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Sunday, 4 February 2018

God has good things in store for you

I don't know about you... but I believe in a God who has good things for us.
But hold on.
My life doesn't always look like a picture perfect world that oozes blessings and joy. In fact it looks messy, turbulent... up and then down within a matter of one week to the next. The greatest blessings intertwined with the lowest of lows. Isn't that what all of our lives feel like?

Even still.
I believe in a God who has good things for me.
Psalm 31:19
How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world.

You see, what you and I need to learn to trust and to meditate our hearts on, is that God knows the bigger picture of our lives. He sees yesterday and He sees today, but He also sees tomorrow and next week and next year, and our final days (I would love Him to let me in on a few spoilers).

Where Gods view is of every detail, even our view of yesterday is not wholly reliable, as we so easily forget and end up filling in the blanks around the moments we perceived as significant.
We cannot trust our view of our past to be fact, particularly long past memories that fade and distort over time. So when we look at our today, it is no surprise that we so often look through eyes of fear. We cannot see what God is doing in our sometimes painful circumstances, and we cannot see that He will come through for us, because we have forgotten that He came through before time and time again.
So often our brains are wired to remember the pain we have felt in our lives. The moments that were less than perfect or ideal. The moments that we felt used, belittled, unseen or unwanted, and we forget the moments of joy in between were God restored and rebuilt and blessed us so greatly.

I want to be someone who remembers what God has done for me. Who takes time to dwell on how it felt to be blessed by a God who sees me, knows me, cares for me and has GOOD things in store for me. I want to remember when I can only see my past through the fog of my memories, and when I cannot see my future at all, that God has come through time and time again. That He can be trusted. That His promises ARE true and can be relied on.
I have no idea what tomorrow is going to put in front of me. I can't imagine the pain or the joy that next year might bring to my family. And that unknown is frightening.
But it doesn't have to be.
If you and I can train our hearts to know of the reliability of our Father and His heart for us, then we can face tomorrow and our futures without fear just like the Proverbs 31 woman. We can be bold and courageous in the face of adversity, and we can be more than a conquerors through Christ.

I just want to encourage you if you are reading this... to write down your blessings. Make a blessing jar and daily write one thing to put in the jar, and then when you are struggling to remember that God is for you and not against you, read those blessings and remind your heart that GOD IS GOOD and He is WITH YOU.

Blessings to all of you.
x x x

PS.. my blessing today is a week of sleep for the first time in about a year :) And the energy to really enjoy my beautiful daughter!

Friday, 10 February 2017

The Pregnancy Rollercoaster



The Pregnancy Rollercoaster...

Blissfully unaware less than two months after our honeymoon, Jono & I found out we were expecting our little baby girl & called all the closest people to us, to tell them the news. Over the moon I had visions of myself as this glowing pregnant chick who took everything in her stride, kept up her gruelling gym routine & healthy eating plan, & who batted off the pregnancy hormones like the good little Mercy girl I had learned to be.

HAH.

What I instead found was that no one quite prepared me or warned me about the difficulties I would face physically & mentally as my little one progressively grew inside my belly. Perhaps that is a good thing - perhaps the knowing would make it simply too much of an anxious time, or... maybe I could have mentally prepared myself just a little bit better if I had really known what was coming (& maybe my husband could have too).
Don't get me wrong, it is beautiful & amazing feeling the movements of our eagerly awaited bundle of joy (& she is such a mover), & yes the excitement of decorating a nursery & buying all the little miniature clothes are all extremely real, not to mention how grateful we are that getting pregnant was so easy for us when for some it can be a heart breaking journey of ups & downs... but it is also very real that there is so much more to the 40 weeks than I could have imagined, & women all over the world should quite frankly received medals of honour for every child they carry.

I wish someone had told me that I would feel so exhausted that all I'd want to do is sleep, but that it would be impossible to sleep because my legs would be jumpy, sciatic pain would wake me up every time I rolled over, leg cramps would rudely & abruptly launch me out of my strange dreams, acid reflux would mean I'd need to sleep sitting up, & still other less pleasant symptoms would cause getting in & out of bed a mighty challenge.

