Dancing Daughter

DegasBallerinapuzzle

Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.

Brennan manning, Abbas Child

My tiny hand gripped the smooth pine barre as I stretched myself from the tip of my toes to the top of my head; wishing myself taller I willed my body into the arabesque posture, only to be snapped out of my daydream by the brutal tone of my ballet teacher who reminded me that I should be practicing fourth to fifth position with the rest of the girls in a perfect row. I was one of the 7 young girls lined up in pink shiny leotards, black leather ballet shoes and tight buns in blonde nets sat neatly on top of our heads; our images multiplied endlessly in the huge mirrors that filled the walls. My teacher told me I would never make it as a professional ballerina because I was too short, and even though I was eight years old she could tell by my physique that I would never be tall enough.
Still, I dreamt. And even though my heels always ached and my tummy filled with nerves, she would call out that my neck should be more extended like a swan, bottom squeezed in, tummy tucked and shoulders back and stop wriggling! I hated my ballet class, yet I was so desperate to go back week after week. I was so desperate to prove that I was wonderful and surely my teacher was mistaken. I dreamt of being on points and performing in The Nutcracker. During my dreaded classes, the 5 minutes of free dance is what made me come alive, that was what I was living for. The tedium of being in line diligently would dissolve as I would dream myself into a Degas painting; I filled the stage gloriously, the spotlight lit me up like an angel as I spun in pirouette’s and twirls.

The ballet phase surely faded, it was never meant to be, and my pernickety ballet teacher was right; I grew to 5 ft 2 and I would never be a famous ballerina. Throughout my childhood I was always drawn to the stage; I loved to perform. I loved Drama and studied Theatre at University. I performed at The Edinburgh Festival, it sounds marvelous but actually was a bit of a flop. Not that I was terrible but my heart was never fully in it. I was never excellent; I was good, but not excellent by the world’s standards, I was always pretty average. Or to use another word: Satisfactory.

One of my school reports during my primary years said I was Satisfactory at everything! In every subject I got Satisfactory, and I will never forget the joke that was made that I was Miss Satisfactory. I thought it funny but deep down words carry weight and they get lodged in our subconscious and before we know it they become us. The lie that what I do became incredibly important. My identity was being shaped and I learned the lie that we must be great at something and succeed in something grand to be worthy. What we do, rather than who we are takes centre stage.

Have you seen the film Florence Foster Jenkins? It’s recently aired on the BBC. Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant do well to bring the poignant story of this eccentric lady to light. Florence was an amateur soprano, she became famous for being what Steven Pile claimed, “The world’s worst opera singer, no one before her or since, has succeeded in liberating themselves quite so completely from the shackles of musical notation.” Unbeknown to the general public Florence was dying from Syphilis, she had money and connections in high places, she believed she was wonderful, even though she was a terrible singer she promoted herself. Her doting husband, Frank Jenkins tried his very best to protect her from “the mockers and the scoffers” and continued to encourage her to believe in herself despite the criticism. Frank loved her unconditionally and he would do anything to protect her from the ridicule that would eventually be her downfall. Her desire to be loved and admired by many was eventually what took her to her grave. What a heart-wrenching story! Frank’s devotion to her was profound, his adoration for who she was, was clearly more important than what she did.

The world has told us that what we do is who we are. But should our value be in who we are not what we do? I belong to my beloved Father and I am his beloved child and what I do or how I do it places no value upon who I am. I can dance before him in the most ridiculous fashion and he dotes on my every move. I can make a huge mess of things and he just smiles. Just as my little boys are so desperate to show me their moves and grooves my heart melts because to me they are perfectly imperfect, their quirks and mistakes just make them even more adorable. And so it is with God, he values our relationship with him far above our successes.

I’ve lived my life so far with such a desperation in my heart to be good at something and when I feel I’ve fallen short, I’ve felt despair. But, a new thing is rising up in my heart, a new song, and that is that I have finally discovered something that I am good at, and it’s not a good dancer, mother, wife, teacher, writer, speaker, cook or even a friend. It’s not for the world to judge. It’s better than that.

I’m good at faithfulness. I’m a prodigal daughter and I came home. And since I came home to the loving arms of my Daddy God I haven’t let him go and no matter what happens to me, no matter what calamity comes my way my faith grows stronger. I know that as I dance into the arms of my beloved, He adores my every move. He’s proud and pleased because I have given him my whole heart and I am faithful. And sure enough because my Daddy is creative, (He is the Creator after all) I too am creative and some of the things I create are good and some might even be grand, but that is by the by.

For what really matters is who I am and whose I am. And when I close my eyes, I’m dancing in an entirely different court. I lose myself in pirouettes and twirls and I am wonderful, and as I look up to see my father watch in adoration, He has the kindest eyes I’ve ever seen, they are like pools of piercing fiery blue, so full of love for me, so full of affirmation that when I look deep into them I begin to see myself. My true self. For I am His and He is mine; everything outside of that is an illusion.

Crazy Diamonds

rough

Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.

Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.

Search for them as you would silver;

seek them like hidden treasures.

Proverbs 3:2-4

Diamond is formed under insurmountable pressure and at a heat no man can synthesise. At depths of over 100 miles into the Earth’s mantle, these shiny, radical rocks have been growing since the beginning of time. They reach the earth’s surface through volcanic eruptions traveling at rates of up-to 30 mph hidden in pipes known as kimberlite, a volcanic material keeping them locked in its natural form.

How awesome is that? I’ve been home educating for 4 months now and my boys and I are loving learning in a whole new and practical way. The text-book is a thing of the past as we now launch ourselves like crazy diamonds upwards into the big wide world that is now our classroom. Wow, it feels like I have just rediscovered my boy, a shiny rock of incredible strength hidden in kimberlite. The heat is intense, and the pressure is on but my heart is full to overflowing.

We would rush out of the door in a wild frenzy every morning to get to school on time, and then I would pick up my son looking like he has been in a pressure cooker all day. With a perilous look in his eyes he would literally steam out of the school gates and up a tree before I could catch a breath, and don’t get me wrong, he is still up a tree… in fact his tree climbing has gone to whole new wild and wonderful level. But now we get to chill in the fresh of the morning, we get to play, read, write and create at our own pace. He loves to learn kinaesthetically, so we’re out and about every day and although these crazy diamonds do send me wild on a daily basis, I feel like I’ve got my boy back; I’m cracking open the kimberlite, and this quality little rock of a boy is in the palm of my hand.

