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 all sounds 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 happy ever, 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 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 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