Hello! Welcome to my blog. I have wanted to start a blog for such a long time but always came up with many excuses not to, some being – not enough time, nothing interesting to write about, rusty grammar skills, I prefer reading other people's blogs, everyone's doing it and most of all because I am probably one of the most guarded and private people that ever existed, sharing so much about myself absolutely terrifies me. But I'm 34 years old for goodness sake, it's about time I came out of my shell a bit. To be honest my first post began as an Instagram caption that went on for far too long so I decided to continue writing it as my first blog entry. My name is Christine. I'll probably write mostly about life as a mother to three young children. Maybe a bit about married life. Lots about print designs, handmade goods, children's crafts, chocolate and cake. We'll see! I hope you enjoy my posts.
When I’m sick I want to curl up in a blanket and wait to quietly slip away, I can never do anything for myself, even when I need urgent medical care I’m always reluctant to move. Last year I was ill on and off for months after repeatedly being prescribed the wrong medication, I eventually ended up with an infection that triggered a painful joint inflammation in my lower back, I was in so much agony I could barely walk. I was sat in A&E shifting positions every minute that went by. The pain was all consuming and as I tried having my head down to my knees I heard a woman agitated and wailing in distress as she returned to her seat. I’ve done my time in London, sit still long enough and pick a point to stare at, preferably have some reading material to hand and avoid all eye contact and before long, the commotion usually dies down. I heard the man opposite her tell her to try to smile and be strong but no one else budged. So I got up and shuffled my way over to sit next to her and asked her if she was okay. She looked straight at me, she had no face mask on, and the shock of what she answered at full volume made me gasp. Firstly because it was horrific and my heart was so sorry for her, secondly because the same had happened to me and thirdly because everyone in that room must have heard. I went out with her for her to have a cigarette and I looked her straight in her eyes and told her “I know what it’s like”. Without anymore words we both stood knowing we both understood each other’s pain. She had been left, stranded miles away from home, by the team who’d brought her in so I called her a taxi and while we waited I asked if she’d like me to pray for her, it was like I’d offered her a cool glass of water for severe dehydration, she responded with an unexpected eagerness saying yes she really would. She sat down and I crouched down infront of her stretching out my hand. As the Holy Spirit began giving me the words, an incredible prayer began to flow, details of protection around her home and powerful words spoken against any effects of trauma. Mid prayer I opened my eyes as I was speaking and looked at her, she had her eyes shut and silent tears were streaming down her face. Jesus was here and her spirit knew, in between the automatic doors, crouched down on the entrance door mat next to the vending machine, there is no where Jesus won’t go to find us. After I walked her to her taxi and returned to wait for my name to be called, I met a teenager who had been beaten up and thrown out of her house, after I was discharged I continued to sit and talk with her and helped her make some phone calls.
When I got home that evening I lay flat on my lounge floor absolutely empty, emotionally and physically drained and I still in so much pain. I lay on the floor and prayed simply “Jesus, give me a song”, the song was a song I’ve never heard before, “Closer” Lifepoint Worship. I was at my end and unable to move and the Holy Spirit began to refresh me, coolness and healing washed over me and through my body. There are no worldly words that can come close to describing the beauty of this moment.
Adventure awaits us every day we say “yes” to Jesus. I did not have the strength to tend to myself, let alone anyone else but somehow these two people in desperate situations had my full attention and care, which was Jesus’ love and care poured out in abundance for these rejected, attacked, distressed, abandoned, lonely and forgotten two people.
“But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
As the body of Christ, this life we are called to is not one of striving, it’s not our power that we live by. We lay our lives down so Jesus can have His way.
“My power is made perfect in weakness” 2 Corinthians 12:9
We marvel at what we can never do ourselves and as He’s working in others that we meet it is always a blessing for us because at the same time He’s working in us. He is our song in every situation, He’s is why we sing, He is our breath, our everything, He’s the reason we can not stop rejoicing.
“For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep!” Psalm 92:4-5
Why did God let this happen again? Was the pain of my first not enough? Again! Really? And like a toddler throwing the best strop they can, I wanted to lay rigid on the floor daring any loving hand on me so I could kick out. I was quietly wild with distress, not allowing the only one who could loosen the snare near me. God, the perfect and loving Father He is, allowed me my space. I understood very clearly I grieved Him as I took that space and wallowed in reading online gossip, perfectly distracting me from the horror of my life and the bloodiness of birthing the dead. I gave the Holy Spirit, my Comforter, the cold shoulder and I’ll always wonder about the beauty for ashes I lost in rejecting God at that time.
