Well 2017, my darling, it’s going to be hard to say goodbye to you. You’ve held some of the happiest times of my life to date; a discovery of fruit and seed oatcakes, watching every episode of Gilmore girls ever made, adventures, travel and an engagement. This year I’ve stepped out in faith more than I have my whole time as a Christian. I’ve learnt to worship more freely and developed a skill I have coveted and longed for, for a long time; clapping in time to a beat. I’ve even managed to clap successfully and appropriately off beat a few times. Truly miraculous.
Within the walls of 2017 I leave behind some very fond and wonderful memories. Memories of things and people that are stored and treasured fondly even if many of these are too painful to be revisited- like the day I sent my beloved 2007 Fiat Panda to the scrap heap in the sky. In 2017, I’ve had to learn what to do when it doesn’t work out like it should, how to tell people your wedding is no longer happening. I’ve had to walk into rooms where people know more about decisions that have directed the course of my life than I ever will. The feeling of loss this year has been intense and the urge to run away has been strong. And that was just when I had to make a horrendous phone call to my dad to admit sleeping in for a flight out to see him. But perhaps most importantly I’ve learnt that when you’re smiling ear to ear saying ‘I’m fine’ like Ross from Friends - you’re probably not fine.
However, my dear 2017 you’ve shown me more of the incredible God I worship and for that you will remain one of my favourite years. You’ve shown me a God who has picked me up, held my heart, dried my tears and set me on a new path. A path I have learnt leads directly to Him. 2017 you’ve challenged me to trust the scripture when it says He’ll make all things work together for my good, to trust God when he says to be still and to hold my tongue when I’ve wanted to do anything but. This year I’ve encountered more than ever before a God who has protected me and given incomprehensible provision- a new place to live, a new role at work, stronger friendships than I’ve ever known and some incredibly happy times among the sad. A God who remembers me - I count it no coincidence the obscure worship song I planned to walk down the aisle to was sung at the conference I was attending on what should have been my wedding day. And in that moment God led me down an aisle into His wide open arms. He is so so gentle and kind to me.
2017 you’re slipping away now. And I feel God say to me that He has a new story to put on my heart for 2018. He is reminding me that it was two years ago on a squeaky air bed in my friends spare room on New Year’s Day that I prayed that He would be the constant in my life. And the constant He has been.
And Friends, no matter what 2017 has held for you- happy or sad, or what you excitedly await or painfully anticipate in 2018, God is the same; yesterday, today and forever. The promises He’s made stand; He is an unshakeable fortress- take that from a very shakeable Frankie! And whatever 2018 holds for me I trust Him and press on excitedly to the prize of discovering more of Him in the coming year.
Though another series of a Gilmore girls would also be a welcome addition to my 2018.
Happy New Year you lovely lot, have the most lovely Hogmanay and I pray your 2018 holds a new adventure.
Love, Frankie x
It’s Christmas, well almost Christmas, It’s so exciting! Are you excited? I am! If you know me, I’ve been excited since about October, much to the annoyance of those around me. The lights, the cinnamon, the garlands, the tree, the markets and of course chocolate for breakfast (I wait all year for this to be acceptable)!
I know what your thinking, Christian blog and I haven’t mentioned the birth of Jesus yet, but if I’m honest, celebrating the birth of Jesus isn’t what got me excited in October… so I wanted to do a little digging, figure out what I should be leaning into at this time of year.
So In conclusion, Advent is about celebrating the birth of Jesus as well as waiting in expectancy and anticipation of Gods return.
But as I thought about this, expectations, they are a funny thing really. We set our own expectations, often unrealistic on ourselves, others and events like Christmas, New Years, our birthdays…….. I could go on. As I thought about it I EXPECT friends to understand how I’m feeling, even when I show no hint of how I feel or say anything to them about it.
I EXPECT myself to be able to get through any situation, in any time limit, without any circumstances getting in my way and have no feelings of tiredness or exhaustion and do it with a smile!
I EXPECT my Christmas to look like a channel 5 hallmark Christmas movie. You know the ones, the house is absolutely beautifully decorated, the kids play with each other and share with no arguing, the food is exceptional and no my pavlova has not collapsed, the family get along, no one has had too many glasses and sharing the family secrets that devastate at least one person, the smell of homemade cookies is filling the house, everyone looks perfect in hideous Christmas jumpers and we even get the gift from a loved one that we didn’t ask for and no one knew we wanted… HOORRAAHH!! And do not tell me, I’m the only one who watches those movies!
In reality, I started shopping in September this year and today (21st December) I’m not finished, my garland isn’t up and probably won’t make it up, we aren’t sure who is all coming for Christmas dinner, no food shopping has been done never mind food prep, presents are not all wrapped, I’m still carrying an extra 1.5 stones from pregnancy and I’ll be happy if Blair manages to get me a present that isn’t NEYO tickets, a cleaning manual, a pack of toothbrushes or a pack of batteries (all previous Christmas gifts).
