Pushing through 2020

Copied from a friend’s Facebook

I’ve been thinking about writing something for a while. It’s that time of year – I wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas but I didn’t quite get round to it. I want to reflect on my year but I’m not quite sure where to start right now. There have been lots of good things happening and I’ve grown too but there have also been times that I’ve struggled and it’s been an effort to push through. The last few weeks have been a struggle but I’m still getting up in the morning. I’m still pushing on and by the grace of God I get through the days and sometimes I’m even able to be a blessing to others. I’m getting great feedback in my business, my family are healthy and I am blessed with a lovely home, food and clothing. I have some amazing friends who are there for me whether I’m feeling great or needing support. I have a lot to be thankful for.

I’m not sure what next year holds, or even tomorrow but I know that God will get me through. Some might see my faith as a crutch – something to hold me up because I can’t manage life on my own. Maybe that is one word for it? I don’t mind admitting that I can’t do this on my own. I tried being strong (and for a long time I managed it) but even then I had faith. Now I don’t think I’d have made it this far if it wasn’t for my faith. For me, the reality is that the other coping strategies I have are not enough. I need Jesus every day and I thank God for Him.

In case I don’t get round to posting anything else in the next few days I just want to wish everyone who reads this a very happy, healthy and prosperous year in 2021. I hope it will bring many good things your way.

Wednesday’s Wisdom

I can’t actually remember when I first saw this (somewhere on social media I guess) but it was a helpful reminder at the time. I’ve started talking to myself a lot more this year – maybe I am a little crazy 😆. It started back before Easter when I did the Negativity Fast and Positivity Feast that I mentioned before. Then when I was doing the church course that I finished back in June we had a bit of a focus on ‘declarations’ too. Since then I’ve been giving myself a talking to most days – out loud. Telling myself truths about who I am and what God says about me and renewing my mind. Some people would call it positive affirmations. Whatever you call it – it works. I’ve definitely noticed some changes in my thinking since I started doing this more regularly. Do you ever talk to yourself like this? Do you find it helpful or does it sound ridiculous to you?

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

I’m always reading something or other. Books, social media feeds, study notes, blogs and more. Recently I’ve become even more aware of how much wisdom I come across in what I read so I decided to share some of it with you. I’m honestly not sure how consistent I will manage to be with this or how long I’ll keep it up but I’m going to try. It’s all part of the growing I need to do.

Wednesday’s Wisdom

From “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy

This is from another great book that I got recently. There are so many little gems in this one too. I need to remember this often – sometimes just getting up and carrying on is brave and magnificent. If you did this today I’m proud of you.

I’m always reading something or other. Books, social media feeds, study notes, blogs and more. Recently I’ve become even more aware of how much wisdom I come across in what I read so I decided to share some of it with you. I’m honestly not sure how consistent I will manage to be with this or how long I’ll keep it up but I’m going to try. It’s all part of the growing I need to do.

Unstuck!

I’ve been a bit quiet for the last couple of weeks. Truth is I’ve been feeling stuck. I was down after coming back from California (pretty normal after a holiday I guess) but I was also struggling a bit to look forward. It felt like I was bottling things up but I didn’t know exactly what. I needed to get some emotions out (possibly writing would have helped) but I was scared to let them out because I didn’t quite know where that would go. I don’t know if any of that makes sense to anyone else? Sometimes I think I’m just weird.

Something has shifted though. I think I’m starting to accept things. Things that have been difficult in the past, how things are now and how the future might look. I’m feeling more hopeful.

I was in two minds yesterday. I was really toying with the idea of just shutting down this blog. In fact possibly shutting down most of my social media. I’m naturally a sharer. When I’m face to face with someone I tend to be open with them but I guess I was kinda wondering what the point is in sharing for the sake of sharing – that’s how social media feels right now. I sometimes feel like I have friends on WordPress or on Facebook etc but I might never have met these people in person or talked to them face to face. Is that really a friendship? It feels real to me but I have no idea what the other people feel?

That wasn’t meant to be the point of this post though. The point is I feel like I’ve been stuck in the past a bit recently. Struggling to accept some of it. I can’t stay there though because I think it’s what makes me depressed? Or at least part of it. I feel like I might be starting to piss some people off with my ‘stuckness’ too. So I’m choosing to let go. To be happy with my life. To grow into the person Papa God wants me to be. I feel like He has so much more for me and I haven’t been able to move into that. Saying it like that makes it sound like I think that’s going to be easy. I’m sure it won’t always be easy but I have to start somewhere.