I’d had five children, one hadn’t made it past early pregnancy. I reasoned, from the statistics, that was it for me, ridiculous I know but I needed to steady myself. I knew I would never experience the breezy days of pregnancy again as I had with my first three daughters. I now recognise that deep down I always know the baby has gone, their presence leaves. I notice I bristle when people mention the baby during this time, it’s like my soul is grieving way before my confirmation is signed in red.
A single fear-pressed tear rolled down my cheek as I blurted out “blood” to my husband. Heaviness already weighing my body down, I got myself to A&E. I waited. When I noticed the waiting room was full of new faces for a second time I was assured by the receptionist I’d be seen soon. I went back to my seat protectively cradling my blood covered baby in my arms desperate for someone to tell me if he or she was alive. We sat and waited.
They asked for a urine sample but there was no way I was going anywhere else but home. After a two hour wait I was told the scan department wasn’t open till Monday. I pleaded so there was a phone call. I heard the GP repeat the question from the doctor on the other end “Why is she crying?” and give her a muffled answer “well she’s distressed”. When I was handed the phone all I remember was shouting “you don’t care about these tiny babies!” I left shouting the same to the receptionist on my way out. Months later I found myself waiting at the same A&E and I had the biggest panic attack, I couldn’t breathe or speak and was frantically pointing at my throat to the receptionist mouthing the words “I have to go”, she insisted I fill out a discharge form, I barely scribbled a signature before running out to try to fill my lungs with fresh air as the world imploded around me.
Back to that Sunday afternoon which I spent at the playgym with a friend. I didn’t want to cancel, the children could play and I had a welcome distraction as a waited for the doctor to call with a scan appointment.
The next day I reluctantly lay on the bed and looked at the monitor. I began sobbing before the darkened image came up, even more as I searched the screen and couldn’t find my 9 week baby. The sonographer impatiently flung two tissues at me and said something about an internal scan. My throat had closed up so all I could do was nod. She sternly told me “you’re going to have to speak” so I managed to gasp the verbal permission she required. I had to work it all out myself, there were no explanations. The conversation that took place as I was leaving will stay with me. I’d remembered being offered a scan picture the last time so I asked if it was possible to have one. The sonographer turned to me and looked utterly disgusted and said “there’s nothing there”. I looked at the tiny round shape sitting in the bigger dark sac the on the monitor, which was still on, she looked too.
“That’s just a yolk sac” she snapped. I quickly understood her stance on life and gently met her with “But it’s the beginnings of a baby?”
“But it’s not a baby, there’s no fetal pole” she replied, she sighed as she retrieved a picture for me. I respected her point of view with the silence of mine. As I made my way back through the corridors I bumped into a friend and fell into her arms, that hug was a gift. I didn’t understand how much my experience in this little room affected me until months later I had to call the chaplain for cremation information and he said “your child”, at this my legs gave way, collapsing on the floor in tears that our baby had been recognised as such.
The days that followed were difficult as the hospital didn’t know whether my dates were just off and also the location of the pregnancy. I had a blood test and went home. I knew the baby was gone and these days were spent in hope everything passed with no complications. I spent gentle days at home, I went to the beach, talked with God, the Holy Spirit filled me with hope and in the sky I saw an amazing sign. Some birds caught my attention because they were flying unusually high for their kind. As I watched they formed the letters RZW which came with a strong sense to look ahead; a promise, a hope and a future. Four years ago as I was leaving the room where I was gently told our baby had no heartbeat, God made me a promise, this time an audible voice (in the natural) in my right ear (which has only happened once before), the exact words – “I will give you twin boys” this came with the powerful revelation that there was a time ahead, a time to look forward to, this was painful now and I would grieve but not to be consumed by the distress of the season. I’ve treasured and held on to all these things.
There were more walks, tea, cake and then one day at home very gently the sac came. I didn’t cope with the grief well, I was so angry with God. I shut down, spending hours online pickling my mind reading gossip. He allowed this for a time and then permanently freed me by speaking two words to me “sully” and “scuttle”. When I looked at the dictionary definition, I never went back to reading that worthless trash again.
Sully – damage the purity or integrity of.
Scuttle – Sink (one’s own ship) deliberately by holing it.
When I went for a follow up appointment I mistakingly went to the day clinic, the midwives weren’t sure who I wanted to see so they directed me to another waiting area. I sat looking up at the tiny hands and feet casts and the thank you cards, then a woman holding her newborn was wheeled through. Such a beautiful moment but then suddenly stab, it’s like reliving a nightmare of the moment with your child that’s been ripped away from you. Yes I did go back ranting and blubbering about “yet another blunder” to the midwives for seating me in the delivery suite and yes, she did tell me off for the accusation infront of a waiting room full of women cradling varying sized bumps clutching their folders.
