How to feel God’s love in your heart, not just your head.

I’ve spent years telling people about God’s love. How ridiculously, brilliantly, marvelously, ginormously amazing and unconditional it is.

I’m a bit of a broken record on this one, can you tell?

I know He loves you like that – and me too.

The problem is, I rarely feel it.

I know it in my head, just not in my heart.

I don’t feel it like I long to. Do you? Do you feel God’s love as much as you crave to?

I don’t, and in fact I’m jealous of people who do.

I ache to feel its tender caress, breathe in its comforting aroma, and hear its melody. I long to be shaken by its power and left breathless by the intensity of its embrace.

Do you too? Are you aching to feel His love more than you do?     Continue Reading

When sitting still moves you forward

 

When our kids were little we loved We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. In verses that repeat the same upbeat refrain, it’s the humorous story of a family’s adventure to find a bear. Along the way they encounter tall grass, a wide river, a big dark forest, thick oozy mud, a swirling whirling snowstorm and a narrow dark cave, all brought to life in delightful illustrations.

At each new obstacle, we’d join in shouting, in our normal over the top theatrics,

“We can’t go over it, we can’t go under it. Oh no! We’ve got to go through it!” before pretending to squelch through the oozy mud, or stumble and trip through the forest. Once we found the bear we’d turn and run back through the cave, the storm, forest, mud and river, screaming all the way, before collapsing in a heap of giggles.

Buried deep in the giggles and dramatics, there’s a simple yet profound story I still grapple with today. It gently whispers the harsh reality of encountering life’s obstacles and difficult seasons; we can’t ignore, avoid or go round them – we must go through them.

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What to Do When You’re Angry with God

If God had a face, I’d have punched it.

That’s how angry I was.

My anger wasn’t a red hot, raging anger, but a smoldering slow burn, built up over time, corroding my heart and soul, straining our relationship.

I’d lost my mum and then my sister to cancer.

Now it was my turn.

He had to be kidding me?

The injustice. The grief. The unknown future. My kids, what about my sweet children?

Was He deaf and blind to all I’d been through and the damage heading my way.

I was mad. Deep, dark, smoldering mad. Wouldn’t you be?

What should I do with this smoking time bomb of anger?

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Is There Anyone Else There?

Trusting God isn’t Easy, but it IS a Choice.

There’s an old story that tells of a young man who tripped and fell while taking an early morning walk along the cliff tops above the ocean. Suddenly he found himself hurtling towards the jagged rocks below. Half way down he grabbed hold of a scrawny branch growing out of the cliff face. He clung on for dear life, dangling precariously above the raging surf shouting for help for what seemed like hours. So far from the cliff top, with the roar of the surf below, his shouts went unheard.

“Help, help. Is anyone there?”

Eventually he heard a voice, “Yes I’m here. Do you need help?”

“Yes, yes desperately. I’m about to fall – please help me.” He shouted.

“I’m happy to.” Said the voice.

“I can’t see you. Where are you?” The guy shouted; his hands about to slip.

“Oh you can’t see me.” Said the voice, “I’m God.”

“Oh! OK, that’s fine, I just need you to get me to safety.”

“I can do that,” said God, “I just need you to trust me and let go of the branch.”

“WHAT? You want me to let go? If I do that I’ll be smashed to bits on the rocks, and even if that doesn’t kill me, I’ll drown.”

“If you let go I’ll save you,” reiterated God. “I promise.”

The man pondered silently. Time stood still.

“Is anyone else there?” He shouted.

Whether you’re dangling thousands of feet above the rocks or overwhelmed by the junk life likes to throw our way, trusting God can seem like a gargantuan leap of faith or sheer madness.

My cancer diagnosis (rectal cancer – I know, there’s nothing sexy about it and it doesn’t come with a cuddly pink teddy bear) sent me plummeting over the cliff, leaving me clinging to that branch.

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Don’t Shop Lift, and Other Resolutions I Can’t Promise to Keep.

How are those New Years resolutions going? Did you make any? I didn’t. I knew I wouldn’t keep them.