In time I’m hoping I’ll be able to get off the antidepressants too. I’m sure they sap my energy and they seem to make my tremor worse. (It’s not dangerous – it’s called an essential tremor apparently – seems totally unnecessary to me.)

For now it looks like the blog will stay too. It’s been a helpful way for me to process so if that’s all it is, there is a place for it. So it looks like you guys are stuck with me in the meantime – and I’m getting myself unstuck. 🙂

Photo taken at Finnich Glen

Sunshine after the rain 🌤

It’s been a reasonably productive day so far – at least as productive as they get these days 😝. I won’t bore you with details of laundry and food shopping but after a pretty busy morning and early afternoon I was treating myself to a little time out to read my book.

I was initially settled down comfortably in the living room but then my son came home with a friend and they wanted to play the PlayStation so I took myself off to my room for peace. Anyway, I was just lying reading when my flow was interrupted by a ray of sunlight coming in the window. Now remember I live in Scotland – and it’s February. Not to mention the fact that it’s been peeing down most of the day.

The sunshine after the rain – taken from my bedroom window.

That ray of sunshine lit up my room, and my heart in a way, and reminded me that the rainy seasons do come to an end. Things don’t stay the same for ever. If you’re struggling today this is for you – it will get better. It always does – eventually. 🤗

They’re not joking when they say it’s a battle…

Have you heard people talking about someone battling with cancer? Or depression? I’ve been blessed in that I’ve never had a serious physical illness. I have watched friends and family with cancer though. I have seen that battle, the struggle, the exhaustion, the fear, the hope and the hopelessness.

Today has been a rough day. I’m really struggling with depression. It is a battle and it’s exhausting. I don’t want to quit but I don’t want to keep fighting either. It’s hard work.

I have all these thoughts going around in my head. I know certain strategies to use to try to help myself physically, like exercising. (Did that.) I understand about mindsets and about setting my mind on positive things and even spiritual things. I’ve grown up knowing how to pray when I struggle and how to reach out for prayer support too. But even with all of that it’s a battle.

Lots of people want to give you advice on how not to be depressed but I don’t think they necessarily understand just how difficult it is to keep fighting.

I don’t know how it is for you – we all have our own battles – but if you’re fighting a battle today then know that I’m thinking of you. Keep going. You can do this. You are strong.

The Bottom Line

The last few days I’ve been pretty hormonal. I always struggle more with feelings of depression when I’m hormonal. On the whole I think I’m doing better with that but there are always some days that are harder than others. Sometimes when I’m really struggling all I can say is ‘Jesus I need You’ over and over. That’s the bottom line for me. When everything feels too much and I can’t cope on my own I know He’s there and somehow He’ll get me through it.

In February 2018 I was reading a devotional On the YouVersion app called ‘Jesus I Need You’ by Thistlebend Ministries and came across this prayer. I saved it on my phone and I’ve read it over and over since then. I even printed it out and stuck it in my prayer journal. It’s covered in highlights and circles, underlines and outlines, hearted and triple underlined – you get the picture. Anyway I thought I’d share it here in case it’s helpful for anyone else.

JESUS I NEED YOU

Jesus, I need you! You are my Lord, my God, my King. You are worthy of all of my worship. Help me, by your grace, to know you and love you so deeply and dearly that the things of this world fade away and grow strangely dim.

I want to worship you and you alone. I don’t want to be forged by the culture. I am in you; I want to be one with you. Bind my heart to yours, and place your truth deep within me. I not only want to know you and your Word, I want to have the desire to forsake sin and follow you and your Word. Enable me to worship you in spirit and in truth.

I need your power, your grace, and your love so that no matter what life brings my way, I can respond to each situation, each person, and each trial the way you would respond—all for your glory. I don’t want to respond merely outwardly, but rather from within, from the river of living water. I want to be so close to you, Jesus, that your Spirit flows forth from me in all I do and say. May I find all of my joy in you.

May I glorify you in all I say and do. (Psalm 42:1-2a; Galatians 2:20)

No matter where I am, what I am doing, what Scripture I am reading, or what song I am singing, I want my mind, my energies, and my heart focused on you and not on me and my circumstances. I want you and you alone.

No matter if I succeed or fail, win or lose, am rich or poor, am included or excluded, am known or forgotten, may I be content knowing that you are mine and I am yours.

May my chief aim be to love you and be loved by you, to please you and serve you. Help me to see my sin, mourn it, and forsake it, by your grace. Help me hunger and thirst after righteousness.

