited writing relating to this weeks theme - Belong....and to write a message of encouragement to the person who linked up before me.
Sound easy? Hmmmm, more of a challenge really, but one I'm ready to take again! So here goes...

Belong: To fit into a group naturally; to be properly or suitably placed.
(Onlinedictionary.com)

For along time, I so wanted to belong.
Quietly watching...them....all with their talents, their 2.4 children, happy bank accounts and cars that proved it. Perfect little lives where they picked carefully who they allowed in their circles.

"Not good enough...they look down on you....you just don't belong Stacey" the thoughts raged through my mind.

Trying so hard to be like them, at times I felt like a duck franctically kicking its feet under water.

Then...then an encounter with Him...truth over lies...present over perfect...realising my worth was placed in much higher places...understanding that the real me did belong....exactly where He placed me. Not in a place where I had to apologise for being in a mixed race marriage, feel ashamed of being a mummy of five beautiful children, feel insecure that my size 16 body didn't match their ideas of perfect, worry that my humble home and practical car weren't enough.
But instead a place of peace. A place of kindness, love, true friendship, compassion, wisdom and acceptance.

Because the truth...the deep, deep truth is this....if you have to work hard at trying to belong, then my friend...you're not in the right place. To belong, is to, as online dictionary.com tells us; to fit into a group naturally. No hiding, no trying, just being....that's what it feels to belong.

I'm so grateful God met with me at a new level during the 2012 women's REAL conference at our home church. This is where my encounter took place...and my life hasn't been the same since. It's been better on so many levels, and breakthrough in many areas has happened for our family, in my ministry life and especially in my friendships.

I've realised no-one has a perfect life, whatever car they drive or number of children they have. That my thoughts weren't necessarily in line with how others felt about me, that perhaps my thinkings spoke more about my insecurities as opposed to what people thought and how their lives really were.
But, I've also understood that us humans are a race continually striving to be better...appear perfect...belong in the crowd, at whatever cost. But I don't want that...I became tired of that a long time ago, and today I embrace knowing that with my Jesus by my side, I do belong...and I always have!

Be Blessed :-)

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Weeping willow...

Weeping willow, I hear your tears;
Weeping willow, I understand your fears.

Weeping willow, your grief is so raw;
Weeping willow, you question, what has it all been for?

Weeping willow, I see hurt in your eyes, but;
Weeping willow, I promise, tomorrow, the sun shall rise.

Weeping willow, this here season, feels so tough, yet;
Weeping willow, I want to encourage you of an unconditional love.

Weeping willow, He can be your comfort and strength;
Weeping willow, to ensure that, He went to a great length;
He knows your destiny, it's in His hands;
Oh, weeping willow, My prayer for you, is you would see His footprints in the sands.

Weeping willow, this time, here and now, it too shall pass;
A life spent with Him in eternity, that too shall last.

Weeping willow, raise your tired, weary head;
Weeping willow, embrace a peace so calming, you feel able instead.

Lord Jesus, we seek you;
We keep you at the forefront of our pain;
I thank you with all my heart and soul;
That you died for us, but not in vain.

You comfort, you strengthen, you ease our tear;
Envelop my dear weeping willow friend;
Make your presence continually felt near.

Weeping willow, I tell you, your burden can be light;
For the battle is won, Jeus took up that fight.

We love you, weeping willow, But He loves you more;
Stop being so frightened, take that step now, and open the door.

Lord Jesus, we thank you, we choose to stand tall;
For this time here and now...you won't let weeping willow fall!





Friday, 5 July 2013

Beautiful {5 minute Friday}

It's Friday...and my second week of having the courage to attempt a five minute Friday through the lovely Lisa-Jo Baker.
The rules...five minutes of unedited writing...link it up....encourage the person who linked up before you and hey presto...you're done!
So...five minutes...the theme is beautiful...here goes:



She longed for beautiful from a young age;
Perfect hair, flawless skin, body older than her tender years.

She sought affection and the "you are beautiful" from all the wrong people;
Compromised her happiness and purity to find false acceptance.

She wore make-up heavy, daring clothes, the pretence of fake beauty to hide the truth;
Eating disorder, cigarettes and cheap alcohol...numbing and damaging.

Until that day...the day darkness was over-ruled by the light;
The day the One and Only Beautiful entered her life.

Stripped bare of all false-ness, introduced to her saviour at the tender age of 16;
Biblical truth detailing her true beauty.

