Flooded

Honestly. The only reason why I am writing this today, is because of my commitment to blog every day as part of a writing mentorship I am doing. Today has been a difficult one. Last night, as I lay awake listening to Storm Ciara shaking Britain, the storm in my heart was even more relentless.

It’s been a difficult few months, with many different demands on my time, energy and emotions and I have found myself in the clutches of an old familiar habit again. Although I don’t feel the mental and emotional torment of my food issues, like I did when I was younger, the physical impact of it has been a little daunting. I know what I am doing is not good for me, and yet, it seems almost impossible to stop.

I recognise myself in the woman at Jacob’s well (John 4). Drawing water from a well that couldn’t quench the thirst in her heart. But then she met Someone, who confronted her issue. She had adjusted her life to make room for her brokenness. She tried to hide it behind theology. But Jesus called it out, so that he could heal her heart. I know that it is in those moments when I feel that I am empty, that I reach for things that cannot really satisfy my thirst.

It’s hard sometimes to confront the reasons behind the behaviour. It’s much easier to numb the feelings than face them. My heart was aching as I watched a recent interview with Jessica Simpson. She was sharing how she had to let go of her dependency on alcohol and face the pain that she had been hiding all her life. I knew her, even though I haven’t met her. I heard her fearlessly share her story, and it was a very familiar one, even though our substance of choice was different. She said something, that resonated and challenged me:

“The other side of fear is so beautiful. That is when you get the reward.” – Jessica Simpson

It’s much easier to hide behind your baggage, than to unpack it and let go of the unnecessary stuff you are carrying. The offense. The pain. The disappointment. The self-loathing. Those all need to be confronted. It’s best done with Jesus. It’s easier to let go when you know there is Living Water waiting on the other side.

What is keeping me from going to the Well? Is it shame? Guilt? Fear? Facing your demons are scary. Feeding them may keep them quiet for a while, but it won’t get rid of them. You need Jesus for that. One thing I have learned is that I am not able to do it myself. But I do need the courage to confront the issue. I need to go to the Well, and ask for Living Water.

Jesus was not shocked by the Samaritan woman’s past. He was not ashamed to be seen with her. He was there, waiting for her, because he loved her, even in her brokenness. He wanted to give her Water for her thirsty heart. She had been looking for the one who would give her peace. She thought she found him when she married her first husband, but he wasn’t the one. Neither was the second, or the third. But Jesus found her and said: “I am the One you are looking for.”

Are you looking for Peace? I am. Somewhere, I have lost mine. I need time to sit at the Well. I need Living Water. I have to take my baggage and lay it all out before Jesus. I have to be brave and face each burden that I have been dragging along. I don’t want to. But I know that, that is the only way to get to the good part: healing and restoration.

Jesus is more than enough. He does not give us just a cup, he will come like a flood! Just like the storm outside, brought rivers of water moving through our streets, his Living Water will flood our hearts if we turn to him in our storm. We just stop hiding behind theology. We just need to open our hearts and we will see: He is the One we have been looking for.

This is my prayer, echoed in the words of Paul praying for the church in Ephesus:

“So I kneel humbly in awe before the Father of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah,  the perfect Father of every father and child in heaven and on the earth. And I pray that he would unveil within you the unlimited riches of his glory and favor until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with his divine might and explosive power. Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life. Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God!”
Ephesians 3:14-19 TPT

May we take our thirsty hearts to the Well of Living Water, and allow him to pour his love into us. So much, that we become bodies flooded with his love.

HeartPrint:

Today, I see Jesus sitting at the Well: “Beautiful One, there is no reason to fear. I am here to satisfy your thirsty heart. I am the One you have been looking for. The only One who can give you what your heart desires. True satisfaction. Peace. Open your heart and allow me to pour my love into you, until you become whole. Healed. A body, flooded with my love. I am more than enough. Let me love all your broken pieces back together. For I am not only able, but willing to do so. You are my Beloved. My heart’s desire is to see you rise up in the perfection that I created you to walk in. There is so much love for you to experience. So much joy. So much peace. Just take the first step. I am right here waiting for you.”

