The War On Insecurity – Our 4 Pronged Attack!

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“There will always be someone willing to hurt you, put you down, gossip about you, belittle your accomplishments and judge your soul. It is a fact that we all must face. However, if you realize that God is a best friend that stands beside you when others cast stones you will never be afraid, never feel worthless and never feel alone.”
― Shannon L. Alder

The signs of a life marked out by God is a life marked out by God; recognising and activating His Word and spirit in our lives, in every situation, every day. Why do we find it easy to pray for our work situations, pray over our children, trust God for our futures but when we’re paralysed by insecurity we lean into it and succumb to the impact on our lives and those around us?

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.; In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov 3:5,6

The feeling of insecurity is not wrong, it hits us all at the most surprising times but the test comes in our reaction to that feeling, what are you going to do with the way you are feeling right now?

Here’s the truth girls; we’re not called to feel anything less about ourselves than what God thinks and feels about us. I loved hearing Margaret Stunt talk about this at our women’s conference a couple of years ago; she strongly called us out on ‘insulting’ God on doubting His craftsmanship and creativity, He made us in His image, knitted us together perfectly yet we grumble, doubt and deliberate whether He has done a good enough job. Your Father is the master craftsman; His hands formed you, loved you, shaped you and put His destiny in your heart. You are incredible girl and it’s time to start believing it!

Now, I’m trying to speak beyond learning to love that mole on your cheek or your 5’2″ fully grown stature; a message you may have heard at your youth conference a few years ago (wink); I want to delve into the secret place; the hopelessness, the confusion and the silent sick feeling of I don’t match up to the rest of the world. It’s a lie and it’s time to throw it back in the enemy’s face, stand up straight, eyes on the Father and walk wholeheartedly into this overflowing life you’ve been called to.

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The feeling and sound of insecurity is a ‘voice’; we’ll call it an IV (insecurity voice); it’s not real but it’s often loud, but you girl can silence it and you can practice this today!

Isaiah 54 is our ultimate silencer – learn this scripture and stamp down on that IV; NO weapon, no lie, no crazy soul-destroying voice will rise up against me, it will NOT prosper and it will be shown the way home. We can not live like this any longer; time to blast that IV away!

But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong. Isaiah 54:17

So here is our 4 pronged attack when the IV is loud in our life:

  • Recognise it – call it what it is, even tell a friend “my IV is loud today”
  • Speak to it; (King David did this a lot) – speak to your soul, tell yourself ‘this is not who am, I will not let this affect what I’m supposed to do today and I will not let if affect how I treat the people around me’
  • Apply the Word; it never returns void, it’s living and active and ALWAYS does what it is sent out to do. As soon as you confess God’s Word over your IV, it will flee! Try this list for starters.
  • Pray. Paul, in the book of Philippians instructs to not be anxious, pray about everything and then peace will guard our heart and our mind! Wow – there it is, right there, our tool to not only silence our IV but guard us from it rearing its head again!

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Phil 4:6-7

Check out part 1 of our insecurity series here.

Fighting Insecurity – Time to Win!

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I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. Isaiah 41:9-10

It’s time my friends – I’m calling you out on this business of insecurity and the way it’s eating you up inside everyday. Listen up to mama Leah, I’m 40 now so you have to (smile), pull up a chair, let me fill your coffee cup and let’s talk.

I’m going to break this series into 3 parts so we can process together, learn from God’s Word and make some changes that could radically change our lives!

The raging war against comparison and insignificance is seemingly at its peak right now but we’re about to bring it down; I’m fighting for you, I’m praying for you and this will NOT rule you any longer. Life is too short and too precious to be sapped by insecurity; it’s a total waste of time, energy and attention and it has.to.STOP!

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When you stop living your life based on what others think of you real life begins. At that moment, you will finally see the door of self acceptance opened. ― Shannon L. Alder

I could start by telling you that you’re beautiful, you ARE enough and that God loves you just as you are (all of which are true) but your heart and your head has to believe it. Maybe you’re not at your physical peak right now (wink), maybe you’re at the breastfeeding, three months postpartum phase where nothing fits, everything is hanging out, the babymoon has worn off and you’re lucky if you manage to get a shower never mind blow dry your hair! Maybe you’re heartbroken, beaten down or discouraged by very real situations; being told by me that you’re beautiful by me doesn’t quite hit it does it?