I wish someone had told me that my body would force me to stop my exercise routine one burpee & one step class at a time until in the last month even walking has become a difficult & gruelling task. I wish I'd been expecting that it was going to be physically impossible for me to navigate a bump, acid, back pain & lots of other pain, & still keep up with all the other ladies in lycra.

Most of all I wish someone had warned me that my emotions would be a rollercoaster. That one week I may be able to deal with the most difficult or painful of circumstances, & the next week I'd feel like the whole world was against me & I'd struggle just to get out of bed never mind to brave my way through social situations. This didn't really hit me until around Christmas time when gradually I found my fatigue was making me irritable, bringing up old battles, & eventually in the last couple of weeks, causing me to be someone even I didn't want to be around, never mind other people (& don't even mention the new friends we'd met who have no previous context on me & now must think I'm a completely unstable lunatic - I promise I'm not... often).

It is funny though. Even through all of this & more, I know that Jesus is still my answer & still my rock. Over the past week I have been digging out some of the tools I learnt at Mercy trying to bring myself back to a better & more manageable state. What I found at first was that this was really difficult because I had subconsciously chosen to partner with the negativity & the lies that I was being fed, & I'd chosen to wallow in the self pity of difficult circumstances Jono & I were facing that previously we had been dealing quite with well. I'd also allowed after months of positivity, the physical symptoms & raging hormones to get the better of me.
It was only the other morning when I woke up & remembered the number one principle that I learnt in my time at Mercy. This is the principle of CHOICE. I suddenly remembered that I had a choice in how I was going to let my day pan out. Yes, I'd still have to battle all the same things, but I could choose to do this with dignity & joy, focusing on the blessings that far outweigh the challenges. And you know what?... That one choice (& I've had to continually make that choice as the days progress), has completely changed the way I have approached the last few days & I've felt the cloud & fog I was walking through, start to lift. It sounds very easy & it's really not. It took me a good number of weeks to grasp it & to be ready to fight the battle head on. I've had to read materials Mercy gave me multiple times a day & I've ranted at friends & family more times that is probably okay, but it's working. The power of choosing God's way & partnering with Him instead, is always the answer in anything we face.

What I'm focusing on now is that I already completely love & adore the little girl that is causing all these challenges in my body. I love her unconditionally & feel so privileged to have be given one of God's daughters to look after for the rest of my days. I can't wait to meet her! I know there are going to be challenges ahead (& ladies I'd appreciate the heads up on some of these), but I am going to be the best mumma I can be through the terrain that we will walk as a family. And I have a wonderful hubby to go the distance with.

The power of choice is incredible.
The power of God is mighty.
The love a mother can have for a child is all consuming.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Remembering God when life isn't all doom & gloom!

Remembering God when life isn't all doom & gloom!

Why hello there -  I seem to be writing here very infrequently these days... in fact I couldn't even remember the email address to sign into the account - that's how long it has been. To be honest it's kind of a reflection & example of what I'm going to write about in this entry.

Before I get into that though... here's a whistle tour of life since I left Mercy & wrote my last entry. Since then I got hitched to THE MOST WONDERFUL MAN IN THE WORLD, left a job that made me miserable & found a job local to me in the mental health sector which I love, & I am due to give birth to a little girl in just 9 weeks.
I've also taken on fitness with a great deal of dedication, met some great new friends (some of whom are also expecting which will be some good companionship), found a new church in Newtownards called 'Thriving Life Church', & we've been on a few trips over the water.

So many amazing things have happened to us in the past year (of course amongst the not so amazing things that life throws), & I really am so grateful to God for how He has moved in our lives & how He has brought Jono & I so far from the people we were when we had our first date two & a half years ago - seriously, we were both for very different reasons... a total mess. There was a lot of baggage in that one relationship... but not so much anymore. That deserves an 'Amen'.

