Buried in Grace.
Before we take a break from posting fortnightly for summer, I wanted to share some reflections about my walk with God from the last couple of months.
I last posted here around March when I was facing a weekly battle of taking myself to therapy to help untangle my brain. Week by week I walked through my life story and had some pretty big “oooooh riiiiight, of course” moments. That process brought me to a place of understanding more about how I interact with others, the church and God than I ever could have considered. With the grace of God my internal voice has become kinder and more compassionate towards myself and along with also attending the Freedom in Christ discipleship course, I feel a very real difference in my daily life- fear really has had to leave; because freedom is here!
The biggest event in the last while, in which lots of you shared, was my unplanned baptism on Easter Sunday. When Pastor Andrew said the words “anyone else for baptism?”, I knew it was the right thing to do. But the reason I knew, was because quietly in my car a few days earlier; God had asked me to be baptised on Easter Sunday. With this call coming only days before the service was due to take place I was caught up in logistics about not having come forward sooner. So quite simply I conveniently and intentionally forgot to get round to doing anything about it, quietly resolving to do it next time around. But God gave me another prompt- the Thursday before my baptism I received a word at small group, which really couldn’t have been more of a prompt to baptism unless someone had literally spelled out the words “You are getting baptised on Sunday” in front of my face. But still, I didn’t do anything about it.
Easter Sunday came and to be honest, I was glad I hadn’t spoken up because I’m not sure I would have turned up. The morning started with a heart broken, sobbing, wretching lament to God from my bathroom floor triggered by unexpected news. I forced myself to get up from the floor and get ready for church but I felt defeated and my need for Jesus magnified as I arrived at the service. I felt right back in that desert place where I had to choose to either succumb to emotions and circumstances or choose Jesus. I was determined as I took a seat right at the back of the service- I would choose Jesus. And when that call came, “any one else for baptism?”, who was I to say no? So dressed in my favourite dress I surrendered to the goodness of God and was buried and raised in his grace. Months on I remain in awe at the goodness of God on my baptism day. I was far from obedient, in fact I choose specifically not to be obedient. But God took my sinful disobedience, washed in the waters of grace and His will was still done and His goodness and faithfulness tangible.
In the weeks following baptism I felt compelled to ask God for further understanding of His goodness and faithfulness in my life. This quickly turned into asking God for a physical, tangible opportunity to lay down for the final time the acute hurts, frustrations and offence that have come from a year of recovering from shattered dreams. And surely, that moment came, looking nothing like I could or would have prayed for.
At small group last term we studied Bill Johnsons “God is Good” and the final session focused on the goodness of God in the middle of loss. I maintained some form of composure as Bill closed his final session saying these words about loss;
“Bury it deep in the soil of His grace.”
Conversation started around me about the content of the session but I couldn’t concentrate. I knew God was talking to me, asking me to go to a secret place and bury my hurts, offence and shattered dreams in the goodness of his grace. So right there I began to pray through those things silently. But I began to feel God telling me there was something more I was to do; God was asking me to do something I knew I didn’t want to do. He was asking me to quite literally bury something and he was asking me to do it as a tangible act of forgiveness. I was to bury my engagement and wedding rings.
And really, this wasn’t joyous news to me. I went home from small group and instantly thought about how I had probably heard God wrong. Let’s be real- who buries something in the ground that cost a lot of money and is the most expensive gift they’ve ever received? I convinced myself I could sell them and put the money towards a good cause or you know; a mortgage! But then came Sunday morning and the confirmation that selling the rings was not God’s plan. During worship Pastor Kenny shared the story about the women in the bible who anoints Jesus with expensive perfume to ready him for burial, in fact she walks into the room and breaks the perfume bottle above his head so it covers Jesus. The other people in the room become angry with the woman telling her she should have sold the perfume and given the money to they poor. But Jesus hushed the people and blessed the woman for laying down what she had to anoint him for burial. When I went home I pored over the story (Mark 14:1-10) and read of how tender Jesus was towards the woman. Jesus said what she had done was beautiful because she had done what she could with what she had. I knew I had to do what I could with what I had. It didn’t matter if what I was to bury was valuable- because I was doing so as an act of surrender to the grace of God.
As I continued to wrestle with my unexpected assignment I concluded; burial is beautiful. Often, we bury things to grow; seeds, plants, bulbs, and foundations of buildings. Things can’t grow until they are first buried. We bury our loved ones in peaceful respect and remembrance. Burial is intentional. And it’s a million miles away from angrily hurling the rings out of the living room window and into the canal like I often spoke of doing in more delicate, less rational moments. So I began to plan. I planned the burial intentionally, quickly and with the only person I was sure would understand- Mumma Frank. Any woman who can receive a hurried message detailing their daughters intention to bury her once most valuable possession in soil and can respond with only “of course we can do that honey” is exactly the adventure partner I needed. Mum went further than that, she also chose the perfect place, because ; “Jennifer, if you’re going to bury those rings- you may as well do it somewhere beautiful.”
