Ants in your pants

Have you ants in your pants? This is a question I was often asked when I was a little girl. No it’s not literally, but the question is merely in relation the my life long struggle to be still.

A trait that very much followed me into adulthood. I am very busy active person. I am sure anyone who knows me, or knows my lifestyle would agree.

It’s a rare thing to find me lazing about the house. I don’t watch tv. I haven’t even had a tv attached to an aerial for about five years now. I have to be intentional about having movie nights on the sofa with my kids as to spend a bit of chill time with them. A duvet day, staying in doors all day in-front of the tv is my idea of hell. Besides the fact I’d be ridiculously restless, an even bigger problem would be I can’t seem to watch tv without eating at the same time, so that would lead to all sorts of bother.

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m staying, if you can, and you love a life in the your pj’s in front of the telly, there is no judgement. In fact, I’m quite jealous of people who can easily switch to relaxation mode. I struggle to do so. Even after a not so busy day, when I go to bed it takes my brain a lot of convincing to switch off . Often not helped by late night scrolls on social media, the black hole, eh? One sure fire way to waste an hour..

Busy for me doesn’t always equal productive. I can be very busy and still not get a lot done in a day. In fact, I hold a gold medal in procrastination, just my procrastinating involves being busy with other stuff than the things I actually need to do and, with all this in mind, I still manage to convince myself some days that the reason I didn’t spend some intentional time with God is because I was too busy all day.

During the week I was listening to a random playlist on Spotify when a playlist of newly released music was suggested. I clicked on it, curious to hear Adele’s new song. I quickly flicked (it’s not for me , I definitely had Adele seasons, but thankful to not be in a season where I need Adele music to feed my weary soul), but after Adele came Diana Ross, Westlife, Steps, TEXAS, flipping love Texas. I looked down at the playlist description to make sure I had read the part about it being brand new music, it was!! Clearly, all the lockdown stillness had given these older artists the time and inspiration to write new music.

As I mused over this thought, I got a little Holy Spirit nudge to fully acknowledge the importance of stillness. Yes, yes, my heart murmured back at the sense of the need to acknowledge this. I know, I know, be still and know, and know that God created me as a busy, active, creative person and he loves me just as I am. SO! I’m doing just fine.

Now, IF the Holy Spirit had a face, I’m pretty sure an eyebrow would have been cocked at my attempt to justify my busyness. I can just picture the three of them.. (shack style) rolling around laughing at me. Did she really just try to convince her creator the reason she doesn’t give him enough attention was because he made her that way?! LOL!

““Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.””
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭46:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I did a little research on the whole be still thing and, well it’s a bit of a mind boggle. There is a lot to learn on this matter, to be honest because as quite often Hebrew has several different words that translate into one English phase.

Please go easy on me as I try my best to explain this in the best way I can. Every time we see the words BE Still in our English Bible, it’s not always the same Hebrew word translated.. ya get it??

I’m not even going to pretend to understand Hebrew, although I would love an understanding because I love the Bible, but I really wanted to share this because it’s way, way too cool to leave out of this blog.. Hebrew has lots of different words that translate into English, be still, and the meaning of these different words varies. Silent, unable to speak, quiet, rest, to be still, to leave alone. Then the mind is completely blown when I learn the Greek translation is CEASEFIRE, literally to stop what you are doing immediately. Down tools.

I’m far from a scholar, so I probably shouldn’t talk any more in an area that I’m pretty clueless (Greek & Hebrew), however, I am not clueless in the area of having a relationship with my Heavenly Father and what I do know is this, unless we are intentional in stopping what we are doing, unless we are willing to be silent and listen, and unless we are willing to be still and rest in his presence, it is impossible to keep a healthy relationship and strong bond with God.

Yes, God will be with you in all your busyness but, this I’m sure of after my trip down the rabbit hole of Greek and Hebrew translation, what God wants to impress in our hearts through his word is the importance of being still and spending time in silent stillness with him.

