Saturday, 8 October 2011

How Blogging Changed My World

I've always been a 'refector' - sometimes I over-analyse situations to the extreme (my greatest weakness!) However from an early age I kept a secret diary (I recently found one from when I was 14 years old - it was painful reading!) and so blogging seemed to be the more grown-up alternative. I started blogging to record my thoughts and feelings about my eating disorder and depression, my leadership role in church and how I handled my relationships with others.

I decided early on to be as transparent as possible in order to get the most from the process and so that others may be helped (a grand ambition, I know!) This blog has been like a best friend. When I struggled with eating, I blogged. When my marriage hit a storm and subsequent breakup, I blogged. When I struggled with my purpose and role in life, I blogged. When I celebrated my successes, you guessed it, I blogged! My blog has been my confidant - it never judged, it offered me a safe place to be 'me'. It truly has been a lifesaver in the darkest times of my life.

I never really considered blogging about my reflections as a teacher - I always kept a diary for that. Although I have some posts on lessons and the children in my class, I haven't yet got into the depth of retrospective that my diary recieves. I plan to change that, as my focus for this blog will now be about me as a teacher. You know, my primary teacher told my parents that I would never amount to anything because we were a low income family and my dad was disabled. I owe everything to my mum and dad who lead me to believe that anything was possible. I got my Honours Degree and I got the first teaching job I was interviewed for - I've been in that same school ever since (nearly 16 years!) I'm excited about this new direction for my blog. I've also started a class blog and my students love it!
www.missharrisonandp34.blogspot.com

I never, ever imagined anyone would read this blog. I've been so incredibly humbled by the comments and emails I have recieved. I have to say a big thank you to Matthew Ray for encouraging me to keep blogging and for making me feel like it matters - that I matter.

http://photomatt7.wordpress.com/2011/10/07/1365/

Happy to be part of the Rockstar Meme – How Blogging Changed Your World

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Growing Pains

Well I've been back to work (after a period of illness) for a few weeks and I've loved teaching again. The class are so 'teachable' and excited about everything, that it has made it a joy to come into school every morning (at 7:40!)
However..... I have found it difficult getting used to the staff dynamics - please don't misunderstand, the staff are absolutely lovely, but I've had a hard time in my head. I keep feeling that I've something to prove, that I've lost credibility with some individuals, that everyone is watching and waiting for my next 'breakdown'
I know that I'm over analysing everything and it will take time to get back into the swing of things... I know this and yet what I 'feel' is completely different. Reminds me of a song....'feelings, nothing more than feelings...' *singing very loudly and badly*

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Come Into My Classroom

Wow! What a first week back! 'Busy' is an understatement! Although I've been working my socks off, I've been having the time of my life *cue song!* I've a fabulous class of 20 children - they are funny, enthusiastic and keen to learn. I've managed (for the first time in 15 years!) to have all my display boards filled in the 1st week! This is due to having a great class, an amazing T.A. and an incredibly supportive partner - so thank yous all around!
I was also asked to be the 'Featured Teacher' in http://www.teachertime123.com/featured-teacher/ I was so surprised! A lovely opportunity!

So, to round up and stop me rambling on (I'm meant to be marking) I've included photographs of this week.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

I'm Back!

I haven't blogged in a year - a lot has happened in that time, so let me fill you in. My husband and I are getting a divorce. I've met a beautiful man, Stephen who is also divorced and has 2 gorgeous daughters. We are so happy together and looking forward to the future. I've been really inspired by a few teacher blogs I've been reading, so I've decided to focus more on that when I write. My previous posts make up a big part of who I am, so I haven't deleted any of them. Read through them if you wish. I'm so looking forward to this new chapter of my life.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Angry Homemade Noodles

I had the amazing privilage of contributing part of my story to a brilliant ebook by my friend Mandy Steward. The following is included in chapter 3 - some of it you will have read before but I've included a little more detail. I urge you to buy the book as it is such an encouragement - Mandy is incredibly gifted.

"I’m a child of the ‘70s, born and bred in Belfast in the height of the ‘Troubles’. My mum and dad met when they were very young, and Mum got pregnant. Two weeks before I was born, my dad was shot in the spine. Shocking, I know! As a result, Dad has been in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down ever since.


Initially, he was given only a few days to live. Weeks turned into months, months to years. It’s been 36 years, and he’s still with us. Mum and Dad are still happily married. They have an incredibly difficult life (Mum cares for Dad full time), but they love each other and have gotten through an amazing amount of ‘near death’ situations. They have never displayed any bitterness. They sacrificed their life to make mine the best it could be.

