Wednesday, 20 August 2014

A Place of Solace

 Constant Faith

As I sit here, going through what feels like the most difficult circumstances I have found myself dealing with, I have just found solace in the last few evenings in The Twilight Saga. Having finished watching the last film this evening, my mind lingers on things in a different light.

As a Christian, I know there are many who are against these sorts of films, vampires, demons, things that are not healthy to be feeding into your mind. Whilst I truly believe in a supernatural world, one of angels and demonic powers and forces, I do watch this as if I am watching a story. I am comfortable that I am not opening myself up to something that will do me any harm.

I can see the love, for family and friends, the devotion to doing what is right, the willingness to fight for a cause and for the most part, finding a way to fit into a world when you feel like an outsider. Different to others, not being the norm, believing in something because you know it is true having experienced amazing things. Growing up with stories, teachings and personally seeing things happen that you wouldn't dream possible.

We are now, as a family, facing a season in our lives which is incredibly tough. We are making what we know are right decisions to make way for better things in the future. We are tearing down foundations that will not stand strong and rebuilding ones that will be able to withstand the incredible things God has planned for us. Right now, I feel like my brain cannot take any more, I flit from anger at my circumstances, to feeling anxious about the unknown, to feeling complete and utter supernatural peace that God is in control. I'm not going to share what this all relates to because that is on a need to know basis.

What I can share is that I am learning to trust God in a way I have never known. To put aside all my natural tendencies and desires to control and instead fall at God's feet, waiting on Him for something incredible to happen. To persevere, and stand in prayer against things that are not what feels right, to fight for even simple things knowing that justice will prevail, and that God knows every single decision made by every person involved.

My God. Who sends angels to surround us when we are at prayer meetings at our church, who brings words and pictures for others to encourage, direct and bless them. My God. Who has been before me, who knows every hair on my head, who knows my thoughts before they are formed in my head, and who knew me before I was even born. My God. Who can turn every situation around for the good, who can show mercy and grace to anyone who seeks Him, and who guides each step I take whether I know my destination or not.

My God. Who provides me with exactly what I need, when I need it. Who settles my soul, gives me peace, and is my refuge when times are hard. My God. Who doesn't make my life easy at every turn, so that I can grow and mature, and learn how to follow Him no matter what. So that I can see Him at work, and when I can't, He gives me the peace to know that His has already been before me. My God. Who provides the food on the table when we have nothing left at the end of the month, or the fuel in the car when the car is needed for work. Who lights up the darkest of places with a hope that is tangible.

The battle of being a Christian in a world where we are not the norm, where we have to put aside and sometimes fight off the natural tendencies that were given to us in order to live a supernatural life. One that witnesses the power of prayer, that sees breakthrough in tough times, that sees healing, that sees His Holy Spirit at work where to the natural eye you would look straight past.

I am... we are... waiting for our breakthrough, trying to put aside feelings of frustration and despair, and instead hold onto the knowledge that God is in everything with us. The promise that God has it all in hand is one we are not questioning, but when your faith is stretched, it's not gently pulled to a comfortable level, it is pulled to almost breaking point, when you think you can't take any more and then you realise that in Him you can. When you give yourself a good talking to, as my Dad constantly used to say "Just pull yourself together!", stop wasting time fretting and commit it all in prayer once again (even if it's for the hundredth time) knowing that He has heard your heart for every single breath of those prayers.

Being in this world but not of it is a tricky thing. Being able to reach out to people and show them there is so much more to life is amazing, and what is even better, is introducing them to a God that just wants to know them personally, just the way they are. And then He takes us, stretches us, grows us, matures us, and refines us until we are pure and like Him. We might be going through something that we cannot see the reasons for, we might not be able to see the outcome, and we might find it stretching our faith incredibly, but we can assure you that God is at work doing great things. Watch this space!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Dreaming of Green Fingers

Since moving to Norfolk 2 years ago, we have seen our lives change dramatically in many ways. We live in a lovely house, and I still feel like we live in a hotel! It is a new house, and we were the first tenants for our landlord, who is in the armed forces. We moved with very little time to find a house, and this was the last one which would work out in our time scale. The only downside is that is doesn't really have a garden. We have a walled yard, which is covered in gravel and has a few patio slabs - we used to call it our bin enclosure, that's how inspiring it is!lol!

