#goals Speak Life Over Me; Revival

Even if my 2015 and all the years before were terrible and full of mistakes, I am still enough. I am still loved. I am still precious. I need to do away with the lies that tell me otherwise. I need to let go of fears that are holding me back. Funnily enough these are some of my ‘resolutions’ or #goals for 2016.

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 Old, Alone, Fat, Ugly, Loser, Failure, Hopeless, Under-achiever, Broke, Un-Sexy, Talentless

Not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not Christian enough, not fit enough, not impacting enough, not whole enough, not worth enough.  Not enough.  Not enough.  Not enough

 

The world is quick to bombard us with messages that we need to ‘do better’ ‘look better’ and ‘be better’.

#squadgoals #lifegoals #relationshipgoals #eyebrowgoals #baegoals #hairgoals #goals #goals #goals

 

Each and every January gyms, dating websites, slimming worlds and travel agents, beauticians, clothes shops, language DVDs, and book sellers all cash in on this idea that we need to improve, to do better and to be better, each new year.

This notion in itself is not terrible and one I strive for when making my ‘resolutions’ each year.  I like the challenge and accountability of having things to strive for.  There’s something really great about wanting to better ourselves and push ourselves, but I just think that it shouldn’t be at the cost of dismissing all we have done before, or trashing ourselves for what we have not (or worse cannot) be or achieve.

I can never be someone I am not.  There are some things I am not capable of or called to do.  And that’s ok!

 

Even if my 2015 and all the years before were terrible and full of mistakes, I am still enough.  I am still loved.  I am still precious.  I need to do away with the lies that tell me otherwise.  I need to let go of fears that are holding me back.  Funnily enough these are some of my ‘resolutions’ or #goals for 2016.

 

I have this amazing 2016 planner by Horacio Printing and it begins with a ‘Bucket List’ (Dream, Listen, Plan, Pray).  Mine looks something like this:

  • REVIVAL; Physical, Spiritual, Emotional, Financial. Healthy and debt free. 

Whilst the last couple of years I believe God has spoken to me about Hope and Fortitude (overcoming) this year I really believe He is speaking life over me- Revival.  And I need to speak life over myself, not letting the ‘not good enough’ in. 

  • Rely more on Him, less on me. (Perhaps you can relate?  Can I get an Amen!)
  • Seeing the gifts in everything.
  • Develop my creativity and broaden my reading and mind.
  • Step further into my calling.
  • Travel
  • Invest in relationships!
  • Ethical purchasing.
  • Pray for world issues.
  • Love more freely. Forgive more often.
  • Seek freedom from the past.
  • Commit to a local Church
  • Blog and share my voice.
  • Journal and pray.

 

This amazing planner goes further than just a bucket list however, in setting goals, but also big dreams and refocusing for 2016.  Not just setting resolutions, but asking what are my passions and focuses, and what distractions are getting in the way?  This has been a game changer for me.

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It asks what do I need to let go of, who do I need to forgive and what fears are holding me back, at the start of each season.

What would you answer?  I found it liberating.

 

Rather than just a bucket list, goals, or resolutions on a tick list; what matters to you?  What do you want to see God change in your life?  What are you making more time for and what can you leave behind?  What word are you speaking over your life? Are you putting on pressure to live up to standards, or are you stepping into amazing plans and purposes?

 

I read a blog at the New Year from one of my favourite authors and activists Jamie Tworkowski who founded TWLOHA.  It is amazing and you should read it all but here’s a snippet (emphasis in bold mine)…

If you’re reading this, if there’s air in your lungs, then you’re alive today tonight right now.
And who can know how long we have here…
And is it a gift? Was it ever a gift? Did that ever feel true or could that one day feel true?
Are there things to fight to live for?
Moments and people. Weddings and children and all your different dreams.
Love.
Is your life more than just your own?
And are there broken things you were made to fight to fix?
Broken families, broken friends… Injustice.
Will you move for things that matter?

Wouldn’t it be nice if change took just a moment?
Wouldn’t it be nice if it were that easy?
Midnight and we’re new. Midnight and the past erased. Midnight and we’re free.

 

 

Isn’t that beautiful?!  It had a # on Twitter #welcometomidnight and people shared what they were leaving behind in 2015 and hoped to find in 2016.

 

Reading the # made me weep as it was so uplifting.  ‘Midnight and we’re new’…

 

I want to leave behind fear, guilt and doubt.  I want to fight for justice and ‘move for the things that matter’.  That’s what it’s all about.