So off we went, the rings wrapped in a shroud of beautiful gold organza and tied up with a neatly written prayer. When we reached the perfect place, I left my mum standing guard and went into a boggy field, dug a hole, stuffed the gold organza bag down into the ground and watched the rings be covered in soil. In this secret place I prayed, asking God for seven times more blessing in the place of all I had lost. There was no anger, no blame, no hurt; I felt only peace as I walked steadily and surely away from my treasure to continue my adventure. And I think about those rings sometimes and I smile, remembering only that every part of every shattered dream is buried in the soil of God’s unending grace.
“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal” John 12: 24-25.
Thank you Lord for forever, real and eternal life in your reckless, grace filled love.
Hi, I’m Carol-Anne, wife to Dan and mum to Kathryn, Hannah and Isla. For those who don’t know me particularly well, I would describe myself as an independent, slightly stubborn, compassionate person with leaky eyes.
I turn 40 next year (I know, I don’t look nearly that old ☺) and was looking for ideas to add to my 40 things to do before I turn 40 list and it was suggested that I could write a blog post. It was not something that I added to my list with particular joy as it meant that I would actually have to open up to the blogosphere and talk about me, my feelings and my relationship with God. Talking about myself and my feelings isn’t something that I am particularly good at, so this is a massive challenge for me. However, I’ve known all along what God wanted me to write about, but I have put it off and put it off until I received a text a couple of weeks ago telling me that my blog post would be published on the 9th of June! Well, there was no backing out now….
We moved into our house in August 2016 and I happily drove our car up and down our drive many times over 18 months without incident. One Wednesday morning, that changed. Isla and I got in the car ready to go to rhyme time. I reversed down the drive with Isla talking away to me as she pretty much always does. As I was reversing I realised I hadn’t quite lined the car up properly and promptly set about trying to right the angle of the car. However, somehow, I misjudged what I needed to do and the front nearside wheel of our car slipped off the drive and down the path between the drive and our house.
I sat for a minute trying to work out what had happened and then jumped out the car to see what damage I had done. I couldn’t see any damage, but also couldn’t see how on earth I could possibly get the car back up on the drive.
I phoned Dan who was at work, and as I am prone to do, the leaky eyes started. I couldn’t quite explain to him how the car was ‘parked’ so ended up video calling him so he could see. As we talked through a couple of options of how to get the car back on the drive, one of his first responses was, ‘Phone Lyndsey and get her to come over and support you.’ I thought to myself, but I’m doing okay (other than the leaky eyes), so why would I need someone to come over and support me? Anyway, Lyndsey had safely made it off her driveway and was at rhyme time so I couldn’t possibly phone her. I’d already sent her a message saying I wouldn’t make it to rhyme time with a picture of my badly parked car, so I knew she would pick it up when she could. But I wasn’t going to disturb her morning by phoning. Dan and I talked some more and came up with a few ideas to try. Meanwhile, Lyndsey picked up the message and told me she was coming over, and, knowing my lovely friend, she probably told me off for not phoning her.
I was reminded that day, and so often since, that God didn’t just create us and then abandon us here on earth. He does not expect us to have to deal with life on our own, so He provides people around us who love, care and want to support us. We see this right from the beginning of the Bible as God created Adam and, before too long, said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is right for him.” (Genesis 2:18). Right from the beginning, God made us to be in relationships with others. He created us to need. So, by allowing others to help us, we are enabling them to follow God’s instruction.
Galatians 6:2 says that we should “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ.” By being there for those around us, we too are fulfilling God’s law. While God should always be our most important relationship, I believe He has provided some very special relationships so we can share His love here on earth. And for that, I will be eternally thankful.
So if you, like me, are one of those strong independent women who feel like they are strong enough to deal with everything that life throws at them and then hides away when it actually turns out that you’re not actually as capable of dealing with everything at once, then please remember this: God is there for you, He’s looking out for you and as well as His loving, listening ear and unfailing love, He has provided a whole family of His people down here to help you out. We just need to be brave enough to reach out…
“By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three stranded rope isn’t easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 (The Message)
In case you’re wondering what happened with the car, I phoned our very friendly local garage, and after trying to explain to them unsuccessfully what I had done, and that, no, driving back the way I came would not work, they sent a couple of mechanics down to the house. I am reliably informed that as those mechanics sat in their van outside the house they were laughing very hard. At least it meant that by the time they rang the doorbell they were able to talk to me with a (fairly) straight face. They soon rectified the situation with a jack and a plank of wood and amazingly they quickly checked it over and told me that, somehow, I had done no damage to the car whatsoever. I was to pop down to the garage later to square up with the owner. As you can imagine, the story had been shared all over that garage and I am now famous in the garage as the person who parked their car in their garden. I still see the smirk on their face whenever I have to take the car into the garage now.
I've had the first half of this blog post written for over a week and I didn't know how it would end until tonight when God spoke to me while I was doing the dishes (yes God literally is in everything we do!)
I recently had dinner with a friend who is one of the strongest, bravest woman I know. If our lives were depicted as roller coasters her's would have loop the loops whereas mine would be the children's train ride! However, as we chatted about life, the ups and the downs I started talking about some of the challenges I've faced and after sharing one story she exclaimed "you're a survivor!" Me, a survivor? This courageous woman was calling ME a survivor?
