Tummy Time

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‘Tummy Time helps to build the strength and coordination needed for rolling over, crawling, reaching, and playing. Remember that all babies benefit from Tummy Time, including newborns’www.aota.org

 

How many of us feel like were lying face down, fallen flat on our face? We’re always looking down, unable to see ahead and it’s a struggle to lift our head?

 

As I encourage Ava to practice tummy time each day, I look on as she stays in pretty much the same position right now- still facing down and can’t quite lift her head up off the floor. She’s desperately trying to kick with her legs and attempting to push off with her arms, but hasn’t quite managed to move yet.

 

Tummy time is still a relatively new experience. She spends more time in people’s arms, listening and looking around rather than floor time. So as she approaches the 3-month milestone (where has that time gone by the way?) I figured I better start encouraging more tummy time.

 

When I read about the benefits (as I often like to do) I realised just how important tummy time is. In reading the benefits, I felt challenged to think about how this relates to our walk with God.

 

Although we may feel like we’re doing tummy time, all the time; the struggling, facing down, the striving, the attempting to lift our head and see what’s in front of us-  without it, I believe we won’t grow or build the strength needed to get through different seasons in life.

 

If we didn’t experience struggles, even occasions falling flat on our faces- perhaps we wouldn’t learn how to find the strength to get back up again; to try again, to see and to avoid, all the while learning from our experiences.

 

So often I feel we grumble and complain about the tummy times. We don’t want to spend time learning to crawl; to reach, to pull ourselves up, to develop strength. We want things now- to walk before we can crawl (or in Avas case, crawl before she can tummy time.)

 

We could actually learn by watching infants. I know with Ava, when I roll her onto her tummy, she doesn’t become frustrated as she tries to lift her head or kick her legs. Frustration doesn’t consume her when she’s not going anywhere. At the moment, she can’t move from the spot she’s in until she builds up enough strength to push off using her arms and legs. Instead, she keeps trying, continuing to push, to figure out which way to tilt her head so she can still breath! She has a focus.

 

She listens for my voice, encouraging and getting along side her, to keep going and praising her. Sure after a while she becomes a little tired, and towards the end, may become a little stressed when it’s time to stop. But she endures, and in the midst of what is quite difficult for her to learn, she continues to keep her joy. She keeps going.

 

She deffinately takes after her Dad who is so laid back he could fall over at times! But he too, always has a positive outlook, seeing trials and tribulations as a positive. He doesn’t complain much and never regrets anything. I learn from him daily and Ava is so blessed to have him as her role model.

 

Couldn’t we just learn from our children though? Their resilience to keep going even when it appears hard and they become tired?

 

How often do we spend doing tummy time?

 

I’m not saying we should deliberately place ourselves in trials or difficulty. But when they come, to use and view that time as an opportunity. An opportunity to grow in strength, maturity, wisdom, courage, confidence, sensitivity, forgiveness, love, relationship with God. To see how God turns situations around and uses them to grow us so we can have the strength to deal with what’s coming next. To hear His voice in the struggle instead of being drowned out with the endless comments of impossibility.

 

 

Yes, we will get tired. We may even become frustrated and feel like giving up. It may appear that at the time we’re not moving anywhere, still in the same place you were days/weeks/years ago. You may feel like it’s a struggle to even lift your head off your pillow some days. But what if we saw those challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. Allowing them to build us up and strengthen us so we can begin to crawl, then walk and even run?

 

Take your time

 

I believe we need to learn to start off slowly or we’ll cause ourselves harm. If Ava tried to walk now, her legs would crumble and buckle under the weight of her body. Her legs aren’t yet strong enough to even push off crawling, let alone walk. She unable to support her back enough to sit up and doesn’t realise her hands are a useful tool to support and reach.

 

How often do we view tummy time as a negative? We want to rush things. Perhaps we’ve asked God for something and want an answer now, preventing us from being able to enjoy where we are in the waiting. We want that dream, that vision to come to fruition- now. We can handle it, we can cope (or so we tell ourselves, and God!) Well God knows whether you can or not.

 

Just as a child learns to ride their bike, beginning with four sturdy wheels, then stabilisers before finally being ready for the two wheelers! In the mean time they may acquire a few bruises and cuts, stumbles and falls but all the while developing strength, confidence, agility, balance, coordination and the ability to enjoy the ride!

 

 

Face time with God

 

Research suggests that a good way of encouraging tummy time is to lay your baby chest to chest with yours. Often referred to as skin to skin. This encourages the baby to lift their head to face yours and develops bonding.

 

While some tummy time is out of our control, I believe it is important to spend some tummy time with God. Humble ourselves to a place where we just spend time with Him, in His word, in His presence; talking and praying, learning His promises, and resting in Him.

 

Why not try some face to face time with God? I’m not literally saying you’ll see his face, but just really get up close and personal. Get real with your Heavenly Father. Lift your head up from what the world says you’re facing and look to what God says about the opportunities He’s given you, the blessings to be thankful for, what can you learn from this season? Fix your eyes on Him, instead of what you’re facing. Just as I do with Ava, look to Him who is along side of you, encouraging and praising you.

 

Enjoy the ride. Lift your head, grow and draw your strength from the Lord. When the world tells you it’s ‘too hard, too difficult, you’ll never do it, you’ll never move on from where you are’– look to God’s word and see what He says.

 

Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

 

1 Peter 1:6-7

So be truly glad.  There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.

 

 

 

“In order to build your faith, God will give you a dream; then he’ll urge you to make a decision; but then he’ll allow a delay, because in the delay he matures you and prepares you for what is to come.

The truth is you’ll have difficulties while God delays. This isn’t because he doesn’t care about you or that he’s forgotten your circumstances; rather, it’s one of the ways he pushes you toward the deep end of faith.

As God delays, you’ll face two types of difficulties: Circumstances and Critics. This is a natural part of life. God designed it this way because he knows we grow stronger when facing adversity and opposition.

 

God does this because he is building our faith and character. When we finally come to a place where the difficulties become so bad, where we’ve reached our limit, where we’ve tried everything and exhausted all our options, it is then that God begins a mighty work through us”

 

Rick Warren

Avoid complacency

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20 weeks in, and we’re well into our pregnancy with baby number two.

 

Another precious gift that God has graced us with. We are truly honoured and so blessed to be entrusted with raising two beautiful children.

 

It hasn’t all been a walk in the park though.

 

At only 5 weeks into this this pregnancy, the test showed positive and pretty much straight away, nausea kicked in.

 

Much like with my previous pregnancies, I expected some illness. Nausea in particular seems to be what grips me when carrying mini humans! What a treat!

 

This pregnancy though, hit a new level. I was floored.

 

Sickening nausea at its most extreme, I often wondered how I’d care for Ava from one day to the next.