A life changed...a life worth living, celebrating...a beautiful so real;
She....she was me! And today, years further in... I know the truth.

I am beautiful...I am!
Not because of what I wear;
Not because of what people say;
Not because of what I do...
But because of Him...beautiful Jesus....who lives in me!
My God, My healer, My deliverer, My refuge.

Eternally humbled, eternally grateful, eternally beautiful <3 br="">

Saturday, 29 June 2013

In-between {5 minute Friday}

Arghhhhh, so this is my first time at taking a stab at the 5 minute Friday writing frenzy!
Tad nervous but ready for the challenge...so.....here goes!

In-between! I think I, and you reader, are constantly living in the in-between.
In-between dress sizes, in-between meals, in-between school drop off and pick up, in-between jobs, in-between appointments at the hospital for that next transfusion, in-between friendships, in-between with the children...when they're not yet a teenager, but no longer a baby, in-between moments of pure joy in our marriages and moments of staleness, in-between church meetings.....in-between.

The in-between stage really used to bug me to be honest. I admit patience has never much been my gifting....when I want something, whether that's done or bought or cleaned or erased, I want it done now...no time for delaying, no time for the in-between....
Until now! This season of life sees us selling our current home and buying a new one....it's a lonnnnnng process, not one that can be completed in the click of my fingers, not a process I can speed up....a process that has many in-between stages. Usually I would be tearing my hair out waiting, stressing over the "what-ifs" and "not yet done," but I made a decision from the start to trust God, to seek His wisdom, patience and gratitude each day and focus on what He can teach me in the in-between.
Because He can teach us much in the in-between stages. If only we could shift our perspective and stand rooted in what Joshua 1:9 tells us about God being with us at all times. He stands before us in every circumstance. He never leaves us. He never wastes the in-between times.

Love, Peace, Patience, Gratitude, Faithfulness, Friendship, Hope, Joy, Answer to prayer....these are all the things I've experienced so far in this particular in-between stage. Had my perspective and focus been self absorbed, I think I would have missed out on good things....so lets embrace the in-between stages....even when they feel hairy scary! Because God never starts something He doesn't have plans to finish...God does the in-between stage well, and we can too when we know the outcome is in His hands :-)

Be Blessed x






Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Second chance.....


                                          

I saw the above question on a social media website this morning, and for reasons initially unknown it really touched me and got me thinking.
"Stacey, do you ever wish you had a second chance to meet someone again for the first time?" 
My initial thoughts were about people...my husband-the first time we ever met was in HMV on Bond Street in London...a random encounter that 16 years later sees us married with five hobbits children and living a manic nice little life together....my friends-various different stories of connecting over joint hobbies, having children the same or similar ages, school events, church ministries and so on...my parents-I can't recall our first meeting...they hopefully can! A parent, child relationship that has seen us share tears and laughter over the decades....my children-I can definitely remember meeting each of them for the first time- of course I had scans in my pregnancies and got to see their alien developing features-but NOTHING beats actually physically meeting and holding, smelling, cuddling you baby for that very first time. Yes, in some of these cases, I do sometimes wish I could experience that first encounter all over again. Why? Well because life sometimes sucks the excitement and wonder out of relationships. Not that you stop loving, or liking someone necessarily, but dynamics in relationships change over the years....routine sets in, schedules clash, people move on, people don't move on... but you do, seasons come...seasons go....Except for one!
There's another being I've had the pleasure of meeting for the first time, and that is Jesus.
Unlike my earthly relationships and first meetings, this wasn't at school, in HMV, a delivery suite or church. This was sitting on the edge of Roberts sofa when I was 16 years of age. Feeling vulnerable, scared, abused and lost by circumstances that I now know weren't my fault, this gorgeous young guy who liked me and cared for me, led me in prayer to have my first meeting with Jesus. It was emotional, it was peaceful, it was....perfect.
I think the reason I felt emotional when reading the above "quote/question" was because I knew straight away that I've been so blessed to have had many second chances in my life, especially my Christian life. So many times I've messed up, so many times I've slipped up, so many times I've wanted to give up and run and hide behind a very big tree! There's only one thing that's brought me through these times....continues to bring me through these times, and that's the love of God...that knowing that despite first accepting Him into my heart at 16, He already had a hold of me...He'd already had His first meeting with me, long before I knew it....and that today....I have a second chance with Him over and over again. 

Just last Sunday at a worship event, I sobbed my way through 3 hours of songs...and felt a renewed connection in my heart and spirit. Another second chance at "first meeting" with my loving saviour.