 

Now 2015 was filled with some incredible times, precious moments with family and friends, trips, amazing events, great books, milestones at work, crafts, fun.  But as with every year there was some heartbreak, some tough times, some lessons learnt, some days not to be repeated and some struggles to overcome.  But I want to leave some of those things in 2015, leave behind the lie I am not enough and let God speak life over me; revival.

#justicegoals #lovegoals #givinggoals #gratitudegoals #mercygoals #revivalgoals #Godgoals

“When life gives you dirt- grow flowers”.

Those times, events or even years that were so filthy you couldn’t see beyond it. Perhaps you felt like you were being buried alive; unable to breathe as soil filled your lungs. I certainly know that feeling. Moments where you don’t think you can take another breath because the utter filth of the world, the circumstance, the person, the sin or the pain is crushing your chest cavity.

2014-03-12 12.31.21

Sometimes Often, life gives us dirt; a little pot of stinky mud, or a huge clump of soil thrown in your face.  A missed opportunity.  A crushing blow.  A devastating loss.  A life changing event.  A huge disappointment.  Pain, sickness, fear, debt, loneliness, loss, or death.

I feel like (without trying to engage in self-pity) that parts of my life have been full to the brim of dirt.  I’m certain that every single person reading this is thinking of their ‘dirt season’.

Those times, events or even years that were so filthy you couldn’t see beyond it.  Perhaps you felt like you were being buried alive; unable to breathe as soil filled your lungs.  I certainly know that feeling.  Moments where you don’t think you can take another breath because the utter filth of the world, the circumstance, the person, the sin or the pain is crushing your chest cavity.

Maybe for you it’s more just a thin layer of grime?  Something that has always, as long as you can remember just blurred your view and you have never been able to wash clean?

I can think of a lot of those moments.  Some from when I was very young, some more recent.  Times when I couldn’t seem to grasp the beauty of the world or see any good, grace, light or truth because all I could see was the dirt.  Times when people hurt me deeply, or life just let me down.  Times when death came calling; fear was overwhelming.  Times when loneliness was crippling.  More recently, times when sickness and weakness would not subside.

BUT, I adore the title quote.  I’m not sure who first said it, but I often cling to it, and hope you can too.  It’s a difficult and costly concept, but one that surely will bring joy?  When life gives you dirt- grow some flowers.

It’s a task that in some cases is far easier than others.  It’s one that in the past few months I’ve really been trying to put into practice.  Sickness has stripped me of some opportunities, and caused me to feel lacking.  So what do I do?  Do I drown in it?  Roll around in the dirt and know I can’t become clean again?  Or do I take that dirt and try and grow something beautiful in it?  I try to find seedlings to put in the dirt; more time to spend with God, more chances to take delight in much smaller joys, more time to relax and look to the future.  Of course some days I just wallow in it.  I can’t see how the dirt can possibly ever be anything other than darkness.  But occasionally, I really invest in trying to turn things around; I plant my seeds and in time I see buds, then flowers beginning to bloom.

Over the years I have seen flowers grown from what I could only before see as pure filth.  Life events that I once thought would be the end of me, particularly losses and a huge upheaval age 15, have blossomed into beautiful things.  My mess has become my message.  My tests have become my testimony.  I now can describe things that once brought me immediately to tears, with a real conviction that good has actually eventually come from it.

But what about the times you are deep in it.  What about ‘those things’ that you think could never be redeemed? …

… Grace

… Grace upon Grace


“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.” Isaiah 61:3

We can’t do this.  We can’t cause the seedlings in the dirt to flower.  We can’t pluck the seeds from thin air.  But with God’s grace things can be restored, renewed and re born.

I’m currently reading Ann Voskamp’s ‘One Thousand Gifts’.  It is full of life affirming truth.  She asks the questions I ask myself daily “What in a world of certain loss, is grace?”

“God is always good and I am always loved. All is grace only because all can transfigure.”

-Everything is grace because everything has the potential to be transformed.  Isn’t that amazing?

You may still not believe that any flowers can come from your dirt.  That the shame, loss, grief, or agony is just too much.  That if people really knew how bad it was they could never see flowers in it.  I know many times I’ve felt that way.  I don’t believe for one second that God gives us these things as a test of our faith, or that the darkness comes from Him.  But I do believe in beauty from ashes, in flowers from dirt.  I do believe in grace.  That He can take anything and turn it to a thing that can bring hope and redemption.