 

Nothing helped, despite trying all the old wives tales and remedies. No amount of ginger tea or biscuits, anti-sickness bands, food or hot water bottles eased the relentless nausea that had come to kill, steal and destroy any joy I had left for this pregnancy.

 

It was horrendous and at that point, I could completely relate to how some women are hospitalised during their first trimester with this particular pregnancy symptom.

 

But there is always light at the end of the tunnel as they say. Sometimes the growing and preparation is the hardest right?

 

I knew, as with Ava that at around 18 weeks this would all ease- although sometimes it’s worse knowing a time frame. I remember hearing the midwife during Ava’s birth telling Carl I had an hour of pushing before the head would be birthed. Sometimes it’s just better not knowing!

 

Sure enough, 18 weeks came and I gradually felt the nausea subside. My appetite was slowly returning, as was my craving for sugary foods once more- Wahay!

 

Chocolate I had missed you! Although I’d been off anything sweet for so long, I had to wean myself back on it!

 

Then came the moment I’d been waiting for. The monumental experience that for me, makes pregnancy all the more real. It brings alive this little being growing inside of you, and very quickly brings realisation that this is in fact, a real person!

 

Those first kicks!

 

It’s an amazing feeling and shifts me from gliding along with pregnancy, into- WOW, this is really happening! In just over 4 months time I will be meeting this little person.

 

But if I’m honest, I have succumbed to a state of complacency more often than I’d like to admit in this pregnancy.

 

With Ava, everything was new. Every experience had never been felt, experienced or observed before. I’d never heard a baby’s heartbeat, let alone our own for the first time. Never witnessed my tummy stretch and swell day by day as much as it did going full term with Ava. I’d never had so many people comment on my bump or my pregnancy nor felt a human being kick, wriggle, twist and turn within me.

 

It was all new.

 

Yet with this pregnancy, at each stage, I knew what to expect.

 

And that knowing what was to come, sometimes caused me to be complacent. A bold statement to make, but I’m sure I’m not the only woman who has felt this way.

 

I attended my midwife appointment at 16 weeks and knew I’d get to hear the heartbeat.

 

Sure enough, the Doppler came out and the exciting words ‘lets have a listen to your baby shall we?’ were spoken.

 

I smiled and waited in anticipation. But I couldn’t help feeling in a state of complacency.

 

I loved hearing the individual beat of this little one and more importantly knowing that she was healthy and well. But, I knew right there and then that I’d slipped very quickly into complacency.

 

I made a conscious decision while waiting for the weeks ahead to come at feeling the baby’s first kicks, that complacency would no longer have a hold on me.

 

This baby is not Ava, nor is she Hope. She is her own individual person, created in Gods image and blessed to us by Him. She has been formed and specifically knitted together in my womb before I even knew she was coming. She will have her own personality, interests and characteristics. Her own pre-destined purpose and calling in life by God.

 

I made a decision to not allow complacency to creep in as it had been doing.

 

I choose now, to find the joy in all the moments to come before she arrives- even the heartburn! To embrace each little kick and flutter. To look forward with excitement and anticipation to the rippling of my tummy as she grows and all the other things I’m sure I’ve forgotten.

 

My love for her is not complacent because we have another child, so why should my pregnancy be?

 

I wonder what you’ve become complacent with? I wonder if your outlook needs to change? I wonder if you’ve been gliding along, knowing what to expect and almost taking it for granted as it comes?

 

Perhaps you’re facing the same challenge with your own children? With your first, every milestone was new and exciting. Yet now with your other children, their milestones or your reaction to them is one of complacency because you’ve been there before and know what to expect? You’ve become so busy now juggling more than one child, that moments of joy are missed or watered down. Perhaps you are robbed of a fresh joy in those moments. Joy is replaced with an attitude of complacency?

 

I’m convinced that if it is within any area that we need to avoid complacency, it is within the raising of our children!

 

Perhaps you’re in sales? You used to be passionate about your business, excitement stirring at every business deal. Now, one is no different from the next and the joy you used to experience is replaced with a numbing complacency?

 

Perhaps things aren’t good for you right now, and in all honesty they haven’t been for a while. Now you expect the same on a daily basis. You either expect things to get worse or just stay the same, but never any better. Any determination and hope you once had has now shifted into a spirit of complacency?

 

Maybe you used to reach out and help those within your community, a neighbour perhaps? Now you find yourself caught up in other things and presume someone else will help or that they’ll be ok. The determination and passion you once had to help, that fire and flare, has somehow burned out.

 

Finally, maybe you’ve become complacent in your walk with God. You’re in a season of waiting and so don’t bother praying at all now as you feel God will never answer. He pulled you out of your darkest pit and into abundant blessing, yet you’ve forgotten his faithfulness and actually have no relationship with Him at all now? Perhaps you just feel you have nothing to be thankful for or your life is so packed with busyness that any relationship with God is taken for granted and placed on the back burner? God will never fall into complacency in His relationship with you, He cares about you far too much. How do you feel about Him?

 

I believe God wants us to see things with fresh eyes. He hasn’t given us a life of abundant blessings to be seen through the eyes of complacency.

 

He has given you a life full of joy, love and laughter. Yes, we will encounter hard times, even more reason though to enjoy every moment of blessing joyfully, not merely dependant on whether we feel happy or not and avoid falling into the trap of complacency.

 

I believe complacency is a trap.

 

Complacency before now has robbed me of experiencing so much joy. Sometimes unwilling to have a ‘fresh eyes perspective’ and see each situation and experience with a new, positive and expectant outlook.

 

Waking up each day with fresh new eyes, willing to see every experience with a different lens, one that sees newness and enjoyment even out of something considered mundane, I believe will help us to avoid the trap of complacency.

 

Being thankful to God and praising Him for all we’ve been blessed with and how faithful He’s been, I believe will help us on this journey.

 

‘We, however, are so accustomed to the familiar sights and sounds around us that we scarcely ever take the time to contemplate these works of the Lord, in order to discover Him revealing Himself in them, and drawing us deeper into His kindness.

God’s kindness reaches us in the special blessings of life, where His covenant faithfulness superabounds toward us. Our spouses and children, talents and treasure, jobs and possessions, opportunities for growth and service, friends, special occasions — all these and more are blessings from the hand of God that produce special and enduring memories, causing us to rejoice and give thanks, and to recall the kindness of God.’ Crosswalk.com

 

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

‘Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’

 

I’ll carry you

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Despite a bleak weather forecast today, I decided to take Ava to the beach. Downpour was the outlook for the following few days, so I grabbed the opportunity of dry weather with both hands, and we got ourselves ready!

earnse bay

As we neared the end of the slope leading to the beach, we were greeted with a lengthy pool of rocks and pebbles. It was clear the buggy would have to stay on this side and Ava and I would walk across to get to the beach.