I’ve known deep down my boys are not quite cut out for the status quo, but my life so far has taught me that it’s so easy to ignore that deep call within; it’s almost as if our instincts have become extinct in the world today. We deafen ourselves to ourselves, in the crazy heat of the days that catapult us at vast speeds with distractions left, right and centre no wonder we can’t hear ourselves think. We’re muffled and buried in a digital world. It takes so much will power to switch off the phone, move away from the screen, take a deep breath and listen.

I’m learning slowly but wisely to listen to myself. I’m discovering who I am and who I’m made to be. I’m under great pressure, and sometimes it feels like way too much, but I can feel myself being thrust upwards and I can see the light. It’s time to listen in the stillness to what my heart is saying, to what my children are saying and what our souls are yearning for. It’s time to listen to what the still, small voice whispers gently in the depth of my being.

I’ve always been drawn to the quirky creatives and I’ve always had a heart for those that don’t fit in. Probably because I’m somewhat quirky and creative myself. Yet, I’ve been striving my whole damn life to try to fit in…Why? I have never quite fit in, but there’s still a part of me that wishes I was ‘normal’ but hey, what on this crazy earth is normal?

When I married my extraordinary husband I was totally blown away by his brilliant and beautiful mind. It was only years into our marriage we discovered he has autism but that in itself was like digging deep to find a striking diamond in the hard ground. I’m so thankful to finally understand that his beautiful mind is formed differently to mine. I’m so grateful to finally be enlightened and have the power to create an environment so we can all flourish and grow; there’s so much power in this knowledge, there’s so much healing in it.

I’m tired of hearing people say they don’t like labels. I’m all for the labels and I’m not apologising for it. It’s time we stopped trying to ignore people who are different. Labels are not always damaging. Labels can be liberating. It’s time to accept people for who they are. Perhaps the problem isn’t the people who might be exhibiting ‘selfish’ behaviour but rather the rigid, unperceptive expectations that we put on them. Instead of making judgements about the man who didn’t look you in eyes at the party, the woman who didn’t smile at your joke, or the rude and uproarious child who can’t sit still in church or conform in the supermarket, perhaps we need to develop some discernment and grow a bit of grace.

I’m done with ‘normal’. It’s time to celebrate and honour the unique people who have been massively misunderstood for far too long, it`s time to make allowances and give grace upon grace, just like Jesus does with us all. We’ve come a long way from lobotomies and mental institutions, we’re marginally more inclusive these days; but, for those who are high functioning and neuro-diverse we are NOT inclusive enough. I’m done with striving to be like everyone else and I’m done with trying to fix what I can’t fix and that includes myself and my family. As the lovely quote by Alexander Den Heijer   goes…

When a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.

Labels give breakthrough and exoneration and I’m not apologising for seeking them out for my children if necessary. The amount of high functioning children and adults with ADHD, PTSD or ASD (the list goes on…) that slip through the net without diagnosis is heartbreaking. I was a high school teacher for 9 years, I​`​ve seen it happen. The more I research ADHD (check out: graceunderpressure.blog)​ I’m outraged at how tragically misunderstood and unaccepted it is in our society, regardless of the fact that it is the most well researched and proven mental health condition in history. However, let us hope that the recent ground breaking research into brain development will shed a bright light into our children`s future.

It angers me when people make snap judgements about the behaviour of children. Misunderstanding is devastating. It has devastated my husband all his life and as I discover the wonderful minds of my children and even my own quirks and why I’ve always been a bit different, I realise that the characteristics we can be painfully insecure about can actually be our blessing. As Paul Scanlon so wisely put the other day,

If you misunderstand someone’s struggle, you will misunderstand their strength.

So me and my crazy diamonds are on a journey of discovery. We’re digging deep to find beautiful truths about who we are and who we are made to be and we are gloriously and unapologetically different. Our ‘differabilities’ will take us far as we channel ourselves like brilliant diamonds catapulted at full speed to the earth’s surface. And I’m proud to say that we are the real deal, we are pure, natural and unique… Oh, and just for the record, we are not ‘well behaved’ nor are we meant to be!

Are you feeling under insurmountable pressure today? Are you living in unbearable heat and not knowing how to handle yourself or the people around you that might behave in ways that don’t quite fit what we think should be ‘normal’? Can I encourage you my friend, no-one on this earth is ‘normal.’ Certainly, all behaviour must be addressed, but how about with a little more understanding and a whole lot of grace. We are all floundering around with our hands in the dirt, but if we are willing to be still and tune our ears to the deep call within, we will find hidden in dense gravel, inside the sparkling earthy blue kimberlite, the costly, shiny rock of a diamond that we are all made to be.

Blood Red Sky

redsky

My eyes turned to the blood red sky, cast like the bloody back of a scourged man bent and excruciated. His broken face pushed into the dust as they (we), nailed him to the wood laughing and scorning in unbelief.

The sky, beyond beautiful revealed the stripes of my saviour; cut in colours of fire my heart skipped a beat.  I knew in that moment, in my brokenness and sin, he was calling me back in a sweet, gentle voice, yet in a painting so violent and beautiful I could not help but surrender.

My mouth tasted bitter from the night before as I walked through the streets of Manchester on an early summer evening. My heart was heavy as I looked up at the stripy sky, a heart shred from the internal self harm I had done to myself over and over. Sleeping with the enemy and drinking his poison my body was done for, my soul wrenched open, the world had crucified me and although I kept going back for more… I knew this time it was different.

My spirit has been awoken, I could see Jesus in the fire. Unharmed and waiting with arms open, his hands with holes of light and blood washed clean. He was bright, white and with eyes so kind, loving and piercing that they could break the strongest and hardest of men. Even men of terror.

Ten years ago I gave my broken heart back to Jesus. I learned that there is only one God that loves without measure, that he is more powerful than the darkest power on earth, he is brighter than the sun and can extinguish every evil. He is not a tyrant or a terrorist, he does not kill to purify a race or religion, he does not hate. He is Love, he is the light of the world and he is opening the skies. His angelic force is without number, he is both in and out of time. His heaven is real and he will return, in fact He’s on his way.

God does not pay back evil for evil, he is not an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth god. He does not punish, he does not get revenge… he dealt with that on The Cross. That’s the whole point of The Cross. He died for every tragedy that has ever been and every tragedy that will be. His blood has set us free.

