Showing posts with label About Me. Show all posts
Showing posts with label About Me. Show all posts

15.5.19

The Closer You Get The Brighter The Light Shines!



I was born again in 1991 and I will never forget the moment that the pastor asked me if I thought I was a good person. My reply was a confident, "Yes". At that time, an unwed, pregnant, seventeen-year-old teenager who had not finished high school and done just about all the naughty stuff that a teen could have done, but I thought I was a good person. I have since learned that this is a common response from most people.

"A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart." - Proverbs 21:2

Now, 28 years later, I feel like more of a sinner than I ever have. The more I get to know Jesus the brighter His light seems to shine on me, and on all my imperfections. The thing about this is that when He shines his light on my character flaws I don't feel bad or guilty, I feel His love and am inspired to work on them and become a better person.

The Bible says, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." in Matthew 5:48 and I have never quite understood what that means as the entire Bible is proof that we cannot be perfect surely. The Greek word for perfect in this verse is teleios which means 'brought to its end' and finished. It also means 'wanting nothing necessary to completeness' and fully grown adult.

So, in my understanding, the Bible isn't telling us to be perfect instantly but that we are to grow into maturity in Him and thankfully we also have the amazing verse that says that we are clothed in His righteousness so we are also perfect instantly too on the day we accept Jesus into our life.

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." - 2 Corinthians 5:21

So I am both perfect already because of Jesus and still growing into perfection as I walk with him. As the light shines more brightly on me and I see more of my imperfections I am encouraged by how far I have come but also challenged about becoming even better.

Where are you in your walk towards perfection? I would love to hear your views, struggles and any questions that you might have.

Love

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25.4.19

The Journey Begins

Right, now that the hardest part is over, and that was getting the first post written, taking the plunge and getting back into this blog, I begin the journey of reading through the last ten years of posts - 650 in total! My next post was a book review. This reminded me of much I used to love reading and how little I read these days. My business, Women's Business Club, has pretty much taken over my life and this is not a good thing. Part of getting back into my blog is to try and find me again, to find what I love outside of business and to take those parts of my life back. Reading is one of those areas that has been sorely neglected.

The book I reviewed was God Chicks by Holly Wagner. The highlight of this post is that Holly actually wrote to us and left us a comment which I treasure.

I might just really get into reading again so have bought Warrior Chicks too, I never did get around to reading that one so will do so now. As I placed my order on Amazon it occurred to me that part of what moulded me back in those days was who I followed online. They say that your life is influenced by the books you read and the people you spend time with. I would go one step further in this day and age and say that your life is also influenced by the people you follow online. So I am going to go back to my influencers of 10 years ago and sign up to their blogs too and see what there is to see! I used to love following Holly Furtick and Holly Wagner - ha ha just noticed that they are both Hollys. It seems Holly Furtick doesn't have a blog anymore but only an Instagram, how the world has changed so quickly.

OK, so where am I at now? I think I am burned out but still trying really hard to keep going. Deep down inside I know I need to stop and have a complete rest from everything but that is easier said than done. Today I spoke to someone for business advice and was told that I am more successful than I realise. This was really encouraging. At the same time, right now, as I write, I feel totally shattered and cannot find the strength to get through the days. Is success supposed to feel this bad?

So my journey begins, the journey of finding me again amidst the weight of success. Perhaps this post doesn't make sense but some of you will totally get how I feel. I would love to hear from you, where are you at in your life's journey, how do you feel right now? Perhaps you are in a new beginning and feeling fresh and alive or perhaps you have been hard at work for many years and feel totally wiped out or maybe you are somewhere in between. I would love to hear your story and how you are feeling right now so we can go on this journey together.

Love

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28.3.19

Back to the Beginning

I'm not sure where to begin but I know that I need to start somewhere. 10 years ago on 13th April 2009 I penned my very first post on this blog. My audience was the women of our brand new baby church, D7 Church and the message was identity, knowing who we are as daughters of the King. My only intention for writing was to encourage our women on their faith journey and in their everyday ordinary life. Little did I know what the years ahead would hold and how much of a rollercoaster ride life was to become. I have written here through most of it, there have been some quiet spots with an attempt at a post in the dark seasons.

Today I come back full circle as I explore my own writings, try to make sense of the journey I have been on with the hope that I will find a way forward. Most of all, with all my heart I believe that there is a purpose to the past ten years and it wasn't all for nothing!

My audience from today is me.  If you happen to be reading this, then you too and I hope that you find encouragement from my reflections or perhaps only a little entertainment! My message remains the same, identity. For me, identity remains the most important message of all time. Who am I? What is my purpose? What should I be doing with my life? To answer these questions I need to know the One who made me. All becomes clearer as I spend time with the One who made me. It is in this precious time that I feel peace and my purpose once again becomes clearer.

This year, as I spent time with God, I felt clearly that the name of 2019 is Less is More and thus far this has been my guiding phrase, when in doubt I simply ask, does this fit in with Less is More. It has helped me shape my business and more importantly helped me to get back to the simple things in life which I enjoy, one of them being writing here in my blog, a simple pleasure that I have neglected for far too long.

So what does back to the beginning mean to me? Well, I am going to start by getting back to the place where I felt closest to God and where life made the most sense and that means starting to read my own writing from my very first post and retracing my footsteps through the past 10 years to try and make some sense of it all. There has been so much good but equally so much hurt and pain. I have become a completely different person because of it so almost need to start exploring my identity once again. Not because my core identity has changed but because there is a whole new layer of understanding. God has stripped away, humbled and exposed parts of me, some good and some not so good. He has been hard at work moulding me, chipping away the bad bits and polishing up the good bits. I truly am a new creation, evidence of what a good God can do with a bad girl. He started His incredible work in me way back on 1st March 1991, 28 years ago when I was a very lost and broken pregnant seventeen year old! Wow, what a journey I've been on. I don't feel the need to go that far back, if you would like to hear about those days read some of my books as I reveal all in Hope's Journey, Secure on the Rock and Passion & Purity. I will pick up with His more recent work from the past 10 years and see where this takes me.

I have no idea where this will take me but if you would like to join me on this journey, share your stories, ask questions and pray for each other, please feel free to do so by leaving comments in the box below. So here we go, back to the beginning...

Love

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12.1.18

Who Am I?

It's quite ironic that this is my post title today, "Who Am I?" as I started this blog nine years ago with the title Knowing Who You Are because of my passion to help women find their identity. I write to you today from a completely different place. It's not one of not knowing who I am but trying to figure out what to do with who I am and the complexities that come with being a human being. I am not just one 'thing' but I am a combination of so many things. God made us that way for good but it can do quickly turn into a bad thing for so many of us. Have you heard the saying, "If the devil can’t get you to sin, he’ll keep you busy"? It's true, we get too busy and distracted from God's purposes for our life. I am guilty but want to get out of this trap!