We've noticed loads of little differences from how different meal times & social occasions are for us now (like we actually go out to eat, & even have meals with other people!!!), to how we deal with unexpected challenges with much more level headedness than ever before, & to how for me, I am much less reliant on other people - it no longer scares me to face a hard day without someone holding my hand. I am a much less desperate & needy person, & Jono is much more prepared to share when he is not okay.
A happy medium I think is what you call it.
And the change is hard to deny.

What we have found a challenge though over the past year particularly, might be surprising. We have actually found it hard to recognise God & His voice & presence, when things are going well.
We can each genuinely say 'It is well with my soul'... so shouldn't this bring us closer & closer to our God through our thankfulness & joy, & all the great emotions that come with a life that is healthy & full of love?
But honestly... it's not happened that way.
I think I can speak for both Jono & I when I say that we have to be so much more intentional these days about including God in our day to day walk than we ever did when things were in the gutter & seemed totally hopeless. It seems God felt much closer to us when we were at our most desperate & when we thought that these days of dancing & beauty He promised in return for our mourning & ashes, would never come.
I could make excuses & say 'well the Bible does tell us that Jesus came for the sick, perhaps now as a couple who are much more healthy & content, maybe we don't need Him so much?' But clearly I would be completely wrong.
Like seriously, we are about to enter parenthood... WE NEED HIM.

What it really boils down to is that I kind of forget some days that God is there. GASP!!
It's very easy when you work or intern for a church, or when you are sitting in Mercy ministries, to set aside time for God & include Him in your life... because let's face it... that's the whole focus of everyday. It's easier to remember when your life is hopeless & no one else seems to be able to help, that turning to God might be a good idea.
Real life for us now isn't church work, isn't constant desperation, & certainly isn't Mercy life... it's just ordinary everyday stuff.
We often forget that our Heavenly Father wants to be involved in the day to day mundane things with us as well as the big decisions we face, even if they aren't gloomy in the pit kind of decisions. When we were completely ruled by brokenness, Jono & I were constantly on our knees pleading with God to help us, seeking guidance & vision & a way to move forward with our lives. But now that so much healing has occurred in our lives, we sometimes forget the one who made it all happen.
We forget when we are freaking out about being parents & adjusting to a life with our precious little girl, that we have a Father who will walk us through it & who we can trust at all times.
We forget to hand over to Him our difficulties in friendships, family relationships, or even our own little quarrels (although so far we've been very lucky on this front; no raised voices thus far!).
We sometimes forget to ask Him what He has in store for us when we wake up in the morning. And when big decisions come our way, our default is to overthink it until our heads are fried & then finally we might remember that we will not find a solution until we include the most important person in our marriage - our God.

That's where we are at the minute. It's not dramatic or Oscar worthy, but it's our lives in this season, & one thing is for sure... God IS interested & wants to be a part of it.
So we are trying to be more intentional about including God in all the good stuff. Not just when disappointment or trials hit us, but in the most exciting moments & the ordinary too.
The day our little girl arrives in our arms, we will not forget the one who delivered her too us. We will remember in that moment that the little life we get to love so much, is His child first & foremost. We simply get the privilege of being her earthly parents, & so each decision we make for & with her, much firstly be made with her God.


Wish us luck.
Hopefully it'll not be so long next time.
Becky X

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

My Mercy Chapter


It’s been a while since I have sat down & written a blog entry. I guess a lot has been going on in life… Mm… yes that’s an understatement.
Almost 10 months ago I entered the Mercy Ministries Program (Now Mercy UK) to find freedom from the things in my life which had me bound up. I’d been struggling under the surface for such a long time – appearing as though I had it all together to those who played the role of onlooker in my life, or to those I was trying to help in my journey to becoming what I thought was the best Proverbs 31 woman I could be. But to those close to me, it was evident that my life was moving further & further away from that person. I had become a passive bystander to my own life, watching it going downhill & feeling both powerless to change it, & scared to try. I’d been toying with going to Mercy for a few years, but I also had (& have) a really strong vision to be someone who works at Mercy, & so I was afraid that if I admitted that I needed to actually GO to Mercy, then that vision God gave me would never come to fruition.

