Thursday, 29 November 2012

Do you ask yourself the hard questions.....

This Sunday I couldn't believe it when I walked into church and the talk was on 'Hunger for God' - mainly because it summed up exactly what was on my heart the last few weeks and in which I felt challenged about ...... anyways Christian who was talking showed this video at the start and it made me laugh so many times I'd thought I'd share it on here!!! So take a watch......

Skit Guys - What Keeps You From Following God? from skitguys on GodTube.

Since arriving here in the states but particularly the last week or so I've been contemplating over ideas around what it means to be content...... To be content in ALL circumstance..... why I don't always feel like this.... what is it that I need to work on that I'd at least be heading in the right direction??!

As I reflect now on life back in the UK which was action packed and full with many roles (and in which I 'felt' content most of the time!) -  as wife, mum of four, church leadership, friend, administrator, daughter, sister, school PTA..... I'm aware of how lots of 'things' got added to the mix and I thought it was ok - just one more thing - but I wasn't aware in the moment of how all those little things soon affected the overall life I was leading. How easy it is to loose focus of 'THE' most important thing, the thing that without you actually become ineffective at everything else you do......

Since arriving here in the states my life is VERY different in terms of 'things to do' - I've gone from a focus driven life to one that is more like a blank canvas. It of course its not totally 'blank' (I have four kids for crying out loud ??!) but it looks very different. And although the difference on many levels is hard for my personality type if I'm honest its brought home the hard reality that in actual fact where I once made 'excuses' for not always prioritising quality time and I mean 'quality' with God I can no longer make these..... I now have had all the other stuff stripped and the ugly truth that my hunger for God is not as I would actually want it to be has come very much the surface!! Do I long to just be with him?  To give him worship? Is the one thing I seek actually to dwell in his presence?  Am I content with just doing this? There was once a time in my life when I could have said yes to these questions and been much more close to honest that if I was to say yes now...... gradually the little things snuck in, have slowly but surely zapped some of the hunger away, and given a false sense of being content.

Its hard truth..... I don't like it much..... but I know that in this season I have something very precious..... I have time and space to reassess - to breathe and almost take a sabbatical from all the things that I feel called to do -  but for someone who is goal driven and likes to always have some my goal for right now is to reignite a hunger for God that is non negotiable and that fuels everyday and everything I set my hand to. Its not going to just reappear.... its going to take discipline to carve time daily..... its going to take discipline to make good choices despite how I feel or how many other things are calling my name BUT I know God's agenda is with me on this one... right?!.... because He longs and would love nothing more! I know deep in my heart this hunger is going to go deeper than ever before - that I need to go to deeper levels with God to know Him and love him so that I have any chance of walking wherever he'd have me/us go next. But He's good and although its hard I'm excited.

So I'm starting by taking up the challenge set to us this past Sunday at church by Christian (one of the pastors at Vineyard Christian fellowship) - to take time ( could even be just 10 mins depending on where you're at with this stuff) every day for 30 days (leads up to Christmas eve!) to have time where you just dwell with God - no endless talking with requests but time to be. Sounds easy and yet so many of us seem to forget - or maybe its just me!! And I'm hoping I wont be looking to give it up once Christmas hits either (:

So if you're reading this I dare you to ask the tough be real and honest before God.... He won't judge or condemn you or make you feel guilty - He wants YOU.... He jealous for YOU.... He wants to be the love of your life with whom you can't imagine not spending time with because He has so much he wants to share with you, so many treasures to surprise you with. Nothing is 'actually' more important in the grand scheme of things!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Wanna come on a rollercoaster?!

This is the first time since our arrival here in the States this past tuesday that I've had the chance or maybe more been able to even contemplate sitting down to write.... it still feel so far from real that we've made it to this side of the journey and after the rollar coaster of the last five or so days I think its going to take a long time to really sink in! 

(be warned its kind long....)

Happy boys on the flight!
But yes we made it. We had a great last few days in England saying goodbyes to family and friends - hard but good times were had with precious memories made to take forward with us. Our flight was smooth and the kids were outstanding. It never ceases to amaze me on hindsight how great a little crew we have when it comes to travel. Four kids, eight bags and two slightly haggled grown ups made it across the pond relatively unscathed! We were warmly welcomed with open arms by Steve parents and really I felt we would have made an excellent video clip for 'Love Actually's' airport arrival scenes as the kids ran at full pelt along the international arrival corridor with squeals at the sight of their Nanny and Papa. For me after pulling myself together on the flight itself after several tears driving to the airport and leaving the UK the tears came flooding to the surface again on landing in Philadelphia...... the exhaustion it seems overriding my defences which allowed emotions to ride high as the realisation of landing in my 'new home' set in. It wasn't on reflection 'sad' tears as such but just tears which I couldn't hold back much to the amusement of my beloved husband!!

And now we've been here for five days. And I thought I'd share a little 'all-over-the-place' insight into whats been going on!

Trae having snuggles with his cousin Silas
We've got unpacked and tried to make our rooms at Steve's parents cosy and home like for us. We attempted to get mobile phones but failed. Steve bought a truck much to his delight ( but it took him 5 hours at a car dealership dealing with paperwork!). We got the girls to their new school for a visit and have completed the mammoth shopping trip for uniforms and school supplies. We sorted banking and social security stuff. We've had dinner with Steve's whole family and had a lot of fun playing with cousins everyday. We've drunk a lot of coffee (wahoo... loving being in the land of French vanilla and hazlenut flavoured coffees!) and enjoyed lots of blue skies and sunshine with cool autumn air!  Its been so lovely to be around family again and this is proving to be a huge bonus as we expected. But if I'm truly honest its been hard even amid all the great stuff. Really hard. Emotionally harder than I thought. Logistically way harder. We hadn't realised just how much 'credit ratings' play into everything here. And this came as a blow. We haven't got mobiles contracts despite 5 attempts because our credit is 0 (obviously as we havent lived here before!). It took Steve 5 hours at the car dealership because despite wanting to buy his truck with cash, he had to get a small loan to try and establish some credit and when your credit is 0 this proves virtually impossible. Even car insurance relates to credit??  This news is also hard hitting when you were hoping to buy a house in the not so distant future but need a decent score before they consider you for a mortgage - all the more frustrating when you know you've got a great credit score in the UK which apparently is irrelevant. So for sure the logistics are boring but its they have taken us by surprise and left us feeling a bit frustrated. These practicalities have been overwhelming particularly for me (the one who likes to get stuff done and know what shes doing!). Never have I felt quite like this. A bit lost and weird. Out of place and useless in understanding how to help. Stupid even. Dependent. Like I'm not really here or actually walking this road! Like I need to pinch myself..... but I know I am here.  I know this is really happening! 