Ever since my teenage years, I’ve experienced a ‘roller-coaster’ ride of emotions. I would be really ‘up’ for a few weeks, then plummeting to an incredible low, then ‘up’ again. At that time, it was easy to write off the cycle as hormonal, but as I got older, I never grew out of it. It also could have been so easy to blame this ‘high & low’ existence on the stress of living with a paraplegic dad and a mum who was trying desperately to hold everything together.

I became a Christian when I was 16 years old and joined an amazing, lively church. I had a growing relationship with Jesus but still battled for emotional stability. I began to get frustrated with my character flaws, especially as others noticed and lovingly commented about my lack of consistency.

I got married, became a primary school teacher, had a daughter, and was very involved in church leadership. I tried to combat the feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and numbness by keeping very busy. One day, three years ago, I found that I just couldn’t keep self-medicating any longer. I remember sitting at my desk after my class had gone home, feeling absolutely nothing. I even contemplated pushing the scissors I was holding into my leg - I wanted to feel something, anything, so badly! This was the beginning of my breakdown.


I felt like such a failure. Why couldn’t I cope with life like everyone else? These weren’t just my thoughts - some of my ‘friends’ voiced these statements to me, reinforcing the belief that I was useless, weak, and worthless.

Around this time I developed an eating disorder. I think I just wanted to be able to control something in my life, and I could control how much I ate quite easily. I lost a lot of weight, became very ill, and was referred to a specialist in a hospital. I was at the end of myself. I knew I needed help. I was destroying my relationship with my husband and my daughter. I had to take a year off work. I stepped down from all leadership responsibilities at church. I felt deep embarrassment and shame.

I took medication for my depression; however, this alone was not to be the answer and the escape from all my pain. It was a great tool, but it was only when I allowed God access to all of me that I began a journey of recovery.

This scripture really helped me during the process (as did the unconditional love of God, my family, and my church):

“My soul waits silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, and my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times… Pour out your heart before Him…” (Psalm 62:5-8, NKJV).


I discovered I could be completely honest with God, and He would still love, accept, and desire me - what a release and relief that was! I could come out from behind the ‘fig leaf’ I stupidly thought was hiding me from His gaze and attention. His kindness has literally brought me to my knees. When I finally admitted that I couldn’t keep it together, that I felt so lost and alone, His love came rushing in, filling every empty space.

It’s been three years, and today I would say I’m still learning a lot and taking it a day at a time. It has been incredibly painful, and I lost quite a few friends along the way who couldn’t understand why I just couldn’t ‘get over it’.

I’ve learned that an addiction is something that controls people - something they feel they cannot do without or something they do to alleviate pain or pressure. I’ve discovered along the way that I’m an addict - addicted to approval from others. Like any addict, I look for my ‘fix’ when I get shaky. I’m learning over the years to stand on Ephesians 3:17 (Amp) - “May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love.” My security has to be IN HIM, not other people.

After feeding the multitudes, Jesus told the disciples to gather up the leftovers “so that nothing may be lost or wasted.” (John 6:12) There’s no way we can escape pain in life. But I’m learning it doesn’t have to be wasted. I’m letting my pain be someone else’s gain"

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Back to life, back to reality


One of my favorite movies is an old Robert Duvall picture called Tender Mercies. Great story of an alcoholic country western star who hits rock bottom and gets his life back together. The central line of the theme song is, "The hardest thing...for me to face...Reality."
Which got me to thinking about T.S. Eliot's line, "Humankind cannot stand very much reality."
There are things about your own life you get a glimpse of - something in your thought life you'd better get a hold of, something in your family you'd better face, something about your health or your finances - and three days pass and it's gone.
The hardest thing, for us to face...Reality.
We just want life to be good. We avoid the disturbing or demanding parts of reality as a matter of daily practice.
I don't want to have to face up to the pain - if I'm honest, I desire a comfortable, easy life. This just ain't gonna happen. There are issues in my life that I have swept under the carpet...hoping they would just disappear. I'm having to reach under, take each item, blow off the dust and cob-webs and examine them in the cold light of day.
This is painful...but I'm trying to face reality.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Annie

My great-aunt Annie, aged 90, died yesterday. She was like a gran to me. She looked after me while my mum had her hands full learning how to balance a marriage to a man who was living the rest of his life in a wheelchair, and supporting a baby (me) while only being 18 herself. Annie was my dad's aunt, although my mum was incredibly close to her. They lived with her when they first got married and cared for her ever since. She had a very difficult life. She suffered a breakdown in her early 20s (from trauma) - resulting in a long stay in a well known mental hospital and receiving horrendous electric shock treatment. She never received the correct medication, and developed a number of mental health illnesses. Annie also had OCD, and as a child, it drove me up the wall watching her have to count to 20 before dismounting a kerb or switching off a light. She had 'bad nerves' and was always shaking, tapping, patting.
When I was about 8 or 9 years old, Annie and I attended my Sunday school prize-giving. On our way home, Annie was mugged. It was horrific. She wouldn't let go of her handbag and was trailed along the ground, while I ran home for help. Her poor legs were ripped to shreds and she moved in with us after that.

