Thrive Where You’re Planted

If I was offered the role of being a nomad blogger (or whatever they’re called) I would say yes, please! I love travelling and just being in different places.  But I have come to realise the importance of being planted! Being rooted somewhere and thriving in that community.

One day last week I was sitting in my living room in silence, and I started thinking about what it means to be planted.  I thought back to when I was in primary school and as a class, we were growing beanstalks!  I remember in the mornings excitedly running to the tray by the window to see my transparent glass labelled with my name which contained my wee bean. I was excited to see the transformation and growth.  Even on the days when there wasn’t that much physical change, as a class we learnt that we would eventually see the growth of our plant.

We learnt one of the first stages of the bean plant is the splitting of its outer layer.  This is essential for the plant to get oxygen to produce energy it needs for germination, and also to set its roots.

As I pondered on this process, I thought about how aesthetically unpleasing the splitting may look but how crucial it was to the growth of the plant.  If the outer layer doesn’t split, then there is no oxygen, roots cannot be formed, the plant doesn’t get the required nutrients and eventually it dies (or just doesn’t grow at all).  This isn’t supposed to be a morbid post, but it did make me think about not being planted or fully committed to my community for long enough to break the outer layer (for me I have to admit it’s itchy feet and a lack of commitment – I just want to be free!!) in order to thrive. 

If you believe God has placed you somewhere, no matter how abundant or derelict the place may seem, commitment to that place will result in some growth.

Think about the dry, harsh nature of a desert, yet there are certain species of cacti that survive and do well.  You are an important part of your current ecosystem, so whether you’re there for life, or a short-term stint – split your outer layer, establish roots, yield to the environment (your community) and allow yourself room to grow.   Where you grow you thrive!

Our growth isn’t for selfish reasons. Think about it the bean plant doesn’t eat its own harvest. Similarly, those around us benefit from our growth and the production of our fruit.  As Christians the fruit of our growth should equip, encourage, impact and mobilise our community towards His kingdom.

With love,

Faith xox

Transitioning Into Fall

It’s that time of year when our feed is full of ‘fall outfit inspiration’, ‘transitional pieces’, ‘fall essentials’, and so on.

Fall or autumn as we call it here in the UK is one of my favourite seasons.  I love the richness of fall colours, the warmer tones, and pallets we add to our wardrobe.  I like the brown, oranges and deep shades of yellow leaves that decorate the ground.  I particularly like the early days and weeks of autumn.  We get the odd sunny day where we can leave the house with sunnies on, a small jacket and a scarf and we’ll be okay.

Recently, I’ve been talking to a lot of students new to my local church and the city and it’s made me think a lot about transitions.

  • Being new to a city

  • New to living alone

  • New jobs

  • New relationships

Transition is an expected feature of life, but it doesn’t take away that it can be scary and anxiety provoking.

I’ve had to deal with my fair share of transitions, and I wanted to share a few tips that have helped me – hoping they help you.

1.   Establish a routine as soon as you can

Routine introduces order and gives you a sense of stability.  This is particularly important when you’re in a new space and things feel uncertain and unpredictable.

Make your routine REALISTIC.   Starting off small and when you have a good rhythm going then you

Easing yourself into this new routine by starting off small. Small, manageable steps are usually easier to implement and keep up. Consistency is key!  Once you have established a good rhythm you can think about building up your routine.

Also, make sure you are scheduling in nice things.  I know this isn’t a Bible scripture but ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’.

2.  Make schedule time daily to pray and read The Word

(This probably should have been number one but)

Seeking God daily, spending time in His Word, and conversing with Him regularly is essential to us functioning effectively.

I like to see the Word of God literally as food.  In some ways it helps me stay on track and encourages me to read the Word. When I go a few days without reading my Bible I ask myself would I really go without food for days?  Probably not, therefore why am I starving myself of Godly food and His presence?