Its been hard too as a parent. The last five days I've seen the extremes of all my kids personalities in a way I wish I hadn't had to. Every night I've tucked one of them in bed sobbing uncontrollably with the uncertainty that they face. Every night I tell them 'I know' because most nights I have shed tears too.... and have felt the loneliness they try to communicate. Every night I feel lost as to know how to help and so all I can do is bring it all to Jesus. Never have I asked so often for the holy spirit to fill us up and reveal His peace to each area of fear and worry. Every night I go to bed saddened at my weaknesses and failures in my lack of patience and every night so far I've felt at a bit of a lost as to know how best to care for each of them well as their mum. Every night so far I pray that tomorrow will come with new mercies. And so far ....guess what .....we've walked a new day and made it to the end again in one piece - God is BIG, God is gentle and gracious, and thankfully God inspired the making of dairy milk chocolate and great british tea (phew)!!!! 

Since getting here I have read every single morning and evening the scripture God gave me right at the start of this journey to remind me of our reason for being here. Everyday I wake up and am having to start my day throwing myself into Jesus, asking, pleading with God to sustain me, give me confidence, endurance, patience and grace to keep walking, to keep trusting and to not lean on my understanding of circumstances but to trust that just as He so clearly led us here and miraculously pulled the timing and every logistic into place to bring us here, that He is still that same God who walks with me/us on this side of the pond. He does not change! On the last Sunday at G2 before we came here, a stranger came up and gave me a picture they felt God gave them for us about the start of our time in the states being stormy, that the waves would feel big and somewhat scary, but that just as Jesus calmed the waves in the bible, He would calm the waves for us too..... that we just needed to trust Him. Little did I know then just how powerful an image that picture would prove to be! 

I guess if I'm honest my expectation was that I would feel great on arrival and excited. I expected to feel homesick and distant from friends further down the road. I thought I wouldn't feel this 'weird' or lost feeling for a while. So its come as a surprise that these first five days have been like being on a roller coaster that makes you feel sick, that you want to get off of but you know you can't and actually once you get to the end if you're like me you actually look back and loved it and want to go again! I know its hard, I know it will probably get harder but I know in the end it will be great..... and even now its good even though I can't feel it. And I hope this doesn't come across as all doom and gloom!...... because thats definitely not the case. Its just been an unexpected roller coaster so far and I am so thankful for so many things amid the difficulties that have come our way so far..... 

I'm so thankful for knowing God. So thankful for a humble loving husband to walk this journey with. So thankful for my little family. So thankful for our extended family. So thankful for the unexpected little blessings like walking into the supermarket and bumping into family friends who were there buying us welcome goodies! So thankful for the sun and beautiful surroundings. So thankful for laughter and snuggles and quiet whispers. So thankful for being alive and all the incredible blessings we have in our life that when we stop to take in put life into perspective. 

..... thankful...... 

So there you have it. Maybe its not the exciting adventure story start you were expecting. Maybe it is. But this is it..... at day five in my journey of living stateside xx.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

'THIS DAY' has arrived.......

I'm sat at our dining room table for the last time here on British soil, as all around me the moving company are packing our things. SO I though thought on this significant day I'd grab a moment to write (but I'll apologise now if this is all jumbled and makes no sense. (;).  'This' day has finally arrived. We've been working towards it for the last six months and if I'm truly honest I can't believe its actually here. In some ways its a relief, because I'm not sure how much longer I could keep living in high paced to do list mode and  the height of emotions that the last few weeks has brought..... but..... this is it. The end of an era. The end of the huge part of our lives......our York season. I feel sick. I feel sad. I feel a bit numb honestly. And in the midst of this I also feel an inc ling of excitement brewing desperately trying to rise up from inside.....trying to burst through all the other emotions because underlying I know we're doing the right thing. There is ultimately a deep peace we're doing what we are suppose to do (even if I have to keep telling myself this because I can't feel it strongly right at this minute in time!!).

Home at 224 Hamilton Drive!
The packing process is good though right?! (maybe not the stresses that come with it - could do without those!)..... but actually today amid the muddle of feelings its made me realise our home is where we are.... Home is not the house and how it looks itself because it no longer looks like our home.... but that actually if we have each other, our little team of six, we have our home wherever we are in the world. Its not about our stuff, so I've stopped stressing whether something gets packed, lost or broken. Its not about our physical house, because we'll find another and that will become our home just like this one did. Its about the people in our lives, the people we love deeply and share life everyday with - if I have these people..... we are home. And so honestly this is why its hard to leave York, because more than my little family, our friends have become family, and leaving so many people who've become family to us is what causes the unsettled feelings. THIS is the heart wrenching reality that's rubbish. But we feel loved, we feel so so so cheered on despite the tears and heartache, and that's how we know we have friends, true friends, because they believe in us and whats right for us, and so despite not wanting us to go have been super stars at cheering us on.......and so tomorrow when we set off in our car, inside will be the Mulrooney team who together can face anything...... The packing process is bringing a finish, closure and helpful realisations to be able to leap out and take the big jump we've signed up for!
My team of Six!!

So for now beautiful York and all the people who live within you its goodbye. Its been an incredible journey, a time of many beautiful treasured moments, many tears and heartache, many firsts and lasts -  you are a place I will always treasure in my heart....

Here's to new beginnings, new challenges, the ups and downs and the next step in the adventure


Wednesday, 10 October 2012

I'm not a super human!