Daddy's Girl

When we found out that we were having a girl, my husband and I were both a little shocked but delighted. “What do you do with one of those?” I thought, since I had spent the last couple of years exploring the wonderful world of baby boys. I was so convinced that I was having another boy, so I had to adjust to the thought of sugar and spice. It didn’t take me long, though. Within a couple of weeks, it looked like a huge pink bomb exploded in our house!

On a snowy afternoon, just over ten years ago, we met our beautiful baby girl at the Royal Preston Hospital. She was the teeny tiny epitome of perfection. It was love at first sight, as my husband held her and showed her to me. Reluctant to let go of her, he allowed me to have a little cuddle before he snapped her up again to show her off to the world.

My husband fell fast and hard for his little princess. There was only one little problem. This pink little bundle of joy, only had eyes for me. She would not go to anyone else. At first it was quite endearing, but after a few days it wasn’t so cute anymore. For the first ten months’ of her life, she wouldn’t settle, unless she was physically attached to me.

Gradually, it started to get easier as she became a little bit more independent. She wanted to do things for herself, pretty much from the minute she could say: “I do it!” But she still wanted her mum, more than the air she breathed. I could see that this was very difficult for my husband. It was so hard when she kept him at a distance, when all he wanted to do was love on her. He just wanted to hold her, cuddle her and enjoy his baby girl. But baby girl wanted Mummy.

As Zoë grew, she discovered that she has a lot more in common with her dad, than her mum. They both have the same, wild sense of adventure. They love to talk for hours about things that interest them. They are both creatures of the open sea, loving to swim so far towards the horizon that it often sends me into a frenzy. They have the same (sometimes sarcastic) sense of humour. They definitely emerged from the same gene pool. There is no arguing there.

Discovering how awesome her daddy is, has made me have to share my no.1 spot in Zoë’s heart. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about it. It has been wonderful to see her become Daddy’s girl. My husband leaves home very early in the mornings, and he is not allowed to go before he wakes her up to say good morning. She absolutely adores her dad. She has discovered that he is good. (And actually, quite frankly, much better than me in some ways. Ha!)

Zoë makes sure that both Mum and Dad gets an equal share of the love, now. She is very careful to share her affections, because she doesn’t want either of us to think we’re not the best parent in the world. She is truly amazing. Just like her daddy.

When I think about my relationship with the Father, I see a similar story unfold. A lifetime of keeping him at a distance, when all he wanted to do was love me. How heart-breaking it must have been for him, to want to be close, but always be kept at arms length? I am thankful for that day, when I looked up and saw that tear rolling down his cheek. I saw that he was good.

He wasn’t angry. He wasn’t tight-fisted. He wasn’t mean, cruel or uninterested. I was wrong. I only approached him when I needed something. Throwing a quick prayer up to heaven, in the hope that he might notice and have pity on me. Maybe he would answer my cry for help, albeit reluctantly. Because I believed, from the depth of my heart, that I didn’t deserve his help. I wasn’t good enough.

I was wrong.

How sad would it be if my daughter only sought her dad when she needed something from him? How many adventures she would have missed if she stayed clinging to me? Now, she gets to enjoy all the blessings of a dad who loves her, enjoys her and how he loves to spoil her! And when she makes a mistake, she’s not afraid. Even though she know she is about to undergo some unpleasant moments of discipline. She knows her daddy loves her, and cares for her total wellbeing. She trusts him. He is going to say no to things that may seem nice, but isn’t beneficial for her. She knows when she has behaved poorly, and she’s quick to correct her course.

Romans 2:4 is often quoted in Christian circles: “…it is the goodness of God, that leads to repentance.” The apostle Paul is teaching us here that it is not good to judge others, because it is only by the grace and the goodness of God that we are forgive for our own shortcomings. And he is absolutely right. We don’t have the right to judge anyone, when we look back at the mess that God has delivered us from.

But I want to offer slightly different perspective here. One that I learned as I discovered the heart of the Father. A good Father, who loves me. It is his incredible kindness that has empowered me to turn from my brokenness, and walk into freedom. Experiencing his love for me, has given me the ability to turn from my path of self-distruction.

