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Wednesday, 14 March 2018

The pink rose of Mother's Day

For those of you who have read my previous blog, you will know some of my feelings surrounding Mother’s Day and my decision to not only attend church but to share in the service on that day. I wanted to share with you how it went and how God spoke to me in a beautiful way through it. 

As part of the service we wanted to provide a space for grief and lament as well as a space to celebrate. We had a display of white roses on our mercy seat (the place of prayer) and as we played a beautiful song people had the opportunity to take a rose (or as many as they wanted) and place it in a vase to represent a person/opportunity that they remember on this day. It was an absolutely amazing, spirit filled moment. 

As a celebration of the mother figures in our life we gave everyone a red rose. In the morning, as I was preparing the roses by attaching a bible verse to each rose, I found one rose that didn’t seem to be as ‘attractive’ as the others. The stalk didn’t seem as strong as the others and the petal on the outside had a mark. It didn’t seem to ‘fit in’ with the rest. I was going to throw it away, but I felt the Lord say:

‘Don’t throw it away,I see the flower, I think it is beautiful, I think it is good enough and I know who will receive it.’ 

So I attached the bible verse and put it amongst the others.

Towards the end of the service, I explained that everyone could take a rose at the end. As we Sang the closing song ‘the voice of hope’ – I felt arms around me and one of the beautiful women in church presented me with a rose. After the meeting I looked at the rose and realised that the rose I had been given was the rose I had almost thrown away before. I felt God say to me that he knew that especially on this day I can feel sad and broken, he knew that I often feel that I am not good enough to be a mother…I feel like that rose, I don’t ‘fit in’ 

 I then felt God remind me what he had spoke to me before he said:

‘I see you, I think you are beautiful, I think you are good enough and I know what is in store for you.’ 


When I returned home, I put the white roses from the service along with ‘that’ red rose on the mantel piece. It looked stunning. As I sat and looked at it, something caught my eye. On the end of the mantel piece was a silk pink rose. My stepdaughters had given me it the day before as a Mother’s Day gift along with lots of other goodies. 

I found this pink rose profound. It spoke to me of the blessing of my three stepdaughters. The mix of red and white. Red for the celebration of what they have brought to my life, the love that I both have for them and receive from them and the countless blessings I receive from them. White for the sadness of not having them with us every day and having to ‘share’ them 

I found this pink rose spoke to me about my journey through infertility. White for the grief and lament of never having that miracle baby and of another month passing by without a positive pregnancy test. Red for the celebration of sisterhood, of women who pray for me and journey alongside me, for the support of women who grieve in my losses and celebrate my successes. Also red for the amazing things that God has done to make me fruitful in a time of bareness. 
I found this pink rose spoke to me about Mother’s Day. White for the grief of another Mother’s Day without a child to call me mum and for the sorrow I see in the faces of so many women. Red for the amazing things that God has done in and through me in order to encourage other to see him in a difficult day. 

Today I pray that you might recognise the pink roses in your life. 

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Why you will find me in church this Mother's Day

Mother’s Day is approaching. For some people it is a time full of joy and celebration, for others, however, it can be a horrendous time full of sorrow and pain. I fall into the second category. For the past few years, as we have been ttc it has got harder and harder. 

For a while, as a single woman Mother’s Day was tough as it reminded me of a future I wasn’t sure that I would have. Then when I met Paul I suddenly became step-mother to three teenage girls and it brought a whole new dimension. Mother’s Day at church was filled with conflicted loyalty for the girls and a reminder that I wasn’t a real mum! I remember one year, one of the girls going to get me the obligatory ‘Mother’s Day gift’ whilst another having stern words with her that I shouldn’t receive a gift as I wasn’t really her mum and that their mum was at home expecting a gift. The whole while I felt terribly guilty that I had put everyone in such a position, happy that I was seen in some way as a mum and sad that the children felt so conflicted in their appreciation of me. 

As we have journeyed through infertility, Mother’s Day has got tougher till eventually I stopped going to church altogether on that Sunday – and that’s pretty rough considering I’m the minister! However over the past year God has really been working on my heart and this year not only will I be sitting (somewhat vulnerably) at church but I will also be preaching! 