Maybe today, this question: Do you ever wish you had a second chance to meet someone again for the first time? - stirs up emotions in your heart. Perhaps you feel like you've continually messed up and "blown it?" I'd love to encourage you, that like me, you haven't. No big fireworks, no grand gesture from normal, old me...just two simple words....YOU HAVEN'T! In Gods Kingdom, when our hearts fully seek Him, there are many second chances...it's called Grace... Grace:the free and unmerited favour of God shown towards man! I'm so thankful for it, I'm so thankful for Him...the only One I get to encounter, sometimes in a refreshingly new...meeting or atleast understanding for the first time....kind of way. It makes this life so much sweeter!

Be Blessed :-)





Monday, 10 June 2013

Difficult times....

Psalm 42:5   "Why, my soul, are you downcast?
                     Why so disturbed within me?
                     Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God."


This may come as a slight shock to some readers, and may not be the news you want to hear on this early Monday evening in June - but living a Christian life does not mean you won't experience and live through challenging, difficult times! In fact, I'm quite confident in saying, the "harder" a person presses into Jesus, the "harder" the challenges!
No-one goes out seeking tough times, but ready or not, here they come. They find us...they rock our "comfortable" little existences....they make us vulnerable.

Lets be honest here, who do you know who hasn't experienced a deep disappointment, the loss of a loved one, a testing season with a child, been let down by a good friend, financial difficulties, career worries, poor health, a relationship break down, marriage stresses...and the list goes on?

A man after Gods own heart, David knew his fair share of difficult times. He often wrote openly about them in the Psalms. But David also knew that God never wastes our time, God never allows for a situation or circumstance to hurt us to a point where we can't - with His help - overcome it. David knew that God uses every circumstance to build us, grow us, develop us, and use us for greater things!

I don't necessarily know your circumstance today, but I want to encourage you that God does...I also want to encourage you that I have my share of testing situations at present, and would say this: We can choose to let them define us, break us, stop us and defeat us....or we can choose to join David in his prayer...and even if our soul is "downcast," even if our soul is "disturbed" whisper these simple words:
"Oh, my God, my hope is in You. Oh, my God, I will Praise You!"

When we make this our perspective, I believe He can and will ignite our hearts and bring us through!

Be Blessed :-) .....and remember:




Friday, 31 May 2013

"God.....are you there?"

A question I find circumstance leads me to ask often is "God, are you there?"

~ When my health takes a nosedive ~ "God, are you there?"
~ When one of my children has a tough day at school ~ "God, are you there?"
~ When my husband has to work yet another weekend, meaning it's me and the children doing it
    'alone' ~ "God, are you there?"
~ When my mum has her umpteenth hospital appointment because once again this medicine isn't
    working well ~ "God, are you there?"
~ When the house we thought was going to be ours, sells to another family ~ "God, are you there?"
~ When relationships go through stale patches ~ "God, are you there?"
~ When I feel insecure, scared, let down, sad, tired, useless, overwhelmed ~ "God, are you there?"

And when I often find myself asking this question, I scurry like a squirrel to seek out the scripture or song or message that will give me the answer I so need...
Today, I needed to have time to scurry....to search....to find my answer....and thankfully I did.

In the form of this scripture:- Deuteronomy 31:8 "The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you, nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."


Today, I had it once again confirmed in my heart, that God isn't just 'there,' God is very much 'here!'

Nothing in this life is guaranteed, except one thing...God is always with us, and when we understand who He is and what He has already done for us through His precious son Jesus Christ, our doubts disappear!

No matter what my day throws at me....whether I live in "that house" or the next....no matter if I'm the subject of a gossipy conversation....who cares if my derrière doesn't squeeze into those size 12's as yet....regardless of what the blood results look like on paper....my Jesus conquered it all on the cross...and He didn't do all that lightly and half heartedly....He done it my friend, so that I...you...we would grasp the love that God has for us and live a life of not scurrying....but resting....resting in the beautiful truths that reign over our existences.

Oh Lord God....I barely have had time to process today...let alone consider what tomorrow looks like...but your word tells me not to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34) and so I won't...I choose right now to rest in knowing you are there already...moulding it into what you want it to look like for me....but more importantly I choose to rest in knowing that you are here in this very moment and you don't have any agenda other than to wrap me in your warm embrace and be the answer to my, asked probably too often question!

Psalm 145:18 "The Lord is near to all who call on Him; to all who call on Him in truth!"

