2011 has been a year of…..

As we say goodbye to 2011 I wish it well.

How do I describe the last 12 months, simply I think 2011 has been a year of DISCOVERIES…

We have discovered a young man that has fitted into our family perfectly.

Have discovered our girls are growing up. Changing from beautiful young girls into beautiful young woman. Facing the challenges of life with such compassion that makes me so proud.

We have discovered that although our job is exhausting and at times emotionally draining we love it with all our heart.

Discovered that sometimes moving on is the only way to move forward. That someplace strange can soon feel like home.

That faith is a journey of ups and downs. It’s a roller coaster ride that you find is really scary but know you are perfectly safe with the safety belt of Jesus.

Marriage is an ever changing relationship, we discovered that even after 16 years we still need time to learn and cherish each other.

Though the biggest thing of 2011 for me is simply this FRIENDSHIP.

I have learned that some friends are not who they have led you to believe them to be and some friends are so much more.

This year God has blessed me with some incredible people I now have the honour to call my friends.

So thank you 2011 you have left me exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. Together we have faced fears, climbed emotional mountains and built a stronghold of spirit.

I have grown so much this year, learning more about myself than I ever imagined.

So yes 2011 you have been a year of DISCOVERIES especially for me on my journey of self discovery.

Thank you for the joy of my highs and for my survival through the lows.

And Thank you to you all for reading and being so supportive here at Walking with Angels.

Christmas is over but the pain isn’t

Christmas has come and gone for another year. Presents opened, food eaten.

Children happily playing with their toys, husband quietly snoring on the sofa.

Its been a good one but it is still so different, so very wrong.

The last three years have been hard. Traditions have had to change. You can’t survive doing the same old things when someone is missing.

Christmas morning’s visit to Livvys grave was so hard. The yellow glittery flowers was the only gift I could lay for my beautiful daughter.

20111227-024814.jpg

Wishes send to heaven on my tears.

A kind old gentleman I have got to know visits his wife’s grave. He looks at me sadly and simply says

“it hurts “

How true are his words.

He loved his wife for over 40 years nursed her when she was sick. She was his, he was hers.

The tears fall down our faces as we share each others pain. He holds on to his memories I grieve for the ones we didn’t get to make.

Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries they all hit home the truth.

Our loved ones are out of reach.

Yet it’s in the Christmas story I find my peace. In the celebration of our Saviours birth I rejoice. For on this day was born the beginning of what would become our salvation.

As Mary held her dear baby boy in her arms did she ever perceive the life he would lead?Could she ever imagined his death?

As a grieving mother I can tell you it’s unimaginable. We bring our children into this world to live not to die.

Yet in the death of Mary’s son was the birth of hope. The birth of truth, the birth of life.

I grieve desperately for my daughter. In the midst of all the torn wrapping paper is my torn aching heart.

Yet on this day our Saviour was born and in this joyous moment was the birth of what I hold so tight. Salvation and the promise of eternity.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
(John 3:16, NIV)

Christmas Wishes

Dear Santa

If I could have just one Christmas wish it would be to whisper I love you in my daughters sweet smelling hair. To twist those curls around my fingers and hear her gentle breathes on my cheek.

But I know Santa this is beyond your red large sack. Heaven is beyond the limits for your glorious sledge.

Yet in faith I know that the real reason for this joyous season has no limits. That one day in the future I will join my daughter in eternity. Where the passage of time will be no more. Where I get to hold her sweet hand in mine once again.

While I look forward to this day I still have so much to hold on to here on earth.

So here on the eve of our Saviours birthday I come to Jesus to say

Thank you.

Thank you for  my gentle daughters who have been my strength and my reason for living. They have showed me laughter and love that has no bounds.

Thank you for my dear husband he is my lifebelt in the rough waters of life. When I have been drowning he has saved me.

Thank you for my family and friends who I hold so dear. For being there when I needed a shoulder to cry on or a ear to moan to.

May you Jesus bless them all.

Bring peace to the chaos

Love to the lonely

Health to the sick

Joy to the world

May all come to know the eternal love that was born on that day in Bethlehem.

What about Mary?

I’ve been thinking a lot about Mary the mother of Jesus and how she was feeling at this time.

When I was expecting my children the excitement used to bubble up inside of me. The plans I had for them, the lives I was dreaming for them. The desire to protect and keep them safe.

