Stepping out in-courage

I sat there alone basking in the irony.

Here I was watching a conference on community, hearing stories of wonderful God blessed friendships, of lives fulfilled by the roles they play as the friend.

I wondered as I logged in, why am I doing this to myself, am I just torturing my soul? Doesn’t it ache enough?

The videos began to play and my heart began to search, my heart began to listen, then finally it began to hear.

In these stories I had found home, my hurts, my pain. The soul tearing I had felt wasn’t just mine to own. These ladies too had feared community, feared stepping out, felt alone within a crowd.

How can these videos effect me so much, why are these stories resonating through my whole, why oh why are the tears falling down my face?

Because they speak the truth, they guide me towards what the heart knows but the head was refusing to accept. I am afraid, I am fearful, I am scared.

Friendship is a word that reaches into my body and stopped the blood from pouring into my heart. It leaves me cold.

I’ve tried it once before and it failed miserably, women I walked along side left when the road got rocky and obstacles stood in the way. I didn’t help, I don’t help. I didn’t cry out please don’t leave me, I too just stopped returning calls or making invitations.

Seasons of life,

I’ve heard this said before but had I let the understanding, the acceptance soothe my soul as the healing balm it could be.

My answer is simply no!

I’m not new to the stories I’m hearing , I have followed the writings over the past year or so. 

But have I been reading but not understanding?

YES 

Have the words really penetrated the walls that I have surrounded my heart with.

NO

The excuses got in there first, “They have it all together” “I could never write like that” “or maybe its different in America” are just a few that I resurrect each time the words got too close.

 Raising my shield against stories, against the truth.

 Reading in-courage but having none.

 Lying to myself about acceptance of a life alone. “Hey I don’t need friendship”, “I have great kids a wonderful husband” etc etc lies told to my own heart.

Ignoring the passages of God’s word where he calls us together to be a fellowship, to be all parts of the one body of Christ.

That can’t be for me, Ive tried it once, it just isn’t me, it wont work out.

Yet here I was signing up to watch the conference!

From the moment I pressed play I wasn’t alone, I felt the love of God surround me, Jesus was crying out to my heart, please listen,this is what I want for you. 

Friends are my gifts to you, they are the physical beings of my love. Open your heart dear child, let them in.

You have never been alone and you are so loved. Please step out in-courage.

 

Today is my birthday

Today is my birthday.

How different it is when you get older. Birthdays becomes less pretty and sparkly and more practical.

To be truthful, I’m not really keen on my birthday. It’s not the getting older that stresses me, just the memories of birthdays gone past.

Growing up money was tight, I have some memories, some good some bad.

I remember my 8th birthday vividly I had one of those plastic handbags and a fame outfit. I was so proud of that purple skirt and top. I danced for hours believing in the dream. I was so excited to be going to school to tell all my friends about my special day. Then my mom called me closer, “Measles” no school today. My birthday was on the Wednesday and as the week progressed by Friday I was diagnosed with German measles and the mumps. My goodness I was poorly.

So birthdays were days that came and went, my 18th was spent drunk for a week,on my 21st I was pregnant and married.

Then they began to change as my children got older the excitement returned as I celebrated my day through their eyes. The morning ritual of being woken with bouncing children on my bed. Presents and cards being thrust eagerly into my hands. Chorus’ of happy birthday ringing throughout the house.
Livvy screaming with excitement grasping at my gifts to rip the wrapping paper. Brodie trying her hardest to place them out of her reach.

Laughter returned to my day, their joy was the biggest and best birthday gift I can ask for.

Yet today is my fourth birthday without Livvy. Somehow we are struggling to bring back the sparkle to the day. We will work our way through the motions all so aware of the empty space on the bed and un ripped gifts.

So strange

So silent

So lost.

I will smile and enjoy my girls today. Cherish the love and kisses they will bestow on me. Open their gifts with the excitement they deserve.

I promise I will try.

Yet as they say, it’s the elephant in the room that tears at my heart.

I close my eyes and hear her sweet giggles and know kisses are being sent from heaven and one day our birthdays with be celebrated together again.

Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away- Unknown

20120427-032119.jpg

Glued together by music

Last friday was a night I will remember for a long time if not forever.

 

A night of worship, a night of incredible music and a night of deep healing within my soul.

 

I attended a Steven Curtis Chapman concert.

 

I can imagine you are all reading this and thinking “What a concert, the woman is off her head”  but let me tell you the background to it all and maybe you will understand a little better.

 

To be honest I cannot remember the exact date or time I was introduced to the music of Steven Curtis Chapman but it came via a link on Facebook from a dear friend who simply told me to listen to this man “he is singing your heart”.

 

No truer words were written.

 

An awful tragedy had happened to the Chapman family in May 2008, they had faced the loss of their beautiful daughter Maria Sue. Of course their hearts had been broken and it was in the midst of this heartbreak that SCC wrote the cd “Beauty will rise”.

 

As my friend had said he was singing my pain, Steven’s words described my anguish, my sorrow but most of all he shared my hope.

 

Our daughters had gone to soon but one day we will be reunited in heaven. Death is not the end, we hold on to the promise of eternity.

To try and describe how SCC music has effected me is so hard at times I can honestly say I am sure his music has saved me, saved my sanity. Those endless nights when my grief became unbearable and my thoughts were so dark Steven Curtis Chapman’s music became my light.

 

So as you can imagine when I found out he was finally touring here in the UK I was so excited. The tickets went online at 4am in the morning, I completed checkout at 4.04am, our tickets were numbered 1 and 2.

 

Obsessive YES

 

Excited – VERY

 

FInally the night was here, I was going to see SCC I was so excited i couldn’t breathe.

 

The concert was opened by Steven’s son’s band CALEB. They were awesome the talent in those three boys musically was plain to see. I promise they are stars of the future. Even though I was trembling at the prospect of seeing Steven Curtis I was impressed enough to get lost in their music.

 

Then the main attraction Mr Steven Curtis Chapman hit the stage.

 

He was amazing, his voice was incredible. His heart was evident in all of his songs, a God given talent for sure. I was memorized.

 

Then SCC started singing one of my loved songs, Cinderella and I couldn’t breathe. My heart just seemed to stop, all the grief I had been holding inside, all the pain of losing Livvy came rushing back into my soul.

 

Steven then spoke about losing Maria and his families loss and my heart was slowly cracking into a million pieces. I wanted to scream out loud I WANT MY DAUGHTER BACK. Yet as he sang the lyrics of the song Beauty will rise they began to echo in my mind I felt the amazing love of God fall upon me, the tears they fell as Jesus held me tightly in his arms.

 

Out of these ashes… beauty will rise

and we will dance among the ruins

We will see Him with our own eyes

Out of these ashes… beauty will rise

For we know, joy is coming in the morning…

in the morning, beauty will rise

Beauty will rise and one day I will be reunited with my darling Livvy. One day I will hold my sweet blond haired blue eyed angel again.

This evening, this concert was such a healing experience for me, my heart broke and was slowly glued back together by the music of Steven Curtis Chapman and the love of our amazing God. I never wanted the night to end.

 

Truly inspirational

Yet my joy wasn’t to end there, during the interval I had been chatting to one of the ladies who were part of the Trevor KIng team working on the promotional items and I was telling her about the cd “Beauty will Rise” and what it meant to me. She didn’t say a lot but asked me to return to see her after the concert where she presented me with a signed CD from Steven himself. I think I floated home, I was so moved.

 

I’m not the kind of person who worships singers, movie stars etc, in fact it is known iIget really cynical  at the screaming fans etc, but last friday night I was one of those screaming obsessed fans.

 

Steven Curtis Chapman was amazing and to say that the evening is one to remember doesn’t seem to do it justice. It was an evening my heart may never forget!

 

If Livvy ever meets Maria Sue in heaven I pray she tells her that her fathers music has lifted my heart.

 

If one day I ever got to meet SCC I would thank him from my heart for having the courage and strength to share his heart and in doing so bringing me so much comfort and sharing the hope of our Saviours promise.

Nightmares

I’m so tired at the moment, it feels like I haven’t a full nights sleep in weeks.

My youngest has been having nightmares, waking up with real fear. Scared of losing someone, facing another loss.

Of course all children have the occasional nightmare. Waking up scared that maybe someone has gone,

Yet for Brodie that nightmare has come true, Twice,

No wonder she is scared.

I hate that she has faced so much. I never imagined when she was born that she was to feel so much pain.

I wanted the perfect childhood for my girls. It was never about the material things just a childhood full of love, laughter and security.

Pain, loss, grief wasn’t part of my plan.

Of course life doesn’t always play the way we want it.

Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~Elizabeth Stone

20120424-031658.jpg

Living in the moment

It’s been a strange few days. I have found myself getting lost in my memories. Precious moments when the pain of my loss was forgotten.

God granted us an amazing gift when he gave us memories.

I know there are times where I wish I could forget. Painful, traumatic times but I wouldn’t trade my memory in for anything.

Just to hear Livvy’s giggle in my mind. To remember her mischievousness, her sheer cheekiness.

It’s these memories and many others that keep me going, keep me sane.

I often wonder If we were to realise the importance of the moment would we live it different.

If we realised that maybe one day we will look back and hold on tightly to this time, this moment.

I wonder if I would let go of the worries that tie on to my heart. The stresses that effect my mood and the length of my smile.

Could or would I allow myself to live in the magic of the moment, to live and breathe the here and now without thought of tomorrow or the following days.

Who knows what tomorrow brings at times today is enough of a challenge.

As Jesus once said

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:34 ESV)

So I’m refusing to be anxious anymore, embracing the moments, celebrating the memories and just be thankful.

20120420-014923.jpg

It’s Back to School

I’m so grateful for the newly ironed school uniform. The concept of a few hours peace sounds heavenly.

I’m exhausted it’s been a chaotic two weeks.

A trip to Blackpool for an ice skating competition.

Horse riding days.

Days at the park

Easter egg hunts

Marathon shopping trips

Holding a fund raising event for Livvy’s Smile.

20120417-034358.jpg

Add into this dealing with the temper tantrums of teenagers and challenging behaviour due to autism it’s been an eventful few weeks.

Did I mention I was exhausted!

I would love to say that I will be spending today resting up and catching some zzzz’s but I have a to do list a mile long.

20120417-034506.jpg

Phone calls to make, emails to write and events to organise.

Things that I couldn’t get done with four crazy kids around me.

I’m sure I’m not alone. I do wonder how moms who work from home manage it. I really struggle to concentrate with the noise level my children bring. Background noise of the Disney Chanel in one room the foo fighters in the other.

How do they do it? I have upmost respect for women who can or have to keep working through the holidays.

As a foster carer I guess I’m always working but paperwork seems to come to a halt when school ends.

I would welcome any advice or any tips you have learn or discovered.

As for me, I’m counting the minutes until that school bell rings.

20120417-034559.jpg

Bad mom ? No

Honest mom? Yes.

It has to stop

A few months ago I was recommended a book written by a survivor of human trafficking, Sophie Hayes.

 

While I was aware of the horror of human trafficking I was under the illusion that it only happened to people, who were living in poor and war torn countries.

 

So I was shocked to discover that Sophie was a young woman in her early twenties with a good job in the UK ,a home of her own and a family who loved her.

 

It had never crossed my rather naive mind that well educated, well supported young woman were falling prey to the evil that is the human traffickers. 

 

Reading Sophie’s book was a real eye opener for me. It left me with a mixture of emotions, anger at the way human trafficking was allowed to exist and admiration for the bravery of Sophie herself. She has faced a nightmare and survived. 

 

Sophie  story started when she trusted and believed in a friendship, this friendship turned into ownership.

 

Can you own a person? 

 

I didn’t believe you could but after reading Sophie’s story and looking more into human trafficking  it seems you can.

 

Sophie like thousands of others each day became property to be used over and over again.

 

Its not right, it is illegal, but its happening. 

 

I believed slavery was a thing of the past. How wrong was I?

 

In the world there are over 27 million people living their lives as slaves. 27 million can you get your head around that?

 

And thanks to the bravery of people like Sophie we are learning that this evil is out there and that we all need to be aware.

 

The Sophie Hayes Foundation is a new organization that started in January 2012. 

 

Their vision is to live in a world free of human trafficking and modern day slavery.

 

Their mission is to raise awareness about, and support survivors of, human trafficking and modern day slavery.

 

Their values are that they will work openly and transparently with other organizations against human trafficking and modern day slavery.

 

I admire Sophie’s courage and I support her aim to rid this world of human trafficking.

 

It’s not going to be an easy job, awareness is not going to be easy. People need to know the reality of human trafficking, Sophie could be your sister, your friend at school, the girl at the end of your street.

 

Also the men who frequent the sex shops are not aware of the reality behind the  sex trafficking. 