But something has to change! You can’t go on avoiding gatherings where other women are present and you instantly feel intimidated, you can’t allow social media to put you in a stinking, bad mood everyday just because you scrolled your way through someone else’s seemingly ‘perfect’ world, you can’t go on gossiping, quietly seething or judging others on the 1% of their life you just so happened to ‘see’. It’s eating you up and it has to end!

Before I go on, let me let you into a secret; Instagram, Facebook and blogs are mostly snippets of life and loveliness in someone’s day. I genuinely don’t believe that these beautiful daily gallery exhibits are trying to tell you ‘I’m perfect’, they’re sharing soul and creating memories. We all face laundry, tantrums, bad hair days and chaos but it’s too ‘normal’ (and slightly boring really) to tell the world about so instead we choose to photograph the morning light catching the edge of our recovery cup of coffee after we’ve dealt with the second tantrum that day, right?

I genuinely don’t believe that these beautiful daily gallery exhibits are trying to tell you ‘I’m perfect’, they’re sharing soul and creating memories.

There are many real and raw issues in my home and daily dire but you know it because you have them too! Once you remember and believe that about ‘Miss IG’ with her crusty homemade bread and tea cups (totally me, I know I know) then maybe we can move on?

You’ve heard it before, ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ which is true but it’s so much more. Insecurity changes who you are because of how you view yourself, which impacts how you see others, and in turn affects how you treat other people; hurt people, hurt people. Fact!

Insecurity changes who you are because of how you view yourself, which impacts how you see others, and in turn affects how you treat other people.

So before we move on into part 2 and 3 with further insight, some bible and a bunch of top tips here’s a question for you:

What would you (and your day) look like if you weren’t struggling with insecurity?  How would you feel? What would you do? How would you be around other people? What would you achieve?

Write down your answers and come back for part 2 next week; we’re going to talk about how to be the ‘Leading Lady’ in your own life!

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out – Romans 12: 2 (The Message)

Less Balance And More Crowd Control!

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If you’re interested in ‘balancing’ work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead make your work more pleasurable.

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I’ve never been particularly ‘fitness’ inclined; I did start a gymnastics class when I was a child and achieved a couple of ‘Coca Cola’ badges for my mum to sew onto my leotard (which I proudly annoyingly pronounced ‘Leah-tard’) but I just think the instructors felt sorry for me! I mean why balance on a bar when you can walk around the room?

I still feel the same today; I’m a little more aware of the need to intentionally work-out my body everyday but I’d still rather walk around a room than balance on a bar, a box or a tightrope!

The seasons of our life ebb and flow over the years; some come in like a crashing wave and knock us to the ground, others gently tickle our toes as a reminder things are changing. The problem with ‘finding balance’ in our lives is the need to repeat the wobbly, eyes to your toes bit over and over again. Balance can only last for a few moments, or if you’re really good a bit longer but no matter how great of a acrobat you are, eventually, everyone falls off, or has to get off.

So let’s keep our feet firmly on the ground and eyes fixed on Jesus, let’s assess the space that God has given us; look around the room, have we been invaded by unnecessary responsibilities, have people been ‘fly tipping’ or dumping in our protected area? Or do we just need to rearrange a little?

Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

Matt 11: 28 – 29

Crowd Control

I am an introvert; I only discovered this in my 30’s which helped me greatly to understand why I felt so exhausted after a big event, party or church gathering. According to the Myers Briggs test I’m an INFJ (Introversion, iNtuition, Feeling and Judging); I can do the loud and the crowd, but only for short spurts of time, only if I can escape of my own accord (with a book – wink), and only if I can energise alone either before or after.

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This is me!

I don’t like being crowded out in any sphere of my life. About 12 years ago Dave and I were doing some exhibition work in London promoting our graphic design company we ran at the time. We had to ride the tube at rush hour to commute to the venue over the few days we were there. I’ve never experienced anything like it and HATED it! Just as you thought the person stood next to you was pressed close enough to your ear the train would stop at another station and a whole new load of people would get on.

Being crowded out is no fun for anyone, infact it becomes dangerous and hence the need at large events for ‘crowd control’.

Maybe it’s time for some crowd control in our lives; stop shoving yourself in the corner and letting the responsibilities of the day suck you up. YOU have responsibility for your own life, own it, lead it and take control again!

