Shadow Of Victory

Thursday, 31 December 2009

Thursday 31st December F is for Final

F is for Final blog entry of this year and what a year it has been ...I have spent a little time looking back on the blog and re-reading some of it.

Some major highlights and a couple of low valleys but as I have always said right from the beginning...I wanted to be as honest..transparent...and vulnerable as I could as I lived in "The Shadow of Victory ".

I am so grateful for the input from all of you who follow the blog and I have been so privileged to have you also share parts of your own journeys and it has made me realise there is "nothing new under the sun" and many of the struggles I also know something of the same. There is huge security in knowing I am not alone and the journey is all the easier when we travel together.

I am already getting in synch with the new year...the new decade... and have begun to think about some goals..both a couple and as a family...and for the church community I am honoured to be a part of. I read some ones elses blog today and he listed his personal spiritual aims and it really challenged me to do something similar for myself.Perhaps my first blog of the new decade will be exploring where I would like to see myself grow spiritually.

I remember at the beginning of this blog way back in January that I wrote.."writing is my best chance at happiness"...and I am 100% sure that keeping this blog has opened up more chances and opportunities to reach out and touch happiness than if I hadn't started it. Certainly it has given me more opportunities to share time with others who I may not have spent time with before and for that alone I am so very grateful. There is something very special in spending time with people when we can be "real" without fear of embarrassment ..or rejection..or judging...and I believe the blog had facilitated that .I have also been blessed with connecting afresh with "old" friends who have got in touch through the blog and that has also been an incredible joy.

So...F is for Final....but only for this year..I will be back with more F words in 2010...let me leave you with these words from Gods word.

Hebrews Chapter 12 ....Therefor,since we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses ,let us throw of everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles ,and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,the author and perfecter of our faith,who for the joy set before him endured the cross,scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the Father.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Thursday 18th December...F is for Fred..and other Fs

F is for Fred.....but before I go onto this amazing F...let me say a heartfelt thank you to those of you who follow my blog...comment on it..and email me...I have read and re-read all the comments and taken on board all that has been said. It was also very special to actually meet up with several of you who have said that the blog has helped you enormously on your own journeys....and of course sharing a coffee and cake is always a great idea. I am pretty sure I will continue to blog...I still wonder where I would be and how I would be this last year if I had not started this blog.I find it still to be "my best chance of happiness". I am especially grateful for the comments and emails that CJ sends me...he is the one who knows me inside and out and every word I write is shared with him as part of our life together.

So...F is for Fred.I am pretty sure that none of you know Fred...simply because he lives in Chicago.! F is for Fred and his lovely wife Doris were our hosts when we had our trip to Willow Creek conference and we shared a lovely week in their home. If ever you want to know the true meaning of the gift of hospitality then ask me more about our stay. From the moment we arrived to the day we left we felt as if we were VIPs and their care of us was amazing. They cooked delightful meals and offered us their home and prayed for us on a daily basis Their humour was subtle and sometimes downright slapstick. F is for Fred ..still brings a smile to my heart . They are both "retired" inasmuch that they have a small business they run from home...they volunteer in the Hospitality Ministry and host several times a year...In their kitchen / family room they have a centrepiece of small national flags and place a new one for every different nationality they have to visit. F is for Fred serves several days a week in the Seeds Bookshop at Willow and whilst we were there we watched him for a few minutes as he entered into conversation with some delegates and he couldn't do enough to get them what they wanted.

F is for Fred and Doris are who Chris and I want to be like when we grow up..their warmth and humour and love of visitors combined with their genuine interest in us as people ensured that any doubts we had about being strangers disappeared within the first few hours. Even now after a few months back in England F is for Fred still FBs me at times and after my last blog entry he emailed me with some insight. I love the insight given to me from afar with none of the strings sometimes attached from those who we mix with on a day to day basis. I also have learned to respect and listen very closely when the elders amongst us speak into our lives...F is for Fred isn't that much older in years but I seem to think he is decades ahead of us in Godly wisdom.

F is for Fred's email brought some scripture from

Ephesians Ch 6 verses 10-20...well known words about the armour of God

He goes on to share with me some thoughts from a talk at Willow between Bill Hybels and Dr.B (Dr B is Bills mentor)...these two Godly and wise men talk about being transparent within community and how the soldiers referred to in these verses would have had 2 shields...the smaller one would be to deflect fiery arrows and the larger one would be used to link together with the other soldiers to form a rank of solid protection against the enemy. F is for Fred encouraged me also to ...stand firm that there is a time for battle and there is a time to stand firm as referred to in these verses.

So...I am going to "stand my ground"...and ensure I have both my shields in place and keep on blogging .

F is for yet another F fact two F words

Full and Final If you have been following the financial journey of the Mooneys you will know that we have an IVA and for last few weeks we have been praying that God would enable us to offer a Full and Final payment to close it. After lots of negotiations with our IVA case manager we were told we could offer 10,000 and it was pretty certain the remaining creditors would accept this as a Full and Final. We honestly kinda shelved this and half heartedly prayed. Simon Benham our senior pastor encouraged us to "raise the bar" and ask God outright for the amount we needed. Several of our friends agreed that they too would ask God. Well....God answers prayers and we received an offer from a third party (who doesn't want to be named ) and we heard for definite this week that as soon as the monies are transferred then we will receive a completion certificate and be officially debt free. What can we say...words seem so inadequate to express our amazement that the God who created the universe...who gave His precious son Jesus...who can heal the sick and raise the dead has sovereignly intervened in our lives. We stand in awe of His grace..His mercy...His love..His provision ..His promises....perhaps you will stand with us for moment and send a shout of thanks and praise heavenwards.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Tuesday 8th Dec F is for Feelings part two

Still waffling on about F is for Feelings and I find myself wondering a lot about feelings and blogging. I have been blogging since January this year and I guess I have been pretty open and honest about who I am and what I think...feel..and do...It has been a journey of discovery and some of you have shared your own journeys with me and encouraged me to continue.

There was a spate of negative comments/emails that after some deliberation I didn't publish as I came to the conclusion that if I didn't find them helpful then anyone else reading them wouldn't either.It has been a year of so much happening in every area of life and one that has brought some amazing answers to prayer as well as some prayers that are still on our lips.

I chatted with someone at weekend and we talked about how the blog had made it so much easier for friends to keep up to date with the Mooney happenings and for myself it meant I didn't have to be super jolly or wear a mask and it gave me the freedom to be just generally "not fine". is with some trepidation that I write this entry and ask the question...have I been too open?..too honest?..too vulnerable?.... I am asking myself the "have I shot myself in the foot " kinda question?. SB preached a sermon last week and spoke about the series he is planning on for the New Year...I think he is basing it on The Beatitudes and is calling it "Recovery". He made the point that many of us find our lives like a rollercoaster and we can go up and down and he was praying that this series would help us to be on an even keel. I listened to that and didn't think too much about it other than to think..."oh sounds good...look forward to that in new year". Later that day a friend in conversation said to me..."the new sermon series sounds Tailor made for you "....we carried on talking but after a couple of minutes I asked her what she meant .

Her reply really shocked me...she said that reading my blog over last few months had made her realise how "wobbly" my Christian walk was and how much I seemed to need some "propping up ". To be honest I was so hit between the eyes that I couldn't even make any kind of response and she obviously thought that what she said wasn't any big deal and walked off......I have been following Christ and laying my life before Him for nearly 25 years and I am the first to hold my hand up and say ...yep...I have had my struggles BUT I have never for one minute stopped walking...or stopped following...or stopped believing....or stopped hoping...or stopped asking....or stopped persevering....

In the beginning of my Christian I came face to face with some huge issues from my childhood I limped and crawled in the spiritual realm and certainly needed loads of "propping" and could certainly relate to being "wobbly" and I am forever grateful for incredibly supportive friends at that time who prayed and encouraged both Chris and I as we came through some very tough times. My perception of my Christian walk at the moment is that I am aiming to live it with the following scriptures in my head...heart..spirit and soul...

I lift up my eyes to the hills...from where my help comes from...
But my eyes are fixed on you.....
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus ..the author and perfecter of our faith.....
The testing of your faith produces perseverance.....
Let us run the race set before us.....

and many more scriptures that talk about how hard it can be to keep on keeping on.....

This conversation happened not long after another friend had shared with me her feelings and thoughts about something I had said and done that had given her some concern about my attitude and that the way I had reacted to something had surprised her.....and so when two people tell me in two different unconnected ways that they are concerned then I must do what a wise man said to me years ago.....I must search for the "nugget of truth" in what has been said to me.

My conclusions are that.....for this last year in every sphere of my life...I have tried to be honest and when I am not "fine" to say it if asked.....I have worn masks for far too long and have found it liberating to learn to live with who I am and with the people who I call friends I have lived a fairly open book type of life. For me...the "up and down rollercoaster " kind of existence I may have shared about in the blog is different from my faith. No matter what has happened in the emotional realm of my life my spirit has remained unshaken and in fact the honesty with myself and others has also opened up a new depth and dimension to my times with God...