I’m sure Mary was feeling all those things but for her the truth was so different. Her son was coming into this world to be a saviour for all. Even If we just put aside the amazing way the child inside was conceived Mary had a lot to face.

We never really hear of the courage of Mary but I wonder if I could have been that brave. To risk everything to have a trust and faith so strong to say yes to God.

I get frustrated at times at the way Mary is perceived as a meek woman who does her duty. To me she is an incredible warrior who stayed strong in faith against all that must have come around her. The judgement, the scorn.

Then on that glorious night after labouring her child in her arms she held her precious son. The saviour to all who comes to him.

How did she feel? Was she scared for the future before him? Was she full of pride knowing her son was destined for greatest. Did she ever consider the cost of such a sacrifice?

With a mothers heart I feel for Mary as she watched her son suffer for us all.

With a sinners heart I give great thanks for the birth of our saviour Jesus Christ.

20111223-194018.jpg

Bye bye Santa

Ok I’m devastated I’ve tried for the last 15 years to bring Santa to life in my home.

The eaten mince pie

The empty glass of milk

The half eaten carrot

20111222-042411.jpg

Each Christmas eve we have gone through the ritual of being Santa just to hear the excited screams of “he’s been , he’s been “. As they check the empty plate.

This year I’ve been told that’s it’s ok I don’t have to pretend anymore. It seems my ten year old knows the truth.

This has happened twice before as both Kennedy and Eden informed me that Santa isn’t real. Yet for some reason it hurts that little bit more with my youngest. I guess this is where the pretence ends. No more playing along for the younger children the youngest has said enough.

I wonder if they would indulge a old mommy with pretence. Allow me to stay in the illusion that my girls are still babies. That they still believe in wishes and fairy tales.

My eldest is three years off being a woman, where did the time go. It seems like only yesterday I was holding this chubby little new born in my arms.

Time moves on and children grow.

Though this year there will still be a cake for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph. Not for the children but for the poor mom who is struggling to realise her girls are growing up.

Indulge a old woman please.

20111222-042541.jpg

The Love Dare

My husband and I watched the DVD Fireproof the other night. It’s a Christian movie based around the book The Love Dare. It’s a fantastic resource for people considering marriage or who are married.

While the movie is based on a marriage that is at breaking point it’s also useful for marriages that just need a little TLC.

My marriage is fine it’s not perfect but show me one that is. I brought the DVD simply because honestly at times I miss my husband. We get so caught up in the children,our job and general life stuff that we forget to take time to cherish each other.

The movie was an eye opener for us both, it gave us so much to think about that days on we are still digesting it all.

One part that really struck me was when they stated that when we are courting we study our partner. We ask them questions about who they are, what they like? Yet when we get married we stop asking these questions.

Now I know for a fact that I’m not the same person I was 15 years ago when we got married, I have different likes and dislikes in everything from world news to music tastes. The same is for Alan yet when did I last ask “what music are you enjoying”? or “what do you think about this or that”?

I loved the concept of the movie so much that I’ve ordered the book the Love Dare. I want to keep my marriage as fresh as it was when we first said I do. The fact is after everything Alan and I have faced together we are pretty strong and I love him more now than I did 16 years ago. Yet relationships need time and to be nurtured and your marriage is one of the most important relationships you ever have.

I know at times Alan and I take each other for granted so I’m setting us the challenge of the Love dare, I let you know how we get on.

20111219-214358.jpg

I was wrong

It’s amazing the freedom you can feel when you share with another. The validation that what’s on your mind is ok. That someone else understands.

I struggle with being open. I used to believe that being open left you weak. That defences down left your defenceless.

I was wrong, so wrong.

The strength I take from another’s understanding is incredible.

To hear another say “you know what I get you” fills my heart with peace.

Or the usual one aimed at me “give yourself a break”.

Perspective and I can be far from each other at times. The kindness of a friends heart clears away the confusion.

It’s a slow journey learning to share my heart but the old saying “a problem shared is a problem halved” is such a truth.

Only the other day I said to my daughter, “if you talk to me then maybe I can help”. How long have people been saying this to me?

How easy is it for me to try to let others off load, to try and bring others comfort not realising that this is the gift they were trying to also give me.

The gift I kept returning unopened.

How I must have frustrated people.

Life is an adventure but at times it can be hard and scary. By opening my heart and sharing my troubles my burden becomes lighter as I allow my friends to share the load.

I am so thankful for the friendships that are growing in my life. I thank God for the people he has surrounded me with, in real life or the virtual sphere, I am truly blessed.

