Long time no see:my blogging challenge

So, I come to shamefully admit that it’s been almost a whole year since I have blogged. This blog has been somewhat inconsistent  – I blog for a few months, break for a few months etc etc. The truth is that I never expected anyone to read this blog at all. The fact that I have some followers and have had other bloggers liking and leaving encouragement on my posts was unexpected and truly such a blessing.

I want to get back to blogging a little more regularly and (I may regret committing to this…BUT) I am going to set myself a challenge to publish a new blog post once a week on a Sunday. I want to continue blogging about my own life, my own struggles and triumphs, and of course about what God is teaching me along the journey – along the long road traveled, which is what the blog was about in the first place.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride and feedback is always SO welcome.

In this blog, however, I want to just speak about my life the past few months, its ups and downs. I got married last year for a start! What a wonderful, blessed and joy-filled day our wedding was, getting to commit my life to my best friend in front of all our closest people. The first few months of marriage have been blissful, busy, harder than expected and full of fun and surprises. Marriage is so great – but it is also hard and that is something maybe I can go into more detail about in the blogs to come.

I’ve moved house, become involved with a wonderful church and I am especially enjoying the privilege to work with the young people at this church, as my husband is the Youth Worker there. I have benefitted so much from the fellowship with the other leaders of the youth group I’m involved with and I have learned so, so much from the amazing young people.

I’m still a graduate student working towards my PhD and the work gets harder and more stressful as time goes on but also brings with it wonderful opportunities to travel the world and that should include Portugal, Philadelphia and Banff, Canada this year! How very exciting.

So that’s my updates in a nutshell. I hope that committing to this blog again will help me connect more deeply with God and hopefully some of the bloggers who have supported me in this journey so far! ‘Til this Sunday!

 

L xo

When life feels beige and everyone else’s is in technicolour

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Does your life ever feel ‘beige’? I know that, I for one, am guilty of always comparing my life to the lives of those around me. Facebook/Instagram/Tumblr etc etc have so much to answer for when it comes to making others feel like their lives are ‘not as good as’ other peoples. I have a friend who’s living the dream in the Rockies in Canada. I have another friend who’s living in Dubai and travelling the world as an air hostess. I have another friend who’s travelled in Thailand, India, Canada, America, Italy, Croatia – the list goes on. I have another friend who travelled in Australia for a whole month.

When I go on my Facebook and see their posts it’s almost impossible for me to look at their lives and think ‘my life is so normal and boring’. This has been especially hard for me as of late as I am getting married in a few weeks. I have this awful feeling hanging over me that getting married young and settling down is boring – I’ve been told over and over again that I’m settling and that I should be travelling the world and doing great things – not getting married.

Here’s the thing though – I can’t wait to marry my best friend. I can’t wait to go on amazing adventures WITH him. I can’t wait to journey through our lives TOGETHER. I have traveled to Germany, Portugal, Norway, Romania, Ukraine, Hungary, The Czech Republic, Lavtvia. I’m going to Miami, FL and New York in a few weeks. I’m going to Slovenia and Germany and Poland within the next 12 months. I have tasted different cultures and just because I choose to live where I come from in Ireland doesn’t mean that I’ve ‘settled’. Just because I don’t have an amazing job in an amazing country doesn’t mean I’m not making a difference. I’m doing a PhD in something I’m so passionate about and I have the opportunity to influence local young people’s lives through the youth work in church I’m involved with.

I finally get to move in with my fiance, best friend, true love and soulmate. We get to start our lives together. We get to work for God together.

I can’t wait. I need to stop comparing my life to the lives of others because God has given me MY life and no one else’s. He has a plan for ME and I need to stop insulting my Father God by allowing evil thoughts of jealousy and comparison to creep into my mind and be SO thankful for all the amazing things he has done in my life. He’s brought me from an insecure, miserable, hurting, confused and destructive teenager to a strong young woman who longs to live for him.

I have so much to be thankful for. Father, forgive me for my selfish thoughts. Thank you for the amazing life you’ve provided me with.

Proverbs 14:30

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

Even blogging this today has set me free. I’ve been told my many women, men, young and old about how social media platforms lead them to feel insignificant and not good enough. We need to recognise and be vigilant about the rose-tinted view people portray of their live’s on social media. I’m sure my feed is the same – full of wedding chat and loving my PhD when in reality I’m struggling with a lot of things right now. That’s the side that you don’t see on social media and that is dangerous.

I challenge myself and all of you to transparent in your lives. Admit your struggles. Honesty is key in the Christian community and it is all too common for us to paint on a happy face at all times – especially on a Sunday instead of journeying the hard stuff together. If you’ve experienced anything similar to me I’d love to hear about it in the comments.😘

With love,

L xo

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus

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Picture the scene.

My, then boyfriend, gets down on one knee at our favourite beach – at the end of the pier – waves crashing around us. I am so shocked I can’t speak. We cry. He tries to put the ring on, it doesn’t fit. We laugh. We kiss. Magical.