Is this too much blood talk?

Too much Christian craziness?

Craziness is suicide bombing, craziness is extremism and hatred in the name of God.
Truth is that there is more to life than the cataclysmic reality of what we see on the news today. Truth is that we are not doomed. Truth is God is full of love, that is why he created this earth and all of us in it.  Every good thing comes from him. God is love. And perfect love casts out all fear.

So let’s drop our weapons and look up at the sky, it’s blood red and beautiful. By his stripes we are set free. God has already dealt with every brutal tragedy and will deal with every kind of terror. And I pray for those lost in the deep, dark grip of extremism and I pray that they are stopped in their tracks and that they fall to their knees and surrender to the One True God that can save them.

I am praying for Manchester today, the city where I was born and born again and thank God for this precious place. And I pray that the people who have lost their loved ones find the peace that is not of this world, I pray for broken hearts mended and an infusion of hope and light so bright it will light up the darkest places.

‘Look, He comes with the clouds of heaven

And everyone will see Him,

Even those who pierced Him.

And all the nations of the world will mourn for him.

Yes! Amen!’Revelation 1:7

Into Something Beautiful

“We are all butterflies. Earth is our chrysalis.”

LeeAnn Taylor

 

butterfly

 

My wild and wonderful son ran full speed into the door frame. He hit his eye and shrieked in pain laying crumpled in a heap on the floor. I ran and held him close and whispered, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry…” and kissed his eye and hugged him tight. When he calmed down a little, he looked up and said, ” Why are you sorry mummy? It’s not your fault.” I smiled and said, “I know, but I feel sorry. I didn’t cause the pain but I feel sorry and wish it hadn’t happened.”

It struck me that this is how God feels as a loving Father, he is sorry for the suffering we have to endure here on earth. Even though he doesn’t cause it, it breaks his heart to see us suffer and he wants to hold us tight when we are hurting.

I think the biggest question in all of history is not- is God real? The biggest question is- is God good?

I’ve pretty much believed in the existence of God all my life, but I’ve not always believed in the goodness of God. Sure I have said he is good a thousand times and never have I thought him a tyrant, but I have without realising it thought that because bad things happen and he has the power to stop them then it must be his will. I have somehow morphed him into a God who loves us but sometimes he stands back, arms folded and watches us suffer because we need to learn from the trial. Many people might nod their head and agree with this, but over the last few years and especially in recent days I have come to realise that this is a distorted view of my loving Father. In fact it’s a dangerous view of God because when I think like this I shut the door to intimacy with him and it’s in his affection that I find the joy and peace that I need to endure the trial in the first place.

God is a good, good Father and it breaks his heart to see the world suffer. It breaks his heart to see his children sick, it killed him (literally on the cross) when we fight each-other, wage war and suffer horrendous trials that come in too many different forms to count.

When we believe the lie that he’s letting the trial happen to teach us a lesson we shun the very spirit that is there to redeem us from the trial. We shun the very promise that he works all things together for good. If we let him, he morphs everything dark into something bright and beautiful. And in that redemption we simply have the benefit of being refined in the fire, morphed into something beautiful. Out of the ashes we come out stronger, wiser and more beautiful than before because that is the grace of God working everything for good. But, never should we think that it was his will to begin with, that he planned the trial on purpose. Yes of course he knew that we would hit the trial before it happened but this doesn’t mean to say he wanted this. Instead, thankfully by his amazing grace he is able to prepare our hearts for the suffering coming our way and he is ready to equip us with what we need yet he is so painfully sorry about what we will encounter.

If my precious son had not hit his eye I would not have sown love and grace into him in that particular moment, and those seeds sown into his heart in turn will lead him to reach out to someone else in need one day. Every seed of love sown has a knock on effect. The butterfly effect. A beautiful metamorphosis is taking place. But, this doesn’t mean to say I am glad he hurt himself in the first place. That is ludicrous. And so it is with our loving Father. He isn’t glad when tragedy strikes, it isn’t some twisted plan to make us stronger… but out of every accident, every mistake, every suffering, he is there with open arms ready to hold us tight, kiss our wounds, give us strength and morph us into something beautiful.

Kaleidoscopic Heart

Kaleidoscope-Love-Heart

”For my part, I prefer my heart to be broken. It is so lovely, dawn-kaleidoscopic within the crack.’ DH Lawrence.

 

I woke up on Sunday morning by the raucous cheers of my merry-making boys. I felt weary, my body heavy, a head full of cold and a flawed heart; a heart not ready to pour gentle grace into my precious family. I only had just short of an hour to feed the boys breakfast, get everyone dressed, shower, dress myself, change a nappy, gather snacks, feed the cat and get to church on time in a somewhat military fashion.

The sky looked unpromising as my husband turned the worship music up to drown out the inharmonious sounds in the back of the car. I’m usually excited about going to church, but on this day I really didn’t want to face people and I really didn’t feel like I had the energy to raise my hands to God and be thankful. Lately I have been pondering my past and the journey of my life and I have felt some wounds re-open, ones I thought had healed. TD Jakes says, ‘I am reminded of what my mother used to say, she would take the band- aid off, clean the wound and say, “things that are covered don’t heal well.’

As I entered church already feeling exhausted, the music began. I felt ashamed, exposed, even though no one knew how I was feeling I wore that smile that said I was fine. I held my youngest tight as he wrapped his little legs around me like a little security blanket, and I began to sing. At first I began to sing dutifully, but as I closed my eyes and thanked God for my life and my family and the fact that I am in His house and no-longer lost, a joy began to well up in me. I was reminded that joy is not a feeling, it’s a fruit, a fruit of the spirit. His Spirit. His joy. I began to feel His joy for me. I am his joy. I felt the eyes of my heart begin to sharpen, I began to feel my cracked heart fill with light.

