a very short rant…

I have to admit that this week I am struggling to find God time – well I’m struggling to find as much as I would like anyway. Too much on at work… so no huge post today, but just a few rambled thoughts:
Today I heard on the radio that some young men who get their girlfriends (or just girls) pregnant, are complaining about the lack of rights they have over the pregnancy. If the girl choses to abort they complain, if she choses to have it they complain… Do any of these young guys actually think about the unborn child? or whether they are going to be the one who carries it for 9 months, gives birth and then brings it up? I won’t start a rant, I’m too tired, but it did make me cross.
Last week I read a post from Lesley about current advice for teenagers about sex, which pretty much seems to be encouraging it. (do read Lesleys post, click here, it is very interesting.) Who writes this rubbish? I mean are there not enough teenage pregnancies in this country already? are there not enough ‘kids’ bringing up children when they are only children themselves? I am appalled that my teenage daughter could get this kind of education at school without me knowing it (thankfully for me, its only ‘up north’ at the mo, although thats little comfort to those parents of teenagers in Sheffield).
If you’ve read my testimony you’ll know I did get PG at 21, single, and chose to have the baby. So I know how bloomin’ hard it is being a single mother with no money. And I at least had support from my family and had at least finished my school education.
Frankly I think a bit more of the ‘keep it in your trousers’ approach would go a long way.

a new love…

Following on from yesterday about the weekend I have just been on, I have found a new love, that of scripture. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy reading it before – I did, but suddenly I find I am so much more interested, particularly in the words themselves – there are some really beautiful phrases and words that I have found. The right phrase can be a real comforter, an inspiration, a healer, there is something for every situation.

Our speaker for the weekend, Cindy Riches, really focussed on how important it is to know your scriptures – she gave a great example of Satan confusing Eve in the garden of Eden by twisting Gods words slightly. We need to know them to know the truth and distinguish the lies. I have started sticking scriptures around the house, just to remind me on a daily basis and hopefully I will remember them too. I have always had a terrible memory for words. I can read a book and someone can ask me about it the following week and I will have forgotten already what happened in the plot! A friend of mine says I shouldn’t keep repeatng this – that you can speak things into your life, so I need to say ‘I can remember them!’. So now I am making an effort!

On arrival in our rooms at the weekend each of us had a note from the girls who organised it, with some words and bible references. Mine was perfect for me. One reference was in Deuteronmy 32. So I read the chapter and I found this:

Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. Deut 32:2

Isn’t that just lovely? I love that – thinking of myself as a tender plant, just eager to soak up the Word.

On Sunday night a friend was over and he had a phrase in his head about Peter the rock, and while we were all looking through our bibles for another reference we had been talking about, I just kept getting rock references. It was so funny, like every page I turned to another rock reference would jump out at me. I’m sure the Lord was just reminding us all that he is our rock, on which we stand.

To you I call, O Lord, my rock… Psalm 28:1

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and me deliverer… Psalm 18:2

I am so excited about reading the Word now and finding new phrases like this. It is so uplifting!
So I leave you with one more for the day:

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

lies, filthy, lies….