The next few days are a blur. We visit friends, family, get the ring resized, sit down and ask ourselves the million dollar question-

‘How can we afford this? A wedding?’

We decided we would save and save and keep it a small intimate affair. The reality of the situation though was that we were both still studying, in our early 20s. I had just bought a new car for ÂŁ6000 (around $8,500) which I really needed for my job. And when we sat down to chat about it – the wedding was just the beginning. How could we afford a house? We needed to keep saving to change our cars in the future. Would my fiancĂ© get a job? Would I get a job? What would happen if neither of us could find work? It was overwhelming and I felt hopeless – How were we, penniless students, supposed to start our lives together? We knew waiting too long wasn’t a option either – we don’t believe in living together before marriage and so in order to start our lives marriage had to come first.

It felt like a mountain we wouldn’t be able to overcome. I have to admit, with a heart full of shame, I didn’t have faith that God would provide for us. As I look back on the previous 19ish months of engagement one piece of scripture stands out in my mind – I must have heard it at events, sermons, church etc. at least 20 times over that period and now it is something I have learned to cling to.

‘Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?’ Matthew 6:26

God provides for our every need. In the broadest sense for mankind, God provides for all his children as the sun rises each morning – providing light, heat, allowing flowers and plants to make their food – to feed us. It is something  we so often take for granted. God shows provision in every tiny detail of our lives here on earth. In a more personal sense – God provides for our every need as a person – no matter how small it may seem on the grand scale. In this entry I just wish to share with you some of the ways God has shown my fiancĂ© and I provision over the past almost 2 years, as I reflect upon it myself.

We both finished our studies at university within months of each other – hello unemployment!! My fiancĂ© had dreams of being a youth pastor in a church – and he was oh so gifted with it. We prayed about it – and God provided a church and a job for him  BEFORE he’d even finished his dissertation. We were blown away by it. It meant our financial situation looked so much less dire than it had even a few weeks previously. God provided 2 separate flats near to the church that he had got the job with for us – literally round the corner from each other and within our limited budget. It just felt like God was one step ahead of us each time and provided for our every need. Then one day the call from my fiancĂ©’s landlord came. A family member needed the flat and he had 2 months to find somewhere else and move.

I was upset – why was this happening after everything had seemed to work so well for us? I was worried that he would have to move further away from me – I did not like the thought of living alone when my fiancĂ© was living in a different town. I was struggling to settle into our new lives if I’m honest, and this felt like one final slap in the face.

I remember so clearly, and I doubt I will ever forget how I was driving in my car after having the bad news about my fiancĂ©’s flat. I was so cross at God for letting this happen. I was listening to worship music and I started to cry. I felt God so clearly that night – he stopped my heart right in its tracks and said to me – I will provide for you, have I ever let you down before? Have I left any prayers unanswered?

No, Father God. You have looked after me all my life. I felt so ashamed for even thinking the things I had. I lacked faith that God would continue to provide.

The next 2 weeks passed in a blur. There was no flats close to me that would take him for the short time before the wedding – so we decided to bite the bullet and start looking for our marital home (the wedding was maybe 8 months away at this point). He would live in it alone for those 8 months then I would move in and join him after the wedding. We found one we fell in love with. It was 20 minutes away from my flat which panicked me but I held on to God’s promise that he would provide. We applied and prayed we would get it. The next obstacle in our way was that the house was totally unfurnished and we had no money to furnish it.

Then the magic moment from my Father God happened. We had went to help a family friend with some decorating. She told us she had 2 huge sofas, an arm chair, a foot stool, a lamp, a bed, a mattress and a headboard she wanted to get rid of and she would sell us them for ÂŁ500. I couldn’t believe it – the stuff was practically brand new and worth thousands of pounds. About 10 seconds later (I’m not exaggerating) the estate agent called and told us we had got the house. I stared at my fiancĂ©. He stared at me. My heart cried out in total adoration at the provision God kept pouring on us. I did not feel worthy of His favour but I thanked Him endlessly for it.

This situation really has changed my life and my outlook on my faith in God. I see Him in every tiny aspect of my life now. I have learned to live a life of thanksgiving to Him always because He is the great provider, He is the great answerer of prayer and He is our one and only Saviour. How could you not live a life of thankfulness for all He has done? Looking back on the last 12 months of my life I have learned a crucial lesson of praising God in the storms of life, instead of acting like a spoiled child when things seemed against us the correct response to have would’ve been – thank you God for all we have. I trust in You. I trust that this situation is in Your all powerful hands.

I want to leave you with this passage from 1 Thessalonians:

 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

It is one of my all time favourite passages in the bible. A heart that lives in thanksgiving is a heart that thrives with happiness – something that is altogether very difficult to find in todays world.

