Thursday, 5 January 2017

Count it Joy!

Over the past couple of months God has really been speaking to me about the issue of opposition and facing difficult times, and in particular the last couple of weeks has shown this to me in stark contrast.

Over the Christmas period At the Salvation Army in Mold we have been incredibly blessed by the generosity of the people in our community. We regularly receive donations of food from both Sainsburys and Tesco and in the run up to Christmas we were collecting and distributing food daily. We also, with the help of generous donations from the public, were able to provide hampers to families in need to ensure that they can celebrate Christmas too. We also ran a toy appeal and were able to give children all over Flintshire a present to open on Christmas Day. All in all thousands of people were effected by the work of the Salvation Army and we pray that many of those saw the face of Jesus in the extravagant love we tried to show.  A highlight for me was on Christmas Eve as Father Christmas and three elves went around a local estate handing out food and flowers to the adults, and sweets to the children. The look of joy on both the children and adult’s faces were priceless!



On New Year's Day our church family watched a documentary called ‘our people’ and we saw the life and work of the booths and The Salvation Army. It showed some of the opposition that they faced and the verbal and sometimes physical violence that was faced. We discussed as a church how when God is doing something good in our life and work,  that the devil is unhappy and will often try to cause havoc.

In conversation I mentioned an incident that had occurred just before Christmas. As part of our work we had given out food hampers to the local market traders and businesses. Many people were incredibly grateful for this gift, some people even wept as they accepted our thanks for their hard work in the past year. However, one man, paid us a visit in the centre and very aggressively returned our gift. Along with a lot of foul language he made it clear that he didn't appreciate what we had done and was very unhappy with our idea of giving to the local businesses, as he left I wished him a happy Christmas and that God’s blessing would be upon him! About 5 minutes later I burst into tears!! On reflection I realised that there was obviously more going on it that mans life and that it was simply the devil unhappy with God’s love biding shown to so many. As I relayed the story we all agreed that we must be doing something good as the Salvation Army in order to be facing such opposition.

As the bible says
2 Corinthians 4:16-18  “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  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.”

God most certainly must be moving in the Salvation Army in Mold because just two days after that, we had a burglary! Someone in the middle of the night broke into the centre and tried to take a collection tin. They somehow  were unable to take anything, but they left smashed glass, and we were unable to open for business for two days. At first it felt like a major blow. We try to help all people and if this person had come to visit us in the day, we would have given to them any help we could.

 But after a while we came to a point of praise.

Praise that my husband had the fortitude to remove the full collection tin before we shut for the holiday.

Praise that our prayers of protection had worked as nothing was taken from the building.

Praise that this event allowed us to share with others, more publicly how God has graciously blessed us over Christmas and that we were able to help people in the community.

Praise that God is at work and the devil is unhappy.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9  “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

My challenge today is what situation do you need to turn to praise?


Sunday, 30 October 2016

Every Child Free From Fear

As many of you will have noticed, over the past few weeks, shops have been filled with ghosts and ghouls, witches and monsters, and all manor of ‘scary’ things. On Monday, many people in our country will celebrate Halloween. 

Now I am not a fan at all of Halloween and this time of year, for me, seems particularly dark.  

The trailers at the cinemas are full of dark and scary horror films

There are places people pay to visit with people dressed up in scary costumes and chase you around with knives and other weapons!

Children are encouraged to go and do, one night of the year, something which they are told is incredibly dangerous the rest of the year… which is knock on a strangers door and then accept sweets from them!!

The dark things in life are celebrated and revered and people even dress up to be like them!

Not only all that… and that is certainly enough to give me nightmares! But there seems so much more darkness.

Not only are the nights drawing in, ensuring we spend more time in darkness, but just this morning as I read the headlines I saw:
“Parents in search for missing student”
“Female middle aged and homeless”
“Boy and girl die in suspicious fire”
“Ex IS fighter says group is killing children”
“teenager stabbed to death at a birthday party”

Our world is full of darkness and many people live in fear.