This weekend I went away for a ‘womens weekend away’ with my church. I have never done anything like this before and I had no idea what to expect, but I felt I should go and needed to step out of my comfort zone! We didn’t go far, for me it was just a few miles down the road, to a lovely manor house in the middle of the woods. Actually it wouldn’t have mattered where we were, just having the time to really focus on God and our faith, together, was wonderful.
We also had the absolutely lovely Cindy Riches (from The Sycamore Commission) speaking to us. If you don’t know about ‘Living Free’ have a look at their site. Cindy and her husband developed this as a course, focussing on releasing strongholds in your life, and freeing you to live the life God intended for you. My husband is currently doing this course through church, and I have been reading the book – and it is amazing. So many things have come up in my life that I realised I had just accepted, when I could deal with them and let then go – very freeing!
Anyway, so the weekend was great. I was challenged, have spent time with God, had some great worship time, made lots of new friends and we have shared testimonies, truths and worries. I did at times feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of information I took in, as so much of this is so new to me, but I know I have plenty of time to digest that, and I look forward to going back over the notes I made and the sheets we were given. In fact I’m going to spend this week going over it and will be blogging about various aspects of it that have touched me.
So, today I am looking at the enemy and his lies. I have heard it said a lot recently that the Devil is a liar and we need to stop listening to his lies. But this weekend it was really hammered home. Our verse for the weekend was
John 10:10:
‘The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’
Cindy really got this across. That the Devil is a very real enemy that is present in this world around us:
1 Peter 5:8:
‘… Your enemy the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour…’
As she put it, ‘he is the master deciever, the best liar ever’. He hates God and so he hates us – we were made in Gods image – and so he will he will do anything he can to keep us from God and our faith. Although he’s clever, (after all he got to 1/3 of Gods angels in heaven) he is often predictable. He uses the same tactics again and again. Obviously this weekend we focussed on lies that he uses on women a lot, eg:
‘you’re fat, ugly, a terrible mother, you are worthless’ and so on. We need to see these for what they are: LIES! We are Gods masteripeces, and he sees us with no faults. (Ephesians 2:10/ Colossians 1:22)
This week I’ve been dealing with the issue with my mother and I realised this weekend that it all stems from the fact that I believe she doesn’t love me. What a load of rubbish! She’s my mum, of course she loves me… this is a LIE he has been feeding me for years and I have listened and taken it on board and believed it, and I realised I had even taken this a step further in thinking my daughter wouldn’t love me. Well, NO MORE!!!
God gave us the power to deal with the enemy and we need to realise we can use it:
Luke 10:19:
‘I have given you the authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome the power of the enemy: nothing will harm you’.
James 4:7:
‘Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you’
Now, that’s awesome – he won’t just leave you alone – he will FLEE from you!
We have the authority, through Christ, to send the enemy away, to close our ears to the lies and to recognise it as the Devil. Isn’t that amazing? I feel so free having realised that, that if I get a negative thought about myself, or the odd doubt or I am feeling unloved, I know it is from the enemy, and I can state that I am not going to listen to those lies any more and that I can command him to leave me alone. I know it won’t always be that easy, don’t get me wrong,I am sure there are times when I will fall into his traps and be ‘under attack’. But I know now that I have the tools to deal with it.
I think I mentioned in my testimony that we used to go to a traditional church and a lot of terms and things that are openly talked about in my new church are things I have not heard before. I think it is so important that we don’t just sweep this stuff under the carpet. You can’t look around at the world today and not see the Devil at work: wars, terrorism, hatred, increasing gun and knife crime… there’s a real and present force of evil, and we need to know we can deal with it and how to deal with it.
After all:
Romans 8:31:
‘…If God is for us, who can be against us?’

Purpose

I have been wondering a lot recently about Gods purpose for me, and it has been hard. Being a newbie to all of this I have been re-evaluating my entire life (necessary of course :) ) and one of the hardest things is not having enough time to devote to God, reading the Word and praying. My husband keeps telling me that God needs people everywhere and in every role and maybe I am where He wants me right now. I just have this nagging feeling that I will be called somewhere else, somewhere totally different and it is clouding everything.
Anyway, I have begun to realise how He is moving in my life, in small ways without me really knowing it. Like this week as I blogged about on wednesday. Another really cool thing that has been happening is that I have been developing a relationship with my Grandmother. When I first gave my life to the Lord it came up that there were 3 issues in my life I needed to deal with (3 women actually!). One of these is my Nan.
My Nan is 93 and lives in a care home. She is not enjoying this. My own feeling is that she is just waiting to die. She spends much of her life phoning my poor mum moaning about what is wrong there, sometimes she phones 5 times in one day. I have felt bad about not seeing her regularly as it’s only 4 miles down the road. But the last time I went in (until recently) she pretty much ignored me and her great grandchildren who I had taken in to see her. So I thought ok, well if she doesn’t want to see me I won’t bother.
Anyway, I felt this call from God to go and see her, so I suggested it to my mum who was actually quite negative and said oh, no dont, she will just moan at you etc etc, but as i felt called to do this I persevered.
So, now I have been going in to see her once a week since January and it has been awesome :) The first week there she said she would pray for me, the next week she asked about my church and she has told me lots of stuff about her past that I think she needed to get off her chest.
Then last week, she just said to me, ‘I don’t think I’m being a very good Christian, have you got any advice for me?’ well, wow! I wasn’t sure how to even start, without criticising her, so I just said she should pray about it more and I would look up some scriptures that might be helpful. and then I prayed with her – which was so awesome, and I knew the Lord was guiding me. Of course when I got home I thought of all the things I could have said to her! So I wrote her a letter. I was a bit worried about this, as I was quite honest with her, but in a caring way and I suggested some scriptures to look up and told her I would pray for her.
So, last night my Dad was here and we were talking about her and he said he thought my going to visit was making a big difference, that she wasn’t calling up so much and she was really chuffed with my letter. That made me feel so great and I thank the Lord for all he is doing! He is moving in both of our lives and I know that this is something he has led me to do, and it it making a real difference to my Nans life. I am so excited for her and to know that she is drawing closer to the Lord.
I am off to visit her shortly and I’m really excited to see what she will ask me today!
First, though, I have to make loads of cakes as I am on cake duty at church this weekend for the first time and by chance it is the one weeknd when I am away! So I am praying for my husband to remember to take them along on Sunday morning! And I will be back on Monday….
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me. Psalms 138:8