 

Bursting with excitement at the rocks beneath us (this girl loves them!) and the beach in view just ahead, I carried her across this rocky path barefoot.

 

Once we arrived on the other side, she ran on the beach (in true Ava fashion- what would appear a drunken walk) and made marks in the sand. Hand selectively pulled off every shell that made its home on a rock face and disturbed every beach worms hole by sticking her fingers down each one. She face-planted many water pools, and tried the delicacy of sand and shell combination by the handful! What a treat!

 

Pretty soon though, as the beach often does (method in my madness on an ever so slightly chilly morning) she became tired. Her legs no longer strong enough to carry her, emotions struggling to cope with the sheer tiredness that loomed, she reached up as only children know how, grasping at my legs for me to pick her up.

 

So I lovingly scooped her up, knowing just what she needed, and headed back to the rocky pool with the buggy in sight.

 

This time though, on this journey back through the rock pool, God stopped me in my tracks as He often does and reminded me of a simple truth.

 

I’ll carry you.

 

Just as I was doing with Ava, He does for us.

 

When we’re tired, weak, burned out, we only need reach out to Him, and He’ll lovingly scoop us up and carry us.

 

He’ll carry us across the rocky pools of life, where just as it hurt the soles of my feet, treading over sharp, uneven and difficult footing, He has and will forever take on that pain for us. Just as I didn’t want Ava to feel the pain beneath her feet or fall and cause herself harm, neither does God want that for us.

 

He carries us over and through the rough and smooth. He bears the pain and carries us through it, always helping us reach the other side.

 

It may take time. It took me a lot longer on the way back, desperately trying to find large flat rocks to balance on, but I got Ava to dry land, back to a place of rest. And it may take longer with God, longer than you expected.

 

He may take you on a different route. It may seem like you’ll never get to the other side, but God hasn’t put you down. Whatever you’re dealing with, it is never too much of a burden for God. He carries you always, and in Him, in those moments, we can find rest.

 

Reach out and Rest

 

Ava already began to rest her head on my shoulder, knowing that in my arms, she’d already found her resting place. She didn’t look to the other side of the rock pool where her buggy was thinking, if I could just get there then I’ll be ok. No, she reached up way back on the beach in the moment she was burned out, and knew once she was lifted up and in my arms, that I’d carry her and she could rest.

 

Oh if we only had child-like faith more often.

 

If only we reached out to God there in that moment, before we even arrive at ‘burned out’, striving to do it all on our own, knowing that He would carry us. He’d lead us across that rocky path, and in getting to the other side, we can already seek rest and comfort in Him along the way.

 

Across that pool, Ava wasn’t frightened, worried, hopeless or in despair. She trusted me that I’d get her across. She had full view of what was beneath her and could no doubt feel my imbalance at times, but she never once flinched or wavered worrying that I would drop her, that we wouldn’t make it, that it looked impossible with so many sharp and unsteady rocks beneath us. She placed all her trust in me and let me focus on getting her to the other side.

 

Oh how different our walk with God would be if we had faith like children do. Faith in our Father that no matter the outlook of our current situation, we are filled with a deep trust that He’ll get us to the other side. If we didn’t look at how totally impossible it might seem, or worry that God just isn’t big enough to cope with this one. If we just trusted.

 

How much more differently would we live? If in our times of trouble, tiredness, weakness, no matter how big or small, we just reached out. If we laid our head on His mighty shoulders, trusting Him to carry us across and through that rocky path, always with a plan in mind to get us to safety.

 

His abundant blessings

 

What a treat Ava had though when we reached her buggy. I had a dry set of clothes, clean nappy, her favourite snacks to eat and a buggy for her to be pushed in so she could rest her legs.

 

And I believe God has the same for us. When we get to the other side of whatever it is were going through, God has prepared a place of abundant and overflowing blessings. With the things we desire and are good for us. Perhaps something better than we even imagined.

 

So we don’t need to have a bleak outlook, we don’t need to set the bar low, with merely ‘I’d just be happy with this.’ Believe that through this trial God will use your pain for good, He will provide, He will bless your socks off, He will have everything you need and more waiting for you when you least expect it.

 

But reach out first, allow Him to carry you. Rest in Him until you get to the other side, and don’t fear or worry as He does. Trust in Him completely that He loves you, He carries you, He feels your pain, and he will somehow work all things out for good.

 

Isaiah 46:4 (NCV)

 

“Even when you are old, I will be the same. Even when your hair has turned gray, I will take care of you. I made you and will take care of you. I will carry you and save you.”

 

Isaiah 41:10 (MSG)

‘I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.’ Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.’

 

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart

And do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him,

And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].

 

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Get to know your area

not called to be aloneToday as I walked home with Ava in the gorgeous sunshine, I approached a man blocking my path. The closer we got I realised the path wasn’t wide enough for him and the pram- one of us needed to move.

It was that awquard moment where the closer I approached the more I realised HE wasn’t moving anywhere!

In fact he walked towards me.

At first I thought- I’m heavily pregnant here, pushing a pram, dripping with sweat from a walk in the blistering heat and you choose to walk blatantly in front of me and refuse to move out of the way?

… I was a little cranky as you can tell.

But I soon realised he was walking towards me to ask a question.

‘I’m trying to get to Preston, do you know what bus I take? I’m not from around here.’

Embarrassment set in and if it hadn’t have been so hot he’d have seen me blush straight away. Thank goodness the sun burned cheeks disguised any blushing to be had!

Now you’re asking me! I thought.

I don’t even know road names and I’ve lived in Blackpool my whole life, never mind buses that go to Preston.

I tried to help him read the timetable and help as much as I could, but I found myself apologising every two seconds

‘I don’t get buses very often, I’m so sorry’ I explained.

I was so embarrassed. My home town, a stranger visiting and I couldn’t help him on his way.

It became apparent, as it has before in those moments when a car pulls along side you and asks where such a street is- again to which my response is always ‘I don’t know,’ that I didn’t know my area at all.

A total stranger trying to navigate his way around, asking a local for help, for direction and I couldn’t even give him that.

And so it got me thinking.

Do we know our area? I don’t just mean geographically, but do we know our area of faith? Do we know the area of our walk with God?

When we meet a non Christian, or even a new person who’s come to faith, have we grown and learned about what it means to follow Christ and are continuing to, or are we still as the bible says ‘ drinking milk’ still needing to be taught?

“In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭5:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Has being so spiritually immature and uninformed caused you to avoid potential conversations ultimately leading to people’s salvation? All because you feel ill equipped to answer those difficult questions?

I know I have.