So my current dilemma is how to be a successful businesswoman and a great wife and mother? I love playing house, cleaning, cooking, gardening, sewing and all those lovely activities. I also love being the businesswoman that I am which means I work full time. I also love serving God and want to get to know my neighbours, get involved in the local church and community doing my part to make the world a better place. I could go on and to be honest I don't think what I am saying is very different from what you would say. Some women have a clear identity - they don't like to play house or they don't like business - they lean strongly to being a housewife or strongly towards being a businesswoman but what if you are very much both - equally divided? What if you want to do all the housey stuff and all the business stuff? There are only 24 hours in each day and I want to spend 24 hours each day on both plus other stuff, for example, I miss being involved in politics so much and would love time for personal hobbies too!

If you have followed my When Church Hurts posts you will also know that I have not been involved in a church for a while too and fear taking that step back into church life again this year as it equals more busyness. You will say to me that it doesn't have to but honestly going to church isn't God's plan for us but being a part of the church is. Perhaps I will write about that next as I have observed so much from both sides.

I can't do anything half measure! If I give myself to something I give my all. So who am I or am I all of these things but have to figure out how to make it work?

So this morning instead of jumping into work I am doing something for me first, I am writing this post. It is a small step but it is one that I hope will help me figure out this identity crisis, this schizophrenia! I want the world to slow down, to stop spinning so fast so I can find my balance. But alas it won't so how do I find balance and peace amidst all that life demands of me?  I have more questions than answers. I do know the theory and you are probably going to pounce at me with time management tips, or sound scriptural advice of putting God first and the rest will fall into place or other valuable and true advice. The chances are I have heard it, tried it and believe it to be true. But still, I find myself in this place. This doesn't mean that I cannot learn from you - definitely share your best advice, I certainly don't know it all.

Yesterday I met with my business mentor and he clearly said I am doing to much in my business. If he knew the rest of my life he would fall off his chair and say I am definitely doing too much. I have always done too much, it's just how I roll. I don't want to be like this but equally I love being like this. I don't have a problem saying no, that is not the problem. I actually like everything I do and want to do more, that's the problem.

So join me this year as I explore this question in a very real way - no more theory of what works but a very deep and real look at who I am really and what that means I should do with my life.  Tell me what you struggle with and if you have anything that has worked for you please share it too. I would love to know that I am not alone on this journey.

Love


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6.11.17

A New Day



It is November, a year since my last post on this blog. The sun is shining and the birds chirping outside my bedroom window on this crisp autumn Monday morning. I'm chatting to God and remembering yesterday's church service with warmth and realise that I am looking forward to going to church again next Sunday. It occurs to me that I haven't felt this way in many years. I feel excited about going to church for the first time since we had our own church, D7 Church. I never dreamed the grief process would take so long. I never imagined that it could hurt so much and that my church life would become so complicated!

It's a new day today. I feel a little flicker of something I used to feel. There is hope. But I'm taking it slowly and just enjoying going to church each Sunday. I still fear someone speaking to me and may seem very unfriendly when someone does. The thought of being asked to serve on a team still terrifies me. There is a long way to go in this healing process I can see. But just being in the House of God each week is healing. I love the time of worship and can't get enough of it. Hearing the word preached is another layer of healing and each week I see how important our weekly church gatherings are.

The church isn't the Sunday meeting, it is the people and together we are the church 24/7 but there is still something powerful that happens when we gather together each week.

I never thought I would ever get to feel this way about church again, but I can honestly say that I am looking forward to going to church again this coming Sunday.

13.11.16

Back on the Path

We went to church on Sunday. Eric, Daniel, Amy and I. Together as a family for the first time in ages. At first I felt nervous going back. I knew it was right and it was time. The season had changed and there was no reason for me to stay away any longer. My heart felt full, I was no longer tired and all my other reasons and excuses had faded away. To be honest, I actually missed church. My reasons for being nervous are too many to list starting with fear from all that had happened in the past all the way to fear of being hurt all over again and everything in between. Despite all that was going on inside of me emotionally something stronger was drawing me to church.

Choosing a church wasn't an option, it had to be a Baptist church so that Eric could do his placement for his studies and it would continue being a Baptist church for the two remaining years of his studies. I was ok with that. I accepted that church would not be as exciting as it had once been both because I was fond of the Hillsong style of church and also because I had been hurt so many times that I would keep my heart protected and remain cautious for some time by choice. I felt a sense of responsibility to the Baptist church and knew that God had something in mind for us as a family.

Eric is back on the path he is meant to be on and so I go to church of my own free will to support him on his journey and to get connected again as I should be. My heart pines for church to be fun, full of life and... well as it says in 1 Chronicles 22:5 ," ... the house to be built for the LORD should be of great magnificence and fame and splendour in the sight of all the nations." In my mind church should be magnificent, full of joy, worships should be loud and make you want to dance, prayer should be powerful and yielding results such as healing, miracles and deliverance. Even the building should shine either because it has cool lights or more importantly because Jesus is there.

I digress. The point is that Eric is back on the path that I believe he is meant to be on and we are back at church as a family. Our new pastor is a woman and she is really amazing, taking the church over the Jordan and into new and exciting things. We are honoured to be a part of what God is doing at our new church and will serve the pastor and the people to the best of our ability.

6.11.16

Amazing Breakthrough

Enough was enough I thought! Something had to give. The pressure was too much and I wanted my job and peace back. My prayer was specific and I wanted a clear and final answer before I put the whole thing behind me. Although I tried to go to church with Eric once I was still spending Sundays at home. Everything inside of me did not want to go to church. I knew that if I did go to church it should be to Eric's church. So the children and I stopped visiting other churches and committed to go to Eric's church and support him in his role. It was too difficult though and no matter how hard I tried I could not force myself to go to church. Sundays became a day where I prayed while pottering around in my garden and we became a TV church member of Life Church - they have a fantastic kids program each Sunday.

Back to my prayer which went like this:

"Dear Father God. I love to hear your voice! There is nothing more that I desire. Father, please tell me if you want me to do anything about Eric's university? Do I interfere? Do I get involved? Do you want him to finish his studies? What do you want me to do?"

After praying I had an extremely strong conviction to do whatever I had to so that Eric could go back to university and finish his studies. I found several email addresses on Eric's computer for his university contacts and also found some of this friends contacts. All in all I contacted everyone that I felt I should contact and simply said,

" It has been on my heart lately to do whatever it takes to get Eric back to his studies. I don't know where to start so am just praying and reaching out and trusting God to lead the way. Do you have any advice?"

I received several responses where people confirmed that they also felt that Eric should continue his studies as he was clearly called to ministry. Everyone was so lovely but there was still that matter of Eric's outstanding fees from the first year of studies. Eric was adamant that he would not return to university without his debt being settled first.

What happened next blew my mind! The very next day this email came into Eric' inbox:

"Dear Eric, I hope that you are well. I'm writing to let you know that we have now received pledges of funds to cover all your fees for this year apart from £1500. The College is able to give you a bursary for this outstanding amount. I do hope it might be possible for you to continue your studies next year. Please do get in touch if you would like to  talk about this."