So instead I continued to pretend everything was okay, thinking that I could fake my way to the place I wanted to be…
The thing with pretending is that it catches up with you. You cannot fake your way through life (particularly with a life controlling issue), & remain standing at the end of it. We cannot possess the freedom Christ died for us to have, the freedom that is already ours, by faking it. I know that now. Freedom feels so different to pretence. I can now laugh … and really laugh. Attend events & not be overwhelmed by anxiety. I can do things with balance & measure. I can plan a future that’s not based around the lies I believe in my mind.
I also know however that I have weak spots & that the enemy can & will try & use those against me to bring me back down into the chaos I was living in. And you know what? Some days, some weeks… he totally wins. But life post Mercy means that not only are those times far less frequent than before, but also I now have the tools to pick myself up far quicker than I ever could before. Whereas one bad day who have led to an awful month. Now, at the end of the day, I make the choice to live tomorrow differently & to see each new morning as a new opportunity, a day where God mercies are new for me. I no longer stand in the mirror & recite the words, ‘You screwed up, you are hideous, you are disgusting’... instead I fight back by speaking truth over myself & I’ve changed the words I declare to ‘Yesturday wasn’t so great… it was a 2 …but today can be a 10. You are loved, beautiful, the apple of His eye, seen, known, & totally secure in His hand. Today Becky, He is fighting for you’. Our words have so much power. We need to be so careful what we speak over ourselves & others. Don’t become a self-fulfilled prophecy.

I have come to know this for sure. When God gives one of His sons or daughters a vision for something great… the enemy seeks to ‘kill, steal & destroy’. That is his role here on earth. His mandate is to get in the way of God’s plans & destroy what He loves most… His people. When I moved to Southend to pursue a vocation to serve God helping broken people find their perfect Father, the enemy saw. He knew my weak points & what buttons to press, & he was more than happy to push them. Unfortunately I didn’t have the tools to know how to defend myself… & I fell. I fell hard. I have so many regrets about my time in Southend, but God in is his mercy & grace works all things for the good of those who love Him, & so even in the midst of chaos… there are so
many wonderful things I can take from my time there. For one, in 10 weeks I marry Jono who I met through our ministry in Southend. That’s a pretty amazing thing to find when your world is upside down, & it is a testament to him for his perseverance. He always says that he saw glimpses of Becky underneath it all, & that God promised Him that He would bring me out of it all someday. I also may never have had the courage to go to Mercy & make the choice to fight for my freedom – freedom that I’d never possessed before. I think I needed to reach a point of complete utter helplessness before I would make the choice to put myself first & take those months out of life & head to the Yorkshire Dales. Before I always said, “Me? I don’t have time to take that kind of time out of my life. I’m too busy playing Jesus & being so heroic. Plus, what would people think?”. Needless to say I was humbled down to earth with a bang. I learnt to that it doesn’t matter even one iota what people think. What matters is that we get ourselves right with God.