Easier said than done.. I know. As soon as I sit down with God I can think of a million things I should be doing instead. I will remember the name of that person I’d forgotten three days ago. Suddenly I need to pay a bill or text someone. Maybe some vital biblical research will come to mind, a Bible verse I need to read a commentary on. Surely that’s allowed because well, it’s a good thing, right?

Yes it is, but I’m not talking about time studying the Bible. Although an equally essential part of getting to know God, which is also a crucial part of relationship with God, but I’m talking about the being silent, being still, stopping all that your doing to be with God.

It’s hard but it’s worth it. It requires discipline. Just like meeting up to spend time with anyone else would be done by arrangement, you need to arrange a time with God. His flexibility is unreal, he can be there as early or late as you need. So set your alarm in the morning 10/ 20 minutes earl, which means going to bed 10/ 20 minutes earlier too.

No phones. It’s rude to sit on a coffee date with your chum and have your phone distracting you. So God is no different. Put your phone away, it will not kill you. I promise.

Switch off your mind… mmmm this is the hardest of all I think. I learnt this little trick a while back. Every time a distracting thought comes into your mind, say to it, go away I’m spending time with my Heavenly Father. Yup, it sounds a bit cringe! but it actually works.

Has anyone ever asked you to meet, but you don’t know why, and your question is so what did you want to talk about? Well, it’s ok to ask God that too. What do you want to talk to me about today? What would you like to tell me today? Perfectly normal, and God would be delighted to know you wanted to hear what he had to say.

Last one. Shut up and listen … shut up isn’t a very nice thing to say but sometimes it’s important. I have to try super hard sometimes not to fill silence with words or my sound. Silence makes me feel awkward. Fight the urge to fill the silence, but in these super duper special times, when you listen to God.. you need to zip it!

I know that I know, if you are even intentional about this, just even once in the next week, you will reap the benefits and you will want to do it more and more, and it becomes less of a discipline and more of a priority in your life! Have fun.

You can be sure of this: The Lord set apart the godly for himself. The Lord will answer when I call to him.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭4:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Loves T x

Pick up, Dust off and START again

On Wednesday evening I was teaching my middle son Ethan how to make sausage rolls; they are his favourite and he is a budding baker, so it seemed a given he should learn to make them. They were a hit! Sausage rolls made and baking trays emptied, as I was putting some ingredients back in the cupboard, I noticed a jar of cashew butter I had bought some time ago with great intentions of stuffing dates as healthy snack/sweet alternatives. I knew if it was still in date, it would be a short date. So I turned, flipped on the oven again, and quickly searched on my phone for Cashew Butter Cookies. Bingo! an egg and one cup of granulated sugar.

I felt myself cringe a little, knowing fine well that on Monday morning I had sworn myself off all sugary snacks in a bid to shift middle belly jelly by Christmas. Still I continued with the recipe, made the cookies, baked the cookies, and then sampled the cookies… to my surprise they were delicious. Well, let’s face it, you could probably put a cup of sugar in marmite and it would taste good. So, after a small sample, I contented myself they were a good job and went off to watch a little tv before bed.

A short time later, I came back in to the kitchen to do the bedtime lockup, light switch off routine. I lifted tea towels to lay over the two trays of not yet cooled baking and, as I did my limbs took on a life of their own, my hand slipped down and took grip of the halved sample cookie and before I knew it my arm had joined forces with its out of control counterpart and lifted the sugary treat to my lips, then my already poorly controlled mouth eagerly received the sugar filled delight. Damn! I thought as I took the last bite of the humongous, but very delicious, treat. Damn you, Terri! You fool, I thought to myself as I started toward the stairs for bed. Bad enough I had caved in to my temptation, but even worse, late at night. Feeling defeated, as I slowly ascended the stairs to bed, I heard myself chanting inwardly, pick up, dust off and start again. On the fourth chant, as I entered my bedroom, I was aware it didn’t seem to be me chanting. Or I wasn’t chanting alone. With an unasked question, I wondered was this chant Spirited on, and quickly became aware that God wanted to say something about the tragic event that had just unfolded. As I flopped into bed on my final chant, I finally questioned, what are you saying God?