Oh my goodness! I got Goosebumps when I read this. It couldn't have been any cleared and served as direct confirmation to my prayer the day before, that Eric should be back at university to complete his studies and continue on the path he had originally set out on. I was immediately reminded of Isaiah 65:24,

" Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear."  NIV

Another version says it like this:

" I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!" NLT

It seemed possible that all this time I was not actually completely wrong but that I was in fact fighting a battle for my husband's future so that he would remain on the path that God had for him and not be tempted by another path which seemed to be good and Godly but was in fact simply not the right path.

30.10.16

The Reason for Everything

There is only one way to really and truly get God's attention and that is to either break his heart so badly that he turns away and cries or to fast! So I chose the latter as I have broken his heart far too many times in my life and I needed him nearer to me that every before. So I withheld food and all drinks except water from my flesh and cry out to God.  Day one of my fast consisted mainly of headaches and me pouring out my heart to God. Day two God spoke briefly:

"Everything comes from God alone, everything lives by his power and everything is for His glory." - Romans 11:36 TLB

Bottom line: It's all for Him.

So with this revelation I forced myself to see things differently. I tried and make it about him and not about me. What did he want? How could I make it about him?

One Sunday evening I insisted that Eric and I seek God together. We spend the evening really reaching out to God together and I prayed until I felt like my eyeballs were going to pop out from the intensity of my prayer. My prayers were groanings in the spirit! It was then that I heard God's voice as clear as anything as he said:

"I want you to trust your husband?"

I was baffled, of all the things God could have said to me why did he say that? Seriously! I needed encouragement, support and nice warm fuzzy. Not a command that didn't fit into what I was seeking him for. So without even thinking about it I responded tearfully,

"But God how?"

To which God instantly said, "I won't ask you to do something without giving you the grace to do it."

And that was the end of the conversation. I left the living room knowing that God had spoken and that I had to obey his voice. I can't say that I was happy that I had heard from God. He unearthed something that I didn't know was there. I thought I did trust Eric. What did he mean trust him? It seemed that deep down inside I held onto the fact that I can trust men, no man in my life has ever been trustworthy and although Eric is the nicest man I have ever known he was still a man and not to be trusted. This was not a conscious thought but it seemed to be a thought that I believed someone deep down inside my soul. So my next challenge was to learn to trust my husband.

23.10.16

Deep Darkness

Eric was convinced that I was depressed and wanted me to see the doctor again. I stood by my confession that I was healed of depression in October of last year and that what I was going through was NOT depression. It was a deep darkness but not depression - I knew the difference. I was unhappy. I was deeply miserable. I was not liking life. But I was not depressed. And so in my frustration I resorted to writing melancholic poetry. It didn't even rhyme which was an indicator of how deep the darkness was, I couldn't even be bothered to rhyme!

Darkness surrounds me
I even breath it in
It feels heavy
I can't find a way out

"Sanctify yourself[i]," you say
"For tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you."

Hopelessness fills me.
How did life get so bad.
Hurt consumes me.
There seems no escape.

God help, please rescue me.
I can't do this on my own.

_________
[i] Joshua 3:5

16.10.16

The Submission Struggle

It's 5am on a dark, warm, late summer's morning. I have been awake since 2:30am.  Sleeping has become difficult lately with me averaging about four to five hours sleep most nights. Sometimes less. It's horrible! But my sleeping pattern is not what I want to share with you today. Today I want to share something that I never dreamed I would ever struggle with. Submission. A word that many recoil at. A concept that the modern woman finds outdated and irrelevant and many modern Christian woman believe it's a cultural thing for times past. I however have always been a massive advocate for submission and have passionately preached about it, written about it and believed it with all my heart - or so I thought. Well it's easy to think you are submissive when everything is going your way!

Eric keeps asking me why I won't follow him. I can see he is hurt by the fact that I am not fully behind him in his new church, in fact I am totally opposing him. I am 100% in disagreement with him about his choice to attend and work there. I have been very clear and direct with my disapproval and we have argued many times about the fact that he expects me to follow him wherever he goes and to trust him. Most of all he has made it clear that he expects me to submit to him.  Aargh I hate being told to submit, it goes against what I believe submission is so I dig me heals in even deeper. I believe submission is given by my own free will as a gift to my husband and cannot be demanded of me. Despite everything else I am about to share with you I still believe this to be true - anything else would be domination in my opinion and I don't believe a husband should dominate his wife in any way at all. This whole church situation has really thrown me! I can't understand why I so passionately resist the church that Eric is working at. It's not the people or the church, I believe that they are Godly and have a great church. It is a firm conviction that we are not meant to be going down that path again!

My past has affected me. I don't blame anyone or any past experience but I also don't want to put all the blame on myself either. As you may or may not know from my other writings, my dad was not the greatest of dads having crossed over boundaries that he should have. My step dad wasn't any better, in fact he was much worse. I had a string of hurtful relationships and a failed first marriage (because I was an idiot sadly). So to me the thought of completely trusting and surrendering to a man is ludicrous, even to a man as wonderful as Eric. I have always felt to keep my cards close to my chest and always make sure I have the winning hand. Never consciously but definitely subconsciously making sure I always have a way out, an emergency exit. Divorce thoughts plague my mind regularly and have done for 12 years of marriage. There was a season when I thought I cracked it but they came back. Knowing that there is a way out if I get too hurt is a comfort to me. The thought of having someone have full control over me is... well... unthinkable. Only God gets that much of me.

My prayer was something along these lines this morning:

"God, I don't want to give my husband, or anyone, power over me. Why should I give up the free will that you gave me. How can a trust a man. I trust you completely but I don't know how I can trust my husband. I don't want to give him power over me. I want to keep the door open to leave it I need to. What do I do as know all of this is wrong but you know it's the truth of how I feel. I give you all my heart and all of me, I trust you but I can't give that to another human being. I am tired of always feeling hurt. I don't want to keep myself in that position when my husband or anyone else can hurt me. What do I do? I know this is displeasing to you and I desperately want to please you but I can't see a way forward."

As I sat on my sofa in tears I saw a large thorn stuck in my flesh with a bloody wound around it. I felt like God was saying to me that He could remove the thorn if I wanted Him to. He showed me how I had been protecting and holding onto this thorn, not wanting to let it go. My pain was caused by this thorn but if I didn't allow Him to remove it I would continue living with pain that it brings. It made sense to me, why would someone knowingly hold onto a splinter or thorn in their flesh? Even though it would hurt to take it out it was a no brainer that it has to be removed. Yes I still resisted. The thorn was an obvious metaphor, perhaps of me holding onto my divorce thoughts or of me not wanting to submit. It could also be the fear of losing my power and giving a mere man his way with me. What if losing this thorn meant I became a mindless zombie who just did whatever my husband said and lost me in the process of blindly obeying. Yuck! I don't want to be that kind of person!

So I surrendered to God, not knowing for sure what the thorn was, how painful it would be to have it removed but fully confident that willing living with a thorn in my flesh is painful and foolish. I do trust God with all my heart and I know that He only ever wants what is best for me. I know that I can't 'fix' myself, this problem is too big and probably too deeply rooted. So I surrender. I will wait and see, trust and obey.