You see darkness and fear seem to go hand in hand.

I have been pondering these ideas and the other day I was looking at some of the world that World vision do. Check it out at: http://www.worldvision.org.uk/
It is a charity that helps children all over the world. Their motto is

EVERY CHILD FREE FROM FEAR

They are encouraging people, this Halloween, instead of carving a scary face in a pumpkin to carve a simple heart. As a sign that you believe that every child should be free from Fear. 


My World Vision Pumpkin

But this Got me thinking… EVERY CHILD FREE FROM FEAR. There was someone who came into this world for that very purpose. There is someone who has already paid the price and righted the wrong so that EVERYBODY can live a life of freedom. You see we are all children of God and Jesus came to earth to make sure  that 

EVERY CHILD CAN BE FREE FROM FEAR.


John 8:12 says: Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. 
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

1 John 1:5 says: This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are 
passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in him.

And John Chapter 1 says:
Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking.
    The Voice was and is God.
This celestial Word remained ever present with the Creator;
    His speech shaped the entire cosmos.
Immersed in the practice of creating,
    all things that exist were birthed in Him.
His breath filled all things
    with a living, breathing light—
A light that thrives in the depths of darkness,
    blazes through murky bottoms.
It cannot and will not be quenched.


Today you can have that light. The light that drives away all fear. You only have to ask!

Maybe today you already have that light…Well hallelujah!

But God call us to turn our own lights on and shine!
Matthew 5 says:

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.Neither 
do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

We are all called to shine in the darkness and bring light so that Every child is free from fear




There is a beautiful song that gives this message far more eloquently than I ever could and the words are so powerful. They say: 

Candle of the Lord 
How great the darkness, how deep the need!
 How vast the problems of indifference, hate and greed; 
A world rejecting the truth once known,
 And slipping down into a nightmare of its own;
 Is there a light that’s strong enough to go, 
And metamorphasize the darkness that we know? 

I am a candle of the Lord, 
with truth and love more powerful than sword! 
O fan the flame, its single gleam diffuse,
 And let my spirit be the light that You can use.
 I am the candle of the Lord. Light me! 

 How bright the light is from soul to soul:
 A myriad tiny flames expanding to a whole.
 How strange the truth is when joined as one,
 And what a miracle this shining could become; 
It could transform the darkness that we know, 
And clearly light the way mankind must try to go

I am a candle of the Lord, 
with truth and love more powerful than sword! 
O fan the flame, its single gleam diffuse,
 And let my spirit be the light that You can use.
 I am the candle of the Lord. Light me! 

 Maybe today you would like to pray for the light to come into your life and drive away your fear.


Maybe today you would like to commit to be the candle of the Lord and allow you light to shine for others. 
video

Monday, 8 August 2016

To the women struggling with childlessness ... You are normal!

A little while ago I wrote a very personal blog about my experience with infertility and some of the issues surrounding it (If you haven't read it, take a look here: Motherhood challenge) I was absolutely blown away by the response to it. I received emails, texts and letters from people all over the world offering encouragement, sharing stories and asking advice. It was a very vulnerable place to be in, knowing everyone knew very personal details of my life and marriage, and it was definitely one of those 'shelter in the wings of God' moments, as, at times, it was very uncomfortable. However it highlighted to me that it was a topic often not spoken about, and over the past couple of days I have felt God calling me to share once again a few thoughts on this topic......So here it goes! 



You are not abnormal!

This is my biggest struggle as a christian woman tackling the minefield that is infertility. 
So many times I am led to feel that I am half a woman, less than perfect and a failure because of my lack of a child. 

As any of my facebook friends/instagram followers will know, I love social media! I love connecting with friends and family, I love meeting new people and I love using it as a platform to share about the difference God has made in my life. 

BUT

If I am truly honest, at least once a fortnight, I consider getting rid of it all! This is simply because it seems to start the internal discussion of 'Am I abnormal?' and 'Am I a failure?'