The download began….

I am going to try my very best to describe to the best of my limited ability what God then spoke to my heart in the matter of a few minutes. It felt like we had a three hour conversation, rich with insight and Godly wisdom. It went like this, it was a slip up, it’s not ruined, you can start fresh tomorrow. God wasn’t merely ministering to my heart about the cookie incident, but to my ever occurring slip ups in life on my journey to becoming the best version of Terri, the God created, God designed, uniquely wonderfully made version of Me.

In the moments that followed, God allowed my heart to understand how this was a well practised pattern in my life which had such severe consequences; when I slip up, I slip into defeated mode and quite often immediately partner with defeat. It made sense, I can absolutely recognise that fateful characteristic in myself, and what God lay on my heart was a resounding, but gentle, STOP DOING IT! Not the stop doing it as in the slip ups, although that would be the end goal. STOP writing yourself off in these situations. I understood clearly what God was speaking to me.

My heart whispered a sorry and a thankful acknowledgement of this character flaw God had so gently pointed out in a bid to correct me and strengthen me. My heart warmed in acknowledgment of the fact that slip ups, big or small, God just wanted me to Pick myself up, Dust myself off and Start again. Yes, yes there would be some natural consequences, and there are situations I should definitely avoid so as not to fall in to temptation, but even then, when I did like baking the darn cookies, he still wanted me to start again.

With this comes the knowledge of God’s grace to allow me the privilege of picking up and dusting off and starting again. I do not in anyway undermine the enormity of the gift of God’s grace, forgiveness and infinite unfailing love. In no way do I think this is a get out of jail free card. But neither is it a gift that still needs paid for. Jesus has already picked up the cheque and it would be a real tragedy for us to insist on trying to pay a debt he has already cleared for us.

I feel like there is easily a thousand examples from my own life I could lay out in this blog, but I feel prompted to leave it here with you the reader, to allow God to directly minister to your heart. In what particular area may you be partnering with the spirit of defeat?

Me and my defeated attitude… It may well be coming from years of making excuses as to why my homework isn’t being handed in. but I have become an expert in giving excuses for not doing better, trying again. I am a veteran of excuses. I can’t do it, I’m past help, I just can’t help myself, it’s in my nature, it’s just the way I am!!

What I will say is this, in the time I have been in this relationship with God, there have been many many ups and downs, where there was doubt and fear and worry and regret. In real heart wrenching trauma, obstacles ridiculously huge I thought I would never ever overcome. When battles in the spirit that left me floored. The situations every fibre in my body made me want to run and hide from. Addictions, life patterns to overcome, mindsets needed changed and deeply embedded unforgiveness that needed addressed. And with every single one of them, I can acknowledge I have been the main opposer to working through these. Not that nasty wicked worm the enemy, not God, not the situation, but ME!

And God is saying NO! No more excuses! No, that is not just the way you are… that is not just your human nature because you don’t have a human nature, you have a God nature now…

You can and you will, but you NEED to pick up, dust off and start again. Every time, in every situation, I want you to dust off that failure, and I want you to stop agreeing with defeat, I want you to start again. Even if it feels pointless, even if you feel stupid, even if you don’t really want to, I want you to start again AND I want you ask me to do it with you. Even in the areas like healthy eating, I want to be in everything with you..

My great friend has this saying… if you get a flat tyre, you don’t go out to your car and let the other three tyres down do you?? This perfectly describes what we do when we come into agreement with defeat and give up on the best version of ourselves.

We can and we will…

So go get the pump out and pump up that flat tyre today, and to continue this great analogy. give God the keys.

loves T x

““My old identity has been co-crucified with Messiah and no longer lives; for the nails of his cross crucified me with him. And now the essence of this new life is no longer mine, for the Anointed One lives his life through me—we live in union as one! My new life is empowered by the faith of the Son of God who loves me so much that he gave himself for me, and dispenses his life into mine! “So that is why I don’t view God’s grace as something minor or peripheral. For if keeping the law could release God’s righteousness to us, the Anointed One would have died for nothing.””