dawning realisation…

Ok, so the test came and went, and actually it was fine. When I posted yesterday I admit to feeling pretty low about it all and spent much of the morning praying about it and doing very little work indeed (in this case I was thankful for so few customers!). So by lunchtime I actually felt ok about it and knew that God would be with me.

So it went fine. That’s all I can say. There was no great thunderbolt and no fantastic outcome. I just calmly said what I had to say. Thing is, if I’m honest I was kind of hoping for the other party to do similar. However Other party just calmly accepted the apology and we moved on to other topics.

So I was disappointed. but I realise that actually I did what I needed to do, I forgave and apologised and that was in my control. I am not in control of everyone or everything and that’s a lesson I need to learn. I was in a place ready to move on and be open about it but Other party is maybe not, and to expect a sudden gush of love was an unrealistic expectation. I can only do what I can control, with Gods help of course :)

But… although a little disappointed I realise I have forgiven, because I did not feel irritated, hurt or annoyed by this lack of response, none of the old feelings returned and we actually enjoyed a very pleasant meal together. I realise now that although I have been examining this issue a lot recently, and I needed to in order to move on,it had become a ‘stronghold’ over me, that in my mind it had become far bigger than it really needed to be. I had accepted that was the way it was and nothing I could do about it… I am realising there are many things in my life that have and do allow the enemy in and to get a hold of me. I will seek out those things and hand them back to God with a joyful heart.

Today I thank God for creating this opportunity for me to deal with this, and giving me the courage to go ahead with it. This may not be ‘it’, I may have to forgive Other Party many more times but that’s ok, I have taken that first step.

Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.
1 Chronicles 29:13

a testing time…

Ok, so I’m not sure God actually sends us tests to see how strong our faith is, I think there are just situations where the enemy gets a foot in the door, even in someones elses life, that can affect yours, sometimes massively so. That said, today is a test for me. There is an issue in my life which I have to deal with. I have been praying for guidance and even set myself the goal of sorting it out during Lent. However I will admit I have let it drift a bit. In addition to that my business is struggling a bit at the mo and I have just said to God, ok it’s all yours, if it’s meant to be it will be great and propserous etc, if not fine, I’ll know you want me elsewhere.

So, last night was a bit of a deadline in the business terms and my husband and I spent the evening discussing how to deal with it, without approaching the dreaded bank. I had been praying about this and I totally put my faith in God over it. but the day had come and no answer was in sight. My husband and I agreed we needed a miracle, someone to turn up with some cash! and we even decided that we could wait a few more days. Oh, me of little, faith…. I went off to bed, and less than 5 minutes later the phone rang, with someone offering to lend me some money! there was the miracle I needed.