In my walk through infertility I spent a lot of time cutting myself off from those around me who were celebrating motherhood, it just seemed to highlight my hurt and failures, but last year God changed my heart and encouraged me to consider Romans 12:15 ‘rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.’ I was pretty good at mourning with others but struggled to rejoice when people received what I so desired. 

On my trip to Israel last year God showed me how I was missing out on so many blessings by having my focus on the wrong thing. I remember standing on the Sea of Galilee as the worship song ‘it is well’ played and sensing that God had so many blessings to lavish on me, I just had to reach out and take a hold. This started a real journey of transformation in my life. 

A few weeks ago as the cards started appearing in shop I got that familiar knot in my stomach as I felt feelings of failure, insignificance and grief. As I considered what Mother’s Day in church might look like for me I felt God challenge me. He reminded me of what his church should look like. Colossians 3:15 (the passion translation) says: 

‘Let you heart always be guided by the peace of the anointed on, who called you to peace as part of his one body. And always be thankful.’

As the body of Christ – his church – we are called to be peace. What a beautiful thing it would be if his church brought peace to those who struggle with Mother’s Day. If instead of opening wounds of hurt, grief and trauma, the church poured a healing balm upon them and gave them space to lament in order to find the perfect peace that only God can give. 

God reminded me that when the widow offered the last of her food to Elijah, God provided abundantly more and triggered a miracle that brought glory to him. By attending church and trying to provide a place of safety for those who find Mother’s Day hard it may seem like giving a little offering to God, as sacrificial as it may be for me. But I know that It will be seen and honoured by God, it will reach out to others like me and who knows what miracles may happen! 

Last year I attended a beautiful service at Liverpool Cathedral called Mothers Day Runaways, designed for people like me who find Mother’s Day tough. The people involved practised this lesson of offering a place of peace for those in turmoil and it was a beautiful thing. God moved so powerfully and as I look to the service this year as my time to lament and grieve, I know God will minister to each person there. 

This year I look to Mother’s Day in a different way. I still feel sad for what could have been, and the longing for the day when I will celebrate being mum, but this year I brought myself a beautiful Mother’s Day gift so I won’t feel forgotten and I have vowed to try and spread peace on a day that for some people is filled with fear, and I can truly say in this situation ‘it is well with my soul.’ 

My beautiful necklace from The knotted Nest on Etsy.

Today if you are looking to Mother’s Day with dread, I see you, I know it so well and I understand. I would love to pray for you so feel free to drop me a message and I pray that this will be your experience:

“Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super abundance until you radiate with hope.” Romans 5:13 

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Finding your tribe

I have seen lots of posts on social media recently about finding your tribe, posts like this one:

Being completely honest it has challenged me. Through our four and a half year journey through infertility I have lost many friends, distancing myself from people in order to numb the pain, hiding behind the shame that I may never be ‘good enough  to be a mum’ rather than being vulnerable with the people who knew me best. I’m sure many people in similar situations can identify.


Recently God has been really speaking to me about community and has started to point out to me exactly who my ‘tribe’ is.  1 Corinthians 12:25-26 (the passion translation) says:

'He has done this intentionally so that every member would look after the others with mutual concern, and so that there will be no division in the body. In that way, whatever happens to one member happens to all. If one suffers, everyone suffers. If one is honoured, everyone rejoices.'

As I started looking around me I started to see those people who shared in my sufferings, who pray through my bad times, not always know why I’m struggling and who rejoice in every victory along the way, whether huge or small. 

Through speaking out and reaching out in the ttc (trying to conceive) community I have found many of my tribe. I have a wonderful bunch of prayer partners from all over the world who I regularly chat to, pray with and do life together. It’s bizarre as I probably will never meet a lot of them (although I had the pleasure of meeting one prayer sister) but they play such a large role in my life and journey with the Lord.  I have also met some wonderful women from events in the uk that I have been to both speaking at and attending, they have been such a great encouragement to me. I have also found that in sharing my story, old friends who understand and may get it because they feel it too, have become new friends and distant friends have become close friends. 

So today my encouragement to that person who is reading this and feeling utterly alone is, take a step of faith and find your tribe. Look for those people who will support you in prayer, hold you accountable and share in all the ups and downs in life. If you, like me are praying for your miracle baby, then I have three fab things to suggest.