I would have hated for that guy to have missed his bus and ultimately his destination today. I don’t know what the ramifications of him missing that bus he so desperately needed to Preston would have been, but imagine if we were talking about his faith here. Imagine if he missed that bus to salvation, because I was ill equipped or unprepared to answer his questions and point him in the right direction.

Imagine if he needed real direction, to hear the word of God? Imagine if he needed to hear words of hope, forgiveness and grace? Yet my lack of knowledge, lack of confidence even, and lack of knowing about my God would have meant he missed his destiny in that moment. Not for good I’m sure, but an opportunity might have been missed.

I know we can’t be held totally responsible for someone’s salvation or not. But I believe that we can have an instrumental part to play, therefore we need to be ready to have those conversations with anyone at anytime.

To be ready when God allows our paths to collide with another’s who doesn’t yet know him. To be obedient in going over to that person, or having the confidence to confront and answer the awquard questions rather than avoid or worse, hide your faith altogether, denying you even know God.

Upon confrontation about my faith, It’s something I was so afraid to do in school, college and even my early days of work, to admit and be proud of putting someone straight about my beliefs. Having a loving yet honest conversation with them about what God meant to me and what that could mean for them.

Instead I’d run in the opposite direction, dodge the question altogether or point- blank deny, all for an easy way out and to avoid any embarrassment or risk of losing friends- even the possibility of being ridiculed and bullied for my beliefs.

It also got me thinking though about the big move we’re having to Barrow-In-Furness.

How I’ve lived in Blackpool my whole life and never really learned much about our culture, statistics, the in depth need and poverty right beneath our noses.

And actually how important this is.

I felt convicted and challenged as we step out into this new venture and destination, to get to know my area.

Not just buses and trains etc, though that would be helpful! But to really get to know the people, the needs and statistics. To not only know them, but be instrumental in being part of the change. A positive change. Knowing what is needed. Where the gaps are. Meeting people and where they’re at.

How much more effective could we be if we really took the time to get to know our area, our community, even our neighbours? The nitty gritty. How much of a difference could me make if we knew all about our area and it’s people? If we really listened and, wait for it…ACTED! If we set actions into motion and fulfilled promises.

If we remained on the ball, always re- evaluating and up for change?

I wonder.

So my question to you is this?

Do you know your area?

Your walk with God? Could you answer someone who is inquistive, wanting to know more? Could you lead them to their destination of salvation just by being knowledgable of the bible and God?

Maybe you need to take time and really meditate on how knowing God has changed your life, what you’re thankful for and what you want tell people about? That’s your testimony right there!
And do you know your bible? We’re always learning and I am by no means an exception of this, but do you diligently make time to read His word? Do you study as well as read? Do you open the word to be fed, to just get to know Him more, to develop that personal relationship between you and Him, have scripture revealed to you- not only for you but for other people? Or does it go in one ear and out the other? Do your eyes skim over a verse, but like a hurried meal, you’re not really chewing the food, therefore gaining any nutrition?
Or do you just not read it at all? Does your bible sit there collecting dust?

And do you know your area geographically? Do you know the need, the people, the good and the bad parts? Getting to know your area may reignite a spark, a passion to want to get involved and not just make changes but be the change.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.””
‭‭John‬ ‭13:34-35‬ ‭NIV‬‬


““You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its taste, it cannot be made salty again. Salt is useless if it loses its salty taste. It will be thrown out where people will just walk on it.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:13‬ ‭ERV‬‬

““I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
‭‭John‬ ‭15:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

First steps

IMG_2798First you rocked, then crawled.

At 7 months, just one week in and barely content with mere crawling, you stood up and shimmied your tiny body across furniture.

Then you’d walk by gripping the two hands of anyone who would risk the back ache that came with holding your tiny fingers and allowing you to lead the way. You gradually steadied your footing, learning the unforced rhythms of putting one foot infront of the other. Soon to become a normal part of every day life.

Soon after, you walked holding just one hand. We’d walk side by side and you’d occasionally glance up for a reassuring smile.

And then we watched you take that first step on your own, fall down and revert back to crawling.
But sure enough one step turned into two.

Then just after you turned one, there was no stopping you.

We’d always miss it.

You often did it when no one was looking, a moment without distractions. We’d suddenly witness you walk from one end of the room to the other and not want to utter even a word of praise as the slightest distraction caused you to fall down and crawl the rest of the way.

Your dad and I just used to stand there hidden behind a wall, totally amazed and beaming from ear to ear, silently doing the crazy parent dance, wanting so desperately to cheer you on because you were in fact walking! You just didn’t realise it yet!

Almost 13 months and these past weeks you’ve really grown in confidence. Numerous times, daily even, you’ll walk unaided. You can even stand up now without support if you fall down.

You won’t necessarily walk to reach our hands or even aim for something we ask you to get. I stress, you like to do it on your own, setting your own goals in that little head of yours.

Oh where these steps will take you! What you’ll be able to see and explore at this new level now you’re on your feet.

What you used to see at ground level is so much more different as you grow taller.

You’ll see more, hear more, aim and reach for more.

Those first few steps (albeit still a little wobbly!) have been a year in the making.

First you gained your upper body and neck strength with the endless hours of tummy time.

Rolling and then finally sitting up unaided.

Rocking on all fours and eventually crawling.

It’s all been a process of preperation to give you strength and stability to stand tall and steady on your two little feet.

Now, not only can you see your destination, you can reach it, simply by putting one foot in front of the other.

You can choose to walk or run, jump or fly.

You can choose to take your time or quicken your step, to rest or keep going.

You can choose to aim forward or go in a different direction.

Where will your feet take you? How will God use your steps? Will you allow him to establish your steps?

You’ll walk along side so many people and watch how they walk and establish their own steps. Learning from them and gleaning from their experience, ultimately choosing what you want to reciprocate and what you want to change for the better.

And pretty soon, you’ll be watched, by your little sister.

She’ll watch how you walk, the steps you take and where you choose to go.
She’ll look up to you, quite literally and aspire to walk in your steps.

What an influence you’ll have and how impacting your steps will be.

Where will you allow God to take you? Will you run into all he has in store and asks of you despite fear that so often grounds our footing and prevents us from stepping into all God has for us?

The steps you take are not mere routine, but ones of impact and a platform for powerful change.

You can choose to stay or go. You can choose to turn around and walk away from what you know will cause you and others harm. Better still, you can choose to step into what is right, just and good. Leading by example, being a light, a beacon for others to follow.

You can choose to get up and carry on, or give up and give in.

Darling girl, your steps mean more than you realise. Like words, they have the power to change, to take you places you’ve never dreamed or imagined, to impact lives and enter into new destinations.

You need to renew your strength daily though. Keep well supported in your footing and what you wear! (Spiritually and materialistically!)

