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

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”

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.

True Mirror

True Mirror

Just finished watching the TEDx Talk: The art of being yourself, by Caroline McHugh.  I am still thinking about her question: If you could be the woman of your dreams, who would you be?  I know it is not the woman I am as I type this!

Identity has been a theme in church recently and I have been reflecting on my own a great deal of late. Proverbs 27:19 is like the true-mirror in the talk.  From walking into church as a self proclaimed athiest to being baptised my identity has indeed evolved. Or has it!? I think not, keep reading.

The need for inward reflection I think is necessary, and it wasn’t until I was asked a question of belonging did I really focus on my identity.  I sought answers on the meaning of belonging, what it meant to other people, how they defined it.  This went on for weeks and the whole time I kept reflecting about where I have been and where I want to go… the woman of my dreams if you will.

It was pointed out to me that I have a history of not committing. Funny thing is, that since my baptism I thought I was. Committing to growing within my faith. Serving where I could, daily readings, surrounding myself with supportive people, even asking for a mentor.  Now I should point out I declined to belong, and that was okay. with the people who asked me. My inability to commit rearing its oldself again? Perhaps. I chose to think it is a perspective difference.

The thing is though, that since then, I have withdrawn. Evidently, it was not okay with me. And, as anyone who knows me can testify to, withdrawl is incredibly noticable.  I’m very accomplished at being an ex-friend. The numbers don’t lie. I have a self perpetuating condition, and the wake of people I used to know is nothing short of tragic. The worst part is the more care and attention given the further away I pull.

A leopard never changes its spots. We have all heard it before. I am the big cat that hurts people and pushes them away. I mean I can’t even maintain family relationships. Now geographically it is challenging, and resentment sets in every now and again. If they can’t be bothered, why should I? Why do I always have to stay awake for time zone differences?  Unless I contact them we have no contact. And so it goes.

Everyone is busy, I know this. I decided I wanted my family in my life so if I have to do the chasing then so be it. I would make time because I deem them important. My life would be richer for it.  I still sometimes wonder though, with time spent for all to see on social media, gaming, television and other people, do I really mean so little to them? Then the resentment sets in all over again. Sometimes a “like” just isn’t enough. Then I remember, I want them in my life despite the distance.

My friendships have long been compartmentalised. Mostly because of the perpetuating self-fulfilling prophecy of betrayal, abandonment, judgment and fear. Basically: ‘hurt or leave before they do’. Hence the ex-friends. The only lasting friendships have been maintained because I am not a constant in them. Again, how tragic! I value these friendships more than any riches, and of late I am trying, really trying to be inclusive and involved.  I am just terrified the leopard will ruin it all.

So, now that I have said it all out loud, I think my relationship with my ego is pretty clear. Thing is, this week I have pushed people away, people who care , people who are more family than my own blood. I am highly ashamed of my behaviour, but it is not the first time I have lashed out at these same people. Twice bitten, twice shy or even unforgiveable (understandably).  Sorry is not enough in my eyes. I can’t even promise I won’t do it again. I know that who I am right now is not who I want to be, it’s more nightmare than dream.

A wise lady told me that is exactly why I need Jesus. And I agree with her; relationships are a chink in my armour to be exploited by the enemy. I am born anew in Christ, so I can change! I am sorry for pushing and hurting, I truly am.  I always am. In the past my apology has not been accepted or even heard, and this time may be the same – a consequence I accept.  So, Im going to apologise and continue my walk, and just maybe the woman of my dreams will become a reality and I will be more like Him.

If you struggle like I do, therapy will help but only God can heal. Will you let Him ?

As water reflects the face, so one's life reflects the heart.