I hope this post finds you all well,

 

L xx

 

 

Jesus, Light of the World

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Infringing darkness. Suffocating darkness. Everlasting hope in Jesus Christ. The small rays that start to steep into the darkness and lift its burden slowly. Jesus, Light of the World. Jesus, light of my life, even when the tunnel seems long and dark.

Absolutely dying to be absolutely in love.

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Loving God.

Let me explain where this post has come from, in my heart. Starfield. Great band, some great songs. So I was on the bus on the way to work earlier in the week when their song ‘Absolutely’ came onto my playlist. It’s not a song of theirs I have often listened to, but as I listened one of the lines in the chorus stopped my heart dead in its tracks:

Jesus, You have me completely
Every breath that I breathe
I am absolutely in love

It got me thinking. Am I, this busy twenty-something, ABSOLUTELY in love with Jesus? The honest answer from my heart is no, and I am not proud to admit that. The truth of the matter is that my heart aches to be totally, desperately, uncontrollably, absolutely in love with Jesus; yet if I’m honest my hearts not there yet.

As a Christian community I think we throw the words ‘I love Jesus’ around a lot but do many of us ever stop to really think about what it is to love God? Think about your own church, your own youth group, your own prayers. How often do you end your prayers with an  absent-minded ‘I love you Jesus’. How often is the interlude in a group prayer ‘We love you Jesus’. I challenge you to challenge your own hearts by asking, how often do I really consider what it means to be in love with Jesus. To be IN love with Jesus.

Please don’t get me wrong, I love Jesus, I do. Jesus has saved my life and continues to bless me so richly, but I want more. I want my love for Jesus to consume me. I want my heart to be so full of love for Jesus that it is fit to burst. I want to feel like I need to shout it from the roof tops. As I write this blog, I can feel my heart filling with love already and I am so praising God for challenging me to love Him harder.

All of this prompted me to search in the bible for what it really means to love Jesus. I want to share with you what I found, briefly though cause I really feel like this is not a theological question to answer, rather than an issue to be addressed through examining our own hearts in an honest manner and seeking to change our hearts.

Matthew 22 tells us that the greatest commandment is to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind’. One thing I never though about this verse was the separate entities of heart/soul/mind. To me, the mind is a very conscious thing. To be ‘mindful’ of something to be very conscious of it. Therefore, we must be mindful of our love for Jesus – we must choose to love Him, we must choose to be overcome with love for Him.

When dealing with love of the heart, I am reminded once again to come back to the song which prompted this entire thought process in my head. The lyrics read;

No one is as lovely as You are
And there is no one else
Who has my heart

This made me think of my relationship with my soon-to-be husband. Do I give him my heart before I give my heart to Jesus? This really challenged me, placing Jesus above each other as a priority is something that, if I’m honest, I don’t think we’ve been very good at. It’s something I want to improve – and I call you all to challenge yourselves – who gets your heart first? Do you love Jesus as actively and deeply as you do your partner? This is something I’m still committing to prayer – I seek to need Jesus more than I need the embrace of my fiancĂ© after a hard day.

Jesus replied; ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.

My Father will love them and we will come to them

and make our home with them.

Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.

These words you hear are not my own; they belong to my Father who sent me’.

Loving Jesus is not a feeling – it is action. It is living everyday for Him. It is obeying His commandments, it is loving His people and it is placing Him above everything and everyone. It is setting your eyes on the Father’s heart and not looking left or right.

My prayer tonight;

Thank you Jesus for loving me. Thank you for loving me, bound by the chains of the world, battered, broken, bruised. Thank you for saving me. Help me to love you more everyday. Help me to become ABSOLUTELY in love with you.

I invite you to join in with this prayer. I’ll admit it was not easy to come to the conclusion that I feel I don’t love God like I should, I feel great shame. Loving God is not as easy as proclaiming it at church. It is living it everyday.

L xox

“My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
And the swallow a nest for herself where she may lay her young—
Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in Your house.” 

You alone are my God

you are my strength, you are my song. You are my path in the darkness, in the vines and chains that surround me, you are my release. Your light surrounds my every anxiety, it touches the deepest darkest parts of my heart that I won’t even allow myself to see. Thank you God for invading my heart this week. Thank you for saving me; you have not abandoned me in my most defiant and darkest hours. I’m coming running, again.

You are my song. I will sing it for every day you gift me with on this earth. Praise the King, praise my Father.

My soul is awakened and refreshed. You are the King.

Lost and Exhausted

I want to apologise for my lack of activity here lately guys. I’m in the midst of my finals and I am SO exhausted.. To the point I feel totally empty and drained. Just another 10 days or so to go.

As for the lost part, it’s probably best you don’t ask. This is such a depressing post, I do realise this!

I would appreciate so much any prayer you would like to offer, and if you are going through something similar, even if you’re not, comment any prayer requests an I’d be happy to pray for you.

I hope to be back soon

L x