9.10.16

My Broken Heart

The new year had kicked in and I was fully focused on building my business - the right way! It seemed right to be busy with something that was not ministry and we did need to money so it was what I chose to do. King's Daughters Girl's Nights continued on a monthly basis at a coffee shop connected to our church. Eric started a Men's Night as the men saw all that God was doing in the Girl's Nights and wanted their own special night too. Slowly, our hearts warmed to the lovely people at our church as we let the barriers down and allowed ourselves to feel love and compassion again. Brick by brick the walls came down and we starting giving pieces of our heart away as we were able to allow people in once more. It was scary to care again. Being vulnerable hurt a little as the scars were still raw from so much hurt from before. But the people in our church were (and still are) so lovely that we couldn't resist loving them and serving them to the best of our ability.

Eric was thriving in university and getting fantastic marks for his assignments. He loved the hour journey to and from university too, it was a special time where he drove much slower that the speed limit and just chilled in God's presence. He told me how precious that time was to him and I was happy for him. Despite our financial struggles, we were getting by each month and managing to pay most of our bills. We didn't go hungry and had a nice warm cosy home for which we were very grateful.

A niggling feeling started bothering me. I asked Eric to make sure that his university fees had been paid by the church as I didn't want that debit falling on us. He told me not to worry, that everything had been agreed with the church and that it would be paid in full by the end of the year. I didn't have peace, something didn't feel right. Weeks later I asked him again to check and I think just to get me to stop nagging he contacted the college only to find out that none of his fees had been paid at all. Towards the end of the academic year the university started asking for his full year's fee and my niggling feeling grew stronger and so did my nagging to sort it out.

There are many details and names that I won't divulge as this story is not about blaming anyone or being nasty in any way. It is out story and I hope to share it as delicately and diplomatically as possible without exposing or hurting anyone in any way. The bottom line is that there was a massive disagreement about the arrangement for Eric's university fees and we were left with a £8,000 bill that we could not pay. After a very well handled meeting between Eric, the university and the church we all agreed to disagree and Eric informed me that we were leaving the church the next day. We were both in shock about what happened and to be honest I think Eric panicked. The church that we had previously merged with after D7 Church closed had offered Eric a job several times over the years and so he decided that he needed to accept, if only to cover his university fees and find a way to get our family back on track financially. He did want to serve the church and told me that he was fully committed to doing the best possible job that he could at this church whilst finding a way to pay his university fees and take care of his family.

I was devastated, in shock, hurt and confused. We were ripped out of another church, left behind our ministries and hurt a lot of people who didn't deserve for us to abandon them the way we did. I decided then and there that I was not going to go to church. It hurt too much.

2.10.16

Standing in the Way of the Blessing

Eric of course has his own story to tell, and I hope that one day he will also share his side of this journey as I am sure it will be filled with very different details, struggle, opinions and his own convictions and revelation. For now, I can only comment on my view into his part of our story. Eric is a man of prayer! He is always desperate to hear what God wants to say about every are of live and seldom moves until He is sure God has told him to. What I love most about Eric is that he is authentic, what you see if what you get. He does his level best to be a good husband and father but most important to him is that he is a man of God.

I don't recall how it came about but during 2015 Eric started exploring going to bible school to do his BA in theology so that he could be ordained and become a 'real' minister. As his desire to study grew he explored several universities and took advice from our pastor. Together they agreed on the course that Eric should do and after several meetings our pastor and our church agreed to support Eric on his journey but spiritually and financially. Eric was over the moon and signed up for university and began exploring Baptist ministry. I have never seen Eric so happy and fulfilled as I did during this year. He was doing exactly what he was meant to me doing and I recognised this.

Sadly, I could have done better as his wife. I made several mistakes along the way that made his journey much more difficult than it had to be. We were sitting in a coffee shop discussing the way forward with our pastor. Eric suggested taking his studies from part time to full time so that it could get done quicker and get back to earning a salary. I agreed to support him and had no problem with him going full time, in fact I preferred it that way. So I said, "Don't worry, I can take care of us financially while he is studying. I am making enough money in my business to support us."

Not long after that meeting Eric had a dream. He dreamed that I was flying an aeroplane and the cockpit area started to crack. He knew I was going to crash. After discussing his dream I asked how we could prevent it but neither of us could find the answer. We knew that the aeroplane was my business and that is was going to crash. I was frightened but didn't know what to do.

Shortly after the dream my company did start to fall apart. I went from a really good, steady income to almost losing the business. It seemed to happen overnight. My whole world was be falling apart. We got behind in our bills and tithing became impossible because the money was leaving our account before we could even touch it. We went from doing really well to doing really poorly. Everything I had built seemed to be crashing down around me. God was silent until I begged him to show me what was happening!

Pride. He showed me that I had become proud. My income and my husband's lack of income had caused a terribly imbalance in our life. I hated that he wasn't earning and that I was responsible for us. I desperately didn't want to feel this way, I wanted to support him while he was at university and I wanted to do it well. But I wasn't doing it well, not at all. And so the company continued its steady downward spiral and I repented of every possible thing I could think of. Nothing changed. The crash was inevitable.

Seven months passed and I held onto the 'yoke' in the cockpit for dear life! Things were not good but I held it together both in the business and at home. I was preparing for a crash because I really didn't know how to prevent it.

Then out of the blue when I was praying one day God reminded me of what I said that day in the coffee shop, "Don't worry, I can take care of us financially", and he showed me how that one little sentence was causing all this trouble.  I had repented of pride in general but not of saying these specific words. Our words create our world and so when I said these words I took hold of the yolk of the aeroplane from God and I became our provider. Clearly I was not a very good provider. As soon as I saw the power in the words I had spoken, and what they had done, I repented and asked God to please be our provider again. I realised that all that time I was standing in the way of God's blessing. As soon as I got out of the way the cash flow started to return and I started to get back to steadily building the business with God's help and for his glory. Everything didn't suddenly snap into place but I felt the weight of my words had lifted and I was back to following God's lead and trusting in His provision, not my own.

25.9.16

Leading on Empty

Our pastor was very gracious towards us and never put any pressure on us to serve or get involved in church at all. We were allowed time to grieve and get whole again and so we just sat in church Sunday after Sunday with no desire to do anything or speak to anyone. We came, we sat, we listened, we left. One night in a dream God spoke to Eric and told him that he must connect with people at church and so we started to stay afterwards for coffee and a little chat.

