Lessons in the nettles.

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As I strayed from the path I was confident. I could see where I wanted to be and how I wanted to get there, the problem was I hadn’t looked close enough at where I was treading.

Two minutes later, hopping through stinging nettles and yelping ouch like a lunatic I suddenly realised why no one else was walking this way. The lush green shortcut that I had glanced at was actually a painful pathway that was not playing nicely with my feet.

My destination? The brow of a big hill that looked out across the whole of the county, it was a beautifully clear evening and the view was already incredible from where I was, I just wanted to get a glimpse from where some other people were, right at the top.

 

It’s walks like this, out in the ‘wild’ that I find thinking space and talk with God. I’m not going to lie, it’d been a while.

I don’t hear God in an audible, thunderbolt from heaven kind of way, He just kinda pops into my thoughts with a beautifully crafted line that hits me in the heart, lines that I know I didn’t think of myself.

I love how He knows me so well that He uses my love of words and my own stupidity to speak into me.

This particular days lesson involved stinging nettles.

The funny thing was, less than five minutes earlier, I had sat on a patch of grass to find myself surrounded by stinging nettles. The miracle being I was currently sat in the only patch that wasn’t covered.

And at that moment, He dropped a line.

‘Sometimes it feels like you’re planted among the nettles, don’t think you can’t make a difference while you’re there.’ – He’d said. 20180513_183414

I took from it, the blessing it had been to be sat on the good ground, in a place of safety where my behind was protected from potential doom. He literally saved my butt and has been doing so all my life!

It made me think about the world and how, with God, we can approach all things without fear and even when we’re surrounded by potential painful situations He protects us and guides us through. Sometimes it’s just recognising the pains we need to give to God so He can weed them out for us, other times He walks with us as we get to speak into the lives of others and change our own.

From one lesson to the next: It was a short distance later that my feet were covered in stings after I’d attempted a shortcut to get to higher ground, a shortcut that no one else had taken. Stings as a consequence of my own stupidity.

In hindsight I laugh, at the time it was painful!

Ever got hurt because you tried to do things alone? Tried to take a shortcut to get to where you thought you needed to be? The place where everyone else is?

I have. Literally.

I love climbing just high enough to see the horizon, it feels like you’re getting a glimpse of what God see’s, a tiny window to the majesty of the world that He created. Short of finding that amazing window of the world, I felt like I’d been so keen on getting where other people were, with less effort, that I’d actually defenestrated myself!

So, sweethearts, this post is to say, don’t compare where you are to where someone else is. If you have a dream, set it in God’s hands and don’t be tempted to make your own shortcuts to ‘make’ it happen. Move with God, don’t struggle against Him. Trust that His plans will far outweigh the ultimate desires of your heart, He wants to give you so much more than you see.

And in the journey, watch your feet. Let Him guide them, pray about each step. As you fight for your ten minutes, pray, as you step into your day, pray.  In your fear, sickness, distress – pray. AND in your Joy, celebration, health and blessings pray!

You have such a beautiful opportunity to view this world the Jesus way, so let’s walk with Him not without Him.

#WalkingWithGod

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Beauty and the Beach

As a writer, not even I could have imagined the day’s events – It all started with a table that we couldn’t get wet and a rain cloud that insisted on spitting.

As I was talking down a passive aggressive pensioner, complementing her on her beautiful home, so that she wouldn’t grab the nearest stick to hand and chase us off the site in her fluffy slippers, it dawned on me how completely surreal this was.

I’d never been to a photo shoot before and I hadn’t imagined it would be quite so chaotic.

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My beautiful florist friend Zuza and I had packed an exquisite bouquet into the car that morning along with an equally amazing table display and a bundle of extra flowers and floristry tapes, wires, scissors and other magic. I was her apprentice for the day and I was super excited. Any excuse for a road trip!

The plan had been to shoot some photos on the beach, but the weather, and a hesitant prop supplier who didn’t want to get anything wet, least of all her prized antique table, had changed all that.

We met the supplier at the beach where it had already begun to rain, the props were all on lockdown in the back of a van and short of having a tantrum, they were not going to be released anytime soon. A quick phone call later and we were forced to try plan B  –  move to a quiet garden terrace outside the apartment building of our amazing photographer Nataly, under the shelter of some trees.

Sorted right?

Maybe not.

With the bride and groom ready, and the props and bouquets being moved to a beaut shaded corner we were almost ready. What we didn’t realise was that we had unintentionally ruffled the curtains of about a dozen residents of the apartment block who were angrily calling the site manager because there were strangers in the garden.