There's a lot about her life that I won't mention in this blog - many difficult, tragic events that happened to her - but I have a few good memories I want to share...
When I was very young, I had a pair of cowboy boots (they were so cute, with lots of detailed stitching) and when Dallas came on T.V. I raced to put them on and dance to the theme tune. I made Annie watch and clap at my performance - every week! Sometimes I put on the test-card music (remember that?) and danced to that for her (I'm sure she was thrilled!).
One day she had answered the phone and whatever happened, the person was disconnected. We could hear her shout, "Operator, operator, trace that call!". When we asked what she was doing, she replied that she had seen that work in an episode of Kojak!
Walking down the hall, she passed her sister's black, shaggy dog, saying, "Oh Sweep, I thought you were our Eddie!" When my dad asked how she could possibly mistake a dog for his brother she replied, "Awk sure they both have black hair!"

That's the tip of the ice-burg but it's enough for me now...my heart feels like it's shattered into a million pieces. Annie was very frail at the end and we knew months ago her body couldn't hold out much longer. It was a bittersweet ending - we wanted her to go quickly and peacefully and yet didn't want to have to give her up. I'm really feeling for my mum and dad at the moment. Annie was an even bigger part of their life. It wasn't easy for them having to care for an elderly, mentally ill relative on top of their own problems. They have wonderful memories of Annie at different stages of her life. The stories will flow and be shared over the next few days.

So I sit here, in the early hours of the morning, thinking about the impact this woman had on my life. I will deeply miss her.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Storms Will Come

"In this world you will have trouble" (Jesus)

I've always hated the wind as a child. A few nights ago, the wind was fierce. I hadn't been sleeping well and I was mulling over how my life was feeling like it was being whipped by an unseen force. It felt like the Big, Bad Wolf was trying to blow my house down.
When crisis hits and something rocks our foundation to the core, we tend to start grasping, clutching and looking for someone to blame or some place to hold on. Kinda like drowning. Panic sets in; we rush to blame and point the finger or run to the biggest bar of chocolate or glass of wine (pick a self-medication of your choice)

Whatever else is going on, I know that God is using my marriage to forge my character. I also know that the log in my eye makes it very hard to see anything clearly.

When I was in the middle of an extremely dark depression I was confronted with lots of advice to just obey God or be more disciplined. Would you ask a person with a broken leg to run a marathon? So you can't demand the broken to live as they are whole. Discipline wasn't the issue for me; apply discipline and I made it worse. What I needed was healing.

My marriage has its ebbs and flows. As Ecclesiastes points out, there is a time for everything. There are times when David and I feel close and times when we could not be further apart. Winter comes, like it or not.

I'm discovering that it is not love to ignore your spouse's brokenness, faults, immaturity. It is not love to let something wrong carry on. Truth is, it is a lack of love that lets it all go on for years. When you let your own fears keep you from bringing something up with your spouse, that is simply self-protection...or indifference.

David and I are facing a winter season in our marriage. We arranged a 'date' on Thursday night to talk about how we were feeling. As we spoke, we both realised that it was our vows to one another (15 years ago) that kept us from jumping ship many times. Our choice to love and fight for one another and for the restoration of our marriage has introduced a little flower bud unfurling amidst the cold snow.

This I know...the storms will come. You need some place to stand. Here are some very basic truths I'm choosing to stand on:
*I am loved. Deeply, truly, madly loved. (Jer 31:3)
*I am secure. Utterly and completely secure. (John 10:28-9)
*I am forgiven. Totally forgiven. (Col 2:13)
*God is with me. He will never, ever abandon me. (Heb 13:4)

I am loved. I am secure. I am forgiven. God is with me.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Summer Time...and the living is easy

Hello folks! Well it's another early start for me due to my body still feeling like it has to work and prepare for teaching! So I thought I'd be productive and log in with an update.
A lot has happened since my last post...had a party (Heroes & Villains) to celebrate 15 years of marriage! Oh, while I'm on that subject, can I just share the contents of a card my father-in-law made me?

"Congratulations Nichola on:
*Not strangling Big Dave
*Not selling Emily to Brad and Angelina
*Not poisoning the mother-in-law
*Not getting sent to Flat 10 (local mental health ward)
*Not going postal in Black Mountain (the primary school where I teach)
*Not bulimia-ing yourself to a stringy-thingy
*Not wheeling Sammy off a pier (my dad, who is in a wheelchair)
*Not crashing the car for a whole week
*Not cooking - yaaaay!
*Not cleaning - boooo!
*Not smiling falsely - you just never smile at all!
*Not preaching anything better than Roy (the father-in-law and pastor)
*Not sleeping so you have an excuse for your grumpiness
*Not leaving David - cause he'd only come back to me
*Not having a long list of excuses - as you're inexcusable
*Not drinking - any more than 8 red wines a night
*Not blaming God on everything you manage to screw up"

Brilliant isn't it!!!! I did laugh!.... Then I went to his house with a baseball bat!!!