Galatians 2:20-21 TPT

Trigger Happy

Who remembers the guy with the big phone? He certainly knew how to trigger people.

I’ve been thinking all week how to sugar coat what I want to write about and, well I decided, I cant! So why try?! I’m just going to dive right in and say it…

DEALING WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE

They are everywhere…

Even Christian, Jesus followers, Bible believers, saved, Holy rollers, church goers or whatever title you put on yourself concerning your relationship with Jesus, even We who hang with the HS are STILL gonna have encounters with people in life who push our buttons. Or, as my son asked me last week, Mum are your triggered!? Dramatic pause … The answer was yes BTW, cos I’m down with the kidz, ya know!

Even the most radically transformed, patient, understanding people, most regular church goers are still going to get triggered by someone.

Let’s face it, even in today’s ever ‘accommodating’ culture, it is still very much frowned upon to punch people, especially if you’re one of those church folk who are meant to know better. Contrary to popular belief, we are not radically transformed and immune to negative emotional reactions at conversion.

It is expected that one overflowing with joy and love and peace would never have an emotional reaction to an adverse person or situation…

Well, popular belief is wrong, because we do! Even after lots of time spent, seeking direction, learning management techniques, putting boundaries in place, eliminating certain factors from my life, there are still people that push the ugly button. On days gone by where I might have ended up in a lot more bother due to my reactions to these people, these days the consequences to my reactions are maybe not as severe but It still needs work… (heart still under construction)

Anyone that knows me, knows I love to keep it real. Im all about authenticity. I really struggle to fake it and although usually when I manage to control my mouth not to say it, my face will do the talking for me, so quite often I don’t get the opportunity to fake it. But why would I want to? Faking it will break it! Last week in my blog I said don’t fake it, fix it. And I really feel that’s a word in this season.

Because faking it or pretending to be the person the Bible says we ought to be is not going to achieve anything because God can not have a relationship with the fake me.

So we can’t punch these difficult people and screaming hatred and anger isn’t really emanating the Holy Spirit, so where does this leave us?

I recently read the book The Hiding Place, a story on the remarkable life of Corrie Ten Boom. As much as it would be so very wrong of me to say I related to her, I found myself smiling at parts in understanding, to her heart for justice and her fiery righteous anger, especially in comparison to her gentle sister, Betsy, who seemed much more at ease and unmoved by life’s harsh reality and difficult people. Betsy seemed to ooze God’s divine Grace and compassion for others while Corrie’s outward grace took some summoning up.

I found this a part I could really relate to… when I dare to glance sideward at my Christian sisters who seem to have readily available compassion, grace and tolerance for the most difficult people, and can instantly and with conviction quote, I forgive because God forgive my many sins… (this is true but it just doesn’t seem to come as quickly to me).

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Colossians 3:13 NLT

And here is where Corrie gives me a Gold standard training for Christian living. Through many examples throughout the story it was her constant prayer. Nothing fancy or particularly well articulated about her prayers; they were simple, heartfelt cries for help.

Lord God I don’t know how, God help me learn to love, God teach me how to forgive. Every time Corrie couldn’t naturally do what the Bible “God’s word” asked of her, she prayed a very simple prayer, God I don’t know how, God will you teach me how…

I believe this is a life line for a lot of people, like myself, because pretending to love people who grind your gears is just going to cause an inner battle of bitterness that will eventually drive a wedge in your heart between you and God, and cause a divide. Or, it could cause a scene… and then you come off looking and feeling like the bad guy. The hot head, the lack of self control. Bad Christian eye roll!!

So for our theme of not faking it but fixing it... here are some tips from the wonderful Corrie, and myself, I guess.

PRAYING

Lord I don’t know how

Lord can you teach me how to love / forgive this person

Lord can you change my heart towards this person

Lord can you show me any way I may be at fault here.

Lord give me more patience or understanding for this person

“How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

PRACTICAL

Remove yourself from their company until your heart has had a little transformation, at least (not always possible in family or work situations).

If it’s a social media feed that’s causing frustration, limit it, or even better delete or unfollow or unfriend, or whatever you need to do.