Every pregnancy and birth announcement we received I was instantly so over joyed but then out of the blue would suddenly be reminded and knocked over with an avalanche of grief, it was like being pulled in two directions. I’d be so angry at the grief and how it would mercilessly barge in and interrupt these special and joyful moments in life. I’ve now seen so clearly how we can live with two immensely strong and polar opposite emotions running along side in our lives. Scan pictures would come without warning and I’d be unwillingly rushed to that small dark room again fearfully staring at the monitor, the loud clanging of dread hurting my ears. Sometimes joy would immediately charge in and rescue me to the present moment and I’d be so thankful for these little lives and cheering them on, they were a reminder of everything good, wonderful and how amazing life can be. Other times I would get taken at random to a dark vacuum of swirling questions and confusion by innocently mentioned words that fired at me like gunshots; “scan”, “viable” and “heartbeat”, which blasted deeper into the wounds of “no fetal pole” and “nothing there”, leaving me terrified and breathless.
The “Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby),“ John 14:16
So many gorgeous babies arrived this year, eleven from family and friends near and far. As I wrapped up three newborn gifts to post my daughter said “why is it that our babies die?” I put my hand on her cheek and the only answer I could give her was a sad smile. She came with me when I met my two good friends, with a little one not long born and one not far off being born, my baby would have been a couple of weeks and three months age difference. I didn’t know how I would face this day, I was terrified of the grief that would break me and force me into a public break down. But Jesus. He filled the day with such love, peace, joy and grace. It was such a gentle, beautiful day with so much excitement and a special sparkle in the air. There was also grace for a baby shower and grace over a congratulatory hug, two women tummy to tummy, one beautifully round with life and mine in the final days of emptying the dregs of death.
When we lost our fourth baby, God gave me a vision. I was so distressed with the longing just to see my baby, I had asked the nurse to open the sac but that wasn’t allowed, I just wanted a glimpse, a touch, just something to be near to my baby. I remember praying that I didn’t even know if the baby was a boy or a girl. Then one evening as I drifted off to sleep, suddenly I was more awake than I’d ever been, I saw right there in front of me a man, I knew him instantly as my son. He was beautiful, shining, strong and healthy. He had the colouring of my third daughter; dark eyes, hair and skin but resembled my husband. Instantly, the fact that he was boy or girl became unimportant. This vision and a magnificent pouring of the spirit in A&E meant I had so much inner joy. But this time I’ve had to cling to a steady quiet hope.
We planted wildflower. I was angry at the wildflower. I was angry at the planter we planted the wildflower in. I was angry for months, too angry to even recognise I was angry until I read ”Grace Like Scarlett” Adriel Booker. Every page I read made me furious, I was angry that I was even reading the book. And only at the last page did it dawn on me that I was angry. And when I realised it, I was able to take it to Jesus and one morning I found I was able to breath easier, I felt lighter. It was such a significant shift that I told my husband I felt better and had turned a corner. I had peace.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
I’ve found with losing my babies there’s the very raw physical longing of an empty womb and empty arms. With my first baby that didn’t make it past early pregnancy, it wasn’t long till I was was pregnant again so the physical ache was quickly distracted with carrying another child and as I already had so much overflowing inner joy, peace and hope, which has never failed to blanket me every time the internal grief has hit. This time the night of weeping lasted months but as sure as the morning comes, with it came joy (Psalm 30:5). There is always the oil of joy for mourning (Isaiah 61:3).
By His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). The work done at the cross covers for the sin of mankind and in that covers for every single detail of our lives. We can take it all to Jesus and find healing in return. I was so overcome with grief during worship at church one Sunday I couldn’t stand up. I sung slumped on the floor, every last ounce of my energy I sacrificed it all to God, and His goodness wrapped around me and filled me. Months later I was sat at church, socially distanced at the baby and toddler room surrounded by four women holding small babies in their arms and I found I was holding healing in mine. I had rest.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
God is with us every step of the journey, the Holy Spirit is our great Comforter, where ever our grief takes us he is there. The church prayed for me continuously during this time, a sanctuary where I openly wept, where I was laid hands on, where I was contended for in prayer, where I was encouraged. Snotty mess and strengthening happened on that church floor. It was where one day someone, who had been boldly and fearlessly standing with me through the grief, reminded me to name our baby. She is called Eden. No great heavenly vision this time but just a gentle quiet knowing. I’m so thankful for the few short weeks I carried her. She is an absolute blessing to our family. She can’t be ignored, she’s full of resurrection power, beauty and light. The world called her a “nothing there”, too small to be significant, but she’s blazing in glory in her rightful home and I can’t wait to join her soon.