At Mercy I learnt to make choices everyday which bring change to my world & ultimately for those around me. Not only is my life transformed, but Jono for one lives in a very different daily reality. Today I have a CHOICE about my attitude, about my actions, & about what I focus my mind on. I am learning to think on things which are pure, lovely & admirable… instead of partnering with fear & anxiety. Not every day is perfect, & some are far from. But my life today is so far from my life a year ago, having finally accepted that God loves ME & not just everyone around me. I DO have the power to change my own life for the better & to control my own behaviour. I am physically, spiritually & emotionally 100x healthier & happier than I ever remember being & I can see a growth & maturity happening in my thought patterns.
My hopes for the future with my God & my husband-to-be are ones of adventure. I long for an adventure that takes us out of our comfort zone, far from the norm or what might be expected of us, & deep into the mission field of the God who rescued me from the pit. A hope for a life void of fear & anxiety. In the Mercy house we had an inside ‘Room 2’ joke from a time when I was sitting in my room like a spoilt 5 year old & all I could say was ‘My life is void of joy’. It became a bit of a joke as I say… but actually how sad it is for me to think back to all of those years where that was my truth. Today my life is so FULL of JOY. What a transformation I feel in my heart.
The day I first experienced this in its fullness, I was sitting in a classroom at Mercy asking Jesus where He was & if He would let me really sense Him & show me a place where we could just hang out. This probably sounds bizarre to many of you, but what I saw in my mind in the stillness of that room, was a set of swings in an empty playground, & the invitation to get on the swings & just play. When I’m anxious now, or when I’m in worship, I picture that swing set & I meet with Him there. That picture for me is a picture of joy.
I believe God’s promises & that my vision for Mercy is still His vision for me. I don’t believe it has changed. In fact I believe that this was part of it & God will use it. It’s hard for me to totally envision that right now, but I’ve learnt that God is much bigger that the parameters of my imagination, hopes or dreams. So I’m not freaking out about it. He will bring His vision to life in His timing. And I WILL partner with Him & follow Him.

Things I KNOW to be true...

I am His daughter.
He is my perfect Father.
Freedom is & was & always will be mine for the choosing.
I am worthy, valued & loved.
I have a great purpose in my Fathers plan.
In the choice of life & death (‘oh that you would choose life’-Deut 30:19)… With the help of my saviour I CHOOSE LIFE.
This choice is for YOU too.
If you are struggling or faking your way through your walk with God, or your day-to-day with the people around you. Take a chance on yourself. Let your guard down, reach out for help, & find freedom. I promise it tastes GOOD!!!

You are worth it.
B x

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Moving Full Circle


So the time is fast approaching when I will be moving back to Northern Ireland having lived in England for 6 years. What an adventure I have had since leaving home after my A-Levels at 18. I could never have anticipated all I have done & seen & achieved. I lived and worked in Menorca as a children's entertainer for 3 months in the summer of 2009, got my degree at Durham University 2009-2012, served as an intern at King's Church Durham & worked in a local prison 2012-2013, & finally finished up in Southend-on-sea (Essex) as a Children & Families worker for a small COE church.

Now it seems it is time to come full circle and return home to start a new chapter of my life where in May 2016 I will become Mrs Stubbington (or Stubbs) & find out what God has in store not only for me as an individual, but for myself & Jono, & any family we might later be blessed with. It is so exciting.

But at the same time as with any move there are many difficulties & a lot of bitter sweet emotions in my heart. Both Jono & I will be leaving behind some of our very closest friends who we love dearly. So how do we move on from a place & do it well?
There are so many examples in the Bible of this full circle ministry that people like Paul (Acts 9:30), Barnabus (Acts 4:36) & Aquilia (Romans 16:3) went through. Until now I've never really thought about those small verses - they like many others are easy skimmed through as we read their stories. But over these 6 years & particularly now, I can come to understand how difficult these moves back to their homeland must have been. They would have journeyed with so many through the ups & downs of life & faith, & made some real God given friendships & bonds with people, & then have been called away & had to leave those behind. I feel this so deeply in my current stage of life. Of course today we are blessed with 21st century technology & so I know that those who dearly matter to me will only be a phone call, letter, Skype chat, or plane away... but there is still so much of a sense of loss that I feel.

I do however have one GIANT comfort. And that is... that God has a plan for Jono & I. He has it mapped out for us. New people to meet, new ministries to get involved in, & a new chapter which He promises to be good. We are trusting in His promises & in the words of our favourite song... We know that He will bring us Safe to Shore. We are also trusting in His promises for our friends who we pray for often & will continue to keep in our prayers - that He will continue to further them in the journey with Him, & continue to draw them to Him in the ways that He has planned for them. What a wonderful God we serve.
Jono has already begun to dream of worship leading in Northern Ireland & God has clearly given Him visions through our prayer life for the plans He has for Him & the gifts that He can offer. And for myself God has promised me healing from some of the stuff in my life. I believe that we will stand on our wedding day among new & old friends from near & far... healthy, joyful, & secure in our new lives together. We are holding tightly to that promise as tough times approach us.

