You go before me

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You go before me. You’re there beside me
And if I wander, love will find me
Goodness and mercy will always follow
You go before me. my Guardian

It was Saturday morning and the church was filled with women. It was the women’s ‘word and worship’ event and I was just finishing my apple pastry when the band began to play, a signal that it was time to sing – one of my favourite things to do!

These lyrics were displayed on the screen. I knew the song, I had sung it many times before on a Sunday.
But on this morning, I didn’t just sing the words as I always do, I actually read them.

I believed them.

On this Saturday morning, with tears in my eyes, I sang these words with a whole new meaning, because these are the words I have been needing to hear.

These are the words I have been waiting for.

They were there all along, and I have sung them time and time again.

I was just not paying attention.

Do you ever feel like you are stumbling in the dark with no guidance, with no protection or even understanding of where you are going or why?
You know that there is always a lesson to learn but what on earth could this lesson be – and you question if this is a lesson or a punishment?

He goes before you, as the lyrics say, and he is always there beside you.
You are never alone because He is always with you.

The road ahead is not unknown because He knows where you are going and he goes there first, to lead the way, to guide you through. And if you can put your trust in him, if you have faith that he is guiding the way, then there will be no more reason to be afraid of the dark.
Then you can wipe away tears and tread boldly into the wilderness, clothed in your armour and armed with His word.

We may not know what lies ahead, but we can trust that he will lead us, we can have faith that ‘goodness and mercy will always follow’.

At the end of the service I stepped forward for prayer and a very lovely lady prayed for me as the band began to play once again. Afterward she reminded me of Psalm 119:105

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path

One of the hardest things to do is to face the unknown, and this can be one of the loneliest times, when you feel like no-one else can understand or comprehend how your situation feels. When it seems as though everyone around you is carefree and happy, and you can’t imagine that anyone else wakes up in the morning with a head full of doom and gloom.

But You can handle it – He knows this.

Stand strong in Him and be guided by His light, for he is your guardian.


Please do come and join us for this week’s ‘Unprompted’. The link up is now open and we can’t wait to read your posts! Remember – this is unprompted! So anything goes! Even if you simply want to share a bible verse, a photo or a nugget of wisdom we would love you to join us!

Just as you are

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It’s my favourite moment in Bridget Jones’s diary. The moment when Marc Darcy looks Bridget straight in the eyes and says ‘I like you very much. Just the way you are’.

What girl doesn’t want to be liked for who she is? We can wear hair extensions and fake tan and gel nails and pluck and primp and wax and conceal and make over, but what we are all hoping for deep in our hearts, is for someone to want us for exactly who we are.

If you are anything like me then you are someone who would roll your eyes at a compliment, someone whose brain cogs would be turning, trying to work out the hidden agenda. It can be hard to believe from others, what you do not believe yourself.

But you are beautiful, because of who you are. Each one of us is uniquely and lovingly created by God and this is what makes us beautiful. Beauty doesn’t mean long brown legs, d-cups and doe eyes.

Beautiful is a God-filled heart. Beautiful is the girl with the gentle spirit, full of compassion and love. Beautiful is the girl who chooses to forgive when others cannot. Beautiful is the girl who can’t help but help. The girl who puts others before herself.

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

1 Peter 3:3-4

For some people, hearing you are beautiful, inside or out, feels like a lie, and I get this. When you want so much to feel beautiful, to be noticed, but reflected back in the mirror is not what you want to see it is easy to feel ugly.

But perhaps the only way to accept that you truly are beautiful in all the ways that matter, is to tip your perspective on it’s head.

Change what you think beauty means!

She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her.

Proverbs 3:15

With so many shapes and sizes and colours and personailties in this world, it is just not possible for beauty to mean only one thing!

So what is it that makes you beautiful? Take a good look and I know there will be a huge list. God knows your heart, he knows all the beauty inside you.

It’s there for you to celebrate, to be proud of because you are exactly what God wants you to be.

Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.

Psalm 34:5

I am linking up today with Holley Gerth and a load of lovely bloggers for Coffee for you heart. This week we are writing words of encouragement about beauty, please come and join us!

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When your skin finally fits

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Fourteen years ago, a girl I didn’t know said this to me.

‘When you get into your twenties, you will stop being so bothered about how you look and start feeling comfortable with who you are, just you wait!’.

Fourteen years ago I was twelve and I had been invited to a house party down the road by a friend’s aunt to see in the Millennium. At twelve, I was well aware of my well developed figure, I knew how to giggle and flutter my lashes to catch attention and I was very interested in older boys. But despite my outward confidence and apparent bravado around the opposite sex, I was just a typical twelve year old girl with a huge list of insecurities.