3.  Join a local church and attend a house group

This is especially important if you find yourself in a new city, country, town, or new geographic place.

It’s a good way to make friends and be part of a community of like-minded people. If you’re struggling with making time for God during the week, this at least guarantees that you have designated time to spend with God and other believers.

4. Rest in Him and His Grace!

 

The thing about transitions is that it doesn’t mean the core of you changes.  Think about it like this, in autumn we layer up with scarves, wear coats etc.  We do this as a way of adapting to the conditions of our environment.  We adapt to the season, by changing what we wear, so that we can survive, cope, and ultimately thrive.  Transitions in some way is similar.  The core of us does not change, however, it’s an opportunity to increase our capacity, grow to thrive in the next season.

Whatever your transition – starting school, a new job, moving countries, starting on a journey of motherhood or marriage, be confident that God’s grace is more than sufficient for this transition the next season of your life and beyond!

I’d love to know if you do something in particular to help you adjust to change?

With love,

Faith xox

The Comeback: Learning and Unlearning

 

It has been about 3 years since I (consistently) posted on Faith’s Guide, so much so that I forgot what it felt like to sit at my laptop and write a post.  However, I quickly remembered the joys of blogging  when my laptop decided to switch itself off not once but three times!

This is now my fourth attempt at this post, so bear with me as I try to recover from memory a pretty decent post.  If the post is incoherent, remember it’s my fourth attempt and it has been about three years!

Not exactly the kind of introduction I was going for, but hey! I also did not intend for this social media break to go for as long as it did, but hey, your girl’s back!

walking away

 

So I initially took a break because I went back to school and moved countries and needed time to find my feet and get a good rhythm going.  However, unbeknownst to me I was about to go through a period of learning and unlearning. 

This season of my life was characterized by stripping back and asking quite profound questions about my faith.

I did not necessarily doubt my belief in Jesus but I had questions around certain doctrines and teachings I had adopted.  I questioned what and how I prayed; how I quoted and used certain scriptures. I also wondered if I actually understood scripture? And could I share my understanding clearly to unbelievers and even believers? 

I spent time teasing apart cultural practices that are infused into teaching and presented as the Word of God.  Some of these practices I wholeheartedly believed and engaged in without question.  There were things that I could have sworn were the truth but have now come to learn are nothing but personal opinions dressed as ‘the truth’. 

 


Cognisant of these questions and the weight of uncertainty, I thought it would be best to pause, strip back in order to get a better understanding of my faith.


During this time away I explored things such as: tithing, first fruits, discipleship, The Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, prophecy, dreams/visions, ‘God said’ statements, religion vs. spirituality, new age practices within the church…the list goes on. 

For me, it was important that I wasn’t a ‘blind’ Christian, and that after considering the costs I was wholly committed to walking this path. 

 

Here are some of the things I learned and unlearned during this time 

  • Nothing will and should ever replace your individual time with God.  that personal quiet time – never compromise it, and try not to skip it. 

 

  • Do not despise those around you, whilst we may put big preachers, or the ‘saints of old’ on pedestals, if we believe it is the power of God working in them…then guess what that same power is present in your local pastor’s life, your friends and family that are Christian and that same power is in you! 

 

  • Do not, I repeat do not put yourself on a pedestal.  Do not think ‘I could never do that’, or ‘that could never happen to me’ – because you really don’t know!  In the last couple of years, I think the Christian world has had some unfortunate scandals which have been quite public.  My personal response to this is:  forgiveness, grace and refrain from gossip.  In these situations you cannot confidently say what you would or wouldn’t do.  When you think you know yourself, your heart reveals otherwise. Two scriptures that keep me in check: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:19 KJV).  If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall (1 Corinthians 10:12). 

 

  • Listen to that feeling in your gut and respond to it. You know that feeling you get when you hear a word that doesn’t sit well with you, or you meet someone, and the interaction is a ‘bit off’.  Attend to that feeling through prayer, weighing up what the person said/ did against the word of God – For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to divide soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).  And find Godly counsel around the issue. 