Lord Jesus, grant me your grace, your mercy, and your lovingkindness to enable me to see you, know you, love you, and be one with you. Thank you that your Word tells me if we ask anything in your name and according to your will that you will do it. Amen. (John 14:13-14)

Maybe it’s Okay…

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As you know I’ve struggled a bit over the last few months and I know I’m not alone; there are lots of other people that I know who are hurting or struggling.  I often see the phrase ‘it’s okay to not be okay’ and it’s true – we shouldn’t have to hide our feelings or pretend that we’re ‘fine’.  (Of course it’s difficult sometimes because you don’t want to expose your hurts for just anyone to have a prod at.)  No one wants to be depressed or anxious or struggling but it happens and it’s real.  One of the things I teach the little ones in my classes is that it’s okay to feel what we might think of as ‘negative’ emotions – those are real feelings – it’s just that we need to learn how to manage them.  As adults sometimes it feels as though we have to be okay (or better) all the time; have it all together, put on a brave face for the world.  We have to be in control of our emotions.  Squashing those emotions down might work for a little while but eventually it just makes it even harder to cope.

By the way I’m doing a little better on the whole and making some progress.  I got some healing from stuff that I hadn’t even realised was affecting me since I was a kid and that’s made a bit of a difference.  I’ve also realised after talking to my counsellor that part of what I’ve been struggling with is losing/burying myself again so I need to change old habits and keep working on being myself.  I guess once you start exploring deep emotions there are lots of things to work through.

I’ve been listening to this song a bit recently (lyrics below) and the chorus stands out to me every time.  It’s so good to remember that even when I’m not feeling okay that my Papa is holding on to me and that He is in control of my whole life.  I don’t have to control everything or anything really, I can rest in Him when I’m not alright and allow Him to carry me through.

Maybe It’s Ok
by We Are Messengers

If I didn’t know what it hurt like to be broken
Then how would I know what it feels like to be whole
If I didn’t know what it cost like to be rejected
Then I wouldn’t know the joy of coming home

Maybe it’s ok if I’m not ok
‘Cause the One who holds the world is holding onto me
Maybe it’s all right if I’m not all right
‘Cause the One who holds the stars is holding my whole life

If I didn’t know what it looked like to be dirty
Then I wouldn’t know what it feels like to be clean
And if all of my shame hadn’t drove me to hide in the shadows
Then I wouldn’t know the beauty of being free

Maybe it’s ok if I’m not ok
‘Cause the One who holds the world is holding onto me
Maybe it’s all right if I’m not all right
‘Cause the One who holds the stars is holding my whole life

Father, let Your kingdom come, let Your will be done
Here in my heart as in Heaven
Father, let Your kingdom come, let Your will be done
Here in my heart as in Heaven, oh!

Maybe it’s ok if I’m not ok
‘Cause the One who holds the world is holding onto me
Maybe it’s all right if I’m not all right
‘Cause the One who holds the stars is holding my whole life

Now I’m alive in You
The best that I deserved
Now I’m alive and I can see You in everything
Maybe it’s ok if I’m not ok

 

Life’s not fair!

Do you ever feel like screaming at God?  I do.  It’s not fair is it?  It’s not his fault that I’ve stuffed up.  Not his fault that I’ve hurt people.  I don’t know why I want to scream at him.  He’s the one that has stuck with me though everything.  When I’ve been sad he’s held me while I cried.  When I’ve been down he’s pulled me through.  When I’ve had suicidal thoughts he’s reminded me why I can’t do that.  When I’ve felt at ease he’s held my hand and reassured me that he has a good plan and a future for me.  Why do I want to lash out at the only one who loves me completely and unconditionally?  It doesn’t make sense.  I guess my feelings aren’t rational a lot of the time.  I feel like I’m fighting some sort of battle and not getting very far.  Having said all that I don’t want to focus on the negative stuff.  I guess I’m just trying to come to terms with where I’ve been and where I’m at.  Trying to accept that God wants me here for a reason and will bring something good out of my situation.

You can probably gather from the start of this post that I’ve still been struggling a bit over the last few weeks.  In spite of this I’m actually trying to be more positive and look at things from a different perspective.  I guess sometimes I remember to do that for a bit and then I almost come under attack again (I’m not really talking spiritual attack although I guess that could be involved) and it’s hard work to remember to keep my mind set on God and his will.  I will keep picking myself back up and dusting myself down and trying again though.  As exhausting as that is I am a fighter.

