It’s not a tick box exercise.

I was writing out my to-do list, adding little ticks next to the ones I had done, it made me feel quite good and got carried away, I was about to add to it Bible reading and prayer time, when I heard the Lord say to me “it’s not a tick box exercise”.

How many of us do this? Wake up and speak to the Lord as an exercise that just has to be done,  like cleaning the bathroom or making packed lunches for the kids. Each day is made up of small blocks of time along with a matching task list, we can quite easily slot God into that tick box exercise, that we are doing out of duty.

The fact is, it is not a duty, it’s a true honour. Spending time with God should be something I look forward to, like when I met my husband, my first love, getting butterflies in my tummy, an expectancy that I just can’t wait for, hanging on the every word, a pamper time but for my mind. Psalm 37:4 tells us to take delight in the Lord and He will give us the desires of our hearts. Wow! He does too, many a time I have been completely bowled over with what He has done in my life….. Even the small things, for example:

Last week I was preparing food for a party which quite frankly should by rights have stressed me right out, thankfully I leaned upon the Lord and said: “God, I can not do this on my own, you have got to help me!” A British buffet really isn’t a buffet without good old cheese and pineapple sticks. So there I was 9pm on a Friday night jabbing cubes of cheese and pineapple with cocktail sticks. When I got to the bottom of the last tin of pineapple chunks, I looked down to see just 2 pieces left and there on the chopping my board were 2 beautiful equal chunks of cheese!! I was totally in awe that Jesus cared so much about this party He even gave me equal pineapple chunks for my cheese……I know you have just read that and thought I’m crazy, but let me give you some context.

When I got to the bottom of the last tin of pineapple chunks, I looked down to see just 2 pieces left and there on the chopping my board were 2 beautiful equal chunks of cheese. If there had of been an odd number that would have annoyed me, I’m a bit OCD like that! I was totally in awe that Jesus cared so much about this party He even gave me equal pineapple chunks for my cheese……I know you have just read that and thought I’m crazy, but let me give you some context.

This party was a last minute decision, it was a surprise for a beautiful friend of mine, I had been in prayer a few weeks earlier and really felt on my heart to do this for her, the thing was there wasn’t really anyone available to help me organise it, so in the natural it should have been a complete burden. But, because I had bought it before the Lord and asked Him to intervene everything went wonderfully, and this was His way of showing me He was in it all. It was the confirmation that I needed to say everything was going to be ok, the food would be plentiful, the guests would turn up, and my friend would enjoy.

I delighted myself in Him, gave Him praise and was in wonder at His beautiful work, the party went smoothly, an enjoyable night had by all, the people turned up, my friend was totally surprised, cried tears of joy, the food went well, and I didn’t melt down at all, all because I went to the Lord with a humble heart and told Him exactly what I needed, He loves to answer our prayers, the little things are the things that are the most special to me, I pray that I never go a day and miss where He is at.

Disaster 

I was born into a home that was loving, kind and caring. My Dad had his own business and my Mom was a secretary for a local business, we had a good life, even when Dad lost the business he managed to find a good job that paid well, we had nice things and a lovely home. I always remember the day he came home with a new TV, it was around the time the infrared remote control was introduced, I was well happy with that!

Disaster struck at Christmas time, Father Christmas had been and gone and so had Dad. I was 8 years old, I don’t remember much but I do remember the day he came back to tell me that he and Mom were separating, it was awful. Once he’d broken the news he collected some of his belongings and left. Mom was broken, she chased after him tears streaming from her face, kicking and screaming, the anger was so intense, so much so when she came back into the house I picked up Dad’s favourite beer tankard and threw it across the paved patio out of the back door, I dropped to my knees and sobbed like never before. It was just me and Mom from now on.

It wasn’t long before Mom met someone else, and there were 2 weddings to attend, My Dad was marrying his girlfriend and my Mom the guy that came from nowhere and swept her off her feet, well kind of! At 9 years old I remember the feeling of loss, I felt so alone, all around me I could see happiness, joy, belonging, laughter and there was me, alone with my bears in my room.

I don’t know why I felt so alone, it’s not like I was pushed out, I just didn’t feel like I belonged in either my Mom’s home or my Dad’s. They were all so happy with one another, I just felt like an inconvenience to them, Dad had his new wife and her daughter that he loved, Mom had her new husband that she so desperately wanted to keep happy, and there was just me drifting along.

Looking back now I think I was depressed, and withdrawn, I pulled myself away from people in order to create a wall of protection, that way I would never get hurt.

I found peace in books, I‘d shut myself away in my room, line up all of my teddies and read to them, my favourites were the scripts from Roal Dahl stories, I would act out all the different characters in lots of different voices, It was my way of escaping myself, I just hated being me.

I was around 12 or 13 and left at home alone a lot, I remember that I would walk around the house acting out my desired life. I would pretend I was a wife, the house was mine and I had a loving husband and 3 children, I’d speak aloud to them, anyone listening in would have thought I was crazy!

