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.