However… in accepting this I have to deal with the past issues. I have to forgive, forget and move on. It’s like God just said to me, ok here is the lifeline you need but, you said you would sort out this other issue and you haven’t so… here you go, you decide! When I got into bed last night I didnt know whether to laugh or cry, well I did both actually. I admit I was very cross and angry with God, I kept saying ‘I’m not ready to deal with this’, but the honest truth is it’s been over 15 years and I am still saying that. I know I have to just accept this, I cannot bring up my hurt and pain because it will just hurt the other person. All I can do is forgive…

So today I am praying for strength, compassion, understanding and love. That’s all I can do, and I know he will be with me tonight, as always.

The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
Exodus 15:2

Something to watch…

Ok, so having been thinking about the Father-Child relationship I was reminded of this cool skit. Someone showed me this before I was saved and it really made a whole lot of sense – I blubbed all the way through it! It really does make you think about what god must be feeling when we go away from him.
Click on the link below and hopefully it should take you to it!

LifeHouse Skit

Faith, Hope & Love…

One thing I am struggling with on this journey is the feeling that I should love God. I have no problem in him loving me (rather selfish attitude I know…) but when it comes to loving Him I find it hard. I believe, of course, and I am hungry to know him more, but I don’t feel I can say that I love him, not yet anyway. Maybe that is something that comes with time, after all this is a new relationship, in a way. I mean you don’t just love someone instantly the first time you meet them or hear about them do you? So I guess I should just try to get to know him more and then that will come, but it has been bothering me.

I am reading a book called ‘The Shack’ at the moment by Wm Paul Young. Funny how ‘coincidences’ (don’t believe in that word any more…) just happen. And reading this was one of those – 3 people mentioned this book to me in the space of a week and all were raving about it, so I bought it. (I have spent a small fortune on Amazon recently!) At first it took me a while to get into it and whilst I do not want to give away the plot I won’t be revealing too much by saying that the central character meets God. Now when God first appears in the book, it is as a big African woman! I have to admit this instantly put me off, and reminded be of the film ‘Dogma’, where at the end God is revealed and turns out to be acted by Alanis Morisette (for any youngsters she was a 90s grunge rocker) which was, for me, the final straw in a truly awful movie, which the writers try to big up by their statement at the beginning about being believers and not trying to offend anyone and that viewers should have an open mind. Frankly, they needed a miracle not an open mind to make it a good movie, but anyway I am way off the point (this happens a lot, sorry…).

So… I am reading ‘The Shack’. This morning our smoke alarm started going off at 5.30am and then again at 5.45 and then at 6am…. it is clearly possessed and just doing this to irritate the hell out of me, which worked as I swore several times which I haven’t done for a while… Anyway as I was awake and every time I even vaguely started to drift off, it went off again, I gave up and decided to reward myself with some reading time. Hey, maybe it was God, saying ‘you can’t sleep I have stuff for you to read!’ So I had plenty of time to sink into the book. And actually I loved it! and this morning I read something that really made me start to think about the loving God issue. I don’t want to give away the plot but the character has to think about his own children and he wants to put himself in their place, and of course the analogy is that of Jesus giving up his life for us. and this really made me think of the relationship as a father-child one, more than anything else I’ve read. It just made me think wow, he REALLY loves ME, and then it actually made me feel like I was beginning to feel love for him too. I’m not ready to say it yet, I try to when I pray but it feels so false.

Although I tell my kids every day that I love them I find it hard saying it to my husband, even though I do love him. So maybe it’s the same with God, I mean when I look at the facts, what he is doing in my life and how I feel about it all, I think ‘yeah of course I do, I do love him’, but saying it and meaning it are 2 different things. Now is not the time for a whole debate on why I can or cannot tell people I love them, thats a whole other blog! but I guess I felt like I was led to read this book and although it’s fiction, it’s really making me think about my relationship with God. Someone said to me last night ‘he’s probably talking to you all the time, you just haven’t realised it yet – it could be in a movie, in something someone says, it could be where you least expect it, you just have to learn to ‘hear’ it.’ So I guess I need to start listening, I mean really listening!