We are not alone and that’s pretty fantastic.

20111218-153125.jpg

I haven’t time to be ill.

I don’t have time, not now please.

I can’t be ill there is so much to be done.

I’ve haven’t written the Christmas cards.

I haven’t wrapped all the presents.

I need to be out shopping not sick in my bed.

The children are giddy with excitement I’m giddy with a fever.

So much to do, so little time.

So much pain, shivering constantly.

It’s just a normal winter virus but I don’t have time for normality.

We have hospital appointments, Christmas parties and don’t forget the carol services.

I don’t have time to be ill.

Yet life doesn’t play by the rules we desire it to. I’m sure we would all like to fit our illnesses in to the week in year we have free.

I’m sick, my body aches all over and no matter how much I wish it away Christmas is coming.

Acceptance is a wonderful thing. The letting go into the abandonment, what will be will be.

Happiness can only exist in acceptance. George Orwell.

Letting go of the stresses of the season isn’t easy. Maybe I needed the illness to slow me down. To remind me of the real reason for the celebration. Perfection isn’t found in perfectly wrapped Christmas presents, or wonderfully penned Christmas cards.

Perfection came on that special day when our Saviour was born.

20111215-013831.jpg

Cherishing Friendship

Regular readers of my blog will know that building up friendships is something I have struggled with for a long time. I suffer with issues of trust that at times can be a barrier that I place around myself.
The last year I have slowly started opening my heart and building foundations that in what I believe will be lifetime friendships. Even so I still seem to find myself waiting for the moment I mess it all up.
One of the places that have brought me peace and courage through these worries has been the (In)courage site. Here woman have opened their hearts and shared with us all moments that have left them feeling joy and brokenness. The honest writings of these ladies hearts have inspired me more than I could ever explain. My only frustration is that for the most part they all live miles away in another country.
So when (In)courage announced they were having an in real conference I was dismayed. I mean they are in the USA and I’m here in good old England. But you see I had got it wrong the (in)courage in real life conference wasn’t going to be one big event it was going to be mini events all around the world. A chance for woman to get together and embrace and celebrate friendship!
I will let the (in)courage team explain.

Yup, we’re bringing the beach house to you with the goal of connecting women beyond the blog post! How? Well, with a day of (in)courage meetups – think mini beach house parties – all around the country and globe and a webcast for everyone to tune into. A local meetup on a global scale; friends will gather to watch live webcasts of (in)courage contributors and community, connect with one another, and discover new friendships they didn’t know were right around the corner!
There will be something for everyone – walking, talking, laughing, hugging blog content – right in the comfort of your living room. The webcast kicks off on Friday, April 27 and (in)RL beach house parties follow on Saturday, April 28 with more live (in)courage content to tune into together. Just imagine thousands of (in)courage women all over the world getting together in homes, coffee shops, restaurants, or churches – you name it- to connect in real life!

See how awesome it is going to be. I’m excited that’s for sure, I’ve already signed up.
I’m not sure yet if I am joining a planned meet up, or if I’m going to find the courage to actually host one.
Wherever I am I hope that new friendships will be made, old friendships cherished.
So the question I want to ask is, “Will you join me?”

No Disappointment

“God appoints people who do disappoint – to point to a God who never disappoints.” Ann Voskamp

I first heard this quote about two weeks ago after listening to the keynote speech from Ann at the relevant conference. While the whole speech was amazing these words stayed tattooed to my heart.

You see I wake up each morning and hate what I see in the mirror. The desire to be a different person consumes me. I want to go back and live my life all over again. Be a better person, stay purer, erase the years of sin.

I want so much to be a person who God can use. A vessel for his glory.
Yet all I see is disappointment.

So when I heard the words, “God appoints people who disappoint ” my heart ached with relief.

I get so caught up in my disappointment of myself that I lose the glory of who God is. That the grace of God is so much more than I could ever comprehend.

How easy would it be for God to use a righteous person to proclaim his words. How their words should be enough. Yet Jesus took the fallen and raised them up. Just as he spoke to the woman at the well he speaks to me.

Jesus didn’t take only the educated, the wealthy to follow him. Jesus didn’t judge by appearances. The size of your bank balance didn’t matter it was the size of your heart he searched for.

Yes I have disappointed and I’m sure I will disappoint again but in Jesus there is no disappointment. Our God is one who never disappoints.