Years ago I noticed how beautiful wildflower were for the first time. No one tends to them but they just naturally fill fields and cracks in stone walls with staggering colour and beauty. I had been so terrified of a burial because I couldn’t come to terms with swapping my warm, cosy womb for dank soil. After the prospect of complicated hospital paperwork for a cremation and two staff members who were unable to hide their shock and disgust that we still had the remains, in the end our options were limited. On a happy sunny day we gathered the children and we all pottered around each other with handfuls of soil and seeds. The moment springing up with a strange beauty weeks before we saw the beauty of a colourful bloom.
“Look how the wild flowers grow! They don’t work hard to make their clothes. But I tell you that Solomon with all his wealth wasn’t as well clothed as one of these flowers. God gives such beauty to everything that grows in the fields, even though it is here today and thrown into a fire tomorrow. Won’t he do even more for you? You have such little faith!” Luke 12:27-28
Now, is God still who He is when he allows you to go through the same devastation again? Is God still who He is when we see no great spiritual revelations, fire fall or miracles? Is God still who He is when we turn our backs on Him? I have found nothing changes who God is. He remains the same in our doubts, fears and trauma as He is in peace, joy and hope. Through this I have seen the steadfastness of God. On the morning of my scan I messaged friends at church group to pray and sent a song link “Nobody like you” (Redrocks Worship). Highs or lows, mountains or valleys there is nobody like Jesus.
“My lover is like a gazelle or a young deer. Look, he stands behind our wall peeking through the windows, looking through the blinds.” Song of Solomon 2:9 I just see Jesus in this beautiful verse; His kindness, His mystery, His gentleness to catch our attention. This season has taught me that I love to go after the big displays of God’s power, I love the fire, the trembling, the welling up of the Spirit, I love the tears, I love His undeniable presence that thunders into the physical realm. I love when God blows my mind, when the mighty wind rushes into rooms, when I see in the Spirit, when I see snowfall indoors and buildings and believers on fire. But we can only tell how sharp our spiritual senses are when they are attentive to His gentle whisper. God is never not speaking, He is speaking to every single person, all the time. The big displays of God’s power are marvellous but is our relationship with the Lord so intimate that we recognise and are led by His gentle voice?
“And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” 1 Kings 19:11-12
I feel like a rabbit stuck in headlights at times but my weakness urges me to go after the deeper things of God. Four years ago along with words of sympathy someone said “everything happens for a reason”, my grieving flesh took objection to this because what good reason could there be facing a loss. But in spiritual wisdom we know all things work together for good to us (Romans 8:28). Jesus is working in ways so intricate and powerful. In me he’s demolishing strongholds, refining me, increasing my faith, lessening me and increasing Him. Outwardly distressing seasons destroy us – (and good riddance to our flesh!) but inwardly we are being renewed, strengthened and built.
“you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5
The hard seasons shouldn’t surprise us; Jesus said “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) because He has overcome, we overcome every battle time and time again. We are always stood on victory ground no matter how bleak our situation looks.
Many times during worship in this season the revelation kept coming to me that “I’m being poured out.” My very life poured out as an offering to whom I belong. Jesus can have it all, everything I am, everything I have, my every thought and desire, He can take my stubbornness and every last scrap of rebellion that goes against Him. I am not my own. I was purchased at a price, God did a marvellous work at the cross, Jesus laid his life down for the rescue of mine and yours. His resurrection blazed the way for mine and yours. I was a wandering, lost, heart of stone voiceless woman with no sight or hearing, staggering around in thick blackness on the fast road to outer darkness, helpless just like my babies who never saw the light of the sun. He thought mankind precious enough to save, to be given the free gift and choice to be born of the Spirit and to see by the light of the Son, on earth and for eternity. We see on earth as it is in heaven! How awesome is that!
“Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.” John 3:6 NLT
I am His, born of purifying water and the life giving Spirit, I’m blazing with light, I’m filled with the breath that woke me up, my heart is ablaze with a consuming fire, my eyes firmly fixed on heaven, I have ears only for my Shepherd and my voice will never tire of proclaiming the name of Jesus, now and for eternity.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.”
