Thursday, 30 December 2010

My brother

When I think of Paul, how can I not be reminded of his exuberance? That vivacity that just exuded from him meant his presence always filled the room, even without speaking. That sparkle in his eye – often seen with just a quick wink and a cheeky smile that went from ear to ear, said it all.

He could often be heard before he could be seen, although I’m sure I could squeeze a height joke in there somewhere that he would roll his eyes at! As a little girl, that volume was the signal that my brother had arrived. I have so many memories of tearing down the stairs or scrabbling past people crowding the hallways, just so I could get to him. We were always met with an enveloping hug and a squeeze. You always felt like he was excited to see you.

I remember seeing his shadow in the door way with that familiar and safe voice of his calling out and just running full speed from the back of the garden, filled with delight. Only to then crash land on my knees when I attempted to jump the patio wall. That moment is so clearly cut in my mind, not for it’s painfulness but for how it demonstrated classic Paul. You see for me, when I remember him it’s not just his energy of his character but his tenderness. Paul loved fiercely. I remember kisses on my knees and being swept up off of the paving slabs into safe arms and snuggles on the sofa.

On my wedding day, I didn’t manage to see Paul very much but I felt his pride and his overwhelming approval all day long, often met with winks or broad smiles. He caught me for a few quiet moments in the afternoon and just held my hands and kissed my cheek. He didn’t say very much at all but he didn’t need to.

Just a few months ago, he was the Master of Ceremonies at a family wedding, a job surely created for him! His presence did indeed fill the space and his joy for them came across in the words his gave. Yet in the midst of the partying and the people, Paul sat on a sofa in a quiet room with his arms wrapped tightly around Beks and I. We sat for a quite a while, just enjoying each others company, with few words. I will cling on to that recent memory because it reminds me how his character often showed softness and warmth. I can never be mistaken how intensely he loved us.

Paul, I loved you too. I was so proud to have you as my big brother. I will remember your lust for life, the magnitude of your bravery and how you loved me. I have been so inspired by you. When people ask me what you were like, that is what I will tell them.

Thank you for loving me the way you did.

I’ll love you always,

Sunday, 18 July 2010

God is good, period.

What a week. Thank the LORD that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. 

Encouraging with some things on things I've read or heard since Wednesday that are strengthening me - hope they do you too. 

 July 16- My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers
 ' much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?' (Matt 7:11)

 Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct in this passage for those people who have His Spirit. He urges us to keep our minds filled with the concept of God's control over everything...Fill your mind with the thought that God is works on the following principle: 'God is my Father, He loves me, and I will never think of anything that He will forget, so why should I worry?' Jesus said there are time when God will not lift the darkness from you, but you should still trust Him. At times God may appear like an unkind friend, but He is not. He may appear like an unnatural Father, but He is not, He may appear like an unjust judge, but He is not. Keep the thought that the mind of God is behind all things, strong and growing. Not even the smallest detail of life happens unless God's will is behind it. Therefore, you can rest in perfect confidence in Him.'

I love this guy - his messages have spoken into my life repeatedly. The church he leads have a fantastic website filled with amazing series to listen to. Stuart Bryan posted this one up this week. I've heard it before, but the truth of it resonated to my core this week.

Read this today, same book.
After hearing Simon's incredible preach today, I came home and spent more time with Jesus. I read this and it followed on from what Simon shared today about the necessity of quite times, not simply as a spirital discipline, but for the radical change it will have on us. 

'When you pray, go into your room and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place...' (Matt 6:6)

Having a secret place stillness before God means deliberately shutting the door on our emotions and remembering Him.... When we truly live in 'the secret place', it becomes impossible for us to doubt God. We become more sure of Him than or anyone or anything else. Enter into 'the secret place' and you will find that God was right in the middle of your circumstances all the times. Get into the habit of dealing with God about everything. Unless you learn to open the door of your life completely and let God in from your first waking moment of each new day, you will be working on the wrong level through the day. But if you will swing the door of your life fully open and 'pray to you Father who is in the secret place', every public thing in your life will be marked with the lasting imprint of the presence of God.'

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

testimony tuesday

...its been a while! I was in the middle of revisiting my new years resolutions once-upon-a-blog, evaluating everything so far.... and then life happened. Isn't that always the way!

I will get back to the those, I will stick to them! Not for my compulsive behaviour but in the spirit of making this year count.

For now, a catch up.