So the party went really well.
I finished my 14th year of teaching in a state of exhaustion but happy. I love my classes every year but this year in particular (because they were so young) I've had a ball!
I've been doing alot of soul searching....reflecting on my depression, eating disorder, past dreams and goals I had set....realising that I'm 'unsettled' with certain things.

Now don't get me wrong....I love my life - my God, family, friends, church, work etc....BUT...I have realised that alot of my dreams have been put on the back burner. They've been smouldering steadily in the background for so many years. I can't ignore their presence any longer. There's a yearning and a hunger deep within that can't be contained or shut up any longer.
So after speaking to my hubby, my church, my girls...I am ready to take steps to launch out. There's alot on my list so I'll only share a few things with you now...

*Africa is calling me - building a school
*Charity projects - climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, walking the Great Wall of China - raising finance for worthy causes
*Sponsoring a child
*My own art exhibition
*Writing a book/article/feature

That's all I feel I can share at the moment. Big changes afoot!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

"He Will Find You" By John Powell

John Powell, A Professor at Loyola University in Chicago writes about a student in his Theology of Faith class named Tommy...


Some twelve years ago, I stood watching my university students file into the classroom for our first session in the Theology of Faith. That was the first day I first saw Tommy. My eyes and my mind both blinked. He was combing his long flaxen hair, which hung six inches below his shoulders. It was the first time I had ever seen a boy with hair that long. I guess it was just coming into fashion then.

I know in my mind that it isn't what's on your head, but what's in it that counts; but on that day I was unprepared and my emotions flipped. I immediately filed Tommy under "S" for strange . . . very strange.

Tommy turned out to be the "atheist in residence" in my Theology of Faith course. He constantly objected to, smirked at, or whined about the possibility of an unconditionally loving Father-God. We lived with each other in relative peace for one semester, although I admit, he was for me at times a serious pain in the back pew.

When he came up at the end of the course to turn in his final exam, he asked in a slightly cynical tone: "Do you think I'll ever find God?"

I decided instantly on a little shock therapy. "No!" I said very emphatically.

"Oh," he responded, "I thought that was the product you were pushing."

I let him get five steps from the classroom door and then called out, "Tommy! I don't think you'll ever find him, but I am absolutely certain that he will find you!" He shrugged a little and left my class and my life.

I felt slightly disappointed at the thought that he had missed my clever line: "He will find you!" At least I thought it was clever. Later I heard that Tommy had graduated and I was duly grateful.

Then a sad report, I heard that Tommy had terminal cancer. Before I could search him out, he came to see me. When he walked into my office, his body was very badly wasted, and the long hair had all fallen out as a result of chemotherapy. But his eyes were bright and his voice was firm, for the first time, I believe.


"Tommy, I've thought about you so often. I hear you are sick!" I blurted out.

"Oh, yes, very sick. I have cancer in both lungs. It's a matter of weeks."

"Can you talk about it, Tom?"

"Sure, what would you like to know?"

"What's it like to be only twenty-four and dying?"

"Well, it could be worse."

"Like what?"

"Well, like being fifty and having no values or ideals, like being fifty and thinking that booze, seducing women, and making money are the real 'biggies' in life."

I began to look through my mental file cabinet under "S" where I had filed Tommy as strange. (It seems as though everybody I try to reject by classification God sends back into my life to educate me.)

But what I really came to see you about," Tom said, "is something you said to me on the last day of class."

(He remembered!)

He continued, "I asked you if you thought I would ever find God and you said, 'No!' which surprised me. Then you said,

'But he will find you.' I thought about that a lot, even though my search for God was hardly intense at that time.

(My "clever" line. He thought about that a lot!)

But when the doctors removed a lump from my groin and told me that it was malignant, then I got serious about locating God. And when the malignancy spread into my vital organs, I really began banging bloody fists against the bronze doors of heaven. But God did not come out. In fact, nothing happened.

Did you ever try anything for a long time with great effort and with no success? You get psychologically glutted, fed up with trying. And then you quit. Well, one day I woke up, and instead of throwing a few more futile appeals over that high brick wall to a God who may be or may not be there, I just quit. I decided that I didn't really care ...about God, about an afterlife, or anything like that. I decided to spend what time I had left doing something more profitable. I thought about you and your class and I remembered something else you had said: 'The essential sadness is to go through life without loving. But it would be almost equally sad to go through life and leave this world without ever telling those you loved that you had loved them.' "So I began with the hardest one: my Dad. He was reading the newspaper when I approached him."