When you’re still stuck in the mud and you see no way out, I recommend 2 things from my reading and own experience.  When you’ve planted your seeds but there isn’t a flower in sight:

Gratitude and Worship

Being grateful for even the rubbish things or the tiny insignificant things, or the things that pass us by can open us up to so much joy.  I’ve blogged about this before, how simply the attitude of gratitude can change your heart.  If nothing else we can be grateful that we have been allowed to live another day!

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Worshipping God for who He is, and for all He has done in the past, and for nothing else than the assurance of your salvation, that one day there will be no more tears; in the midst of your darkest times, is an extremely powerful thing.

As Ann Voskamp says “…isn’t my internal circuitry wired to seek out something worthy of worship?  Every moment that I live, I live bowed to something.  And if I don’t see God, I’ll bow down before something else.”

Don’t bow to the dirt.

Any beauty, good, love, truth, and joy in the world is all a mere reflection of God.  When we cannot see that through the dirt, still it strengthens our hearts to worship and praise Him for it until we do.  Until the miracle comes.

“Even when it makes no sense to sing; louder then I’ll sing Your praise” (Even when it Hurts Hillsong United, Empires)

Every Day is a Blessing

“Happy moments – those moments when you feel fully alive – certainly exist.  They swim by us every day like shining silver fish waiting to be caught”.  – Alice Steinback

So, it’s 2015 already which I find a little terrifying.  I haven’t posted a blog for well over a year for many reasons, but the New Year seems a good day to check in and reflect on all that’s been happening.

As always, a little naively perhaps I enter into the New Year with a new sense of optimism and gratitude for all that has happened.

I love sharing the highlights of the year gone by, sharing my ‘Resolutions’ and goals for 2015, and as always hope that this year I will blog a little more.

So here are some of the highlights from 2014.  Whilst in some ways it has been a difficult year health, finance wise or sometimes personally, I yet again still find I have so so much to be thankful for!!!

  • Continuing to manage my health and work situation. I’m so blessed to have a job I really love.
  • This year I have read lots more than I have for a few years. I’ve also been practicing my Ukulele.
  • I kept a journal all 2014, which was really rewarding and a discipline.
  • My family life continues to grow and amaze me and I am so thankful to have such an incredible and loving family.
  • Things with ‘Restored for such a time as this’ continue to develop and I am excited for what the future holds with it. http://www.restoredfor.org.uk/
  • I am so thankful for every day small blessings. Those lovely ‘silver fish’.
  • My small involvement in the ‘Home for Good’ campaign especially at the beginning of the year in admin/ social media was a real blessing to me and it’s amazing to see it become a charity and watch God working through them.
  • Feb 9th– Seeing Taylor Swift at the O2 with my bestie was awesome.
  • My 27th Birthday celebrations were really fun with friends and games at home.
  • 18th March- My trip home to see my amazing family was brilliant including seeing my family grow and celebrating a birthday.
  • Doing the ‘100 Happy Days’ challenge on Instagram even when I wasn’t having the best day really helped me to focus on the good.
  • 12th April- A trip to Chester to see some incredible friends and their amazing babies was so awesome!
  • 14th April was another amazing time at home with tons of fun including baby Ducks!
  • 1st-3rd May Getting to go to Colour Conference after being blessed with a ticket and train fair was incredible! I had the best time and really learnt lots and grew close to God.
  • 23-25th may ‘Glamping’ at Big Church Weekend was amazing. We experienced worship, sunshine, rain, and fellowship.
  • Starting my Pilates class was fab and a great way to help with a former ‘resolution’ of trying to get more fit.
  • My holiday home in June was brilliant especially seeing my family’s business grow.
  • Giving away my ‘Giving Key’ and all that it involved including seeing it passed on to someone at IJM was really amazing!  http://www.thegivingkeys.com/blogs/news/15666580-fuel-others-faith
  • Quality time with amazing friends.
  • Watching Hillsong Conference online and the preach at G-Live ❤
  • Watching lots of brilliant TV.
  • My lovely friends Hen Party and their incredible wedding which was such a joy.
  • A trip home in August which involved games, an ice cream parlour, a new baby donkey, shopping and lots of fun.
  • Sept 6th a lovely 3 course meal and entertainment at a hotel with my bestie.
  • Reading loads of amazing books including ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ The Hunger Games series again and more.
  • In October winning tickets to a pre-release fan screening of the new Nicholas Sparks film. We got goodies and James Marsden showed up which was cool.
  • Sharing about Restored at the A21 A-Teams gathering was a real blessing in October.
  • Celebrating Compassion UK’s 15 year anniversary, seeing us reach 95,000 children sponsored, our ‘Vision Day’ and the work Christmas party were all highlights.
  • Taking part on the A21 Campaign ‘Walk for Freedom’ across London was amazing!!
  • Another trip home in November was great!
  • 4th December collecting 6 bags full of toiletries for A21 girls and UK shelters, praying and writing Christmas cards was a special day for me.
  • Christmas at home 2014, with parties, food, games, church, family, friends, animals, snow, mince pies and an amazing NYE Tudor Mystery party was an incredible time!!