One of my favourite books in The New Testament...
Hebrews Ch.4 verse 13 says this....

Nothing in all creation is hidden in Gods sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

For too long I would try and hide my real feelings from God but using the blog and opening up to others has laid me bare and something supernatural has happened through that even if at times my emotions are rollercoasting down the long straight my faith is rock solid and tangible and my eyes are ever fixed and focus-ed on Him.

I will look forward to SBs series in the new year....not because I think it will have special significance for me...I like to think every sermon series I hear has got some significance for me anyway...but because like everyone I need to be encouraged and given tools with which to deepen my faith and to give me the strength that we all need to keep walking..keep running..keep persevering..keep asking..keep believing....keep praying...keep hoping.....

I am not 100% certain whether I will continue to blog....or whether I may keep it private ...My feelings are such that I know that keeping a journal over the years has been an incredible help to me in dealing with "stuff" but whether I continue to go public is a question I will be praying about in these last few weeks of 2009. This has been one of the toughest years I have had for some time and I have no real assurance that 2010 will be any better.....but I know this blog has been a huge part of surviving it with my faith intact and my relationships deeper than ever before so I can see the huge benefits blogging has.....and a small part of me hopes that perhaps I have been of some help to others in helping them to identify wth some of my wafflings....

To finish this emotions are fairly fragile at present and I am finding that tears are never far from spilling over and I am working hard at maintaining my make up.!!....but please know that " I know that my Redeemer lives " and I have assurance that "He will never leave me nor forsake me "

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Thursday 3rd Dec F is for Feelings

The F word has so many different forms and I have played a lot in my mind of different variations...but this blog entry will initially start with F for Feelings but who knows as I waffle on it may end up completely different.Years ago Chris and I went on a Marriage Encounter weekend and I think the first session was all about feelings...the main point was that

"All Feelings are Valid and Valuable" is what we do with them and how we allow them to affect us !!

eg...its not wrong or bad to be angry...but if we allow it to take over our life and how we deal with things on an ongoing basis then we need to look at how we can deal with it.

I learned a lot over that weekend ....much of which has come back to me over this last year.As a Christian I have laboured far too long under the false assumption that life should be "fine" and " dandy" and if I am having a tough time then I need to "get sorted" pray...ask God to change me...bless me....or whatever. This can then lead to condemnation as it becomes apparent that even after much prayer...much repentance....much bible study etc...that there are times when I just cant seem to "feel" better about life. For way too long this has also led me to believe that F is for Failure I cant even begin to tell you the hours and days I have spent with this times I thought it was my middle name!! and even the odd times when I thought it was my first name too!!I can remember one instance at a Stoneleigh bible week when one of my kids was in trouble and the leaders involved came to talk to us ...I look back on that time as one of the toughest we had ever to deal with and being in the middle of the bible week seemed to make it worse...I felt as if the entire campsite all knew what was going on ( of course that wasn't true)...anyway....I began to cry and took everything that was said as personal confirmation that I had failed big time as a mother....these feelings completely overwhelmed me to the point where I didn't leave my tent for 3 days...( except to go to the loo.!)On one of my quick walks to the loo Ben D caught me ( drat) and he said something which has stuck with me for was a phrase that one of the speakers had used ..Ken Gott from Sunderland...the phrase is


and Ben was basically saying to me that matter what had happened with the kid..or whose responsibility it was ..or how I actually felt about it....God had a call on my life. I was so grateful ..not just for his words...but also that people had left me to can be too easy to just brush things aside and move on with life....but I needed to work things through and come out the other end and then when the time was right God placed Ben in my path outside the loo..!!Ben didn't offer me tissues or try to "make it better"...he just said what he needed to say and left it with me ....and many times in different scenarios that phrase has resonated with matter how much a I mess up...or how much I get over emotional..or how many hours I waste being in an emotional muddle...the call of God on my life is GREATER than my fall

And another F....F is for Fixer in today's culture we are sometimes guilty of being "fixers"....if someone shares about how their life is tough or about how they are feeling about something..we seem to leap into action and try and fix things....have you ever sat with someone and just openly talked about how you are feeling about a certain aspect of your life and before the first tear has dripped off the end of your nose they have handed you a tissue ...hugged you....offered to pray....and thrust a hot cup of tea into your hands. At times I have also been on the receiving end of the "pep talk " you know ..the one that tells you to buck up and be a rabbit or whatever the English version of this is!! And of course there are the occasions when you get told just how much you have to be thankful for....Nothing wrong with any of these Fixes at all but sometimes we just need to get the feelings out into the open before we are "fixed " up.

Okay...I may have exaggerated a little...but you get the gist of what I am saying. Its almost as if feeling sad...or anxious..or overwhelmed...or ...whatever is somehow a "must fix now" event. I recognise that if the feelings go on and on and on and begin to overpower then ..yes ..we do need to step in and offer some help ..but there are times when a good cry...a good moan..a good old "get it all off your chest" tirade is actually a good idea. You can pretty much guarantee that hugging someone or handing them a tissue etc will stop the tears pretty quickly and from my own experience if you damn them up they only come back with even greater force at another time.

God gave us our emotions for a purpose....I am totally convinced that every aspect of our emotions...from fear through to joy...covering a multitude and range are all God given and if allowed to be used in the right way can and will serve the right purpose. We see from scripture that Jesus expressed his emotions...he wept...he showed anger...he was overwhelmed at times....he withdrew into solitude (maybe he just needed to get away to deal with his emotions too) and if we are made in Gods image then I guess it is okay for us to express our feelings .

Part of my journey this last year ..through this blog..... has been an emotional one exploring my feelings and writing them down has been such a huge help as I have processed all that has been happening in my life proving again and again that...."writing is my best chance of happiness " and I am grateful to have had a place to just be " me " without fear of rejection or judgement...altho rest assured I have still wrestled with those two.!! I am ever aware that feelings are a tool that if used wisely we can use for our advantage and for our healing and our emotional maturing and also for our character development and for those of us who are Christians they can also change us "from one degree of glory to another " The reverse is also true in that the enemy who is "prowling like a lion seeking to devour us " we at times need to be asking God to help us to bring them under HIS control.

F is also for Finally and if you have been following all the ups and downs and twists and turns of the Mooney money saga then you will know that the dreaded word "redundancy" has reared its ugly head again.This time it isnt only just a rumour ....Chris has now recieved offical notification that "consultations " will be taking place the week beginning 14th December and rather than make this blog a long and boring explanation of what my feelings are ( which I will blog about another time )...I will close this now with a plea...please pray for us . Thank you .

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Sunday 22nd November F is for Family

F is for family and I am so incredibly blessed with family....both the natural and the spiritual families that are such a big part of my life.This last couple of days I have had the pleasure and joy of having almost every member of our little posse around me. Mike our eldest was here over weekend doing a fireworks display in Reading and he rang Thursday to say could he and Debs...(his partner) come and stay for the 2 nights.This prompted us into action and quick texts and calls to Cat..Nick..Andrew and Limara to see what everyone had planned and we ended up with a lovely combination of us all at various times over the weekend.

Mike and Debs live in Northampton with Mathilda (9) and Alfie the pooch (who is best friends with Oskar our pooch )and we aim to see them all every few weeks but like most families nowadays it can be difficult to get everyone in the same place at the same time. As they all grow older and build their own lives and commitments and their own friendships and have other families to consider too in the case of in laws etc we always treasure the times when we get all of them together.

We couldnt get all 8 of us in the same place at the same this time we had a game of two halves....we had a lovely coffee and cake at Holme Grange and a muddy walk with both dogs at Heathlake with Debs, Cat and Nick whilst Mike was away all day setting up the fireworks. Then we had Andrew, Limara and Debs for our trip to Reading...with a look around the shops for Christmas ideas and a beer in The Slug and Lettuce before watching the display in the pouring rain.!! To top it all off ....a big night out for the gang at McDonalds at Mill Pond...Big Tastys and and chocolate milk shakes all round.!!..No expense spared for the Mooney gang.!!Such a simple great amount of money spent but a real richness in the laughing and interaction going on between us all.

F is for Family...I love my family...I love my kids
Let me count the ways.

