It was our Last Sunday at Church in the Peak today…

I’ve been there ten years, ever since I was saved and Chris has been there about 5 1/2 years. They’re my/our family. They’ve been with me/us through all sorts of life changes and us with them. That’s probably why we still feel part of it, despite the fact we’re going to Ireland on Friday.

Another reason (the main reason) is that Scripture says that God sets the lonely into families (Psalm 68:6) and so he did with me and Chris and continues to do so with many others. All you have to do is ask as he also says “ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened”. (Matthew 7:7). He is ready and eager (not just willing) for you to ask him in. Try him.

So, back to church this morning. It was great and very moving. They prayed for us, we were given words from God (God speaking through people), which were very reassuring and we have gifts too and an amazing card! So generous. Saying goodbye was such an honour. So again, thank you. You sent us off “proper”.

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No time to do blokey Friday

I’m writing this having just taken my first ever Christmas cake out of the oven and with J running round blowing up boxes with a bicycle pump and littlest fastened into the high chair (they’ve just eaten).

This is my cake!

It isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough! (I have made fruit cake before), just never done the keeping and feeding with sherry before. We will take it with us next Friday and decorate it there.

We’ve had the okay to collect the cottage keys next Friday now. The big shed is packed, we are getting there! It is amazing how many of other people’s belongings I’ve found whilst sorting through our stuff. Sorry if you’re one of the ones to whom they belong! Word of advice, don’t lend me books unless you’re very good at reminding me or don’t mind a wait of a few years. ūüėā

We’re off out tonight with friends, then having an early Christmas Day/dinner tomorrow afternoon with my folks. All this saying goodbye is fun but strange! (Thank you for it though!)

Four weeks to go!

Yes folks, all being well, four weeks today and we will be in Ireland. It’s a strange feeling, I’m full of excitement and am really looking forward to doing this together as a family but also have lots of other feelings whirling around inside me. It’s difficult to describe.

Nerves for one, I suppose. Will we be welcomed? What will they think of us? Will the kids be ok? Especially J as it probably isn’t long until he will be at school there (I’ll really miss him). Will everyone we’re leaving here be ok? Lots of things really. I think the answer is, we will be fine. Everything will be fine. In fact, much more than fine. We have Jesus, so even when things are not fine, they also are – topsy turvy I know!

Practically, we’ve seriously started packing now and have boxes everywhere.

Our three year old – J says he “just wants to get there now” (cute) and I have started making lists of companies and people we need to inform. It is surprisingly long. It also feels strange because for the utility bills, I actually need to cancel the accounts because we aren’t staying in the UK.

The process also feels quite freeing though, as I have a list which I am going through and cancelling services and payments off. With each cancellation there is a big line that goes through the company name. Really need to keep things simple in the future…

There’s still lots I need to look into, such as bank accounts, national insurance payments, getting our cars checked out once there and the plates changed, whether we can keep our mobile contracts or not. I think probably not, but we will see (it’s on the list) and we also need to look into medical care (I think we have to apply for a card once there, but I need to look at it again).

Plenty to keep us occupied anyway!

The ferry journey is booked now too and Chris has given his notice in at work, so here’s praying that it all goes smoothly!

This week has been good, I’ve tried to make some room for fun/time with the children. I sometimes get so wrapped up in what’s going on that I feel like I don’t play with them enough. So we’ve had some fun. Going out, Throwing the ball for the dog, walking, getting the bus, running round, baking, talking. I find it really difficult to be present sometimes because my mind gets sooo full. But I’m trying to practice just being with them (I mean with no distractions) and enjoying it for at least part of each day. Thank you God for our children!

Testimony Tuesday

I’m starting to blog a series of true stories of how people came to know Jesus, or of other significant events. We call them testimonies. This one by a friend of ours called Dave is the first to kick off the series.

No longer an Ostrich

Up until the age of 33, Christianity for me was a target for ridicule, the name of Jesus a swear word, the existence of God as remote as the moon, and the thought of eternal life – far fetched.

Working in sales, selling machinery, since the age of 19, I considered my life reasonably successful. I enjoyed sport, meeting with my friends, drinking beer and having a loving wife and family.

Like everyone else, life gave me my share of kicks in the teeth; broken relationships, redundancy and the death of my much loved mother. Adopting the ostrich position or joking my way through things generally worked but when my wife became a Christian and I saw new joy in her face, I knew something was up.

It was not, however, until God spoke to me that I ever doubted my atheist views. After six months of resisting God, I gave up running from his love. I asked God to forgive me for the many things I had done wrong and to take charge of my life, not knowing what would happen.

I met Jesus Christ for the first time and He changed my life wonderfully – the past hurts dealt with, a new joy and intimacy with my wife Lesley, renewed self confidence, and best of all, experiencing the love of Jesus Christ.

No longer do I curse Jesus but I thank Him for His free gift of eternal life, His friendship and new hope for the future. To know the creator of the universe is the greatest privilege of all.