As I reflected on this I realised she's right. Every one of us has faced challenges in our lives and guess what? We made it through! So congratulations, you're all survivors! It doesn't matter how big or small the challenges were what matters is that we made it out the other side and that we've been changed through the process. As I look back I can see God's hand throughout my life, shaping and moulding me to be more like him. It is not a coincidence that I'm living here, working as a teacher and worshipping at Falkirk Vineyard. God has me here for a reason and that's exciting!
Life is so busy and fast paced that it's easy to go through things, move on, put them in the back of our minds or forget about them completely but I'd encourage you to take a step back and reflect on what God's done in your life, the good and the bad. Be encouraged that God was faithful and be thankful for how he used it to grow and change you. The Bible says in Roman's 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." So if you're going through a hard time just now, take heart, one day you'll look back and rejoice at how God used the situation!
I've recently been re-reading 'Love Lives Here' by Maria Goff. In it she writes: "Jesus is more interested in who we're becoming than who we were. He doesn't want us to become like each other. He wants us to be like Him." God made each of us unique, he loves us for who we are, the past is in the past and he's changing us to be more like him - how exciting! However, this really hit me, (so much so I reread this chapter at least three times in a week) as I've said I can see how God has changed me throughout my life but how much time do I spend trying to be more like Jesus and how much time do I spend comparing myself to others? Just look at the first paragraph of this blog - guilty of the later!! Comparison doesn't just rob us of joy, it holds us back from being the person that God made us to be. Maria Goff paints a beautiful picture further on in the same chapter as she says:
"God stretches each of our lives before us like a canvas. He hands us the brushes and the paint and asks us to make our lives look like our unique version of His love. Pick your own colours, not someone else's. He only creates originals, not copies, and expects no less from us.
The more time we spend comparing ourselves to others and striving to be more like them the less time we spend with God learning to be more like him. How different would life be if we valued ourselves and others for the individuals that God created us to be and focused on becoming more like Jesus?
Love Claire xxx
Hi everyone, I’m Chana and writing is not my strong point; so you’ll have to bear with me! But I wanted to share with you about what God has been showing me over this past year.
So, as many of you may already know, this has not been the easiest of years for me. Last year I felt like I spent A LOT of time on the road travelling between what I like to call 'Home, home' and home. This was due to my Papa being diagnosed with terminal cancer and so I was ‘home, home’ every free day and weekend visiting him. He helped to shape me into the person I am today, from his sense of humour to the inspirational way he was completely unashamed to be a follower of Jesus. Which I know all the nurses and Dr’s had to listen to as he preached to them any time they came to assist him.
In November I had the heart-breaking moment of sitting in that hospital room with my family while we sat with him until he passed away to be with his Lord. The time that followed on from this I realised I had an awful lot of free time on my hands as I didn’t have to travel ‘home, home’ every weekend.
And that’s when it all started, my year of firsts. My first Christmas, first New Years, first hospital visit, my first birthday, first Austria trip and Papa’s first birthday without him. They haven’t been easy milestones to get past, but God has been so faithful and gentle with me through these firsts. God was gentle to me even through being flaky with New Years plans - giving me friends who drove all the way from Falkirk to come and celebrate New Year’s with my family and I. God was faithfully with me during my first hospital trip since November. As some of you may know, I’m not a huge fan of needles so I was already freaking out about having to be in the hospital and reminded of all those memories. But God was totally in the whole thing, he blessed me with nurses and doctors who were so kind and patient with me, despite me crying every two minutes. He also gave me Frankie, who prayed with me and calmed me down every time I started to freak out.
Then the time came for my annual SU Austria trip, a time I would usually spend being super excited about. I would usually chat to Papa in the time leading up to the trip to get advice on what I was going to speak about. Then after would come and excitedly tell him all about the trip and he would tell me stories of when him and Gran had visited Austria.
This year during my time in Austria I was asked to speak about Joshua and the walls of Jericho. Once more God had his hand over me, as I began to study this story and come up with what I wanted to speak about. And I realised; we all have Jericho’s. We all face things that are hard, that hurt and are a barrier in front of us. But the exciting thing is that we have the assurance that God has already given us victory over these walls!
In Joshua 6 v 2 it says;
"Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘See I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.’’
We just have to listen, trust and obey God, because he has already given us victory over those walls; those challenges in our lives. In my times when those walls of Jericho have been very real, God was for me, not against me. He placed people in my life who would support me, who made me laugh and held me when I cried. He has brought me through healing to a place where I feel confident that I am loved and that God has a plan for me. Just like Joshua the walls are coming down. I know I’ll face many more Jericho’s, but I won’t be alone, and God will deliver them into my hands.
So if there are walls that are in your way, know that God wants to tear those down so that you have victory. All you have to do is be like Joshua; listen, trust and obey.