I love the way in which they chatter and giggle amongst themselves.
I love the fact that Chris and I can just sit and watch them having time together and relax in knowing that they have grown into being friends as well as being siblings.
I love the way that they tease one another.
I love the way in which they allow us to tease them.
I love the way in which their partners have brought a new dimension to the family Mooney.
I love the way they walk ahead of us at times and I see them holding hands.
I love to see the way in which they whisper to one another a secret that they don't want us to know...especially at this time of year when pressies are being discussed.!!!
I love the way that they ask about what is going on in each others lives and show and interest in how they all are.
I love to watch the odd kiss and hand brushing their partners cheek.
I love the knowledge that their relationships are strong
I love sitting watching telly with them..reading magazines...eating McDonalds...drinking beer ..knowing that money cant buy what we share.
I love the knowledge that all of our own kids have their names written in the book of life along with our son in law Nick (and Debs and Limara are on our prayer list )and our constant plea is that God would call our sons back into a real and vibrant relationship with Him.
I love the way in which they still seem like little kids...Limara giving Andrew a piggy back in the Mall car park lets you know just how silly the Mooneys can be.!!
I love that despite all the mistakes Chris and I made as parents (and still make ) that out wee family is still intact.In today's culture when so many families have had fall outs and one half don't speak to the other and siblings don't speak to each other or kids don't visit their parents I feel especially blessed.
I love the scripture that says "her children will arise and call her blessed " Proverbs 31 verse 28 I always used to wonder what this scripture meant...and although I am no scholar I believe that when my kids get together with us and we have time as we have done this weekend that I feel "blessed"...and I think that this may express some of this verse in our lives. Many years ago we had a giggle in our family when we were sitting at our meal and talking about this scripture and without any prompting all three of them got up and bowed to me and kept saying " blessed " "blessed" " blessed" became a sort of family/mummy joke for a few months after.

F is for Family and I am thankful to God today for this last couple of days where we were able to be a family again and to know that warmth and ease that comes from just being able to be ourselves. Family is such an important part of my life and looking back on my own childhood and family I am constantly amazed that out of the wreckage of my own past.... Chris and I have created a relatively close and loving family and I can only say it is God and His and forgiveness that has enabled us to experience this.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Wednesday 18th November F is for Full and Final

Well.....after an exchange of emails with out IVAs IP/account manager there may be a glimmer of hope somewhere in the tunnel we seem to have been in for so long. IVAs can be finished early with what is called a "full and final" one off payment...we had worked out ours would need to be just under 15,000 but today after discussing it with him he informs us that it could be as little as 9,500....this is so much less than we thought and has brought a surge of hope into our almost depleted and defeated spirits.

Its been a bit like the long haul up the Pepsi Max in Blackpool..(not speaking from experience I might add )...the hanging on tight ....and to some extent the shutting of our eyes and the not wanting to look in case we panic. Yet now....we are asking the end in sight....dare we begin to hope...dare we begin to ask...dare we begin to pray...dare we begin to believe?????

F is also for "freedom"...God gave His precious son so that we would be set free from sin...set free from guilt ...set free from shame...set free from this freedom within our grasp...??

Isaiah chapter 61 verse 1 says this

"The spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me because the Lord has appointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners."

Being in debt is like being in prison.....when we entered the IVA it was a court ordained process and to some extent we were "sentenced" to 5 years hard labour to pay for our "sin" of getting into debt!! We are in many respects very grateful to have this as it provided us with an escape and also gave us the means in which we could pay back as much as we could......but the close supervision that the IP has over your finances and your lives is so very like being captive...Each year the review examines your income and expenditure and negotiations are required for every increase needed and we have to justify things like pet insurance and new tyres for car . It is a long and dark 5 years and the thought of being able to perhaps finish it early has given us a shred of hope.

The chapter quoted above is titled in my bible "The Year of the Lords Favour" and I wonder if 2010 will be a year for us to know Gods favour in this one aspect of our lives. We are so very aware of Gods favour in many ways and so aware He has placed us in this amazing community of believers where we can be open and honest and know acceptance and encouragement.

Thank you to those of you who have sent comments and emails ...your ongoing encouragement and love crosses any divide I may feel about being in debt.I am also incredibly humbled and grateful that some of you have shared your own personal situation which has allowed me to feel that I am not alone.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Tuesday 17th November F is for Finances and Future

Its me again .....and feel free to ignore these F word posts if they bore you...I cant switch off my you ever get like that?? "busy head " I call it when the thoughts go round and round and no matter what you do you cant switch it off. I have even resorted to going to bed to see if sleep would help but have only dozed and woken up with a splitting "busy head " Chris came home from work and I just cried into his shoulder and snotted on his I the only one who does this??

We talked over dinner about what we would do "if" many "ifs"...the "if " word is almost as worrying as the " f" word . We looked at each and every scenario and asked each other all the kinds of questions that are usually reserved for anyone else but us. I had coffee with FL today and we talked it all through and the whole issue of "its not fair" came up and why is that things happen. I know for us we are only following through on the biblical principle of "you reap what you sow"..we got ourselves into this mess over a long period of time and therefore its only right that we should take the time to honour the debt and pay off as much as we can . I understand and accept that 100%...I haven't for one second thought ...this isn't fair ....

My biggest struggle is the lack of control and not knowing what the future holds for us...The F word stands also for Future...add to that the "if " word...and the two of these combined is enough to throw me slipping and sliding off the "rock" and cause me to blink and wink and squeeze eyes tight shut thereby causing me to take my eyes off of God.

We have made some decisions as both of us find that the actual decision making process brings some element of control and even a smidgen of control is so much better when hanging on for dear life. We have contacted our IP and asked what are the circumstances needed for us to make a full and final payment and what kind of offer we would have to make to end the IVA early and depending on what he says we will look at whether this is a viable option for us. By our own calculations we think it may be around 14,000.

If you consider me your friend or even just that you read my blog..please can I ask you to pray for us...I may seem on the outside to be coping and you may even see me smiling and serving and working...but to quote a very old and favourite song ...

"behind a painted smile..the tears of a clown ..when theres no-one around"

I met with TM last night for mentoring and we had a revelation from one of the know when you read something and it just leaps out of the page and enters into your spirit? well has been settling into my heart most of the day.Take a look at 1 Corinthians chapter 6 ....the entire chapter seems to be constantly saying

"Do you not know"

and today its as if God has been saying to you not you not you not know..

I know that for me I need to hang on to the word of God...the Psalm I am meditating on is Psalm 25 and there is so much in there that I know God wants to use to speak strength to me and give me the ability to hang on in there...

verse 1 says...To you O Lord I lift up my soul in you I trust
verse 3 says .....No-one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame

It is in "His word" that I know I need to find rest and seek peace .....and for the moment I am "hiding in the shadow" of His wings....with nothing else to hang on to except His Word.......It is late and I am off back to bed in the hope that my busy head will slow down.......

Monday, 16 November 2009

Monday 16th F is for Finances

F is for Finances and F is for Faith....and we are on a journey that seems to be never-ending and at times resembles a roller coaster of immense proportions. To recap...we are in the 4th year of our IVA and for the last year or so Chris has his safe secure employment of 30 years turned upside down by Anacomp going into administration.We had months of not knowing what would happen and the threat of redundancy hanging over us to then find that Formscan had bought it over. We breathed deep and thanked God for continuing to care for us and sighed relief into our praises and reminded ourselves that God

"would never leave us or forsake us" and that "the plans He has for us are not to harm us but to prosper us ".

And so....6 months on we have just heard that Formscan has lost its major client and that cutbacks are on the cards and as the TUPE regulations under which Chris transferred all his conditions of employment etc has now run out we are once more faced with the possibility of redundancy. This in itself isn't the huge threat..but for our IVA it could the death knell and could bring us to the point of failing it and/or having to go bankrupt and/or losing our house. We are once again on the roller coaster and hurtling into the unknown..( just for the record...I don't do roller coasters of any description!)Add to this my own employment I am self employed I have to trust that the income I earn will always be there..but I have no guarantee that this will be the between the two of us we are once more hanging on tightly to a white knuckle ride.

I have long since stopped worrying about bankruptcy...God is God and whatever happens here in our lives .....He will never change and we can always trust that whatever happens to us will ultimately be in His hands.This is something we have learned this last 3 years... the F word for our Finances

One of the things I am struggling with isn't Faith for our Finances its the whole issue of being unable to be free to "give ". It has been highlighted more than usual this last few days as we have been to a CAP fundraiser..( CAP...Christians against Poverty ) and they were looking to raise 140,000 in one evening..there were approx 400 people there and I guess most of them were the big givers that are a huge part of CAPs fundraising . The guy who was speaking talked a bit about how much they wanted to raise etc and then he said..."some of you may only be able to give as little as 250.00 but some of you may be able to give 1000.00 and more "..Chris and I looked at each other and just thought "oh dear..the little bit of cash we had brought with us was so pitiful".....Then on Sunday at church we had a gift day for the work we are involved with in Serenje and the little we had to give seemed so small .

Ben Davies used to quote from

Proverbs 22 verse 7.." and the borrower is servant to the lender"

and it is at times like this that we realise just how true that verse is !!..We are unable to tithe and we have lost the freedom to use the little money we do have spare each month without a great deal of thought. Gone are the days when we could spontaneously go away for a weekend or buy an outfit and certainly as seen this last weekend we are severely hampered in our ability to respond to giving to the causes we are involved with. We have 680.00 going out each month to our IVA paying off debts and have done so for over three years with the prospect of a further two years still to go and this would more than cover our tithe as well as
"free" money with which we could engage more in the areas we would like to give to.