“Do the riches of his extraordinary kindness make you take him for granted and despise him? Haven’t you experienced how kind and understanding he has been to you? Don’t mistake his tolerance for acceptance. Do you realize that all the wealth of his extravagant kindness is meant to melt your heart and lead you into repentance?”
Romans 2:4 TPT

I have to admit, I am a little bit sad when I think about the adventures I have missed with him. There are days when I wished I had run to him. To discover how much we are alike. To enjoy each other’s company. I wish that I had trusted him from the very beginning. But I do now. I know my Father is good. And he loves me.

And he loves you too.

May you discover the incredible love of the Father, towards you. May you too, become a Daddy’s Girl.

HeartPrint:

Today, I hear the Father’s loving voice: “Precious Child. You have stolen my heart from the very moment I set eyes on you. How I long to be good to you. To show you who I am, and how much you are like me. We share the same DNA. The same personality. The same image. The same power. My heart is excited about all the adventures we are going to experience together. I have made such amazing plans for us to do together; even before you were born, I was dreaming about it. Now, grab hold of my hand little one. I’ve got you. And we’re about to have some fun!” ❤

Beautiful

“Every part of you is so beautiful, my darling. Perfect is your beauty, without flaw within.”
Song of Songs 4:7 TPT

At the innocent age of three, I successfully attempted shoplifting. I have no memory of this, apart from what I am told by a family friend who was with me that morning, when I selected a little beauty set from the toy section, and casually strolled out of the corner shop. Apparently, this friend (old enough to drive at the time, I might add) did not have the heart to stop me, or the guts to inform the shopkeeper. So she just turned a blind eye.

Driving back home, I opened my little beauty package. With pink plastic curlers and some pretend lipstick, I started making myself pretty. Our friend tells me that I said that I was making myself beautiful for my Daddy. How sweet, albeit illegal. If only I could remember it! Ha!

I feel like I have spent most of life trying to look beautiful and never really feeling like I meet the standard. And I’m not exactly sure where those standards came from? Or even what they really are. Since my shoplifting stint, I have traded my pink plastic curlers for electric ones, and my pretend lipstick for the kind that stays on all day. (Who has the time to keep applying make-up these days?) Some days, I wish I can have that childlike faith again. Believing it, when my Daddy tells me I am the most beautiful girl he has ever seen.

Remember that scene in the movie, Shrek, where Fiona is transformed by True Love’s kiss? (Here it is, if you need a reminder). I remember seeing the confusion in her face when she was transformed by True Love’s kiss, expecting to be a princess but taking the form of an ogre. That moment that she had been dreaming about, didn’t match her expectations.

I felt the sadness in her struggle with what she thought her freedom would look like, and her pain as she said: “I thought I would be beautiful.” I felt the relief in her heart as her beloved Shrek looked at her, without any sign of rejection. But with pure acceptance, saying: “But Fiona, you already are beautiful.”

Now, I’m not comparing myself or God to an ogre. Ha! But my heart was stirred when I thought about all the time I have wasted trying to conform to the world’s standards of beauty. Always feeling like I can’t measure up to it. When the truth is, I was never meant to look like them.

My true form is found in True Love’s kiss. Experiencing the limitless, unconditional love of my True Love, sets me free to be who I was always meant to be. My true image is his image.

I wish I could say that I have total victory and freedom in this area, but I’m still unlearning years of wrong thinking. My mind knows that God sees me without any blemish or fault, but my heart is not always convinced. This is why I need the transformational power of his True Love’s kiss.

Today, I choose to let him kiss me. With his words of truth. With his words of kindness. With his words of love. Today, I will take the time to hear what he tenderly whispers over me, and allow myself to believe him.

My Daddy says I am the most beautiful girl in all the world.

HeartPrint:

Today, I hear the Father whisper: “Beautiful Child, fearfully and wonderfully made. Designed with purpose. Placed carefully into a time and place, where you will have the most impact in my kingdom. Lift up your beautiful eyes to see who you are. To see who you are, look at me! Set your gaze upon the throne – where the King of Beauty is waiting. He waiting to kiss you with Truth. Let Love transform you into my image. From glory to glory. For you, Beloved are already walking in True Love’s form. You don’t have to strive to be beautiful. You already are.” ❤

Brave

“But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”
Hebrews 10:39 NLT

Recently, I have been captivated by the book of Esther. Maybe it is the current surge of prophetic voices announcing that we are on the doorstep of a “such a time as this” moment, inspiring me to take a deeper look into her story. As I followed her journey, the Holy Spirit has uncovered some revelations that has really challenged and encouraged my heart.