 

  • You need to be planted and discipled in a local church! Online church has been an absolute blessing, especially during lockdown. However the value and blessing of being connected to and doing life with people you see, feel and who know you is priceless! 

 

  • Ask questions, wonder, be curious. From my understanding and experience, God doesn’t chastise you or penalise you for asking questions.  We have lots of examples of the disciples asking Jesus questions.  This presented beautiful opportunities for Jesus to teach, and His disciples to learn! 

 

  • Be open to learn new things and have your existing belief system challenged.  We are all learning and on this journey.   It’s not about knowing everything right now.  The truth is we know in part.  Life is beautiful when you see it as a journey and you walk through it with God.

 

Although this is not a Christian blog (I’m a Christian woman that runs this blog), I felt a huge sense of responsibility to those of you who read my posts and follow me on social media. I wanted to make sure that I was not leading you astray or purporting erroneous messages.  Therefore, I did not think the blog or online in general was the best place to explore these curiosities.

My primary hope is that my blog is a place you can come to for encouragement.  I would love for us to engage in healthy discourse around faith and life and learn from each other.  If I say or share something that may be biblically incorrect, please let me know comments and corrections are welcome (especially when done in love).   I hope my posts are encouraging and give you a healthy push in the right direction.  

I am interested to know what you have learned, unlearned about your faith, belief system or even yourself in the last year?

 

With love 

Faith xox

FREEDOM IN FORGIVENESS

Finding Freedom in Forgiveness

Ever been burnt, betrayed by someone you love and trusted? I’m sure these are experiences many, if not all of us can relate to.  


During a recent trip away, I reflected on a conversation I had with my sister about someone I (was going to say used to love, but I still do) love.  In this moment I realised how conversations or thoughts about the person does not trigger any negative emotions.  There was no sign of hurt, bitterness or anger, I felt neutral, even happy at what I had heard.  It dawned on me that I had forgiven them. 

A few weeks prior I attended a Christian conference (Sorting Out’. I highly recommend) and one of the speakers spoke on forgiveness.  To be honest he shared things I had heard many times before, but it was good to have the message of forgiveness being a choice and essential reinforced. 



I thought of a particular person I had struggled to forgive.  I recall psyching myself up; I had to let go.

Finding Freedom through Forgiveness

Part of me didn’t want to. I mean my anger and resentment was justified…but then I thought to myself:


How long? 

How much longer will I harbour these feelings?

Why am I choosing to inflict myself with this pain?


Forgiveness Is A Choice.

 


I was essentially choosing to hurt myself by holding on to this pain.

Find healing and peace when you forgive

It’s like someone (spitefully) giving you a ball and telling you to hold it and squeeze it tightly. The moment you begin to squeeze pins shoot out of the ball; causing injuries, and a great deal of pain. 


In this situation there are two choices:

  • continuing to hold on to the ball with the spikes, causing more pain and additional cuts. 
  • Or letting go of the ball; attend to your wounds, moving on, and with time allowing the wounds to close up and heal.  


 

Yes, after a while, you may still see marks, and scars of the wounds. But, the pain (especially at the level of intensity when the spikes cut you) can no longer be felt. And that’s often the experience of forgiveness; there may be things that remind you of what happened. But the lack of pain associated with these reminders is evidence of you letting go in forgiveness, and moving forward towards full healing.

You have the choice to hold on and continuously hurt yourself or you can choose to let go and give your hurt a chance to heal. 

 


Just to note, attending to the wound, is not permission to go over the hurt, or things that were done/said to you.  It’s about caring for yourself! This may be through prayer. It may mean thinking about creating certain boundaries, having accountability partners, going for therapy.  

 


Dressing The Wounds Is About You, And Your Healing. 



Back to that conference, I made a decision to let go and forgive. I prayed a simple and short prayer that God will help me by His grace to let go, move on and not remember things with bitterness, anger, hatred or hurt anymore. 