Remember, God has brought you to a place of space and you have room to grow, be fruitful and move in the land. He wants you to learn the unforced rhythms of grace; nothing forced, nothing heavy – and you’re not teetering on your tiptoes waiting to fall off; you just need to apply a little crowd control to your space.

“The willingness to show up changes us, It makes us a little braver each time.”
― Brené Brown

 

If you missed last week’s thoughts on ‘balance’ you can read it here.

Finding Balance (dispelling the myth)

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“We are not what we know but what we are willing to learn.”
― Mary Catherine Bateson

So  maybe this is all a matter of semantics, but I’m pretty sensitive when it comes to language; I’m aware of the impact words have on the way we see and live out our very precious lives.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading, research and periscope viewing around issues of time management and organisation; I’m always looking to tweak my methods and shape my very full life more effectively. I’ve become overly aware of the term ‘balance’ and that as women and mothers we somehow have to find it!

When I picture balance I see me walking with a horizontal pole in my hand walking a very fine line (high in the sky) with the possibility of falling off at any one time. That’s not how I want to live my life.

So please excuse me as I process with you and share my developing thoughts on this motherhood ‘myth’ of balance over a couple of blog posts. Are you in?

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As for me, I am in your hands, do with me as you think best – Jeremiah 26:14

I guess I want to change and challenge the language we use; I want us to consider our journey with God in the fact that He brings us to a wide and spacious place to move, dance and shape our lives with our eyes fixed on Him, the author and perfecter of our faith.

…keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance –  1 Thessalonians 4: 1-3

When Isaac was redigging the wells (Gen 26); after many miles, attempts and arguments they finally dug a well without any dispute and Isaac named the well ‘Rehoboth’ and declared “at last the LORD has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.”

God wants you to move, flourish and prosper in His plan for your life; the question is not ‘can I find balance’, the  question is ‘does this fit in my space right now’. Am I bold enough to put down a dream, an aspiration or additional work for a season because it clearly doesn’t not fit in the space God has given me?

Let’s imagine our life as a room; a big beautiful well designed one at that, and place into your room all that you’re working on, involved in and responsible for at this time. How does it feel? Are you squashed mama? Can you move freely in that living, spirited dance? Can you see clearly? No? Then something needs to leave?

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Over my 13 years of mothering I’ve tried to force ‘dreams’ into my space alongside babies, breastfeeding and minimal amounts of sleep; the result? Exhaustion, feeling inconvenienced by normal life and ultimately left me feeling frustrated. In some seasons it took a smack in the face to stop me in my driven tracks and slow down, in others, a gentle reminder from the Holy Spirit of what my priorities were.

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God has expanded my space as my children have got older, yes, I’ve had to rearrange, de-clutter and throw away ‘things’ from my room…but I’m going to tell you more about that next week!

So for now, let’s stop talking about trying to get ‘balance’ – God didn’t intend for your life to feel like a cumbersome package you have to carry whilst tip-toeing along a high-rope. God has brought you today to a wide, open space; a space that you’re able to move in, walk around in and hey even dance in if you dare!

There is more than enough room in my Father’s home – John 14:2

Swallow or Red Arrow – Which One Are You?

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Consistently do things at the same time everyday and find yourself a new person. Ann Voskamp

I’m just going to put it out there; I don’t like the term ‘networking’, I don’t! Although I appreciate the need for it in business and commerce, it just speaks of fast and shallow and temporary and a self-filled motive for ‘connecting’ with other human beings. The older I get (smile) the more I appreciate the slow cooked kind of life; the deeply seasoned souls that linger for longer.

I like journey and community and long heart filled conversations that take you past the comfort zone and into that, as C.S Lewis said so well, “what! You too? I thought no one but myself”

“Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”” C. S. Lewis

Before we left the Lincolnshire show ground recently after an amazing 5 days at the ONE Event I was watching two spectacular displays in the sky; the Red Arrows practicing their routines and a group of swifts gathering before they began their travels back to Africa. As I watched, took photographs and pointed out each spectacular move to my children I was challenged as to which one of those sky dwellers I’d rather be.

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You see, the Red Arrows are fast and noisy and leave cool colourful marks in the sky; they are world-renowned for their displays of precision and excellence and are guaranteed to wow any crowd.  But the things is, they are pretty temporary sky inhabitants, they only travel as far as the eye can see (what would be the point of flying where the crowd couldn’t see you?) and they are mechanical creations flown by men. Once the pilot steps out they are mere metal eye candy for the aircraft enthusiast.

