Monday, 25 June 2012

What's Next?

This weekend has been one of those defining moments in my life. One of those times when you look back and think that was the start of something new, and the end of something too. I'll be honest , the lead up to it has been a bit frustrating and hard work. I've been dithering about a decision I had to make. That decision was whether or not to attend a Christian women's conference that my church was hosting, called Real.

I was dithering for a number of reasons but the main one was the fact that there would basically be a room full of women, possibly talking about shopping, makeup, fashion, and other stuff I don't really get or have any interest in!!!

There were a couple of reasons I actually ended up attending the conference and they were all to do with people and friendship. I had coffee with one such lovely lady who felt I should go as she felt God would have something to say to me. And another lovely friend agreed to go with me so I didn't feel on my own or isolated while being surrounded by hundreds of women. Sounds odd I know but all you girls know what I mean and where I'm coming from!!

Anyway I attended the Friday evening opener which consisted of music, worship, drama, chat, prayer, a message but most importantly for me, writing a sentence or word on a label. This could be something you felt you wanted to get from the weekend or a question or just something that was on your mind at that time.

I looked at the blank brightly coloured label and didn't know what to put at all. You know one of those writers block moments, but then I felt prompted to put 'What's Next?'

This is a phrase that's been buzzing round my head for some months now. I feel in yet another season of change and uncertainty. Wayne has started a new job, Gemma's starting GCSEs in September, it looks like my wonderful worship band is going to have to change personnel again and I'm not getting any work. So I felt I needed to know What's next for me? Where does God want me to be? What am I supposed to be doing?

Well the Saturday morning provided me with my answer. The guest speaker Shauna Niequist started by saying she was going to read some of her writings which put me at ease straight away as I've read and really enjoyed both her books 'Cold Tangerines' and 'Bittersweet'. She started by relaying how she deals with busy or stressful times in her life. Her first phrase struck me the most which was 'Present over Perfect' and she went on to talk about giving yourself permission.

To me this meant, enjoy the moment you're in. Enjoy the Present and treat it as a Gift. A time to enjoy being and not doing. Enjoy your friendships, keep listening to God's promptings and reaching out to people, enjoy your family, your wonderful husband and beautiful daughter. Enjoy playing in your worship band and building community with them as you rehearse and share life together. Enjoy knitting again, enjoy reading, enjoy all the mundane stuff of life. Enjoy being me and don't try and be anyone else. Enjoy building new friendships.

Basically: Enjoy life and give yourself permission to just be.

Thankfully it was a quick answer and God was also able to help me deal with some other stuff over the weekend. Things I needed to accept. Stuff that has happened and I need to draw a line under and move on from. This helped me to serve on Sunday with a warm heart and one open to His will for me.

We also enjoyed a new format to our meeting on Sunday which included a New Liturgy which Aaron, Shauna's husband led us in. This was a very powerful experience for me and included old and new alike and just helped us to praise God in a truly honest and open way. Not everyones cup of tea I understand that, but I loved it!!

I could also mention the beer time, food, fun, text messages, laughter and tears shed with some very lovely friends, as well as the prayers and encouragement I personally received. Maybe another blog entry!!!

So I want to finish by just encouraging you to ask yourself what's next for me? Am I in the right place? Am I doing the right thing? Scary questions but I know very, very worthwhile.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012


Today I heard the sad news that my lovely friends mum had died. It was a short illness and consequently a very sudden end. It's been a tough couple of weeks for the family with lots of travelling backwards and forwards to the hospital, as well as the emotional journey they've all been on. As a friend I, along with other close friends, have tried to help practically as well as praying together for the whole situation. However there's always that part of you that feels so helpless and useless and hates seeing your friends going through tough stuff. You want to make it all better and wave a magic wand and it all not be there anymore. We all know that can't happen though and as we are told in the bible 'we will have troubles'.

I know that my own experiences will help me to empathise with the family although grieving is a very personal process and one that no one can fully understand.
I'm reminded of the passage in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
'Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our troubles,
so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort
we ourselves have received from God.'

'As high as the Heavens are above the earth, so high are your ways to mine'

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Prompted to blog

Yesterday I spent a wonderful day at 'Fourteen+'. This is a retreat day held at Oakwood and run by two lovely ladies, the host of the house Liz Pudner, and Melitta Cullis a creative whiz. Two very different people but two ladies who fit together like a glove as they share the same passion to create a space for women to 'spend time' and be refreshed. The beautiful surroundings of the house are added to by the creative resources made available to us to dip into. There are bible verses and photographs to focus our minds, there are books and magazines to delve into, sand trays to write in and be creative with, paints and an arty table to practise your art skills. Or you can just sit and soak in the wonderful atmosphere, ponder and pray. To find out more about it all click here.

Yesterday was a special day for me as it was the fourth anniversary of my mum passing away. I was glad I was where I was, and able to just spend time remembering her, the love she had for me and the love we shared as a family.

It's been a difficult four years. I initially thought I was coping quite well with losing my mum who was more than a mum to me. But over the last year or so I've realized that grief can be a strange thing and can grab you from behind when you're not looking.

I'm a 'coper' in life and see myself as quite self reliant and someone who tends to support others. But over the last year I've come to appreciate that I needed other people. I needed communication, I needed a hug now and then, and although I'm not normally a talker, I needed to talk!!

This blog has helped me to process an awful lot of stuff and I'd come to a place where I didn't feel I had anything else to say. However yesterday while at Fourteen+ I was prompted by a friend to get back to blogging as she felt I had more to give. So here I am back with you all after a few months break.

I hope I can be a blessing to you as I share some of what's on my heart over the next few months.