A few people have asked me in the last few days how I'm doing with everything ( and by everything they mean this 'big move' - changing countries thing we are just weeks off doing)...... and I find myself in that moment having no idea how to explain.... my response if often that I've never experienced so many contradictory emotions at once, that I'm excited and counting the cost at the same time..... but internally I'm exploding in a way thats beyond words and can't really be explained..... and when today we exchanged contracts on our house for whatever reason it was this that popped my bubble of emotions and the tears have flowed. SO if you happen to see me today watch out (; 

I think often I can unintentionally come across like all is fine.... like I'm some kind of super human (someone called me this yesterday??!)........ and when I think about why this is I think its more that I'm someone for who truth is of high value, so even when I'm feeling stuff I try to hold onto the truth amid all the feelings - 'strength can also be your greatest weakness' right?!' So I decided to blog today and be real about the very real fears...... the losses that my heart is grieving...... that even in the midst of the many joys here are the things that bring tears even as I write...... time for me to give a little space to be honest and allow a little sneak preview into the hard bits..... so here goes....

I'm scared of the intensity of emotion. Of looking people in the eye to say goodbye because in every set of eyes of the people I love there are stories, emotions.. there's irreplaceable history. I'm scared because we just exchanged contracts on our house yesterday - we really are moving - we really are doing this thing - there's no get out clause now.... yes any denial is not possible anymore!! My heart is heavy to leave the memories of our 'home' where both our boys were born, where there have been so many firsts, so many ups, downs and everyday, so many tears, so many laughs, so many friends and more than anything the place where each of us has grown a little more into the people we are today - our family.
I'm scared for things to change - despite loving change ( and on one hand the challenge and change is the most exciting part!) - this is the first time that change has actually scared me abit. That from here on the way everyday works is changing- to not be able to walk to school, to not have Steve home from work on his bike at 5.30pm, to how I shop for food and our house, to measuring stuff, to road signs, filling up with petrol (or should I say 'gas' (;) to duvet sizes, to words spoken, to not knowing how to use banks or post offices or how schools work, to be being the odd one out, to not being understood, to feeling somewhat lost. I'm afraid for a season in my life where I won't have the people who have become like family to me on my doorstep, the people who know know me, love me even though they know the best and worst of me, the people who cheer me on be the very best I can be, that know how to love me, and who I know how to love - I scared of feeling lonely. I'm sad to be away from all my family where we can't just hope on a phone anytime of the day or in a car......I'm walking around everyday soaking up views and smells because I know soon it will be a different canvas that I'll be looking at.....  I'm apprehensive to have to figure out and have lots of grace for living in someone elses house for a while and to have to keep trusting in the season where lifes up in the air, with no 'home of our own', while Steve tries to find a job. I'm not looking forward as we all learn to adapt and watch and not be able to control all the emotions my kids have to go through, watch my amazing husband Steve deal with an upside down world of it being familiar but not and for me to be ok with being clueless lots of the time!! I'm scared I'm not strong enough a parent to guide my four beautiful munchkins through the journey.....Im scared I'm just not strong enough......

So there you have it - a very small glimpse into whats going through my head...... and so no I'm not some kind of super human! And this blog isn't for people to try and fix or even reassure me - no its a simple act of being honest.....because.... 

......along side all these very very real raw fears, emotions, experiences and thoughts......

.....deep in my heart I 'know' that we're going where we are suppose to go, that God never promised it would all be easy, but He does promise to walk with me on this journey, He does promise that there won't be a single moment...

not one..... 

where He's not beside me. I know that if I'm not honest, if I don't let him into all these places of my heart where these fears sit, I'm not being real - and that he doesn't want a polish me with a facade up, he wants me with every emotion, every fear, every excitment. Today I'm overwhelmed but not overcome. Todays a day when I have to keep reading 'listen o daughter, incline your ear, pay careful attention, leave the land of your father and grandfather......' along with all the other promises along the way because if I stop for a moment in the midst of all this I know deep deep deep in my spirit that we are doing just what He's asked us to do which means this is going to be a good journey even when it doesn't feel like it........

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Now listen daughter..... don't miss a word

So as most of you will know we are in the middle of taking one of the biggest steps of our life! About six months ago we spent weeks thrashing through every possible side there was to a decision of moving back to the states or staying put. It had always been one of those things that sat on the shelf of our minds and would come down for a read and consideration and then up to this point had always been put back because there was always a clear no. This time tho we took it off the shelf and something was different. We opened the question and for me there was a real sense of peace in the asking - and an underlying openness that had if I'm honest not really been there before. So much so that for the first time I threw the question open to God asking Him to speak but with a readiness to be obedient no matter what He said..... so one morning whilst Steve was away I brought the question before God and asked him for a clear answer. I asked him for something that couldn't be questioned. Something I could read (ideally!) over and over..... because I said 'I know if you say yes to this God I'm going to need to really know, know'. So the sun was rising, everyone was still sleeping and there was just the noise of a few birds starting to sing..... having asked the question I then opened my biblesync (daily reading) to these words.....

Now listen, daughter, don’t miss a word:

    forget your country, put your home behind you.
Be here—the king is wild for you.
    Since he’s your lord, adore him.

“Set your mind now on sons—

    don’t dote on father and grandfather.
You’ll set your sons up as princes
    all over the earth.
I’ll make you famous for generations;
    you’ll be the talk of the town
    for a long, long time.”

(Wow. Boom. OK God. Crickey I know I asked but seriously??!)

We are now almost six months on. Not surprisingly this word (along with many other confirmations) led us to the decision to make the move. To pack up our life here in York and go with what God was saying for the future. On many levels it seemed (and sometime still does) a huge risk.... packing up four kids, leaving an incredible community of friends, church, a beautiful city, good jobs with security..... leaving it all behind, counting the cost on many levels..... but..... all the while we know in our heart of hearts that there is no better place than to be where God would have us, that obedience is not always comfortable or easy, its not alway secure (in the earthly sense) but God's promises for us our so much bigger than any of these 'risks'. He will never leave us. He is our provider. He is our hope, our future, our security. He is good. His plans are the very very best. He knows us intricately and cares about the little things. And in all these promises along with every single promise in the bible - its clear - there's no 'well may I'll' or 'perhaps'. The words are certain. He IS.