Swifts and swallows take to the sky with grace and dignity; they gather and dance in loops in the skies above our heads throughout the summer and are a common sight in barns across the British countryside.  Swallows inherently know how to take to the skies; they know how to travel together, how to gather before they take the long journey, they have patterns and rhythms of behaviour that mark their lives. They fly beyond our sight and their journey takes them beyond our shores for a season, but we know they will  be back. That speaks to me of beauty and integrity.

We can so often mistake rhythm and routine as mundane, but life on repeat goes deep. I want to pursue a depth of living and loving that goes far beyond the motives of personal appearance and public status; I want to truly say ‘it is well with my soul’.

Life on repeat goes deep

I recently read Emily Bronte’s final words which her sister published as a poem; the opening line is ‘no coward soul is mine’ and it hit me hard. It hit me because on her death-bed she could confidently declare that even to the core of her very soul she was no coward, there was no fear – but that takes work right?

If I’m spending more time on my public appearance, my social status and ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’ my life will only be skin deep; but it’s the moments and seasons in the fringe hours, the quiet corners of prayer, the reading and writing and negative thought fighting, that builds my spirit, ignites my soul and radiates from within; that’s what the world will see, Jesus.

Salt doesn’t have to work to bring taste, light doesn’t have to fight to shine in the darkness, it just does because it’s who it is.

You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. Matt 5:13 – 16 (MSG)

I want to take to the heights in the midst of community; I want to move in the seasons of God, ordained by Him. I want rhythm and patterns that deepen my years, strengthen my soul and bring light and meaning to the world.

I want to be a swallow, not a red arrow!

Beauty and Bravery – Time to Take Flight!

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A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness.
John Keats

It has been almost 35 years since I sat on my bottom bunk bed with my older brother and ‘asked Jesus into my heart’; it was probably 11 years later that I realised deeply and personally what that really meant. And I did mean it. I couldn’t imagine life any other way. Not a day had gone by when I hadn’t heard of the greatness of God, seen the reality of it in my parents simple but beautiful life and heard them singing of His praises. How could I not hunger for that life and love and passion?

So here I am, almost 40 years old and the hunger is deep, some days ravenous, to connect and engage with the sound and activity of heaven; to extend His kingdom here on earth and to navigate and activate an unquenchable longing to disciple and lead others into His love.

Just this morning I was discussing with my children the need to tell others about Jesus; my 6 year old declared “how will people know if we don’t tell them?”, and he’s right – that’s why we named him Micah Hudson; after Hudson Taylor, a man of mission, vision and passion to reach the world for Jesus!

And then we read Psalm 19…

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

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How incredible that God’s design is one of revelation and declaration through the beauty and wonder of His creation. And we are coworkers with His handiwork. The rhythm and seasons of this luscious land He placed us in work in harmony with the woven intricacies of our  senses. We can see, hear, taste, feel and breathe deeply of our creators proclamation!

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Then we, His people, also reflect the Masters brushstrokes, despite our brokenness; we reveal the Potters shape, form and hand moulded curves, despite our cracks and delicate creases. And it’s not always how we first appear but it’s what we reveal that speaks of the ‘work of His hands’. Just as a resting butterfly with closed wings can seem so plain, dull and dark –  just as you’ve almost passed it by, camouflaged by its surroundings, it takes flight; colour and shape and pattern flash before your eyes as this creature reveals  beauty in flight.

You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act.

Matt 17:16

There’s a time when hunger, passion and life must take flight to reveal beauty. It’s time to use our voice to reveal and declare the faithful and satisfying love of the Father. There’s a time to lay aside what could be and might be and what they think  I might be, there’s a time to be finally free. There are those who are sitting, and resting. There are those who are brave enough to take flight.

“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Luke 19:40

I’m ready to fly

When you don’t know what to pray

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Never before has there been a time when we have been subject to so much visual stimuli. We’re not wired to process these harsh images that our eyes scan and soak daily. Words and pictures of other people’s lives and worlds that we can choose to switch on and off to as we so please. And then there comes an earthquake, rioting and beheadings dotted like pins on a map and I can’t.not.notice. I can’t not stop and pay attention to my reaction. My heart aches and yearns to know why and who and what can I do.

And as mothers, daughters and sisters live through the onslaught there are those who report and those who resort to public comments and payments and prayers.