‘and now these three remain: faith, hope & love. But the greatest of these is love.’ 1 Corinthians 13:13

So I have faith, even if it’s just a mustard seed, I always have Hope; and love? well I guess I have to have hope that my faith will ultimately allow me to love…

Simple beauty

The simple beauty of nature always makes me think Of our Creator. Simple things like the line of a branch or frosty leaves on a cold morning.

I am going off an a tangent now, but go with me, it will come back to the point… I live in a rural area and to get to work I drive along a little lane. I have known this lane for years (probably 15, eek!) and I now drive along it nearly every day. A few weeks back as I was driving along this lane the light caught this branch and it really struck me. Now of course I notice it every day and so finally this morning as I wasn’t in a rush (which is very unusual…) and I actually had my camera with me, AND it wasn’t raining…. I took a pic. I won’t say what it reminds me of because then I will sound nuts but I love this branch!

And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye… Genesis 2:9

My testimony, the short version…

Putting my testimony into a short version for this blog is proving much harder than I thought. When I typed the whole thing out, really as a record for me, it took up 10 pages in Word (and that was in a small font!). But here is the real basics… there is so much I have had to miss out but it does give you the general idea!

I was brought up in what I used to call a ‘Christian family’. From very young we went to church and Sunday School every week and my father was involved in various roles at the church (still is actually). I was baptised and later confirmed at age 14, although I really didn’t know what I was doing at the time. In fact shortly after this I stopped going to church, I guess I became a typical teenager and just found it all BORING!! However a few years later I did start going to a youth group with a friend at another church although to be honest I think the attraction was more to do with a rather nice chap there, who I subsequently dated! I didn’t really have much faith at this time – I did try to believe and sometimes I thought I did but from what I know now, I didnt really have any faith at all.

In my later teens I went travelling and didn’t go to church for some years. I did the typical teenage thing of ‘going off the rails’ and got into all sorts of things that I am not proud of. That said, those things have mde me the person I am today and if I hadn’t been there maybe I wouldn’t now be following God. We are all the sum of our lives so far and I know the things I went though in these years have made me the person I am today. Anyway I digress…. So, I gave up my uni place and went travelling. Although God was often in the back of my mind I pretty much ignored him during this time. I did lots of very stupid things (drugs, sleeping with people, generally being very careless and foolish) and looking back it makes me shudder to think of the path I was on. I don’t want to make this seem worse than it was, I wasn’t an addict (except to nicotine!) and certainly wasn’t at deaths door but I was on a destructive path, I didn’t really care about myself. I was very insecure and had issues with not eating too, which didn’t help.
To cut this long part of the story short, I ended up pregnant, a long way from home. Despite my situation I knew I could not have an abortion, I just wouldn’t even consider it – from the very second I found out I was pregnant I knew I would have this child. Looking back I realise that it was meant to be, an act of God, and considering the many factors surrounding both our relationship and how we lived it is a miracle I got pregnant and a miracle the baby was born healthy and happy.

I actually left the father (one of the best decisions of my life), came home and settled near my family, who depsite initial reservations (thats a bit of an understatement… :) ) were very supportive. I did go back to church and actually got involved a bit with it, everyone there was very helpful and lovely but still, this was more because I fely I ought to go and not because of any faith.

A few years later I got toegther with an old friend, we fell in love, subsequently got married and had more kids. We continued at the same church (it was very traditional) and even got involved helping out but my heart wasn’t in it and we rarely, if ever, talked about our faith. As I look back I’m not sure why or what I even believed over this time – I think I had some small measure of faith then but I was and continued to be plagued by doubts. If I tried to pray (which let’s face it was not very often, I just got thoughts like ‘no one is listening, what are you doing you idiot…’)
So about 12 months ago I made the decision to stop going to church. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I had been confused for so long and the final straw was the thought that my children would go through the same as me – constantly wondering whether God was real or what to believe. That had plagued my life and I didn’t want them to go through that too. We were actually going through a really tough time in our relationship too. 2008/9 was not a good year for us! I felt we were drifting apart and I really doubted my love for him, I couldn’t see us apart but we certainly weren’t together. So in faith terms, throughout this year I started looking for spiritual growth elsewhere – I had no problem believing in a God – I mean just look at Creation….. I always felt closest to God or most at peace being near the sea, or out in nature – being in a summer field for example, but I just couldn’t really get my head around it all and relate that to MY life.