Boundaries, boundaries boundaries… get them in place, KEEP them in place.

When you find yourself getting to a place of irritation or anger, rather than fueling the irritation and dwelling on the cause with anger in your heart, you could try to replace it with joy. Hang out with people who don’t wind you up, they are your people, Play some music, go for a run, play a game.

HONOUR

Even when irritated, you don’t need to run about and bad mouth the person in question.

DO NOT make stupid statements like they need Jesus in their life because truth is we all do, everyone needs Jesus! so thats a given. ( also run the risk of sounding someway superior and thats never a good look)

And remember … this is about you and your heart changing thats is your main concern, not them. Too many times have I prayed just change them Lord (eyeroll). Yes, that would be be awesome, thank you God. Instead, be more concerned with the condition of your heart than the condition of someone else’s. unless your perfect in which case i assume you are reading this in heaven?!

If Corrie Ten Boom can pray from inside the walls of one of the most horrendous places on earth, God help change my heart. I believe I can muster up the same prayer when some entitled princess gets in my face, you know what I mean??

When you continue to invite God into a situation to minister to some area you struggle with. It will eventually become easier to manage. It may not happen automatically or over night. It may require a little effort on your part. But you will definitely be better off with God in the struggle than him left out of your struggle.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:31-32‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Change them Lord, yes, but first help me, show me how, teach me, give me peace, increase my patience, give more self control. They are as loved by you as I am. Let me see them the way you do….

Over and out! Loves T x

Who let the Fox out?

Phew!!

Well that took a effort… by that I mean getting the dust of my laptop.

I think this post is long long over due. I can only pray it helps someone else today.

Honestly I had started to think that maybe God had called me to this writing malarkey and then taken it from me again because I didn’t live up to the mark or some lack of spiritual development or maybe i was just darn right ungrateful for my blessings.

See the rubbish I talk myself in and out of on a daily basis is ridiculous !

So firstly if you have similar kinda thoughts one you are not alone. Two they are probably not from God. And the Bible tells us to fix our thoughts on those above right??

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

So back to my update. Last July as many of you will know, I packed up my life as I knew it and moved towns.. not a million miles in fact probably only 30 or so miles but my life took a complete overhaul. Literally overnight I went from the comfort and safety of my Cosy church community bubble that my whole life revolves around. Where I was well looked after, well loved, cared for provided for, safe, secure. I had valuable trusted friendships, safe godly connection. I knew mums at the school. I knew the people in the shops I visited, I knew the lay of the land all the roads all the shortcuts, I knew where was the best place to get my eyebrows, nails hair done, I knew where I was guaranteed a good meal. I could go out for a walk and almost always bump into someone or have a horn toot and a friendly wave. I was very comfortable.

But really is it any surprise when you beg God your entire Christian life to use, use use you that he wasn’t gonna let you stay in the comfort zone forever??

For about 18 months previous to the move I had felt God stirring my heart and I felt I was being prepared for some kind of change. Then suddenly in the space of a month the decision was made I was moved. Don’t get me wrong I saw God hand move and watched as one miraculous provision after another was made in my favour. People came out of the wood work to bend over backwards to love on me and help me get settled. I was truly amazed at the physical evidence of Gods unfailing love and provision for me and my boys.

Talking of my boys, I had to leave my eldest behind. (Sad face) He had a whole life going on a job he loves, his Dad and well it wasn’t his season to move. So that wasn’t easy but its all part of the journey of stewards to our children, they aren’t ours to control only to steward for a little time and trust God with the rest ( whole other blog) and like I said we are only 30 miles away.

So here I am all moved into my beautiful new home, the kids in their new schools settling down and making friends, thriving like champions, ( p.s kids are so adaptable! We fuss a lot more than necessary in this area as parents don’t we?) I’ve a new job and learning the ropes in my new role. A new church, making new connections. I’ve my parents and siblings round the corner for the first time in my adult life. My boys and I growing our relationships with our family. Which we all love. I was getting regular home cooked meals at the parentals. I had help, when I needed the boys picked up or HOME SCHOOLED ( thank you sister) It was all so blessed and beautiful. It was all positive.

