It’s not a tick box exercise.

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

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

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

Last week I was preparing food for a party which quite frankly should by rights have stressed me right out, thankfully I leaned upon the Lord and said “God, I can not do this on my own, you have got to help me!” 

A British buffet really isn’t a buffet without good old cheese and pinapple sticks. So there I was 9pm on a Friday night jabbing cubes of cheese and pineapple with cocktail sticks. When I got to the bottom of the last tin of pineapple chunks, I looked down to see just 2 pieces left and there on the chopping my board were 2 beautiful equal chunks of cheese!! I was totally in awe that Jesus cared so much about this party He even gave me equal pineapple chunks for my cheese……I know you have just read that and thought I’m crazy, but let me give you some context. 

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

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

Disaster 

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

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

It wasn’t long before it was announced who my Dad had been so in love with he felt the need to pull apart our world. It was Mom’s best friend, our next but one neighbour, a lady I’d spent many a night with, bathing her newborn daughter, watching TV and enjoying having a “friend”. Me and Mom weren’t alone for long either, she met a man, he was younger than her and they fell deeply in love, they spent every minute possible together. I always felt so in the way, like I wasn’t wanted, I’m sure that wasn’t intentional they were just in love. Before long he proposed to mom and then shortly after that it was announced Dad and his new partner would also be getting married.

At 9 years old I remember the feeling of loss, I felt so alone, all around me I could see happiness, joy, belonging, laughter and there was me, alone with my bears in my room. I don’t know why I felt so alone, it’s not like I was pushed out, I just didn’t feel like I belonged in either my Mom’s home or my Dad’s. They were all so happy with one another, I just felt like an inconvenience to them, Dad had his new wife and her daughter that he loved, Mom had her new husband that she so desperately wanted to keep happy, and there was just me drifting along. Looking back now I think I was depressed, and withdrawn, I pulled myself away from people in order to create a wall of protection, that way I would never get hurt.

I found peace in books, I would shut myself away in my room, line up all of my teddies and read to them, I loved to act out the characters, my favourite were the scripts from Roal Dahl stories It was my way of escaping myself, I just hated being me. By the time I was 12-13 I used to act out my desired life, whenever I was alone in the house I would pretend I was a wife, the house was mine and I had a loving husband and 3 children, I’d speak aloud to them, anyone listening in would of thought I was crazy!

This escapism carried on throughout my life, books turned to other things I used to escape, people pleasing, taking drugs, drinking, lots of things that sent me down a path of darkness, discovering much more grief, sadness, anger and loss, my life has been quite eventful, filled with various losses and disasters which I’m sure I will write about in due course. 

Last year I attended Cherish, a ladies Christian conference. I had a real encounter with my Father that was one of THE best days of my life to date. From the first minute of walking through the doors  I felt the overwhelming love of my Heavenly Father, it was so intense tears of joy started to roll from my eyes, I felt His arms wrapped around me, He pulled me up on to His lap like I was that 8 year old again and His words echoed in my mind:

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

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

I’m pleased to say that my life now is still as eventful but a different type of life. Now, I have joy, peace and I don’t fear every circumstance, I don’t feel the need to escape anymore, I don’t have to please people to be accepted, I now have someone in my life that truly makes me feel I belong, He carries me, He comforts me, He whispers into my ear all of the wonderful things I can be, He makes me feel I can achieve anything in His strength and encourages me when I fall. I also have the husband and 3 kids I used to imagine!

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