Such a time as this.

Overnight, Esther was elevated from an ordinary existence to a life in the palace. Chosen, as one of the most beautiful women in the kingdom, to be spoiled with beauty treatments in preparation for meeting the king. Even if she didn’t make the list of callbacks, she was set for a life of luxury. This position she found herself in would already equate to a “such a time as this” moment, wouldn’t it? And then, out of all those pretty women, she was selected as the new queen. Well, Sister, I’d say you’ve made it. Big time! But this was not her moment in history.

Esther’s significant moment was birthed in the choice she made to stand up to a bully. One that wanted to oppress and annihilate her people. He may not have recognised who she was, to his own detriment. But it also wasn’t like Esther could just shout: “off with his head!” Her very life was threatened by approaching the king without being called upon. Her choice to stand up and speak when the enemy had her by the throat, that was her significant moment.

Sometimes, I confuse the real significant moments, for ones that may only appear to be. Perhaps I have believed that my “such a time as this” moment is when I publish my first book. Or maybe, when I am given a platform to speak or launch a ministry. These are wonderful things, there’s nothing wrong with them. But they are not the real significant moments. The moments that define us, are the moments when we choose to stand up against the work of the enemy. When we use our God-given authority and speak truth over his threats. Those are moments that we were born for.

Entering his presence.

As Esther entered the throne room, I can only imagine how her heart must have been beating. She had prepared for days, calling all of her people to fast with her. The enormity of her calling was even heavier than the royal robes she put on that morning. She knew that there was only one way out of oppression and the looming destruction of her people, and that was to approach the king. She had to be brave, even if it cost her, her life.

I sometimes wonder if I fully understand the privilege I have as a child of God? The privilege of access into the throne room, to bring my requests before the King? Jesus paid with his own life for me to have that privilege. He is my royal robe of righteousness. When we value this privilege, we will choose to separate ourselves from the things of the world. We will take the time we need to cultivate our hearts as we enter into his presence. We don’t do this to please God or gain his approval, we already have that! But we do this, to honour him. We make room for more of him. Who wouldn’t more of him?

Finding favour.

When the king saw Esther, it says that “she found favour in his sight.” (Esther 5:2). He extended the golden sceptre towards her as a sign that she is safe to approach him. What a sigh of relief Esther must have felt, knowing that she was going to live to see another day!

Knowing how much we are loved by the King, gives us the confidence to approach him. When he looks at us, we find favour in his sight. Favour that will empower us to step into the moments we were created for. Favour that will empower us to silence the voice of the enemy. Favour that will make us brave in the face of his relentless threats! Giving us the courage to take our stand against him and speak out what is true.

God extends his rule (his sceptre) to us. We are not only invited into his presence, but we have been created to rule and reign with him. We are not just called to sit on the side lines and watch him do his Kingly-things. We are not called look pretty, but to be powerful. Full of his power, his authority, his love and truth!

Preparing a table.

Esther had an opportunity to ask the king there and then, to stop Haman’s plot against her people. But she didn’t. What did she do? She cooked him dinner! And not only that, she invited the enemy! I have been so intrigued with Esther’s strategy. The king said that she could ask him anything. He said he would give her half of his kingdom! “Come to dinner,” she said. “I’ll give you my request then.” And did she give him her request? No! She offered another invitation. Dinner again. Same time. Same place.

I’m not sure if I had that opportunity for an audience with the king, that I would be able to keep my mouth shut about the problem. I would jump straight in there and get it sorted! But Esther prepared a table for her king. Psalm 23 says that our King has prepared a table for us, in the presence of our enemy. This is such an awesome thought. Such an awesome picture. What if we can return the favour? Instead of running in a panic, we approach the King with a table prepared with every promise he has made us. A table prepared with what he has made available to us through his Son. His body broken for us. His life poured out for us.

And then you invite the enemy! The one who has been oppressing you. The one who has been trying to take you out. The one who didn’t realise who you are. That you are the Beloved. And now it’s too late, because he is sitting at the table. A table that you covered with Truth.

What are the truths that have been spoken over your life, over you? Spread them all out on the table. Speak them. Declare them. You are brave!