"Dad". . . "Yes, what?" he asked without lowering the newspaper. "Dad, I would like to talk with you." "Well, talk."

"I mean. .. . It's really important." The newspaper came down three slow inches. "What is it?" "Dad, I love you. I just wanted you to know that."

Tom smiled at me and said with obvious satisfaction, as though he felt a warm and secret joy flowing inside of him.

The newspaper fluttered to the floor. "Then my father did two things I could never remember him ever doing before. He cried and he hugged me. And we talked all night, even though he had to go to work the next morning. It felt so good to be close to my father, to see his tears, to feel his hug, to hear him say that he loved me. It was easier with my mother and little brother. They cried with me, too, and we hugged each other, and started saying real nice things to each other. We shared the things we had been keeping secret for so many years. I was only sorry about one thing, that I had waited so long. Here I was just beginning to open up to all the people I had actually been close to.

Then, one day I turned around and God was there.

He didn't come to me when I pleaded with him. I guess I was like an animal trainer holding out a hoop, 'C'mon, jump through.' 'C'mon, I'll give you three days .. . three weeks.' Apparently God does things in his own way and at his own hour. But the important thing is that he was there. He found me. You were right. He found me even after I stopped looking for him."

"Tommy," I practically gasped, "I think you are saying something very important and much more universal than you realize. To me, at least, you are saying that the surest way to find God is not to make him a private possession, a problem solver, or an instant consolation in time of need, but rather by opening to love. You know, the Apostle John said that. He said God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in him.

'Tom, could I ask you a favor? You know, when I had you in class you were a real pain. But (laughingly) you can make it all up to me now. Would you come into my present Theology of Faith course and tell them what you have just told me? If I told them the same thing it wouldn't be half as effective as if you were to tell them."

"Oooh . . . I was ready for you, but I don't know if I'm ready for your class."

"Tom, think about it. If and when you are ready, give me a call."

In a few days Tommy called, said he was ready for the class, that he wanted to do that for God and for me. So we scheduled a date. However, he never made it. He had another appointment, far more important than the one with me and my class. Of course, his life was not really ended by his death, only changed. He made the great step from faith into vision. He found a life far more beautiful than the eye of man has ever seen or the ear of man has ever heard or the mind of man has ever imagined.

Before he died, we talked one last time. "I'm not going to make it to your class," he said.

"I know, Tom."

"Will you tell them for me? Will you. . . tell the whole world for me?"

"I will, Tom. I'll tell them. I'll do my best."



So, to all of you who have been kind enough to read this simple statement about love, thank you for reading. And to you, Tommy, somewhere in the sunlit, verdant hills of heaven: "I told them, Tommy . ... as best I could."

A true story and is not enhanced for publicity purposes.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

The Marshmallow Test


There is a personality test, invented by a psychologist named Walter Mischel, called the Marshmallow Test, which was first performed at Stanford University in the '60s. Here's how it works: a series of 4 year olds are given a plate on which sits a marshmallow. They are told that they are allowed to eat the marshmallow, but if they wait 15 minutes, they can have 2.
Tracking these children into adulthood over decades has proved that the ones who can hold out for 15 minutes, and thus get multiple marshmallows rewards, have, in life generally, better educational results, better health, better relationships and better jobs. It seems that self control is the key to success.

What's your thoughts?

Thursday, 17 June 2010

The story of 15

Today my husband and I have been married 15 years! (I thought my anniversary was yesterday...but that's a whole other story!) It's been an amazing journey! 15 memories that stick out in my mind...
  1. The night I 'knew' I would marry my best friend after being 'just friends' with him for 5 years.
  2. David having flowers delivered (along with a Cadburys caramel egg) during my final teaching practice.
  3. Our day trips around the countryside and spontaneous overnight stays at B&Bs.
  4. Our wedding day - I cried and laughed at the same time while saying my vows.
  5. The night David played his guitar and sang a song he had written for me.
  6. Telling him we were going to have a baby.
  7. Our first kiss at Belfast Castle.
  8. The day Emily was born - we sat, speechless, staring at her for ages, before contacting family and friends to break the good news.
  9. Our church plant - this really stretched us and caused us to dig deep into God.
  10. Suffering depression, illness, eating disorder and yet have someone who loved me unconditionally.
  11. Watching David lead worship.
  12. Seeing his face light up when I preach.
  13. Late nights, in the conservatory, listening to the rain pelting down, talking about life, future, family, God.
  14. Sitting in M&S carpark, after a season of hurt and disappointment, wondering if we were going to make it - then experiencing a spark of hope and a reassurance that we weren't alone in our marriage.
  15. This morning, kissing his cheek, while he slept.
When I first got married, I couldn't imagine loving my husband more than I did right then. But when you do life with someone, you either go through hard times clinging to each other or you go at it separately. I am so thankful to have a husband who I can cling to. I love him more than I did the day we got married. I know that the years ahead of us hold some difficult times and some amazing times. There is no one I would rather go through life with than David McClenaghan.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Hidden

A few of my gorgeous friends have been sharing Ps 91 - here it is in the Amplified version...I've been meditating on it this morning

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].