People say they’re thankful that they live here and not there. Some call this ‘blessed’. I’m sure that’s a matter of perspective; such an overused word that I find hard to hear in these times. An Iraqi woman on the run finding bread for her hungry babes is blessed. A Nepalese mother amongst the desolate destruction still feeling the breath of her daughter against her cheek is blessed. As as those who cling to God.

And where they saw rhododendrons they now see rubble and reality has taken a sharp corner as life adjusts with a blink of an eye in a treacherous storm.

When Father Greg Boyle gets asked ‘what can I do’ in reference to his incredible ministry with gang members in LA his answer is ‘kinship’. Find commonality amongst the people, bridge the divide between ‘them and us’. I thought about this today as I considered other mothers of 4 in these pin point lands struggling to see another day through. I can’t reach in with my arms or pots of tea, I can’t hold their children and wash their clothes but I can reach out with my prayers; and even though I’m grasping for words and truth and hope I know my prayers will availeth much. The enemy wants to kill, steal and destroy our seemingly small efforts but we can move mountains today.

Mary Oliver said that real prayers are not the words, but the attention that comes first. I think both flow and bind together but today I am paying attention. I’m deciding to not just merely be thankful that it’s not me but I’m standing in the place of those who have no voice today.

So I quiet my questions, turn my heart and bend my knee and pray for those like me.

Father God; even though so much has changed, you never change. You are faithful and good and kind. Bring streams of peace in these deserts of despair, help my sisters breathe through their grief and see you. Be the lifter of their heads; bring direction, wisdom and words in many shapes and forms. Bring relief, sleep and deep love. Bring help, clothes, nappies and food. Bring medical supplies, may babies in utero live to hear the stories of freedom and survival and may breastfeeding mothers continue to nourish their babes. Lord may those who have travelled to help not grow weary in doing good, may they see Jesus through the fog of need and hurt.

Help me pay attention Lord. For you alone deserve the glory.

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven

Psalm 107:28-30

Bittersweet

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I’m taking that piece of 85% decadent dark chocolate full of flavonols and flavour and I’m biting down hard because it’s good and full and rich – and a little bit bitter.

This morning I woke up to a 6 year old using my butt as a pillow, an almost 4 year old with freakishly long legs casually strewn across our king size bed like she owned it and a dog nudging my arm with his wet nose to get my attention – and somewhere through this repeated reprize of yesterday was my husband, inching his way out of the bed in an attempt to start his day.

But it’s not like I ask for the uncomfortable holding on to the edge of the bed kind of nights but I don’t fight them. And this post isn’t about my organic parenting style, I think it’s about love and leadership and the sacrificial matrix of mayhem and melody that we, that I live in – in abundance!

The ‘familiar’ taste of bittersweet in our wide open mouths continues to take us by surprise as we navigate holding that longed for child as they cry sleepless for the 4th night in a row; we clutch our caffeine laden cup and offer thanks through tired eyes, or the prayed for on knelt knees growing church gathering of broken, laid out lives that require our time and leading and laid down life again and again.

Dickens describes a period like this as being “the best of times and the worst of times”; that polarised place of passion and pain, beauty and blackouts, an epoch of the ever present elation and ache. And I’m not being ‘cup half full’; may it never be! I’m taking that piece of 85% decadent dark chocolate full of flavonols and flavour and I’m biting down hard because it’s good and full and rich – and a little bit bitter.

This parenting, this people leading, this leaning-in requires all of me being all present in the process. I’m ‘all in’ despite the achy muscles the morning after, the pounding heart after helping someone make a fresh-start; the sacrifice of time and home and neat and ever sweet is wrapped in arms of fully loving, embracing and chasing what He fully meant when He said ‘and life in abundance’.

Hannah walked the long road to the Temple clutching Samuels hand; sweating, heart racing, doubting but in knowing readiness to release him into the fulness and promises of God; the parting song of her heart was “my heart rejoices in the Lord…”. As Mary received the news of God’s choosing; she considered what she was ‘losing’ and declared ‘be it unto me as you have said’, and Jesus, in the garden – voiced without pardon “not my will but yours be done”.

And this is our life; we don’t ask for the clutching onto the edge hard stuff – but we don’t fight it. We step fully inside, we walk the path, we consider and breath deeply, we give thanks and allow God’s ‘higher ways’ and our sweat and tears to shape and form who we fully are. His.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also – Matthew 6:21