Transferred authority.

What Haman planned for evil, backfired in a spectacular fashion, as the king transferred all his authority to Mordecai. The king’s word is final and cannot be changed, so the decree to destroy Esther’s people could not be retracted. But the people were empowered to stand up for themselves. They could fight back and had permission to slay all their enemies.

We live in a world where it may feel at times, like oppression and destruction is all around us. It’s easy to shrink back and forget that we belong to a Kingdom that cannot be shaken. But we are not of those who shrink back. The authority has been transferred to us. To make decrees against the strategies of the enemy. To stand up. To speak up. To be brave!

Whatever you are up against today, remember who you are:

You are an Esther. Beautiful, chosen and brave to stand up when the enemy raises his head. You were created for such a time as this. Recognise the significant moments. The moments when condemnation tries to push you back into your prison. When disease stares you down, vowing to take you out. When those you love are being oppressed and threatened. Rise up!

You have access into the very throne room of the King. A King who looks at you with fiery love and passionate favour. A king who wants to give you everything your heart desires. Approach him with reverence for who he is. Prepare a table for him. A table spread with every promise he has ever decreed over you. Then invite your enemy, and see him run! You have the authority.

Go on! Be brave!

HeartPrint:

Today, I hear the King decree: “Beautiful One. When I see you enter my throne room, my heart spills over with love for you. I want you to have every desire of your heart. I have already provided everything you need to live in freedom and victory. I have empowered you, by raising you up with me. You are seated with me, in heavenly places. There is no need to listen to the voice of the oppressor any longer. So rise up, Brave One, in the authority I have given you to silence the voice of the enemy. You are my Beloved. And I am yours. Always.” ❤

Mum-Boss

Ironically, the greatest lessons I ever received in Leadership occurred when I exchanged my career as a Learning and Development Manager, for the privilege of raising children. You wouldn’t think that being home with toddlers (and now tweens) would provide many opportunities to practice those theories, models and strategies you have discussed in leadership development programmes. But it does. It sure does.

Having spent the morning in a frost covered garden, picking up after our three-year-old bullmastiff (surprisingly, having a dog also offers new angles to leadership and management), I have had some time to reflect on my revelations on the life of a Mum-Boss.

Leadership Styles.

The biggest lesson I ever learned in Leadership is that life has stopped being about you. What you need. What you prefer. What you love. Or where you’re heading on the corporate ladder. None of that is on top of the priority list anymore.

You, now have a team. You are there to serve them, not the other way around. Each member has a different way of communicating. They are motivated by different things. They all have their own career goals. Goals that you will have to manage in order to ensure that you’re all working toward the same, corporate goals.

This is not much different to when you arrive home with your new born. Your needs are no longer at the top of the priority list. When they need your attention, you will need to let go of your need for warm food. It doesn’t matter if you get your shower in the morning, their demands come first. And just when you think you have it all sussed, you have a second child. You quickly learn that nothing you know about raising children applies anymore. This new one needs different communication, motivation and reward strategies.

The best Mum-Bosses adapt their leadership style to their team members. Their is no one-style-fits-all. You have to know your team. That is the first secret to successful mum-bossing.

The Situational Leadership Theory.

Kenneth Blanchard is my favourite author on the topics of leadership and management. His theory on Situational Leadership made my life so much easier, when I had my first job as a Training Manager. When I realised that each member of my team is at a different level of competence and I had to manage them accordingly, it changed the game dramatically.

As my kids have grown and developed, I have also learned that there are times when I have to change the way I manage them. Because they are changing all the time, at a very rapid pace!

I am the pound mum of a quintessential pigeon pair. My son is two and a half years older than my daughter. They both are so very different in their approach to… well, pretty much everything! I could almost have started delegating my to-do list to my daughter as soon as she came out of the womb. My son on the other hand, needed a lot of directing and still does in certain situations. But they’re both growing in competence and as time goes by, need less of my input. Except when we’re getting ready for the school run. Then we all revert back to toddlers. Me included!

Great mum-bossing requires constant reassessment of changing needs and adapting strategies accordingly. Having said that, maybe if I kept up feeding and dressing them in the mornings, we might actually get to school on time! But I digress…

The Art of Delegation.