And so today, as we are heading into the final weeks of our time in York and the logistical network of everything needs working out and when its so easy to be overwhelmed by logistics or emotions I hold fast to God, his words and promises - knowing He doesn't change even when everything else is. 

Tonight as I write this I too sit here wondering why it is that I don't do this more often. Why don't I seek God for these clear words for every season of life? - not just big decisions  - but in every season. Having God's word for the season to read in the good and the hard makes every part easier because it keeps reminding me who is in control.... it takes the focus off me, off the ifs and buts and puts my focus in the right place and I sure hope I don't forget to press into God for each and every season I'm honoured to live through from here on......

Bring on the adventures.

Wherever they may lead.........(eeeek!!)

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


Shoes for the journey......Do you love journeys? Hate them? And what kind?? There are so many ways we use this word that it leaves this question so hard to answer with a simple yes or no right? Maybe its a holiday journey, or maybe its more obscure like 'lifes' seasons....... for me its all of them! I love love love holidays and adventures (apart from the ones where I'm in a car of 'how much further Mum's? or fighting siblings on board!!)..... but journeys to discover new things or explore new places.....journeys that mean I have hours of uninterupted time to talk......... but sometimes the hardest of life's journeys are the seasons which are difficult and yet prove to be the best kind once you've come through the other side! 

This morning I took this picture...... I was doing some sorting of the house and was putting some of Trae's shoes in a bag to pass onto a friend when it dawned on me that as I do its the end of a season, the end of our journey of having 'baby babies'...... and it prompted me to capture this significant moment in a picture.

But as I looked at the photo I was reminded of all that these shoes from each person signified. Of my own journey with each up and down that has come my way, but now for which I am truly grateful for as I wouldn't be who I am right now if I'd not walked each part. And today as a Mum I can't help but sometimes allow myself to dream dreams of the journeys ahead of each of my kids - not specific dreams but more dreams of the values I'd love them to have, to live out of and the the things I want them to know in their heart that the circumstances of the world couldn't change......

That'd they'd never doubt I believe in them.  That they'd know without a shadow of doubt that my love for them is true and steadfast without condition (my dream is I could do this too!). That they'd dream huge dreams. Run life with passion and never hold back from going all out for the things that are in their heart. That they wouldn't be scared to break out of the mold, but love God so much they'd trust Him with every tiny and big step they ever take.  That they'd know I'll always be in the shadows of whatever they do cheering them on like a raving loony to be all that God intended them to be!  That they'd be able to be themselves and not the version they want me to see......BUT.....Most of all my dream is that they'd fall madly in love with Jesus and that everything they do would come from wanting to be like Him......

But there's a weird double parallel of emotion that goes inside me as I dream. A catalytic sense of joy at being witness to the unfolding and yet a intense awareness of just how much deeper and stronger my levels of trust in God have to yet to go to not hinder or hold back the fullness of all that could be. As their Mum I can remember the day that each of them were born, each of them took their first steps, ran, jumped, laughed and giggled. I can remember some of their hardest tear filled moments, the sobbing, frustrations and heartaches....... and I've loved celebrating milestones and everyday joys..... I've loved being their to bring them comfort and protect them and stand up for them.....and so sometimes if I'm honest its hard to take captive the fears that try to sneak their way in as I think about the whats and maybe of what could be ahead of each of them..... and isn't fear is so like that.... it sneaky, its gradual, its deceitful and before we know it its taken so much ground its hard to break free from it. I know I can't fuly grasp it but I know as their Mum I have a very delicate balance of role ahead which I cannot get right on my own.  If I'm to ever be able to vaguely get close to doing this well I need to get down on my knees (metaphorically maybe!) before our Creator and amazing father and commit each of us daily into His hands - to remember I can't do it, that my kids aren't mine for the keeping, but have just been entrusted to me for a season to help them take flight..... to find their place.... and learn in the safety of family to be who they are in the world they live in.

So this picture is not just a photo..... its not just a picture.... its a stake in the ground for me, a reminder whenever I look at it that I'm taking a stand to commit myself to getting to know God better so I can trust Him at deeper levels, to dream the biggest dreams and believe them to come true for myself and for my little people. To remmeber that each of us is on a journey. That each step is significant and important no matter how small. And there is so much potential before us if we'll just jump and run and go for life with all we've been given. God help me please!! Would you help us all!!!!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays......

Have you ever had one of those moments that turned your perspective on life around? 

A few years back I was sat on a random Tuesday playing with my girls who at the time were aged two.  I was knackered, exhausted and feeling pretty blah about life in general. Steve and I had just stepped back from being in YWAM full time after God laid a new direction on our hearts. During our time in YWAM I had been to amazon Jungle and had the privilege of sharing Jesus with tribal communities who literally never heard the name of Jesus, lead mission teams to Europe, discipled many students on DTS, got married and been part of the team to pioneer YWAM York. It had been action packed, challenging, exciting - and I'd loved every minute! It had all been stuff that meet my desire to take risks and face challenges head on.

And now here I was a full time mum of twins - given they were incredible and there were many parts of being a mum I loved if I'm honest I felt a bit disillusioned. Suddenly my life seemed as though all it involved was changing nappies, washing, cleaning, cooking, singing nursery rhymes, more washing, nappies - seven days a week. Boom. 

What had happened? I guess in this moment I realized I had resigned myself to the fact that life was different and I needed to get over it.

But on this Tuesday it was like God caught my attention to remind me.......

' Clare remember how I called you to be like an Esther? That I called you to be someone who takes risks, to be someone who sees how important it is to invest and prepare, to speak up in truth when the world around you tells you not to, to know when to speak and when to be silent. Have I not called you for such a position as this for such a time as this? Do you not trust me that I know what makes you tick and what you need to set you on fire? Look at whats in your hands. Why do you sit here thinking others lives are more exciting and that you are being less fruitful today than in the past? Whats changed??!'

It was like an obnoxious alarm clock going off in the room and I couldn't stop it. WAKE UP CLARE, WAKE UP HAVE I NOT CALLED YOU FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS?

God challenged me to the core. I sat there in tears knowing I had a choice.