Love Chana x
Hi, my name is Andrea and I’m married to Marty. We have a 9 year old daughter called Evie. When Lyndsey asked me a couple of weeks ago if I could write a blog on brokeness; I was thrilled. When I started thinking about what to write about I took myself to a very dark place back in 2008. I was a patient in a psychiatric unit and I was very ill. I had lost my only Sister tragically to suicide and began to lose hope; I really did need a miracle.
My Mother in law was part of a Healing Ministry and had sent me a book of testimonies as well as a hand held cross. As I began to read them I was gripped. I thought I have to go to that place as I had nothing to lose. A short while afterwards I gave my life to Jesus. Things were far from good. Despite having a loving Husband who supported me and a beautiful daughter, I was lost and in a very dark place. No one could reach me. But back then, little did I know the plans God had for my life.
That same evening I was desperate for a miracle I was given a bookmark which had Matthew 11:28 printed on it; “Come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest”. Oh how I longed for rest. Then, in 2011 I lost my Dad to leukemia and on the same day one year later, I lost My Mum. They were in the same Hospice together. Why was life so hard? I had lost all my family, where was God? But He was right there bedside me and despite all my doubts, fears and insecurities; He never left me.
Things started to change for me a few years back as I began to accept that it was God who had ALL the answers and not me. I began seeking God and as Peter writes I began accepting that I had been called out of the darkness into the light (1 Peter 2:9). I was going through counselling and beginning to heal. God was really digging into every area of my life to bring freedom.
I truly believe God gifts each one of us in different areas. I have felt very privileged to have had the opportunity to pray with many people in and out of church. Through this I am able to share my journey and give others hope, the same hope I found in Jesus. I am learning to hear Gods voice clearly and I know He is calling me into Prayer Ministry. I know all of this would not have been possible if I hadn’t gone through all that happened in 2008. Now I have peace and joy and no matter what lies ahead I am excited to step out and do what God calls me to do and all for His glory! I know that Jesus came to set the captives free and who the son sets free, they are free indeed! (Isaiah 61:1-3).
We had been at a few churches over the years but never really settled anywhere as a Family. That changed in October 2016 when we went to Falkirk Vineyard Church. I am so pleased to say that we haven’t looked back. There is loads going on and we serve God on the hospitality and kids team. It is great to be supported and loved in all seasons by our wonderful leaders and ALL of our friends. We serve an awesome God and knowing that He will never leave us or forsake us is something we hold onto.
I have truly learned that no matter what we have got going on in our lives our circumstances may change but God never changes. Slowly I have learned to put my trust in Him and not people or things of the world. Currently I am doing a Bible study with a good friend from Church and also do a Bible study with a fab group of ladies from Church studying different books. We are all challenged but God is gentle and He always brings things up at the right time – He will never give us more than we can handle. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. I am fully trusting Him to guide me on what lies ahead.
Each one of us has a choice every day on how we are going to be. I chose joy and I thank God that He is my miracle and everything I lost He has returned twice over. If you follow Jesus; you will be changed from the inside out.
Love Andrea x
As I sit down to write this blog I feel very vulnerable. Tonight, I am sharing one of my weaknesses with you in the hope that it may help you. I want to talk about identity. I pray, that if this topic speaks to you, that you too will be able to evaluate your worth in Christ this evening.
So, identity… what is yours?
When that question is asked, what do you first think of?
Recently I attended a worship conference in England where, Dan wilt, the director of communication and resources of vineyard USA was the main preacher. I thought, naturally, that the preaching would be on worship but when he spoke on our first morning, he spoke about our identity.
Now, I am not going to try and replicate his sermon but I would like to share with you something that has been impacting me since I heard him speak. If you were to go into your handbag right now and lift out an imaginary business card to help explain to others your identity, what would it say?
For example mine could say;
Lyndsey Henderson – Worship Leader
Lyndsey Henderson – Women’s Ministry
What would yours say? Would it list your job? A position in church? Your role in your family? Or your educational attainment? What would it say?
Dan went on to say that if we are in Christ, our cards read simply. There is no reference to work role, church position or educational achievement. They simply name us a son or daughter of God.
Mine would read;
Lyndsey Henderson- Daughter of God.
We are not defined by what we do in church or out of church, or what we look like, or our talents; we are defined by being a son or daughter of the living God. What else could I possibly want my card to say other than that?! But if I am honest, is that where my identity lies - is that what my card always says? Would people who know me outside of church know that? Do I reflect this all this time? And do I even accept it for myself and stand firm in it?
Soooo many questions!
As Dan continued to talk, he spoke on striving. Instantly my heart twinged, the Holy Spirit was with me just making sure I knew He was talking to me! As I listened I began to resonate with what he was sharing. I have always tried so hard to do the best that I can do in every area I can; trying to achieve the best Pinterest life while being a full time mama and with what felt like 10 other ideas and dreams that were in my mind. I’m the person at work that just puts their hand up and says yes. And I felt God ask me why? Why are you always looking to hold on to everything, take on everything and constantly trying to be bigger and better?