I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!
For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.
[Then] He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings shall you trust and find refuge; His truth and His faithfulness are a shield and a buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror of the night, nor of the arrow (the evil plots and slanders of the wicked) that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction and sudden death that surprise and lay waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you.
Only a spectator shall you be [yourself inaccessible in the secret place of the Most High] as you witness the reward of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place,
There shall no evil befall you, nor any plague or calamity come near your tent.
For He will give His angels [especial] charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways [of obedience and service].
They shall bear you up on their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.
You shall tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the serpent shall you trample underfoot.
Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness--trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never].
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.

My friend Heather said if she had a body part big enough, she would have this tattooed to it!!! Love that! I'd have to agree!!!

Well this has made me think how amazing it is to be hidden in Christ - safe, secure, steadfast.

Ex 33:21, “Behold there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover thee with my hand”. Christ is the rock – God puts us into Jesus and covers us with his hand so that the emotional pain that we’re facing - the inside pain that we have that causes us to sin, without even understanding that we have sinned – doesn’t cause us to be burned up by his presence. He covers us.
It's strange that even when God offers Himself as our refuge, we try to find our own hiding places. God says "there is a place in ME", He is our shield and fortress – the only Rock we’ll need.
Ps 27:5 “In the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling”. There’s a place in God for us but we tend to include our bricks in his building. We tend to build our own walls because we’re insecure. “He will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me upon a rock”.
 
Let the Holy Spirit take you to a safe place – God wants you on the rock and to surround you with himself. Let’s go to that safe place with God, let down our defenses, allowing God to protect our heart and emotions.

You Are What You Speak (Part 2)

We are building, by our words, who we will be. What we speak is what we'll become. The word and the thing are the same. Jesus said by our words will we be justified or condemned. It matters what we say. He made this point earlier in Matt5:37 when he said - "simply let your yes be yes and your no, no; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." There's a responsibility to do what you've spoken out. I can't begin to number the amount of times people have made promises to me and broken them...not just silly stuff like I'll meet you at 4pm, and then not turning up...but life/church/relationship commitments.

'Listen' to this verse...Ps55:20 - "my companion attacks his friends; he violates his covenant. His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords." Outwardly it's buttery sweet but there's a jab behind the words. Kiss and then kill. Smile and then stab. I’ve discovered that if some people are buttering you up, it’s because they’re getting ready to take a bite out of you!
There are spiritual forces at work on the words that we speak, every time we speak.
In Num 12 Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because he had married an Ethiopian woman, and God had said not to. Miriam & Aaron knew the word of the Lord - "hath the Lord indeed spoken only to Moses, hath he not spoken also by us?"

"We have our opinions about how this church should be run Moses!" Valid opinions, but what did God do? "Wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? And the anger of the Lord kindled against then; and He departed." Sobering.
 I have watched people speak against leaders over and over. It starts with a light, negative conversation and yet the damage done can be extensive. If you're looking for faults in your leaders, you're going to find them - we're full of faults.
 
Here's what happens when you speak against, when envy and jealousy is at work;


• Miriam had leprosy - left outside the camp

• The Lord departed

• The glory of God left

• The congregation was brought to a stand still

Find out what your words will do - how they affect your children. If we want a house that will continue, we've got to train our children about the power of words and speak healthy, uplifting words to them. Let the words of our mouths create our destiny - learn the language of faith.
We have the opportunity of creatively naming not only our children, but situations and experiences that confront us each day. There are 365 days in a year – every one of them charged with great potential. Why not name each day creatively and expect God to prosper that day according to your creative speech. Do this tomorrow morning – ‘This is a new day, filled with possibility and opportunity. I name this day STRENGTH etc’.
Speak the language of faith, the language of God. Your tongue is loaded with potential power and positive creativity!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

You Are What You Speak

Sometimes I require speech therapy...I forget the power in my words and am careless about what I release...I forget my mouth is a loaded weapon.

In the beginning God created. There are 2 meanings to the word - 1. created out of nothing (Asaw) & 2. created out of some pre-existing material (Baraw) (like a pot from clay). God operated in number 1. He created out of nothingness. In the beginning, there was an emptiness, a void, the world was without form - there was nothing for God to work with and he created - what were his building materials? His words. Heb 11:3 - by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.

The word for ‘word’ in the Hebrew & Greek (dabar - OT & rhema - NT) is the same word for ‘thing’.