What mixed emotions swim around my head as I think of these 17 more days as an Essex girl. Looking back on my time here there have been many hard patches... many personal struggles, & often deeply doubting my ministry completely. But the good times.. the friendships, the laughter, watching my youth grow into young confident leaders, to being a part of a church family who although flawed like all churches, are accepting, & always looking to move forward & serve God in a bigger way. I've been challenged to mature & take ownership for my work & my leadership. This job was my first since graduation.. my first real step into ministry...& I had and have still so much to learn... but I know this was what God had planned for me. And of course without having been here, I may never have met Jono who moved to Southend the same month I did. Praise God for His good & perfect timing.

So I will soon say 'See you later' to those I love deeply here in Southend, & 'Hello again' to those I have missed dearly in good old Bangor...
We both look forward to the next adventure. One things for sure... With God in the midst... it will not be boring.












Friday, 5 December 2014

Premier Christian radio

Premier Christian radio

Check out our band playing Rend Collectives 'My Lighthouse' live on air this morning
Inspirational Breakfast - Friday 5th December 2014 07:00 am http://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Weekday/Inspirational-Breakfast/Episodes/Inspirational-Breakfast132

You can also search for Lossa Cafe Church on Facebook to catch up on what the band and the cafe church are doing in the coming months.... A band Facebook page will follow soon.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The darkness seems safer than the light...

Have your ever found your heart saying that it just easier to stay broken, to stay low, to stay in the darkness... Than it is to accept healing, stand up, and walk into light? Sometimes stepping into the light can be scarier than sitting in the deepest darkness possible, because sometimes that means a whole restructuring of who we are, what we believe about the world and ourselves, and the creation of a whole new identity for ourselves.

Even in the day to day things like forgiveness, it can seem simpler to live with underlying anger and resentment, than to forgive and walk in the light. Perhaps because if we forgive them it seems like we are saying that it was okay for that person to have treated us that way when it clearly wasn't, or it can feel like they are just getting away with whatever they did without facing the consequences. So we stay in the darkness of unforgiveness and usually find at the end of the day it is ourselves that looses out in the end because chances are that person will eventually forget about it and move on, yet we will still be left bitter and damaged until we finally realised that we need to follow Christs example... and forgive... Then not only do we free that person, but our own shackles will removed and we will be free from that dark cloud.

What is scary is that even in the bigger things... Like the real life or death stuff... We can become so misguided that we believe that living in darkness is less exhausting than living in the light due to the process that walking into the light would involve. It can be extremely daunting to imagine all the work that needs to be done in our hearts, our relationships, our faith journey, if we are to recover from a mental health issue such as addictions, self harms etc.. It can so easily feel like we are completely alone - but we are by no means alone. But it's true that these things don't have an over night cure or a drug we can take that fixes everything. They involve a day by day struggle to choose life and freedom. Ups and downs. Highs and lows. So is it really worth the hassle of all that?? What would people think if I showed who I really was?? Perhaps I'll stay in the darnkess???

Well... if the freedom that Jesus talks about is anything to go by then I would argue it is worth EVERY SECOND, every potential failure, every set back, every tear... Perhaps even potential relationship losses, or reputation damage if you dare to remove the mask of 'wellness' you show to the world...


Whatever the cost... FREEDOM is the prize... Jesus holds your victory. He's already done it for you so you can be assured and hold fast to the promise that if you trust him to walk you through the valley of recovery... You will come out the other side as a new creation. Let's together live in the light of HOPE if nothing else. HOPE + FAITH = FREEDOM.

There IS freedom for the captive. For the prisoner. For the broken. For the grieving. For the poor.
For YOU.
For ME.
Begin the journey. Take only those with you that you know love you and will be with you the whole way no matter what. And pray daily for Gods help, strength, armour, love, and victory.

Watch the video below and be inspired that you could be the next story of restoration ...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYpBgJHmGmw