It Mental Health Awareness Week 2019

Its May 13th – 19th, and the theme this year is Body Image.

IMG_20190514_014628What do you think and feel about your body? Follow the link on the image for the executive summary on Body Images from the Mental Health Foundation to find out more! Also, I hope they don’t mind I borrowed their official graphic! 

The fact that mothers day was on Sunday past (in the southern hemisphere) is significant for me because as someone who could have been a mother of many years by now actually has a pretty poor body image because of the choices I made.

Rightly or wrongly, termination was my choice and I also chose to destroy my body image intentionally  because of said choice.

I believed, then, becoming fat to the extent of obese would render me unattractive to others (male and female) and sometimes still do. I relied on the judgemental assumptions people make, out and about on the street, at the gym, at work – about individuals based solely on appearance – easy! Let’s be real for a second, unconcious bias admires, adores,even lusts after the body beautiful where as the admonishing questions, looks of pity/disgust/repulsion manifest first where a larger person is concerned. If you look after yourself you are a good person; right?

I believed I should represent the ugly on the outside that festered on the inside. The monster within that can terminate a life, should show its face. I used to play sport, a lot! I even enjoyed crosscountry, that is mental initself, but that changed when I realised what was happening. I turned to alcohol, logic being 2 fold, 1: I get to forget and 2:I get to pile on the weight. This only encouraged other detrimental  behaviours, which im sure I will cover on here at some point, when courage strikes! The point is, it was very much a conscious decision.

The #bebodykind for this week got me thinking about why I haven’t been to the gym in months. I watched an old family friend transform and turn around her fitness life for her 50th birthday, and was encouraged, motivated to do the same for my nexy big milestone too. Her transformation is just wow! But I’m no longer working out, travelling with work is just an excuse. We both know, that as humans we do prioritise what is important to us. And, actually I think we are lying to ourselves if we reason otherwise. So anyway, thinking about the why – I reasoned its because I am back where I was all those years ago, nuturing my excuse to justify my unattractiveness as a human!

I don’t do relationship well. Evident from the many failed friendships of my past and present. I am at my best in small doses and infrequent contact, true story. As any of my long term friends would honestly testify to. Note not fishing for compliments here, just being honest. As a friend I #mth. I feel like im rambling so back to the point….

IMG_20190513_095941_677

I thought depression had been and gone. Not friends, not enemies, just strangers with memories, is how I like to think of our relationship. But the truth is, depression is still very much an acquaintance in my world. Granted our visits are infrequent, we go for years without so much as a hello or even a fleeting thought on my side. But, just like our various social media profiles a throwback pops up and in an instant you are reacquaintanted like no time at all passed since you last saw each other; and all the emotion is very raw and very real!

I want the alcohol, and I don’t want the alcohol. FYI its a metaphor, I don’t actually have alcoholism to deal with too, thankfully! I want to Change, but believe I’m incapable, so might as well embrace it. But wait, I believe I can, but….. Look here we are are again! I am truly bored of typing the cycle as I am living it!!

The main point about me writing this post, and after so long is because I acknowledge that I my own body image is tied to my own mental health. And it it tied to a choice I made long ago. That choice has affected my career, my friendships, my family and worst of all my identity.

IMG_20190513_211653_744

To be continued. In the meantime check out Clara Lieu that’s her art based on her depression. Just blown away!

Where is home?

Took some down time and watched 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. Spoiler alert: During a lull in the battle, Jack asks “why can’t I go home, why can’t I just go home and stay there?” and the reply he gets from Rone is “warriors aren’t trained to retire Jack”. This movie is a true story and at the end Jack calls his wife and tells her that he is coming home for good.

It got me thinking, why do we need death to remind us of what’s important and where our happy place really is? The ‘grass is greener‘ syndrome is pandemic!

Tradegy is a game changer. Whether it is death or illness, natural disaster, famine or war. It is a catalyst for inner reflection. Why? Because, I believe, we realise that life is finite. So suddenly we have a mind shift. Quality over quantity. Happiness over profit/power. Time over money. The little things over the big things.

However, as with most things it’s a T-junction. It can go either way. You can fully embrace the little things or ignore them and persue the big things. You decide where your focus is headed. It never seems to be a case of having it all. There is a cost somewhere, be it financial or sacrificial! I will save the “why can’t we have it all?” for another time. 

I used to be a self proclaiming aethiest, until I realised that by definition I acknowledged God’s exsistence in my denial! It was illogical and indeed an irritant – thank you Mr Spock, so I refrained from using any lables. But – it made me think a lot about why I am here, what the point was and where did I belong? I embraced the YOLO lifestyle, but can honestly say it was unfulfilling.

Then my Dad got sick and he was gone. It all happened so quickly.  So death started my journey on reflection. Well more honestly, the reluctant church going did, because my mum didn’t want to go alone. I stood at my t-junction as the Sundays came and went. I decided that a job that made me happy was more important than a job that made me money so embarked on a career change. That was a short lived year thanks to the oil crash and my redundancy.  Silver linings though, namely some new life long friends and the next career phase. It has allowed me to explore our planet waters and get paid to do so albeit poorly in comparison to career paths of old. I was happy, for the most part.

So 2 years of living the dream have passed and I’m physically home at the moment waiting to  start a new job, but, my heart longs for the sea. I am asking myself the same question Jack did! Because I am home, I’m just a teeny tiny bit restless.

Does that mean I’m not home? Where is my home? Is the grass greener anywhere but where I am? Questions I do not have the answers to, frustratingly.

Then tonight at prayer gathering I was reminded I am exactly where the Lord wants me to be. I also remembered the recent book I read, the enemy will throw trials at you to stop you becoming who you are meant to be in the kingdom! The reasons for anything that brings you down in life may not be evident in the moment or the immediate future but it is a T-junction. We could focus on that trial or tradgedy, and become negative, self-pitying or disheartened for example; basically focused on it dominating our lives in tiny miniscule detail. Or we could use it as an opportunity to grow our faithfulness in God. To give thanks for the growing process of our heavenly gifts and blessings. Give Him the glory, trust Him and be obedient. Remember the bigger picture, and focus on that instead.

Geography is irrelevant when we embrace that He is home. Need reminding? Read the Book of Job 36:15 

Good night from Scotland WordPress x

Bon Fire Light

Last night we as a church family walked up Brimmond hill in Scotland and had our pick of firework displays all around the city.  It didn’t matter which direction you looked we could see a display!

The kids loved it as did the big kids. It was pretty cold! But really it was perfect weather conditions to see the splendor of the city celebrating Guy Fawkes night!

 The walk to the top only took about 25 minutes and some other savvy people were at the top too. We lit the way with glow sticks, glow in the dark balloons and fairy light lanterns. We were also lucky enough to have a wee camp fire and toast marshmallows !

A huge thank you to everyone who helped organise the evening, donated supplies and helped me carry the sleeping bags, wood and of course set up the evening!

Sparkler Selfie on the hill
Mini Firework over our city

One of the fun things we did aside from traditional sparklers and hit chocolate was paint with light! Hope you enjoy the photos! It’s not always easy to write backwards! Here are some of our light paintings – enjoy!

Light artists
The SBC light artists
Shedding some light, shame the g is back to front :)
SHEDDing some Light ! Haha

Jesus is our light, he said so himself! As christians when we follow him we never walk in darkness! 

John 8:12 Light of the world
John 8:12 The light of the world

Off Track..

When writing my blog posts, if I make a mistake I just tap away at the delete button and correct it. Simple.

If I am painting and I make a mistake I adapt that mistake and use it to evolve the painting. Less simple.

When fixing my car, if I make a mistake it requires more knowledgeable assistance. This is costly and complicated.

The key thing in all is acknowledging the mistake! Next comes evaluation, what to do with the mistake? Ignore it. Perhaps I should start over or gloss over it. Maybe use it?  And so action comes next. Erraddicate it’s exsistence or incorporate it or ask for help. The choice is mine to make. 