But change is a funny old thing.

Even when life is truly blessed and beautiful and God is revealing more and more of his plan for your life. Change is a process and it can cause all these different emotions that we don’t fully understand. You can feel sad, you can have doubt, fear, it can just leave a big gaping hole you don’t even understand why.

Suddenly I started getting lost, like physically even though I thought I knew the area I grew up in. I started making wrong turns, I didn’t know a good chippy, or what Chinese served the best crispy duck pancakes. Or the best parking spaces, Nobody tooted the horn when I was out walking and I didn’t know the people in the corner shop. Everything required a lot more effort. First world problems Terri eh??

NOT forgetting we are in the middle of a flipping pandemic here also, So absolutely nothing resembles normality and we have social distance and mask wearing making everyone even more distant and unfriendly.

Then I started getting lost mentally. I got sad and lonely and to be honest I probably started distancing myself from God. My sadness caused a lack of interest. I got tired and lazy and uninterested even after witnessing Gods miraculous provision I started to doubt I had made a good move. ( starting to sound like the ungrateful brats In the wilderness moaning about their free cucumbers ) Even though I knew the benefits of my move far outweighed the bad I still questioned what I had done. I saw my old community live on without me through the not so wonderful world of social media and I got jealous. I got envious of relationships, friendship groups bonding and growing with out me. The green eyed goblin appeared she is never ever pretty.

My thoughts became very FAR from those thoughts from above. What went wrong?? Why couldn’t I just be happy and grateful? Embrace this new very evident blessing?! Even my boys had managed a better job than me…

Just another thing I fail at.. as I beat myself up again.

I’m not looking sympathy, I share this because, well….

I don’t think I’m alone. Even if it isn’t a complete overhaul. Maybe its a new…. Baby, Marriage, Ministry, job, house, whatever circumstances have changed.

I want to say. Its ok to feel a bit weird by the whole change thing. Even good decisions can cause sadness. Doesn’t mean you need to go running back to the old. Life doesn’t work in reverse.

But what I would say is acknowledge it! We as in our culture today and especially here in Northern Ireland have an awful habit of putting on a brave face. Don’t dare show emotions that are not fitting with your circumstances. Good vibes only! Live Love laugh.. all good and I absolutely encourage but not at the cost of your soul slowly dying within. Let’s not fake it, Let’s fix it!

I’m not in anyway encouraging a pity party but call it for what it is.. be honest about what this is being sad or missing something doesn’t mean you want it back it just means the missing makes you sad. Thats ok! When you acknowledge that. Then you can ask God for his help with feeling that way.

I read one time about the little foxes that come in the night.

The Bible says this.

“Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming!” Song of Songs 2:15 NLT

Those little foxes are maybe the thoughts and feelings in your heart your afraid to acknowledge incase you could sound ungrateful, stupid, silly, spoilt or unchristlike.

But the thing is.. these little foxes are stealing your fruit

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

Galatians 5:22-23 NLT

They come in the night and are kept in the dark usually you don’t notice until you have no fruit left. At all because let’s face it. Who really notices one fruit missing. It not usually until it’s all gone we acknowledge… Hey! where’s my joy at? Why am I angry. Why did I lose my temper? I just can’t help myself, I’ve no patience for that anymore. I just can’t bring myself to love them.. then you know.. the foxes have been and done a number on you!

So this long winded post is simple to say.

Acknowledge it!

Call it out!

Ask God to help you address it

And…., if you are really really brave.. tell your safe friend and let them love on you. While your sad!

Or you could write a blog and let the whole world know…. Kidding It took me a year to fully acknowledge this and there has been plenty of fruit stolen, tears, tantrums, ugly thoughts in that time. However the real awesome thing is because all the good fruit comes from the spirit we can ask for more.

And if you can’t yet put your finger on it! Here’s a little daily prayer, I feel helps keep the foxes at bay.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:23-24‬ ‭NLT‬‬