Monday, 11 May 2015

Hopes and Dreams

Hopes and Dreams are something I've struggled with all my life I think. I never really felt I had a huge direction in my life or that I really wanted to achieve that one thing. I never felt driven to own the latest car or the newest gadget. I even had difficulty deciding which treat to take when I was given a Red Letter Day gift!! Over the past few months though I'm daring to believe, I'm daring to dream and I'm daring to hope.

I've recently enjoyed two local brewery tastings. Both presents from friends who know Wayne and I very well!! The first was at Lovibonds brewery in Henley-on-Thames and the second was at the Chiltern Valley Winery and Brewery in Hambledon. I would recommend both of them even though they were quite different, both in their stories and their presentation. I think what I most enjoyed about them (not forgetting the tasting bit and the company of course) was hearing the stories behind how they became viable businesses, and the passion that was behind making them work.

Lovibonds was an old local brewery which has relatively recently been bought by an American, who in his own words, was probably having a 'mid life crisis' and wanted to do something completely different. And so started to learn about brewing beer and enjoying creating his own concoctions realising it was great fun and lucrative too. If you want to hear a guy talk passionately about his love of brewing for a couple of hours and sample some delicious beers too, then I would highly recommend it. Although be warned his language can be a little blue!!

The Chiltern Valley Winery and Brewery has been family run since 1980. The land was originally a pig farm and when the family bought it decided they didn't want to farm pigs so had the land tested to see what agriculture it was good for. The answer was rhubarb or grapes...a bit of a no brainer really.
And so the vines were planted and production began. The story unfolds as they converted a barn as a function room and discovered an old wood store ideal for brewing beer in. With a donated brewing kit the beer began to flow. The original family house is now a 4 bedroomed b&b and their latest venture is into liqueurs. They have a Royal Warrant as the Duke of Edinburgh enjoys their Barn Ale (as did we!!). They now have a thriving business in a very beautiful part of the country. Definitely worth a visit.

After experiencing these two very different life stories and the passion that has driven these guys into their successes it stirred something in me and reminded me of some of the words I heard at the conference I attended earlier in the year (mentioned in my last blog entry). Words that had dared me to hope and dream that I would have double restoration in my life, that I would regain things I had lost and that had been taken away from me, and that they would be even better than before. Words that reminded me that God has a perfect plan for me and that it has nothing to do with my efforts.
Today I read the story of the raising of Lazarus in the bible. Joyce Meyer's notes on the passage reminded me again that I should have hope. She wrote:

'A lot of us are like Martha, stuck in our troubles, not realizing that God can turn things around. But Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and He can raise 'Lazaruses' in your life. Don't lose hope. You might be hurting right now, but out of every disaster, God can bring a new beginning. Believe in God, and watch Him show His glory in your life.'

Today I am daring to believe this and I pray that you do too.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

From seclusion to connectedness

I have been in a very dark place over the last...... can't remember how long. Some people wouldn't have noticed, others have and have steered clear! I've realized I'm not a nice person when I'm in a dark place. I shut down, I feel numb, I can't be bothered with anyone or anything in fact everything is an effort. I see other people having fun and feel jealous, bitter and critical. Getting to this point was a journey, a very painful journey and one I don't really want to discuss here. Suffice to say circumstances and decisions (some of my own as well as others) brought me to a place of sadness which I didn't realize had completely consumed me.

I put myself into seclusion. Seclusion from God as well as people. This was a defence mechanism I think. I surrounded myself with a protective wall which not only protected me from the pain I was feeling but also stopped the love getting in too. I couldn't allow my heart to feel anything as it hurt too much. I couldn't even think about certain people without getting angry or upset and if I happened to see them I would be very ungracious and downright nasty. I recognise now that I was hurting so much that I didn't know how to deal with it. I felt God had let me down and abandoned me. I felt rejected by people and the church.

Today as I write this the sun is shining, and I can  actually feel the heat from it as we move into Spring in the UK. I feel the sun is shining in me again too. I've turned a corner, made a breakthrough, had a revelation..... however you want to describe it I'm feeling like me again....but different too.

I feel lighter in spirit, more joyful (in fact at times ecstatic!!), at peace, connected to God, happy and oh so thankful. Thankful for my lovely hubby who stands by me whatever I throw at him (not literally of course!). Thankful for me fab daughter who is growing into a beautiful young woman of God. Thankful for the faithful friendships I have, true friends who have loved me warts and all. Thankful for new playing opportunities with both my trumpet and cornet, and for the new friendships I've made with both Burnham Concert Band, and Slough and Hemel Hempstead Salvation Army. Thankful for the Sound Professors who never let go of me. Thankful for different unexpected people reaching out to me and encouraging me. Thankful for surprise visits from friends saying how much we were missed. Thankful for the inspiring message on Connectedness by a very godly woman. Thankful for faith inspired messages and worship at the recent 'She Is' conference in Sheffield and the faithful friend who invited me to go. Thankful for all those faithful people who have prayed for me through this season.  But most of all thankful to God for continuing to hold on to me even when I couldn't pray, read the bible or even go to church I know He was there holding on to me when I couldn't hold onto Him anymore. He never let go of me.

I pray that if any of this rings true for you that you will know God's peace, love and protection as you continue on your journey.