I pictured myself at the edge of the sea and I began to wade towards the waves, I felt brave and wonderful. Angels surrounded me as they flew above the surface of the  crystal clear water, the most amazing blue I had ever seen. The sun shone on my skin and I felt an incredible love fill me from head to toe and my heart was visible like glass, cracked but still in shape, shafts of light shone through. The surface of my heart was like a prism of many colours and stunning mosaic swirls. I realised that even though my heart feels fractured and I don’t always understand what is going on and why certain things are happening to me, he was reminding me that he lives in my heart, he lives in my pain, my heart is His dwelling place and although I carry a lot of hurt from years and years of walking on a rocky road, He is the One that holds it together and although it feels broken sometimes, it isn’t shattered, it isn’t smashed to pieces…

It is cracked like a kaleidoscope of brilliant colours and If I hadn’t lived the life that I had lived then I wouldn’t see this beauty and it is an honour to allow the brilliant and beautiful light of my living God shine through this broken vessel, through these stunning swirls and beautiful cracks. In this perfect moment I saw that my heart is not fully mended and perhaps it never will be, perhaps I will forever hold this hurting heart because my heart is way too sensitive for this broken world I live in, but one thing I do know is that as I live with my lovely, cracked kaleidoscopic heart I am beautiful and I carry a joy that will never go away and when I meet my saviour face to face I know my heart will be whole.

Just as the worship music came to an end my lovely friend began the meeting with a word from God. As she began to talk my heart leaped as she shared that a few days earlier she was stood on the beach and as she took a deep breath at the water’s edge the anxiety that consumed her disappeared, and how this is a picture of how Jesus is ready to calm our fears and fills us with his peace.

I love it how God meets us exactly where we are and sometimes in the most unexpected places. He’s even willing to turn up in my crazy imagination. I love it how not one of us ‘has it all together’ whatever that means. We are all a work in progress. No matter how dark or broken someone’s heart is; Jesus doesn’t judge. He is waiting full of unconditional love to enter each dark crevice and fill them with his shafts of light and turn each hurting heart into something bright and beautiful. No matter how black and broken a heart might be, like a lovely, dawn- kaleidoscopic within the crack he turns each crack, each dark story into something utterly amazing.

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Whose Skin Are You In?

 

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I stole a rare moment of solitude after settling my boys to sleep. I watched the sky darken and sobbed into the blanket I had wrapped myself up in; my heart ached as I had an honest conversation with myself. The truth is there is not one person on this earth that truly understands me, who has seen my whole story unfold. Not one person on this planet really knows me completely and the depth of how I feel.

But before you get your violins out, this is not a cry for pity. In my moments of sorrow there is One who has walked around in my skin; One who has worn my shoes; One who has suffered unimaginably to know me better than I know myself, and he lives and breathes inside my heart.

During my years of teaching English in a high school, I had a recurring dream. I couldn’t see the end of the classroom as there was an endless sea of children sat at their desks that I couldn’t reach. This dream reflected the struggle I had to help every individual. I didn’t like having to control a room of students using an authoritarian approach, I battled with having to condemn their ‘bad’ behaviour.

I will never forget one young lady who drove me to distraction, she had the power in her fragile little body to dominate the entire class. She was unbearably misbehaved, she respected no authority and would laugh in your face if you tried to lord it over her. The more wound up and angry you got the funnier she found the whole situation. She was infuriating, but I will never forget the day she made me so cross and I blew my top, for a split second she looked like a frightened little lamb.

I went home that day in a flood of tears because I felt like a failure. I knew that this little girl in her 14 years of life had suffered unimaginable abuse. This young girl had experienced anger her entire life. This delicate girl had never known love. It was heart breaking. I knew this because Jesus opened my eyes to see her pain.

I wanted to talk to her, hold her, tell her she was beautiful. She was good at Art and during my English lesson I wanted to say to her, ” I know you don’t want to do this, so why don’t you sit where you like and paint me a picture, paint me a story.” I wanted to say, “you don’t have to follow the rules”and ” It doesn’t matter if you don’t get the grades.” But of course I would lose my job if I did that.

The heart-rending fact is we live in a society where so many hurting children are misunderstood. When I meet foster carers and adoptive parents, I’m amazed by what they do. It is truly beautiful. To take on a little child, with all their brokenness and behavioural difficulties and pour unrequited love into them, is just truly inspiring. This is true love. This is sacrifice.

Thankfully my son is from a stable home, he’s loved and cared for, he hasn’t been subject to neglect or abuse, so no great harm is done when he gets a telling off at school. Some of our traditional ways of doing things are valuable, correction is crucial but sadly in this day and age one blanket way does not fit all. Sadly we have no idea half the time of the complexities of each individual in the room.

We are here on this earth to love the unlovely. That is the paramount reason for being. Loving the child that has a major meltdown and screams in your face, “I hate you.” Loving the adult who takes from you and gives nothing in return. Loving the parent that abused you, the neighbour who judges you or the boss who rules with iron- the one you can never please no matter how hard you work.

Can you love them? Can we do this? Can we love our enemies? Yes we can, through the blood of Jesus we can. Through supernatural forgiveness we can. Because when we sink low to our knees and ask God to show us through his eyes the love he feels for that person, it will make your heart explode. He can show you their journey, their story, their pain and suddenly this giant before you is no longer a monster but a delicate child that through their own suffering is doing what they only know how. As Jesus cried out on the cross, Forgive them father, for they know not what they do, and so it is with our enemies.

We were born to relate. To have compassion on the suffering, to reach out to the dying, to discern why they do the things they do and love them anyway. We were born to love the unlovely and God didn’t leave us alone to work it out in the dark. No, he sent his son as the greatest example, to die for the most despicable people on earth. Not only to set them free and give them a chance to change but even if they choose not to, he gives us the power to love them anyway.

There is nothing more moving than watching radical love take place. Gary Ridgway was guilty of killing 48 women, making him the biggest serial killer in US history and as he stood on trial the family members got up and told him of their heart ache and how much they hated him and wished him dead. Ridgway’s expression remained cold and unrepentant. However, one gentleman got up and said,

“there are people here that hate you, but I’m not one of them. You have made it difficult to live up to what I believe, and that is what God says to do and that’s to forgive, you are forgiven sir.”

At that moment Gary Ridgway broke down into tears for the very first time. How was this man able to show mercy to such an evil man? This kind of forgiveness can only be done by the supernatural power of God. The gentleman that nervously stated, “You are forgiven sir,” I’m sure did the hardest thing he had ever had to do, but doing so released him into a peace and a freedom that nothing on earth can give. He saw this murderer through the eyes of God, through the blood of Jesus. This gentleman would have seen that the criminal before him would not have committed such horrific crimes if it wasn’t for the unspeakable torture that he had suffered in his own life.