I could live for a new season and be disillusioned with the one I was in or I could be faithful to Him who had made me and believe the truth that He knew everything about who I was, my personality and make up, my frustrations, my hurts and yet today had brought me to be where I now sat....... How could I ignore God in this moment? How could I ignore our God who is the same every day, in every single moment wherever we are in the world? Our incredible unchangeable God?

I couldn't.

And everyday since the challenge remains the same....

To live in the reality of God's perspective and 
purposes for my life for the very season I am in each day.

So what does this look like for me on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays......??

Well it means that I now choose to embrace and aim for excellence in being the way God made me. Right now that involves being the best mum I can be to my four beautiful kids. It means that I have started to take captive more often of the excuses I make for not being disciplined in prioritizing Jesus daily.

It still means I do alot of washing, a lot of nappies, cleaning, running my kids around, school runs and more. It still involves alot of the seemingly monotonous. But now I do these with an underlying intentionality that stops everything being just being repetitive.

It means that now I stand in the shower in the morning and ask God to fill me up daily with His spirit so that I can.... cry out to Him when I've all out of ideas about how to parent, or I've lost my patience and I've shouted at my kids and found myself in the wrong - that in those moments I can show them I'm not perfect, neither are they but Jesus is and that altogether we can love, forgive and move on.

It means I refuse to accept what the culture around me tells me about being a stay at home mum and instead press in to walking out the truth about who God says I am and the opportunity He has given me right in the four walls of my home to disciple four little people, who with Jesus can I believe change the world.

It means I run passionately with my call to be a leader and women of God, knowing that in every single season of my life, from when I was 18 to now till old age that this will look different but that the call and caller have not changed.

It means when I walk on to my kids school playground I no longer naively walk into the latest gossip but I know that sometimes God requires me to to be bold to speak up to say the hard thing, or controversial thing and that at other times He calls me to remain silent. To be aware of what He's doing - His agenda, His timing - knowing they aren't always the same as mine and that sometimes he's calling me to just be me and to live my life with integrity and that by the way I live people would capture something of Jesus. To keep sowing. Keep investing. Knowing it's God who saves and my job is to be faithful and true in communicating my love and passion to Him. To show people that Jesus is normal and down to earth and yet goes beyond the most incredible and beyond anything we can imagine and is essential to our everyday walk.

It means we need to be bold. We need to be silent. But more than anything we need to listen. We need to be ready and listening constantly. We need to be constantly cultivating such an incredible trust in Him that I'll listen and be obedient to do what He asks even when it doesn't make sense -in the little things - in the life changing moments. Its about being faithful to use what God has given us in our hands today and not let another day pass without it counting.

For each of us the challenge is the same. You might work at MacDonald's or be the MD of a huge multinational company, you might be a student or professor, a full time stay at home parent or a professional working 80 hours a week. You might be on cloud nine with the season you are in or wishing for a season that has been or you hope is yet to come?

But you know what God says to you right here right now?

Stop making excuses. Stop running away from your reality. Stop looking ahead and behind. Stop wishing for someone elses life.

Because God says just as Esther was challenged in a moment when her silence would have meant the Jews would have been killed, or to speak up looked to ensure certain death...

Have I not called you for such a time as this? Have I not placed you where you are on Mondays, Tuesdays Wednesdays, Thursday's, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays..... because I know you, I know the gifts I have uniquely given you and I have a specific purpose in putting where you are right now. 

Will you rise up? Will you accept the challenge to live the most exciting adventure that has been designed just for you?

I dare you! I dare you to rise up and start listening..... start listening to the whispers, the nudges and the loud reminders of God and your everyday 'ordinary' will become so extraordinarily incredible that you will fall madly in love with your creator and see Him at work in ways you could never have imagined. 

I dare you.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

God - the strength of my heart. : Psalm 75: 26.......

My flesh and my heart may fail,

   but God is the strength of my heart

   and my portion forever.

This past 10 days has been exhausting, draining, stretching with moments of everything from anxiety to joy, tears to laughter, frustration to thankfulness, anger to love - there has been a bit of everything! I guess as most people would describe -  a roller coaster! Some of you reading will know that this is because Cohen my little bud has been in and out of hospital with pneumonia - the final decided diagnosis - he spent 3 days on IV antibiotics and has been feeling generally rubbish. This thrown in with the timings of his sudden deterioration ie: in the car (just myself and 4 kids) on our way to Devon, having to leave my still breastfed buba for the first time overnight not even with his daddy etc etc meant its been all a bit dramatic! As a mum I feel like I was put in a washing machine on fast spin and spat out ultra wrinkled and dried out......

And yet to my shock the phrase that so many of my friends and family have text or spoken as their way of encouragement in the process were..... 'You are so strong'...... 'you are such a rock for your family the way you can stay strong through this all'....'you're strength in the storm is inspiring'....and honestly it shocks me. It totally shocks me. Shocks me because let me tell ya again to me I feel like I've been in that washing machine on fast spin and I'm shriveled, dried out with not much to give...... like I could just be snapped in half just like a sun baked towel.......I don't feel strong. I don't feel like a rock. I feel weak and quite honestly like I've failed on so many counts.

But although I don't 'feel' these encouraging words people have shared I know as I sit and reflect today I have a secret that is the reason I can walk week's like this last one and despite my feelings come out the other end having not fallen apart! My flesh and my heart may fail me - I know I have said  things I now regret because I'm tired and inpatient, and I have chosen not to always be loving and kind, because in myself I will mess up, I'm selfish, I'm human but despite my failings and imperfections its assuring to know the incredible all knowing God who created me is my strength - He is the strength of my heart and my portion forever - God is my 'fix, my entirety' - He lives in me and provides the strength to face every single day that comes at me - and because He lives in me - its not my strength people see - it can only bethat people see God in me. This is the secret - not some magic self improving strategy to face stress - but the amazing creator God who wants to be everyone's secret. In all my weaknesses God is strong - In all my imperfections God's beautiful reflection still shines strong because through Him I can be made whole again - In all my doubt and fear His perfect love comes in and drives each one out because  He knows their residence in my heart isn't for the best. I cannot imagine life without knowing Him. 

My flesh and my heart may fail,

   but God is the strength of my heart

   and my portion forever.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Two beauitful girls...