Ben Davies preached on Sunday and asked people who wanted to be "risky givers" to come forward for prayer..we went forward and Simon prayed for us .He prayed about the guilt we still sometimes feel about our situation and asked God to release us again from the feelings of shame and that we would know Gods peace.He also prayed that we would have money come in prayer at times has always been that God would provide us with enough money to offer what is called a "full and final" offer to the IVA to finish it off early. I am once again prompted to pray for this lump sum to come in but if not....then our prayer is that we remain in secure employment at least until we are able to be debt free in September 2011 ........
I am longing for that day when we have paid off all our debts and we are free !!

Two things to finish of this blog entry....

1)we did give to CAP and Serenje and actually felt really peaceful about it...we have learned over the years that God look at our hearts and our spirit and one major thing Ben Davies has taught us over the last 25 years is that we shouldn't feel under compulsion to give and that God wants us to be "cheerful " our small amount went into both the offering baskets with a smile !!
2)When Chris heard about what was happening at his work he talked to his boss and explained about the debt and IVA and his boss was incredibly sympathetic and said he would keep that in consideration over next few months as they seek to work through the cutbacks. He said he would do all he could even if it meant cutting him to a 3 or 4 day week etc... I am just so proud of my gorgeous hubby that he had the guts to admit to his boss our isn't easy to be so open and vulnerable outside in the big world of business. I go again...not knowing what the future holds ..I wish I was so mature to have that "what will be.....will be " attitude but to be honest I know I will have to hang on the F word tightly as we wait to hear what is going to happen in next few months. Please keep loving us encouraging us and praying for us...we are so grateful.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Friday November 13th The " F " Word

I am moving on to a different set of blog entries and they will all be focus-ed on

The " F " word.....

F stands for a variety of words that are affecting my life and possibly yours and so I hope you will continue to journey with me over the next few weeks.

My first word is FAITH and I guess this will underpin all the other F words I come up with as it is the solid rock formation of my Christian life.The bible says so much about Faith....I just checked the concordance and there are so many great Faith verses upon which I could base this blog entry. When I first started my blog (way back in January ) I quoted the chapter from Hebrews ... That amazing collection of faith verses that begins with verse 1

"Now Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" and yet this chapter is sandwiched in between this verse and one of the last verses which says this

"These were all commended for their faith yet none of them received what they had been promised."

I waver all the time between these two verses....and I guess this is why my blog is called " The Shadow of Victory"...I know all about living the life of faith...fighting the good fight ..believing the promises of God...and yet knowing that many of the promises have not yet been fulfilled. There is something comforting about living "in the shadows"...something peaceful...something safe...something secure.

Just to give you a taste of where I am going in the next few entries is a list of F words...if you can think of any more..let me know and I can blog away to my hearts content working my way down the list!!


So.....Faith..underpins is the basic solid foundation of all that I am and all that I would aspire to be...walk with me on this wonderful faithfilled adventure called LIFE.!!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

November 5th ONE IN EVERY NINE

Its fireworks season and my gorgeous man is off for days and nights on end with the fireworks so I have lots of free time...for "free" read .....bored !!...Mike our eldest son is here too as he also does this and I believe that Cat and Nick are also doing a display this coming it becomes a real family affair...but NO..I have no plans to suit up in the red boiler suits and lug giant shells around for hours. It did come in very handy when the kids were little because we used to get free invites to all the best displays.

Last night I was involved in CAP WEDNESDAY....CAP is a national charity..."Christians Against Poverty " and one of the centres is based in our church...This is an organisation devoted to helping people get out of debt.(see for more details.) This evening was to highlight the work of CAP and to hopefully get new volunteers to come on board. I have been helping the team in the role of "blessings " This is an amazing role and I absolutely love doing it...we have a sum of money made available every month to simply bless I get to spend money that's not my own and give out lovely pressies in the form of vouchers or flowers or choccies...what fun it is .

AJ ..who is the centre manager gave out some statistics which really resonated with me...he states that "one in every nine households" has serious debt can google debt statistics and get some other quite frightening numbers about house repossessions and bankruptcy. AJ also quotes from the bible about how we should not neglect the poor and we saw a dvd about people who had worked with CAP and were now on their way to being debt free and also heard from someone in our own community who is working with CAP to get debt free.

As most of you who read my blog may know Chris and I are on our own journey to getting debt free and roll on August 2011...but the evening made me think .!!

CAP talks a lot about the "poor" and often the media gives out this stereotype of only "poor" people get into a mess.... I then think about the "one in nine " statistic that is quoted and if this is true then count the number in your street or road and think that behind every 9th door someone may be struggling or look around the church on a Sunday morning and count off every 9th person or family.....or check out the preschool mums or the cubs and brownie families you may know...every 9th family could already be in trouble.

I have had an 18mth involvement with a national debt forum and been involved in a couple of get togethers and shared stories of how we got into our messes with people in similar situations as us and I can honestly say that none of us would have been perceived as "poor"...Lets face it when you ask what is your perception of "poor" think of lower income...rented houses...not being able to eat regularly...children being cold ....hungry and ill clad.....and altho this is true that people who are unfortunate enough because of their life circumstances are actually "poor"...we also need to wake up to a whole new category of people who are in debt.!

You see...Chris and I have always owned our own home ..had good jobs ...driven two cars...had three children who never knew what it was to be hungry..cold or ill clad and from the outside looking in you would never have called us poor or thought we were in debt.As you cast your eyes over your friends or folk in your life..would you know if they were in debt..would you be able to spot the one in nine??? We...and I say this as the "royal collective we" must be open to those who we would least suspect of being in financial trouble being "safe" enough to admit it.For us..we had been in our IVA for almost 2 years before we told anyone. You may be able to spot a "poor person" but can you see past the exterior of those who still seem okay. I think I would be correct in saying that 17mths ago as we began to open up and tell people there was a fair amount of shock and surprise and in fact last night as I shared a little bit about our own situation with the group I could see puzzlement and surprise on several faces of those who know me.

At the end of the meeting I spoke to a lovely woman who had made her own journey with CAP and got debt free...losing her home in the process and she shared with me she had got back into debt again through no fault of her own and had experienced immense shame and embarrassment and didn't want to admit it to anyone . I could identify with her so much it felt like she was "talking my talk"....We hide behind our coping masks for fear that others may judge us and that is not only a debt feeling it is many things we struggle with..some of which I have talked about in previous blogs.

On the national forum there are daily posts from people who talk about their shame and their deep fear of people finding out about their situation..some who are in marriages where the partner doesn't even know about the debt..some who have lost everything..marriages wrecked...lost jobs....some who would never tell their friends or their families...and there is a community of people who function online and become virtual friends giving each other acceptance and support. For myself I used the support of the forum for almost a year ...sharing my deepest feelings with people I only knew from the Internet and occasional meetings. Many of these people never tell anyone and travel the road to debt freedom totally isolated and alone. However Simon ..our pastor began to create and encourage open-ness and a culture of vulnerability we felt able to begin to share with others our situation....and altho I still log on and occasionally post on the debt forum I have been able to get support and a level of acceptance from friends and family. I am eternally grateful to the experts on the forum and the friends I made who helped me to see that there was life beyond debt.

To be very honest....I still feel as if people wonder how on earth we ever got into this situation...and to be honest I wonder about that myself too. I spent a year blogging about it on the national forum and have actually downloaded it and maybe one day I will share some of it may think I have been open and vulnerable here...but you would need to read some of that years entries to really understand what it is like to be in debt....there is something amazingly secure about sharing with people who you will probably never "do life with "..but more than that it was the feeling that the ones who were able to access and read that blog were people who were in similar situations and could identify with me and certainly never would judge me.

One thing that also is becoming more and more prevalent is the actual amount of personal debt...with the advent of interest free credit cards and consolidation loans...gone are the days when it was few hundred pound on an fact some people I know have overdrafts and think nothing of it....some people I know have credit cards and don't always pay the balance of every month ...some people I know have cars on a bank loan and don't worry about it....Most of these people wouldn't even think of themselves as being "in debt"...lets face many actually add up the 8,000 car loan to the 2000.00 overdraft to the 5,000 credit limit...someone once said

"if you can service your loans etc you aren't in debt"...

Ha Ha Ha....We serviced our various loans for years until one day we realised we were paying more in interest every month than we were in balances...was it only then we were "in debt"....NO..we were in debt for years... and years..and years ..servicing and servicing the dratted things.!!

I am so sorry to go on and on about this...but I believe we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg in our community both in the church and outside in our local community and I can see that CAP and the work in our church centre will explode in the coming year as more and more people wake up to the realisation that their debt is debt.!! My challenge to us all...myself included is .....who are the "poor"...and is it only our preconceived stereotype we are looking to help..and is this label of "poor" acting as a barrier for folk like Chris and I to ask for help....or to admit to needing help... We actually set up our IVA before CAP was set up in our church but I have often asked myself if we would have approached the CAP centre if it had been open...Hhmmmnnnn...not sure .

If I have 20 plus people who subscribe to this blog then statistically speaking there could be 2 of you in debt.!!...If this is so..can I encourage you to share with me...or with someone you know and trust...God is in the business of setting people every aspect of their lives ....and finances are only one area we can be in chains and never know true freedom....I long for the day when we are debt free...I can see it in the not too distant future...I can feel it in my bones...I know deep down in the depths of my being that debt has shackled me in such subtle and hidden ways that I cant explain and that being debt free will bring a new dimension to my spirit and as such I long for it with all my heart.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Thursday 29th Reflections (2)

The wedding was lovely...the outfit eventually came together....the friends / family we spent time with was fabby and apart from the long hours getting there and back it was worth it to spend time with family and friends and be a part of Danielle's special day.Weddings are always lovely ...or at least every one I have attended has been fun and enjoyable and always a great time to have a laugh and some fun. We were booked into same hotel with some folks from church and we did have a laugh....and got to spend time with them too before and after the wedding.

"Doing life " together....somehow or other in the busyness of our lives it can be hard just to take time out to hang out with folk....being away from our own home and town we didn't really have much else to do apart from hang out...and it is in those times that we can relax and just be ourselves....I know that for Chris and I we need to "do life " with folk a lot more than we do....just hanging out over a beer...or a curry....with no really was lovely....and so...thanks to Wayne ,Sandra and Gemma....Debbie and Robin....and of course Cat and Nick who didn't really have a choice as we were all in same car.!!

We got home...very tired after long hours travelling and since then all I have wanted to do is growl at everyone.....ggrrrrr.....Life immediately started crowding in.!! Does this happen to others??...after a relaxing time away it seems as if life conspires to "get you " the minute you come back .I have a stack of things to organise..people don't answer emails...meetings had to be re-arranged and cheques don't arrive ....ggrrrrrr....and then when emails are answered they aren't good news.....


It all falls into perspective as I served in car parking for PNs funeral....all the trivial things in the last few days that have caused me to go...gggrrrr...all fade into insignificance as I watched the family and friends arrive for funeral.I listened to one of his daughters give tribute in such an amazing way...she was so brave and talked about her dad in a loving tribute we could all identify with....I looked at photos of the family...I sang some great songs and altogether mourned and remembered a good man.....


I am saddened by my petty-ness and convicted of my bad temper and have spent some time after the funeral just re-adjusting my soul.....I wonder afresh how much God needs to still do in me..the changes I need to allow Him to make slowly I am changing from "one degree of glory to another ". I still want to growl at the trivia going on in my life but know that I am thankful that I live and breathe.I am grateful for scripture that brings hope and life to me when all I want to do is go...ggrrrrrrrr

2 Corinthians ch 5 verse 17 says this..."Therefor if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation...the old has gone and the new has come."

Romans ch 8 verse 1 says this...."therefor there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus"

For both these truths I am most incredibly grateful for and perhaps as I let the truth permeate into my soul and spirit I will stop growling....It has been a week of contrasts...from weddings to funerals with all the highs and lows entailed and stuck in the middle of both these holy days has been me and my growling....but tomorrow is another day and with Gods help I can begin afresh with a smile knowing that His mercies are new to me every morning...

Thursday, 22 October 2009

October 20th Reflections

We are all packed and ready to go off to wedding over the weekend. This is no ordinary wedding in that often its a friend or a relative who is getting married.What makes this one so different is that we I have known D S since she was 2yrs old and that is something like 24 years ago if my arithmetic is any good.!! Having been in a great relationship with her parents for the same number of years this weekend is a real celebration. D is a lovely Godly young woman marrying her dream boat. For many years her mum and I prayed..."God save her...God call her to you..God raise her up to be a Godly woman with your values...God bring her right relationships with men/boyfriends...God bring her a Christian husband." and this Saturday I know that her mum and I will have eye contact at some point in the day and in that moment we will silently acknowledge that God answers prayer.

In this last couple of weddings have been uppermost in my mind I have spent some time reflecting on my own daughters wedding and just as Ds mum prayed all those prayers for her so I have prayed the same for Cat and on her special day three and half years ago I was able to say a heartfelt "thank you " to God for answering those prayers. I have also been praying afresh this last 2 years for Cat and Nick and adding somewhat different pleas to the throne.

As I spent time thinking about daughters I thought I would tell you a little bit about mine. Many of you know her and I guess if we sat and compared notes we may even have different thoughts and ideas of who she is and what she is like.!! I am biased in that I am her mum and as everyone knows..."mums are always right"

Cat is our third child and after two sons I was desperate for a girl. I love my sons dearly and agree with the popular saying that we love all our children equally and I do....BUT...for me I love them all the same...yet different..They are three completely different characters and personalities and therefor we all interact in completely different ways.

Of all the children Cat is the most confident and feisty....from a very early age she was extremely determined and her gifting for gymnastics emerged at age 5 and from then right through till she was almost 18 she was an excellent athlete in both gymnastics and then trampolining and had a distinguished career. This gave her excellent grounding in self discipline and ability to lead and gave her supreme self confidence. She doesn't suffer fools gladly and can be quite sharp if faced with people not doing as expected. If Cat wrote a letter for every time something went wrong eg bus phone networks...she would have a file 6 inches deep.But it works she has learned how to deal with awkward situations in her work place and after 5 years in same job has a wealth of ability and experience.

But don't be fooled by the confident exterior....perhaps only mum gets to see the small child that sometimes doesn't cope...sometimes feels hurt..sometimes cant understand why...wants to run and hide...Give Cat a "mission"...a task and she will be off before the starting pistol....keep her focus strong and she will target and run.I so admire that about her...determination with a capital D

From a very early age ..if asked what she wanted to be when she grew up she would generally say three things...

1)fall in love ..
2)get married...
3)have babies...

and thankfully she has achieved two out of three...and even more thankfully they are both still following God..serving Him together ..part of the church community...building good relationships and friendships..holding down good jobs....and generally enjoying being husband and wife.Sadly the number three on her wish list isn't yet in her grasp and the journey so far for them both has been one they didn't expect to have to walk and for me as her mum it was never in my plans for her either.

Perhaps the way in which she has developed her self discipline..her confidence...her feistiness...her "mission" focus has all been for "such a time as this " Only God can answer the Why question and only He can grant her that elusive number three.This last week they have embarked on a different journey from the one they would have wanted to be on and yet I can already see her focus sharpening..her determination gaining the upper hand ..perhaps as she can see the way ahead more clearly the hurt and anguish that has been gripping her has lost some of its power.

Perhaps as she looks ahead she can take hold of the scripture...

"The plans I have for you are to prosper you and not to harm you"

Perhaps as she leads worship or praises God the words from songs will take root afresh in her heart and soul....

" can move the mountains"..."Where things impossible by faith shall be made possible"....

Perhaps as she takes each step in this journey she will realise that ....

when there appear to only be one set of footsteps in the sand that it was then that God will be carrying her

I am eternally grateful that God blessed us with three children..each of them in their own way a blessing from the Lord. Not quite a "quiverful" that the psalmist reckons is the Lords blessing but quite enough for us!! I am eternally mystified that someone like me who had one of the mst dysfuntional childhoods ever to be written about has managed to parent and mother into adulthood three fairly well adjusted and useful members of society. I am eternally begging God to call both my sons back into close relationship with Him and I am eternally interceding for God to grant Cat and Nick the gift of a child.

My daughter....who desperately wants to be a mummy....will you join me in prayer as they begin this journey ....Thank you

Monday, 19 October 2009

October 18th Battlefield

As I blog again this morning I have come to realise once more that life can be a battlefield.!One of the speakers at Willow Creek talked about how he was on a plane and the video monitor in front of him was broken and how for a long while he found himself looking quite intently at his face. Usually when we look in a mirror it is because we are doing our hair..putting on make up..brushing our teeth and so on. So to look at the reflection with no distractions ..he found a new and disturbing activity.He went on to encourage us to take a half hour or so and just look intently at our face and ask God what is there. I don't think for one second he was referring to the wrinkles or the grey hairs etc but more..what do we think of ourselves and what does God think of us.

So...this morning..feeling replenished and relatively at peace with myself ..I had a relaxing morning...had some tea and toast..lazed some...had a bath..did the stuff women do with razors etc and then took some time to look at myself.I may have gone slightly overboard in that I stood naked for a little bit of time and very quickly got dressed and had a few minutes looking at my face.

I would love to say that this exercise has been beneficial and recommend it to everyone but to be honest I have to confess I now feel like I would like to give up my role in the human race. If I could ..I would crawl into my bed and never get up...I hated every second of it and certainly didn't last more than 10 minutes let alone half an hour. The thoughts that have gone through my mind have almost frightened me....where did they come ?? Not from God that's for sure.!! It has made me so aware of the battle I am in...

What did I see that caused me to shut down so quickly?...apart from the recurring shingles sores that have once more re-appeared on my face...thats twice in 5 weeks...ggrrrrrr......I have endeavoured to be as open and vulnerable in this blog as I can but some of these thoughts I am not able to share. I am not so stupid as to think they have come from anywhere but the "pit" and that they are not the "truth" but boy am I ducking low down to dodge the flack. What I will share are the secondary thoughts that came racing in after I stopped looking. Thoughts like...