In any walk  of faith, mistakes happen. By mistakes I mean sin. Willful disobedience. If you are a Christian you know the rules, because they are laid out for you in the bible. And if you are a Christian, chances are you know when you have sinned. Acknowledging your sin, can be tough not to mention a bitter pill to swallow, but it is the first step to repentance. We are going through the  Set Apart series in church at the moment and it is exciting! It challenges you to evaluate you, without comparison.

When I neglected to trust I, I veered off the track and wrote the rambling below. I had started reacting to my own situation rather than trusting in God and His promises. 

Looking inward and assessing yourself is uncomfortable!! Searching within for the mistakes you called part of your character; for example: using your past as an excuse or letting current circumstance justify your reaction (“it’s just the way she is”), is the surest way I can think of to derail your faith.

Letting your mistakes define you is the ultimate mistake. It exposes and weakens you. The enemy constantly lies in wait, you are tiring yourself out for the attack. You start telling yourself all kinds of lies and slowly but surely you believe them. Things like resentment, jealousy, apathy, fear, self-loathing, shame, pride and hatred start dominating your feelings. It is a heady cocktail for the wrong kind of vulnerability.

I know that I I said at the beginning how I cope with my mistake is my choice and even in sin that remains true. Sin and lie to yourself about it, see where that gets you. Sin and repent and see where God gets you.

Remember, God is faithful! But, it is a choice, a personal choice. If you stumble and fall or willingly divert cross-country style that’s ok, because devine roadside assistance is free and available anytime you need it.  His mercy is new every day.

No matter how much I try  

All I do is cry

My tears unrelenting 

My soul ever repenting

I fell so empty and hollow 

Where is the path I chose to follow?

The cycle goes round and round 

I’m troubled and bound,

I’ve deviated off the track

I can’t see a way back

The fear overwhelming

These myths need dispelling

I so wanted to be the change, 

To proclaim His wonder in the strange

To call myself His daughter

I’ve tasted living water

A voice within shouts “FLEE!”

Another whispers “Come back to me”

“Only I can see you free”

Shadow Boxing

Shadow Boxing

I recently mentioned I was going through the terrible twos in my What does God sound like? post. I faltered in my faith, and pretty much isolated myself ironically to try and minimise the damage it caused but really only amplified it.

I tend to scribble, a friend calls it poetry, to get the negativity out my system. I call it my ramblings. I ‘rambled’ during a service one Sunday during the start of the service and it is below for you to read.

What is mind blowing about this, is that what I thought it was about and what it actually was about were too very different things.  Sharing it with friends, they gave me their thoughts on it and I saw the hidden truth in it. I was disappointed with God!

I’m sharing it with you because, so often we fight with ourselves. Making mountains out of mole hills.  Believing the lies we tell ourselves over and over again. Going it alone, instead of with Him. The fight is already lost if you are alone! Fact!

I’m on my knees
My knuckles are bloodied and bruised
I see my opponents boots
Dancing in front of me

I strain to hear the bell
I just need some respite
To be safe in my corner;
I barely hear the countdown

I refuse to lose and heave myself upward
I stumble and collapse again
The count down continues
My vision blurs with black and white

Suddenly I’m standing
And, I hear the bell;
The relief is immediate
I stagger to my corner

I sit and gasp for water
Only, all I receive is a punch!

A warm trickle reaches my lips
I taste of iron and recognise it.

I’m dazed and confused, I can’t understand
I’m safe! I’m supposed to be safe
I haven’t heard the bell
I’m still sitting down

I glimpse the referee again
But he seems far far away
I see the next blow in slow motion
I’m knocked off my stool

I claw at the ropes to right myself
As I rise up, I realise I’m being helped
I squint into the face helping me
I look past their shoulder

I see my attacker
I’m shocked , and lose all strength
Attacked by my own inner circle; betrayed
The crushing revelation

The roar in my ear dulls
I realise I’m cacooned in black and white
I rest my head on that collar
Tears mingle with coagulated blood

No wonder I’m losing
Almost blinded by the fight
To the deafening count of defeat
No counter move to make

The bell rings loudly
I register this bout is done
Thankfully the referee called it!
I may have lost the battle
Only to discover the war is won.