After consulting the Chairman of the housing block, being called after from a residents balcony told off by a pensioner and negotiating with a security guard we were given 10 minutes to take whatever photos we could, pack up our things and leave.

We would, no doubt, be the main topic of conversation at many a  dinner table that evening.

Flowers flew, macrame was snapped, the bride and groom hurridly took their positions as the friendly, yet stressed chairman and a security guard looked on. With one eye on their watches and the other on the windows of the residents pressed up against the glass behind us they called time after the minutes had passed and asked us to leave.

We’d driven nearly three hours to be there and it seemed everything would be over in 10 minutes?! As the props and precious table drove away it seemed, all was finished.

It wasn’t.

Months of preparation had gone into this shoot and at the last minute, everything seemed to be falling apart.

Ever had a situation like that? Ever had exactly in your mind how you wanted something to happen, planned everything to the finite detail to have it all crumble around you like a bad screenplay?

We all have photoshoot days. Where we know what we’re trying to do, we can see a beautiful collaboration of creativity coming together to form something spectacular – and it’s misunderstood by the world around, blocked at every turn by those who can’t see beyond the possessions they have or the power they have to say no.

My darlings, sometimes you have to fight for your ten minutes and while they might not be your complete vision, you may just learn something.

Those rushed ten minutes where few beautiful shots were taken were just a minute reflection of the beauty that was to come. We were not done yet.

Even though it was still raining we headed back to the beach, trusting that something beautiful was about to happen, rain or shine. With dark clouds above us, we pushed aside the disappointment of those who wouldn’t fully get behind the dream. Fine, no table and no garden, but we had a creator and creation at our feet and God was about to do something incredible.

As we reached the beach, the rain stopped, the sky cleared and the shoot began.

It looked nothing like what had been imagined – it was infinitely better.

So when the storm clouds roll in and the rain hits, when the world misunderstands the dream and passion God puts on your heart, when the plans change. Don’t give up. The original plans were never ours in the first place, they were always His.

Sometimes fighting for your ten minutes makes you appreciate the end result even more. Getting to the point where you can’t control anything makes you understand the blessing of God having everything in his hands.

Love you beauts!

Oh and .. check this out:

 

 

 

 

Stunning Photographs: @NatalyJphotography

Sensational Flowers: @bloomantic_ 

Superb Macrame: @juniperweaves

 

On the border

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I feel like I’m on the border of something.

As I think about heading into Colour Conference this week I know the next two days are going to be crazy. I haven’t packed yet and I can’t see the space I’ll have time to pack in the next 48 hours.

I’ve been climbing a metaphorical mountain this year already. This past seven months I’ve jumped into a new job. There have been tears in the climb, there still are tears in the climb – but each step up, each tantrum, each snot bubble has brought new lessons, new blessings, new vulnerabilities and new trust.

You know that feeling when you’re pretty sure everyone else has learnt what you haven’t learnt about 10 years before you and it’s too late to ask? I get that a lot, but each step, each layer peeled back is revealing a new level of trust in me.

I didn’t realise how little of myself I trusted with people outside of my housegroup and family until recently – and how afraid I was that I would lose people if I shared.

This ridiculousness of feeling like a failure when I am most vulnerable is slowly being broken down,  and swept out of my life, piece by piece, it’s going to be a process – it is a process, but it’s happening.

Sweethearts, if I take anything from this it’s that, vulnerability is such a strength, and our words have power to both build up and destroy.

This month I attempted to brush off some words that hit my heart, I was discouraged and believed the negativity spoken over me. But i’ve also been reminded that, you don’t take to heart anything that your heavenly father doesn’t say about you.

You may believe you’re a failure – your heavenly father calls you beloved, redeemed, restored.

You may believe you can’t fight anymore – Your heavenly father gives you armour to put on each morning, he fights for you and let’s you shelter under his wings.

You may struggle to think you’re beautiful (another journey!) – Your father calls you his child, he had you in mind before you were even a heartbeat. He designed you, so perfectly, he calls you his daughter/son.

I feel like I’m on the edge of something new.

I’m totally in love with a worship song I heard recently that says this:

In the crushing, in the pressing, you are making – new wine.

In the soil I, now surrender, you are breaking – new ground.

So I yield to you and to your careful hands

When I trust you I don’t need to understand.

These past few weeks there have been times I’ve felt crushed and pressed beyond what I thought I could bear. But there have also been spectacular blessings, and I’ve been loved back to life by some incredible experiences, conversations and loving hands that have helped me to stand again and fight.

Through it all – God never abandoned me, didn’t leave me to fend for myself, never gave me more than I could stand.