Six years ago today I set eyes on my precious girls for the very first time. I remember being totally in awe and blown away by them. I had seen them literally time and time again on the multiple scans I had had in the months I carried inside, but seeing them for the first time was an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my days.......

Two beauitful squigy wet brown haired little girls who God has blessed us with snuggled in their daddy's arms - tears rolling down both Steve and I's faces as we sat staring at them..... quite literally blown away - a picture that is a life long piece of artwork in my mind .

Such an incredibly precious time. God had given us these little miracles. They were perfect. Beautifully created and formed just as they were intended. They didn't look totally alike. Katelyn had a little pointy nose and very petit features - Neve had a rounder face and three cute wrinkles across her forehead - and they both had a fantastic set of froggy legs from being so tightly squashed inside!! 

Today its their 6th birthday! They are beyond excited!!! Life couldn't get any better than this day for them right now. But as I take a little time out of the celebrations to reflect I am astounded by the journey these two little ladies have come on. There have been many hard times, despairing moments amid many many giggles and hilarious moments but today most of all I am the proudest of Mum's at that the incredible little people they are becoming.

And as a way of celebrating who they've bcome here's a snapshot of the things I love about them most!

Neve Olivia..... she's our fun loving, quiet souled, adventurer!! Most people know her today for her love of sport , her competitiveness and how much energy she has but as her parents we get to see her quiet introverted side too - the combination of which makes her so unique and I love so much. She is competitive, strong willed, fired up, and has a huge sense of justice, whats right and wrong and strives to be the very best she can in whatever she puts her mind to. She loves to know how and why & is happy to be different. I love watching her as she's getting to know her maker too....I am repeatedly amazed  by the maturity in her relationship with God -  She loves to read her bible and discover interesting facts and wants to listen to God when she talks to Him. She's protective of her family and is heartbroken when relationships aren't as they should be. She loves to help out and grabs responsibility when she knows it important to take it on board (she's the oldest and knows it!).  She's a leader in the making, not the kind who wants to be up front all the time (she gets stage fright!!) but the kind who will lead from the ground and have crowds follow her, just because of who she is!  I love my beautiful beautiful girl.

Katelyn Ruth - she's my people loving, life's for singing about show girl! She's outgoing and friendly but not one to be walked over because she has a quick sharp side to her personality that means she can't be taken for a ride! She's has a huge heart and loves to help people -she wants the whole world to be happy.  She loves to sing and dance and act and make believe and is confident to be in the limelight. She's great at bringing 'one liners' to remind me what God says at crucial moments but more than anything when it comes to her journey with discovering God and who she is in Him, she LOVES to sing to him. All the time!! (As you can tell we have alot of singing in our house). She's a great helper and particularly when it comes to her little brothers - taking people under her wing,  looking after them and making them feel special is definitely where she thrives. She is fascinated by relationship and like her sister hates it when things aren't as they should be. And yet her unique combination that catches my attention so often is how she can go from the soul and life of a party to having incredible concentration for details - particularly when it comes to anything creative. She loves to write, bake, draw, paint, bake, cook and play with tiny things. I love my Beautiful beautiful girl.

Neve and Katelyn are two unique little people who have the incredible joy of being twins - they are different and yet so alike in so many ways -  there is something incredible about being an identical twin and I count it an absolute privilege to be their Mum.

Happy Birthday Neve and Katelyn!!!

Monday, 28 May 2012

Everything I see is in colour

It's been a while.

Time has been passing. I've felt like I've been barely keeping up. Its like I've been on catch up. Not ahead of the game. It's like time is dictating to me, rather than me being on top, taking action..... 

I don't like it. I don't like being on catch up. I like to be intentional. Productive. Efficient. Efficient in the sense of time allowing for everything. Getting stuff done. Being quiet. Doing fun stuff. Smelling the roses. Laughter. Hugging my kids slowly. Tickling them till they can't stop laughing. Everything that makes life. But everything that allows me to live a full balanced life that allows me to be at my best. My very best. The best in the sense of being honest and relaxed. I don't like being in catch up mode.

And thats why its been a while. I haven't had the time or energy to get on here and write. Something I love to do. But today I made a decision.

I'm going to take action. I'm going to make the most of the moment right now. I'm going to find moments.

Two beautiful ladies who I have the privilege of calling my friends this weekend were away on a women's retreat. They knew I would have loved it but couldn't make it this time with still feeding my little Trae..... so what did they do..... they brought the retreat to me! On their return they came with a box of chocolates and little notes for each one. My instructions..... to grab moments in my busy week ahead to savor the chocolate and read the accompanying note. I did this today. It was a chaotic afternoon with four children who couldn't cope with the heat. I was having a moment when I thought 'HELP'..... and suddenly I remembered my chocolates!!! So hiding in my kitchen (heaven forbid the kids were going to get to share the chocs!!!!).... I took a moment and slowly ate my chocolate fudge dream, and was reminded that God knows all about me - my strength, my hidden weakness and is with me at ALL times - even in this choas!!! Just what I needed to hear. 

Hmmmmmm...... and breathe.  Suddenly I felt like I'd had a huge breathe of fresh air. Enough to keep swimming under water for the rest of the afternoon.  I went from seeing an a or b senario to seeing that there are loads of ways this afternoon could pan out but one's thing for sure I'm not on my own and I can choose to navigate my kids through it in such a way to see the good!

I guess if I'm honest one thing I dislike about when I feel like I'm on catch up is that everything becomes blurry....everything because a much of muchness....and I stop seeing the beauty that surrounds me daily...... the colour of life, the miracle of life, the preciousness of words or touch.......

Everything is black or white - there's no colour.

But I guess I'm learning anew again that if I embrace and savor my God who has made me, knows me intricately and insist that He is a non-negogiable in my day suddenly EVERYTHING is in COLOUR!