Be blessed :-)








Thursday, 16 May 2013

Woman to woman....Friend to friend!

I haven't wrote a post in my blog for a few weeks now...granted its been a very busy few weeks for me...a time where God has changed a few things around in my life...all for the good may I add...but this has meant I haven't really tuned in to writing about anything. My style is to write when I feel prompted to, so I've rested in knowing when the time is right, words will come....I think I have a few words to spill today.....

I think I may have spoken about friendship and the roles we as woman can play in other females lives before in my blog. It's something close to my heart as I have had the privilege to mentor and be-friend some beautiful 'sisters' this last few years....but too have been nurtured and loved by some amazingly wise and caring ladies who have given their time to see me flourish.
One thing I have definitely learnt though is that a mentoring relationship is very different to that of a friendship relationship. Before anyone corrects me in pointing out that a mentor can indeed and surely is a type of friend...the direction I'm coming from is that a mentoring relationship has a specific purpose...one person being available to teach, share, (if  you do..) pray with and listen to someone who needs that guidance.
A true, "I've chosen you as my friend to do life with" friendship is quite different. Both people (should) do all the above, but at the same time emotions become more involved....vulnerability is there, on the table...dreams, aspirations, fall outs, children, partners meeting, nights outs, shopping trips, failures, all shared....but with no other reason than this person has chosen you to open up themselves too.

I myself have been hurt in what I thought were solid friendships....it's very hard to move forward when you have been betrayed and in a way dumped by someone you allowed the privilege of knowing your heart to.
I feel it's safe to say we live in a world where women are still viewed as the second class citizen in many situations. And for that reason alone, I really struggle with understanding why some women, instead of uniting and supporting one another, feel it's okay to belittle, betray, gossip about and humiliate their fellow 'sisters!'
Because, that's how we should view each other...in a world where women are violated, stopped from furthering their education, hindered from fulfilling their dreams, ignored, humiliated, bitched about, made to feel insecure by media and false representations of what we should be...we, us everyday girls should be uniting in uplifting the females around us.
And please, don't think here this means I'm stating that I love everyone, I get on with everyone, I'm best friends with everyone, I go for coffee dates with every woman I encounter....because I don't. Mainly because this would be quite difficult to do time wise, but also because I believe God puts the people we should invest time in, into our lives and gives us wisdom in the role we play.....I know God has given me the gift of being relational...being available to listen, encourage and stand along side other women. I try my best to be kind, generous and caring to all the people I meet....but of course I don't gel with everyone.....but how I handle this determines how my heart continues to grow towards others. Do I go out of my way to gossip about, or be nasty to people I don't really consider friends? No...why would I? Do I try and stop them from being all that God has called them to be and discourage them...No....why would I?

I don't really know why these words have spilled....I don't know who they are meant to speak to....but I do know I want to encourage you...and myself...here in this moment, that we have a vital role to play in the lives of those around us. Woman to woman...friend to friend....I yearn for a community of strong, kind, loving and nurturing women. I spent 3 days at a woman's conference recently. Thousands of women together...praying together, worshiping together, crying together, hoping together....I so wanted to stay in that bubble of an environment....but I grasped it with both hands, held onto it, and made the decision I would bring it back home with me...in me...to share...
Lets not be known for being the person to shatter another girls dreams because we're jealous...insecure that it means we won't progress on our journey...girls, that's a lie....no one can hinder the route your on....except yourself..! Lets not be known as the woman who isn't generous, doesn't speak kindly of others....lets be the ones to make a change in a world that wants us fail one another.
Be kind.....Smile....Slow to judge, quick to say hello.... Encourage-even at the times when we need encouragement ourselves....if you use social media, be inviting in your posts.....be real of course.... but don't say one thing and do another.....don't seclude people because they don't fit your idea of perfect....
Just try and be the very nice you that you can be....and that means me too Stacey Omokaro!

Be Blessed....and enjoy being and having lovely friends! Friends really do make the world go round :)

Thursday, 18 April 2013

The stranger on the pitch!

Today's been a normal kind of day...nothing dramatic to report other than an episode of projectile vomiting from son number 2.... nothing overly exciting to share asides from the fact I lost 2lbs this week.....but for me, there was one moment that really stood out. A moment that re-confirmed to me that we are doing okay...that God is answering prayers of a mother & father just trying to do their best...and that it's all worth it....