This year we tried to do something with it, and have managed to successfully grow tomatoes, a range of herbs, some mangetout and some sugarsnap peas. Rather unsuccessful were our beans, peppers and strawberries. Earlier in the summer I enquired about the local allotments, finding out the waiting this was terribly long and we could be waiting a few years to get to the top! So, without delay I put our names down, with the dream that we would be allotmenteers in a couple of years once the kids were a little older. I would love to be telling you that we'd be given a plot but it's only been a few months so chances are unlikely. But oh how I have been dreaming of it!lol!

My last 4 years have been focussed on having children - Erin turns 4 in December, Lara turns 3 in March and Caleb will be 1 in October. I love our family, and I love having 3 children, but my life has just been completely engulfed in being a mummy and a home maker. I am craving for a hobby, something that will be worthwhile, something that I can get my teeth into, learn new skills and ultimately pass onto my children. Gardening; the cultivating, the nurturing, the sewing and reaping, up close and with hands dirty, back to the simple things in life. I cannot wait. I know I have a steep learning curve, but I'm really excited that as a family we'll be getting stuck in together!

Now we are debt free (Yay! Another post for another day!) I am looking forward to a fresh start, new beginnings and find myself excited about the future again. Whilst I patiently (Please note, in reality I am not very patient!) wait for our little plot of land I will be gathering together books on gardening, saving up to buy the tools we will need, and researching thrifty and creative ways of doing things in the garden. After all, just because we are now debt free, doesn't mean we stop being wise with our money. I look forward to posting our gardening adventures in the future!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Faith: A Reality

 Constant Faith

Just over 5 years ago was our Wedding Day, a day of promise of a life to come and many adventures ahead of us. Last year, we were blessed with the gift of a son, a brother to our two daughters, and we entered the realms of having three children under the age of three. The last 3 years we have been tackling some debt that has tried to define our lives, but instead we have been transformed. Rather than taking the view that we were missing out on so much (although we did have days like that, don’t get me wrong!) we have found that it has transformed our faith immeasurably. Getting to the last week before payday most months with around £10 (sometimes less) left in the bank account for a family of five to live on has been tough. It has meant that we have relied on our faith in God to not only keep the panic at bay and give us peace that it will all be ok, but the reality of relying on Him to provide the food on the table and the fuel in the car.

Before now, I thought I had a strong faith, one that I could rely on to guide any of my decisions, a faith that gave me guidance and direction when all logical thoughts couldn’t make sense of it all. God gave me pictures and words to help me, and my spirit directed my feelings about everything. When I have conflicting advice or the worlds view doesn’t quite sit right, I can be safe in the knowledge that God has it covered. That He has been before me and set a path for me to walk on. This path isn’t necessarily straight or obstacle free, and it isn’t always clear; but refinement comes from hardship, and maturity comes from experience. From someone who likes to know exactly what, when and how in every aspect possible, I have had to learn that as long as I know where to place my foot next, that is all that is important. What comes from the fog that can sometimes descend in a situation is the blind faith in God that has to be a daily choice. Listening to His direction, bringing all challenges to Him, laying down any worries at His feet and making the choice to do it willingly and faithfully. Sometimes it is easy to make a wise decision. To lay out all the facts and make a justified, well thought out plan, to take advice from a select few you deem wise around you and wait for everything to fall into place without any difficulty. How many times has that been your experience?! It certainly hasn’t been mine, and whilst there have been times like that, I can probably only count them on one hand, two at most.

For me, to romantically describe it as a journey of discovery would be to skim over the heartbreak, the gut wrenching despair, and the complete helplessness I have felt at times. These times have lead to a choice as to whether I let myself sink into despair, as that would be the worldly reaction, or to pull myself out and try and find the silver lining. To focus on the bigger picture, and to believe that there is a purpose to everything. I believe in a God who knows no limits, who can turn everything round for the good, and who wants me to become more and more like Him. That refinement and maturing that is required is not easy, and why should it be? When you are left with absolutely nothing, only then to you realise that you have everything you need – A God who is faithful, a God who is unwavering, a God who is mighty, and awesome and who above all has chosen YOU despite all your faults and failures. He knew us before we were born, He knows every hair on our heads, He knows our innermost thoughts and desires because He crafted us individually with purpose.

If you take one thing from this post, let it be that there is a God out there who knows you better than anyone even if you don’t know Him personally yourself. That He is above everything and is waiting for us to take the time to know Him, learn from Him, trust Him and love Him.

Nothing is beyond my God. And I wholly put my faith in Him wherever that may lead me, and our family because there is no better reason for living, that to be His servant. I cannot take my worldly possessions with me, and although in reality it can make life easier, it cannot bring me the salvation that is what truly transforms our lives, now and forever.