Jesus opens the eyes of our hearts to see. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer put so well, “We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.” When we turn to God on bended knee and ask to see through his eyes and to walk around in his skin, we suddenly find ourselves wearing their shoes and we no longer feel the hatred that was building up inside us. Instead we are flawed with an overwhelming love for the one who needs their saviour, a saviour who longs to wear their shoes and walk around in their skin, who knocks on the door of their heart saying, “let me in.”

The Eye of the Storm

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I awoke at 4am this morning to hear the wild wind howling like a pack of angry wolves; I quickly jumped out of bed to close the window as a fearful shiver tickled my spine. A few hours later the ferocious wind continued to howl wildly in the woods as I walked the boys to school. I had to catch my thoughts and take them captive as images of fallen trees swooped down to take our little lives.

I looked up to see the bright moon swallowed by grey and unrelenting clouds, a downpour was inevitable as we rushed through the school gates. My wide eyed son asked me if we could go to America to see a tornado and, “what is it like inside a tornado mummy?” I explained that it’s actually calm. The eye of a storm is still. I told him that that is what Jesus is like, calm in the storm. And although we cannot see him, like we cannot see the wind, we can feel him and see his power at work. Half listening he bumbled into school with an excitable heart and a head filled with dreams of tornadoes and hurricanes.

As I walked away I looked up to see a bright and beautiful rainbow arch the black sky, light rain kissed our faces as I was reminded again of God’s promise and his protection. Even in the face of adversity I am secure.

I don’t know about you but the news of death seems to linger so closely in air these days, weather devastation, disease, terrorism…our world is full of unrelenting bad news and if we’re not careful to keep the peace, our minds can be consumed with fear of death.

Death is such a baffling concept when I think about it too much, the thought that we can be here one minute and gone the next is so strange. Gone where? How can we be alive, breathing, seeing, hearts beating and then not. How can this be? As a Christian I now cannot fathom the thought of not being, not living, because even though my heart will stop beating I will continue to live. My soul and my spirit move on. My body is the only part of me that will die and then I will get a new undying body in heaven.

To an unbeliever my faith may sound ridiculous but to be honest the thought of life ending in tragic emptiness to me does not make sense. Life is too incredible and intricate for it all to just simply be a pointless accident.

I’m too far into my journey of faith and the revelation that life here on earth is fleeting, to think that all we are is a body that happens to be able to produce life and love and feel and be able to kill and hate and hurt. We are too creative and thoughtful to be like animals and we are too passionate, loving and dangerous to be accidental. I believe we take life here on earth too seriously (as though this is all there is) because at the end of the day life is more than this life on earth.

When I was travelling in Cambodia I visited The Killing Fields where Pol Pot (a genocidal tyrant) and the Khmer Rouge were responsible for killing approximately 2 million people. I visited the torture chambers where the blood stains were still covering the walls and the torture instruments still on display beside the torture beds. I saw the trees on which the people were hung upside down and tortured to death in the most barbaric and horrific ways, I saw a glass Wat of a thousand skulls and mass graves with bits of bone and clothing still inside and do you know what conclusion I came to that day?

I was on a journey back to God. I had lived my life without him for long enough and I needed answers to why such horror can possibly exist. I carried a broken heart that day, for what I could see before me, but also for the heart ache and hurt I carried in my own life, and as I stood beside the mass graves and as I sat outside this museum of death at 10am in the morning, not a bird would fly by. I bought a beer from a man on the corner and I drank the beer and wept and wept because of the suffering in this world and instead of saying the same old line,

“How can there be a God to allow such horror to take place?”

I looked up at the sorry sky and I saw the truth.

“How can there not be a God? How on earth is it possible for there not to be a God?”

A God to justify the horror, the pain and suffering. A God that went through the worst and most unimaginable horrific suffering of mankind as he took upon the sin of this world, he died for every genocide that has ever taken place, he died for every disease, for every terrorist attack, every death, every heart broken, he took it all and sacrificed himself because he loves us so much.

I realised that day, at the side of the road, drinking my beer for breakfast that there is so much more to life than what we see with our naked eyes. His heart breaks with us. His heart was broken on the cross. He felt our suffering and bled and died to set us free and life here in this delicate and unpredictable world is full of hope.

The God of the universe came to set you free from a life of hopelessness and although there is no promise of a perfect life here during this little time on earth, there is a promise of forgiveness, unimaginable joy, a promise of healing, redemption and the most wonderful of all, a promise of eternal life. Even though the storm is raging and the wild wind is howling and your life could literally seem as though it is falling apart; there is a peace to be found, a calm place in the eye of the storm and in this resting place is a man named Jesus.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be death; there will no longer be sorrow and anguish, or crying, or pain; for the former order of things has passed away.”

Revelation 21:4-5

My Song Will Never Cease

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A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease.

John Muir

There’s something about the words of John Muir that stir the wildness in me. Muir was so close to nature he could hear God’s whisper in the trees, he could feel his heart beat in the mountains, he could feel his breathing in the air and taste his goodness from the fruits of the trees.

I’ve always been a bit of a hippy at heart but the ways of the world have always drawn me away from the desire to be as free as I dream. But the most wonderful revelation I have had is that when we truly place ourselves in the hands of Mighty God our dreams come true. The world thinks that to follow Jesus and obey his commands is a sanctimonious set of rules made to trap a man; the irony is it is the complete opposite.

When I turned my back on God I went to wild parties, travelled the world, gave my heart and body to whatever, whoever I chose. But, the sad, sad fact was I was desperately trapped. I was in a prison of rebellion.

When I came back to church I looked at all the people and felt immediately irritated by the fact that they were all worshipping with their hands in the air. Some were even shaking and making weird noises and my immediate thought was, these people need to get a grip. If they want people to turn to God then they need to sort out how they conduct themselves during worship! Little did I know that a year from then I would be the one with my hands in the air, jumping for joy, shouting at the top of my voice how amazing God is. Little did I know, I would lay prostrate on the floor, weeping into the carpet because of the beautiful revelation that I am loved, I am forgiven and I am saved!

My mum always said we are made to worship God and if we don’t worship him we will worship something else. Every single soul on this planet is worshipping something because that’s what we are made to do. Our hearts are made to turn to what we love. Whether it is ourselves, our bodies, our food, our jobs, a person, a hobby, a house, a car…whatever it is we think about most is most likely what we worship.