Thursdays are now the start of 6-7pm seeing us at Westmorland Park for an hours footie training. This was our second week as our eldest son Joshua spends time training to make an U10's team in the upcoming new season. It's an exciting time for him, and I've got my head around the fact that on Thursdays like today when the hubby is working a late shift, it's me and the five little ones doing the footie routine.
Thankfully this evening has been gorgeous weather so whilst Josh was training, sons number 1 and 2 played together in another area of the pitch with a ball and son number 4 and little fairy princess  were with myself in the lovely park there, running around. Towards the end of the hour we all regrouped to watch Josh and the other team members play a mini match. It was a lovely hour together...fresh air, lots of space and content mummy and kids.

At the end of the session the coach for that team came to speak with me, and said how great Josh was, and that he wants to snap him up for the team, but needs to see if the other U10's team Josh was with in week 1 want him...great news for my boy....wish you could've sent he huge beam on his face!

Then as we walked back to the car another mum joined me in step.

"Hi, I'm Laura, ****'s mum. I just wanted to say I also have five children...and like you have four boys and then a little girl. All similar ages too by the looks of it. I just want you to know that despite not knowing you as yet...but I hope I do get to know you more...that you are amazing. I've watched you and your children for the last 20minutes or so, and I am in awe. And I want you to know that I get it...it being the time, planning, energy, and faith it takes to raise five children. Keep doing what you're doing, it's so worth it, and you're a brilliant mum!"

I was surprised to have felt so emotional at her words, but there at 7.10pm in a now slightly chillier field, I could have hugged this stranger for totally making my day....she did get it...she really did...and by her getting it, I was made to realise yet again that having my five beautiful little hobbits is nothing but pure Godly genius...it's okay...it's happening...it's working...it's going to lead to an amazing future for each one of us! The tiredness, the constant whirlwind of activities, chores, homeworks, illness, birthdays, squabbles, noise levels, and privacy invasions (think, trying to have a wee in peace!) are all worth it...and there in that small moment, God used a stranger who I really hope I do get to see again, to speak His confirming words into my heart!

It doesn't take much to encourage someone.
It doesn't take much to be kind.
It doesn't take much to let another person know that you "get it!" Whatever that "it" may be!

I'm feeling so thankful tonight.
I'm sitting here now with a hot cuppa and soon will have my dinner whilst my five tired children are asleep/drifting off to sleep in their beds.

Quietness surrounds me...I feel at peace...not for any other reason than I know God has this family firmly in His hands. I don't know what my day holds tomorrow, what my family's futures look like...but right now, in this here moment...all is good! Thank you Jesus...and thank you Laura, the other brave mummy of five who made this girlie feel fabulous after a pretty normal day :-)



Friday, 5 April 2013

Opening doors..

May 2004... 22 years of age, married for 2 years, mummy of a 16month old, half way through my pregnancy with baby number two.
We had just moved to Bracknell and had the scary job of joining a new church...despite asking Jesus into my life at the young age of 16, my journey as a Christian really began after the birth of our eldest son, so I was quite new in my faith, believe it or not, a little shy around new people and very overwhelmed and in awe when we walked into Bracknell Family Church and it was like no other church I'd been to.

We became members after a few months of attendance, impressed by what we experienced and eager to see our family grow amongst other local Christian families....but the feeling of being overwhelmed didn't leave me for a while. My desire was for God to use me....use me for His purpose....use me in the life of others....use me to glorify His name....but my insecurities and past hounded me like a  flea.
"God won't ever use me here," I remember saying to my husband..."I'm not as good as these people!"

Robert has always been my biggest re-assurer and he didn't fail me that day, encouraging me to rest in knowing when the time was right, God would open the right doors for me....it wasn't about being as good as others, it was about His giftings in me, His love for me and His plan for me.
"Stace, just appreciate the small platform He gives you...and watch it expand as you stay obedient and humble in your serving!" Wise words Robo!

Shortly after, I joined the parent and toddler group and slowly gained the confidence in volunteering myself for little jobs...a year later I gained the confidence to sign up and volunteer to serve in the 5-11's age group of children's ministry and a little while after that I joined the core team for the toddler group. Never over trying, just resting in what God could and would do.
Another year later, my husband and I became course leaders for a ministry called Freedom in Christ...something we still have the privilege of leading 6 years down the line...

Over the years I have been so blessed to gain many many amazing friends in my church family. We have a few more children in our family now (five in total).... The youngest four all born into what is now known as the Kerith Centre, all five had their thanksgiving services at our church and our eldest two sons (now 8 and 10) have both been baptised there...as were both Robert and I!
I feel like we have grown in so many ways during our time at Kerith...as individuals, as a family, as followers of Jesus, in our ministry lives....

