Life’s loving motivators.

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As I looked at the assault course in front of me all I could think was this:

‘It’s total wipeout NI edition and I’m going to die.’

Yes I was being melodramatic, yes I could swim and yes I was thankful that if I weed myself in fright the water would hide the evidence.

At the same moment as being nervous I was also excited. It’d been a while since I took on a challenge that I wasn’t sure I could complete. We do that sometimes don’t we? Avoid the things that scare us and take on other things that we know we can accomplish with at least a little bit of confidence.

In my borrowed wetsuit I lined up to jump the 10ft drop into the icy water and with my brain telling me ‘nope!’ I told it to ‘shhh’ as I flung myself in.

Shortly after that, somewhere on the north coast of Northern Ireland on a huge inflatable assault course, I was doing my best beached hippo impression. My legs refused to propel me anywhere and my arms were far from cooperative as I tried to lug my not so petite frame onto the first actual obstacle! At that moment I was unsure what to do. Do I carry on, or do I maintain that I’m happy bobbing here in my life jacket with a cheery ‘you guys go on ahead!’ attitude?

My Upper body strength was non-existent, turns out my training schedule of writing and eating cake had not fully prepared me for the challenge. Note to self: get back to the gym!

But do you know something? I laughed so much! I learnt so much. I overcame a little bit of that voice in my head that told me I couldn’t and was helped along the way by two extraordinary women who loved me enough to drag my behind onto the inflatables and wouldn’t give up until I’d completed a circuit with them.

‘You can do it!’ became the phrase of the hour!

Confession: In moments of challenge I struggle asking for help.

My two crazy NI companions taught me something – that I should ask more and be unashamed to do so!

Doing things solo doesn’t always make you strong, it makes you alone.

Ironically I have a saying on my wall at home that says ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’

Even more ironically my last blog post was on the same topic!

… for so many of us asking for help comes with a cost, the cost of our pride. Since that experience on the doorstep I’ve learnt that asking for help isn’t a failure, it’s an incredible strength. Allowing someone into your life to help you achieve something outside of your gifting is far from a weakness – it’s wisdom.

When will I learn to read signs (or re-read my own blog posts!)?  Turns out I’m a slow learner!

The literal obstacles in front of me meant I couldn’t go alone or fast, but with help, I could get further than I imagined.

And after I’d achieve the goal and jumped off a giant inflatable cliff hand in hand with my own personal cheer squad I felt awesome!

Some people possess the amazing gift of making you want to be a better person.

Not in a competitive sense but in the sense that you want just a little more of what they have. Whether it’s that extra capacity to love, their generosity, their optimism, they make you want to be more and do more in life.

These are life’s loving motivators. They’re rare, so if you find one, don’t let them disappear. No matter the distance or the time not speaking, check in with them again. (I mean it, get on it now!) As I’m proving in the blogosphere – we all need constant reminders and support to carry on through this life.

Our loving motivators in life are the ones that ‘bare with’ when you’re stuck, they hold out a hand to pull you through the next obstacle or become your biggest fan club in the moments that you face your own hurdle.

They’re not afraid to share their vulnerability with you, helping you be brave enough and strong enough to share your own.

These are the kinds of people that I want to be more like. I want to love more, have more patience, coach more, be one of life’s loving motivators.

Let’s face it, if there were more people who loved in the world there’d be less to fight about, more goals conquered and more lives transformed.

This work in progress girl has had an epic week.

She’s walked llamas, body-boarded for the first time, drunk her bodyweight in tea, had heart to hearts in power cuts, eaten cheesecake the size of her head, seen sunsets and rain storms, been challenged, loved and treated like family, walked the story of CS Lewis, enjoyed chicken with old friends and played boardgames with new ones and she’s been to Barry’s. (She’s also regained her NI accent in places!).

All in a weeks work when you’re friends with this amazing girl!

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Thanks Morrison 😉 x

Locked out

As I stood on the doorstep with my arm lodged in a letterbox trying to grab the keys to open the door, I made a mental note – there has to be a blog post in this.