I had been going to yoga for some time (I think I’d done it on and off for about 10 years) and after effectively ‘giving up’ on a Christian God I started to ask my yoga teacher about going on yoga retreats, doing meditations etc, generally I guess I was looking for answers elsewhere. I began to embrace this and having always thought of myself as a ‘bit bohemian’ and being rather arty I felt comfortable that it fitted with me and my lifestyle.

and that is when God showed up!

At this time we were planning an extension on our house and although I was dreading it, it was actually fine, I didn’t get stressed (which is very unusual for me – I am not good with disorder!), we got on well with the builders and it all went smoothly (well, mostly…!) we became friendly with most of the builders, one in particular. I remember one day him saying he would tell me his story when we had time. A few days later (and the timing was totally lousy – the house was really at its worst point with stuff everywhere, my son was ill, I was due to leave imminently to drop him at my mums etc) he started sharing his testimony with me.

This changed my life. It was totally full on right from the word go. I had never heard this kind of Christian testimony before, a real warts and all approach. I was completely blown away. Over the next few days and weeks he spoke to me more about his faith and what he had experienced. Some of it was really hard to believe, real ‘supernatural’ stuff (now there’s a term I had never heard in relation to God before!) and all the talk of Satan, the force of evil, demons and so on. In all the years I had been to church I had never heard anything vaguely approaching this. I wasn’t even sure I believed in hell. But I needed to hear this – My approach to anything in life is not to do anything by halves, I want to know everything about a subject and do tasks with my all. Now, I was totally overwhelmed but couldn’t get enough at the same time. Prior to this I was one of those who thought that if I lived a good life and did the ‘right’ thing I would be going to heaven. How wrong I was! I didn’t even really know that the only way to God was through Jesus. I had always been confused about God/Jesus/The Holy Spirit and all I needed was someone to explain it to me really!

Anyway I can’t remember how long this went on for (but a few weeks I guess) just being ministered to each day, he just shared with me whenever he was here working, over coffee or just chatting and I gradually started asking more questions – things I had always had difficulty with or things I wanted to ask more about and he was totally honest but most importantly totally committed to his faith. I know at times I must have been a pain in the arse, just asking, not always accepting his answers, disputing things, but during this time a few things started to happen to make me think more about it all. There have been way too many ‘coincidences’ (theres a word I don’t believe in any more!) for me not to believe. (I’ll share some of those in other posts…) Eventually he just said to me ‘I think we should pray together’ and that’s when I said the Sinners Prayer on 16th December and gave my life to Jesus, surrounded by chaos, screaming kids and the clutter of life – but it was perfect – that is what my life is like anyway and God knows that!
The very nexy day I led my husband in the sinners prayer too, and shortly after that we started attending a local church – but this time one that is perfect for us. I know that I am saved. That I am starting a relationship with God, that I have a new life, I am reborn. I don’t recognise myself most of the time but it is the most awesome feeling! I know that my life has purpose, in fact I almost feel a bit smug some days (sorry Lord) that I know this great secret that others don’t know. I wish everyone could know it, if only it were so simple :)

So that was about 6 weeks ago and things are still happening, changing, we are so hungry for the Word, hungry to seek God, just finding our way in our new lives and it is AWESOME! If you’re still reading, well done :) I hope you can feel some of my enthusiasm, and reaslie how this has changed my life.
So the inital part is done, I have given my life to Christ, but now I want to live for him, do Gods will, know his purpose for my life, seek him more and that is what this blog is really about. My journey, to seek God, to know him better, to know his purpose for my life so that I can serve him as he wants me to do. I know it will be both wonderous and hideous, there will be highs and lows, I will be tested and tempted, battered and bruised but I know through it all I will have my faith, and He will be right there with me. Where I go from here, who knows, but I will share the journey with anyone who wants to share it with me. I can’t promise to blog every day, or even every week, but I will write about every step of this awesome journey…‘And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’. Mathew 28:20