And every day I am humbled that God has taken that shy, vulnerable 22 year old and established her through His love and grace into a semi confident 31 year old wife, mother, friend, daughter, leader and encourager to others....I have a lot to learn, a lot to experience and a lot to be developed further in me, but I embrace where I am now...think back to 9 years ago and smile with extreme gratitude.

And the doors just keep opening....just this past week I have accepted stepping up into a brand new role within church that will develop our children's ministry further, and take it to the next level of where God wants it to be. I am humbled...excited...emotional...expectant...buzzing with what is in store. Moving onto and into the next phase of leadership in my ministry world...serving God, children and their families more head on...I know the enemy will come and try to do his stuff to bring us down, but I'm ready for the battle and drawing closer to God each day...

I don't share this post to be boastful or proud!
I share this post because every day I get emotional at the fact God does want to use me in His Kingdom.... I never take it for granted that God has made me who I am today, that through Jesus I am made new, that He knows everything about me and that hasn't scared Him off...
God feels this way about you too. 

Don't let the lie rest that God doesn't have a plan for you. 
Don't believe the voice that tells you you're not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough or worthy enough of making a difference...
God takes the messy and broken and makes it alive and fresh in a way only He wants to use it.
He's a wise old cracker and never gives up on us...He continues to mould us, grow us, develop us and love us every day...even if we don't realise it at the time.

So today...appreciate your platform....rest in God opening the right doors at the right time...and just stay being obedient to Him in the small ways you can.

I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I do know that I'm eager to live it, taste it and experience it...appreciating the gift of this life...however tiring it feels at times....thankful for His grace and mercy in me....plain old me....what an amazing God!

Be Blessed :-)

Monday, 1 April 2013

In-betweener!

Easter weekend...commonly a time of fun, chocolate, celebrations and family...and us Omokaros have had all of the above in abundance this past few days!

But one thing that's really stood out to me and has got me thinking this weekend is Easter Saturday.

Good Friday, as we concentrated on what Jesus done for each one of us on the cross, we felt humbled... thankful... in awe... emotional as we meditated on the physical, emotional and spiritual suffering Jesus endured...

Easter Sunday, we had such a lovely day with family, praising and thanking God that Jesus rose and accomplished His plan. That love and truth prevailed...that Jesus's sacrifice on the cross wasn't in vain, that His suffering had now ended and the perfect plan had unravelled....

And in the middle of all this we had Easter Saturday....hmmmm....the in-between day. Well speaking of this weekend, we had a great day...we met with friends...visited Windsor with family....we were secure in the celebrations of the season and having quality time together....

BUT.....

Rewind two thousand years ago...what did this Saturday look like?
Probably quite messy to be honest. A day of great sadness and grieving for many.... accusations.... hate.... unrest.... impatience.... hurt.... regret.... doubt....
The in-between day...

Fast forward back to life today, and I wonder how many of us are living very much in the in-between stage...possibly over the initial grief of circumstance....not yet in a time of jubilee....but unsettled in not knowing the exact next move!
It's a lonely place to be in...heavy hearted by the situation, waiting for the miracle to come, hoping for more than we can see before us...allowing ourselves to be suffocated by the day in-between....

It needn't be my friends....

What if the day in-between has a deeper purpose....what if the day in-between now becomes the day of PREPARATION!

Easter Saturday......the day God was engineering a re-surrection....
Our day in-between....our Easter Saturday....the days God was/is engineering a miraculous breakthrough in our lives, preparing us for something better...grooming us to handle the next level of goodness and responsibility...wanting us to trust in Him and change our perspective...

If we can do it over the Easter weekend when it comes to believing the amazing story of Jesus giving Himself for us on the cross...but it not ending there as we celebrate the over-coming of that day in-between with His re-surrection, then I know we can do implement it in our circumstances today.

God never gives up on a plan half way through...He ensures He completes it to the very end...your life is one of His perfect plans....He hasn't given up on you...don't you give up on yourself or His promises of fulfilment! Keep your eyes on the cross... then on the empty tomb....and lastly on the image of Jesus appearing to His disciples and spending time with them preparing the way.... I don't  know how long your in-between day will last, but I do know Jesus wants to walk the journey with you...

And believe it for yourself....the day in-between....the day of preparation!
Your miracle is coming!

Be Blessed :-)