As well as encouraging and kind words, the world has called me voiceless, strange, tomboy, oyinbo, spoilt child, abandoned, unloved, too white, half-caste, k**n, n****r, troublemaker, waster, s**g, druggy, victim, survivor. I’ve called myself worse at times; worthless, damaged, broken and I have also definitely not always been a voice of kindness and encouragement to others. Spiritually, unseen demons have harassed me, relentlessly chanting that I was hopeless, a mess, that there was no point in continuing to live.
But when I met Jesus my life changed forever and suddenly it didn’t matter what I, the world or the demonic labelled me because I knew whose I was, what my purpose was, where I came from and where I’m going. For the first time I had peace beyond understanding and joy I never knew before welled up from deep within me. His forgiveness and love for me meant I could forgive and love those who hurt me, bringing such freedom in the depths of my soul! My identity didn’t lie in my upbringing, the colour of my skin, my mixed heritage, being a parent, my religion, my addictions, my traumas, my achievements or my life choices.
From the minute we are born, the cry of our heart is to find our home, a place of belonging. We search all our lives, looking to find our identity in relationships of all kinds, expecting people to fill us, to “make us complete”, we make idols of people and call them “my everything” without even questioning the weight of that and whether those people even want and can live up to be “our everything”, we look to careers that will end, financial status that can change in the blink of an eye, religions that take take take, race, traditions, cultures, sexual identity, addictions, we are always searching for what satisfies. And none of it ever gives full and lasting satisfaction.
All these things can’t fill us because we were made for much more than what they can give us. God made us in his image and deep down in our hearts we know it very well, the longing is for our creator. When we allow Jesus to take his rightful place as Lord of our lives, everything changes. We no longer look to others or anything else to validate our existence because his presence alone sets everything right. The love he has for you is like nothing else. You are loved and his arms are open, always open for you to make the best decision you will ever make, to turn from being your own god to the living God. It’s a costly move; you are going to lose the life you know and all your desires for this world.
“If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Matthew 10:39
If you just knew how much God loves you and the new life that is freely available to you! A life with a hope and a future! The world may have labelled you, condemned you, crushed you (and worse WILL come simply because you follow Jesus!) but God calls you “my precious child – I’ve been looking out for you, I’ve been chasing you, I was there all those times you thought I wasn’t, I’ve been waiting for you”
“So he got up and went to his father.
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”
I’d be a mess. I’d be angry most of the time, at myself and anyone who was close enough for me to take it out on. I’d be broken inside; chasing every numbing high that could soothe the helpless pitiful feeling. I’d crumble when thick darkness flooded over. I would still have outbursts of self harming. Grief would have overtaken me. I would have sabotaged my marriage a long time ago. I’d be hounded by abandonment and PTSD, consciously and unconsciously it would rule my life. I wouldn’t be able to muster up an ounce of forgiveness. I would be a survivor, not an overcomer. I wouldn’t cope with being a mother because all I’d crave was to be mothered. I would spend so much time nursing my hurts that I wouldn’t have anything left to give. Giving wouldn’t even cross my mind. I would have no desire to control my tongue, I would still be spewing thoughts and talk of all kinds of evil from my heart. I would have no control of what my flesh desired. I’d be cowering to all the demons day and night. Depression would play Russian roulette with me. I’d be held hostage by all forms of fear, scream inwardly and regularly wake up crying. I’d be spiritually dead in the darkness speeding towards my grave. I’d have no idea what deep unshakeable love, peace, freedom and joy was. I would live looking like I had it all together. But Jesus, my rescuer, my healer, my hope, my home, my future, my restorer, my strength, my freedom, my peace, my joy, my gladness, my eternal life. He loved me when I didn’t want to give Him any room in my heart, loved me when I rejected Him, He loved me when I laughed at Him, loved me when the cross was a load of foolishness to me, loved me when my lawless heart chased, did and thought anything that it desired. Loved me until the crushing pain of choosing life without Him became too much and the moment I called to Him He took the burden off my shoulders, scooped me off the rotting floor led me to an open place, gave me the mountain top view of my living. He breathed life into me, poured joy over me, opened my eyes to see, unblocked my ears to hear, gave me a new heart, put His Spirit blazing inside me. Jesus changed EVERYTHING and he’s changing me day by day.
News of a beautiful baby born and more joy with another arrival. A midnight phone call, coma, ongoing critical care. A message received, illness, treatment, recovery. Waking up to the news of the death of a loved one. 5 lives. 12 days into July.
Are you ready for what is to come?
My soul was pressed yesterday and in that pressing a song erupted from deep within “we thank you for the cross”. Thank you Jesus you did not leave us in despair, darkness, bleakness, blackness, dead in our sin. I rejoiced singing at the top of my lungs because what a Father we have. Thankful we have hope, peace, joy, love, truth, light, a future and an eternity in His perfect presence.