It’s a busy time at the moment…and uncertain…but exciting!

Update on the move so far because we keep being asked. We sold our house subject to contract back in June, but have not yet exchanged, we have now sent the signed forms off so exchange of contracts can take place.

We are buying a cottage in Leitrim in Ireland (all being well) which needs a little work, but is liveable, which also has 3 acres of land with it. Our Irish solicitors are brilliant and are keeping us up to date well, they have asked the sellers a few questions and are currently waiting for answers. It is pretty certain we will be moving, we have paid the deposit and had an engineer’s report.

In order to buy a house in Ireland (it is Southern Ireland), we need PPS numbers, (personal public service numbers) and these should be coming either this week or next. An absolutely lovely lady rang me this week from Ireland just to check the details. She was very friendly and said she was originally from the area in which we are buying and seemed really pleased when I said we were moving there.

Another question we keep being asked is about work/jobs. The answer to that is, no, we don’t currently have jobs waiting there for us. We have subscribed to various sites which advertise jobs in the areas we would be fairly close to. To those who may worry because we haven’t got work waiting – don’t worry, we will be fine. Chris is an extremely hard worker, who will work hard at absolutely anything he does and has been in constant work for years and if necessary I would get part time work to subsidise us, but that will probably not be necessary. I do intend to be at home with the children as long as it is possible.

The last commonly asked question is schools – yes there are schools nearby, as far as I am aware there is a little village primary school about four miles away. It is also legal to home school in Ireland if it became necessary or we decided to do that. Unlike here, education is only compulsory from the age of six in Ireland, but apparently most children do go from the age of four/five.

We are really looking forward to moving but whilst we are still here we are trying to make the most of the time left. We have been going out as a family at weekends, talking together more, spending more quality time together really, making good use as far as possible of¬† our time here. We went to a place called Magna on Saturday. It was so good, J (our 3 year old) and Chris were absolutely enthralled and there is a really good playground there too, which we went to afterwards. It’s also good, because if you pay full price once, you can then get in for a year for free afterwards. We also belong to the National Trust so we have been making the most of being members, getting out to various places as a family.

I’ve also met an old friend today at a local playgroup at the Baptist Church Hall, it was great! There were also two ladies there who looked after my daughter when she went to the after school club maybe about 17 years ago and another fella called John who is part of the Baptist Church who may have taught her at school (I only realised this after he left, I never got a chance to ask him). It was a very friendly, relaxed group and we all enjoyed it. J doesn’t always like indoor groups but he seemed to quite enjoy this one.

Chris and I are also actually going out!!! tomorrow!!! It is our wedding anniversary so we are celebrating God’s goodness in our lives and each other. Five years! It doesn’t actually feel like five years, even though we have packed it full. I loved our wedding, it was a good, good day. God was in it completely and utterly. Thank you Lord Jesus.

wedding 018

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I did this friends thing on facebook….

and I’m not sure how I feel about it! It was this status that you copy and paste that said …………………….write down how you met me……….. and most of the people seemed to be from church. I loved it and it reminded me of the friends I do have but….

Now don’t get me wrong, I love my church, deeply. But I do feel I’ve placed it and the area it is in on a bit of a pedestal when I should have been concentrating on where I am in Chesterfield.¬†Just to be clear, my church is about ten miles from where I live, so not a massive distance, but when it comes to having close friends and community, it seems to make a massive difference.

I won’t lie, since having children I’ve been frequently lonely. I feel like I’ve wasted time being lonely actually. When I could have just been out there having fun and being with my kids and not worrying. That makes me sad. I should have concentrated on my own community where I live and made friends. The post natal depression didn’t help! But I’m fine now.

I know I did make a few and you are out there, but life with small children and friendships is actually quite difficult. Most women work as well as bring their children up and also have partners as well. So life is busy and time limited.

Everyone says “go to groups!!!” but to be quite honest I find a lot of groups to be more dispiriting that not going. I find it a fake indoors environment where you sit around talking nonsense or worrying about your child’s behaviour and being unsure as to whether it is “appropriate” (another word I don’t like). and trying to make friends with people who, quite frankly, don’t appear to want to actually be friends. Maybe it’s just our English non embracing of others, our restraint, but I don’t like it.

If I was staying here, I think I would have made more of an effort, invited people out, gone to the park and spoken to people. It’s actually quite easy, I did it yesterday, we went to our local park and stayed quite a while, J made a friend (amazing how easy we find it when we are three) and ran around for ages. The little one shuffled round climbing on things and I chatted with J’s friend’s grandma. It was great.

I have actually loved being a full time mum. Loved it. And I will keep on loving it. But now, I am going to embrace this time and love my kids and teach them and enjoy them. (and learn from them hopefully). J goes to school in a year, and I have beaten myself up in some ways because everyone seems so obsessed with nurseries and I seem to have been continually asked since J was born if he was going or when he was going to nursery.  Particularly when he was going through a tough time like when he went through a hitting phase (like nursery would sort him out??!!)