Give will never make it
Stop going to will miss you
Dont go the Leaders are not really a leader..they only tolerate you
Resign from leading Car takes any notice of you anyway
Dont meet with your will be useless to her
Miss dont get anything from it
Eat yourself will always be fat
Spend what little money you have will always be in debt
Go back to bed....let people down
Dont go to the wedding at weekend ...your outfit is awful

and so on and so on.....

Life is a battle replenishment bucket is leaking badly this morning...

Sunday, 18 October 2009

October 17th Replenishment Strategy 3

Replenishing my empty bucket is proving to be a desperately needed strategy. There seems to be so much going on all around me..both in my own life and in other peoples lives too that it is a season where I need to ensure I am "full". For one reason and another (mainly car parking.!) I don't get into the worship time in our weekly church meeting too often but this morning I wasn't "on duty" for the first time in 4 weeks so was there for the entire time of worship and it was only after we sat down that I realised just how depleted I had become.

There is nothing wrong with private worship in our homes..nothing lacking in listening to a worship CD...and usually when we worship in Life Group I can connect with God...but there is something hugely different about corporate worship and I was so aware of how God broke into our meeting and brought me once again to gaze at HIM....I think I am slightly biased about our worship team in that I have known many of them since they were kids and have seen them grow into followers of Christ and no-one can know the deep joy I have when my daughter and son in law are part of the team....they all truly are a blessing to our church community.

This morning we sang a couple of songs that led into a "word" that led into a time of response and prayer and it is times like this that replenish my soul. The words from one of the songs ..

"Oh never let go....through the calm and through the storm." and linked to that the words from another one..."the same power that raised Christ from the grave lives in me..lives in me "

As we sang this over and over again I thought about the women I know who are walking through some really tough times... I thought about G.N who had lost her husband in the early hours of the morning...and about S.McM..who had lost her husband two weeks ago....I thought about a friend who is in hospital battling depression...I thought about 2 other friends who are lost and lonely and who have sadly lost sight of their Saviour... I prayed with a couple whose son is in hospital and yet another friend who is facing tough times ahead with financial difficulty..and then my heart turned towards my own life and family and I knew that God was speaking to me through this mornings worship time. Chris and I seem to have been in a "storm " for some time now...the anxiety over his job for months..the stress of our IVA and financial worries...and yet..somehow or other we are still hanging on in there...we know 100% that if we didnt have God to hang onto ..we would have lost the battle a long time ago.

Many of you know about my daughter and son in law and their fertility struggles and over this last 2 years I have had to hold on tight to God as I have walked some painful times with them. All mums know that seeing their children endure pain is the hardest thing to deal with and the emotional pain these "children" are feeling is indescribable...I would do anything to prevent them having to walk this walk....yet I know that God will go before them...walk with them..carry them whenever they need carried and will bring them through. To enable me to be an encouragement and support to them I desperately need to stay replenished and this morning I believe I had an infilling from God for this next wee while.

I sang..."the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in me " with such faith....if God can raise His precious son from the dead..then He surely can give me the strength I need to walk alongside C and N....and as I sang the words
"oh never let go " I sang them will never let me go..."through the calm and through the storm"...I may be heading into a "storm" but God will never let me go.

Reading the word....praying...fellowship...serving....all are a vital part of the replenishment strategy but to worship God is surely one of the most dynamic ways in which we can connect with our Saviour.

and so for the moment....I am replenished.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

October 11th Replenishment 3

I kinda understand about writers who take themselves off to friends houses or disappear from normal life...there is something about being alone that seems to get the brain ticking over...not that I am putting myself into the category of great novel /fiction writers but somehow this last couple of days with Chris being away I seem to have had time to let my thoughts settle. I have also had a weekend free with no work commitments ...apart from serving in car park and somehow I don't think of that as work as I get great satisfaction being there....maybe there is a need in all of us just to be alone....away from the demands of ordinary day to day living and just allow God to refresh and to speak and to bring peace back into our very stretched souls.

I have been reading and listening and praying...I have had time with friends and time alone and somehow or other I have managed to get back up on my feet and stand back on the rock .I have been reading from The Message translation and where before I couldn't get my head round the new-ness of it...I seem to have found my place in it and it almost seems like a bubbly glass of is making me "fizz" if that doesn't sound too silly.

I have also been reading this book..."Get out of that Pit" and wonder why on earth I haven't read it is truly an eye opener of a book..or should I say a "spirit opener". I still think it isn't actually mine so if you have lent it to me please let me know...I would like to underline bits but don't want to deface someone else's book. I have read many books from Christians who have overcome the darkest of childhoods and yet always struggled with the way they write...yet Beth Moore somehow or other has connected with me in a way no other author has. I know that often its not the author or the book but its the timing of when I am actually reading it and it just perhaps that is the case here..maybe its Gods perfect timing for me to be reading this book at this particular time but I don't really care..I am just so grateful that I am .

Beth talks about "pits"...describing 3 different pits

1)when you are thrown into one
2)when you slip into one
3)when you jump into one

She describes what a "pit dweller" looks ..feels and acts like... and boy..could I identify with each and every kind of pit and each and every way I have acted.Its the kind of book where you cant fail to identify with something she says....and for me ...if I can identify and connect then there is a good chance that God is speaking to me through the writing.

The chapter I have just read today talks about"getting out of the pit" and I have read it several times as there is such a depth of truth to what she says.I cant recommend this book enough and as part of my replenishment strategy it has been a great start as I already feel as if I am refreshed.

On a completely different note ...I did say a while back that I was thinking of an Open House where those of you who would like to come and hang out and maybe look at an aspect of the blog together...if you are interested please can you email me direct so I can make a date...I know we wont maybe all be free on the same evening but lets see how we go...I am looking at mid to late November before Christmas comes rushing in at us all.

Let me leave you with this...Psalm 103

"Praise the Lord O my soul and forget not all your benefits...who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases ...who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion"

Saturday, 10 October 2009

October 10th Replenishment Strategy part 2 Chris is away I seem to be on a bit of a roll with the blog so will just keep on going till I run out of stuff to say..or you all just shut me down.!As I said in last entry about a "replenishment strategy " reading good Christian books was one of the things I planned to do and that I had quite a few books that either I hadn't actually read or that hadn't kept my attention I decided to give one book a try. In fact I am not even sure the book belongs to me so if it is yours please let me know so I can eventually return it.

Its by Beth Moore....and its called "Get out of that pit"

I began to read it today and already I am half way through and so far I am enthralled by her perceptiveness.Do you sometimes read a book and wonder if the author actually knows you or has heard about your life or experiences..well this book is a bit like that.What I really like about her is she talks "straight" fancy words or dressing things up..she calls it as she sees it and doesn't take prisoners.Already I can feel God beginning to replenish me and bring me up out of the wee pit I seemed to have fallen into recently.

Another way of replenishment is to be careful who I spend my time with.....and today I spent a couple of hours with F.R....F is relatively new in my life having only known her for a couple of years...but she is someone who takes me "up in her lift" she is an authentic friend who shares deeply..yet is fun and ordinary..not at all super spiritual but often will just pop something out that will make me stop and think.This afternoon we enjoyed a wee walk with our two dogs and just shared about how the Willow Creek conference had affected us...and what we were doing and how we were doing...we had some tea..grapes and chocolate and looked at a couple of scriptures that God had brought alive to us individually and we explored what "bright spots" we had experienced in last few weeks even though both of us had struggled a little over the summer.F also felt God had given her a "word" for me in that He was taking me to the Promised over next few days I am going to think that through and ask God what He means about that.

I am so aware that some of my friends are going through some tough times and if I am to be any good to them and for them as a friend I need to be filled up...otherwise I will be no use to them either as a support or an encouragement.Today for the first time in a few days I somehow or other feel filled up...getting back to the bible...reading a Christian book...getting out into the fresh air and having a walk ...and lets face it Oskar and Sadie are enough to make even the most depressed and empty person smile as they are just gorgeous pooches....and then just spending an hour or so relaxing and chatting about how we are "in God"...isn't that a good way to be replenished?

To keep you in the picture..the washing machine is still weight hasn't miraculously gone....I still don't have anything to wear for this jolly wedding...we are still broke and in debt....the IVA is 2 years away from daughter and her hubby are still not experiencing a miracle...2-3 of my buddies are going through incredibly painful situations...I still have to get up tomorrow and serve in car park as team is yet again short....Chris is still away till Monday...I am still on my own for the weekend..but you know what...

God is good..all the time.

October 10th Replenishment Strategy.

Chris is away now till Monday lunch I have some time to blog and spend time working out where to go from here. You may have sensed that I have fallen down and some of you may well have actually seen it.!! No I don't mean actually physically falling but witnessed the tears falling in public places. Anne/Iris..I hope you know the fact I ran out of Morrisons instead of sitting and having a coffee with you guys was NOTHING to do with you.The lack of tea bag in the teapot was the last straw for me after a really bad 2-3 days so the tears had to fall....and I just couldnt cope with the idea of having a meltdown in Morrisons..altho that sounds like a song title.!!