Often, many leaders will fall into the trap of thinking that it’s better to do certain tasks themselves, than taking the time to stop and train a member of the team to do it. There are two things that make managers avoid the art of delegating: a lack of time, and the need for perfection.

In truth, if you stop and take the time to train your team, it will actually save you a lot of time in the long run. Time, that could be put to valuable use. Not everything has to be done your way, either. So what, if the report isn’t printed on scented paper and filed in a glitter covered folder.

Oops! I think I might be getting the mum-boss-thing mixed up a little. But the art of delegation is one to apply to home-life too. Taking the time to show your little ones how to do things for themselves, will save you loads of time. Time, where you can finally get to do your taxes, or pay your bills, or maybe even make a cup of tea? Who am I kidding?! Let’s just say, it will save you time. And does everything really have to look perfect? So what if the crayons are put back in the box in the wrong order, or upside down? At least they’re not on the floor anymore.

Communication Skills.

This is where all the wheels fall off the wagon! Communication is at the root of all problems at work and at home. From experience, I can tell you that the main problem is that we don’t listen to each other. Our heads are so filled with our agendas and to-do lists. We’re running at a hundred miles a minute without stopping to really listen to each other. We assume and think we know what our team members need. But actually, we don’t. Because we haven’t asked them. And we haven’t listened.

Sometimes, I start responding to what my kids tell me, because I have already taken the first three words they said, added my own interpretation and come up with a solution, before I even heard what the exact problem is. I just need to sort it out, so I can move on to the next thing. I have learned this the hard way. Sometimes, especially when they’re going through a tough time, you have to stop. Focus. And listen. You have to hear, before you respond. I still have a lot to learn in this area. Which brings me to the next point:

Love to learn from those you lead.

Whenever I have walked into a training room to deliver a course, I have always adopted the attitude that there will be someone in the room, who knows more about my subject than I do. I am not there as the fount of all knowledge. I am there to facilitate a learning experience and in the process I have learned so much myslef.

Likewise, there have been moments when I have had to confess to my children that I don’t have all the answers. And there have been times when their unfiltered wisdom has left me awestruck. It’s surprising what you can learn when you humble yourself to receive wisdom from those around you.

Continuous Professional Development.

You are never going to know enough! Things are always changing. The corporate world. The parenting world. There aren’t enough books written on both topics. So make sure you find time to learn. To study. To read. To reflect.

When I was working in the corporate world, it was surprising to see how few leaders actually take the time to reflect. To think about how they are leading. Many of them were telling me that there is just simply not enough time. Few managers were happy to sit through a development programme at the cost of productivity on the shop floor. They just didn’t see the value in it.

Taking five minutes a day to think about how you are leading and managing is a great habit. It will help you improve and become more efficient in the fanatastic work you are already doing, whether you’re a mum, a boss or a mum-boss.

Supernatural Support.

Thank heavens I have not had to lean on my own, limited understanding! It is awesome to have access to supernatural help and wisdom. If nothing else, having children has given me this revelation: I need God! And the great thing is, he is always on call with boundless wisdom, when we need it most.

He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.”
Isaiah 40:11 NLT

Motherhood has been one of the hardest callings I have ever stepped into. I have worked harder, much longer hours, with much less gratitude or benefits, than in any corporate position I have occupied. And there are times I wonder who in their right mind gave me this job? No interview. No qualification. No experience. No references.

I am ao thankful for a God who leads us with gentleness and patience, who carries us close to his heart. Sometimes, we need to remember to not just be gentle and patient with those we lead or raise, but also be gentle and patient with ourselves.

So whether you have been “mumming” like a boss or “bossing” like a mum. I salute you! You are awesome. And you have my permission to go have a cuppa and put your feet up.

But only for five minutes!

Those dishes are not going to do themselves.

HeartPrint:

Today, I hear the Father saying: “Beautiful, strong, Mama! You are doing an amazing job. Lean into my wisdom and strength, I will make you dance on top of the mountain of your daily responsibilities. There are treasures to unearth in the mundane routines of life. Listen out for my voice, I am here to lead you perfectly, with boundless energy and great joy! Learn from me. I know how to lead with gentleness and patience. And with unconditional love.” ❤

Receive

My twelve-year-old son sat next to me in the car, scrolling away on his phone while we were waiting for his little sister to finish school. “Woah!” he said, as he looked at something on his phone. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I should look or just give him his space. It’s hard to tell sometimes. Especially after a tough day in year 8. Ha!