J hasn’t gone to nursery and still isn’t at the moment is the answer. And you know what? he is an intelligent, well adjusted and knowledgeable three year old. With all the traits of a normal three year old, including some defiance, screaming heebie jeebies, and refusing to leave the park when asked saying he wanted to stay there forever. He makes friends easily when out, he is sociable and he seems very secure. Again, not going to nursery when very young is not a bad thing… (neither is going, may I add to my working friends, I know how hard it is).

Having said that we will try and find a pre-school when we get to Ireland. But only because he is getting to that age where I feel it would be helpful and I think he would enjoy it. I have often felt that by being at home, what on earth have I given him? But more and more as he gets older I feel I am seeing what we have given him, and that is good.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am not slating working parents. I’ve been there, done that, and this parenting decision is entirely our decision. It is because I’ve been there, done that, that I made this decision. I did my nurse training whilst my daughter was little. We are also in the privileged position of (just) being able to do it financially.

So I suppose the point of this is, parenting is difficult, but I’m not sure we get it right in this country. There are so many lonely parents, being sold this image of parenthood that it just doesn’t live up to. Being told that nursery is the right place for their child, being made to feel that they have to work. Being told “you can have it all” when in fact it is incredibly difficult and something always has to give.

I also don’t get why we as parents don’t get this sorted, there seems to be a sort of paralysis of parents being perpetually lonely or unfulfilled. This doesn’t seem to have changed in the last 20 odd years (remember I have a 23 year old daughter too). I know I am generalising massively but I am speaking from my experience of trying loads of different kids groups over the past three years and meeting lots of different parents.

So, I’ve decided to try and do my bit from now on by simply welcoming other parents with a big smile and an ear to listen wherever I am. By being open and welcoming and take it from there. No agenda. No preconceived ideas.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.
 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
¬†¬†¬†¬†are the children¬†of one’s youth.
 Blessed is the man
    who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
    when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

(Psalm 127:3-5)

(I’m really hoping this post is not offensive, massive apologies if it is…parenting and friendships are tricky subjects, I am working my own thoughts out really, I feel like God is doing stuff in me at the moment, working things through…)

Be kind to yourself?

I was thinking this morning, learn to be kind to yourself, you don’t have to do, do, do, you don’t have to get certain things done by a certain time, you don’t even have to indulge in endless activities for the children – that does not make a good parent as far as I’m concerned. Giving time is better I think…However, I then started thinking, is this biblical? I thought, the bible tells us to “die to self” but then God’s grace is for all and he also says to love others as you love yourself.

How does he tell us to love? Love as he has loved us.

How has he loved us? An innocent man (God) died for us, in our place. Through this we have forgiveness of every sin, we have life – before we come to Christ we are dead in our sins and transgressions. We have restoration and freedom, we are back to how it was before the fall. We can walk with God in the garden. Jesus removes the barriers to God, all of them. We have healing, which seems to come in a variety of forms. The main one as I see it is of being restored to God, of the gap being filled, our purpose in this life being revealed. God’s healing is truly holistic, he heals the root causes and true healing then follows. God never papers over the cracks and is always truthful with us, lovingly truthful. God always listens to us and delights in us coming to him, he answers prayer. He delights in us being us (he made us). In short, he heals, he loves, he restores, forgives, accepts, changes us, listens, redeems, comforts us, counsels us, gives us wisdom and grace. I have probably left some points out, but you get the gist.

So how does this translate, before I go off at a complete tangent? How am I supposed to love myself and others without being self seeking and self absorbed? This is the famous scripture that is read at so many weddings:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind;

love does not envy or boast;

it is not arrogant or rude.

It does not insist on its own way;

it is not irritable or resentful;

it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends…

(1 Corinthians 13:1-8)

Doing this without the power of the holy spirit as far as I can see is hopeless. This is the template for love and how it is possible to love and as far as I am concerned it is an amazing checklist. No more fakey, kiss, kiss, type of love, but real, tangible, raw love. Love that requires sacrifice and perseverence, not fake smiles. Love that lasts.

I suppose all this love stuff, also goes hand in hand with the fruits of the spirit – “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control” (Galatians 5:22-23). So, I guess the trick is, abide in God, know who he has made you to be, ask for the fruit of the spirit and follow him. Aha! so easy ūüėÄ haha.

So, back to the original question? is it biblical to be kind to yourself? I guess it is as long as it is being kind and not just indulging your each and every whim. I know I need to look after myself and in particular get rest, because if I don’t everyone suffers! The aim of being kind to myself should really be to show God and His love to others…not just for me to sit here thinking of ways to indulge myself. Outwards facing, not inwards….

On another note, we are definitely off to Ireland next week! I am so excited, I’ve never been before! So many adventures this year, a very different year to previous ones! Life has most definitely been an adventure since knowing God, but this year, things have changed again. “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done wonderful deeds…” (Ps 98:1)