It so happens this year a lot of my normal decor, organisation and general festive fun went out the window due to our new arrival, Jonah, and coordinating a compassion ministry event. And in my mind I know these are two great things but it did not stop me from having moments where I said (loudly and with a hint of unhappiness )… It doesn’t feel like Christmas!! Why? Why doesn’t it feel like Christmas? What does Christmas feel like?
This year I encourage you to throw expectations of Christmas out the window (or mind), feel the freedom of releasing yourself from a hallmark Christmas, enjoy the chaos and what our Christmas looks like this year. I know some of us are missing loved ones, mourning times and people past, thinking of places we can’t be but I say this Christmas, embrace it. Live it. Enjoy tv dinners, pjs, grumpy grannies, bizarre presents and remember this is where I am and I will celebrate.
You say, "Lyndsey why should I celebrate here?"
Advent is expectant of Gods return, celebrating He will come again but I’m suggesting, God is here right now, present and living. Let’s spend time with Him this Christmas, He gave us himself. That is something to enjoy this Christmas! We can talk with him, spend time with Him, grieve with Him, play games and be fiercely competitive with family, all with Him beside us, HE IS HERE.
The thing about expectations is that we set them so high, sometimes unrealistic, but Gods love cannot be set high enough. So ladies (and gents I think) as my daughter sings everyday, LET IT GO, those expectations of how Christmas should look, let them go. Enjoy your Christmas, however it may look and welcome God in (even when the Monopoly board gets thrown across the room).
Enjoy the holidays!
So recently things haven’t entirely worked out how I imagined they would in this season of my life. I’ve had to over come some pretty big hurdles of late. For example I had to go lightbulb shopping the other day without a more suitably qualified adult than I accompanying me. That was a tough, yet educational day. But I am pleased to tell you I am now proficient in the ways of the bayonet lightbulb. And questions about wattage? I’m your gal!
But the particular hurdle I want to tell you about today is:
‘Frankie Vs the box of crockery.’
Following the sudden end of my engagement my lovely friends had been storing some things for me I wasn’t yet ready to take home. The friends who housed my things in my greatest time of need are incredibly kind and patient; take it from someone with previous of leaving stuff in their dining room; namely a couch that was there for roughly a year. If you need a safe space for your stuff or a warm and loving place to heal your heart- I highly recommend them and their dining room! But eventually the day came I was ready to remove my stuff from their dining room and bring my things home.
Among this stuff was the huge box of crockery I had been gifted by my Dad. Having had help to load it in the car when I reached home I looked at this massive box of crockery for a long time, contemplating just how I would get it into my flat. The box was staring at me from the boot, jeering at me and saying ‘you can’t lift me on your own.’ And I’m looking back at it thinking ‘oh box, if only you knew my strength, I’ve got this.’
So I balance the box on my hips and wrap my arms round this huge box- and oh boy is it heavy! I manage to carry it the few steps to the front door, contort myself enough to open the front door to be greeted by the sizeable flight of stairs to my flat. I can feel the tears starting to sting my eyes, feeling a wave of sadness about the meaning this stuff once held. How I’d imagined the dinner parties I’d host with this crockery and the way I had planned the kitchen to coordinate with the colours of the crockery. But I choke back the tears and I get the box to the bottom of the stairs- result!! ‘Look box, I am so great, so strong, such an independent person. Ain’t no cardboard box defeating me!’
I navigate the first three stairs and by this time I’m huffing and puffing. But It’s going well- I have perfected ignoring the intense pain in my hands; who even needs feeling in their fingers?! I’ve got a great hold of it, still balanced on my hips. I step up to master stair four. And just then, just as I take my next step; the bottom of the box gives way in dramatic, unpredictable, and devastating fashion- just when I thought everything was going so well.
Loudly out bounces plates, cups, bowls, the lid of a casserole dish, serving spoons and glasses. Some of it rolls down the stairs, some of it stays where’s it’s landed. The box is well and truly broken, and every time I shift it; something else falls out. There’s nothing for it but to sit down and take up defiant residence on the fourth stair. As I sit the tears are rolling down my face and they’re those kind of tears that rush down your face and bounce off the floor. I’m trying to be silent but I’m sobbing, those cathartic sobs that when you start you just can’t stop. And goodness are they loud- any neighbours enjoying a quiet Friday afternoon were sure to be disturbed. I look around me- all I can see is my hopes and dreams messily and publicly strewn over the stair well for all to see.
Once I realised sitting on the fourth stair of the stair well crying wasn’t a great life plan, I slowly start picking the crockery up. As I pick it up, I inspect each piece. Turning it over and thankful it’s been lovingly protected in bubble wrap and taped up securely. After careful inspection I discover something I wasn’t expecting. Not one piece of that crockery is broken. Not one lasting chip exists on that crockery, not one mark on its surface to show where’s it’s been dropped. No flaw in its identity remains. The box was well and truly broken but every single thing inside was whole, protected lovingly by bubble wrap and had sustained no lasting damage.