The irony of turning cat burglar in an attempt to rescue the dog I’d managed to lock inside the house was not lost on me.

As I look at it now it was a day full of fails, highlighted only by the fact my awesome friend Katie had come to visit from Ireland for the weekend. She was now freezing in the car taking photo’s of the epic ginger fail that was unfolding before her eyes.

Stood on that doorstep I became determined that I wouldn’t be moving until I’d open the door. Determination turned to stubbornness as I rooted through the car for various implements to jab through the letterbox in an attempt to reach the lanyard attached to the  keys so I could yank them out of the key hole.

Koby, my chocolate Labrador Christmas companion, sat in his basket completely unfazed by the drama, every now and again he’d get up and retrieve dropped items that I’d accidentally dropped through the letterbox.

It took almost an hour, a bruised and grazed arm and the fact that I was freezing for me to concede and google the number of a locksmith. I didn’t realise it mattered so much to me to be able to solve a problem myself until that moment.

£68 and 20 minutes later the locksmith had not only arrived, he’d used two minutes of that time to prop open the letterbox and use a gadget to turn the key in the lock. In an embarrassingly short amount of time he managed to do what I’d been failing at. Then hey presto – door open and we are greeted by slobbery dog hanging out in the doorway.

How many times in life do we get so fixed on trying to solve something ourselves we forget that help even exists? While standing on the doorstep of life with our hands through the letterbox of experience we refuse to turn around and just face the fact that we need help.

I think it’s because for so many of us asking for help comes with a cost, the cost of our pride. Since that experience on the doorstep I’ve learnt that asking for help isn’t a failure, it’s an incredible strength. Allowing someone into your life to help you achieve something outside of your gifting is far from a weakness – it’s wisdom.

Time and time again I am faced with impossible things in this world and I have to ask for help. That help isn’t always from others around me. It’s mostly from my ultimate helper and guardian. I have come to understand that some of the most powerful prayers begin with ‘Lord God, I can’t do this on my own, but with you I can do anything!’

So don’t walk this path alone, don’t be afraid to ask, it’s not weakness – it’s wisdom.

Paul writes it perfectly in 2 Corinthians when he says this:

 

(The Lord said..) “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

 

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In case you were wondering ,… this is Koby!

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An this is Katie 😀

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Get to it! #Kenya

Sometimes facing our fears is not just to prove a point to ourselves – it’s to inspire someone else so that they can be brave too.

I don’t know how long you’ve known me but, believe it or not, I used to be painfully shy. When I announced that I was going abroad with a team on mission the first time a good few people were shocked.

I wouldn’t have said boo to a goose back then, now I am learning day by day to be a little mouthier (in a good way!) and to encourage others – if I can do crazy things like this – so can you!

So yes, I am going to Kenya this time and I am SO EXCITED! It’ll be incredible to see another beautiful country and to no doubt learn so much more than I can process.

But remember, this isn’t some exclusive club, it’s about having a heart for people. I want to encourage you, if you have a desire in your heart to get out and see the world – go for it!  If you have a heart to change this crazy, hurting world – get to it!

Don’t let the desires of your heart remain on that bucket list!

Remember – being brave isn’t about feeling courageous at the time, often it’s looking back and seeing the journey you’ve come through, realising you’ve done something you never thought you could.

So sign up, get fundraising, volunteer, do whatever it is that’s gathering dust on the list. We are given precious little time on this earth to be the change so we need to take every opportunity.

And finally, know that you never go alone into any of these huge adventures. God loves you and goes with you, step by step.

 

If you’re looking to do something wild then check out :

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Or if you’d like to support my trip please visit here:

 

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It is well with my soul.