Now to a certain extent this is not wrong. I do believe we should all be the best version of ourselves we can be and we should definitely fill the need in when we can. However, if I am walking the path that God has for me; there will be no striving. There will be no crawling along holding on by my nails to things and constantly pushing towards something else; something that isn’t right.
I felt God share with me that he wants what is best for us. And what is best for us is to be talking with Him about where He wants us, about where he wants us serving, where he wants us working, who he wants us to be walking alongside; everything in our lives. I’m not saying that everything with God is a walk in the park with no rocky paths, but God doesn’t want us always striving for bigger and better all the time. He wants us to be confident sons and daughters- walking in the path he has for us!
Now I could write a full sermon on serving where we are needed because I know if we need help on kids - help! And if we need someone to serve teas and coffees - help! But should I be running myself into the ground trying to achieve everything all at once? No.
In order to walk confidently as Gods sons and daughters we have to spend time with Him and know Him. I am being challenged to ask God where he wants me to serve and work. And I may not always get the answer I’m looking for; because sometimes God sends me where I don’t want to go or He says I have to lay something down. But I know my Father has the best of all plans for me. I am the daughter of the King and how else do I need to define myself?
So I encourage you tonight, that if you are always striving for more or always looking for bigger or better- then spend time with your loving Father and see what he has for you. Because, I can guarantee it’s the best!
How often do we go to church or work or school, and when asked, “How are you?” We smile politely and say, “I’m fine” or “doing ok.” Are we really ok? Do people know how hard things have been recently? Probably not. I think it’s safe to say that we’re not fans of revealing our weaknesses to one another. It’s cringe-worthy to many of us to speak honestly about how things really are. In some ways it is easier to put a brave face on and keep going on with life… stiff upper lip, right?
I know, because I am one of those people who wears the “things are great!” mask, trying to be cheerful around others, when inside, I know that I am not. The truth is I naturally hide from others, myself and God when things are challenging or when I’m hurting.
When we hide behind our “masks” we are often trying to self preserve and avoid rejection. What if people really knew what was going on? What would they think of me? Can I trust people with the truth? Those questions have definitely rolled around my head many times before. But things are starting to change for me…
Theres a story in John 4 where Jesus was traveling through a little town in Samaria and stopped at a well to rest. A woman came in the heat of the day to draw water. Jesus strikes up a conversation by asking for a drink. The woman was surprised as Jews and Samaritans were bitter rivals. In the midst of their conversation Jesus asks the woman to bring her husband. She is confronted with an uncomfortable question, and responds, “I don’t have a husband.” A half truth. Jesus goes around her avoidance of the question and presents the truth about her life: “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” (v 17-18)
Bombshell! I imagine there to have been a pause at this point. Maybe she is squirming inside. She manages to gather her composure and changes the subject, but Jesus has a way of bringing her back to the real matter at hand. Eventually she retorts, “I know that when the Messiah comes, he will explain all things to us,” hoping this will finally bring the conversation to an end.
But then Jesus says to her, “I am He.”
She suddenly realises who Jesus was, and urgently ran to tell the other villagers. These are the words that she said to them: “Come meet the man who told me all I ever did! Could this be the Messiah?”
To be honest, I look at her response with bewilderment. This is how she encourages people to come meet Jesus? Surely, six different broken relationships would leave anyone seriously damaged. She might have felt used. The reason she was going to draw water in the heat of the day was because she was aware of her social standing. She was probably ostracised by her community and avoided them out of fear that her shame would be rubbed in her face. She was hurting inside and the desire to stay hidden would be great. So, why on earth would she be so open and willing to share this?
Jesus, in his kindness, confronted the things she was hiding. He didn’t do it to shame her, but rather, to free her from the power of her shame. Jesus didn’t condemn her in her sin and brokenness. He knew ALL, and still loved her. He treated her with dignity and respect. He covered her with grace. She found there was an acceptance unlike anything she had experienced before. This gave her the courage to be honest about herself.
She was free, and she wanted others to meet this amazing man. Perhaps the villagers greeted her with a degree of suspicion? After all, she was “that” woman. How could they take her word for it? But maybe they saw that something was very different about her, and it was pure curiosity that drew them towards Jesus. She became a bearer of the good news that God had come. God used her to change her whole town! They came and saw Him, and Jesus ended up staying for two more days teaching the people. They said to her afterwards, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world” (v42).
Easter is fast approaching and this story is a wonderful reminder of why Jesus came, why He died on the cross for us and most importantly, why He rose.
He rose to give us new life and freedom in Himself. Freedom in Christ includes being honest and vulnerable about where we are, even if it means exposing those parts of us that we’d rather not. Freedom means we live with confidence in who we are created by God to be, even when we do not have everything all together or perfect. He invites you to take the mask off because only then can the authentic, true self be seen. God can use you the way he used the Samaritan woman. She was freed from the terrible burden of her sin. It no longer restricted her, and it doesn’t have to restrict you either. When we bravely open ourselves to God “in spirit and in truth” (v23), we experience safety and healing that brings freedom to our whole selves. It becomes within us “a fresh, bubbling spring, giving (us) eternal life” (v14), and we want others to experience the same.
