Chaos, clothes and cleansing

I’m sat on my bedroom floor surrounded by utter chaos. Actually I’m sat right in it, in piles of clean clothes (and a few dirty ones) so I can keep my iPad on charge and write this quick unedited post while the kids are all content.

  
I woke early today after a late night and dragged myself out of bed, the need for a bit of solitude greater than my need for sleep. Groggy and grumpy I sat with my bible and journal and tried to connect, it was hard going at first and I ended up flicking through an old journal and reading. 

What I found brought me to tears, I saw myself and my striving through an unusual lense of kindness and mercy, instead of my usual critical and ‘try harder’ lense. I saw how much I try and fail and try and fail to have everything together. I sensed the Fathers smile and warmth over me and my efforts to live in relationship with Him. I ditched my agenda and just sat accepting that I am loved just as I am, room full of chaos and all.

Life has been really full recently. Full of trips, visitors, possibilities and challenges. Within it all I’ve lost any sense of rhythm and the care of my spiritual life, my home and my body have dissolved. Slowly and silently little foxes come in. I let worry and anxious thoughts run riot in my mind, I scroll mindlessly on my phone, I go to bed too late and sleep poorly, I speak and react without thinking, I don’t tidy properly and walk around my house in frustration at the chaos that is everywhere. 

Order leaves and clutter and chaos come and fill the void.

Sometimes we try and climb the mountain and put all the good stuff back in before we clear out the bad… It never works.

Sometimes a cleanse is needed.

We all know it In a physical way after lots of partying or over eating our body needs a cleanse, our houses sometimes need a cleanse, a sping clean. So do our spirits. What does that look like? 

For me it looks like going to bed early so I can get up early. It looks like order and routine. It looks like ditching the internet on my phone. It looks like treating myself with kindness and mercy, taking it one day at a time and embracing the messy process. It looks like time outside and time alone. It looks like repentance and intentional thought towards my thoughts, words and decisions. It looks like love.

It also looks like cleaning and decluttering my home and body, because we are one. Body, soul and spirit, mind, will and emotions. One affects the other.

How about you? Is there an area in your life that feels like chaos and could do with a cleanse? If so pray, start slowly, embrace the process and be kind to yourself like you would a friend or your child if they were struggling. Reject overwhelm and just begin.

I’m starting where I am. I’m starting with sorting and putting away clothes….

If this encourages you today, let me know your start point and I will be praying for you

Love Emma x

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Lessons in grace from bread

I’ve been making sourdough bread for about a month now.

Mostly I love it! I love the steady 3 day process, I love the simplicity of bread made from flour, water and salt. I love the smell that fills our house when it bakes. I love that no two loaves look the same. I love holding in my hands something I’ve created with love and care. I love giving it away to friends or inviting others over to share it. I love wrapping it up in a beautiful cloth, taking it out on our family adventures and eating it, feeling for a moment that we live in a more simple age.

But do you know what I don’t love?……

I don’t love how I’m not great at it already. I mean come on, it’s been 4 weeks why doesn’t it look like the one I buy at the bakery! I’m following the instructions, where are my perfect results! Patience and ‘the long road’ aren’t really my happy place. Recent explorations of personality tests and enneagram tests reveal what I’m already painfully aware of. I give myself a hard time and want everything to be right and just and fair all of the time. I can never achieve the ridiculously high standards I set for myself and therefore nor can anyone else around me. Grace is a lesson I’m going to have the learn the long and steady way, just like baking my bread….an overnight success this will not be.

A familiar call to john 15 and the vine and branches. (Read the whole chapter, it’s amazing)

Soaking not striving

Soaking in God often doesn’t feel dramatic or cause spectacular overnight results. Sometimes I pray first thing in the morning , declare a couple of scriptures and am disappointed that I haven’t turned into mother teresa by lunchtime. How can I have just shouted at my toddler for accidentally dropping milk everywhere, I chastise myself! I prayed this morning where is my self control. The fruit of the spirit is more of a slow and steady, day by day, glory by glory situation. We don’t eat a salad one day and have lost a stone by the next…..transformation takes time. Slow steady obedience brings transformation. It isn’t glamorous but it is real. And real change stands the test of time. As you faithfully abide you will be transformed. You’re gonna need a lot of patience and a lot of grace for yourself, but the fruit will come in due season if we do not give up, fix our eyes and keep going.

One of my loaves got stuck this week and the beautiful bottom crust got ripped off the bread and stuck to the tray. I pushed away initial disappointment and made a choice to be grateful. I ate it this morning and smiled.

It’s real, I made it with my own hands and I tried my best. 

Give yourself grace today in the midst of everything you do, and one day you will wake up put the bread in the oven and out will come a loaf like the one from the bakery.