King's Daughters Girl's Nights was set up at our new church before D7 Church had closed down. It was one of the things that I was passionate about and was what we did to help churches with their women's ministries. Where they had nothing in place we would offer to set up a King's Daughters for them at their church. So I was involved in ministry already and had connected with many of the ladies through King's Daughters. Somehow, despite all that we had gone through I managed to keep going with King's Daughters. Sadly most Tuesday nights all I could muster was dragging myself there, often without makeup on or any enthusiasm at all. I don't know how I did it, only God knows, but he used the empty shell of a vessel to someone still pour out into these precious ladies. My heart wasn't in it but I was sincere in my leadership and did my absolute best for the ladies. The anti-depressants did help for a while and kept me going. Looking back I do wonder if it wasn't really damaging to take the anti-depressants as they allowed me to continue to lead on empty when I probably shouldn't have been leading at all.

Thankfully, when I prayed about my year towards the end of 2015 I felt God saying that 2016 would be a year of rest for King's Daughters. That I was not to do our annual conference and that until I heard further instructions from him I was to do nothing in this ministry but rest. So I committed to spending the year praying and investing in the people not the ministry. It was our seventh year as a ministry so it made perfect sense to have a rest year! Girl's Nights continued but I didn't build or plant anything new. God knew what was to come in 2016..

4.9.16

Mistakes, Regrets and Hopelessness

In my previous post I mentioned my many mistakes and regrets! There are too many to write about but I will do my best to highlight a few as accurately as possible. Even though I know God has forgiven me and hopefully the people involved have too, I cannot fully forgive myself even though I know I should. I want to keep the sting real so that I never make the same mistakes again. It's not that I want to punish myself and I have tried my best to forgive myself, it's just that I don't ever want to hurt people again.

Although church life had become difficult there was still much joy in the journey. We launched King's Daughters in 2009 and recorded our very first album, King's Square, with our original songs in 2010. We had so much fun both with King's Daughters and making music together as a church. Things seemed to be going well even though they were a little tougher than at first.

My first big mistake was based purely on my own insecurity and it shouldn't surprise you to know that I wrote an entire book on that subject too! So here is a little extract from Secure on the Rock where I recount one of my silly mistakes.

Huddled in the corner of the studio, I was sitting holding back the tears whilst telling myself to stop these silly thoughts. I knew I was being pathetic and there was no way I was going to cry about it! So there I sat, giving myself a telling off, all the while trying to look like I was alright. The band looks on from the other room, oblivious to my inner turmoil. It's hard for me to hide my feelings, my face always gives my feelings away so I thought I'd better put some distance between me and them so that they can't see my struggle.

The band has been awesome, incredibly supportive and regularly offering lovely comments about how well I was doing. Their kindness was consistent all through Monday and Tuesday, but this is crunch time, the final vocal recording time. The pressure was now on!

The journey has been incredible, I can’t even believe that I am in this position and able to be involved in something this amazing. It has been quite surreal really. Not only have I had the privilege of writing some of the songs for this album, but I also have this mind blowing opportunity to sing some of them. I never, ever dreamed I would get to do this. I have always loved singing... in the shower, and have always loved moments in God’s presence. Often I have found myself lost in His presence singing a brand new song from my heart.
Since I first became a Christian I have loved worship, but all through the years I never, ever considered joining the choir or the band. It never crossed my mind. I was turned down for the choir when I was about nine years old so since then I had decided that I wasn’t a singer. It was that simple for me and ever since then I have never considered singing in any capacity whatsoever.

It all started when the band started having practice at our home. I used to be in my room or in the kitchen washing dishes whilst they practiced the set list for Sunday. More often than not, I would sing along and enjoy a moment of worship as the band played nearby. I am not sure how it all started, but I got the desire to sing in the band with them. Occasionally I would help Eric with band practice by taking the singers to one side and helping them practice while he concentrated on helping the musicians.

I did this for about a year, and even though I have a good ear for music and was able to help them get the right notes, I still never considered actually singing myself. I was happy to help Eric in any way that I could and I enjoyed doing singing exercises with the singers.

As I worked with the singers I did notice that I was very insecure around one of them. She sang beautifully and was very pretty. She was also very outgoing, chatty and a bit flirty. She was everything I was not and somehow being around her highlighted all my areas of lack. Her boobs were a bit of a problem for me too because you couldn’t miss them, they always seemed to be on show! I have breastfed four children and it showed but I had never felt inadequate in that area until she showed up. My thoughts were that if I couldn’t miss them, then neither could Eric or any of the men for that matter! The insecurity crept in and although I genuinely don’t think I was jealous, I did feel inadequate around her.

I say I wasn’t jealous because I really don’t want such heavy boobs. At times I also felt that she didn’t really like them, she seemed uncomfortable when at church events, as she knew we expected her to keep them tucked away and not on display so as not to tempt the men and teenage boys into sexual thoughts. I could see her struggle, a part of her wanted to be sexy and have them showing as much as possible, while a part of her wanted to be a good church girl and keep them neatly tucked away. I felt sorry for her at times as this struggle was a result of a decision she made.

Yes, I know I have gone into a lot of detail, but I want to be real or there is no point to me writing this book. I know many of us girls think like this but very few actually say it. This girl was the cause of a huge six month struggle with insecurity which obviously caused a lot of friction in our church and between Eric and me. Of course people probably didn’t know that it was my insecurity that was the problem but I am very sure they knew something wasn’t right.

Generally speaking, I was secure in who I was and had a pretty stable identity. There were moments of complete and utter out of control insecurity though and those were dreadful, but I will get into that more later on. For now, let’s get back into the singing thing. She sang beautifully but had no confidence, like me she had never sung in public before and seemed to have never considered herself as a singer. I found myself encouraging her and trying to draw some confidence out of her so that she could flourish in this area. Even though I felt insecure around her it never once crossed my mind that I wanted to sing or be like her or take her place. That thought just never came. My insecurity was purely based on my own fear that Eric found her attractive and that was the one thing that drove me crazy.

Eventually I shared my struggle with Eric; I simply couldn’t bear this burden alone any longer and felt very guilty for even having this struggle. Surely a pastor’s wife should not struggle with things like this? Eric was great about it and assured me that she simply wasn’t his type at all and listed all the reasons, which I loved! He also went on to tell me all the things that he loved about me and how not only does he not need or want anyone else but also that he has chosen me and therefore will never consider anyone else but me. This really helped me and from time to time we had this conversation and my insecurity was consoled by my darling Eric’s kind words.

I better warn you though that this is not the way to deal with insecurity at all, you can’t depend on another human being to make you feel better. It is essential to cut it out from the root and build a strong foundation and strong identity. Even though I knew this, I wasn’t quite ready to get to the root of it. I used Eric’s kind words to buy me time until I was brave enough to eradicate my insecurity. His comfort was precious and he did his best to help me through patches of insecurity, all the while I knew that it wasn’t solving the problem at all.


This little story doesn't end here, it continues on and on as I dealt with this poor woman based on my insecurity and not on how God saw her. As a leader I know now that I should have asked God to show me how he saw her and also how he saw me. I should not have compared myself, I should not have been jealous of what she had that I didn't, I should not have been intimidated around her and worst, the worst part of it all is that I should not have used my position of authority in her life to make myself feel better. There are things that I did and said that should not have been done and said. Looking back I am so ashamed, she is such a wonderful, precious woman of God and I would give anything to just go back and do everything differently. I would love her, celebrate her, encourage her and help her find all that God had install for her.