Jesus is speaking truthfully and tenderly to me, helping me find freedom from my past and hurts. I think I am starting to understand how the Samaritan Woman must have felt. As someone who has worn the mask and felt the burden since I was little, it feels exhilarating to be free, even if I still have quite a long way to go. I feel less pressure to make myself perfect. I can be more honest with myself and with others. I can look at myself in the mirror and not see the shame or disgust.The fear of being “found out” is gone because I am learning that I have true belonging as His child. I am giving myself permission to be me, the way He made me. This might all seem like elementary faith, and in some ways it is. But elementary faith can often get stuck in our heads without reaching all the way down to our hearts.
This freedom is starting to well up within me, and like the Samaritan Woman, I want to say to people around me, even in ALL my mess, “Come and see the Man who told me all I ever did. He is Jesus. He is the Risen God, the Messiah.”
Hello, Frankie here! Tonight I wanted to use my turn posting on the blog to invite you into what God is doing in my life right now. This post has been whirring around in my head for a while and I’m so glad to finally feel ready to share it with you all.
So I’m sure you’ll join me in being glad that the storm that was life towards the end of last year has calmed and I’ve found my balance again; just! I remain forever thankful I no longer cry everyday, dread leaving the house or find it exhausting just putting on a brave face. I have (with incredible support) completed the hardest days and the hardest tasks- but hey, I’ll be honest; I still haven’t decided what to do with my beautiful, unworn wedding dress that is still hanging in a kind friends house. And the wedding rings- they lie in a plant pot in my and Chana’s living room, because that’s the only place I can bare to keep them for now. Those decisions are hard and they aren’t for now. But the wounds aren’t fresh anymore, and to be honest I don’t even remember they are there most of the time- praise God! But as all wounds heal; they itch. They itch as if to remind me it’s okay they’re still healing, and some days they hurt more than others.
But God has has led down an interesting path these last few months. I suppose I expected a whirlwind new plan, new calling and new adventure. And while I remain expectant for the whirlwind seasons of the future; currently God has been showing me something quite different. He has continued to quietly whisper ‘Be still’ , Do your duty’ and prompted me time and again to ‘choose abundant life.’
One morning not so long ago, while lying in bed God prompted me to turn to Proverbs 31 in my bible. Jackpot I thought, hoping for a verse about a new calling, new path or maybe even some more out there instruction to start weaving (v.13). But I felt God draw me to verse 27:
‘She suffers nothing from laziness’
Basically God said ‘Frankie don’t be lazy.’ Great. Off I went and told my friends- Gods telling me to be tidy and less lazy. Again. And a few days later God prompted me again to read proverbs 31, drawing me to verse 15 which reads as:
‘She rises before her household’
I’d never heard (or had chosen to ignore) of God telling anyone to get out of bed earlier- but apparently it’s a thing; I checked with A LOT of people. Then it got really hard; God asked me to turn my car radio off and commute home in silence. A whole hour in the car. In silence. What even is this God?!
But He said it, so I did it.
I tidied my life. I went to bed earlier (affectionately known among my friends as #10.01) and set my alarm earlier (#6:30). I decluttered my chaotic routines and found a new motivation for work (in a moment of madness even agreeing to a spot of guest lecturing?!). I try my best to commute home in silence at least once a week- often on Tuesdays- and have been embracing taking life at a slower pace than perhaps I’d like. And after I made these changes, I began to wait for that new adventure from God. Where was this obedience taking me? What is He doing with this stuff? But surely God kept saying quietly and gently only ‘Frankie, be still.’
But now I know exactly what He was and is doing. God was slowing me down; not allowing me to ignore, mask or distract myself from engaging in a process of allowing peace to return to me. In these silent spaces and tidier, quieter moments He is helping me process- and not just the events of last year but things from years ago that I have never taken time to deal with. I’ve come to understand this time as a beautifully hidden season that has impacted every part of my life but remains, mostly, uncomplicated by chaos and something I only have to invite others into when it’s felt right. Last year was messy and so very uncontrollably public that this hidden season is soothing beyond compare; a sweet sanctuary for rest, reset and recovery.
The quiet spaces have prompted me to pursue therapy to help those fresher, niggling wounds. On Tuesdays I turn up and tell my therapist about the tangible fear of my life falling apart and how it brings paranoia and over analysis of every conversation I have and every single decision I now make. I tell her how hard I now find it to trust people not to reject and abandon me with no warning. I tell her about the sickness in the pit of my stomach when I think about being vulnerable and pursuing new relationships. I tell her about my deepest fears, how I don’t want brokeness to be my life song. She listens and sometimes she validates my thoughts and other times she challenges them. But most importantly she helps me towards the point of navigating into the future, all with God at the centre.
I try hard not to cry and I laugh awkwardly as I struggle with being the one being counselled and not the counsellor. And believe me this process is harder than I ever imagined. Often I don’t sleep well afterwards and the terrifying nightmares I had just after I received the news that changed this part of my life are back. But that’s okay- unsettling things that need healing is going to move the sediment right at the bottom of those stormy oceans! And after counselling I go home to a calmer life with established routines and a steadfast support network. And I am still. And all is well because He is there.