“I will never forget this day, as long as I live!” he said. Now I was truly intrigued. I sneaked a peek over to the passenger side and thankfully, he was happy to show me the picture he had been staring at. It was from a couple of months ago. Christmas morning. He took a picture of the presents stacked under the tree.

OK. I will confess, we may have gone a little overboard. We didn’t actually spent that much, but my son had recently discovered an affinity for boxing and we had bought all sorts of little paraphernalia to accompany the punching bag he wanted for Christmas. To make sure that our girl-child did not feel neglected, we wrapped all sorts of bits and bobs. From pencils and bobbles to creams and bubbles, we wanted to make sure that they had an equal amount of things to unwrap. (Not that they were counting! They were opening those presents so fast).

It became a wrapping nightmare! And as a result, it looked like Santa may have had one too many complimentary brandy’s and forgot the rest of Lancashire’s gifts under our tree! This obviously struck awe into my son; so much that he had to take a picture to commemorate the moment. That Christmas morning, he had received the abundance of grace!

“For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”
Romans 5:17 NKJV

As Aidan was sitting in the car, awestruck at the picture of the mountain of gifts beneath the Christmas tree, it made me smile as I realised that he appreciated that little moment of abundant grace in his life. But it also delights my heart that he is using those gifts. When he picks up his kit and faithfully goes to class. When I hear him throwing punches at his punching bag, practicing what the coach has shown him. I am dreaming with him, to see him reach his goal. One day, he will be a champion!

(Although I have to admit a little nervousness about that gorgeous face getting a blow, I am excited when I see him reach for his dreams. And quietly praying for him to find another, less violent one, maybe? Ha!)

How sad would it be if Aidan decided to just stay there, staring at the tree on Christmas morning? If he never actually ripped off the (hours of) wrapping and started taking up the gifts he had been given, to pursue his dreams. My heart feels challenged by this as I think of how many of God’s children, created and called for greater works, are unable to receive the gifts at the bottom of another tree.

This tree wasn’t covered in tinsel and baubles, but was drenched in the priceless blood of the Lamb. The greatest gift we will ever open, the gift of Grace. And there is an abundance of it, for each one of us! Grace that empower us, equip us, that give us what we need to fulfil our God-given purpose and destiny: to rule and reign in life.

Today, I feel really challenged to ask myself: Am I only spending time marvelling at the tree, or have I taken the steps forward, to grab hold of the abundance of grace underneath it? Have I received my gifts, uncovered them, put them on and am I using them? There’s nothing wrong with staring in marvel at what our good Father has done for us, but it blesses his heart, when we take what he has given us and use it for his glory.

Have you opened your gifts?

It’s time to receive.

HeartPrint:

Today, I hear the Father excitedly say: “Wonderful Child! Come to the Tree! Come see the marvellous gifts that I have lovingly prepared for you, even before I created the foundations of the Earth. My Grace is there to empower and equip you to fulfil the desires of your heart. Desires, that I have placed within you. As you delight yourself in the abundance of my grace, you will become a champion of my glory. Glory, that the world desperately needs. Receive my Gift. Become the Gift. You are glorious!” ❤

Lanterns

“Dreams are the lanterns by whose lights we pass through the darkest valley.”
Shawn Bolz

“I’ve got a dream
She’s got a dream
I’ve got a dream
She’s got a dream
I just want to see the floating lanterns gleam
And with every passing hour
I’m so glad I left my tower
Like all you lovely folks, I’ve got a dream…”
Rapunzel, Tangled (listen here).

“I had a dream once,” said the Ruffian, before they all broke out in song in the Snuggling Duckling Tavern. Turns out there is a dream in every one, no matter how rough or tough they may seem.

Rapunzel was dreaming about one single day of freedom. A chance to go and see the lanterns that appeared only on her birthday. Curious about the origin and the story behind those mysterious lights, she snuck out of her tower and braved her way through a forest. This was the first time she had ever left her tower and she found herself in unknown territory.