If we read the word - word, in Hebrew or in Greek, within the text it can be equally and accurately translated as word or thing. This is really important. The word - word and thing are exactly the same in the Hebrew and Greek. The only way you can know which interpretation is used within a verse, is by looking at the context of the verse in which the word is written. Sometimes we have to ask if there's a play on the words in a text - a connection between word & thing. If God created the worlds with his words - there's creative power in his words! It was by God's spoken word that all things were created - oceans, heavens, animals, man - they are a direct results of God's spoken words. When God spoke out - let there be light, how quickly do you think that happened? Instantly! He spoke the word light and the thing light came into being. Roms 4:17 - and he calleth those things that are not as though they were. As quick as he said the word, the thing was there. With God, words are things - there is no distinction between them - just like in the Heb &Gk. If God says lollypop - lollypop is. (He could not say “lollypop” without it coming into existence) It exists because the word and thing cannot be separated.

This is so important for us to understand because when God said - let us go down and make man in our image, he gave man the creative power of words! God wanted man working on the same plane as himself. He told Adam to name the animals - Adam creatively named them according to their character. The character of the animal is portrayed in the name. That same power of speech - that ability to create things by the power of a spoken word was given to us!! God chose to share this ability not with birds, dogs, but with man alone!
Is 55:11(Amp) - my word will never come back empty - it will always create, always produce, always prosper whoever I've sent it to.


Think of the words spoken to you by God - healed, prosperous etc - those words came from God and have not gone back to him empty, they are prospering whoever they were sent to!
 
Wow, good news but there's even better! Roms 10:8 - word of God is in our mouth! God's power to create worlds by words is in us! We use our words everyday and we don't really see the power in them or behind them enforcing them. Words have power!! The word that has the power to bring the thing into existence is in our mouth!
 
Chew on that thought...more to follow...

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Father Time


This is one of my favourite pieces of writing...I come back to it regularly...
Imagine there is a bank which credits your account each morning with $86,400, carries over no balance from day to day, allows you to keep no cash balance, and every evening cancels whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day. What would you do?

Draw out every cent, of course!

Everyone has such a bank. Its name is TIME. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the records of the day. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against the “tomorrow.” You must live in the present on today’s deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness and success!

The clock is running. Make the most of today . . .

To realize the value of ONE YEAR:
Ask a student who has failed his final exam.

To realize the value of ONE MONTH:
Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.

To realize the value of ONE WEEK:
Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize the value of ONE DAY:
Ask a daily wage laborer who has ten kids to feed.

To realize the value of ONE HOUR:
Ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.

To realize the value of ONE MINUTE:
Ask a person who has missed the plane.

To realize the value of ONE SECOND:
Ask a person who has just missed an accident.

To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND:
Ask the person who has won a silver medal in the Olympics.

In reading about the lives of great people, I found that self-discipline came first with all of them. What is self-discipline? The dictionary defines it as bringing oneself under control. The word selfcontrol comes from the Greek root word meaning, “to grip” or “take hold of.” This word describes people who are willing to take hold of their lives and take control of areas that will bring them success or failure. To achieve and accomplish your dreams you must take responsibility for your own self-discipline and personal growth.

Use your time wisely...take hold of every moment and seize the day.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Mama Mia

Hello lovely people - this post is dedicated to the most amazing woman I know...my mum! It's her birthday tomorrow so obviously my thoughts are focused on her at the moment. I know you've heard me say many times I'm a daddy's girl...well that doesn't take away from the admiration and pride I feel for my mum. She is selfless, kind, caring, wise, forgiving, generous, loving...she gives a lot to various charities (not just financially but a piece of her heart as well) although her and dad don't have much. She is totally devoted to my dad. She is a great friend and sister - always offers a shoulder to cry on. She is a brilliant support with my daughter and does an awful lot of practical stuff to help me out.
I love her so much - happy birthday mum!!!

Monday, 31 May 2010

Is this for you?


This may be a little weird today...but...this post will not be for everyone.

If you read NicNac or have stumbled across it accidentally, and you're not aware of how much God is infatuated with you...this is for you.

You have been heavy on my heart lately (yes I do mean you) and I want to share some thoughts with you...is that ok?

In Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland, young Alice encounters the Cheshire Cat during her frantic attempt to find her way through an impenetrable forest.


“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” Alice cries.

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” the grinning Cat answers.

“I don’t much care where” – a lost and confused Alice says.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” says the Cat, who soon thereafter vanishes – all except for its toothy grin...

Perhaps you feel just like Alice in Wonderland - you have lost your sense of direction.
God's purpose for your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind or even your happiness. It will last longer than your family, your career or even your wildest dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by His purpose and for His purpose.

Even Bertrand Russell, the renowned atheist admitted, "Unless you assume a God, the question of life's purpose is meaningless."