“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14
We are good at making plans, booking holidays years in advance. Finalising our retirement plans. Talking of tomorrow as if it’s a given but we can’t even secure anywhere near the next millisecond of our lives.
How much thought have you given to what will happen to you when you die? What ever conclusion you have come to, are you certain?
Are you certain?
Are you certain you will be reincarnated? Are you certain you will be floating around in the atmosphere? Are you certain you will disintegrate until no trace is left? Are you certain you will go and sit on a fluffy cloud with loved ones? Are you certain you are headed for heaven? Are you certain there is nothing more? Are you certain that no one can ever be certain of what comes after death?
We see that our bodies decay, so what about the part of ourselves that we don’t see physically? Our spirituality? The unseen. Do we just switch off? Does that part of us even age and decay? I’ve heard a few over 90’s say they still feel 19 inside.
We are on this earth for a little while then we are gone. A mist that vanishes. Life is short and death is certain, I plead with you to be certain about who or what you have put your trust in when you take your last breath.
I know that lies cannot uphold, so when we put our trust in a lie it will crumble at the slightest testing. Truth stands firm and is unchanging.
Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” John 14:6
With truth comes certainty. Truth floodlights every single lie. There are many lies but there is only one truth. Truth is a person, his name is Jesus.
Take a deep breath and breathe onto a mirror. Your life is a mist. Here and then gone. If you desire to receive life, in this short life and for eternity, then simply ask Jesus.
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
A lovely little surprise at my Birth Afterthoughts meeting when the midwife said I could look through my hospital notes if I wanted. And there it was, my baby’s name, my beautiful, strong and shiny one always reminding me of how much love, hope, joy and peace we are lavished with in the midst of the darkest of horrors. The best is yet to come. Only Jesus. King of Kings and Lord of Lords, HE turned my mourning into dancing. No one cradles us in our anguish like he does. The ongoing care and attention to the smallest ripple of anxiety to the excruciating heaviness of heart, in my weakness his strength never fails to gently thunder in.
There is no better place than “Lord I don’t understand what is going on but I trust you. Thank you” “Lord I’m afraid but I trust you. Thank you” “Lord I feel so sad right now but I trust you. Thank you” “Lord it hurts so much but I trust you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you” and scripture that breathes into our souls at the exact time we need it; When my womb and arms ache for my baby – “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18
When I’m afraid it was it something I did?- “I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10”
When I fear it will happen again – “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
When I think of the horror of the death that took place in my womb – “he is risen” Matthew 28:6
My daughter needed a Halloween themed costume for her ballet class, she described what I should make and said she wanted it to be really, really scary. Her costume was at an early stage where it could have gone two ways – light or darkness. She was adamant on darkness as it was more scary.
“You know….” I said “you know what is more terrifying than anything?”
“Light shining in the darkness”
“Because when light shines in the darkness it exposes EVERYTHING and THAT is terrifying”
This simple conversation made it hit home to me the power and freedom we have been given in Christ; the incredible gift we have received that saves us from stumbling around in the bondage of utter darkness to walk free and fearless in everlasting light.
We are all born separated from God; spiritually dead. We live in total darkness, deafness and blindness. We go from having an inkling that something isn’t right within us to total brokenness and questioning about who we are. We wrestle with confusion, fear, guilt, shame. No coincidence that all these feelings are rooted in and only produced by lies. I’ve heard people talk of living with some or all of these crushing burdens and in some cases don’t even know why.
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” John 3:19-21
It’s no good measuring ourselves against people who have done worse in our eyes and concluding “well I’m a good person” because when we truly see ourselves in the full light of perfection Himself, God who is pure holiness, we ALL fall short. (Romans 3:23)
“God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5
I spent a lot of my teenage years and twenties out clubbing. We’d spend ages listening to music and getting ready and drinking, making sure we didn’t cross that fine line that would result in a bouncer not allowing us in. Once inside, thumping deafening music would leave ears ringing for days and the only communication possible would be a signal to your friends that you were going to the bar. More drinks led to more loss in vision but then from across the room you see him. ‘Wow’ you think ‘who is this guy and why didn’t I notice him before!’
You stumble through the dry ice and blackness and shout into each others ears. Quickly breaking the pact you made with your friends, only an hour before about sticking with the girls, you spend the rest of the night dancing as if you and this man have suddenly been superglued together. Then the dj announces the last song of the night and as you admire the hottest human being you’ve ever seen standing in front of you, the lights come on. Now you see the truth and so does he!