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Where I am right now 

  

Where I am right now is Home.

Home Alone.

  
Those two words above deserve there own line because its rare I get to say them. I love being at home raising our kids and working just a few hours, its the path we have chosen as a family. But that doesnt make it always easy or without cost. As an individual I thrive off time with my friends and family, but also time alone. There have been seasons where this has been naturally impossible with a large, close in age family, but I have come to realise it is unsustainable for me to have this continually, and to live my life well.

As most of you know we are approaching a year since we left family and friends and relocated to Scotland for the next stage of our journey. Within that year I have come to understand and accept myself and my story a lot more. We are travelling back tomorrow for our first visit back and it has thrown a lot of old emotions back to the surface. 

They say that “comparison is the theif of joy”

They are right.

Moving hundreds of miles away places you in a unique postion to really take stock of who you are away from the pressures , expectations and opinions of others. Real or percieved. I have found it easier here to explore and express my true nature and am finding peace with my slightly introverted personality, and need for time alone.

However Jon and I made a decision recently which really exposed how affected I am by “mum guilt” for any time away from my kids unless Im working. I figured if I’m battling with guilt over this then lots of you are probably battling with your own version of it. Most of the amazing mums I know are normally giving themselves a hard time over something or other. 

We have paid for Sophia to do an extra 4 hours in nursery from August which will give me an entire school day without the kids when im not working….and I am racked with guilt. Even though logically I know she will be fine and I will be a better wife, parent and general human being because of it. 

Yet I can’t shake the guilt and comparison….and I am suprised at myself for it.. I thought I was past this.. I know its bad because Im normally happy to share my heart and I dont want to write this. As I type I’m  worrying what certain people will be thinking!! That in turn makes me feel paranoid, silly and exposed, which I do not enjoy.

The truth is we are as mums we are all so different, and we have different pressures and coping thresholds.  But the one thing we share is our love for our families and the fact that we are all trying our best. So lets be champions of each other and find peace with ourselves on a true and deep heart level.  We all need time to recieve life from God and just have fun, and its worth fighting and planning to find it. 

Jon and I are big believers in investing in marriage. So term time monday mornings are going to become date morning! and monday afternoon will be time to finish a writing project for me. I hope I can embrace it with thanksgiving and find a way to let go of the guilt….

I pray my vulnerable rant will inspire you to take stock of some of the things you get ‘mum guilt’ for, and for you to see if thats some baggage you can throw overboard!

Heres to the journey towards freedom

I will leave you with these lyrics from Jared Andersons song  “where i am right now’

   

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Living the micro in light of the macro

It’s 10.30am, The kids and I are all still unwashed in our pajamas relishing the slowness of this day. So far it’s comprised of eating, slouching, playing, reading and way beyond the recommended daily allowance of screen time. It’s one of those rare blissful days in a large family, one where everyone is occupied and happy, no one is arguing…after a busy, fantastic and fun festive period it’s heavenly.

Whilst I have pottered doing washing, making snacks and fetching things for people, I have also read my book and felt God speaking to me through it. And so unexpectedly I’m writing. I never write in the day when all the kids are home…there’s too many jobs to do, I feel guilty that my attention is elsewhere, it’s too noisy, the list goes on. But today it’s different, I’m still being interrupted every 2 minutes, it’s noisy but I don’t care….the need to write is great today. I kind of need to communicate the swirl inside my heart and spirit and this I realise is how I do it, by writing. I do not need to feel guilt if I’m honest what would I be doing otherwise in my slouchy pajamed state? Flicking through social media or gazing in the cupboard looking for leftover Christmas chocolate..would that be a more helpful use of time?

On the 3rd January 2017 at 33years old I finally understand something about myself in a new way. I’m a writer, not the best, most eloquent or creative one. But a writer all the same. God reminded me today through the book im reading, that as a little girl, a teen and a young adult one free of time constraints and responsibilities…I was always writing. Even as a mother of 1 and 2 children I wrote a lot. Yesterday whilst looking for some lost paperwork I came across 70000 words of a book I wrote a few years ago..discarded and shoved under lots of old files. Hours upon hours of my heart poured out, buried.

Life. What can I say…it’s messy and beautiful, it’s painful and joy filled, it’s dull and it’s wonderful, it’s ordinary and it’s glorious. And it’s flying by….

It’s days that roll into weeks, that roll into months and then into years. But they are made up of moments. The very moment that each of you are in right now is truly the only life that you really have. What’s gone is memories and what’s ahead hasn’t happened yet and truly we don’t know if it ever will.