Resolutions are so black and white, demanding success or failure, and in this uncertain world, failure to keep my resolutions is my only certainty. I end up beating myself up and feeling like a screw up, but when I’ve got enough on my shoulders I don’t need guilt and shame to hitch a ride.When I've got enough on my shoulders I don't need guilt and shame to hitch a ride. Click To Tweet

That’s why I didn’t set resolutions this year and why you shouldn’t either. Instead, I set intentions; they focus on our inner desires to move forward, not the external results of whether we did. Intentions bread hope out of desire rather than guilt out of failure.Intentions bread hope out of desire rather than guilt out of failure. Click To Tweet

If you did set resolutions why not switch them into intentions (it’s not too late) so you can offer yourself grace when you veer off the path you planned and live happily ever after. Grace isn’t an excuse for not trying, but it is forgiveness for our guilt swamped hearts – and we all need more more of that in our success driven world don’t we?

Here are some of my 2017 resolutions I turned into intentions.

In 2017 I intend to;

1.Have a daily quiet time .

Sitting down with the creator of the universe, reading the book he wrote for us, worshipping, listening, and asking for His help with all that’s wrong in the world and my life, is THE best thing I could do to kick off my day. Yet experience tells me I won’t manage everyday and that’s ok. I know He’s with me and loves me anyway. But my intention won’t change.

2.Remember to feed the dogs.Continue Reading

Fear Fighting: Beating The Beast of Worry

As New Year’s Eve approached and 2016 began to dwindle I meant to do so much; transfer dreams from my heart to tangible goals on paper, choose a “Word” for 2017, write more, post more, ask you dear friends what you’re going through and how I might help best. Add to that the mountain of family “stuff” I want/need to do, like spend time with my kids without saying “have you tidied your room?” and get my son’s 19th birthday present in the post before he turns 35.

But I’ve procrastinated, putting things off under the camouflage of “It’s the holidays, I’ll do it in the new year.” But the new year is here, the door has closed on 2016, and 2017 stands open and inviting, but still, like a bunny in headlights, I freeze.

Why? Because I’m afraid.

There I said it. I’m frightened.

Procrastination is the visible face of ours hidden fears. Procrastination is the visible face of ours hidden fears. Click To Tweet

I’m frightened of failing, looking stupid, what you’ll think, getting it wrong, what might happen, upsetting people, of failing (I’ know I said that, but that really scares me), and I hate the thought of letting everyone down.

As I sat at the kitchen table this morning pouring my heart out to God, He lead me to Joshua 1:9. The familiar verse reminds us (actually it commands us) to not be afraid because He’s with us. He nailed it – what’s the worst that could happen if He’s with me? Then He and gently reminded me that my sweet friend Kelly Balarie had sent me a guest post about Beating the Beast of Worry. So I’m sharing my fears with you, just as she shares hers with us all, to encourage us that God is with us, and we needn’t be afraid.

Kelly’s a gem and a cheerleader of everyone she meets. Let’s live 2017 fearless – Oh, I think I’ve found my word for 2017!! FEARLESS!!

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My Christmas To-BE List

“Twas two nights before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”

Except me, that is.

And quite possibly you.

That’s because 50% of people suffer from insomnia due to stress, and Christmas is so stressful that 45% of American would rather skip it altogether. That’s so sad, and unfortunately for us ladies, we’re twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than men. Whoever said Christmas was a time of peace obviously hadn’t seen my action list – it’s more Old Testament scroll than post-it note.

So if you’re the one stirring in the wee hours while the mice are snoring loudly, you’re not alone. It’s only two days until Christmas and there are still presents to buy, cards to send, mall madness to navigate, children to ferry around, and painful memories to wade through.

So what’s a girl to do? Is more tea and coffee in the morning the only answer?

As you know, I’m a self confessed list keeper, with lists of the lists I have to make. They calm me – the very act of committing things to paper unburdens my small and overworked mind. There’s my supermarket list, Target list, thank you note list, present list, Christmas card list, meal plan list, and the list of “people who sent me cards that I really must add to our Christmas card list.”

This year I added my  To-Don’t list. It’s a brilliant reminder of all the things I don’t want to do this Christmas, like saying yes to every invitation, laundry and thinking I need a perfect house to have a lovely Christmas.

The To-don’t list helped destress me, but as the grey dawn of morning announces a new day, I’m reminded that I need to look inwards, as well as outwards, this Christmas. So I’ve made a To-Be List. The goal of the To-Be List is not to name everything Facebook and the world of CrestWhite smiles and TV commercials tells me I need to be, but rather, to list everything I’d like to be this Christmas, to be fully me – the me God created me to be.

Here’s a taster of my To-Be List.