As I walked through a building that was once so familiar I had a sudden hit of what I can only describe as saudades. This is a Brazilian word that literally means a longing of the heart. We don’t really have a word for it in English but for me it’s the kind of feeling as though your heart is being squeezed. Continue reading

The call of love 

As the small boy held the stone aloft ready to throw his mother yelled across the grassy bank. ‘Keiron – put that stone down! Come here now!’ 
Head bowed he slowly made his way across the park to his mum, his lip quivered in anticipation of the telling off that followed. Tiny step by tiny step he closed the gap. 

Seconds later a father called out to a second child, ‘Daniel come here son!’ 

The second boy scampered across the grass at speed and jumped into his fathers lap. His dad let out a grunt as the boy hit him full force in the chest. 

Kieron was now only a quarter of the way to his mother, taking the tiniest of steps. A little girl looked up and questioned ‘Why did you shout at him?’ 

Before she could receive an answer she skipped across the grass and met Keiron at the half way point. She spoke softly in his ear took him by the hand and walked him to his mother. 

Instead of shouting at the child the mum told him to sit down, put a protective arm around him and drew him close to her side. What followed was not a telling off but a gentle question: ‘What were you doing Keiron?’ 

Tears sprang to the little boys eyes, tears of relief and then of apology as he realised that launching a rock at another child wasn’t what he should be doing. 

Looking on at the unfolding events God spoke to my heart – this is what you are like. 

When you think you are in a good place with me when you hear me call you run and fling yourself into my arms, happy, contented, boldly because you know you can. 

But when you know you have done something wrong you are hesitant, you dawdle and procrastinate thinking I’m going to scold you! You end up needing some encouragement from a friend, or a loud poke from the Holy Spirit before you bring yourself home to me. 

My beautiful child, come boldly before me in good times and bad. I’ve loved you, I love you and I’ll always be loving you. 

When I call out to you, when it feels like I’m shouting, when your conscience seems to stab you through the heart in the midst of your sin, it’s not because I’m angry, it’s because I love you! 

Please know that God’s not angry with you, He wants you to come to Him in any and every circumstance. So call out to Him not just in the good but in the bad too. 

~ Bite Sized Bible~ Hope

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Hope.

A four  letter word that has a thousand letter impact!

What do you hope for?

I realised when writing cards and text messages recently that I use the word ‘Hope’ a lot. But each ti
me I’ve used it I’ve questioned myself, do I really only ‘hope’ someone has a lovely day? Or do I want them to actually have a lovely day? Do I hope my card finds them well or do I want them to be well, happy and healthy?

I’m discovering that perhaps the way we use hope has different implications and meanings. When messaging the above I realised that I’m wishing them a good day, I don’t have a certainty that the day they have will be perfect but I ‘hope’/really want it to be.
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Our trusty friend dictionary.com came up with the following definitions which supported my text messaging theory in number 1. But check out the 4th definition – ‘A person or thing in which expectations are centered.’ So the hope we have for other people in everyday life is different to the things we put our hope, and essentially trust, in?

In Hebrews the word Hope is described as an ‘anchor for the soul’. I love this so much, but it also makes me think. If what we hope for, or even what we put our hope in anchors our soul, then surely we need to be careful where we place that hope?

Hebrews 6:19 says ‘We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.’ If we take that verse on it’s own it leaves us with the question –

What hope? where is it anchored, how is it secure?

Context:

The hope talked about in Hebrews 6 is the hope that we have and can have in God. In the chapters before we discover how we can boldly come before God as a child would a father because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Chapter 2 beautifully recounts the gift of salvation and how we are adopted into God’s family as his children.

Let’s look at it like this:

Did you ever put your hope in a situation or relationship and come out crushed and with your heart in tatters? At the beginning you were sure this was a dead cert, a forever thing and that nothing could change that but something came along, a bump in the road, a pothole or an emotional hurricane and suddenly everything crumbled to dust and you were left in the wreckage?

It’s an age old story isn’t it? But also a poignant reminder that while love and relationships are beautiful, we are all human, capable of hurting one another and letting one another down.

When we anchor our faith and hope in other people, inevitably there will come the day when they are no longer strong enough protect our hope. Because none of us are perfect.