Some people who know my more eccentric side are probably at this point shouting "Yes you are abnormal!!!!" But bear with me...

You see social media is always full of pregnancy and birth announcements, (today there has already been two!) generic mum/dad challenges etc etc... and that's not even mentioning general "My kid's are the best" posts or even "my kid's are the worst" posts!

All of these are beautiful, beautiful things, and we should celebrate family, but on my weaker days, a voice in my head will tell me: "You can't even conceive a baby right, let alone give birth! Call yourself a woman, you can't do what every other woman in the world can!"

Some days it is SO SO HARD!

There are moments when the pain feels so bad that I literally struggle for breath! Sometimes all those feelings of hurt, grief, loneliness, self loathing and disappointment come pouring out as you see another tiny miracle born, and you wonder.... Will that ever be me?

This morning, if you are struggling with some of these feelings, let me tell you: 

YOU ARE NORMAL!
I am normal! Life is sometimes very, very hard. The bible is full of people who found life hard. The bible tells the story of many women who felt this sense of emptiness, BUT, in every story of hurt and sorrow there is a picture of God walking alongside them, drawing them close, picking them back up, straightening their crown and reminding them that they are royalty! 

ONLY GOD HAS THE ANSWER
God promises in his word that he has good things for me and you. It may not be children (although I will still pray faithfully for a miracle) but it will be for my good and it will give me a hope and a future in something eternal. 

YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Sometimes this road can be lonely. For me, I tend to avoid those around me who are pregnant or having children as, quite honestly, it hurts! I don't want to feel jealous towards others because of what they have and I have found that there is a common misconception that, as a childless woman, I must 'want' the life of others. For me, I have an amazing hubby, a fruitful ministry and a fulfilling life. I don't want anyone else's situation,but I want a family of my own. However, by removing myself from nappy talk and baby showers I can save myself the pain...but that can be lonely.

But God is there! He will be your comfort and support. 
There are also lots of like minded christian women in support groups and on groups and pages all over facebook.... And there is me! I would love it if you shared your experience with me, or if I could pray for you.

But remember

YOU ARE NORMAL!



Friday, 15 July 2016

The agony of Terror

I woke up this morning to the news of the terror attack in Nice in France with a very heavy heart. As I lay pondering the situation, I considered the recent stirring in my spirit about the things I see happening. You see, the attack in France was horrendous and with it comes the awakening of anger and sorrow

But

What about the other places where terroist attacks have happened? Not just to our Western ‘Friends’ but the absolute fear and devestation around the whole world. In those countries we may never even visit. Those incidents that the news doesn’t even bother to report!

A very quick google search brought a worrying result…
Sources told me that so far this MONTH, not including the recent terrorist attack in France. There have been nearly 80 ‘terrorist attacks’ in our world. (I’m not getting into the whole what is terrorism discussion, but you get the picture!)

As I scrolled through this list that represents hundreds of lives and families, I was horrified to see many of them I had never heard of.

This morning, on facebook, many people have changed their profile to show solidarity with France. As I considered this, I was reminded of a Christmas I used to sing in the singing company (Children’s choir) The words say:

“Remember the children of the world, each one is precious , precious in his sight!”

Today I will not change my photo, but I will remember. I will remember every child of God (and that is ALL of us) that have lost their lives in acts of terror.

We live in a broken world. We all groan in agony at the things we see happening. As Romans 8:22-23 says:

“For we know that all creation groans in unison with birthing pains up until now. And there is more; it’s not just creation—all of us are groaning together too. Though we have already tasted the firstfruits of the Spirit, we are longing for the total redemption of our bodies that comes when our adoption as children of God is complete




This morning, my prayer is this song and this plea…”Come into our world Lord Jesus”

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Exciting times!

Just over a year ago, after a lot of prompting from God, and a lot of support from my husband, I began writing a blog. I was coming into a new season, a season of ministry and I wanted to share my journey and experiences with those around me.