I envied many of my friends, with their perky b-cup breasts and teeny tiny figures. I envied their hair colour, the clothes they wore, the attention they received and so much more.

I so wanted to be like the older girls with all their beauty, popularity and appeal.

So when I heard what this stranger had to say I thought – Wow! Is this really true? Will I one day forget to criticise myself and just be me?

I was sceptical, as I’m sure many young teenagers would be since most of a teenage girl’s life is about looking like a magazine cover, but I never forgot her words.

I never stopped waiting for it to happen.

I am now nearing my twenty-seventh birthday and in so many ways I still feel like my twelve year old self. I still want to be noticed and I still want to be pretty and I still envy my tiny size six friends.

But I no longer dislike what I am. I still dye my hair because my natural colour is drab, and I still think all my clothes make me look fat, and I still need attention.

But I don’t hide under a layer of make-up, and I don’t shy away from the public swimming pool. I wear what makes me feel pretty and sometimes I slob at home in jogging bottoms and a huge nightie that I wore when I was pregnant.

And when my husband-to-be comes home and plants a kiss on me despite my pussycat slippers, or my pineapple up-do or my fluffy pink dressing gown which he hates so much, and when I meet with girlfriends and we are more excited by our children than our outfits, and more interested in our lives than our looks I realise that girl was right.

At almost twenty seven, I am not concerned with the post pregnancy stretch marks and popping to the shops with no make-up on is no longer unheard of, I can brush my hair off my face without feeling like a boy and my scales are rarely stood upon.

At almost twenty seven, my skin finally fits.

unprompted

Welcome to the second installment of the brand new link up – Unprompted – Please feel free to join us, we can’t wait to read your posts! Just click on the link below to join in and please do leave some words of encouragement for your neighbours!

Everyday epiphanies

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I am not one for great epiphanies. This means sometimes I don’t feel qualified to write.

Where others write freely about their life-changing thoughts, or that amazing thing that happened to them that completely changed their way of thinking, I find myself questioning if that thought I just had was me being completely profound, or unintentionally recycling someone else’s words.

So I don’t have world altering moments of clarity, or any kind of light bulb above my head, perhaps I am not smart enough, or quick enough, or perhaps my life is just not interesting enough, or maybe I am not in community enough to experience these.

But for me, epiphanies come in the every day.

It’s that moment after a long night shift when you notice a pink sky so vibrant you just have to stop and look for a while – because sometimes beauty just needs to be appreciated.

It’s when my one year old reaches his arms out to me – when he wants only me – and I think – this whole being a mum thing is pretty wonderful!

It’s in the sliding between fresh sheets after three sleepless nights and knowing it was all worth it.

It’s that song that brings you to tears and you just don’t know why – and you realize that it’s ok, because sometimes it’s ok to cry for no reason.

It’s in the way a simple scent can send you back twenty years. The way you can move through time with the slightest whiff or taste. How memories, long forgotten, can be recalled without permission – because remembering is not a choice.

I may not be churning out inspiration, or spouting quote-worthy advice, or having moments of complete clarity and understanding – but I am sure enjoying my everyday epiphanies.

I am linking up today at Ruth’s page for the brand new ‘Unprompted’ Link up. It’s all about being brave and just writing – unprompted – for the love of it! Please join us!

Coffee for your heart

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The new year is fresh and so full of hope and potential, and yes – sometimes new can be terrifying and potential can make you feel stuck in a rut when what you really want is success. But this is a beginning, and with so many bumps in the road of the last year, this can only be a better one!

It’s time to pack up those feelings, the thoughts of failure and I’m-sorry-I-didn’t-do-better because they do not define you. You only become a failure when you allow yourself to believe it.

God is working in you, showing you the parts of yourself that need tending to, much like a garden, sometimes weeds need removing, and failing buds need love and space to breathe, more tender loving care to achieve greatness.

He wants to show you the parts of yourself you are hiding, the things that are holding you back and the tools you hold within you – the tools with which you can do amazing things.

So forget the apologies and know that you are loved through pitfalls and setbacks, know that these apparent steps backwards are the things that make success all the more sweeter.

Take comfort in knowing that He will be with you through every day of the new year and each new year to come.

Trust in him and he will make oceans part.

I am linking up today with Holley Gerth and a whole bunch of encouragers! for Coffee for your Heart. Each week we write words of encouragement and empowerment to others. Visit hollygerth.com to join in!

A letter to home

We stood in that empty living room space, just the two of us, with one rug on the floor surrounded by fold out chairs. The room felt so big and our voices echoed off of the walls.