1. If you live in the North West, This Saturday, 17th February, a group of women are meeting at the StoryHouse in Crosby, Merseyside. It’s very informal and you already know someone who Is going…me! For more information check out their Facebook page.

2. There is a great group of supportive ladies over at the moms in the making group  on Facebook. There are so many ways you can engage including an amazing new online support group that runs twice monthly. It does mean being up at 1:30am to chat to America because of the time difference, however it is so so worth it!!  For more information take a look here: moms in the making

3. I would love to pray with you, send you snail mail, meet with you and become a member of your tribe! You can contact me through the blog or click on my Instagram on the right hand side of the screen. I would love to walk alongside you on your journey.

As Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says:

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

And on the seventh day... We Rest!

I am in the middle of an interesting week of training at The Salvation Army's William Booth training college. I have been surrounded by some amazing colleagues who serve, like us, as Territorial Envoys, running Salvation Army churches up and down the country. This is our third year at our annual seminar and this year I have been shocked to see some gifted pastors, who in previous year had been full of passion and zeal, looking exhausted. In conversation they have admitted that amongst other things, they aren't finding time to take their day off. 

I'm am passionate about keeping the sabbath, and seeing my friends and colleagues so tired prompted me once again to consider its importance to us in a society and job that never seems to stop.

We know that God created the world in 6 days and on the 7th day he rested. Yesterday one of  our soeakers very briefly posed the question "did God really need to rest on the 7th day?" The answer of course is no, but he chose to rest, purely as an indicator for us to see how our rhythm of life should be. God modelled the behaviour that we should have, and time and time again in his word, it reminds us of the importance of Sabbath. 

Jesus was a great advocate of the sabbath as a rhythm of life. He understood the complexities of ministry, and the busyness of life. He certainly understood too that there is an ocassional time when our rest needs to be put on hold for a short while whilst we do the Lord's work. But above all he knew that rest was vitally important in mission and ministry. 

One verse in the bible I truly love, but truly challenges me says:

"The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly" John 10:10 

I know when things have been particularly busy and I haven't been able to take my sabbath day  rest for a while, I have looked at my life and realised that it has ceased to be an abundant life. How can we possibly tell the lost to come follow Jesus and have an abundant life when all we ever do is 'sleep, eat, work, repeat?' As ambassadors of Christ we are called to embody an abundant life. And that includes rest! 

Any of you who follow me on social media know that I love putting up pictures, and on our day off I always try to post at least one picture that shows something of our 'rest.' Sometimes Paul (my husband) rolls his eyes at yet another picture, but I often reply: "How can we expect our flock to live an abundant rhythm of life with a healthy sabbath if we don't reflect it in our own life?" 

Some of my many pictures!!

So today - God is saying

'Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn how to live lightly and freely.' 

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

finding joy in the struggle

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that testing your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" 
James 1:2-4

As you know, this year I asked God to give me a word to take with me through 2018, and I he gave me the word Joy. I decided to take some time to study what exactly Joy means and where we can see it used in the bible. The verse from James was one I came across immediately. At first I skipped straight past it, as I wanted my word to mean that everything in the next year will go great and that I might have a rest from trials and struggles. However, I soon felt the Lord lead me gently back to it. 

As I began to really get to grips with this verse, I started to question how joyful I actually am, and whether it manifests itself in times of trial in my own life. 

James calls us to consider it 'pure joy' in trials, or as the passion translation says:
" when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy you can." 

What a challenge! But James continues by saying that in times of great struggle, real growth comes, and in it we can learn so much about who God really is. 

It reminds me a bit of bread (bear with me!) When you bake bread after placing all the ingredients in a bowl, you don't just leave it, you knead the dough. The kneading activates the yeast, which causes it to rise. 

When we face times of trial, and we feel like we are being kneaded (is it just me that sometimes feels as if I am being spiritually kneaded!?!?!?) it actually activates our faith and helps us to grow so we can experience the 'good bread' as a result.

If we face times of struggle with joy, knowing that we will see good fruit (or bread!) - oh how that could renew our minds and help our relationships with others to flourish. 