Work...its been a bit all consuming at the moment! I have been working part-time/fulltime in a school in the borough. I've been giving supply and study support to Year 2/6 and I've had the opportunity to do some great 1-1 tuition as well with individual pupils. All in all I have been in everyday for nearly a year. This has been really helpful and definitely been a huge opportunity to get me back into teaching. Its a long story - some other time perhaps!
This year the school failed its OFSTED and we have been in a big season of change. Despite the feelings around the place and the moral, I'm going with the motto that change is good, moving on, moving forward! An opportunity to grow, learn, develop and make it the school we want it to be.

There was talk for a while that they wanted to employ me as a class teacher and get me involved permanently. I certainly wanted that, but for a whole year it has been, at most times, looking like an impossibility!  There just wasn't space for me and the talk on the wind was that nobody was leaving. I love that I know the God of the impossible.

The week before half term 3 people resigned - for various reasons. But it meant not just one opening but many! Well, I interviewed on Friday and I got the job!

I have had some hesistancy from people, who know what I went through last time, that don't understand why I'm jumping aboard a 'sinking ship'; pulling a school out of OFSTED is hard work.  But Matt and I feel God has brought me to such a place and time as this. A place where previous heartbreaking experiences are being use for good and a place where encouragement and the confidence I desperately needed has been restored. It feels like a risk and I'm running with that. I'm saying yes to this opportunity. If you were there at the leadership meeting on Tuesday, Simon talking about this certainly encouraged me!

I've had to stay hush hush about it for a while, with OFSTED being involved and the report not being released and my job just talk and not official. Now I can sing it out - this is my Thankful Tuesday.

My God is good.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

my list

I guess this is a list of things I would love to do in my lifetime. As you can see some are more serious than others! It's rather long, so I will try and double as many as these up as possible. If there's exciting things on your list please share them with me! They might spark some more ideas!

1. Learn sax
2. Stand on the steps of St. Peters (Aug 2008)
3. Ride in a hot air balloon, preferably linked to number 26. 
4. Send a message in a bottle
5. Get a tattoo (May 2007)
6. Write a book and have it published
7. Put my name on something
8. Grow my own garden
9. Cook and eat something I've grown
10. See the Northern Lights
11. Stand in the Colloseum (Aug 2008)
12. Learn Italian
13. Swim in the ocean (July 2006)
14. See my name in lights
15. Snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef
16. Set foot on each of the seven continents
17. Ride an elephant
18. Stand at the top of the Empire Estate Building
19. See New York lit up at Christmas
20. Look up at the ceiling of the Sistine chapel (Aug 2008)
21. Grow my nails.
22. Tread grapes in Tuscany
23. Stand in the poppy fields in Florence
24. Have a family
25. Safari in the Serengeti
26. Sell one my paintings
27. Helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon
28. See the Mona Lisa at The Louvre
29. Gondola ride and kiss under the Sighs bridge.
30. Go to the opera in Milan
31. Attend at least one major sporting event
32. Shower in a waterfall.
33. Make fire!
34. Drive a convertible with the top down and music blaring.
35. Go deep-sea fishing and eat my catch.
36. Watch the sunset over Ayers Rock
37. Photograph an engendered species
38 Walk the Great Wall in China (seven wonders)
39. Fly a kite
40. Sit in a Maclaren F1.
41. Go back to school and study Art history.
42. Climb a mountain
43. Spend time in Paradise, NZ
44. See the Cherry Blossoms around the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC in full bloom
45. Times Square on New Year's Day
46. Bora Bora...:)
47. Stand in the Amazon Rainforest
48 Visit The Uffizi, Florence
49. The Taj Mahal, India
50. See Mount Rushmore
51. Adopt.
52. See Muse in concert
53. See Christ the Redeemer in Rio
54. Spend time in another country to serve not holiday. 
 One day I'll work out how to make this a separate page, with a link in the side bar, so that when I achieve something and need to mark it off I don't have to keep reposting! If you know how to do this I would be muchly grateful for your help!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

spring cleaning

I'm feeling need for a spring clean everywhere - so over the next few days this blog will have many face lifts...probably only to go back to the original (isn't that always the way!!) I like to change my furniture around very frequently and have very deliberately (to save Matt!) bought stuff for this house that cannot be changed around. Getting itchy feet! So my blog will have to face the brunt of my indecisiveness for now. Apologies if you check in and I confuse you!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010


I made awesome healthy pancakes for breakfast today (the joy of being on Easter holidays!) So must share this recipe. I was very dubious, but so pleasantly surprised. These turned out like American pancakes, not the think version we would normally have. Add more milk/water to thin out further if you want normal shaped pancakes.

