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