 

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder” -G.K Chesterton.

 

2015-01-04 17.52.13

 

I have always many ‘Resolutions’ for the New Year.  So many of them I don’t come close to achieving, but I like to set the goals anyway and see how far I’ve come.  These are some of my hopes for 2015:

  • To love my body and help it heal and be healthy.  (I am starting a new Pilates class closer to home which may help).
  • To read even more including all of the Jane Austin novels and the Bible in a year.
  • To be grateful and try and cherish every moment, even the hard ones and they make me thankful for the good.
  • To try and be more creative, practice my Ukulele more and develop my creativity.
  • To work hard and dedicate myself to my calling at my workplace.
  • To manage my finances better.
  • To invest more in my relationships including giving more time, more of myself, and visiting friends more.
  • To be more ethical in my purchases and lifestyle where possible. Continue to expand Fair Trade purchases.
  • To be more aware in current affairs and world issues and more active in praying/ helping.
  • To focus on a develop my passions and callings.
  • Learn more.
  • Love more!

I think it’s so easy to feel like we are never doing enough or being the best that we can be.  I certainly feel that daily.  But I am so grateful for all that I have, the opportunities and spheres of influence, the passions and talents I have, and above all the amazing God I love and serve who has given me a heart for justice.

I aim to make 2015 count.  To be thankful.  To be loving.  To fight for justice.  Or if nothing else to fail trying to make the world a better place for 2016.

An Attitude of Gratitude…

“Write your sad times in sand; Write your good times in stone.”  – George Bernard Shaw

So first of all I have to massively apologise for not having blogged in so long (Since October 2012!!)  EPIC FAIL.  Blogging more was on my ‘New Years’ resolutions, but as with many of them I have failed miserably.  I also haven’t done so well at reading my Bible, or many other things.

But as the above quote so beautifully says, today I am going to focus on the positives.  My key desire is to love God, know Him more and live justly for Him.  Whilst I may feel like I’m failing day to day at many of the things I want to do, I feel comforted at least that I am still striving for this.

2012 was a year of massive highs and lows for me.  I had goals to get more involved in Church; I ended up starting serving on kids team then stopped, and hardly make it to small group.  I wanted to ‘get fit’: I ended up finally being diagnosed with CFS/ ME and slowly have been coming to terms with that.  I wanted to spend more time with my friends doing fun things; I ended up spending more alone time than ever and bailing on a lot of events I was longing to go to, but also spending some incredible quality time with amazing friends.  I wanted to blog more and read my Bible in a year; I ended up blogging quite a lot in 2012 and through it finding release for some of the things going on in my head.  The Bible reading however I struggled with, partly due to tiredness, mostly I think due to frustration with life.  I wanted to develop in my work and glorify God more in it; I ended up changing my contract to a lower role and less days due to my health.  I wanted to gain financial stability; I ended up worse off than ever due to less work.

I wanted to know the plans God has for me; I am currently more confused than ever about what my future holds.

I wanted to know God more… To rely on Him more… A risky prayer if ever there was one.

Yet as I said- this is about the positives.  In 2012 I opened my life up to God in ways I hadn’t before.  I shared my story and life with people in ways I didn’t think I ever would, because I’ve come so far.  I had a real revelation of who God is to me and all He has brought me from and in to.

https://ariannewinslow.wordpress.com/2012/04/

I had some incredible experiences with ‘Stop the Traffik’  (https://ariannewinslow.wordpress.com/2012/09/) and the beginning of ‘Restored for such a time as this’ (www.restoredfor.org.uk) and I really believe God showed me clearly His heart for compassion, for the vulnerable, the lowest and the least, like never before in my life.

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I began 2013 with a fair amount of disappointment from the year before, and needing a new revelation of God’s grace.  I wasn’t where I wanted to be in life in so many ways, yet perhaps exactly where God needed me to be.  Again this year I have committed to drawing closer to God, whatever the cost.  I am seeking healing and the ability to forgive myself when I feel I’ve let myself down.

“Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy.  Their faces will never be covered with shame” Psalm 34:5.

This is my prayer for 2013.  Perhaps not as last year, that like the Proverbs 31 woman ‘I will laugh without fear of the future’, but more so that even in my sad times I will let them wash away, cling to the good, and look to Him for help so rather than just happiness I will experience true JOY!

“The Lord is close to the broken hearted” Ps 34:18.  “He rescues those whose spirits are crushed” Ill, downtrodden, disappointed, low… “The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time” v 19.

I have also decided rather that bashing myself all the time about where God wants to take me, and what I’m supposed to be doing, as so many people my age do (quarter life crisis much) to try more to simply focus on my passions; to help the broken, lost, and most vulnerable.

 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”  Luke 4:18-19

If I focus on this I don’t think I can go too far wrong.  God has already opened up so many doors with Restored and my heart against human trafficking, and with my own story and heart for children, more of which I will share soon.

Some of my ‘resolutions’ for this year have been fairly easy so far.  I decided after reading so much about the coco industry and the effects of child labour that this year I would buy only Fair Trade chocolate.  I am loving eating chocolate with no guilt (except perhaps for my waist line). Here are a couple of articles to encourage you too…

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15681986

http://stopthetraffik.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/1-the-argument-for-ethical-consumption/

Chocolate
Chocolate

I also have one ‘resolution’ which has really impacted me and the way I view things.  During Advent I saw a challenge from my home Church to find 2 things each day to be grateful for.  1 ‘spiritual’ 1 more ‘natural’.  Some days this was incredibly easy, others much harder.  I know I have so much to be thankful for, but remembering those things, sometimes on bad day was quite hard.  I posted these things each day on my Facebook and Twitter to encourage those in my life, and was surprised at how much I encouraged myself.  During the Christmas holidays (a time I had a lot to be thankful for) I then saw on ‘Pinterest’ the ‘Gratitude Jar’.  Again a similar concept.  Start in the New Year, fill the jar with notes of things you are thankful for, and read them at the end of the year to remember all the awesome things.  I loved this idea, and decided as well as social media, this is a great way to ‘write my good times on stone’.

Gratitude Jar
Gratitude Jar

It has been so great, especially in the very small and sometimes insignificant things, to remember to be thankful for all I have!!

grateful

shoes

mum

Here are a few examples of things I’m grateful for from the year so far…

  • The official launch of ‘Restored for such a time as this’. Jan 18th
  • A really encouraging conversation with the ME specialist.  May 1st
  • Meeting my lovely friends Alex and Claire in London for the day. March 16th
  • A birthday surprise to see ‘Wicked’ with my girls.  March 5th
  • Getting our heating fixed after a week broken, during a snowy week!  Jan
  • Grateful for my incredible Church ‘Hillsong Surrey’ March 10th
  • My laptop and ‘Love Film’.
  • My mum, Granny and sisters came to stay & day trip into London. Jan 2nd-5th
  • An awesome service at G-Live where I got a free ticket to Colour conference 2014. April 28th
  • My birthday pj chill out day.  March 2nd
  • One Direction concert with Shauna.  April 2nd
  • A day shopping, seeing Les Mis & a haircut.  February 27th
  • The launch of ‘Home for Good’ (www.homeforgood.org.uk) March 7th
  • My amazing friend Hayley came for the weekend & we went to the London Eye.  February 23rd
  • An awesome time at the Rend Collective Campfire gig where over 50 Compassion kids were sponsored.  May 9th
  • 25-29th May a lovely trip to Chester to see friends.  Then a trip home.
  • 12th June- Ben Howard gig with Jude.
  • June 29th Afternoon Tea Fundraiser for A21.
  • July 19th – A lovely trip home with family. Then Claire’s baby shower.
  • 10th August- #27for 27 raising awareness for A21.
  • August 24th- Velocity Weekend.
  • Friends having beautiful babies!!!
  • Sept- Baby Shower for Giulia.
  • 16th Sept- A voicemail from the cutest little girl on the planet!
  • Sept 20th- An incredibly special trip home to see family  ❤  T
  • 10th October – New housemate ❤
  • Oct 23rd – Mum’s 50th and an amazing time at home  ❤

 

Speaking of being thankful for all we have.  Here is a powerful video to end from Compassion with some staggering statistics:

I hope you’ve been encouraged.
Love as ever  xxx