  • 1 egg (or 2 egg whites) lightly beaten
  • 1/8 Cup light sunflower oil
  • 1 ¼ Cup no fat milk
  • 1 Cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbs flax seeds (optional)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Dash cinnamon (optional)

Beat the egg/s with the milk and oil. In a separate bowl mix the remaining ingredients.You can either stir the flax seeds in as they are, or grind and then add. Gradually sieve these ingredients, whilst stirring, into the egg/oil/milk mix. 

Grease a plan on the hob, either with a dab of butter or with spray oil. When it is hot enough (add a teaspoon of water, if it disperses into water droplets it is hot enough).  I did about 2 tbsp per pancake. 

I had mine with raspberries and yoghurt. Delicious.


All my expectations this year are challenges..otherwise what would be the point!? However no more than expectation number 3....getting fitter. 

I am a complete contradiction. I can be unbelievably productive when I want to be and can achieve more in one day than even I thought possible, baking, planning, cleaning, exercise, quiet time, email catch-up. I like those days, I feel a little like superwoman.  Yet I can be horrendously lazy, in fact shockingly so and always feel guilty about it. Take today for instance...

I woke up at 11 - a complete switch from last weeks not being able to sleep at all and waking up at 4 most mornings. I have done some planning. I have read the paper and had some coffee. I have stared out the window and watched clouds for longer than I care to admit. I haven't ventured out the living room, because if I do I will notice the huge (its truly disgraceful) pile of laundry that needs doing. The bathroom than needs cleaning, the bed that needs stripping and washing, the kitchen.....oh the kitchen. 

Don't get me wrong, its my holiday - I'm going to take things easy and definitely take some days 'out', planned days of resting and not feeling guilty about it. But I need to summon up that productivity in me because its good for me!! But all this is not the most conducive when you are trying to get fit.

Anyway...all this leads to me standing and saying no more! I have never been a naturally sporty person, which had led me to having an average fitness level. But I've come to place when I'm realising God wants me to be all that I can be, spiritually and physically. He designed me for life and I want to do it with vigor and vitality in me. I will be 25 this year and I said to myself that I wanted to be in better physical condition than I had ever been, I know my metabolism will just continue to slow down the older I get. So I'm shaking it up now!

What am I doing about it?

I've changed my diet substantially - not much in content as I like a lot of fresh food anyways and eat a moderated amount of carbs. But I am eating smaller amounts more frequently in order to kick start my poor poor metabolism.

Drinking more water - I'm terrible, I really don't drink enough at all, again not helping my metabolism.

Running - not easy. I have flat feet. But I've always wanted to be a runner - no gym, no sign up fee, just me my kicks and the pavement. Also I'm doing the race for life with some girls from Kerith in honour of my brother and he's continued battle with cancer.I need to get in shape for that! It may only be 5k but I'm terribly unfit.

So I'm off...talking about this encouraged me to get out there. I'm going to keep updating my blog with this - I think it will certainly keep me accountable!

Sunday, 28 March 2010

putting away pride was a day for taking the risk! 

I find it quite hard to lie - as in blatant lies, the thought of building this web that becomes more and more intricate as you build lie after lie just to protect the original...only for it all to come crashing down...such a horrible thought! But we all live lives of dishonesty don't we!? Feelings we guard while we wear the smile on our faces, thoughts we daren't say out loud but are how we really feel. 

Today I had to swallow my pride and be honest about something.  I didn't seek out the opportunity to be honest, I'll admit. It crept up on me, attacked me by surprise. I had the chance to handle it in two ways. It felt like hitting a wall, one that looked a little insurmountable, one that I could have said what was needed to avoid the wall altogether and walk back the other way. I really shouldn't have been so surprised.  When you avoid things it's inevitable that if you want to keep moving forward you'll eventually come face to face with it again.

The thought of facing that situation again wasn't very nice. I was honest , in a painfully transparent way. But whilst it hurt it was sort of beautiful at the same time. It hurt my pride tremendously but in it I saw a friendship working out the way they were intended to, with a lot of love and mercy and communication!

After today, I hope that when I face the risk of being brutally honest again I weigh it up and realise the risk is worth it and that wall won't look so unconquerable.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

daring to venture

Nearly 3 months into 2010 and unlike previous years I'm stopping and thinking about my audacious expectations for this year. Typically I would, assuming is that I even got this far to begin with, see that its not worked and shrug my shoulders. I am determined, if not anything else, to have a totally different perspective it this time around.

Today I've spent some time thinking about being a risk taker.  Of course by this I  don't mean, the kind of foolishness that would hospitalise me or live me in big trouble because I'm not using my God-given common sense. No, rather I mean the godly, in tune-with-the-Holy-Spirit, shaking off my fear of being the fool, the world's opinions and my innate  desire to succeed and to please, kind of reckless abandon.

I remembering asking a friend of mine over new year what they were disappointed about in 2009. They replied that they risked nothing. That made me think! So, I put this at the top of my 2010 hope list because I spent so much of 2009 letting life pass me by. I've prophesied this over so many people. I'm claiming it for me this year and stirring my own spirit. I desperately want to dream big dreams, risky dreams. I want to step out when logic says no and the world says its impossible, but my trust and hope in Jesus says I can do all things. I want Matt and I to be risky with our finances.

And so far...?
It's been hard. Hard to let it filter into every facet of my life because I've caught myself closeting away areas that feel warm and fuzzy just as they are, thank you - very- much! Thanking the Holy Spirit though, that I'm not unconscious to it. I have seen  so obviously in my life, and others, what comes from stepping out with courage and seizing opportunities ; how it changes my reality ad transforms my spirit. At times it has led to something new and exciting, beyond what I could have hoped or realised for myself. Other times it hasn't led to any new circumstance but it has honored Jesus and strengthened that risk-taking muscle, that inevitably bringing continued fruit in my life! 

Most of my 'risk-taking' so far being in my prayer life and with task based opportunities. As I've stepped out in these things though, the Holy Spirit has been whispering areas of risk that I hadn't even contemplated, which clearly He had always intended! Whispers to love people who are hard to love, being transparently honest in everything I do, showing people mercy, being graceful even in the toughest of situations. It's certainly challenging! He's definitely presented me with many a chance to exercise this. I know I haven't.

This week I read a quote by C.S. Lewis. Quite aptly he writes, “Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point'.

I'm realising that courage, living life with that risk-taking quality, animates all  the other godly virtues Jesus taught us. His love for me didn't stop when it got dangerous. I don't want to show mercy until I think it becomes too hazardous. Where is the mercy in that? I don't want to love until its gets too risky for my reputation. Where is true love in that?

So...I'm going to keep going. Keep jumping out at opportunities and seizing them. But I'm going to push the boundaries of the fruits of the spirit and dare to be courageous in those too. Nervous, excited about what the Spirit will do in me, trusting in Jesus for all that I will need to do this. 

'Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." 

Friday, 19 February 2010

oh the places you'll go!

Sunday night hit me smack between the eyes.
If you didn’t hear Simon's message on Sunday, I urge you to. Or listen to again. I certainly have.

I had the privilege of listening to it twice and each time God just went deeper with me.  That message was the reason I started this blog – and hearing it from Simon again was refreshing and challenging and has really spurred me on.

Last year was an incredibly difficult year events unforeseen took my over and turned my life upside down . I changed my situation but then  spent the majority of my time most feeling like the wounded laying in wait, not physically scarred but left with the memories and heartache of a war.  Ir was like 'Hana' had disappeared. I know my family and Matt felt that way.

But God.

Two of my favourite words in the whole New Testament. He began to pull me out of the treacle I was wading through.

‘He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
       he drew me out of deep waters.’ Psalm 18.

Since then He’s been grabbing me at every opportunity and stirring up something inside of me. Sometimes it’s been a loud shout and sometimes it’s been a whisper, but its been etching itself into every corner of my life, my waking day and my dreaming. It’s been constant, in the songs I’m listening to, the message’s I hear and the blog’s I stumble across.

‘I want you to live’.

It has led me to an insatiable desire to not be half-hearted with this life. To dream again. I want to be all that He called me to be. 

I'm a big Switchfoot fan. I love this lyric ~

'The tension is here, between who you are and who you could be. Between how it is and how it should be...I dare you to move' [Switchfoot: I dare you to move] 

One of things Simon said Sunday night was we can’t leave everything to Him and yet we can’t do everything in our own strength. But when we match our actions, dreams and determination with His incomparably great power, we’ve got an extremely strong force on our hands. 

Life begins at the intersection’ [Switchfoot: 'Faust, Midas and Myself]

 …at the place of decision, the place of choice. My decision is to do everything I can do and trust in Him completely.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
The same power that conquered the grave lives in me.

Monday, 18 January 2010

a year in yes

This picture is of a 2010 calendar that I lusted over just a little bit towards the end of last year. It's so beautiful, filled with stunning photos and great quotes. The inside is so pretty, filled with to do list space, challenges, exciting adventure suggestions and just gorgeous to look at- it. It felt like it was made for me!
On the inside it had a bold title of 'this is your year'.

I love that calendar and whilst secretly mourning that it was not one of the things to be bought off of my Christmas list, and I've been forced to go with the little-bit-pretty/very functional couples planner, I feel that that statement  above is wrong. God has been stirring up in me dreams for this year and a devotion to give this year to Him. I've given Him my whole life, past, present and every day of my future, but I want this year to have His name on it.

My new years resolutions never last beyond a I then became someone who just never came up with any new ambitions. I've realised that all my efforts were never done in His strength. So with that in mind, I've come up with some goals for 2010. HF has aptly named them a list of 'audicious expectations'. I'm going to audiciously expect God to move this year, in my big dreams and in some of the smaller decisions, and help me achieve some of these because I'm going to do remembering its in His power and the power of the Spirit in me.
  • Be a risk taker: I guess this one can be applied to everything this year; a big one He's been pressing on me.
  • To be a better wife:  Always striving to love him better!
  • Improved fitness: I want to be stronger!
  • Better time management: some times I'm really hot on this, yet when I'm not I'm so off the mark it's untrue. 
  • Saying yes to Him more. 

I love the title of that calendar, at first I thought it was a terrible typo - shouldn't be 'The year of yes'?
I used to say yes to everyone- it took me a long time to develop the good habit of learning when to say no. Instead saying yes to everything that people put before me, 'the year in yes', feels to me like being in a mindset; being in an atmosphere of openness and willingness to embrace obedience. Saying yes to the opportunities He puts before even if they take me out of my comfort zone. Yes to the things He asks and longs for me to do. Yes as a battle cry that I believe what it says in the word, every time the enemy comes to steal my joy.

Today we begin our week of prayer and fasting. Matt & I are not fasting food this time around, who does a fresh food shop before the week of fasting eh!?(My fault entirely!) Instead we have taken the remotes to everything and put them upstairs, no DVD's/Sky/Wii! For me, fasting food would be easier. But I know fully that this small obedience glorifies Jesus and  is going to be good for me, time to spend saying yes to Him.

Monday, 11 January 2010


I have to honestly say that September 2008-September 2009 has been the hardest, most gut-renching, challenging and faith testing year of my life. Yet in all that, Matt and I have seen His favour and promise so abundantly. Reading Holly Furtick's blog recently prompted me to spend some time being truly thankful for what has gone; to stop and take stock, to remember what God has done this year.

9 Things I'm thankful for in 2009

1. Giving me the courage to leave my job and step out into the unknown.
2. Providing Matt with an amazing job that he loves and where he can flourish.
3. Undoubtedly having Your hand on my brother in his sickness and as he continues to recover.
4. Protecting sister and my nephew throughout their sicknesses and accidents this year.
5. Matt and I celebrating our first anniversary.
6. Being able to celebrate a year of my mum back in relationship with you.
7. Giving me a new gifting, that I love and is blessing others.
8. Celebrating a year in our own home.
9. New work opportunities that are healing me and growing me.

In amidst all the pain and the uncertainty of this past year, I can say with complete assurance I have known your hand on my life. Thank you for your faithfulness.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

a great start to the year

Last year our pastor challenged us to read the bible in a year and I was rubbish! I kept meaning to and forgot. As that is coming to a close I don't want to feel any guilt about it but want to step up and try again.

If you're like me and need some structure doing it check this out -
You can download the reading guide.

I started 2010 off with exercise - a nice long walk in the knee deep snow with good friends, shortly after midnight! Now for some spiritual exercise.

Foreword - to moving forward

I've sat here for half an hour not knowing what to write.
Blogging isn't something I am naturally inclined to do - I'm one of those that reads lots of blogs and absorbs everything. I'm a consumer. 

But this month or so I've been gripped with things that God is talking to me about and I feel like I need to write it all down, namely to make sense of it all! But also to turn from just reading and taking it all in to channelling it back out again. Some of the blogs I've read has been so instrumental in what God has been saying to me recently.

I absolutely love technology and the idea of something new to play with is great! But I want this not just be fun but so positive and useful. I want this to be another facet of  a life becoming consumed with Him only and living on purpose, with all that He destined for me.

If you stumble across this I hope what I am learning leads you into living as you were meant to live.