Dropping the Mask

Two years ago I was new to the fold (again). My creativity was encouraged and put to use at several women’s events at my church. I created a masquerade mask, having spent time in Venice for Carnival a few years back it seemed logical to me the mask should be ostentatious, glamourous and secretive.  As I got involved in the aim and requirements of the gathering, the conception of the mask made me think alot about social media, about projection, about being real.

Below is the mask I created for the event. I specifically used peacock feathers for the bird has an element of pride associated with it. The pearls and diamantes have a deliberate fakeness about them. I picked copper to signify how malleable our identity is to change when we personify a chameleon who has no identity! It was also key for me to keep the eyes looking hollow, I hoped to convey the despair we see when the mask is firmly in place. This was my take on the masks we put in place to hide who we really are in the mirror. The eyes are the window to the soul -right?

Fasçade: what are you hiding from?

We all create our own masks, then we project it and live out the illusion. We cover up the scars and wounds that we think define us. Take that well known social media site where “likes” are said to validate someone’s worth; as they see it. I know that I have been judgemental of a friend who dares to be honest and  actually post how they really feel! Initially my response is caring acknowledgement and a ‘comment’ or private message  a of support. However, several real posts more and I get annoyed or “like” without actually reading the whole thing! Guilty! I don’t want to have to deal with it. By ignoring them I suspect I am helping perpetuate their hurt when I really think it’s in their best interest to not indulge their dare I call it self-pity.  For  the majority of people it is about projecting the good and great in their lives. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! I just question sometimes if it is an authentic or projected reality. And sadly that is because I do not have a friendship of depth with that friend.

Then there are the forward/repost if statuses! I intensely dislike them; A: because I watch too many TED talks on algorithms, as it’s probably a marketing ploy/phishing scam/something to increase my inbox, or B: because I find being told to do something or appear heartless (my perception) annoying and I would rather not be annoying to anyone else. So I scroll past. Yet again by ignoring the post I feel I am perpetuating rather than solving the problem.

I read somewhere, I forget where, that you shouldn’t ask someone how they are unless you are willing to hear the truth.  So now I don’t ask people “how are you?” Unless I genuinely have time to listen. I’m not sure if this makes me rude or aloof or both!?!? However I feel that I would do more harm than good if I encountered someone and made them feel worse just because I’m going through the motions of saying hello. Keen to know your thoughts on this; comment below if you have any.

I digress.  Back to the mask. The mask was designed to be an interactive piece. You can see the flip side below. So here is my logic: the words inside the mask disappear when the mask is in place. However, they still remain. Embedded in the skin. You can cover it up but you cannot remove it. When the mask slips, and it always does… be that due to the heaviness of the situation or the method used to subdue it (substance misuse) or a rare moment of reality or someone; then the scars become visible again. They hurt and diminish strength.

Fasçade: what scars lie behind your mask?

In those moments of weakness, desperation, it can go either way. You could get help or spiral further. The hardest of these is of course asking for help. Admitting you are vulnerable. But you need that vulnerability to get help. It is never easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is. Authentic relationships need vulnerability. They need honesty. They need communication.

Help, in this construtive form, comes in many guises. Therapy, friendship, pastoral care, medical help and all because an authentic relationship was established. A trusting relationship that is a safe space.

Getting help with whatever you going through is incredibly brave. I salute you. But, can you imagine having peace too? No more residual hurt to upset or destabilise you? Being able to talk openly about it without shame? To not hate anyone who contributed to your suffering? Can you?

Well if you can’t the only tried and tested way I know of to heal, truly heal, is to be saved. If you can find a grain of sand space in your heart to let Jesus in then you can have healing and peace. It won’t be easy and it requires said vulnerability, honestly and communication.

Your true identity will be revealed to you in Him. No more masks required. No more hiding. No more fasçades. The scars will still be there. Be certain of that, but, they will only serve as a reminder of where you were and how far you have come. If you fall over and reopen a scar, worry not! He has got you! Just hold on tight to your relationship with Him for your life really does depend on it!

Thanks for reading this post on how my mind takes on an artwork with purpose. All thoughts and feedback welcome. Be blessed and take care of you!