So how then should we live. As people occupying this earth in 2017 how should we spend this wild and precious life that each of us have? I think it in the micro. In the moments, in the small descisions to forgive or be kind. To pick up an apple instead of a cake, and sometimes a cake instead of an apple. To add an item to our shopping trolleys for the food bank, or put down our screens and share a meal with someone important to us. To stop what we are doing and look our children fully in the face when they choose to share something seemingly small, but important in their world. 

Yet if we only live in the moment and the micro we won’t get to where we want or need to go. These moments need to be lived in light of the macro. In the light of vision and purpose and direction. 
It’s kind of like a giant puzzle made up of tiny pieces. We need the puzzle cover box to glance up at as we handle the small pieces that make it up…or we won’t have a clue how it all fits together.

So I encourage you to take time to figure out what the macro things are in your life. What’s important? Where’s God leading you? What does your giant puzzle look like? What needs to be introduced in the micro, in the daily to get you where you need to go? What’s in the way? What’s got to be eliminated?

Although it’s kind of cliche the new year is a good time to take stock of where you are. One of the things that Jon and I have always done to help position us is to pray for a word, a phrase or a scripture for the year. Sometimes it comes immediately, sometimes it takes weeks. But God is faithful and He always speaks to those who seek Him.

I’ve never shared mine before..it’s so personal. But this year I will as means of example and encouragement. And because someone else who lives miles away that I barely know has the same one…maybe it will be the word for one of you?

My word is ENOUGH.

God is enough, I’m enough, there’s enough time, I have enough stuff……

Well it’s sat for 45 minutes and my window to write this is well and truly over…it’s probably full of slightly over honest musings and typos…but hey if you’ve bothered to read this far I’m sure you don’t mind the unedited me.

Happy new year

May you take time to discover, renew and prune your macro. And enjoy, be present in and relish your micro wild and precious life

Love Emma x x 

 

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Catch the wind

It’s been months since I’ve written on here.

Come to think of it, it’s been months since I’ve written anything. 

As I’m sure many of you are aware in July our family made the move from Cornwall to Scotland. It’s been such an interesting and emotion filled time loaded with highs and lows for all of us. Full of joy filled glorious moments as we build our little church community, and lows as we settle into this new season.

I was prepared to leave Cornwall, I knew I would miss our friends and family, I knew it would be a big upheaval for the kids.

But I was not prepared for how hard it would be as a parent to watch our children suffer. To see them cry as family left, to leave them at the school gates looking lost, to watch them be overlooked at the park and to gaze over at them as they withdrew into a book or a film not wanting to tell us how there day has been….it’s been brutal on our hearts as parents.

Yet it has produced good fruit. Beautiful, diverse, lasting faith and hope filled fruit. We’ve prayed with more passion for them. We’ve taken time to listen to them individually and love them with more intention. In difficult moments when I don’t have any words to bring comfort I’ve sought God for wisdom of what to do or say. We’ve been teaching them about God being their refuge and in those times at school when we can’t physically be there for them, they are learning for themselves that God is always with them. In our little church community, and out and about I watch them be kind and inclusive as they seek to make others welcome.

The fruit is as beautiful as the process has been brutal. The beautiful exchange as we give God what is hard and painful He transforms it into something good and lasting. 

As hard as it is, the fire really does refine, and in parenting there is always opportunity to this played out.

For me personally I’ve been driving deeper into who God is and what that means to me as a daughter and a follower of Him. I’ve found massive inspiration and challenge through Melissa Helser’s story. (Check out some of her testimony on YouTube) Rarely a day goes by when I’m not declaring the lyrics from their new album over our household.

My feelings have been all over the place and I’m trying (and failing often) to make good choices with my thoughts and my words despite the circumstances or how I might feel. Eventually peace and joy are found at the end of a good choice.

The other thing that has really helped and boosted my soul is intentionally seeking out the beauty and good in my everyday life. It’s a habit the kids are learning too. 

Autumn has been glorious here in East Lothian, and as I drive and walk about from one thing to the next I take time to breathe in the fresh air, to notice the array of changing colours in the leaves or point out birds to the kids…..

Despite the stories on the news, the illness of friends, the difficult circumstances, the loss and loneliness we can all feel…..good can always be found, and our souls need it.

Look for the beauty today, and catch the wind!

Em x

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Finish the exercise!