The world comes alive, 
you've opened my eyes,
 everything I see is in colour, 
no more black and white, 
becasue I've seen the light,
 everything I see is in colour.... (ben cantelon)

So if you are reading this - take action. Savor the moments. Run after them to stop amid whatever you are doing to hear God. To be amazed by Him. Be amazed by what surrounds you. Don't let business stop you from seeing the colour - don't become a black and white girl - SEE COLOUR!! Stop to smell the roses. Or maybe like me go give your kids a kiss, and stare at them while they sleep, marvel at the creation of life in them, their smell and all the intricate ways they were made...... or tomorrow do what my little boy did today..... pick up a buttercup and allow yourself to be blown away for a second. SEE the colour of life again!!! 

Take action. Don't play catch up any longer. Don't let your world be black or white. See everything in colour.

Friday, 23 March 2012

discipline - mixes up the boxes of life

lifes discipline....

So since just before Christmas some of you will know that I made a decision to start running. I had run a little before I was pregnant with Trae but I wouldn't have called myself a runner! Like a real one who was running any distance! You know the drill, you try but then you're out of breathe like you're about to have a cardiac arrest within three minutes!!! Well anyways this time I decided it was going to be different so before I started out on the road I knew I needed to do some research..... (and beside research meant it would feel like I'd started but would delay the process of feeling like I was actually dying of due to a lack of oxygen and sweating perfusely!!!!

So here was what I discovered read in my research.....

1) I needed a plan - a real one with achievable goals which gave me baby steps to lead to my ultimate goal.

2) A vision for where I'd like to be in three months, six months , a year, before I die!

2) Half the battle was mental - preparation was key

3) A partner - someone to hold me accountable, someone to feel the pain and celebrate the joys and achievements along the way

4) The right equipment - invest from the start - no half hearted attempts using the old gear but get kitted out with the right shoes to avoid injury and some clothes that would help with sweating I mentioned earlier!!

Well I started before Christmas after finding a program to follow - couch to 5k in 8 weeks! Surely this would work, a nice american accent in my ears, some dance music and as much will as I had to give. I also got my running partner....Mel - what a friend.... we made a plan that was set but flexible enough to work with our busy families..... we started getting up at the crack of dawn meeting on cold frosty mornings in the dark at 7am two or three mornings a week. We did it. Shockingly to both of us! But we started. With one minute runs, walking intervals.... and little bit by little bit we went through the early weeks of the program together.....

Then it snowed. Then I got sick. Beyond my control there were no runs for three weeks ):

I was totally frustrated. After doing so well I tried my first run back and it was like being back at square one. This was my first true mental battle. Why bother. Give up now Clare - you're never gonna do this. Suck it up you've had four kids and you'll be like this forever. Who are you kidding thinking you'll be able to run a half marathon????

But with the loving words and support of my amazing running friend Mel I gathered my thoughts and stood my ground determined to press on! It was at this point I realised that partners are absolutely key and actually a non negogitable for me.

And slowly I've continued putting my body through the motions. I got a a second partner Jane who had the same goal of a half marathon and was also a mum and friend from school wanting to take action to see her body and fitness improve. We've slowly worked through the program, increasing the running intervals to longer, found new routes, overcome stitches, sore legs, had set backs but put them in the bag as learning experiences and with determination continued with motivation.

This week I ran two 7k runs for the first time in my life!!!!! Honestly this felt like a milestone and is a miracle in my mind. I never thought that I'd actually do it. Not really. I guess I realised this week I'd come to believe the lies that like to rear their heads in mind..... but I kicked them out because I've proved them wrong!!! But the most exciting part is that I have learnt discipline. Real Discipline. Discipline that has come through putting my mind to something and not looking back......but the best part is not only being able to apply it to the exercise in my life but to so many areas....... to the way I am a parent, to the way I use time in each day, to reading my bible and making time for God...... so having done the research before and now having actually put the theory into practice..... what have I discovered so far in my running.....

1) I need a plan that is firm enough to stick to but flexible because I'm a mum and have a family to put before myself. Its Ok if it doesn't always go the way I hope, live, learn and move forward. Don't get stuck in the set back.

2) I need and now have a vision. I want to run the world's biggest half marathon - The Great North Run in six months time. I will do it! But in a few days I'll run my first race of 3 miles. In three months I'm looking for a 10k. Having goals and reaching them is vital..... achieving and overcoming one milestone gives you the hope you can achieve any goal you have.

3) At 7 am or 7pm I rarely 'feel' like running. The couch is much more appealing with a tea and some chocolate. But its a choice. Despite not feeling like it I must choose the right choice. I don't live by how I feel but what I know is best for me. Its good for me to exercise. Its good for me to have some 'me' time. I've come to know the feelings will follow if I make the right choice as this has been the case almost every single time!

4) Partners. I honestly can say there is absolutely no way I'd be where I am today if it wasn't for Mel, Jane and my lovely 'american podcast' training coach! Mel and Jane have been excited with me, understood the pain, held me accountable, encouraged and sympathized, been committed and honestly I am becoming a true believer that there are very few things in life that aren't better than if they are done with others beside you. In teams, in partnerships you can go beyond and overcome what you can see with your own eyes.

5) The right equipment..... is essential. I haven't spent loads, but the blisters have been less with good trainers, I've protected my knees from injury, I've stayed warm in the snow, cool in the heat...... I couldn't have been as effective in reaching my goal.... and the investment kept me committed to the goal. It was worth it. Investment and commitment go hand in hand.

6) Its easy to try and box our lives, but as I've gone through struggles with running I have honestly asked God to help me. I want to be an example to my kids of healthy living, to show them that exercise is fun and worth it.... and so to keep this going and to be a good model of this I need God. I can't overcome on my own. I can't make the right choice on my own and I know more than anything God loves me and cares about me enough to help me to all this. I love to that running has given me chance to worship and hear from God..... running with nature surrounding me, the wind blowing in my face and listening to music on full blast has enable me to get totally lost in the maker of the universe...... I love that life isn't in boxes..... that all things if we choose them to be can be for God, of God and life stops being in boxes!!!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

permanent artwork

Ever had a moment when something that you've seen a thousand times or you've taken for granted for a long time suddenly catches your attention and its like boom, boom, crash,! So simple, yet so powerful....... I had one of these this week.