When I came back to God, I worshiped him with such intensity, I thought about him all the time, he was my last thought before I fell asleep and as soon as I woke up I would smile a big smile because of Jesus! I couldn’t get enough of church, the bible, any book about God, any song about God. I told everyone about God! I even chewed the ears of the taxi drivers at 3am on my way home from a night out as I went on and on about God.

As the years have gone on and nights out are a distant memory, my love and passion for Jesus still burns bright, but it’s more like a fire in my bones that I’m tired of holding in. And the demands of family life have taken those precious moments of stillness in his presence. Oh how I took that time for granted! Now I am desperate for a small chance to get alone with God and read his precious words. And to be honest, I have felt frustrated at times because I couldn’t fully focus on him, I couldn’t read his words, or sing to him, or close my eyes and be in heavenly places, but lately God has been talking to me about worship in its fullness.

Worship doesn’t just happen when we engage our brains with him, it’s more than that. It’s more than music, its more than the raising of hands, its more than the bowing of heads and the bending of knees. I am discovering worship in the busiest moments, in the chaos, in the middle of the storm my spirit is stilled. I’ve discovered I don’t even have to utter a word or even move a muscle and I can be immersed in wonderful worship. Because worship is deeper than what is seen on the outside, worship is a matter of the heart, it is the positioning of the heart in every single moment.

I’ve come to realise that worship can be everything. When we are truly intimate with him, we become worship. Everything I say and do can be done worshipfully. When I look into the eyes of my beautiful children I am filled with gratitude and my heart is dancing with praise. When my boys smile and my eyes well with wonder, my heart is pounding a worshipful drum. When my boys are crying and hurting and I call out Jesus’ name and my heart bows in worship. When I’m tired and sick and fed up of the world and I turn to my saviour and shed my tears, my heart sings a sad song, but it’s still a worshipful one.

Jesus says, If we stay silent even the rocks would cry out, everyone and everything is made to worship the creator. Just take a look at us here on this earth, look at how we use our bodies and minds to express our love and praise. Whether it be jumping up and down and shouting at the top of our lungs at a football match, raising our arms in a concert, being intimate with a loved one or simply being unable to get a particular thought about someone or something out of our minds we allow this love to consume us. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with all of the above but my question is: Do we love these things more than we love God?

Do we jump up and down and shout at the top of our lungs for him? Do we raise our arms to him? Are we intimate with him? Are we unable to get him out of our minds because he is so wonderful and all consuming?

I long to be like this but he knows my heart, he knows I ache for him even though my time is limited and like the gentleman he is, he is showing me a way to find him in pockets of time. He is helping me posture my heart like the once swirling trees, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm. I am finding that the simple act of what I eat, what I say, what I think and what I fix my eyes on is worshipful.

The God of the universe who created the earth and every living being takes residence in my heart and how I worship as I write these words. And although lately my worship has been stilled to silence…my song will never cease.

Let the skies sing for joy,

Let the earth join in the chorus,

Let oceans thunder and fields echo this ecstatic praise,

Until every swaying tree of every forest joins in,

Lifting up their songs of joyous praise to him!

Psalm 96 (The Passion Translation)

Three Good Men

 Wherever you find a great man, you will find a great mother or a great wife standing behind him–or so they used to say. It would be interesting to know how many great women have had great fathers and husbands behind them.
Dorothy L. Sayers

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I recently watched Suffragette at the cinema and despite some negative reviews, I thought that it was an incredibly powerful picture. Whether it was the actions of these brave women that brought about the woman’s vote or not, it cannot be denied that their passionate pursuit inspired women world wide and brought the world’s attention to the despicable way women were once treated. The only criticism I can make of this great film is that it portrayed all men in a very dark light. However, for the sake of poetic licence I understand that this may well have been intended to emphasise the truth…This got me thinking about men and their power and influence and then I began to think about the men in my life and the journey I’ve been on towards freedom.

My Extraordinary Husband

The royal blue sky was filled with fire as the sun set over the beach on our very first date. We walked and talked about God non stop for over 7 hours. As we talked and laughed and watched the stars come out, I knew this beautiful man I had only just met was the man I would marry. The presence of God was so discernible on that amazing day. As romantic and as gushy as it all may sound, this day launched us into such a refining fire. Little did we know that we would be married in 10 months time and our first son born by the end of the following year.

TD Jakes says, No woman wants to be in submission to a man who isn’t in submission to God! This is a sobering truth that I learned the hard way, so when I finally surrendered my heart to God and chose a man saved by grace I knew my choice was a good one. My beautiful husband to be knelt on one knee, with a gorgeous sapphire ring in one trembling hand and an amazing poem in the other, tears escaped his true blue eyes and I knew my answer was a resounding “YES!” Not because he was so besotted with me than he could not live without me, NO.. but because of grace, amazing grace brought him to his knees and he knew that without God he could not do this. His brokenness and honesty and utter dependence on Jesus struck my heart more than anything else; I had fallen in love with a man who loves God! I knew in the deepest part of me that this beautiful blue eyed man with his many gifts and talents and poetic utterance could not fulfil me and he knew it too, and because of this truth I knew heaven cried out in glorious victory at that very moment.

You see I married a man who knows the grace of God; a man who has fought tooth and nail to stand beside me. He is a fiercely faithful and loyal man, a man who when he is feeling completely out of his depth and wanting to flee to the other side of the universe to get way from human beings, get up and sing from the deepest part of his being, with the healing voice of an angel and lead a congregation of broken souls deeper into intimacy with God. I learn so much from my husband Theo, because he isn’t a religious type; he is very real and unpretentious. He relies on God in his brokenness and he doesn’t pretend to have it all together and this is exactly where God wants us to be. He is a man who has held me in my most broken moments and spoken life into my very soul, he has wiped away many tears and even let me scream and completely lose myself from time to time. I don’t think there is a better person to handle my emotions than him; he listens; he gives me words of wisdom and most importantly, he prays.