 

In Sophie’s words 

 

There was a huge contrast in the types of men I came across; no stereotype seemed to fit.  Although some men were very unpleasant, others could have been your brother or even your father.  I could have been their daughter!  None seemed to think about the fact that I may have been there involuntary or what I might be going through.  I have always wondered why more men aren’t educated on the realities of human trafficking and the hell of working in the sex industry.” (Sophie).  Changing the perception of men who buy sex is an enormous task but we believe a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step” 

Sophie speaks the truth it starts with one step. 

 

Im not sure where I read it but it was said that drug trafficking was yesterdays crime, when a drug is sold its a one time commodity where a sex worker can be sold over and over again. A reusable product.

This broke my heart, people being seen as a reusable product.

I admire Sophie greatly and I really recommend that you all go buy her book. Its not an easy read, it tears at your heart in a horrifying way. But it is so worth a read.

 

Sophie is a victim of a horrifying crime and devastating betrayal, but she isn’t giving in. She is fighting back, raising awareness and looking at ways to support survivors. Bringing human trafficking out of the dark and into the light, where it cannot hide in the shadows.

 

Please go visit Sophie’s site and  also Stop the Traffick and join the fight to end human trafficking today.

If this is madness

At church yesterday our Pastor mentioned that sometimes people believe that Christians must be mad, to believe in a God which you cannot see.

I wondered on this a while and without any real great theological debate I have come to the conclusion that if being a Christian is madness then being insane is awesome.

The truth is I know that Jesus died on the cross because he loved me.

I know that this life isnt everything that I have the promise of eternity.

I live a life full of endless love.

I trust that I am never alone.

I live my life full of hope.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Martin Luther King, Jr

I am running up those stairs in faith.

20120409-044306.jpg

Do We Really Understand?

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7 NIV)

 

This scripture has been on my mind for the last week or so. Maybe its because as we head towards the Easter weekend I am thinking alto about the sacrifice our Lord Jesus Christ suffered for us.

 

Sometimes I wonder if we have got used to the story, started accepting it as something that happened years ago.

 

Maybe we are grateful.

 

Maybe we realise the importance of this amazing gift.

 

Yet do we realise the horror of what Jesus faced.

 

How much he suffered so that we may be justified by grace.

 

I shudder at the pain he must have faced.

 

The beatings he withstood, the humiliation, the torture.

 

His body broken and ripped to sheds.

 

His heart aching from the rejection he faced.

 

All for us.

 

All because of us.

 

Tomorrow is Good friday and while i cannot change those events of 2000 years ago, I can spend time in prayer and in thanks.

 

I promise to remember the sacrifice.

 

I promise to remember the pain.

 

I know that its only because of his mercy I have eternal life.

 

My thanks seem nowhere near enough for the incredible gift I have received through Jesus Christ my Saviour.

 

I’m humbled by your magnificence.

 

Jesus I offer all I have.

 

I offer my heart.

 

 

 

* I won’t be blogging over the weekend, I’m spending time in prayer and devotion to the one who died so that I may be saved.

A New Day

This weekend I attended what is known as a Steps to Freedom day. It’s part of the Freedom in Christ course which I’ve been part of for the last ten weeks. 

 

It’s an intensive but such an amazing course.

 

The steps day is a day where you come to lay all your sins at the foot of the cross and move on in the freedom of Christ. In the forgiveness that Jesus died for on the cross.

 

Now of course this is a Christian course but I do wonder that personally each of us need that pathway to freedom.

 

For me there was many issues from teenage years that I was still now allowing to drag me down into a cycle of guilt and self blame.

 

Things that I wish I hadn’t done. Days I wish I could live over. 

 

I know I’m far from unique in these feelings. I’m sure many of us have a closet full of “if only” or “I wish I hadn’t “.

 

We all make mistakes we are human after all.

 

The truth is we cannot go back, something’s we can put right  but others we need to learn to let go off.

 

Saturday was that day for me. I cut the strings of condemnation and shame and moved on in forgiveness.

 

In the forgiveness of Christ Jesus but also I forgave myself.

 

It was day to lay it on the table and say ” yes I screwed up” but today is a new day.

 

It was an exhausting but liberating experience.

 

I would recommend the course to anyone but if the Christian way isn’t yours I still recommend the principle of forgiveness.

 

Lay it all out forgive yourself and remember today is a new day.