Too many women are leading as I did - STOP IT! It's horrible and hurtful to too many people. You must know who you are in God's eyes and lead with confidence in who he made you to be. Comparing yourself to other people is the most dangerous thing to do every and can only bring misery into your life and theirs.

Let's move on from that lovely lady and onto the next one... yes there are many sadly. This lady was lovely too and was a good friend before I ruined it! She and her husband were faithful team members in our church, generous tithers and a real pillar to our church. They did the best they could and submitted even when they disagreed with our decisions or methods. They were older and wiser than us but never tried to lead us. All in all they were an asset to our church and great friends to us. I was an idiot and reprimanded her in front of a group of people. At the time, I thought it was the Biblical thing to do, you know, the two or three witnesses thing, but looking back I realise that I forgot the first steps and should have shared my feelings with her privately, as a friend. She would have heard my heart and respected what I said I am sure. The way I dealt with her was terrible and hurtful and I am sure I hurt her more than once too. Despite my terrible leadership they did their best to remain in our church and do their best until they could no more and had to leave. We suffered a terrible loss not only of a key family in our church but also some really lovey friends.

Our church started to shrink as the quality people moved on. More and more homeless people joined us as we offered free sandwiches and coffee to get them to church. It worked but without the mature Christian leaders in place to care for and disciple them we were stuck in a messy situation that we couldn't cope with. Hopelessness started setting in and church went down a path that we didn't want it to and seemed to have no control over.

30.7.16

The Wedding Day

#9

 

On 17 September 2014 we began our happily ever after at a garden wedding in Cannizaro Park, London. It's not as grand as it sounds, we have no money at all and pulled off the most beautiful wedding very creatively. Our church friends really pulled together for us and if I had a million pounds to do it all over again I wouldn't change a thing! We did the legal side of our wedding in the registry office in the morning and then in the afternoon had the 'real' wedding in a public park. Our friends were so amazing at making our day perfect. One friend surprised us by buying and arch and decorated it with lace, she also created an aisle out of ribbing and organised our picnic as well as our pastor's picnic. I am sure she did so much more arranging and organising behind the scenes that I probably don't event know about, but that is just the type of amazing friend that she is.

A lady from church who we barely knew offered to make our cake - and it wasn't any old cake - check this out!

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Another friend played chauffeur and drove me through the busy London traffic to the park - the alternative was that I took a bus in my wedding dress! One friend did my makeup and nails, another took care of my girls while we were on honeymoon, another let me borrow some shoes, two other friends took the photos and another lovely friend bought my lovely bouquet.

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We did our wedding invitations online so there were no printing costs and we spend our wedding night at our home which was much more special than a hotel. Our honeymoon was all we had to pay for and we had an amazing time in Sardinia, Italy.

It was a perfect start to our life together and once again, our church played a massive part in our happiness. Without our church friends and pastors I can't imagine what we would how done and how different our wedding day would have been.

26.7.16

The Man of my Dreams

As I looked up to the stage where the musicians were playing I saw this man who seemed to be surrounded my light. Inside I said, "Wow he is so beautiful!". I didn't mean it in a pretty boy way but I sensed purity and loveliness. It was quite new to me and I just knew that there was something special about him. I watched him closely as he played his guitar.

Weeks passed by and God did the most amazing things in my life, He spoke so many things to me of the future and what would still happen. I no longer found myself repenting of the past and trying to make up for it but rather being completely and utterly overwhelmed by His love and filled with excitement for the future. It was incredible. At the same time I became increasingly 'aware' of the guitarist on the stage each Sunday at church. After some time I wasn't sure if I was excited to go to church to worship God or to see him again. It was a difficult infatuation as I desperately didn't want to be the person I used to be and to do things the way I used to do them. I longer for purity and a clean heart before God. No boy was going to get in the way of that. Not even a very attractive guitarist!

I cried before God saying how sorry I was about my feelings toward this man. Deep down inside I genuinely only wanted Jesus, I did not want the feelings I had and begged God to take them away from me. After what felt like an eternity, probably only a few weeks actually, I decided that if God didn't take them away then I was cautiously going to explore them. Being the planner and schemer that I am I devised a strategy to get him to notice me. I was on the coffee team in church and saw him every Sunday. Little did I know that getting him to notice me subtly was Mission Impossible I, II and III all put together. I prayerfully proceeded with caution but decided that the best way to meet him was to get to know his friends, which I did! It wasn't long before we were introduced and I was love-struck! His version of our first meeting is very different to mine - not in a good way either. In my attempt to mask my feelings for him and my nervousness of our first meeting I apparently looked so scary that he went to the bathroom to check if his hair was funny or if he had something on his face.

Telling our story now is very romantic but relevant to the church journey that I am trying to tell you. Church was key in our meeting, in our coming together as a couple and ultimately our marriage. We met at a point in our lives where we were both the other side of broken and completely sold out for Jesus. Church was extremely important to us both and so was our Christianity.

I did meet the man of my dreams at church. Church is a wonderful place to meet people, both friends and potential husbands! The great thing about meeting someone at church is that if you are both involved in the life of the church and serving then you have so many ways of observing each other and getting to know someone before making yourself vulnerable to them in a romantic way. I was always encouraged to get to know a guy in a group of friends and as a friend before allowing him close enough to turn your brains into mush. Well my brain was pretty mushed right from the first time I saw him but getting to observe him at church and getting to see who his friends were and how he behaved was wonderful. I have seen very many beautiful relationships blossom in churches. My closest and dearest friendships were formed in and through church, my children have grown up in church and made lovely friends too and I hope that one day they too will meet their future spouse in the wonderful setting of church.

 

 

20.7.16

God Moves Suddenly

It was time to move. I can't really explain why I felt this as my church had been a huge part of my healing and recovery, however, I felt that God was moving me to another church in London. Looking back now I know why but you will have to wait for this part of the story - it's really rather exciting!

And so I moved on, with my pastor and home group's reluctant blessing, from one church in London to another one. Church became the highlight of my week, I counted the days until Sunday, that's how much I loved church. It was vibrant and lively, full of amazing people who were crazy about Jesus. I loved the worship, the preaching, the coffee, the home groups and got involved in as much as possible. Even though I hadn't fully walked through the consequences of the previous season I was already seeing a harvest from the new seeds I had sown. If you sow financially you will reap financially, if you sow in friendships you will reap in friendship and I had grown to love some amazing friends. They took such good care of me and my girls, even though they were mostly young single people they were always mindful that I was a single mum and made a way for us to be involved in 'normal' London life. It was so much fun! We were having fun for the first time in... well since coming to the UK.

My desire to lead crept up, I didn't actively seek leadership positions but joined teams, served and ended up leading a team, serving on another team and leading and a home group. Christmas was spend with about 20 other lovely people and my home was buzzing, always filled with lovely people, parties (the good kind), prayer meetings, girl's nights, home group, BBQ's and just a full and amazing life. Church was not a Sunday thing at all! It was a 24/7 thing and it changed my life. God gave us a beautiful new three bedroom home which was like a palace compared to our studio flat. Even moving was fun, again at least 20 people got involved and we had a big party afterwards to celebrate.