I have done some serious thinking and praying this last 48 hours and realise I need a "Replenishment Strategy". If you were at the Willow Creek conference you may have heard Bill Hybels talk about how he was so close to burn out that he felt the Holy Spirit whisper to him " Bill ...I am a little worried about you " and at that moment Bill admitted he too was little worried about himself.

So I guess I have also reached a point where I am a "little worried about me " and I have some serious choices to make to ensure I don't fall down so hard I may never get up again. Bill talks about how as leaders ..(altho this will apply to all of us ) we need to have a full bucket..we cant carry on serving and leading and planning etc without finding our buckets getting empty and that we need to have a replenishment strategy in place . He talked about what he had done to ensure he was getting the God/work/family/personal balance right in his life.

As I have pondered this and looked at where /how/why... bucket was emptying out I found that I had slipped back into old habits and failed to keep myself accountable. With the summer months and all routine going out the window and having the blessings of three holidays in a very short space of time my spiritual routines had virtually gone and we all know what happens when this occurs.At the beginning of the year and this blog I had made some firm boundaries eg.. not reading so many fiction books ( which is I might add my favourite thing to do..reading )and over the summer and on holiday etc I found I had begun again to read my favourite crime novels. Nothing wrong in that..I don't feel this is a bad thing but at the expense of reading Gods word I had once again allowed it to get out out of balance.Over a decade ago JWG gave me a word that "I should be wary of what I put before my eyes" and God brings me back to this time and time again

Bill Hybels talks about "we all need to exercise self leadership " and I had failed to exercise this ...and for the sake of space I will say that this has happened in many areas..not just reading.!! hence all the weight I have gained in last 4 months.

Bill talks about our ministry and what we are doing to serve God.....
he says this
"Is the pace that I am doing the work of God destroying the work of God in me ?"
This really needed some serious thinking....and once again I realised that I had been serving and serving and serving and the replenishment wasn't happening.When I picked up the bible notes that I use ...the July 10th entry ...(yes.. I am that far behind.!!)..talks about the "prayer of exhaustion" and how Moses is pouring out his heart to God..Numbers ch 11 and Moses is just throwing out all these questions to God...Why? ..What?.. Did I ?.. Where?...and then Moses adds "because this burden is too heavy for me " and once more I understood that I cant run alone in whatever sphere I serve God. If I apply this to the car parking ministry then in the same way God raised up 70 elders to work alongside Moses at this time ..I also need to be looking for people to run with me and help me serve to the best of my abilities...I am not actually saying I need or want 70 elders to do car parking with me.!!but I am saying ..I need solid and consistent support.

So...what have I decided ...

1)to change to The Message bible for the moment...I have been doing the "through the bible in a year" but for some reason decided to use the reading plan in the Chronological version..this has meant that since I started I have been wading through The Old Testament which is great for getting it fixed in your mind for when it all actually happened but very depressing in places.Plus I have never really got into The Message version and sometimes a completely new thing helps to inspire new ways of thinking.
2)leaving my fiction novels upstairs again so I am not picking them up at odd moments during the day...this does also serve to encourage me to go to bed earlier than I have been as I then get to read in bed.
3)Bill Hybels encourages us all to read GOOD books...Good Christian books ...and I have collected a fair few but never really got into them so will be choosing and starting this.
4)Being careful who I hang out Simon says .."who is taking you up in the lift and who is taking you down"
5)Saying YES every time God asks me to do something
6)Not feeling guilty about saying NO to requests that will empty me for the wrong reasons.
7)Keep short accounts..both with forgiveness and repentance.
8)Bill Hybels encourage us to "stop moaning about the lack of resources and get on and be thankful for what we do have " I am planning on bringing that into every area of my life..not just ministry wise.

Finally... Bill talks about the "rogue wave" and about how we all can serve and follow and live when the seas are calm but every now and then the sea throws up an unexpectedly "rogue wave"...and we can be overwhelmed in many ways as we try to steer our boat through rougher and more dangerous seas. If we are confident in our replenishment strategy then we can easily and quickly ride the wave through to safe harbour...but when we are empty then we are often in danger of capsizing. I guess I have been standing on the deck of a leaky boat and the "rogue wave" hit me...but I am not going to let it capsize me.

My prayer for you as you read this that you will heed the voice of Gods Holy Spirit IF he is whispering to you..."I am a little worried about you " and that you take some time and look at where you need to replenish yourself too. I picked up The Message translation yesterday I heard God say Psalm let me leave you with these words.

"I am staying on your trail...I am putting one foot in front of the other and I am not giving up "

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

October 7th Mutter Mutter Mutter

I wish I had blogged end of last week as it would have been so much more encouraging and uplifting and inspiring....I had been to Willow Creek conference for second time...(did I tell you I had actually been to Chicago to attend it live at Willow Creek Church itself?? LOL.....) and found the talks once more challenging and refreshing and planned to blog about my REPLENISHMENT STRATEGY...courtesy of Bill Hybels Talk.

He spoke about how we all need to be very careful to ensure we replenish our lives with the good things we
Gods diet..exercise..etc That we run the danger of working and serving and not taking care of our mind body soul and spirit. I realised that over the summer months I had allowed myself to get "empty" and the plan was to blog about what I planned to do about it !!

Well..the best plans get waylaid by life sometimes and I am so far from being replenished that I may not ever get it right. After serving both Friday and Saturday day at Willow Creek....on the Sunday I found myself ...due to unforeseen circumstances ....having to serve yet again both am and pm meetings and in between I still managed to drive to London for 10am and attend a friends daughters pre wedding
get- together and then drive back again for 1.45 to have my entire family for the afternoon...but I did make sure we all went out for lunch ...9 of us to The Old Manor.!!Then got very cross with the evening serving teams that they hadn't turned up or done what they were supposed to do....and felt really bad for being such a moaner...and then Simon preached...well...thats the story of why this blog is just "mutter mutter mutter"

I was completely undone by what he talked about and spent the best part of half hour just weeping at the end....then wept all over Cat...then on Tuesday..wept all over Penny...then today wept all over may ask..what did he preach...

He talked about the "mystery" of God and how good things can happen to us even when we are in the centre of Gods plan...and that sometimes there are circumstances in our lives that we have no answers for and our prayers seem to go unanswered....and I began to think about Cat and Nick and why they are having such difficulty having a baby and why others can have 2..3..and more children without any problems and I just feel completely undone by it all.I realise that because I have allowed myself to empty out I have no reserves of faith or emotional strength to fall back on and I guess that's why I am feeling so weepy....."mutter mutter mutter.!"

Add on to all that the stress of our IVA and the financial implications of our annual review...which we had back today and for some reason they now want an "extra" 70.00 each month... "mutter mutter mutter.!"

To ensure I don't get any chance to actually replenish at all...we have a wedding to go to in two weeks time and I cant find anything to wear....with all the weight I have put on this last 18mth I have tried on the entire contents of my wardrobe plus all the boxes in the loft and scoured every shop in Berkshire ...all to no avail. I have even put an appeal on Face Book..."mutter mutter mutter.!"

This coming weekend was supposed to be our weekend serving....and I was so looking forward to just chilling out with hubby doing nothing....and what do I find...its the Musical Fireworks Championships of the UK..( THE WHAT?? I HEAR YOU ASKING..).. Chris has worked for a Fireworks company for almost 20 years now and they compete annually for the UK display teams cup and believe it or not they were 2nd last year..but this particular one is actually the first time they have competed in the musical competition ..the displays are all set to off he will go mid afternoon Saturday and he wont be back till mid afternoon Monday so bang goes our chill out weekend and I will now actually be almost totally on my own..but listen up folks..what do I get..oh yes a call to say the leader of my Sunday car parking team cant be guess where I will be at 8am Sunday morning...(you may detect a slight hint of sarcasm there).."mutter mutter mutter"

You see...this is what happens when you get all falls to pieces..I haven't even begun to blog about writing commitments for the church magazine...or my writing assignment for commitments to car parking / admin...and CAP and Inspire and not to mention my actual working life ."mutter mutter mutter!"

Perhaps over weekend I will plan my "replenishment strategy" and blog about it Monday. I wonder how you guys are with your full/empty it only me that has allowed myself to empty out over the summer??The really tragic thing is that I know this can happen and over the years I try so hard NOT to let it get this bad but somehow or other I seem to have been sideswept this time round "mutter mutter mutter.!"

Thursday, 1 October 2009

October 1st...Waffling on and on

It is only just the 1st October in that it is 13 mins past midnight and I really should be in bed..especially as I have to get up at 7am for the wee boy. I have been blogging away for months now and have opened myself up in a way I never thought possible knowing that "writing is my best chance of happiness" .

My waffling for this entry is simply this...I am seriously down...I wonder if I am the only person in the entire world who sometimes just feels like giving up.??There are times when I want to revert to being a small child and just curl up in a corner ..suck my thumb and wait till it all gets better.Outwardly I am getting on with ...chatting...being funny...being happy..being sociable..getting to see people..going out for meals...having is going on around me and yet somewhere deep inside there is something broken.