Build strong healthy bones and rest when needed. At the same time, continue to challenge and stretch yourself- you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve!

Be spiritually fed so you can allow God to establish your steps and hear Him correctly, responding in obedience.

Physically nourish your body well so you’re prepared and equipped for the steps He’s established for you.

This way you’ll have strength and energy to stand steadfast with stability to walk the path He’s laid out before you.

Oh where your feet will take you sweet girl.

One thing for sure is this.

If you fall, your Heavenly Father will pick you up. Whether you look back for reassurance or look ahead to your destination, you’ll never be alone when you’re walking in His will.

Just like your Dad and I will give of the same, your Heavenly Father will be there even when we can’t and promises to establish your steps. To keep you and hold you safe. To be your strength in times of trouble, to lift you up when you feel weak.

So keep on walking beautiful girl.
Our prayer is simply this. May you step out in boldness and courage, always with a humble heart and desire to walk in His ways and be obedient to His will.

It’s exciting to see what your future holds- go grab it with both hands and know you have someone far greater than anything the world can offer, holding you up, showering you with grace, mercy and love all along the way!

 

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭16:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬
http://bible.com/111/pro.16.3.niv

 

 

 

 

 

Not the same

 

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Have you ever found yourself saying ‘it’s just not the same?’

Maybe I’m the only one, but it’s something I’ve felt challenged by this weekend.

On a rare weekend away with my husband (because how many new parents out there know that time away child free is a rarity?!) we set off on the motorway to what I thought was a beautiful hotel we’d stayed in while pregnant with Ava.

I’d been looking forward to this since Christmas and had it all well planned out in my head.

However, it wasn’t until a few minutes into our journey that Carl said we weren’t going to that hotel, but we were going somewhere else.

My heart sank.

Why? I questioned.

And everything else he said afterwards blurred into a muffled noise.

Immediately this thought ran over and over in my mind.

It just wont be the same.

For me, that hotel held memories. It was a lovely spa hotel, small and intimate, in one of the most beautiful settings right on a lake. One of my favourite places to enjoy peace and quiet.

We’d been there before, so I knew what to expect. I’d planned where I would read my books and write, where we could go walking, where I would sit by the pool- all just like last time.

I’d been so desperate for this break, not only for quality time away with my husband, but to enjoy peace and quiet, to read, write, swim- all things I either don’t get time to do at home, or if I do, they are madly crammed into my day.

Now we were going somewhere new. Somewhere different. This was an unexpected surprise and my reaction said it all.

Most reading this would be thinking how ungrateful, I wish my husband surprised me like that!

And in all honesty you’d be right.

Pretty soon after my seemingly ungrateful reaction, I began to see logic of why he’d chosen this hotel. It’d had been offered to him as an upgrade due to our original hotel double booking our dates. As an apology, they offered an upgrade to one of their more prestige hotels, with bigger facilities and evening meals provided. This hotel was within close range of nearby towns and cities, offering more choices for activities to do on our stay.

Quite thoughtful actually, that he would agree to this upgrade- and why not?!

But I was so stubborn and the words its just not the same consumed my thoughts.

It wasn’t what I was expecting. It wasn’t what I wanted. My plans had gone out of the window.

What if I didn’t like it? I don’t like bigger- bigger doesn’t always equal better for me.

I was so consumed and wrapped up in what I wanted, what was within my realm of control, that in that moment, there was no reasoning and no adjustment for change. If it wasn’t going to be the same, I didn’t want to know.

I wonder how long I play the ‘hormones’ card to excuse my ungrateful reaction?

Needless to say, an apology was due on my part. I’d become so consumed by my pre-conceived idea of what I thought this weekend was going to be, that I couldn’t accept Carls loving attempt at a spontaneous surprise. And rightly so, this angered and saddened him.

Why am I telling you this?

Because how is my reaction, true of life in general?

I wonder how many of you have refused to accept a surprise or invitation, perhaps even a suggestion to try something new- because it’s not the same as what you’re used to?

It means stepping into the unexpected, the unknown. It means being open to new possibilities and opportunities. Being presented with new challenges and growth of your character.

Yet how many of us like ‘same’.

‘Same’ is within our control, we know what’s coming. We can plan for it. We know what to take with us and what we need. We know how we’re going to feel while there and what we’ll get out of it. We know what to avoid and what is on offer should we wish to take it.

‘Same’ is comfortable, reliable, comforting and in most cases, something we can control.

I decided upon arrival at the hotel, that I would not allow an, ‘it’s not the same’ thought and attitude to enter my mind and steal my joy.

Yes, everything was different, and much bigger. I didn’t know where anything was or what to expect.

The weekend wasn’t what I was expecting and it wasn’t the same as the last time we were away.

But in all honesty, what is?

What is actually exactly the same every time?

Had we gone to the other hotel, while my expectations were pre-conceived, its highly likely that my experience would not have been the same as the last.

We are in a different stage in life now, our needs are different- sleep is more important! Our energy levels are different.

I was adamant that I would get through at least two books and write for hours before coming home.

I was sure that I would read by the pool each night when most guests are in their rooms, and enjoy a peaceful read beside the gentle swaying of the pool water.

But actually, this time away, each time Carl or I picked up a book, we just couldn’t concentrate. My laptop sat on the table till the last day, and on a night we could have chilled by the pool, we had only enough energy to muster up going out for tea!

Instead, we spent more time together- talking and laughing. Which is ultimately what our relationship so desperately needed 10 months into parenthood!

Our experience was different, not the same as last time. But different didn’t mean bad or disappointment. Different meant good, in a variety of ways and I needed to embrace those different experiences. I needed to enjoy the joy in those moments!

I wonder if you find yourself in the unexpected? I wonder if God is calling you into the unknown? Something that shakes up your same old routine and completely shifts you into a new routine. I wonder if God is inviting you to take up an opportunity that means you have to leave behind what you’ve always known- the comfortable, reliable and expected- into something that will initially cause you to say- its not the same and potentially back out or have a bad attitude?

Is different always bad? In my experience, absolutely not.

I think our attitude is the key solution. How you respond to the change will ultimately determine your circumstances future.

Do you embrace it? Do you trust God no matter what you’re going through? Do you adapt to it? Do you have a positive approach and see the opportunities within each stage of change?

Or do as I did? Repeat and focus on over and over how it’s just not the same!

Let me tell you- that got me no where.

In fact, it would have ruined our weekend. I had to accept it. Embrace it and enjoy it. It might not have been what I was expecting, but I could either choose to have a positive response or stay in a stubborn sulk focusing on what could have been.

If it’s not the same- embrace it, accept it, see the joy in the moment and don’t be so afraid to step into the unknown, the unexpected and try something new. Open yourself up to new opportunities.