One particular Sunday morning I woke up with a song stuck in my head. It was a worship song from church and as I sung it while I was getting ready for church I knew deep down inside that when we sung that song in church something BIG was going to happen. I didn't know what but I knew that something was about to happen in my life. I took a wedding photo from my first marriage with me. I was walking along the Thames River to church chatting to God about how sad I felt that I had messed up my life in the past. I said,

"Oh well God, at least you have a plan B for me."

To which I head an instant reply,

"There is no plan B, you are still on plan A."

Wow, what an amazing thought, God still had a perfect plan for my life! I walked up to the river and threw the wedding photo in whilst praying that God would help me shut the door and move on in my life. I prayed a little prayer and put that season of my life in my past. With a skip in my step I went to church. I worshiped my heart out but was a little disappointed when we sat down for the preaching as the song that I was convinced was going to trigger something big, wasn't sung. The preacher must have prepared his sermon just for me as it touched my heart so deeply. At the end of the sermon he said something like, "If you don't feel beautiful stand up." I don't recall the exact words I just remember standing up and as I stood it happened! The intro to the song started and I KNEW something was about to happen. Let me quote this part of the story from my book, Secure on the Rock:
I stood struggling to sing the words of the song but determined to get a few out.  My eyes closed and my hands stretched out to heaven, I waited… then bam!

 

My Rescuer made his majestic appearance and reached into my chained up heart. I bent over and cried deeply and (unfortunately) loudly as He ripped all the “stuff” out of me. I began trembling and shaking a little.  This was not the sort of church where this sort of thing happened; we were way to cool for emotional outbursts, so I tried to keep calm.  The pastor stood up and told everyone to sit down. I couldn’t, I was frozen and could hardly control my body.  After a few uncomfortable minutes I managed to sit down.  Once seated I just cried and cried and cried.

 

My left leg started shaking uncontrollably and the rest of my body shook.  People around me asked if I was alright and I motioned to them that I was fine.  I saw in my mind a closed door and felt in my heart that God was saying that He had shut the door to my past.  It was over, the heartache, the struggle, the pain was all over.  His hand had closed the door.  It wasn’t done by my will or strength; He shut it and at the exact same time, opened the door to my future.

 

I continued to shake and cry so the people seated around me laid hands on me as God continued to work in me.  He told me that He had shut the door on my past; everything I was struggling with up to that point was behind that closed door now, never to be opened again.  This was a fresh start, a clean slate, a totally new beginning!  The shaking got less and all I could say was “Thank you Jesus”.  I kept on saying this until the shaking and crying stopped.

 

I knew something life changing had just occurred. He touched me, He gave me the breakthrough that I have cried out to Him for, fasted for, prayed for and begged for.  He gave me a breakthrough in my heart and I knew I would never be the same again.

 

"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." - John 8:36

9.7.16

God Places the Lonely in Families

Back to my church story and this part is a really happy part of the story :) It comes after the terrible mess I made of my life, after my first marriage failed due to my stupidity and after I moved away from Crawley London to start over with my girls. Just a quick glimpse into the low point so that you can appreciate how high the highs were. This is an extract from my very first book, Hope's Journey.
"During a very dark and confusing season, when I was living a shameful lifestyle and going through a divorce, God spoke to me.   I was sitting in the hallway drinking wine and crying my heart out.  Sadness, confusion, helplessness and total aloneness was closing in on me. The razor blade was already bloody as I had attempted to hack into my wrists.  Pain consumed me as life had become completely unliveable!

 

Whilst I sat there crying in agonising pain, I cried out to God to help me.  I said that I didn’t want to live anymore and couldn’t see any way forward except to keep trying to hit a vein on my wrist.  Then I heard this voice in my heart that said;

 

“Angela, the next cut on your wrist will do the job.  If you cut again you will die.  Is this what you want?  It is your choice but I am warning you that the next cut is your final one.  What do you want?”

 

I quickly sobered up as I realised the reality of my situation.  Lorah and Jordan’s faces flashed before me in my mind and I realised how much my death would hurt them.  It would have been very selfish to leave them that way.  Nevertheless, the urge to die was still strong.  I sat there contemplating the consequences of leaving my children in this manner and cried the deepest cry I have ever cried and said to God;

 

“I want to live but I don’t know how to, please help me!”

 

The following day I started to rebuild my life. "

It is from here that I pick up and of course the first thing I had to do was find a church. I did this before I found a home or a job. I knew church was the most important part of rebuilding my life. Even though I had to walk out the consequences of my bad choices I was excited because I knew that God was with me. He didn't take away the pain but He gave me peace, He didn't remove the consequences but He gave me keys to walk them out and finally He showed me that even though I was reaping the consequences of what I had sown I was to sow new seeds so that the next season would offer a better harvest. So this is what I did, in the midst of the pain of rebuilding a new life for my girls and I, I sowed new seeds.  I read my Bible each day, prayed to my God, joined a church, joined a home group and made myself accountable. Within ten days of moving to London I had two job offers for a great job! God told me to chose either and He would bless me. I then found a lovely little home for our fresh start which God miraculously provided for me. It was impossible to secure a tenancy agreement in my situation with no employment history, no savings for a deposit, no references and two little children. The first miracle was that the landlord agreed to me staying in his property, the second miracle was how the church helped me financially so I could pay the deposit and buy food as I had not started my new job yet. From that point I lived on miracles! I could write an entire book of all that God did and how he provided that year.

I felt alive and well for the first time ever! God spoke to me loud and clear and guided me every step of the way. I never felt that being a single mother was difficult because we were place in a lovely church family where everyone chipped in and my girls were being raised and provided for not only by me but by about 12 other lovely people too! It was incredible and we were blessed and our cup was running over. Yes there were still things I was working out, mistakes I was making and a mess I was still cleaning up with God's help but I always had someone at the end of my phone to talk to, a counsellor who was patiently walking with me from brokenness to wholeness and some wonderful friends who helped in so many ways. I was finding freedom and joy in my new church family.

"God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy." - Psalm 68:6

1.7.16

The Body of Christ

"For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ." 1 Corinthians 12 - 12

Before I continue with my church journey I wanted to take a look at how awesome the body of Christ is. No matter where I have been geographically, emotionally or spiritually I have always been a part of the body of Christ. During a dark season as a backslidden Christian when I was about 19 I first discovered the beauty of the body of Christ. I loved Jesus, I always did and always will do, but I went through a patch of unGodliness where I loved other things more. I got caught up in the party scene through a Christian friend and started drinking alcohol through that same friend. Up to that point I was a good Christian girl trying to work out my faith. Being a teenager who grew up too quickly, the pull of parties and fun was too much and I gave in. It wasn't long before I no longer attended church and was out until silly o'clock leaving my baby girl with baby sitters. I was having so much fun until one day the consequences starting to kick in, my marriage fell apart and I felt dirty inside. It was a terrible season. The partying and a boy took me away to another town where I initial went to party but then decided to clean up my act and sort my life out.