Trae my youngest is seven months. He's been going through what's known as the 'separation anxiety' phase of babyhood..... this basically means that as part of his development he goes through a season when he needs to know exactly where I am all the time, and wants to be held and be close to me at ALL times! If not he cries and lets the whole world know about it (: Now as a Mum I'm caught in a catch twenty two..... on the one hand there's something in my heart that absolutely leaps knowing I am wanted, sometimes its just tiring. Sometimes I couldn't get enough of the feeling of his little arms snuggled round my neck holding on with a determination that says 'he's never going to let go so don't you dare put me down again mum'..... sometimes I find myself trying to sneak out of a room without him seeing in a hope to escape. But the thing that caught my attention and gave me the 'boom, boom, crash, bang' moment was when my oldest Neve noticed and pointed out that whenever he's sat on the floor he spends ages looking in every direction until his eyes find me again...... at which point his whole face lights up and he starts to smile, giggle and then attempts to try and maneuver himself towards me and doesn't take his focus off me..... in her words 'he can't get enough of you mum'.

Now although I know this and have seen this many times not just with Trae but with the other three when they were this age, it was like God caught my attention....

He was like....

"Clare this is just like how I'd like you to be..... I want you to want me like this, I want you to light up every time you hear my voice, I want you to search and search till your eyes find me and you won't be able to take you gaze away, I want you to walk towards me, I want your determination to be for me.......... but you know what Clare don't worry.... I hear you.... I hear your doubts of me despite knowing the truth in your head..... I know you wonder if I can always be excited by you even with all the ways you feel you let me down, I know you wonder sometimes if I can truly never get tired and will never try to escape, I know these, I know where these come from and I long to allow my love for you to erase the rubbish that has rubbed off on you which now your subconscious assumes about me..... because I am so much more, I'm more than you can ever comprehend, I know its hard to get our head round, I know some days its easy to feel it, to know and to live in the freedom of this truth that my love is unconditional, pursuing, forgiving, never ending, holds no grudges, and that I, God, could be completely and utterly captivated by you, by everything that makes you you, some days this easy, some days it not..... I get all this....... but hear it now.... look at the gorgeous boy...... you helped him grow, you nourished him, you've paced the floor when he's been beside himself, you'd do anything for him, you always think he's amazing, you rejoice over ever smile and love him, you've cried for him, you'd die for him, and this is even in all your human-ness, even though you get tired...... I'm so much more than this..... clock this moment, clock it, it needs to be permanent art work in your mind. I'm the artist. This piece will never change"

Its clocked. Its a permanent piece of artwork. Even on days when I don't see it its there. I know this in my heart and in moments when its hard to understand or feel it I know its true and I will pull this moment to the front of my mind.

We all need these moments? If you don't have one, ask God for one. Ask him to put a piece of artwork up for the long haul that reminds you of the truth. His word is truth. He is love. He's your author, creator and pursuer and longs for you to truly know him and walk the way he made you to walk. He wants you to walk with him right beside you whispering in your ear when you need reminding, when he's excited by you. I couldn't live everyday with Him. I couldn't make it through being a mum and being responsible for four little people without Him. And He knows I'm weak, that sometimes I doubt, that I don't have it all together even if I can be good at looking like this on the outside. He knew I needed this picture - his artwork moment.

Monday, 27 February 2012

oranges and lemons....

Its the 27th February....... its the date my beautiful Mum took her last very peaceful breathe of oxygen lying in her bed of our home.

She was gone. She was at peace. I remember being a bit surprised. Even though I had been told it might happen I remember being surprised. I can't now believe its been so many years since this day........

I remember some days later sitting in a little country chapel with a navy corderoy dress covered in beautiful tiny lemons and oranges printed all over it.... I sat with my Dad, my big brother Mark and sister Helen..... I remember looking at the front of the church where we had come every week since I could remember but knowing this time was different. In my young mind I knew this was the moment we had to say goodbye. We had to let mummy go.... I remember looking at the coffin knowing she was inside but confused about what had happened. I remember singing songs and looking at lots of people but constantly looking back to my dress at the endless numbers of lemons and oranges. I remember lots of people saying stuff, talking about my mummy. I remember walking to her grave side. I remember the beautiful flowers that lay on top of this wooden box that she lay in.... and watching little bits of earth tumble in. I remember feeling a bit lost, a bit confused and yet feeling peace in my mind too.....Dad had said she'd be in heaven. So that meant she would be happy and at peace. She wouldn't be poorly anymore.
But today although I remember bits of this day vividly in my mind its not what I think of most when I think of my Mum...... I may only have been just shy of 5 when we said goodbye that day but as a Mum myself now there is something that strikes such a strong cord in me about what has remained so vivid to me about her......

- the way her fingers looked because I had stared at them so much when walked with my hand in hers
- what it felt like to be sat on her lap and be hugged tightly
- the sound of her voice
- what her hair felt like
- what she smelt like

I also know she was a good speaker, that she loved to sing, that she loved being outside, that she loved chickens (why!) and that she had had plans to go to cookery school but had sacrificed this for the love of her family. I know she was a peace maker, was generous with her time and love for others and that she loved God sincerely. I remember playing make believe in the kitchen with her, eating bowls of raisins as she cooked and her walking with me up the school play ground. I don't remember stuff..... I couldn't tell you her favourite food or colour, what she liked to read or many other everyday things... facts....

And even though I know these facts and remember specific moments..... what I 'know know'...... was what it felt to be loved by her as my mummy. Maybe because she knew her time was short she made more time to leave this legacy with me.... to leave these tangible memories of what it felt like to touch her hair, to sit in her arms and feel her face against mine, to hold hands....... its the things that embraced my senses.....

So whats this legacy mean for me now.... it makes me strive to be more like this. I have four beautiful children and so many of our days are fast paced, running here, doing this and that...... but what would my kids remember of me if I was suddenly gone tomorrow? I'm not saying I want to live like tomorrow I'll die but it does make me want to take time to give them one extra hug, to make the good choice more often between just sitting with them enjoying them over getting another thing ticked off my 'to do' list. To hug them. To take time. To make time. I want my kids to know the kind of security that comes from knowing they are loved like I knew.

I'm so thankful to God everyday for my Mum, who brought me into this world and gave me such an incredible start in this world and I'm so thankful for the legacy that she left to this day......