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
Thoughts, experiences, and encouragement from the ladies of Falkirk Vineyard.