In this time a song had been resounding in my heart. It was a song that had been with me through some pretty dark days, but now, as I faced a new calling, it took on a new meaning.



I prayer this prayer with my whole heart, and over the past year Ephesians 3:20 has proven true



God has led me to a place which is amazing, rewarding, blessed, scary and tough all at once! I have learnt so much;

God has taken my passion for writing and has turned it into a ministry I never thought possible.

God has taken my passion for creativity and taken me deeper and deeper into the word through it.

God has taken my passion for people and put me into a place where I have the privilege of telling them about the life giving love of Jesus every day!

But also

God has taken my hurt and insecurities and used it to comfort others.

God has taken the scary and difficult times and used it to show me that I serve a powerful God.

God has taken my time of sorrow and used it to show me that he is a God of comfort.

God has shown me so much in the past year and I am so thankful for the blessings he has showered on me.
At this time of great opportunity in the Salvation Army, and a time of great excitement in my own ministry, I think this plaque I bought this week seems to sum it up well!


I cannot wait to see in a year’s time, what awesome things God has done!



Friday, 17 June 2016

Waiting on God

As many of you know I write devotionals monthly for  www.herbinderproject.com  and www.quitewomen.com and I recently wrote this devotional. I really felt this morning someone needed to read this x x x

                              
God’s word promises us that he will give us the desires of our hearts if we live a life sold out to him…but he doesn’t say when!

I remember when all my friends started to find long term relationships and get married. It was a really difficult time. The desire of my heart was to be a wife and a mum, but I couldn’t see how God was going to do it! I blamed myself for the long wait…I thought I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, funny enough!

But then I came to a realisation, a God given realisation. God asked me what I was focusing on; my desires or God. You see, we have to be focused on the right things. We must choose to fix our eyes on Jesus and continue to run the race. It is only in focusing on him, through the waiting, that we receive the things we desire and understand they come from him.

You are not alone! 

In the bible we see so many stories of people who lived a life sold out for God and waited to receive the things they desired. Sarah waited for a child, Joseph waited to be released from prison, Moses waited for his life to really start, Ruth waited to be happy again, Hannah waited for her promised child, and the list goes on and on!

I don’t know what you are waiting for today, but I do know that when we chose to fix our eyes on Jesus, the wait is a real adventure, and God will give you the desires of your heart in a way that knocks your socks off!


God gave me my desire for a husband after a long wait (and he was so worth the wait!) but God used that time to prepare me and help me be the best wife I can be. I am still waiting to be a mother and now I see the friends who found love when I was single now have babies, but I am assured that if I fix my eyes on Jesus he WILL give me the desires of my heart and it will be worth the wait!



Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Dream Big!

I am in such a blessed position! My husband and I are the commanding officers (pastors) of a wonderful church and community outreach, and the people are gorgeous!! In our short year in leadership in this place we have seen God moving in a really powerful way;

We have seen people coming to Christ,
We have seen people touched with the Holy Spirit,
We have seen people blossoming and flourishing before our eyes,
We have seen prayers answered in a powerful way,
We have seen God provide for our needs,
We have seen more and more people who are lost and desperate come through our doors

Yet

I  WANT MORE!

Recently at a conference I was challenged to dream big! To lay aside things that hold us back and press on to the goal.

You see it is so easy to get bogged down in the day to day flow of life. It is easy for the little things to become the big things, and then the big things seem to fade away. The devil doesn't play fair! He always plays dirty. 

BUT!

Today I am dreaming big. I am already praying for our new premises when ours becomes too small. I am seeing people sat in every seat on a Sunday, the mercy seat worn by repentant sinners. I am seeing healings and miracles in Jesus name and I am clinging to and praying over the words or wisdom and prophecy spoken over our corps in recent days! 

People have seen a resurrection church forming, they see a harvest ripe reaping and a revival sweeping across our town with us at the front with our flag flying high! 

Oh I am dreaming Big!

Why don't you dream big too today?