All her life she had dreamt about seeing those lanterns up close, but behind her dream was something much bigger. Her father’s dream: his deepest desire was to embrace his lost daughter. Behind those lanterns, were her true identity. Her family. Her destiny.

Even thought Rapunzel had been missing for years, the King never stopped celebrating her. His celebration of her, those lanterns that she was dreaming about, called her home. She followed them and discovered that the dream she had was nothing compared to the dream that would unfold in the days to come.

As a young girl, I had a dream too. In fact, I had several, but the one that seemed the most important, was to be thin and beautiful. I believed that changing the way I looked would be the answer to all my problems. Having failed at dieting since the age of twelve, I did not have much hope of ever seeing my dream come true. Then one day I saw a lantern.

Lisa, a girl from far, far away, wrote her testimony in a book called “Real People. Real Needs. Real Victories.” (A book published by Kenneth Copeland Ministries). From within the pages of her story, shone this beautiful truth: God is interested in your weight loss journey, and you can invite him into any mess. That was the first time I realised that God wasn’t just for Sundays. God wanted to be part of my everyday life.

As I followed that lantern, I discovered another: Marty Copeland. Through her ministry and teachings, I learned amazing tools for transformation in the area of food and exercise. But the biggest revelation she brought to my heart was that I already had been given all things I need for life and godliness. It was in me to get up and walk in victory.

One lantern lead me to the next one, I discovered many awesome teachers of the Word and learned so much. But the knowledge I received, as much as I needed it, only took me so far. Then one day, as I was picking up toys off the living room floor, the telly happened to be on. It was on the Daystar channel, and Joni was interviewing someone whose story resonated with me, loud and clear.

She had me at “food issues!” I grabbed the remote and turned up the volume. Robia shared how she had learned about counterfeit comforts from the Holy Spirit. As soon as the interview finished, I rushed upstairs to Google her. I found her website and downloaded lots of her teachings. Through the tools she taught, I was empowered to start breaking out of my stronghold. She supplied the hammer, that broke the rock (Jeremiah 23:29). Her story, her teachings and mentoring, was like hundreds of lanterns, that offered so much light on my path.

“The entrance and unfolding of Your words give light; their unfolding gives understanding (discernment and comprehension) to the simple.”
Psalm 119:130 AMPC

As I applied what I learned, I started experiencing glimpses of freedom. It was a process. (It still is). And there were many years, that I had to listen and listen, and listen again. Whenever I would go through a tough patch, I would get my earphones and my trainers and go for a long walk, with Robia’s voice in my ears. But the dream was still the same. I want to be thin. I want to be beautiful. It would be a while yet, before I realised that there was a much bigger dream ahead. My Father’s dream.

The lanterns were calling me home. I followed them because I wanted to be thin and beautiful, but I found something much better than physical appearance. I found a Father who wanted to embrace me, love me and heal my heart. I wanted to look differently, but what I really needed was to see differently. To see the bigger picture. To see myself the way my Father sees me.

One foot in front of the other, I followed down the path. Lit up by the testimonies of children who had found their Father. Their righteousness in Jesus, showed me the way to go, to find everything I never knew I needed. They showed me the way to the Father, where I could trade my little dream for his awesome dream for my life.

I have never looked back.

“But the lovers of God walk on the highway of light, and their way shines brighter and brighter until they bring forth the perfect day.”
Proverbs 4:18-20 TPT

If you are feeling stuck, can I encourage you to lift your eyes toward the Light. Look for the lanterns. There is someone who has walked the path and found their way to freedom. Borrow their dreams as you discover your own. Let their stories be lanterns that light the path before you.

Saturate your life with the Word of Truth. Read it. Hear it. Speak it. It may not feel like you are getting any closer to your dream just yet, but I promise you, Beloved, you will get there!

Your Father is celebrating you. There are lanterns all around you. Just look and see.

HeartPrint:

Today, I hear the Father calling: “Glorious Child, there is so much life I long to give you. I am here, waiting to embrace you. To fill you with my love and to heal every broken piece of your heart. My dreams for you are limitless. As my Words of Truth fill your heart and flood your eyes, you will be able to see differently. You will be able to see the world like it really is. You will be able to see yourself like you really are. The way that I see you. Perfect. Holy. Loved.” ❤