Today as I write this I think about the conversation I had with my sister and I see that I have actually forgiven. 

 

You Are Free When You Forgive

In this forgiveness I have found freedom; of my emotions, heart, and valuable head space.  

 

There is a special peace of mind that comes with forgiveness, and with this, I can genuinely say I wish this person all the very best of God’s blessings.  

I know forgiveness can be hard, especially when it seems like it’s justified. Trust me the best thing you can do is make the choice to let go and forgive. Ask God to help you, you will find His grace at hand to help you through this process.  And in forgiving, you will find freedom. 

 
In truth and with love,

Faith xox

 

The Pursuit of Love

 

February, the Month of Love ♥

It’s that season when some of us are Boo’d up, and the rest…hmm not quite, but we’re still happy.

 

One thing I love about love is The Pursuit.  You know when you’re just getting to know someone, there’s this relentless pursuit.  The constant calls, the WhatsApp messages back and forth, the lengthy texts.

It’s exciting, it’s new, you’re hooked, and you want to be around the person ALL the time.

You want to speak to them all day, you look forward to seeing them.  Dates are fun, even when they just consist of quiet walks where no-one is saying much.  Just the presence of the other person brings a sense of satisfaction, and happiness.

 

Goodbyes can be hard, even when you know they are just temporary. New love is amazing.

And then somehow, things slow down.

You kind of get ‘used’ to being with each other, the new things aren’t so novel anymore.  The little cute things slowly lose their spark. The love hasn’t necessarily diminished, but the overt and elaborate expressions of love have…

Whilst most would agree the pursuit should never stop, the reality is that it does.  It’s the sad trajectory of a lot of human relationships.

If you think keeping the momentum in a relationship is tough (and expensive), try maintaining that same energy in a relationship with a faulty foundation.  The ‘love’ will peak quickly, before it rapidly and sometimes hurtfully crashes.

If you find yourself pursuing a ‘love’ in a [hu]man because of loneliness, discontentment, insecurity, hurt – I can almost guarantee you will not find what you’re looking for.  At first things may seem amazing, but beyond the surface you will realise ‘that love’ will not make you feel complete, valued, fulfilled or healed.  Pursuing love ‘just because’, can get messy and leave you broken.

To those who are happy in love, continue to celebrate each other in love, commending the good in one another, and in love covering weaknesses.

And if you are not in a good place this Valentine’s Day, if you are unhappily single (because being single is not a bad thing – another post for another day), nursing a heartbreak, going through challenges in your relationship you are most likely not alone.  Do not let this day ‘highlight’ all the things the things you lack, or things that are wrong.  Instead bask in the knowledge that:


He loves you with an everlasting love.

(Jeremiah 31:3)


Yesterday at the Bible study I attend we were looking a this scripture and thinking about it is really mind blowing:  

 

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

(Philippians 2: 5-8)

 

Imagine leaving your home which is full of glory, comfort, complete luxury and every other great and incredible you can think of to go to a place that is the total opposite.  And on top of that you’re subjected to all sorts of abuse, ridiculed, mocked, beaten – all for the sake of LOVE.  Despite the sacrifice of leaving your glorious home, you’re rejected by the ones you came to show and give this Love to.  It doesn’t discourage you, the rejection gives you more oomph to keep pursuing….now that is the definition of LOVE.

Complete Selflessness. Complete Sacrifice. That is Love.

The breadth, and depth of the love of God is crazy!! Too much for us to fully comprehend.  And what’s great about it, is that it’s unconditional


But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

(Romans 5:8)


It’s not limited to one day a year, but  it’s eternal.

True Love is liberating and is found in Jesus Christ.

 

His love for you is so wide and runs so deep, that you were and always are worth The PURSUIT.

Happy Valentine’s Day

In truth and with lots of love

Faith xox

Faith’s Guide