Jesus didn’t come to condemn us but to free us, to rescue us from everlasting darkness and take us into everlasting light, bringing us from death to life. To free us from the bondage and punishment under the power of sin to having freedom and power over sin.
When we come to light himself, all our deeds are exposed, we see clearly who we are, who we have been, where we have been, who we were made for and where we are going. The truth shines so bright that all the lies are exposed. And because of what Jesus did for every single one of us at the cross we are not left terrified but met with loving open arms filled with grace. Amazing grace! And through the resurrection we are given new life, born again, not of flesh but of spirit. When we choose to receive this gift we are instantly sealed with the Holy Spirit, we have God Himself dwelling in us.
“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” John 1: 9-13
God always gives us the freedom to choose, love always does and God is love. We can go on in futile attempts to cover our sin ourselves, working to be a good person or we can receive God’s incredible gift to us and rest in full confidence, covered permanently by Jesus taking it all for us at the cross. Do we go on in darkness or do we turn to him?
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” Galatians 5:16-18
At the end of last year we began making some big changes so we could have a better balance in some aspects of our lives. During this time we had huge devastation hit our hearts. So much changed overnight and so much was changing along side this. It’s been seven and a half months since we left our old home and we still haven’t decided on a location that will work best that we can call home. This season of my life has felt like I have been stuck swimming against a rip tide. I can still see the shore but fighting against the current of many continuing hardships and getting pulled further out to sea. I’ve felt tired, drained and worst of all spiritually exhausted.
The Flesh v The Spirit – this title has not left me over the months, I knew I was living this battle out and knew I was ‘Martharing around’
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
A few days before we left our old home, as it was my birthday, I chose what we should do that day and one was to join the church, which was linked to a playgroup the children and I had attended for many months, for a Sunday service. I was sad about leaving all that was familiar and worried about the unknown. The presence of God flooded that room so much so I was in tears, his love drenched my heart so powerfully and tenderly. The sermon was about our identity but a totally different message was imprinted on my heart, it was simply –
“Don’t be afraid to step into the fire”.
I came away at full peace, knowing the future would be hard but it would be just great and that God had the details covered.
I moved around many times in my childhood and adolescence, my parents worked overseas for long periods so school holidays were spent making sure I got to where I needed to be. I was 13 or 14 when I travelled from Leeds to London and checked into a hotel by myself, setting my portable alarm clock to make an early flight to Lagos. If staying in the U.K. I was either getting picked up, dropped off and journeying around the country to stay with relatives or family friends. I really relate to Paddington Bear because I always seemed to be lugging a suitcase around.
This type of living provided me with great emotional and physical independence but also a huge craving for a secure base. Fast forward twenty five years and I here I was feeling the same well into my adulthood. I didn’t want to step into the fire, I wanted to stay in my comfort zone at the perimeter, toasting marshmallows and enjoying the warmth of the glow. Anything but in the fire! But one thing I know is that God doesn’t keep us in our safe spaces, what he does do is keep us safe in the unsafe spaces.
We made plans, plans fell through, circumstances changed and we hit stumbling blocks. I became more frustrated and more focused on making sure our children continued to have access to fresh air and countryside rather than packed tube trains and the rush of city life. All my creative materials and equipment are still in storage and with limited space to design and make this contributed to more frustration. Also without our old community we were having to and still having to forge a new one.
I made myself busy being busy but I knew my worries were all of the world. Like Martha I was distracted by everything that had to be done. I was being carried off by my fleshly desires and I was not at peace. Still struggling against the tide, my moods accurately reflected my constantly changing and uncertain conditions; up and down.
Then there came the day where clarity hit me like a ton of bricks. We were at a museum for the day and as we were leaving the family rooms into the main foyer one of my children refused to budge and was crying loudly. A staff member made a gesture to me that I should try and keep her quiet and I just snapped. I thought ‘wow in six years of numerous tantrums, I finally found the lady who can quieten a child mid one’. I was so cross and stormed over and let her know what she was asking of me was ridiculous. Turns out that a child *can* be quietened mid tantrum when they see their mother have a tantrum too! That evening I went over what had happened and truth smacked me right in the face; I was not at peace.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” Galatians 5:22
Here I was with all of God’s riches there for the receiving but I’d been led by my flesh. I felt just as the prodigal son when he realises his situation after eyeing up the food for the pigs (Luke 15:11-32). My planned letter of complaint turned into an apology letter which was passed on and received by the lady.