The search for the purpose of life has puzzled people for thousands of years. That's because we typically begin at the wrong starting point - ourselves. We ask self-centered questions like: What do I want to do with my life? What are my goals, my ambitions, my dreams for my future? But focusing on yourself will never reveal your life's purpose. The Bible says, "Everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, ... everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him" (1 Colossians 1:16, The Message).
Contrary to many popular books, movies and seminars, you won't discover your life's meaning by looking within yourself. You've probably tried that already. You didn't create yourself so there is no way you can tell yourself what you were created for. If I handed you an invention you'd never seen before, you wouldn't know its purpose, and the invention itself wouldn't be able to tell you either. Only the Creator or the owner's manual could reveal its purpose.
 
How then do you discover the purpose you were created for? You only have two options. Your first option is speculation. This is what most people do. They conjecture, they guess, they theorize. When people say, "I've always thought life is ..." they mean, "This is the best guess I can come up with."


Fortunately, there is an alternative to speculation about the meaning and purpose of life. It's revelation. We can turn to what God has revealed about life in his Word. The easiest way to discover the purpose of an invention is to ask the creator of it. The same is true for discovering your life's purpose: ask God.

The Bible says, "It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone" (Ephesians 1:11, The Message).
 
So, I know that you are looking for something more in life, I know you're searching for meaning, purpose, significance, I know you're looking for something/someone to fill the empty space in your heart...I know, because I felt like that. It's not coincidence that you find yourself here...God has a plan for your life...and it's a good one! Stop making excuses, putting it off, waiting until you get your life in order - take the plunge...you will love it!!!
 
I want to make my email address available for anyone who wants to talk to me...
nmcclenaghan@hotmail.com

Sunday, 30 May 2010

I need you, you, you

It's not perfect. Your local church is no more perfect than mine. But we need each other. We need to find our place in it, fill that place and let God use it to help us become all that He intended.

I read recently about a magnificent and elusive mountain goat on the top of the Spanish Pyrenees, the mountains in Spain. The writer said that this mountain goat always seems to get away from shooting range. They discovered the reason for it is that it has a companion. There is a younger goat that follows and sounds the warning of enemies around it. Relationships within the Body of Christ can protect us when we're in danger, protect us when we're under attack. We have such a need for accountability.

I know that's a word that some of us aren't real comfortable with. We'd rather be independent; we'd rather do things on our own. We've been trained to be self-sufficient but the fact is that we're not self-sufficient. We need each other or we're going to be overpowered by the enemy.

And I need accountability in many different areas of my life.

Hebrews 3:13 says: "Encourage or exhort one another daily." How often is that? Every day. How often do we need another in our lives? Every day. Why? "Encourage one another daily lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." I want so much to keep a heart that is tender toward God, a heart that is sensitive to Him, a heart that is sensitive to sin, a heart that is pure.

First I need the Holy Spirit to do that in my life but then I need you and you need me. We need each other daily to encourage each other. Encouragement isn't just saying, "I love you, I think you're wonderful."

Sometimes encouragement is saying, "Watch out, I think you're vulnerable there. I think you might be vulnerable when you do..." or as a friend of mine used to say, "I could be a million miles off, but is it possible that..."and then this person would bring up something that they had a concern about. And I'll tell you what, as I look back on it - they were rarely wrong.

When the white man first arrived in North America, the native Indians did not have a written language or alphabet but their vocabulary was often more eloquent and more expressive than that of the French and English explorers. For example, the word "friend" was understood by the Native Americans, "as one who carries my sorrows on his back." Isn't that good? One who carries my sorrows on his back. That's a real friend.

I read recently about a badger-like animal that is native to India and parts of Africa. It's called a ratel and this animal pairs up with a little bird called a honey guide bird. They both love honey but they need each other in order to get the honey. So they go out together.

The little bird, the honey guide bird, has these sharp eyes that can pinpoint a beehive with honey and then the ratel has powerful claws that tear up the hive and make the honey available to both of them. They need each other. They work together and as they do, they are more productive than one would be without the other.

Hmmm...something to ponder

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Saturday no school today...


Oh I've had a lovely Saturday so far...Emily stayed with her auntie Siobhan last night (still isn't home) and David and I cooked breakfast, brewed yummy coffee and chatted about life, love, our future, our upcoming party, church, God etc. It was so lovely. Then I locked myself in my art room with music and got stuck into a painting I'm currently working on...but...alas, I ran out of some paints I need (tres expensive) so I just doodled about with my water-paints and did some drawing.


While I was futtering about I got some time to digest my discussion with Dave...God has been taking His huge, luminous highlighter to some areas of my life...revealing some things that need work and encouraging me with steps forward.

"The Self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice and action" (John Dewey) ...hmmmm...a bit like my painting...