In that moment I can’t help but laugh. Scary happy laughs of realisation- my beautiful crockery is okay!! And that’s when I heard God whisper again what I’d heard Him say to me some weeks earlier- ‘Jennifer, you’ll bend in this time but I promise you won’t break.’ And I realised my life was just like that box of crockery. The bottom of my box- the solid base of where I thought my life was going- was broken, gone beyond all repair. But everything inside was protected - my faith in God, my ability to worship, my joy, my peace, my future! God is protecting me. A mark isn’t left on me - He has made me new! I’m wrapped in the protection of God's love forever and I am fiercely protected. I don’t have to do it alone. The boxes we place our lives within can break or be broken countless times. But God will always be our protection.
God has told me - I will bend (or in the case of the crockery; bounce!) but I will not break. And He promises this to you too:
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. -- 2 Corinthians 4:8-10.
God hears us when we call for his help and he rescues us. The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and he rescues those whose spirits are crushed -- Psalm 34:17-18
And He will protect you -- Psalm 121:7
Now, I’m looking forward to many dinner parties with my unscathed crockery. Crockery which has now taken on a new role as an important reminder in my life; never try and tackle the heavy stuff alone.
Love Frankie x
When I was asked to write a piece for the blog I thought hard about what I wanted to say. One thing that kept coming back to me was how faithful God has been in my life and how thankful I am to be a part of the Vineyard movement!
My husband Graeme and I have been a part of the Vineyard for over 20 years. We have served in many different Vineyards around the country and have been privileged to be a part of every one. The blessings of being in a worldwide movement became particularly real when we were over in California a few years ago. We were due to fly home one morning but on the way to the airport we got a call to say that there had been a shooting at the airport and it was in total shut down. We were stranded in South Central LA with a 3 year old and a 7 year old in a place we didn’t know, with very limited finances and the prospect of not being able to get a flight home for 5 days.
Now in normal circumstances this would have completely shaken us, scared us and I know I would have been in a complete panic. But within an hour we had people who didn’t even know us offering to put us up, help us out and pray for us. Thanks to our church family we were able to stay with some amazing people, visit the Vineyard Church in Anaheim and go to the best Fall Festival I have ever seen!
Sometimes God doesn’t want things to happen to us but he will always, always take care of us.
Instead of a stressful, scary end to our trip God enabled us to be cared for and made sure we got home safe and sound with even better memories that we thought we would have. I am gradually learning that although I want God to be in control, I also have to surrender to his will and accept that my plans are not always his, but his are much much better for me!
‘For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Jeremiah 29:11
It was that kinda week… I don’t know about you but sometimes I have a day where I think, yeah I’m nailing this life thing! Dinner on the table, washing done, kids happy, I’m clothed and my hair is even brushed… But then there are….the other kind of days/weeks. Please tell me you know and also have the type of days I’m talking about?! I’m going to share with you two stories of the past week or so where it was definitely one of those weeks.
It’s Wednesday, I’m feeling good! washings done (loving the new tumble dryer), I’m off to the gym and come back to find Blair standing on the landing at the top of our stairs with what I can only describe as 10yr old boys pj bottoms on, they look strangely like his favourite bottoms but they only reach half way down his calf. ‘Lyndsey did you perhaps put my bottoms in the dryer?’ Ummmmmm now as well as laugh hysterically at the sight of my husband, I also began to say things like ‘oh I’m so sorry, I am the worst wife!’, ‘I don’t know what I was thinking?’ And ‘I’m such an idiot’.
Now a few days later I was out and about at a class with Grace and Jonah and I had forgotten to pack the change bag again and it was time to feed Jonah. I had no bib and the only thing I had to use to stop him getting soaked was a Kleenex. A mum actually came over and offered me her spare bib since it looked so ridiculous, this is what I refer to as a #mumfail. I was thinking ‘I’m such an idiot,’ and ‘my poor child got stuck with the mum who can’t pack a bib.’
Now I probably only said these things out loud a few times, but the reality is, I don’t know how many times I said these things in my head in the following days. Then by the time I got over it, I had another thing to give myself a hard time about. I mean silly things like the day after I gave birth to Jonah saying ‘I still look 9 months pregnant!!’ And in the coming weeks saying ‘I’m so fat!.
Ladies, if you’re like me, we need to stop saying these things over ourselves! On the days where things like this happen, we must laugh, deal with the situation and move swiftly on! Oh how these things are fleeting, trivial and not a reflection of who we are. We are treasured by our Heavenly Father and forgetting a bib does not make me a bad mum, wife or person and in actual fact- these things are just one moment of one day of my life. As I attempted to stop the negative thoughts and sayings, I knew I had to grasp onto other words and speak truth into my own life.
I am valuable because I was created in Gods’ own image (Genesis 1:27) and I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). I belong to the King of kings and He loves me!
There are so many truths in the bible that tell us how beautiful, valued, treasured and loved by God we are. So next time you want to give yourself a hard time, or speak negativity over yourself, remember God, the creator of this amazing universe, loves YOU!
Thoughts, experiences, and encouragement from the ladies of Falkirk Vineyard.