When we anchor the things that we hope for in God He is big enough and strong enough to hold on to it and not let us down. He’s the creator after all? He knows us inside out, he doesn’t need a manual because he designed us. He created us to be anchored in Him and Him in us.

There’s no-one bigger that we could put our trust in, no one. There’s no one greater. There’s no one above God, no one more powerful, more present, more knowing, more loving than Him. So if you’re going to put your hope and trust in anyone, why would you anchor it to anyone less?

So yes have dreams, love, laugh and live – but make sure your anchor is secure in Jesus Christ. Ask God to be your anchor, ask him to be the one that holds onto your hope so that when you pursue your dreams you know that whatever the outcome, you are secure.

Who do you have your hope anchored in?

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The Mega-phone Gospel

megaphoneOver the past few weeks I’ve been feeling a bit conflicted. It all started one Friday a good few months ago. I was supporting a class when suddenly from outside we hear a young lad on a megaphone screaming at people as they passed that they would ‘Go to hell if they didn’t turn to Jesus.’

In the weeks that followed the class named him the ‘Jesus man’, and they all complained loudly when they heard him quoting Bible, shouting about Jesus and judging the passing schoolkids at deafening volume.

This week, there were two ‘Jesus men’, with matching megaphones, shouting individual messages over one another at the scores of kids as they made their way home.

I’m conflicted because I don’t really know how to react to this situation. Part of me thinks, brave lads standing on what they believe and proclaiming it loud and proud, while another part of me thinks, when has anyone come to Christ at the bellow of a megaphone? And when was the last time anyone wanted to stop and talk to someone who told them they were going to hell?

Maybe I’m wrong. Feel free to tell me I am!

Seeing street preachers has always made me cringe, I admire their bravery, but I also think, what if the only thing someone passing by hears is that they’re going a sinner and they’re going to hell? What if they walk away thinking that the judgment they are hearing somehow reflects the way Jesus thinks of them?

For me, leading people to Christ has always meant showing them how loved they are, that’s what Jesus did. He stepped into the lives of everyone who had a need. Soldiers, fishermen, tax collectors, prostitutes, rich and poor alike, churched and unchurched. He loved unconditionally to the point of death.

In my eyes, creation is God’s megaphone, the changing of the seasons, the falling rain, the driving snow, the scorching sunlight. Spring fresh days, flowers blooming, waves crashing, the beauty of the world all reflecting a creator.

The intricate design of humankind alone a reflection of artistry, creativity and mastery all in one.

My heart says love people, show them that they are not forgotten, that they are valued, beautifully created and are just a prayer away from a relationship with the creator of the universe. It says, choose to walk beside one another, encouraging one another, lifting each other up in prayer. Be real, in the good, the bad and the down right snotty!

For me, this life isn’t about shouting at passersby, it’s about walking alongside them and cultivating real, beautiful, friendships and relationships.

However you choose to share the message of Jesus, be blessed! Pray it out! Whether you’re called to be a megaphone bearer or coffee sharer – do it with love first.

 

 

Vulnerable and Brave

 

As she slipped out of sight the dentist suddenly reappeared with a needle so massive I even doubted it would fit in my cavern of a mouth. I squeezed my eyes shut, resisting the urge to clamp my mouth shut too! Pain was coming inevitably but ultimately it’d be for my good.

We fear things we cannot control and don’t understand, but in order to face our fears we have to be willing to look silly, react in unexpected ways and just be vulnerable.

To be brave, we have to be vulnerable.

This week at work there was an event called ‘Face your Fears’ it encouraged people to book in and face a fear of holding an animal that they were scared of. Among the animals there were snakes, lizards, a tarantula and an owl to choose from. I was amazed as students and staff came into the room afraid and uncomfortable and ended up leaving with a sense of accomplishment and in many cases without fear.

As one by one students encountered a tarantula or held a snake they all began slightly apprehensive, but as they got to hold the animal or even just touch it they realised they could do something they never thought they could. Each one however had to push themselves to the edge of their fear, they had to be brave and were vulnerable at the same time.