Lastly, I’m thinking of and praying for all affected by and in the path of Hurricane Irma. Be safe, I pray all see God in the aid, volunteers, in the communities locally and internationally pulling together, in one another as survivors. I’m thankful the people I know in the area (4 couples) are safe. May help be given financially in aid and in prayer. Amen.

What does God sound like?

What does God sound like?

Ever wondered what God sounds like? I listen to sermons and read books on spiritual growth where the author says “I heard God telling me…”, and I wonder WHAT does God sound like?  Has He got a deep voice? Is it a whisper? Also, how do I know it is Him? Is it a figment of my overactive imagination? Did I dream it? All these questions!

I have spent most of my summer this year inside the arctic circle. It has been an incredible adventure, exploring the natural beauty that is thousands of years in the making. I stood on a glacier where the first snowflake fell nearly 3000 years ago, excavated fossils formed in the Jurassic period and I marvelled at a landscape carved by the wind and ice in Svalbard and Iceland.  I sat in a natural hot spring bubbling at +45 degrees centigrade surrounded by snow capped mountains. I sailed through fjords with icebergs floating past and encountered walls of ice of indescribable beauty for as far as the eye could see! Sidenote: visit Iceland and Svalbard if you can.  During my summer of arctic sailing I picked two books about identity to read, more on that in a minute. Both authors regularly mention how God spoke to them directly, and as their words (His words) sank in, I started thinking about my walk and if I hear could hear Him. So I started a conversation.

I asked questions in my prayers and I waited to hear the answers. I have to be honest and admit I felt contempt for the quote : “Silence is an answer too”. Surely He could just say “no” or “not yet” rather than leave me hanging! A resounding endorsement of spiritual immaturity. Lets call it my terrible twos, seen as it been 2 years since I was saved.  So like a petulant child I declared I couldn’t hear God. I still tried to listen though.  Nothing, Nada. Zilch. Zero! Cue temper tantrum.

As the nautical miles clocked up on the Arctic Ocean , Greenland Sea, Norwegian Sea, North Sea and Denmark Straight I persevered with the reading. Some wise counsel recommend a few books. I selected two as I was searching for the reconnect with my identity in Christ after my childish display. The words from Destined to Win and Without Rival directed me towards scripture and re-educated me on some lessons I forgot and taught me some new things too! I really do recommend both.  It helped that I had no phone signal. Being off the grid is one of the things I love about sailing.  Actually living in the moment, appreciating where I am.  Of course there are pockets of signal to get back onto the grid, but for the most part (whilst at sea) I was without any kind of digital presence.

Not having signal is great when it comes to devotional time. No signal = no distractions. Ever found during a reading or prayer you get distracted by that vibration or ping? I know I do. So not having that was great, it allowed me to focus, to  think, to digest.  But what does all of this pre-amble have to do with hearing God?

Well, I found that when I focused, I kept my train of thought, I  fully ingested the words of my bible and reading material. I got closer to Him. So, now when I set time aside for devotion, I activate the ‘do not disturb’ function on all devices!  

Quality time without notifications.
Tip: Activate your “Do not Disturb” if you are distracted easily too.

I’m sure you are familiar with the story of creation in Genesis, and Psalms 95 reiterates the mountains are His.  I was reminded I could hear Him every time I went on watch.  I only had to use my eyes! What a revelation that was. Right now, stop, look around you and hear the wonder of  His voice in your surroundings. This is not conventional hearing, but it is hearing.

Psalms 95:4-5
In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.

I was surrounded by such infinite beauty, it was deafening, and I was desensitised.  It literally surrounded me and until I tuned into the right frequency; the word – I couldn’t appreciate it for what it was.  His voice.

I cannot stress how important daily devotional time has been to  my growth. Every christian has to spend time in the word, daily! Hebrews 12 speaks volumes! Spending time in the word will open all your senses to hear! I have so much more to share with you, but for now thanks for stopping by. 

Subscribe if you want to hear more about my walk. What does God sound like to you? Comment below, I would love to hear how He speaks to you.

Share in the comments section below how you hear His voice. How He speaks to you.
Please share in the comments section below what He sounds like to you.