This escapism carried on throughout my life, books turned to other things I used to escape, people pleasing, taking drugs, drinking, lots of things that sent me down a path of darkness, discovering much more grief, sadness, anger, loss, and dismay.

Things did get better over time and I grew out of the drugs and drinking and finally at the age of 29 I met my husband and we had our children. It took a few more years and I met someone that totally changed my life, and showed me why things always seem to get better. Jesus.

We’d been going to church for a while and I’d had many encounters and deep moments of joy with Jesus but nothing in comparison to what I was about to experience at Cherish.

I walked through the doors of the arena and instantly felt the overwhelming presence of the most unexplainable love I’ve ever felt! The tears began to well up inside me and with each step forward another would roll down my face.

I found my seat and the music began to play and I felt God’s arms lift me up onto His lap, I felt the warmth of His arms wrapped tightly around me I was 8 years old again and He whispered into my ear:

“I love you, you are the most precious princess of the highest king, you are special and I will never let you go, all these years of misery are behind you, I will replace them with years of joy, I am taking you on a journey that will never end, take my hand and walk with me my precious child, I will make up for the years of the locusts, all they took from you I will replace double”

That weekend was one of the most amazing experiences I had with God, I knew after then life was going to be different, He was with me and He was never ever going to forsake me.

I’m pleased to say that my life now is still as eventful but a different type of life. Now, I have joy, peace and I don’t fear every circumstance, I don’t feel the need to escape anymore, I don’t have to please people to be accepted, I now have someone in my life that truly makes me feel I belong, He carries me, He comforts me, He whispers into my ear all of the wonderful things I can be, He makes me feel I can achieve anything in His strength and encourages me when I fall.

I also have the husband and 3 kids I used to imagine!

I pray that anyone reading this has a similar experience, with an open heart invite Him to show you all that you are. I watched a film at the weekend called Miracles from Heaven, if you’ve not seen it I recommend it, in it a lady says this “God gives us miracles each and every day, they are all around us, we just have to have the faith to notice them.” She’s right, I see my loving Father in everything I do now, I’m so thankful to Jesus for this wonderful gift, ask Him to show you too, he will never let you down.

Daddy Can You Hear Me?

When I came to know Jesus, I journaled a lot and reflected on my life up to that point, I wondered where He had been and saw all the times He was calling me. I wrote this poem to kind of summarise my conclusion.

Daddy, can you hear me?

I call out, Can you hear my shout?

Lift me up on to your lap,

Free me from this trap!

 

Wrap Your arms tightly round,

I want to hear Your sound.

I want to please,

live a lifetime of ease,

Do all that you ask.

 

 “I can’t hear you!”

 

I do what I want,

No care or revere, 

Where are you? 

Are you even here?!

 

Mom and Dad, they were good,

I’m always in the way,

Making things difficult,

and going astray.

 

On a long nasty road,

addiction and theft,

Bullying, Emotion,

Self-sabotage and destruction!

 

“Can you hear me?!”

 

Daddy, you spoke! If only to provoke, the spirit inside of me.

Loving on those in a vulnerable state,

Finally, a job I didn’t hate,

You blessed me.


You poured out your blessing,

A brand-new beginning,

A home filled with love,

They went beyond and above,

A Family!

“I can see you!”

I Destroyed it again,

Evil prevailed.

I turned the wrong way,

To darkness…dismay!

 

Cold and alone,

in a pool of bile,

feeling helpless and vile,

I drank the first thing I could reach,

it was bleach.

Where are you?”

 

You saved me again but I still felt this pain.


“Can you hear me?”

I found love in this man,

his soul just as lost,

We lived together with his son but at what cost?

Drinking and violence,

I couldn’t cope with the silence,

Your strength came upon me to walk away.

 

You gave me independence,

my own home and recompense,

all those dark years washed away.

 

Freedom and fun,

I found another one,

he was perfect and sweet.

It ended too soon,

Left just me, it wasn’t to be.

“Can you hear me?

Along came another as lost as me,

a destructive, weak soul

with no life or goal,

drinking and sadness,

which turned into madness.

 

“Where are you? Help me!”


Your goodness shone through,

Strength came and I flew,

Into a life of success and joy!

A soul mate you sent,

To strengthen each other.

You were there all along,

Perfectly undercover.

 

When You saw fit,

You gave us a gift,

A beautiful baby boy.

A few months went by,

And now it was time,

To add to our family again.

 

A time of reflection,

And seeking perfection,

We discovered Your perfect love.

We always did wonder,

Who created the thunder,

and the storms of life that we had seen.

 

You lifted me up,

On to your lap,

Untangled the trap,

And showed me.

 

The purpose you gave,

Ridden of shame,

No longer slaves,

Perfectly made,

You showed us we could,

A love so perfect and good,

Freed from fear with a God to revere!

 

YOU HEARD ME!