I believe our walk with God is different on a daily basis. It is never the same, and as we grow, I believe He might ask us more often than perhaps we’d like, to do something that isn’t the same as what were used to. To step out of our comfort zones and into the unexpected, trusting that different, doesn’t mean bad in Gods eyes. Learning to trust Him beyond our own understanding and reasoning, accepting and embracing all He has ahead.

One thing I am sure of though, something that is always the same, and a sentence that will never change no matter what circumstance you find yourself in.

His love never changes.

It never fails.

His love for you, is the same as it was before He created you in your mothers womb and will be forever and eternity.

Praise the Lord! He is good. God’s love never fails. Psalm 136

 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8

 

Connect

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Metaphorically speaking, is it possible that we can be pregnant but not connected to what’s growing inside of us?

Could it be, that we’ve been gifted with something; the fulfilment of a dream, the breakthrough of something you’ve been praying for, perhaps even just a small idea, hope or dream that’s burning within you…yet were not connected to it? Therefore, we don’t have access to it?

In reality, in pregnancy, it is entirely possible to be pregnant and not feel a connection to the baby growing inside of you. Just as it is entirely possible, and in fact a current reality, to feel a lack of connection to the gift you birth and hold in your arms.

Something that begins as tiny almost beyond measure, and grows at just the right pace and is birthed into reality- can be the very thing we don’t connect to.

Let me explain it another way.

Could it be, that you’ve got a dream within you, desperately wanting it to grow and you’re praying for fruition and fulfilment of that dream? It’s your constant prayer and the very thing you dream about while sat in the office mindlessly glaring out of the window at endless possibilities.

Yet perhaps what you need, perhaps what God is asking of you, is to connect to it. To not just speak of it, not just keep it as No1 on your dream list, but connect. Really connect.

Attach yourself to it, bond with it, associate yourself with it, join with it, rather than isolating the dream and you as if you are two separate entities. Bond with it- get to know the dream you really want. What is it that you are really hoping for? What are the intricacies, short and long term goals? Whom could you bless by fulfilling this dream? Associate yourself with it- talk about the dream as if it will happen. Talk with a sense of genuine hope and trust that if this is right path for you then God will bring it to fruition.

Just as in pregnancy, there are practical ways of connecting to your baby, such as; having daily commune with them, touching your belly, learning the rhythms and patterns of their movements and taking delight in the ripples and bumps of your tummy. When your baby arrives, in order to connect, you must bond with them. Attach yourself to your child, associate yourself proudly with them, join yourself to them- just as you have been together in the womb. All of which without, that baby will just be a gift that is birthed. A gift that is underappreciated, unloved and uncared for- often resulting in what we so sadly see in society today; insecurity, cravings for love and seeking attention in all the wrong avenues, low self esteem and confidence. All of which consequently prevent any which could have been possible from the dream you birthed. I wonder how many dreams never came to fruition because of a connection that was missed in the very beginning.

Am I making sense?

Just as it is possible to be in the company of a good friend and not really be in the room, disconnected to the conversation or what’s going on, I fear, it is also possible for us to be disconnected to the gift, the blessing, the answer to prayer that God has already growing within us.

Like with a baby though- that gift takes time to grow and develop, and so I believe it will take time for that connection to be made. For some it is instant. For others it takes time and hard work.  But the more you work at connecting to that gift growing within you and believing in the possibility of its fruition; a gift of financial breakthrough, a dream, love, relationships, healing- the more you associate yourself with it, speaking and walking in the living hope that is given to you by God, I believe, then and only then can we begin to truly connect.

When we connect to God, just think how powerful that connection is. When we bond, join and associate ourselves with Him- look at what happens! Take a look back at those occasions where you’ve really connected with Him; spent time in His word, genuinely walked in the living hope He offers, testified to His goodness of things coming to fruition.

Connection is a powerful thing.

Take an internet connection for example. Think of all that it entails and enables.

Electrical connections.

Love connection.

Friendship connection.

A train or flight connection- the destinations it could take you to, or not.

All of which started out something so small as a seed, but someone connected. They connected to their dream to invent the WWW, the light bulb, the telephone, to the person they felt a connection to, to the gifting of a strength and talent within them which would later give them the skills to start that business and have financial breakthrough. Each person began being pregnant with a seed, a dream- something, but they needed to connect to it before it could grow. You can’s always see how something so small could be the gift and the ultimate dream you’re praying for- that’s where your trust comes in – to connect to the gift and trust that God will use that for good.

Perhaps the very answer to your prayer is to unlock, and connect to that gifting within you that you’ve suppressed? If you’re praying for a business of your own- what is that gift within you that you’ve never unlocked and released? What skills has God given you?

I wonder, if we continue to miss the importance of connection, will we miss everything God has gifted us with? We perhaps just don’t realise that gift growing within us yet because were not connected.

That dream you dreamed once, has been pushed so far back in your mind that you’ve missed the connection. Your destination.

Is it time to get connected before you miss your destination? Is it time to realise that you are already impregnated with that gift, that dream, that hope you’re praying for? You just need to connect to it?

I believe an integral part of having the ability to connect with that which is growing inside of you- that gift, that dream, is reminding yourself that it all starts first, with connecting to God.

The bible talks so much about being ‘together’; being connected to Christ, remaining in Him, each of us playing an integral part. I know we so often talk about connecting with other people in fellowship, but what if we also need to connect to our gifting, to our dreams- to God?

John 15:4

‘Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.’

 

Colossions 2:19

‘and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For he holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it.’

 

1 Corinthians 12:27

‘All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.’

 

Without the most important connection- that between you and God, we may miss opportunities for fruition, to release that gift within us.

But with that connection, that between you and God, imagine the destination!

 

 

 

Where do you want to go?

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Where do you want to go? Carl questioned.

I quickly sank back into the covers, in deep thought of where we could spend the day.

My immediate thoughts were those stored in my memory bank. Past times of family days out, villages, towns and cities we’d visited, which were actually quite limited.

I don’t know. I can only think of where we’ve been before.

I was reminded of how true this is in our walk with God.

I wonder if we ever ask ourselves the question- where do I want to go?

Sound quite simple? How about this.

Where do you want to go, in life?

Maybe your response is limited within the remit of where you’ve already been. I wonder if your boundaries of what you think you could achieve, are confined to where you’ve been before- in other words, your comfort zone.

Have you ever thought about going somewhere new? How often when you’re willing to step out and venture onto a new place, a new adventure, something you’ve never done before- do you end up experiencing so much more than you could have imagined? I know sometimes they can be a flop and you wish you had have stayed within your boundaries- but you’d never know if you hadn’t have tried.

How will you grow if you aren’t willing to try anything new?

The bible tells us God can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.

Ephesians 3:20 (AMP)

Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly (immeasurably NIV) more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us,

 

Just ponder on that for a moment.