Cross-legged on the rug, we pieced tubes of glass together to later be hung over the bare bulbs on the ceiling.

Our bed was the first thing he built, so that we could sleep well on our first night ‘home’.

Brand new furniture was released from countless cardboard boxes and as he built the set to our new life together, I scrubbed skirting boards, and as he fixed coving I arranged furniture.

Together – we made our home.

This teeny tiny home with it’s two bedrooms and kitchen that only allows manoeuvring by dance if more than one enters. This little nugget haven that wraps it’s arms around you and whispers – you are safe – this cosy little space that requires a duvet on the sofa and mandatory snuggling to stay warm.

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I see the hidden corners in my kitchen and can remember clearly that first day, the baby cat hiding inside crevices, my terror as I imagined she would never come out, and I remember the tears when I thought she might die of fright and I would be the world’s worst pet owner. I remember how he tore apart kitchen panels to rescue her, and to rescue me.

Then came the second kitten, my suprise after weeks of asking for him. The kitten who liked the washing machine a little too much – again and again I would cancel cycles just to check I hadn’t accidentally loaded on top of him – just to stop my heart from beating through my chest with fear.

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This little home is lovingly scratched and torn by these two house guests, and still they adorn furniture with their lazy, warm, sleepy bodies.

This is the little home where I spent my pregnancy. The home that housed me as I grew and grew. The bed that had me rolling in discomfort all night, and the sofa that offered him respite when my fidgeting became unbearable.

And that bedroom, so small, yet so lovingly painted by grandad, decorated and cleansed and refurnished in preparation of the little one’s arrival.

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This is the tiny home that welcomed our beautiful little boy, that sheltered me in darkness as I sobbed through sleepless nights, the walls that witnessed that first smile, the first bath and all the many wonderful milestones since he was born.

This home hosted his very first birthday party and is adorned with Christmas golds and greens and reds each year. It’s walls are filled with the smells of countless sausage casseroles and fresh baked cakes and merry marshmallow yankee candles.
This is my little home, and although I have no room for hanging laundry, no storage space at all and no garden for my son to play, this has been the stage for so many magical and wonderful moments of life – and it’s really not the size of the house, the number of rooms or whether or not you have a dishwasher or tumble dryer that makes a home, but the company shared, the many cups of tea brewed, the food enjoyed, the laughter and tears and all the many memories..

these are the things that make this little house a home.

I am linking up today with Ruth at Learning {one day at a time} for the final installment of ‘Letters to’. Please join us with your ‘Letter to home’, we’d love to read it!

Permission to blog?

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You may have heard it many times. You may have experienced it. That moment when you are so full of enthusiasm to write that you just can’t wait to sit, collect the jumble of thoughts and tap away on those keys. The excitement you feel as the first few flickers of inspiration give way to a fire flowing through your fingertips into a masterpiece ready to hit publish.

But how many times do you write, and too afraid to present your thoughts to the world simply ‘save draft’. Or how many times do you not write at all, trapped in fear of who-wants-to-hear-what-I-have-to-say!

I myself have become a victim of prompt dependency. You give me just one word and I will write. Ideas will explode like fireworks and the only real problem is choosing which one to develop, to nurture into life. But when I am faced with my own ideas, with no prompt, no theme and no clue what in my world is actually worth writing about, I fall short of the mark.

I write because it’s what I love, but I have countless saved drafts that I do not love. I have countless saved drafts that have not been prompted and I therefore deem as not worthy of anyone’s time.

Does this sound like you? Do you feel like your own ideas are not worth it? Do you only write when you have permission to do so? When you have permission to tag onto that theme, and to link up on that site?

Well guess what? You don’t need permission to blog!

Your thoughts and feelings mean something, so write them! So share them! and let others know what is going on in your world. Don’t wait for that weekly prompt to grant you permission, because when you do, there are stories getting lost amidst the fear, there are I-totally-know-what-you-are-feeling moments being passed by.

It doesn’t have to be life changing, or a work of art – because it’s real – it’s you in your words!

Prompts are a great way to get your creative juices flowing and connect with like-minded writers, to make new potential friends and stir thoughts in deep, hidden places you might not have otherwise looked, but don’t let the prompts be all that you are and all that you have to say.

Life is not prompted!

Your life is unscripted and full of moments with the potential to make others laugh, to inspire, to comfort and create bridges.

So if this is you, waiting to be allowed to blog, then join me this year in being brave. In writing your life and sharing your world in words and pictures.

Just write.

Because you want to.

Because you love it.

Because you don’t need permission.