He is healing me through prayer, conversation and prompting me to say my fears out loud so I can acknowledge and work through them to a place of healing. He’s teaching me to call out my fear as fear, abandonment as abandonment and not to diminish experiences for fear of the judgement of others. God is teaching me to give my psychological healing a name- the name of Jesus! The extent of this healing is vast and it’s life changing. He is telling me that with Him, no matter what the future holds- abandonment or not; He will never leave me. For me, feeling truly free to hold on to this promise of God’s faithfulness has been profound. Profound healing, I wouldn’t have felt within a hectic routine, a loud commute or without obedience to God.
Silent commutes home have helped me work up courage to make phone calls I’ve avoided for months and to make financial decisions I have been putting off. But silence has also led me over and over again to a beautiful place of forgiveness of those who have hurt me, true repentance for the minor and the major and time and again to the overwhelming knowledge that God is good.
This calm sea feels strange. I certainly don’t wish another unforeseen storm, but a small calm wave of excitement might be welcomed with open arms! I’ve had years of moving around (6 moves in four years) with new jobs, new friends and planning for the future. Adjusting to routines and no end date for how long I plan to stay in a job or city is new for me. But the faces of those around me who excitedly tell me the ‘best is yet to come’ is enough to keep me going when the quiet, calm waters feel a little lonely.
And perhaps I dare to dream this time of obedience, simplification and healing is God preparing me for a huge family of messy children of my own or preparing me to contend with a busy married life, a new career or anything and everything in between. And that really is the most beautiful thing about my current season; I have slowly and tentatively began to dream again.
And over this season I declare ;
Lord you are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand- I will NOT be shaken. -- Psalm 16:5-8
Hello lovely ladies of Falkirk Vineyard! My name is Moira and it turns out I’m also a blogger now! I think we have mentioned in previous blog posts how much some of us love a medical drama. I’m a big fan of Grey’s Anatomy and ER back in the day, maybe you like a wee bit of Holby City or maybe some Casualty? Maybe some of you are not a fan of medical dramas at all and have seen enough of the real inside of hospitals to last a lifetime.
Something that all hospitals have in common (real or imaginary) is the use of triage when there is an emergency. People are split into categories depending on the severity of illness or trauma. I have realised that I use a triage system when it comes to the problems or issues in my life. The huge problems I take to God, I pray, seek His Will, ask others for prayer. I mostly have that covered. The small problems I keep to myself, Ok, so I know God knows them already even before they happen but I’m skipping ahead.
Let me give you an example: Christmas 2016 I was singing with a choir. I had been going to practices for weeks and we were a few weeks away from our performances. I came home from work one night and was feeling a bit overwhelmed, not the breakdown sobbing snotty type of overwhelmed but just the over tired I can’t work out how to fit everything in type. I thought I can’t do this choir thing, I’m just going to tell them I can’t do it. Now I pride (oof pride) myself on being a really reliable person who turns up when they say they are going to and all that stuff, I was really torn, however in the grand scheme of life it really wasn’t a big problem. In truth there were lots of people singing my part so they wouldn’t have missed me. I just wasn’t sure. I debated it for a while, called my mum, called a friend, I didn’t take it to God though, I thought it was too small and I didn’t want to bother Him?!?!?!?
I was going to small group that night and I thought maybe i’ll mention it. I didn’t say anything at prayer time, it seemed such a stupid small thing to mention. We had ministry time, the faithful, brave Megan Cormack (whom I didn’t know that well at the time and who didn’t know I sang in a choir) said she had a word for me. She wasn’t sure if it made sense but would tell me anyway. She said that she saw me standing on a stage alone with a spotlight on me, God wants me to know that He is listening to my voice, He wants to hear me…well that’ll do it, God had answered my question even though I thought it wasn’t worthy of an answer. He had searched me and knew me and loved me, even in the smallest problems in life He was my God. Do you want to know what the best part was? The whole time I was singing with the choir I knew God wanted me there, I knew He was listening. He blessed me beyond my expectations, He filled me up and gave me more than I had imagined.
I had triaged this problem. I had decided not to bother God with it because it was too small. Did I think He wouldn’t have the time?? Did I think He couldn’t be bothered?? Did I think He would say really? you again! I’ve got bigger issues to deal with?? I was looking at God through human lenses, I was missing the point.
“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the Lord’s holy people , to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know that this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure is all the fullness of God.” -- Ephesians 3:17--19
We’ve got to try and grasp it, his love is all consuming, all knowing, unfathomable, unsurpassable and real. Grasp it with all you have. He loves you to the fullness of all that He is just as you are right at that moment. Don’t let go of that truth no matter how small you think the problem is, take all of it to Him.
Finally, a huge shout out to Megan. She didn’t think what she had to say made sense but she said it anyway. God used her to bless me in ways I hadn’t imagined. If you feel like God has given you something to say just follow Megan’s example and go for it. What’s the worst that can happen ? If your worried about feeling silly just remember that top NASA scientists once asked a female astronaut if a hundred tampons were enough for a seven day mission!