Superabundantly- plenty and in abundance. Immeasurably- without measure. More, not less than we dare ask or even imagine. Way beyond even our greatest hopes and dreams.

How awesome!

So why don’t we dare to dream? Dare to go somewhere we’ve never been? And I’m not just talking about a day out.

Is it fear that holds us back? Fear of failing? Perhaps your memory bank holds memories of failure or being told you are a failure? Have you become confined to those boundaries of where you’ve been before, now afraid to dare to dream again? To go where you’ve never been before? To dare to dream what you’ve buried so deep within your heart?

What about the dreams and visions you have for your future? Why shouldn’t you be bold enough, daring enough, to ask your Father in heaven for something immeasurably, superabundantly more than you could ask, dream, hope or imagine?

Why not dare to dream where your mind has never dared before?

Perhaps it’s reigniting that dream for the business again you always wanted to start?

Perhaps it’s dreaming to go to university when you always wished you had but perhaps fear got in the way?

Perhaps it’s owning your own home or signing up for that mission trip?

Perhaps it’s dreaming for children when all the professionals have told you its never going to happen?

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to travel?…

Whatever it is, I encourage you, to dare to dream to go where you’ve never gone before.

Avoid being stuck in the limited boundaries of where you’ve already been. The familiarity and comfortableness of past time memories. The safety and assurance of knowing the way because you’ve been down that road before. You know all the turn offs, the service stations and shortcuts. You know what’s there when you arrive. It’s a comfortable venture.

Well, what about going down a road where you have no idea what to expect? Placing your trust in God, that He will provide the way and the means, just as he did in those previous past times- some of which you now know to avoid.

If it’s in accordance with His will for your life and as it says in Eph 3:20 (to carry out His purpose), I am confident He will provide. Just as He has with me. I am glad though, that He also closed doors on paths I was not meant to go down. Paths I thought and dared to dream about, but were not the right timing. Paths that had I gone down at that time would have left my family in financial constraints as well as placing myself under immense amounts of stress and pressure.

Proverbs 16:9
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.

By all means don’t hear me wrong and be reckless. Careful prayer and consideration before acting on a dream is essential.

But I’m asking you just to step out and make a start. Dare to dream big.

Where do you want to go today?…

Somewhere you’ve never been before?…

Come out from behind the lens

 

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Following on from deciding where to go the other day, we decided we would in fact, try something new.

We ventured out to the South Lakes Zoo as admission was free this time of year. I think its great that most organisations allow babies free entry as I’m fast becoming aware that although you may have an exciting day ahead planned, the likelihood is, that baby will barely even stay awake for the duration! Thus the logic- babies go free. Just happened to be a bonus that adults were free as well!

Upon arrival, we soon discovered the zoo was in fact, a safari. Not any old car safari either, oh no. A safari where visitors walked and interacted with the animals as they roamed around the zoo. Carl and I were ecstatic- more excited than Ava! She really didn’t have a clue.

So we made way for the beginning of the safari, bouncing with anticipation and curiosity!

Not wanting to miss the opportunity to capture these memories, I immediately asked Carl for his camera. I mean how often is it, particularly in this country, where you have the opportunity to come so close, almost face to face, with wild animals? Practically less than a foot away and free from cages and fences? They were tame to say the least which we were thankful for- particularly me with the camera.

The whole duration, I took photos and Carl would often shout me over ‘ Cheryl come look at this! Cheryl, look!’ Sometimes followed by, ‘Ah you missed it!’

I was so engrossed in looking through the lens of my camera, that I was missing everything else around me!

At times I would spend ages looking through the lens for a particular animal, that I’d miss all the surrounding creatures and wildlife. It actually became difficult at times to maintain my focus as the animals moved so quickly. I soon discovered they were at times better appreciated from a distance.

My focus was tunnel vision. While I enjoyed the park, half way through the journey, I sensed a strong pull to do a re-run of the first part. I felt like I’d missed out. I was so busy looking through the lens, behind the camera, instead of looking at what was not just right in front of me but all around. Not just with one agenda- to capture a good image, but to take that moment in. Really take it in. To capture its beauty, it’s personality and traits. Take in the moment and this rare opportunity.

Subsequently, I consciously made an effort to come out from behind the camera and take in my daughter’s experience, enjoy the company of the friends we were with and to quite simply, take it all in.

I am by no means saying that photography is in anyway a bad habit or something that needs to be given up. I love taking photos and capturing memories for a lifetime.

I use this example purely as a metaphor. To explain and exemplify how in life, we find ourselves stuck behind a lens of having tunnel, single focus vision.

Perhaps our lens is depression or negativity? Perhaps our lens is single-mindedness? Perhaps our lens is stubbornness?

Whatever lens you are looking at life through, the focus you have pre- set, I wonder, if like me today at the zoo, you often feel like you’re missing out on all the other stuff going on around you?

Perhaps your lens and focus is work? Therefore, perhaps, as I did by keeping a single focus, you’re missing out on your children and family around you? If it’s negativity, how is that affecting and filtering out into other areas of your life?

I encourage you. Put down the lens. Come out from behind the camera and enjoy all God has placed not just in front of you, but all around you!

Avoid staying so focused on trying to capture those moments and memories right in the moment that you forget to enjoy all the other things. Sometimes we just need to stop, sit back, smile and take it all in.

I pose the question, perhaps you need to shift your focus?

My concern is that if we live our life constantly behind a lens, having a single focus- that we will constantly have a sense of regret. I say this from experience. Wishing, hoping we could go back and do it again, without the lens this time, really taking everything in. Wishing we’d have spent more time with the friend or family member, instead of focusing so much on what seemed the bigger, more important thing in front of us at the time.

God has given us a life full of blessings, gifts and fruitfulness to be enjoyed- not just what is placed right in front of you. He’s much bigger than that. Perhaps consider widening your lens, shifting your focus and taking in all the other things around you. A good start I’ve found when struggling to shift my focus, is to look around me for things I can be thankful for.

My final question is this: is what’s right in front of you, that thing your focusing on, from God? Or is it a distraction from the enemy? Has it generated a place of top priority where you’ve placed others or other commitments as a lower priority? Is what you’re focusing on having a negative and potentially harmful impact? Perhaps you need to put down your lens and shift your focus back to where God wanted it in the first place and take a look at all the things you can be thankful for.

One thing I am sure of, is that our first focus, our top priority, should always be God.  It’s when my focus has shifted off of him, that my lens of life gradually becomes fixated on negativity and feeling overwhelmed. This lens attitude to life only filters through to all areas and people who are important to me, causing quite often a downward spiral.

What you focus on will filter out.