  
As most of you know I recently qualified as a Pilates instructor, even though I hold the qualification I am only at the beginning of learning all there is to learn. I choose to still train twice a week with a great instructor much further down the road than me, this helps and inspires me greatly.
At my session this week she observed that I never finish each repetition fully, I’m always rushing on to the next one. Often in the final parts of the exercise is where the benefits are found. I joked in response that I am like that in life so it’s no surprise it floods into this part of my world too.
See I’ve always been a great starter….not so good with the finishing! Like so many of us I struggle to keep the momentum going once the excitement has passed. 
So it’s funny really that I have fallen in love Pilates, because in Pilates there are no short cuts. There is no rushing to the next thing. There is no winging it! There’s only discipline, commitment and concentration. 
I love how the natural reflects the spiritual. When we invite God into everything we do he speaks to us. For me Pilates is something that has exposed so much of my character flaws and given me a great opportunity to deal with them. As I face them in the physical I find myself dealing with similar things in the spiritual.
All around my life are half finished projects, piles of not quite sorted paperwork, half completed books and studies…eating plans I started but never finished and it leaves me feeling disappointed and wasting the gifts and opportunities I’ve been blessed with.
Children learn from example not from what we tell them. Now this doesn’t mean we have to strive for perfection and be guilt ridden at every mistake, but actually once something has been revealed to us we have an opportunity and a responsibility to try, and to overcome things is a beautiful thing.
So for me, I will be trying to slow down and finish what I’ve started, whether that be a leg circle, an eating plan or a book.
Being open to listen and learn from our day to day life is invaluable. At my church small group at the moment I feel like a sponge to soaking it all in, hungry to listen and learn. The realisation that I have far to go, and much to learn is one that brings excitement and expectation into my heart.
Sometimes we hide from our flaws or feel condemned by them, but that’s not how Jesus sees it. He is always ready to help us and sustain us and walk with us through it all. Life is an incredible journey and by valuing and humbling ourselves we make the journey that much richer and more fruitful.       
So maybe your crazy busy like me with kids and general life and you don’t have much time to stop, listen and consider….maybe try intentionally praying and asking God to speak to you through all areas of your life….
That’s a prayer you will definitely get an answer to!
I’d love to hear from you if you do post a comment to encourage others
Love Emma x 

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How to boil the perfect egg

I was chatting with my mother in law recently when she told me the method to boil a perfect egg. As soon as she started talking I paid attention. Their was just something in the way she spoke that made me really listen. When she first heard the technique she was dubious but having tried it 3 times herself she now knows it’s foolproof. 

Her experience instantly validated her words. It’s hard to argue or disbelieve people’s personal experiences, they hold so much more weight than theory does. I left the conversation convinced of its truth, when someone experiences something firsthand, it shines through in their words and their whole countenance…it causes you to pay attention.

I experienced something so tangible in my walk with God last night I wanted to share it. I experienced the theory coming to life…and I just need to share it.

The bible teaches that God walks close to us in difficult times. It also teaches that God brings peace when we turn to Him in a storm. 

Well last night alone in my living room there was a storm. This storm was in my heart and mind. 

I found myself nursing old wounds, battling with familiar struggles and my thoughts were spiralling out of control. 

I absentmindedly tried a few methods of numbing my feelings. Several trips to the fridge to nibble on chocolate, endless flicking through the internet and TV, I even just lay and tried to sleep….it was horrible. The thoughts were swarming and I was close to tears.

I knew God was whispering ‘come to me’ not audibly but somewhere deep in my heart. But I didn’t want to come. I knew some of the thoughts I was battling with were rooted in bitterness and I didn’t want to repent and let them go. I felt justified in them…I wanted to stew.

But eventually I knew I just had to. I put an awesome worship song on, got my bible and lay on he floor. I asked God to help me, I repented and I let the truth of his love wash over me. 

It was instant.

The knot in my stomach dissolved, tears flowed, truth overshadowed the lies, and a sweet warmth filled the room. It was amazing. 

I have had experiences similar to this countless times over the years, you think I would learn to go to God quicker….but I can be a stubborn old thing!

These small tangible experiences are worth 10 x the theory. They bring a  light to my eyes and a confidence to my words. I know about 50% of the people who read this don’t have a faith in Jesus, so I try to be careful not to offend or say things too strongly. But I had to tell this story just as it happened.

Before I became a Christian, my mind was where I really battled, I could never let anything go. Scenarios would just replay over and over in my mind. I still battle with it now….but so much less, and giving it over to God in prayer is the ONLY thing that has made the slightest difference. It’s a freedom and a truth I just can’t keep quiet about.

Just like the egg boiling method….it works every time and still leaves me amazed.

God is there. Not just my bible tells me this, my heart, mind and experience do too.

This morning I awoke with a message on my Facebook from a friend, she had been praying for me. The message contained a link to the worship song I had turned to last night….of all the songs, logically how could she have known? But with faith these things are possible. It was just another small kiss from heaven. God is so with me in my mess.

Oh and in case your wondering, this is how you boil the perfect egg….

You cover the egg 2/3 with boiling water, put a lid on the pan and boil for exactly 5 minutes. You then take the egg out and put in straight in cold water for a few seconds….perfection!

Emma x

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