A very warm hello to all my fellow blog readers! My name is Megan Cormack and I am very pleased to be featured on this amazing blog – can we take a second to recognise the ladies who organise this for our reading? You guys are brilliant, and the blogs so far have been so amazingly beautiful and funny. So far being the key words I think lol, no pressure – right?
So I’m going to jump right in and be so honest with you which I think may make me sweat just a little bit – my Mum would always say, “Ladies don’t sweat, they glisten”. So Mum, I’m glistening writing this! My husband’s name is Stuart, you probably know him, but if you don’t, he is the love of my life, an amazing, thoughtful and attentive husband (well most of the time). I just thought I’d make that clear before we start this story….you’ll see why.
Stuart and I LOVE to travel, any of you who know us are probably completely fed up with our constant stream of travel pictures on Facebook, but we thank you for not deleting us! We would like to have children in the future but before we do we have made it our aim to travel and see the world while we can still afford to. Every penny we have spare goes to our traveling. So let’s get to the story, we were on a cruise, our first ever cruise! We loved it, and we were in Asia for the first time!! The cruise started in Singapore, travelled to Thailand for two days, then onto Vietnam and finally halted to a stop in Hong Kong. We were having a beautiful time, enjoying being the only ones on board born in the 90s, or 80s or 70s for that fact haha! When we went on tours, due to our advantage of speediness we were always first off the boat and into a taxi! Perks of being born in the 90’s never ends.
One of our favourite things on the boat was the surf simulator – We spent days surfing and mastering the massive, gnarly waves! Otherwise known as the tiny artificial ones, but I consider it real surfing – right?! Anyways we were getting to be pretty much pros, waiting for someone to scout us out for the next big surf championship. Somewhere in the oceans between Thailand and Vietnam the unthinkable happened….We went, as we had done countless times before to hone our pro surf skills but this day everyone was boogie boarding, so being as skilled as we were (lol) we thought we’d be great! Stuart took his stance, dived in on the boogie board and popped up to his knees like a well-practiced boarder!
My turn was next, I dived in, steadied myself on the wave and popped up to my knees, I was not as skilled it seemed as I got wiped out. I got to my knees in the waves and stood up only to realise my new bathing suit I’d put on that morning may not have been the quality I expected. My top was only protecting the modesty of my belly button and my bottoms….well let’s just say I was not best pleased. A kind bystander handed me a tower as I was manically smiling at all the people in the unusually long line beside the wave machine, pretending nothing was wrong, while everyone laughed ‘with me, not at me’. Nudity? It’s totally fine…not! Meanwhile inside I was literally dying, mortified. I made my way to the edge where Stuart was standing, all the while literally praying the ground would swallow me up, and when I reached him through my fake smile I whispered (as to not let down the persona of ‘totally fine!’) “We need to go right now”. His response I hear you ask? “No? it’s my turn? I’ve been waiting?” and off he went to once again perfect the boogie boarding ways, leaving me trying to sort my bathing suit under my newly gifted towel.
Just to be clear Stuart does care, later I realised he had been filming me but when I fell he turned around to put our camera away and missed the whole ordeal! To this day he wishes it had been on camera, to this day I am celebrating that it’s not.
When I think back on this story it always makes me laugh, but at the same time a very deep pit in my stomach arises, I was SOOO embarrassed! How could I not be? There’s many things in my life that I have felt embarrassed by, some that I have purposefully done and regretted, some situations others have forced me to live, and some, like this one, that have been by absolute complete chance (or a faulty/ill-fitting bathing suit)! Many of these situations in life have left me embarrassed, ashamed and most overwhelmingly, afraid. I suffered for years with my self-worth and my shame and fear of what could happen at any moment. I found myself obsessing over worst case scenarios. But how good is our God? Today I can stand and I can stand free! Maybe not as free as I was on that boat that day….but free indeed! I have learned that through all the embarrassment of life, all the things that unjustly cause me shame, and all the things that ignite fear in my soul have been defeated. I have learned that He has gone before me and that I will get things wrong but that doesn’t make His love for me any less, He will not walk away. I don’t have to be fearful of Him leaving me or deserting me. I don’t have to ask for Him to protect me, He does it because I am His daughter and His creation and He loves me! HE loves ME!
Throughout life I have found it so hard to believe that I’m loved and like a wave over me God has revealed this time and time again. No matter your walk, no matter your shame or embarrassment, He is constant, He is never-ending and true. He will not leave you and he WILL NOT forsake you. In a world where evil is ever present and around us, He is your protection and your shield, cling to Him in times of need for He will fight for you. The road to forgiving yourself is emotional and hard, the road to forgiving others, for me, is much harder but the road to God’s forgiveness is very short. You have it, you’re one sentence away, talk to Him and believe in His love for you, listen to Him as He whispers your worth over and over to you. You are His daughter, you are made in His image, you are loved and accepted by the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords and the Almighty Prince of Peace.
All my love,
Thoughts, experiences, and encouragement from the ladies of Falkirk Vineyard.