This year, I want my focus to not only be more on God but to look through the lens of trusting Him more and worrying less. To look through life with this lens at its widest possible function, and to always remember to come out from behind the lens of distraction, consciously taking in all that is around me and all I have to be thankful for.

 

Dream

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As I stood in the shower this morning (just one of the many places God chooses to prompt me with a word) I pondered about how I can really impact people for God.

It all started when I had a few hours spare to myself. Yes, you heard me- time to myself! My kind hearted Mum had clearly picked up on my snappy attitude caused by a lack of sleep 3 nights in a row and took it upon herself to take Ava out for a few hours to give me a break- she’s not sleeping through anymore. Aaaaaahhhhh!

And so I found myself alone in their house with my laptop but no book. I had time to myself and was adamant to use it wisely. So, I scrambled round, desperately searching for a book in the house and to my delight, came across Lysa Terkeursts- The Best Yes book.

Now this was a predicament in itself. I’m shocking at making decisions as my husband will testify. But I had no time to waste. These few hours were precious- did I read or write? Two of my favourite past times. I’ll also admit that I knew my bike was in their garage. It was a beautiful crisp, blue skied, sun shining autumn morning and I hadn’t been out on my bike for ages. I also knew that my swimming costume and goggles were in my bag and there was a pool just 10 minutes drive away- all of which are things I love to do!

So, I had a decision to make. I rationalised that, due to my lack of sleep and sheer evident exhaustion, doing any form of exercise (though I do love it) was probably not the best idea- or in the words of Lysa Terkeurst- not, The Best Yes. So I ruled out both.

Now I was left once again with my laptop and this book I hadn’t read before. I figured I could do both if I managed my time well enough. Which, without bragging- I’ve become pretty good at since birthing a human being! I still have momentary flashbacks of how I even did that! Guys- you’ve got to have some respect for your women for birthing a mini human!

Side-track.

So I figured I would read first, then squeeze a quick shower in, and then write.

I’m only three chapters in, but what an amazingly funny, practical and inspiring book so far. I can relate to every line up to now, as it would appear that Lysa shared the same dreams I have of becoming a writer. Not only that, but I share the same reality of procrastinating that dream, ultimately collecting excuses for reasons why it will only ever be a dream on my list- which seem to always precede with – because, I have no time, or its not the right time. Sound familiar?

Read the book for yourselves, but in those first few chapters she really challenged me to think about choosing my ‘best yes’ for God. She highlighted that some scriptures could be misinterpreted into thinking that having an ambition or dream of any sort could be classed as being selfish (Phil 2:3-7)

She goes on to explain:

‘It isn’t about selfish ambitions or vain concetes. Its giving voice to what otherwise just stays a quiet whisper locked inside. It’s about letting out that cry of passion God entrusted to you. It’s about letting it all the way out so as to touch others, help others and bless others.’

 

That last sentence really spoke to me. What would be a selfish thing to do, would be to place the clear gifts God has given you to use, on the back burner of life and once hoped for dreams -never actually fulfilling any at all.

One of the next points she makes really resonated with me to my core. She wrote a list of dreams we might possibly have in our secret dream box. One of which was to write a book. I nodded incessantly. This was me! A dream that I’ve always doubted would ever come to fruition. You know when those dreams or resolutions you make at new year, still end up at the top of next years list? Writing a book, although a relatively recent dream, always made that same list.

But to challenge me even further, she said this.

‘Write a book…so that I might bless whom?’

The list continued, some of which you might relate to:

To complete my degree…so that I might bless whom?

Turn my photography hobby into a business…so that I might bless whom?

Start a church class…so that I might bless whom?

And so on.

Try it with your own dream. It’s a good exercise.

Bare with me. I’m getting there.

So as I stood in the shower, I questioned myself. I’m just a Mum God (how ironic that I’ve written about this very topic before and yet have to remind myself daily to live it out.) If I write a book, who can I bless other than Mums? And not even all Mums, I’m only a new Mum- and only a Mum of one baby and one in heaven. Notice how we often put ourselves down when a dream is bursting within us.

My ‘I’m only’ pity party had started before anyone had even arrived, and it was the dullest party ever.

Then the penny dropped.

Remember when you became a Mum? You wanted to tell everyone who would listen. Remember when you believed in me? You wanted to tell everyone who would listen.

Oh I remembered that day well. Experiencing Jesus for the first time. I had verbal dioreah! I practically skipped all the way to work and couldn’t contain my excitement and sheer joy.

The same when I became pregnant.

Just imagine each person from the many miracles we read of in the bible. Those who were healed, forgiven, brought back to life. Imagine their sheer excitement at wanting to tell others? How much more equipped were they to bless others because of their experiences?

But God probed further.

Remember everything you’ve been through. You are a Mum, yes. But you are healed, restored, redeemed and forgiven. You are a child of God. You are gifted, you are able, you are strong, you are courageous. You can reach so many more than merely Mums. You can reach families, young girls longing for love. Those battling the chains of an eating disorder and struggling with embracing their unique identity. Couples seeking hope for a restored marriage. Families suffering the loss of a baby in the womb. Encouraging others to use their gifts…

Write a book…so that I might bless whom?

Everyone.

That might seem unachievable, but even if it’s just a sentence that sticks within the depths of someone’s heart. Even if it’s just a chapter that someone can resonate with. Even if it’s just a season overcome with God that comforts others in their season. Writing a book and fulfilling that dream is (I believe) not selfish by any means- but totally worth it, placing my self- last, in order to put others first.

I wonder what your dreams and visions are?

Firstly, I encourage you to write them down, because I believe something powerful happens when pen hits paper. When something is recorded, its taken out of your mind and visible for you to see, making it a very possible reality.

Take Gods word, the bible, for instance. It’s a good job his words didn’t stay logged and stored in the minds of those he gave to. It was written down; recorded, for all to read- because when something is written down it is powerful. Your circumstances may change, but His word doesn’t. His word never fails.

Your circumstances may change. The dreams you’ve written down may now seem unachievable due to unexpected seasons- but those words, that dream, still remains the same. It’s still your goal, something for you to aim for – to set your sights on and something that I believe CAN come to fruition. There’s still one important question to consider though, which leads me into my next point.

Secondly, ask yourself the same question Lysa Terkeurst posed- so that I might bless whom? I believe this will help you to identify your motives and whether they include God and blessing others- or not. Perhaps ask God to reveal who you can bless- you might find your dream quickly unravels once you realise how, and who you can be a blessing to.

Thirdly, avoid focusing on who you are now. Remember where you were but focus on where God has brought you to. Think of what you’ve been through and how you’ve grown in those times. All key points, I feel, in establishing the answer to that all important question…so that I might bless whom?

Be encouraged.

“Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of — infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.” (Ephesians 3:20 LB)

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16 ESV