I am blessed to have many prayer partners, most of them women journeying through infertility. This week, one of those beautiful women said something that profoundly challenged me. She talked about a huge struggle her family had gone through, where God miraculously intervened, and recalled how the trial had brought her family wonderfully close. She then reflected this on her own journey to be a mum and her marriage and she shared with great joy how there was developing a new level of closeness and intimacy in her marriage through the trials. 


Today my  prayer is that I might reflect that joy as struggles come and that the bread that is made through my trials may be good, wholesome, edifying and taste delicious! 

Monday, 1 January 2018

Saying hello to 2018

It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog. So much has happened in the past few months and if I’m honest it has been really really tough! As many of you know at the end of August I fell and broke my ankle pretty badly and after a lengthy operation, progress has been slow, painful, and both emotionally and physically draining. Although I have returned to work, I am regularly finding I can only do a fraction of what I was able to do before. 


God is good and I have learnt so much about God, myself and my ministry through it all. God has also been revealing to me where he leading me, and although it’s pretty scary it’s super exciting too. 

Over the past few days I have been considering the year ahead. In a lot of ways I will be glad to shut the door on 2017 and look to new possibilities. Don’t get me wrong I have had some truly wonderful moments in the past year. God has taken me deeper in my ministry, especially with women journeying through infertility, I went on an unforgettable pilgrimage to Israel and I have seen amazing answers to prayer. But it has also been filled with grief, depression and in the past week, yet another negative pregnancy test! 

However, as I have been praying into 2018, God spoke to me loud and clear as to where my focus should be and I have heard the same word over and again….JOY

I’m a pretty happy person, and I have been told once of twice that I always seem to have a smile on my face, but that isn’t really Joy. Joy is something beyond just happiness, it is not dependent on circumstance but is fully reliant on God. Joy stays unwavering in the face of infertility, insecurity and unrest. As Nehemiah 8:10 said ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength’ 

As I pondered Joy and what it may mean for the year ahead the Lord dropped this verse into my heart and as I sit with a blank page in front of me, I pray that this time next year I will have radical, grace-filled stories to tell about reaping in joy the harvest I have sown in sorrow

Friday, 13 October 2017

Baby and infant loss awareness week

This week is officially baby and infant loss awareness week and through Facebook I have seen many interesting ariticles, posts and videos suggesting how we can support the many people around us who have been affected by the tragic loss of a baby or infant.

Through my journey of infertility I have walked alongside many women who have had the joy of pregnancy followed by the tragedy of loss. I have seen how many have suffered in silence, afraid of what people may think and unable to deal with the awkward conversations that may ensue. I have seen the pain on anniversaries and important dates and the fear that further pregnancies may be opening their heart to further loss.

Grief causes many emotions and I know this week many precious women are remembering times of great darkness. This week, as I have prayed for those women in my life who have experienced the

 great pain of grief that comes from losing a baby I have been reminded of how much more God cares. You see the bible talks a lot about grief, and there are some beautiful verses that show how, even when we feel completely alone in our grief, God is there alongside us. 

The bible is also really good at showing how lament can help us deal with the emotions of grief and see that there is hope in God. It reminds us of what God has done and  helps us to look to the promise of the bible. Psalm 77 is a wonderful psalm of lament as the psalmist battles to cling to hope in the midst of great grief and loneliness. As I have meditated on this scripture I have prayed hope on every parent who, this week, feels the pain of grief and thinks of what might have been.

On Sunday 15th October I will be lighting a candle in a wave of light, standing in solidarity with those parents who have lost a precious miracle of a baby. I will  be lighting a candle as a sign of hope that God cares and will be close to the broken hearted. 

This year, however, I will also be lighting a candle for me. You see I have never had a positive pregnancy test, so I have technically never lost a baby. But for me, every month comes with a wave of grief. Grief for the baby that I long to hold in my arms, Grief for the life that never was and grief for what could have been. My candle will also bring hope to me that God has it all in control, that regardless of the grief in my heart, it is also a song of lament that reminds me of all the great  thing God has done in my life, and gives me hope for the adventure to come.

So today I ask, will you join the wave of light on Sunday, let’s stand together in hope and remember those who are grieving