And now, the thought of blue roses, {he knows 😉 } starry skies, long uninterrupted talks about Jesus, life, love and philosophy are a distant memory as we battle through the nappies, and pass like ships in the sleepless nights. Oh but our time will come, and I’m so thankful for this extraordinary man I have married. Thankful that he chose me and is helping me grow into the woman God made me to be. Thankful for giving me the freedom to be myself by working incredibly hard and taking sole responsibility of our little family, so I can be at home full time and have the freedom to love with the best part of me. To make our home a place of worship, to raise our boys into mighty men. Theo is a gentleman, an amazing daddy, a wonderful husband and I’m proud to be his wife.

smile picMy Awesome Dad

The next blue eyed man I would like to honour is: My awesome Dad. If it wasn’t for this amazing man I would not be here today and I am very grateful to him for rescuing me in my darkest hour. He might say that it was I who rescued him; in fact, it’s probably true to say we rescued each other!

I will never forget the dark day I called him as I lay face down on the floor in a shattered mess. I was borderline suicidal. I needed truth and I needed it fast. If Jesus was the truth then why were we not following him? For fear that I might actually kill myself, my dad pulled himself together and took me back to church. Our first stop was at Jan and Ian’s house; faithful followers of Jesus, (who had prayed faithfully for our return) welcomed us with open arms. Visiting their home was like visiting heaven for the weekend, they are people filled with the warm embrace of Jesus. The prodigal son and his daughter returned and thank God we did!

My Dad gave his heart to Jesus 3 years before I was born. At the age of 21, in his marine uniform he walked to the front of church and knelt before his saviour. A man filled with pride and anger towards God was now on bended knee in a flood of tears in beautiful repentance. Little did he know that in twenty years from then his daughter would walk into that same church and fall on her knees in deep repentance too.

As the years went on my dad fell away from God and had a bit of a mid-life crisis. I will never forget the day he rocked up at my school gates in his cowboy boots, leaning on a walking stick, newly tattooed with skull earrings and reeking of patchouli oil! At the age of 15 I was kind of embarrassed but at the same time looking forward to propping up at the bar and drinking a beer or two with my old man. My dad has always been my mate and we have had the best deep and philosophical discussions in our time, but sadly it always ended in tears and a hangover from hell after a few too many beverages.

BUT Praise God the prodigal son returned! My wonderful Dad experienced amazing grace, and how sweet the sound as father in heaven welcomed him home and threw a party! And why not? Who wouldn’t want Gary Stacey at their party? He is the life and soul! I’m thankful we are now in the colourful days where instead of being thrown out of a pub for outlandish behaviour he is now offending the Pharisee instead! He’s brilliant. He prays, he weeps, he falls to his knees unashamedly and I’m proud to be his daughter.

My dad is a changed man! He is a man truly after God’s own heart, a passionate and kind-hearted gentleman, who always turns up at my door on a regular basis with a heart full of love and a bunch of flowers. His infectious laugh, brilliant conversation and love of God spreads wherever he goes. You see here is another man of integrity who knows the grace of God and I wouldn’t be who I am if it wasn’t for him. My Dad is a bright star, full of fire for his first love, Jesus. He is a great dad, a great friend, and a great man.

Van-Kraay Stacey

My Wonderful Pastor

My Pastor Jack is a man filled with rumbling fire. His mother was an evangelist and I see that fire from her burn in him. His desire to see God’s kingdom come is catching. Another passionate blue-eyed man after God’s own heart! What I love about Jack is that there is no beating around the bush, he is not a procrastinator, he’s an activator. If I am allowed to say this, apathy can wreak havoc with men, but not Jack! I absolutely love his desire to lead and bring people closer to God. There was no better man than to speak such dynamite truth on our wedding day. His words still echo in my mind and when Theo and I have had it tough, I remember him repeatedly say, Jesus is the solution.  At times Theo and I have had to walk on water, and if it wasn’t for the love and support of Jack and his beautiful wife Susan we would not be where we are today.

Much needed growth and healing has taken place in me in the last 9 years of being in my precious church. Trials have come and gone and I know that I can count on Jack to be there when the going gets tough. Him and Susan have been there when I have wept buckets, they have sat beside me as I lay in my hospital bed, they have supported me with love and prayer and they cheer me on through the storms of life. When he has visited our home I always feel like I’ve been closer to Jesus having talked with him. He carries a steady, inexpressible peace, he is a man who has through his own trials in life grown in wisdom, stature and grace. Jack is a great speaker and teacher but most importantly he is a compassionate man with a warm embrace. He shares the burden of his people, he gets alongside them and helps them carry their cross. I’m sure if Jack was living for himself he would be playing golf in bonnie Scotland somewhere but he isn’t living to please himself, he’s living by the heartbeat of father God as he ministers to every soul that come his way, whether it be in Preston or in the far East he brings the good news to a dying world.

As a pastor Jack has come up against some seriously heavy weights but by the amazing grace that both him and Susan carry, those enemies are continually defeated, like dominoes they fall. And if it it wasn’t for Susan behind him, Jack would not be the man he is today. But, I am sure that Susan would also say that she would not be who she is, if it wasn’t for him. Jesus is the rock and when a man trusts in God he takes on this form. Jesus lay down his life for his bride and I see this in my pastor. He is a man of sacrifice and I know the cost is painful. So I honour Jack with my words, because he is a faithful, wise and wonderful man in submission to his saviour. He is a shepherd to his flock and his voice is healing. That Scottish accent is a sweet familiar sound that I am so grateful to Jesus for. He too is a man that fights tooth and nail. He will be there for you at the drop of a hat and I am proud to be his spiritual daughter.

jack

So there you have it. Three good men behind me who hold me up, love me and shape me into the woman I’m made to be. In no way do I believe that these men can be as good as they are without God and his amazing grace. It is only God that is truly good; but like TD Jakes says, when a man is in submission to his great God then he in turn becomes an image of his father. Here are three great men who stand behind their women, giving them freedom and cheering them on and behind them stands the master of the universe, cheering them on to be the champions that they were made to be.

My Little Hulk

 

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I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all, I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

The Incredible Hulk. Is he a goody or a baddy? A big green and barbarous superhero, the angrier he gets the more powerful he becomes. Over the years Hulk has been portrayed with an array of personalities, from brutal barbarian to brilliant warrior and poor Hulk’s true identity has been lost along the way, having been manipulated and moulded by the minds of all sorts of comic crazies and superhero artists. I’ve never been a big hulk follower myself, the little I saw of Hulk growing up was perhaps a glimpse of him whilst my big brother marvelled at the TV.