I wonder if I need to go to doctors...take medication...buck up..pull myself together...count my in the Lord....lean on Him...ask for real...or what???...I asked myself tonight...why do I feel like this... I cant seem to shake it off....

I seem to have spent the last few days snarling inside at others yet smiling nicely on the outside...I had a great time today having coffee with GJ and it was the only hour in about the last 24 when I didn't want to hit someone..anyone. I have no axe to grind with anyone . No-one has offended me..hurt me or caused me pain...yet somehow or other in the last few days life has lost its sweetness for me.

I am busy...but then we all have busy times and I am no different from others in that it can cause stress but yet I know that somehow this isn't just the busy-ness of life.I am aware that there is pressure on me...both Chris and I with regards to our IVA and with the annual review still not sorted it does hang over us and who knows when that pressure will be lifted. This evening at Life group..we sang the worship song with the words that say
"so take me as you find me..all my fears and failures." and then later the chorus sings out so powerfully .."Saviour..he can move the God is mighty to save He is mighty to save " and all I could think of was the word "failures" and I looked around the room and started to compare myself with the others in the room and all I could see or feel or think was "I am a complete failure in comparison to everyone else here."

Everything in me wanted to just run...just pick up my bag and grab the car keys and run...( couldn't do that as my washing was in their machine..)and as soon as LG ended we were out of there as quickly as I could get the washing in bag and say bye bye.Not one person in the group has done or said anything to make me feel that way..its just me and how I am feeling. I cant point a finger at any person in my life and say...fault lies there..its just me.The same thing happened in the restaurant the other evening when I was having a meal with the bestest of friends I could ask for and as the evening wore on I found myself thinking..."why are they hanging out with me ..they are so much better than me and here I am sitting with them with "all my fears and failures " and all I wanted to do was go home to bed"

I can guess that in a few days or weeks I will no doubt feel better..but at the moment this is how I feel.Our church pastor is encouraging us all to be willing to answer the question "how are you ?" as honestly as we can and not hide behind the "I am fine" response that is the norm. and so if you were to ask me ...I guess I would say..." I am way down the tunnel and wondering if the light I thought would be at the end has actually disappeared."

Be assured I am still "doing life"...I have and will carry on outwardly and it will all be well...yet inside I need to find a way to deal with the snarling and the unrest that has somehow begun to overwhelm me .A verse from Scripture that we used to sing a few years ago has come back to me about God breaking down the wall.

Ephesians Ch 2 V 14 says this,,,"For He himself is our peace who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier,the dividing wall of hostility,by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations, His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two ,thus making peace...and so on "

Somehow there is a barrier...a wall separating me from the peace of Christ and I know that this barrier hasn't been put there by Him..or anyone else so therefor it must have been me ...each brick in the wall is my fears...and I need to find a way to break it down and regain the deep peace and joy that is mine through my salvation.

Gosh ..its now almost 1am and I have approx 5-6 hours before I need to get up and just get on with life..we all know that in the cold dark of night thoughts like these can sneak in and make themselves at home yet from experience the bright dawn of a new day will cast a new light on everything and for that I am most incredibly grateful and for your walking alongside me and bringing new hope... encouragement support and love into my life I thank you.

Monday, 28 September 2009

September 28th Waving at Willow

I am getting to the end of my Willow Warbles...but cant decide if I am waving goodbye as it is now over 6 weeks since we were there...or if I am waving hello as its only 3 more days till the Summit comes to Bracknell...Have you booked in yet...if not..its not too late and I would love to see you there ..its top quality stuff and not to be missed. I cant wait to be there...
I am serving in car park ( yippee )and really looking forward to hanging out with the team and welcoming everyone to this two day conference. In a way it will also be great to hear the speakers once more and see if God has anything else to say to me or to confirm that which I have already picked up.

I have blogged in great detail re Ruts and Trenches and to recap..
my weight issues
social times and friendships
my leadership gifting
my techie phobia

I have had some good feedback from all these points raised and am encouraged once more that you take the time to email me or leave a comment on the blog for others to benefit from too. Sadly I seem to also get one or two negative emails so would appreciate your prayers as I deal with these...

I would love to meet up with some of you and thought I may do an Open House kinda thing one evening if you thought this might be something we could enjoy and benefit from.We could pick a topic that I have uncovered and share our lives a bit deeper and see where it takes us?? Let me know if this is something that might appeal and please do feel free to invite me into your life for a coffee or chat one day....

This isn't a long blog entry re Willow..just touching base ....I have a couple of things I may blog about later this week and then hopefully I can finish up Willow after the Summit weekend.

Friday, 18 September 2009

September 18th...Wading through Willow.

I said in last entry it would be my final one re apologies but here I am again...but I am hoping to get this finished before I go on holiday.I am still on the subject of Ruts...Trenches...and Horizons....and wading my way through the weight issues. Its funny old thing being fat....for most people being fat...(or overweight if we want to be polite about it..)it is fairly apparent why we are that way..unless there is an underlying medical reason or on some medications which blow us up...but apart from that it is nearly always that we overeat.Whether like me it is a sugar thing...or that chips and bread are the downfall or too much pasta and is too much you get fat versus eat less and lose weight.

The other thing about obesity is that it cant be hidden....many other things that people struggle with in the realm of addictions can be hidden...I found out recently that a woman I have known for several years..smokes...and I never suspected or noticed as she keeps it hidden...I suspect many folk have addictions to pornography..medications...shopaholics...alcohol ...swearing....telling lies...stealing...who knows what hidden things there are in peoples lives....But you cant hide is there..right in front of our eyes.

Strangely...if we saw someone inject drugs into their veins or knock back three bottles of whisky we may be tempted to tackle them about it..especially if they were our friends and if they were Christians we would be more likely to be in their lives and looking to help them beat the addiction...but obesity...or gluttony rarely tackled. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of friends who have spoken out about my weight over the years and most of my friends are just as likely to share my cake or ice cream than talk to me about it.!!!

If I am truly honest I wonder if I have the inner strength to once again make that climb out of the trench.I have failed so many times that I feel defeated even before I begin. It is hard to explain how defeated I many respects its as if I have given up this battle and just laid down . It just seems far too much effort and yet what lies ahead for me if I don't choose to make a move ...ill health...inability to function well...tiredness and fatigue making it difficult to continue my work with children....too fat to wear my lovely yellow car parking jacket and run around my favourite place church car park.!!and I guess if I stay in this trench..early death brought about by poor health.

I am off on holiday this next week and because I am so fat...I know I will be uncomfortable in the heat...I know that the swimming cossie will reveal me in all my glory to strangers round the pool and on the beach..just as well they will be I wouldn't want any of you lot to see me.!! I know I will tire when out walking and each and every time I am limited I will be shouting deep in my spirit..."you stupid stupid woman!" see this is what every one who has addictions says every time they fail to keep themselves free..we pound ourselves mercilessly and beat ourselves up and we keep on trying and trying to break free and altho I cant speak for others I know that I constantly beg God to help release me cleanse deliver heal me....I am constantly confessing and repenting sometimes on a daily basis.....

This Rut or Thorn is now out in the the prayer meeting this evening we were praying re our church fellowship..that we would be a community where people could be open and vulnerable and whatever circumstances we find ourselves in that we could talk openly and share without feelings of shame or condemnation..or thinking that people would judge us .....In this last year as I have opened myself up in a deeper way than ever before I can say that it has been immensely liberating and sharing some very deep and painful experiences both past and present has brought a real freedom to my spirit and has somehow or other deepened the precious friendships I had and opened up the way for new friends to come into my life.

So...where to from here.....I have pretty much finished blogging about all the things that God spoke to me about at Willow....I am so looking forward to the Summit being held at Kerith Community Church on the 2nd and 3rd of October and if you haven't booked in yet....please do consider coming along as it will inspire you.

For me and my rut...I am once more going to aim for the horizon....I cant promise to make it but I am not giving up...I cant give feet may be made of clay...but my spirit is once more scanning the edge of the trench and looking for footholds to climb out. Perhaps one or two of you would lean down and grab my hand...perhaps help me start the climb by praying for me....perhaps asking me gently if I am moving forward....perhaps walk some of the way with me....perhaps walk ahead of me so I don't lose my way..perhaps walk behind me in case I am tempted to turn back....perhaps hold my hand when I am lonely...perhaps laugh with me when I am striding on madly ..perhaps cry with me when I fail....perhaps bring me back to earth when i get too cocky...perhaps speak words of encouragement when I falter...perhaps tell me often that I am more than a conqueror...perhaps cheer me on when I reach a goal .... perhaps just be quiet when you sense I cant cope with words...perhaps give me a hug when my shoulders droop and the tears of failure fall once again.....and when I have run this race with my eyes fixed on the prize and reach the finishing line ...perhaps we can celebrate together in the presence of our precious saviour Jesus.