I’ll fill you in briefly on what I’ve been up to since I haven’t done that for a while. Obviously there’s been all the usual work and business stuff and church. I’m still seeing the counsellor and looking after baby B each week. I’ve had a few coffees and lunches and dinners out with various friends which is always fun. Apart from that there have been a couple of events that stood out.  I had a little run in with a bus one day – well the bus ran into the back of my car – it wasn’t a great day to start with so that one made me a bit emotional at the time.  I wasn’t hurt though (well not badly anyway – just a sore foot) and the car was quickly sorted out through the insurance.  My in-laws visited for a week over the school holidays.  I had a birthday as you know and one of my lovely friends took me for a night away at a spa hotel.  That was a treat and we enjoyed hanging out together and catching up.  My hubby started a new job too which is an answer to prayer.

One of the most rewarding things recently has been my business.  I started it earlier this year and I’m running relaxation classes for children – sometimes they help me to relax too.  Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had some lovely moments with the kids.  One little boy who’s about 5 years old and who told me his mummy died just climbs on my knee and wants cuddles all the time.  Another slightly older girl told her friend who was new that it was okay to hug me – it wasn’t weird 😆 (I’ve never said anything to the children about hugging me – I don’t encourage it – they just do).  One boy of about 8 kept saying stuff like ‘you’re the best person in the world’ to me when we were doing an affirmation web activity – so sweet.  Actually this next moment that stands out is pretty sad but it made me feel like I was doing something worthwhile.  The children were relaxing and I was reading a whole list of affirmations over them.  I got about half way down my list and one little boy started saying things like ‘no I’m not special, I’m not loved, I’m treated like dirt at home.’  It broke my heart to hear him say those things.  I went over to him and put my hand on his shoulder and kept reading positive affirmations over him.  I pray that what I’m doing will make a difference for these little ones.  When I’m struggling I need to remember the kids I’m working with.  Their lives are often unfair.  They have too much responsibility and stress and not enough love and attention for young children.  Thinking about them helps me to get my life in perspective.

There are people suffering and lost and lonely all over the world.  Life’s not fair!  Much of that is down to our choices as humans I guess.  But alongside that God is good and has good plans.  He is on a rescue mission – to rescue us from ourselves.  He loves us and wants what’s best for us.  He also wants us to grow into the people he wants us to be and wants to use us to rescue others.  Maybe my own struggles will help me to help others in some way?  I want to be part of his rescue plan.

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It is well with my soul

I have no idea where to start here really. It’s been another emotional week. I guess what I want to say is that through everything there is one thing that is sure and certain. My Jesus loves me and will never leave me. The last few months have been so turbulent in some ways and there have been days when literally all I could do was whisper ‘Help me Jesus’ over and over. I guess if you don’t have faith you’ll have a psychological reason why that helps. For me it’s very real. I feel His presence as real and close as any human in those moments and I know He’s carrying me.

The_sinking_of_the_Steamship_Ville_du_Havre.jpg

I was at a funeral yesterday of a lovely, godly woman who I’ve known for many years and they played a song (twice) that always gets me emotional – ‘It is well with my soul’. I don’t know if you know the story of Horatio Spafford who wrote the lyrics of this hymn? He lived in the 1800s and was a prominent American lawyer (according to Wikipedia). It seems that literally everything started to go wrong in his life. He lost most of his investment portfolio in the Great Fire of Chicago and two years later his 4 year old son died from scarlet fever. On 22 November 1873 (exactly 100 years before I was born) his four daughters lost their lives while crossing the Atlantic on the steamship Ville du Havre. It was following all this that Horatio wrote these words:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

I don’t know about you but knowing his story those words get me every time.  I’m sure there must be a few people out there have stories that are similar to Horatio Spafford’s but I guess for most of us whatever we’re going through it’s not going to be anything like losing almost everything we have including five children (it reminds me of Job in the Bible).  I can’t begin to imagine how horrific that must be and sometimes I think I’ve been going through a tough time!  And to still be able to write ‘It is well with my soul’ – I can only imagine he must have been really leaning on and clinging to Jesus in that horrendous season.

My go to when I’m struggling is to get my guitar out and sing (sometimes it’s pretty hard to sing for crying but God doesn’t care – He knows my heart). A couple of songs that have meant a lot to me recently include the words of this hymn. One is Even If by Mercy Me:

I’ve also been playing ‘It is Well – Grander Earth has Quaked Before’.

Yesterday the song that I was really relating to was ‘Thy Will be Done’ by Hillary Scott and the Scott Family which doesn’t mention ‘It is well’ but still has a great message IMO:

For me really leaning on Jesus and giving him praise in spite of whatever difficulties I have going on in my life can get me through so much.  It goes beyond my understanding (not that that’s hard 😜) but if you’re struggling with anything right now I’d totally recommend you give it a try.