Look out for our BRAND NEW LINK UP – Unprompted. We will be kicking off this fantastic new link up opportunity at Ruth’s page on Tuesday 14th January! Hope to see you all there!

Fight (five minute friday)

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I almost gave up.

I didn’t want to, but at that moment in time I was ready to give it all up. One word and I would have walked away. 

With arguments piled one on top of another and it’s no longer who loves who more but who is right or wrong – and when you work so hard at smiling through fear with an everything-is-fine and a knot in your stomach and all you see is frowns and the grunt of resignation – it is so easy to give up.

So I prayed as I sobbed, and I made plans I knew I would never carry out – I curled knees to chin and enveloped myself completely, face pressed into my body, the heat of breath on sore eyelids.

Deep breath – what is it you really want?

What is it I really want?

I want to be happy, but I want to be happy with you.

I want to be the best mummy, but I want daddy with me.

I want to fight, but I want to fight with you and not against you.

I want to grow and learn from mistakes and look back in ten years and laugh at the here and now. I want to know that one day it will get easier, that there will be fruits to show for all the hard work so seemingly fruitless. I want cuddles and kisses and tender words and all the things we used to be and so quickly forgot.

I want to look back and know that I did the right thing, that we did the right thing.

I want to know that it is all worth it, that fighting is worth it – because I’m so sure it is.

Five Minute Friday

I am linking up today with Lisa-Jo Baker and a bunch of lovely people for Five Minute Friday, please come and join us!

One Word for the 365 days of 2014

Organise

There are few occasions when I check my bank balance. I always have a rough idea through mental calculation but I never know for sure. This is because checking my balance sometimes makes me feel like my heart is going to stop. My stomach is sinking and the tingling of anxiety is rushing through my extremeties. This might sound extreme, but this is the way I feel when I just don’t know what figure is about to appear. And so I rarely check, and in true catch-22 form, the longer I don’t check, the scarier the task becomes.

‘Oh I really must do that!’ is a conversation I have often with myself, as I mentally spank myself for not filling in that form or making that important phone call. I have a tendency to put things off because, of course, it’s just no fun if you are not dashing about in a mad-panic-rush to meet a deadline!

Even text messages from friends are left unanswered for longer than is deemed socially acceptable, if replied to at all. And it’s not because I don’t have good intentions, it’s not because I don’t value my friendships or because I so enjoy the heart-racing panic of trying to make it to a doctors appointment on time, but because disorganisation breeds disorganisation. That phone call that was supposed to be made two days ago can wait another day right? and the bank balance won’t change just because I check it so what’s the point? And my friends know that I am terrible at replying to messages so it doesn’t matter that I forget does it?

My days are slowly becoming consumed with irritation as I am once again in a flurry of activity with a list as long as my arm to complete before I can leave the house, so for twenty fourteen I will be focusing on the word ‘organise’ to straighten my life out a bit, which means my bank balance will no longer be a mystery and my kitchen no longer a breeding ground for unanswered mail.

With this word, I am giving myself the chance to take a break from the panic and the anxiety and enjoy the flow of life without all the hustle and bustle caused by putting things off and always running late.

Can you think of One Word to focus on for 2014? One Word that could make a much needed change in your life? Why not join in with a whole bunch of lovely people for this year’s ONEWORD365.

A letter to start anew

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A lot has happened for me in the last year and as we near the close of 2013 I am well and truly a bag of mixed emotions. This year has been a year of lost jobs, broken relationships, financial stress and many tears along the way. But it has also been a year of big open-mouthed baby kisses, of learning to crawl, of being called ‘mama’ and my heart swelling to bursting point with such love and joy.

On December 18th, I celebrated my gorgeous boy turning one and I can hardly believe it has been a year, I can hardly believe he was less than a week old this time last year. And as the time flies so quickly I am reminded of just how fast change happens, how although life can sometimes seem too hard, it will keep going, and so must we.

As my father-in-law always say ‘no matter what happens in life, I will always sit down to Christmas dinner, I don’t know where I will be but I know I will have turkey’.

No matter how we feel in the present, there will always come a time when it’s over, when we can look back and think ‘that was awful, i’m glad it has passed’, the important thing is to keep pressing through until this point comes. So this is my intention for 2014, to keep pressing through, to work at fixing relationships, to continue watching my child grow with a thankful heart, to strengthen my relationship with God and learn to trust in His plan for me.

I hope and pray that the new year will be better than the last but whatever happens, I know I will sit down to Turkey on Christmas day.

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This fortnight’s Letters To is ‘A letter to start anew’. Are you making any new year resolutions? Perhaps you want to share your reflection on the last year, whatever is in your heart, we would love to read it! The link will be open for two weeks, please join us!