This Christmas I want to BE;

  • Present in the present – it’s so easy to fixate on hurts and failures in our past, and worry about all that’s to come in the year ahead. When we do, we find ourselves absent from the moment, unengaged in the present. I want to BE PRESENT emotionally, physically and spiritually. That means putting the past and the future in God’s hands.
  • Brave and awkward – Christmas can be  a smorgasbord of difficult situations, strained relationships and uneasy conversations. When we bravely choose to step into the awkward, vulnerable places in love, we are choosing connection over division.
  • Myself – So much easier said than done, but I want to embrace the me I was created to be. I often hide the real me away, believing the world and the enemy when they say I’m too brash, not good enough, embarrassing, a lousy friend, and in need of a little refining. Yet God says we’re enough and He loves us just as we are.
  • The light in someone else’s darkness – Christmas isn’t light and laughter for everyone. For many there’ll be empty places at the table, children’s stocking lying unfilled, medical diagnoses to navigate and financial burdens to carry, all darkening the silent, holy nights of the season. Being the light in someone else’s dark times can be as simple as a hug that says “I know it’s hard and painful right now, and I’m so, so sorry.”
  • The first one eating chocolate on Christmas morning. Some traditions must never fade with the passage of time, and this is one of them. As kids, as soon as my we found the Smartie packets (delicious English multicolored chocolate buttons a bit like M&M’s, but waaaaay better!) buried deep in our stockings we’d start munching. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without chocolate for a pre-breakfast snack.
  • With Jesus – Not taking time to be with Jesus; celebrating the meaning of His birth and the impact it’s had on us all, would be like throwing a massive party and not spending a moment with the birthday boy. He’s the reason for the season and I want to be with Him.

What do you want to be this Christmas?

Will you join me in being present in the present, leaving our messy pasts and unknown futures in God’s hands? Can you step into the awkward situations that lead to healing, bravely choosing the path to connection over division? Who’s the real you – the one God knitted in your mother’s womb? Can you be that person this Christmas? Is there someone in your life that could do with a hug and a little light in their darkness? What would it look like to take time to be with Jesus in the business of the next few days – a church service, rereading the nativity story with your kids, or maybe five minutes of quiet just breathing Him in?

When we combine our doing with our being, taking turns to do then be, we make wonderful Christmas music; do-be-do-be-do!!

When we combine our doing with our being, taking turns to do then be, we make wonderful Christmas… Click To Tweet Will you sing with me this Christmas?

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

PS. If you want to try and beat me to the Smarties on Christmas morning you can find them here – but hurry, I’ve already got mine.

PPS. It’s not too late to grab your

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Write a To-Don’t List This Christmas

My mother was a list maker and I’ve inherited her penchant for check lists and notepads along with her hazel eyes and prominent Roman nose. I make shopping lists, to-do lists, people I need to call lists, and yes, even lists of the lists I have to make. I’ve got it bad friends.

It’s all in a veiled attempt to stay on top of things; remain in control and sane at all times. But it’s not working – life seems perpetually out of control and I hate feeling I’m constantly in danger of loosing it. What “it” is, I’m not entirely sure – I just know I can’t be without it.

The more out of control I feel, the tighter I hold on, gripping harder and harder, until one final squeeze sends life flying out of my hands like a wet bar of soap.

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How To Be Thankful When You’re Not

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Sometimes I just don’t feel thankful. Call me a spoiled brat if you like, but don’t we all feel like that on occasion? Especially when life’s hard.

Despite the Hallmark sentiments and overstuffed turkeys, sometimes we can’t summon the energy, let alone the desire, to be thankful for a life that’s left us gasping for air.

We’re not grateful.

We don’t feel blessed.

We’re tired, fed up and ready for things to change.

I get it. I really do.

Yet despite these feelings we know we should be grateful. Whether it’s our mother’s voice ingrained on our psyche or our God-given moral compass, we know if we’re not grateful, we’re entitled, and that horrifies us.

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Telling God Our Secrets.

Come on, let’s admit it, we all keep secrets.

You may not have a body buried under your patio or be laundering more than your undies in your washing machine, but chances are you have a little family of secrets about God hidden away somewhere.

I know I do.

Like secrets everywhere they’re quiet and corrosive. Staying hidden, even from us, their creator, they persuade us they’re an illusion with no affect on our thoughts and actions.

They’re sneaky like that.

But they are real.

When I find myself overwhelmed, anxious and scrolling through Facebook in a vain attempt to escape reality, only to come away feeling inadequate and less than, the chances are one of these secrets is beginning to itch.

And every itch just wants to be scratched.

 

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