At Colour Conference we were encouraged to live bravely and be vulnerable. When hearing this at first I didn’t really think the two belonged together, I mean, bravery is linked with being courageous, facing your own fear or showing courage and being vulnerable is being open to be hurt, to be open to attack.

But thinking about it, to be brave, we have to be vulnerable. If there was no vulnerability there would be no such thing as bravery. If nothing was a challenge there would be no such thing as achievement, if things weren’t a little scary there would be no such thing as courage.

To live bravely means sometimes we have to risk being vulnerable, being looked at differently, and the risk that some may not understand us. When we start any new relationship it takes a mixture of bravery and the willingness to be vulnerable other wise we’d never get past saying ‘hi’ to each other.

We have to be prepared to be vulnerable, to start at the beginning, ask for help and risk looking stupid to get things right or to understand better.Vulnerability1-640x420

When we live bravely as a Christian that bravery goes hand in hand with vulnerability, we forge a relationship with God where there are no hidden spaces, we allow Him into every part of our life so that he can transform it into something better.

Being brave and vulnerable requires us to trust, we have to walk to the edge of our vulnerability and then have faith and trust the outcome, that’s what bravery is all about.be_strong_brave_fearless_bible_verse_quote_stretched_canvas_print-rc0e9292a0e5f4fd599117a672bc3e4aa_2wqe_8byvr_324

 

 

~Bite sized Bible~ The Om(nom nomni’s)

 

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The title of this post isn’t really reflective of what I’m going to write about – it’s more an excuse to use the above picture which I found a little bit amusing 🙂

Omni means ‘all’ in honesty I’m not sure where it originates, leave me a note in the comments, that’s why an omnivore is called an omnivore – because it eats EVERYTHING.

There’s some great characteristics that we recognise as God’s that begin with: Omni. They’re words that used to puzzle me until quite recently when in a study class I had to memorise them for a test! So here goes, here’s just three of God’s characteristics, I’ll call them the ‘Omni’s of God.’

God is:

Omnipotent

Omniscient

Omnipresent

Let’s debunk these posh words shall we? Here’s what they mean:

Omnipotent – All powerful, God is all powerful, there is no one more powerful in existence.

Omniscient – All knowing, there is nothing that God doesn’t know, every hair on your head is numbered, every thought of your heart heard.

Omnipresent – Everywhere, there’s no place on earth or in the heavens that God isn’t. He never leaves us, he walks with us, looks out for us and guides us. He is everywhere.

There’s a beautiful psalm that captures these characteristics of God – David, a king and a poet wrote a lot of the Psalms in the Bible, many were set to music and one of my favourites is Psalm 139 and it starts out like this:

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David describes God as all knowing – omniscient, knowing when we sit down and when we get up, knowing our inmost thoughts and what we’re doing throughout the day. Even down to before we speak, God knows exactly what we’re going to say.

 

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Here he moves onto God the omnipresent, God who is everywhere. There’s no place we can go that’s away from God. From the remotest parts of the world to the busiest city centre God is there, guiding us and leading the way.

 

 

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And finally God the omnipotent – the all powerful!

God the creator, who breathed life into us, who knew us even before we were designed. No one else on earth can create life, that’s God. He is all powerful.

 

 

Read the whole Psalm here. I love this psalm, it’s a perfect example of the magnificent power, presence and knowledge of God. It reminds us that we are never alone, there is nothing in our lives that God is not interested in and that we are a pure miracle, made by the most powerful being. God, such a small word for such an incredible life giver.

And here’s my favourite verse (although all of the psalm is incredible) this verse has been a constant reminder that wherever I go, whatever situation I’m in, whoever I encounter, God is forever with me, walking with me, he loves me and has a plan for me.

The NIV puts it like this: ‘If I rise on the wings of the dawn, If I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.’ But this version is equally beautiful:7a2a28f92ce169ad5cce6c98a085c75c