In fact, when I look back a little his hand has been in and on and through it all – as it always is.

So in your pressing, in the stress, in the times you don’t know what to do – have courage, hold on and cry out. Get your nearest and dearest to pray for you, but go to God yourself too.

There is nothing too big, too impossible, too frightening for God – and nothing he won’t do to protect, grow and save his kids.

Just hang on in there.

I’m heading into Colour Conference expectant that something new will flourish in this season of new responsibility, challenge and pressing. Now is the time for me to yield more into his careful hands and trust more than I ever have before, even when I don’t understand and I can’t see the next step.

Father help me to trust you, without borders, without restrictions, when I don’t understand. Help me to have greater faith in you, to be even more grateful for each blessing and to truly cherish the people that speak your love and life into my heart.

#Brave

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easter – Good Friday

It’s Friday but Sunday is coming…

Trust without borders

Today’s the day my Jesus traveled to the cross. Officials couldn’t find his guilt but the crowd called for his crucifixion, he was mocked and made fun of, stripped, beaten, whipped, disfigured and a crown of thorns was rammed on his head. He was barely recognisable by the time he reached Golgotha (the place of the skull, where criminals were crucified) and then he was nailed to the wood and raised to be displayed to the onlookers. And yet, he still loved them, he still loved me.

On that cross he took the punishment that should have been mine. He took all sin, past, present and future, onto himself. He became a sacrifice for me to restore my relationship with God. So that when I was born years later a gift was already in place that all I needed to do was accept, the gift is life. But he did…

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Always learning to be loved.

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How awesome is it that even in the darkest of times God shines like a lighthouse, a beacon of love, hope and trust in our darkest moments.

I used to wonder why they called good Friday ‘good’. I mean what could be good about Jesus dying right? What could be good about us nailing to the cross the saviour of the world? What could be good about that?

But out of darkness, potential hopelessness, out of the lost and hurting moments comes his love, his joy, his salvation, his forgiveness, shining ever brighter into an ever darkening world. Out of the moments we are pushed to the brink, come moments of amazing clarity, the miraculous. Moments when you can’t help but say – this is our God.

You see – our Fridays happen, but our Sundays always come. Good Friday for many would have looked hopelessly dark, for some a saviour they had believed in had seemingly abandoned them, while others clung to the hope that Sunday was coming. Thank God Sunday came. You see our God is a God of the miraculous, a God of love and a God who keeps his promises. He said he would rise again, he said he would return – and he did.

Oh how he loves us!

I love that verse in Psalm 56 that says he collects our tears in a bottle, not one of them is lost, he records them all in his book. It just makes me think of the Father, ever closer to us his children, sitting with us through the pain and the tears, so close to scoop up those tears as though they’re precious treasure.

There’s a great moment in the movie The Shack (spoiler alert) where the character playing the Holy Spirit takes out a bottle of collected tears and sprinkles it on the ground. Suddenly up spring flowers and trees of every colour and type, some bearing fruit others beautiful blossoms. It reminds me that out of tears and sorrow amazing and beautiful things can be born.

In the midst of some painful goodbyes the stress and the blessings I am constantly reminded, however tough the day, there’s never too much for God to handle.

I’ve seen so much this past fortnight that in loving others we feel more of his love for us. God told me this year that I would love but he would teach me also, how to be loved. He is a God that keeps his promises and the longer I am planted here the more I see that.

It wasn’t so many moons ago that my prayer late at night would just be for one friend who really understood, who cared for me, prayed for me and someone I could be completely honest with. I’m blessed to say I have many friends like this and I’m learning all the more that while I was looking for that friend it was actually me that had to change. You have to be willing to be open to find that kind of friendship and I know with many I’ve held back – afraid of… well afraid of who knows what.

The longer I live, the more I learn, that to be fearless in this life you have to be prepared to face the fear. Having courage never meant not being afraid. Having courage means to feel the fear and just stand your ground – let God do the fighting, just be prepared to move.

The beginning of this year has been event-filled already – good, bad and glorious. It’s in the challenges that I’m being reminded that whatever I face God has faced it already; whatever I’m afraid of he helps me to stand and faces things with me. He’s given me friends that remind me I’m never alone, that God always goes before me and that they’re praying for me.

I am overwhelmed, blessed and learning to be loved – I’m being rooted for, believed in and challenged to be the best and do the best I can, not in my own strength, but putting what I have into God’s hands and letting him take control.

Loved beyond reason, beyond measure, beyond understanding by the God of the universe who planned my life before I was a heartbeat.

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