With so many characters in life, whether it be real or fictitious, the truth of their nature can often be thwarted. The creators of The Incredible Hulk found inspiration from Frankenstein and with such characters we know there is so much more than what meets the eye. Shelly’s horror story is more than a horror story, it is a poignant tale of a beautifully intelligent and complex man that was shunned from society because he was misjudged and misunderstood. His super strength, heightened sensitivity and ugliness horrified the people so much that he ran for his life and with a tormented heart found refuge in the wilderness.

Could it be said that too often as a society we have stifled the gift in some incredible people? In fear of how they might have appeared and behaved we have shunned them and supressed the very thing that they were made to become. Especially children. What at first appears to be a horror in actual fact turns out to be something bright, brilliant and beautiful, but the vital tool to this metamorphosis is the gentle nurturing of these incredibly precious and delicate little lives.

When I look at my incredible son and I see his eyes wild and sparkling with the gift within him, excitement wells within me as I revel in the thoughts God shows me about his future. It breaks my heart to think that If this little man in front of me was born into the wrong family such mighty gift could have been snuffed out, boxed in, or even worse, beaten out of him.

The name of my firstborn son means ‘to rest’, I have often laughed out loud at the sheer irony of this truth because if you know him he is the most spirited and exuberant little character you might ever meet. He takes his imagination and physical exertion to a whole new level of genius! Hulk Smash can bite the dust when my boy comes to town!

I’m unashamedly proud of my little man’s gift to lead and live fearlessly. Granted, with this excellence has come tears, sweat and blood and has without doubt served to be (and will continue to be) the painful refining of me, but I am so grateful and privileged to have been trusted to nurture and take responsibility of raising such an excellent little fellow. Perhaps patience and self control are the two fruits in me that I struggle to bear so on this rocky road of parenting, I have through gritted teeth ploughed through the last 5 years in a crazy haze of triumph and tribulation. When my little lion roars woe betide, hold your ears and run for cover!

Over the last 5 years of my little Hulk entering the world we have had two very good quality plasma TV’s broken, and many an expensive toy ruined, such as the full sized Buzz Light Year pretty much broken within a few days of purchase, and bought in one of those moments where you (or perhaps just us) gave in to the blitz that became him, when he catastrophically coveted what his cousin had and would not and could not get the thought of Buzz out of his mind. My husband and I went to Infinity and beyond and Toys R Us as soon as physically possible. What is more, I’ve had my fair share (or unfair share) of being punched and kicked and not to mention the scribbled walls, decorated radiators, broken stair gates, bath tub and a daily splattering of food up the walls and in the carpet. Yep, and that’s just to mention a few…I am humbly learning the art of holding material things less tightly. There really is no point in having anything precious in my house apart from people! And that is where the line is drawn and he must sit on the bottom stair and have a think about why it is wrong to hurt another human being.

Thankfully, the public meltdowns are few and far between these days but I will never forget the terrible time we had on a bus journey home one day. I can’t even remember exactly what he was enraged about (probably ice-cream related as a tank full of tears is stored in heaven on this topic) but he lay prostrate in the bus aisle at a horribly hot and busy time of day and many a grey head shook in disapproval at the apparent disobedience displayed before them. One grumpy old man tutted and spluttered that I should “give him a good smack” there and then. At this point, I pulled him up and gave him a big long hug and whispered in his ear that I would get him whatever he wanted as soon as we got off that blasted bus! I glared at the old man with eyes that said, “I will do the very opposite of your suggestion thank you very much”.

But to be honest, I have not always found it easy to be true to myself in public. The ridiculous urge to act more strict than I really am to please the people around me has sadly risen in me from time to time. It is so hard to be counter cultural and go against the overpowering expectation that children should be silenced and quick to obey and if they do not then they should be trained like dogs until they get it into their little heads.

However, I am praising God that by His gentle Spirit, I am becoming more gentle and learning to give my children the respect that they deserve, especially in the early years where it is now finally becoming more recognised and proven that developmentally children’s brains are not actually capable of empathy and impulse control (And if we are perfectly honest, this battle continues into adulthood). Sure my 4 and a half year old knows full well what is right and wrong, however when he sees red, in that very moment, I promise you come hell and high water that thinking about the consequences is far from his raging mind.

When I lose it and scream like a fish wife not only is it not a pretty sight or sound, but i’m left feeling saddened and empty and realising on reflection that if I had just dealt with the situation calmly and often in the opposite emotion to what my child is feeling then I am not only modelling to him a better way but connecting with him and helping him to help himself. Yes, I guess we can condition our children through fear of punishment but my question is, does God do this to us? Or rather does he let us suffer the natural consequences of our foolish actions? Sure He tells us what is wrong and shows us a better way, but is he aggressive or is he patient, loving and kind, always protecting, trusting, hoping, persevering, never failing?

Oh how merciful, compassionate and slow to anger is our loving God and my ultimate prayer is to parent in the way my Father in heaven parents me. He doesn’t shame me. Sure, I feel the shame, but that in turn is just a warm and open invitation to be intimate with him. I want my boys to know that no matter what they have done wrong they can turn to me and know that I have forgiven them. I don’t want them to fear punishment and retribution because I do not believe my God is a punishing God. He corrects and he connects and I will do everything i can to do the same, in passionate faith that the gift within them is being stirred.

My little Hulk is a brilliant warrior and for every demand he makes will be a man of high standards, for every uproar a zestful voice to be heard, for every argument a respectful man of his word, for every lie a man of great integrity, every distraction a brilliant perception and for every meltdown a wild and wonderful man after God’s own heart.

So what’s my point? My point is, to every parent out there that like me has felt at some time along the way like Dr Frankenstein, and gone to bed at night feeling out of your depth and in total despair at what on earth you have made, and what on earth to do with this little barbarian runing wild and pressing your every button (even the ones you didn’t know were there). My cry to you is keep going! You are doing a brilliant job! And although correction and connection is a vital tool to have to shape our little ones, let us do what our Incredible God does so well; in all His glory he sees past the rebellion and through the blood of his son He makes a masterpiece out of us.

My prayer is for our children to be seen and heard, to raise their voices and no longer be silenced. For their big feelings to be understood and for their views to be respected. We can learn so much from these little people. In fact, Jesus says be like one of these little ones because the Kingdom of God belongs to them.

Like in the words of Mary Shelley, my little Hulk with all his love and rage is a brilliant boy and will grow to be a mighty man and no power of hell will stop him.

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