Aren’t open arms the best? Even in times when I haven’t had the will to sit down and read scripture He has breathed His word into me. There are two verses that have been nudging me along over the last few months. The first, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:6
Even at the times I’ve judged myself too far gone and beyond help or hope I’m continuously reminded we can come boldly into his presence because we have been clothed in His righteousness. This can not be changed, it can never be taken away. It is eternal. The greatest gift!
The second verse that kept breathing into me was, “Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Matt 8:20 & Luke 9:58
Where was my home? Was my home dependent on my physical comfort, worldly possessions, security of a house and the continued presence of loved ones around? What happens when some or all of these are stripped away. Where was my Home?
One simple prayer I found myself saying during these months was simply “Lord, bring me back”. It is never by our power to change or do the work but by His to change and do the work in us.
I love love love the lessons the Lord teaches us in our hardships, how he draws us nearer to him. How every difficult circumstance is an opportunity to learn moment by moment and not rush through in frantic search of an escape. In the midst of this blazing fire he has shown me Home. He is home. We can’t even rely on our own bodies to keep us, as time passes they get older heading straight to inescapable death and decay but what joy that our spirits, forever been made alive in Christ, are continuously renewed day by day.
“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” 2 Corinthians 5
Earlier this year we took the steam train up Mount Snowdon, the weather was fine and we were excited for the breathtaking views ahead. As the train chugged along past jagged slate and startling a few of the hardiest looking sheep I’ve ever seen along the way, we entered the clouds. We stepped off the carriage and could barely see our hands in front of our faces. This wasn’t what I had expected! After a cup of tea and a sausage roll the clouds still hadn’t miraculously moved and it was time for our return journey.
Strangely I left the summit as satisfied as if I had seen the view because while I stood at the top of that mountain staring into the fog, I saw so clearly how God’s word still stands, what ever situation we find ourselves in; fog or fire. The magnificent view was still there, beautiful, breathtaking and unchanging.
I’ve been as stubborn as a mollusc stuck to her rock and my stubbornness has been overcome by His patience. My grumbling softened by his grace. My worries smashed by the fact he is a good Father, all his plans are good and for good even when things don’t go how we think they should. As sure as the rivers meander to the oceans, all we go through; pain, troubles and hardships all lead to a place that is good, there is no other outcome than one that is good. It is the sweetest assurance.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”
I woke up last night fully clothed and not in my own bed (I thought this kind of thing had stopped once I stopped going out!). Last thing I remember was shutting my eyes for an early evening snooze then being woken by my 2yo who was having a midnight tantrum. So I got into bed with her and then not long after I was woken by my 5yo who was sat up and crying because she’d had a bad dream, I didn’t get out of my 2yo’s bed for fear of waking her so I spoke softly over to her “It’s okay darling lie down and go back to sleep” she immediately stopped sniffling, lay down and went to sleep. It was 3am and in that moment I was reminded how God cares for us. He speaks to us and at his word we lay our head down and rest. I didn’t know at the time but this gentle night time reminder would stand me in good preparation for today. All day this verse keeps breathing into my soul “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27. God is always speaking to us all, those familiar with his voice and those yet to be. He is the whisper of hope in devastating times, the warmth in the bleakness, the nudges of gentle encouragement when the storms come. When we stand on his word there is nowhere to go but to enter into peace, the full rest.
On Sunday morning we were reminiscing with such joy about loved ones who are no longer with us. That evening I received a phonecall with some very sad news. I’ve been walking around doing the usual everyday things but my heart has been floored. Inside I have felt so weak, as if my soul was just a puddle on the floor. While I was washing up I was telling God how sad I was, how my heart hurt for the immediate family, I felt so broken that they were experiencing this devastation and I said “All I can do is rely on you to carry me Lord, I’m so weak with pain” then the Lord spoke to my heart “Why are you crying as if there is no hope?” I felt as if he was gently lifting my chin and in that moment I was reminded how mighty our God is; we have a God who is bigger than all the pain, sickness and death, we have a God of hope. We have a God who understands our worries, fears and questions and is available at all times. We have a God who provides healing, peace and deep joy. We have a God who is in total control. We have a God who we can trust, even more so when we can’t see further than the blur of our eyes that are clouded with tears. He is the inexplicable presence of warmth in times of devastation.
Two verses immediately came to mind and soothed my heart –
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 and
“Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5.
When sadness has pushed me down and left me a broken mess on the floor, my hands are up ready for our Lord to pull me up and carry me through. His love leaves no room for worry –
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
He is always with us, pouring out his love and providing us with the strength to go on.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” 1 Peter 5:7