Church was the starting point, I knew that I had to find a church if I was ever going to fix my life. It was so lovely to get into a church and feel right at home. I worshipped God like I had never stopped, listened to the preaching with a hungry heart and at the end went up for prayer ministry to begin my journey back to God. Even though I was in a different town and a very different place, I was still a part of the body and fit right into the local church.

I am ashamed to say that this wasn't the only time I backslid, I have turned away from God twice in my life! The point is not how bad I have been but how amazing the body of Christ is. Each time I wanted to come back to God and fix my life I found a local church and got planted. No matter where I was there were always lovely people that welcomed me, sincere and caring people who listened to my story and patiently helped me work out the consequences of my sin so that I could get back onto the right path. I experienced this in Knysna, South Africa, Johannesbury, South Africa, Crawley, England and London, England to name but a few places where I have felt at home in church. Wherever I have been and whatever season I have been in the church has welcomed me with open arms. Each person faithfully doing what they are meant to do in the body.

"If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased." - 1 Corinthians 12: 15 - 18

I had times when I have really needed the ministry of 'the hand', to love and to offer practical support like when moving home or needing help putting up a curtain rail. This may sound silly but I know that as a part of the body I can always find practical help if I need it. The ear has been vital to my journey, all those lovely kind people who have listened. There are many examples of how the body has helped me so very much. I too have a part to play and hope that even though I have received much from many churches I have also given much so that I too have played my part in the body of Christ.

It is a beautiful and phenomenal thing and even though I am not planted in a church in this season I still feel a part of the body of Christ. One friend from a particular church came over to my home offer me comfort and a bunch of flowers, another friend from a different church spent hours listening to me pour out my soul, another friend from a different church is covering me in prayer and..... well you get the picture! We do need to be planted in a church but the body of Christ is so much bigger than that and stretches beyond the boundaries of each individual church. I don't currently feel safe or settled in a church but I do still feel a part of the beautiful body of Christ.

Thank you to all who are looking out for me as I find my way through this dark stormy season.

26.6.16

How Can a Church Close?

That's what happened on 16th April 2000, my church had its final meeting and closed its doors forever. That season is a bit foggy in my mind, perhaps it's better that way, but I will do my best to recount someone of what happened but please keep in mind it is my view point, many others would share their version of things a little differently.

Hindsight is interesting, looking back all the signs were there, well hidden most of the time but occasionally they did pop up. Being the pastor's PA and church secretary meant that I got to see a lot more than many and I quickly learned that what happens behind the scenes is very different to what you mostly see at church on Sunday. I learned how churches can run out of money and struggle to pay bills at times, a sad but very real  circumstance. Bills need to be paid and if people don't give generously and faithfully then where does the money come from? I saw how incredibly generous some of the church were and how about eighty percent of the people didn't give at all of their time or money. But that's not why my church closed.

To be perfectly honest, I can't really rattle off a whole list of all the things I saw wrong behind the scenes, everything that I saw was still mostly right and I witnesses very little drama, politics or unpleasantness at all. One or two things surprised me like for example, I regularly visited a lady in church who seemed to be ill a lot. I was chatting to my pastor about her and at some point in the conversation he said, "Well she's just a hypochondriac".  This lack of compassion surprised me and I thought it odd. I now realise that it was not a lack of compassion but merely the reality that he was aware of. I was very naive in those days and often didn't see things that I should have. But that's not why my church closed.

Our churches merged with another church, that was the official story. For some reason when I was invited to transfer my PA job to the new church still working for my pastor's wife I declined. Looking back I have no idea why I declined as I loved my pastor's wife and my job very much. Something inside of me said no, it wasn't even a conscious decision I don't think. It just happened. Looking back I know now that it must have been God protecting me from what was to come. Having our church close was hard enough. It left many confused and hurt. Our happy family was breaking up and it felt strange and wrong. It has never been clear to me why the church merged in the first place or what went wrong behind the scenes. All I know is that it was horrible and I didn't like it one bit but got on with finding a new church right away and got involved immediately. It was a lovely Vineyard Church in Port Elizabeth and I have nothing but fond memories of my short season with them.  I remember the first time I saw the pastor I thought he just like Jesus must have looked. His eyes were so soft and full of love and compassion. When he preached I hung onto every wise word and loved church and all the beautiful people that I got to meet every Sunday.

Thank God for that church as what I had to go to next has scared me for life! You see the pastor's wife who I worked for was like a mother to me. At the time I didn't have a very close relationship with my family and church really was my family. She influenced me more than any other person to this day. My husband can vouch for how much I still speak about her and how highly I speak of her. In my eyes she had no faults, she was just plain wonderful and such an inspiration to me! As I mentioned previously I don't have all the details I only have my perspective and how it impacted me. Church hurt when it closed, it felt a little like the time when my parents got divorced. But what happened next really did feel like my parents got divorced all over again. I felt abandoned, alone, confused and like my whole life's foundation was cracked.

I remember that day in detail. I went to see her as I heard a rumour that an announcement had been made at the new church that morning which devastated me. I needed to see her so went to where she was living. As I walked into the living room I burst out crying. I was a mess and can't remember what I said but I remember what she said after I was urged to leave, "I'll call you."

That call never did come and I had to deal with my pain alone. What happened was the she and her husband had announced their divorce that morning. It hurt like hell for some reason. More than my parents' divorce hurt me. Looking back I know it was unreasonable to expect her to comfort me, she had her own stuff to deal with. I felt betrayed! I didn't know that they had marriage problems and I felt so weird that she never even spoke to me about any of it, or prepared me in any way. After being so close to her for almost 7 years I suddenly realised that we were never close at all. I was an employee, a team member and ten years her junior. I needed closure and not having that 'call' make it really difficult. Everything felt strange and although on the outside I just got on with life, inside I was hurting and had a lot to process. Within six months after that my then husband, two children and I left town for a job he was offered. We joined another Vineyard in Johannesburg but the job didn't work out and so within another six months we left South Africa and moved to England.

Even though church had hurt A LOT I never once considered not going to church. I didn't blame church as a whole for hurting me, just that isolated season of my church life and so quickly found a church within weeks of landing in the UK. Sadly I know quite a few families who did stop going to church as a result and some even strayed from the faith. I don't think church leaders really understand how much their life impacts those whom they lead. Pastors truly are the mommy and daddy of the church. I grew up a lot from that experience when I had to face the facts just like I did when I realised that my dad was the tooth fairy and Father Christmas wasn't real. Pastors are just people who make mistakes, give up on their church and get divorced. Well not all pastors but some sadly do.

From my position now, after years of many more experiences, I can look back at that time and to those people whom I loved and hold no bitterness and cannot judge them at all.  I did learn that harsh, painful reality that churches can close and that pastors are just normal people not demigods like I originally thought.