Own it!

 

 

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Earlier this year my husband and I went on a 4 day retreat in North Carolina called the 18 inch journey, a head to heart experience of who God is and who we are in him. When we came back naturally lots of people asked us ‘how was it?’ which was a hard question to answer about something so deeply personal that has impacted us so profoundly.

But now almost 6 months months later I want to share with you one simple thing that I learnt. Im ready to share it now because for 6 months Ive practised it consistently, and its starting to bear fruit….

Own it.

Own your life, your story, your victories, your sins, your failures, your disappointments, your joys and your frustrations. Because until you own something you don’t posses it, and if you don’t possess it, you can neither keep it or give it away.

Being aware of things is not the same as owning them. Lots of people are well aware of their limitations, damaging behaviours and bad habits. But finding true breakthrough and freedom from these things doesn’t come easy. Well it hasn’t come easy for me thats for sure.

It goes back to the garden. I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid.

We’ve all been hiding in one form or another since then. An example of my experience would be something like this. I shout at the kids over something minor, then I feel a pang of guilt and shame ( I was afraid ) I feel embarrassed to have acted out in front of my family ( I was naked ) So I either ignore it or blame someone else ( So I hid )

Owning simple moments like the one described above is simple but not always easy to do. It means coming out of hiding, saying no to pride and being humble.

‘Im sorry for shouting guys’. Full stop. No buts…. ‘Im sorry for shouting guys, but you are driving me crazy’ Doesn’t count as owning the behaviour thats just blaming someone else for it.

We use wonderful excuses to validate our thoughts and behaviours, we think or say things like:

‘Oh well, you know what I’m like I just can’t keep quiet about anything’

‘Im just an angry person I can’t help overreacting’

‘I hate confrontation thats just how I am so Im not going to say anything to my coworker for publicly disrespecting me, I don’t like to cause a fuss.’

‘they always push my buttons and make me respond like this, if only they pulled themselves together I would never react badly’

Judge. Blame. Run. Hide.

So basically my major spiritual breakthrough this year has come from saying sorry. A lot.  I can literally feel myself softening and changing every time I say no to pride and yes to humility. Im starting to become less critical and judgemental of others as I do the simple and profound work of owning my life.

And today something incredible happened, it was small, invisible if you weren’t paying attention, but joy exploded in my heart as I watched one of my kids reject pride and own something. This small thing was the fruit of the spirit growing in our home right in front of our eyes.

They had misplaced something for a while and found it this morning. ‘I found my thing’ they shouted up the stairs ‘it was in my bag, someone must have put it there’. ‘no one really goes in you bag, are you sure it couldn’t have been you’ I responded ready for the battle I was sure that was coming about everything being someone else’s fault. He responded ‘ You’re right, I must have put them in there and forgot’

Jon and I just looked at each other in shock, ‘did he just admit something was his fault….’ For this child this is a big deal.

You better believe we celebrated this victory with him and Im happy to share it with you. Part of breaking down pride and owning your life is being able to share both the failures and the victories…otherwise you get false humility….and don’t even get me started on that!

The way I live my life and respond to things affects people, and yours does too. Our children particularly are unconsciously absorbing the way we deal with life and learning from it. Thats a fact.

I could have shared with you 1000 stories of failure in this area of my life but Im choosing to share this tiny victory because it works. Owning your life works!

Maybe saying sorry isn’t something you struggle with but just fill in the bank. Cant accept a compliment? Why is that? Cant have anyone disagree with you? Cant accept criticism? Cant let things go? Go silent and passive in the face of difficulty? Flip out every time you make a mistake?

The list is endless, and Im here to break the news that just trying really hard to act right doesn’t bring breakthrough. Thats just a recipe for a pressure cooker, I shouldn’t be angry, ram down the emotion, I shouldn’t be angry, ram down the emotion over and over smiling sweetly until one day a lady treads on your toe at the bus stop and you explode like Hulk. Theres a better way;

One of the kindest and wonderful gifts of the gospel is repentance. Super religious word with some weird connotations. But honestly I love repentance, don’t know what Id do without it. The freedom and joy that comes from admitting stuff, saying sorry to God and any people if applicable, then turning away from that thing towards freedom. Thats all repentance is and its amazing.

Anyway there you go, heart on my sleeve

I pray it helps you today

Love Emma

 

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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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