MARRIAGE NUGGETS FROM THE RUSSELLS

Anniversary Edition

Can you believe it? It feels like yesterday I was leaving for university saying goodbye to this young man, looking for adventure, new sights, new prospects, just everything NEW. I tried to say goodbye to Geron, but he wouldn’t let me go and here we are 7 years later.  I am grateful that God has given me this man to love on me for the last 7 years and I am excited for our next season together.

It is said that 7 is the year of completion, and I do believe that this past year is a completion of one season of our lives together and that we are crossing the threshold into another season. Together, we are turning another page in our story, and I can’t like I’m thrilled to do life with him,

This past year has had its trials and it has really put some muscle into our relationship. We’ve had to make hard decisions and tough sacrifices. It’s been a ride! But we have also found peace, and joy and have been able to celebrate great victories. We’ve seen God show up and show out. We’ve seen Him turn things upside down and then right side up. Like I said, it’s been a ride! But now more than ever, I am honoured to be walking into the unknown with my guy, my rock, my hubby!

So without further a due, we thought we’d share with you 7 gems we have learnt in our 7 years of marriage…. And the bonus: You get an exclusive once in a lifetime opportunity to get his perspective!
Keep reading, I hope you enjoy!

Niclair’s Lessons

1. We are on the SAME team! Partners not opponents.

2. To see my husband through God’s eyes. God has opened my heart to see Geron not selfishly as ‘my’ husband, but more as the spouse that HE has divinely created and placed in my life. Geron is God’s choice for me and he has a role to play that God has divinely given him as my husband.

3. I have a choice in our marriage, to either build him up or tear him down. If I’m not doing one, I’m doing the other! I try to choose to build him up, even if, to me, my efforts seem fruitless.

4. To see his weaknesses not as a DIY project but as an invitation to fill in the missing links gracefully and humbly so that we can grow together.

5. Just because we can’t read each other’s mind doesn’t mean that we’re not in sync, it’s more important to know each other’s heart.

6. Yes, I am a phenomenal woman! But I’ve got to give him a chance to do his part and let Him be the Man of Valour God made him to be.

7.  Control my tongue! Tell it to Jesus before I spit it at him.

Geron’s Lessons

  1. Small things matter
  2. Although we are married, we are still individuals with different personalities and characteristics that do/react to things differently. You must accept, respect, and learn.
  3. Listen carefully because she will come back to a previous conversation expecting you to remember the previous conversation in great detail.
  4. Sometimes you have to go out of your comfort zone to either keep peace or create happiness.
  5. Quality alone time with your spouse is paramount.
  6. Family time is very important.
  7. Be intentional about building a relationship with God and fostering the same in our girls.

People, Love is risky business…but MARRIAGE is a risk we chose to take with God leading the way!
We’re holding onto each other, but we’re holding onto Jesus too!

Cheers to 7 years!

Love and Light to you ,

Niclair

Sit. Stay……. Rest.

I haven’t done a writing prompt in a few months, so I pulled one out from my stash that I use sometimes: ‘Write some words that speak to you.’

Sit. Stay. Rest.

The world seems to be spiralling out of control, between disease, riots, tragedy, job loss, economic downfall…. There is hopelessness everywhere, I breathe it in, the faces, the headlines, the images, the videos, it burns my eyes. Right now, I feel choked physically by the thick cloud of despair and I feel smothered by the desperation that surrounds me… But I have a hope, I have a promise, I have a Saviour. This knowledge allows me to exhale with confidence. It is times like these, when I look upwards to God and I say to Him, ‘‘my eyes are on you.’’ I run to Him, I hide in Him and I stay there. Sometimes hiding in God, is stopping the daily grind, lying on the floor with the kids and watching them play make believe. Sometimes hiding in God is putting the phone on vibrate or better yet, turning it off for the evening. Sometimes hiding in Him is -not checking and answering messages for the day. Hiding in Him is sometimes, going for a walk, taking in the beauty of God’s glory as He speaks to you through the breeze of His Spirit. Sometimes hiding in Him is leaving the wash sitting in the corner for just one more day. Sometimes hiding in Him means cancelling that lunch date… I’ve learnt that sometimes you have to remove yourself from the craziness, but remain in His Presence, in His shadow and under His wings.

It calls for turning off the expectations of the world and entering a place of rest and solitude with Jesus. Sit with Him. Sit in the Stillness. Rest in Silence.  The devil sometimes tries to make me feel guilty and tells me that I’m wasting the day, that i’m not being productive-but I know that time spent in the stillness of God’s presence, sitting with Jesus is NEVER wasted time. Here are a few scriptures that you can use as reminders, for when you need to hit ‘PAUSE’ and just rest in HIM and in the assurance of his faithful promises.

Psalms 119:114, You are my hiding place and my shield; I wait for Your Word [AMP]

Psalm 27:5, For in the day of trouble He will hide me in His shelter; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock. [AMP]

Psalm 17:8, Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings.

Psalms 4:8, In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Psalms 32:7, For You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble; You surround me with songs of victory[NLT].

Psalms 23:2-3, He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.

This has been my encouragement in the last few weeks. My ‘Woosah’ if you like! I hope that it helps you as well to navigate these stressful and crazy times. I’m also sharing a set of scripture cards that you can print and stick them up wherever you like to just remind you to Sit, Stay and Rest in Christ. Click download below to get the printable.

Be blessed.

This Week I Was Most Blessed By….Connections!

The weekend is upon us and I have been reflecting: What am I most blessed by this week?
My Mum. My Hubby, Karlie, Donval…?

I began thinking, I can’t choose which one of them I was really blessed by, and then ‘the girls’ came into the picture as well. And I realised that it’s not any particular individual alone, I feel blessed by them all. This week all of them (and others) have poured into me, encouraged me, and laughed with me.  I feel blessed that I AM NOT ALONE. I am not alone in this world and I am not alone in this life.

 I am very aware that some people are physically alone, or at least they may feel so, and I pray that the presence of God surrounds you, if you are one of those persons, but I have to acknowledge the fact that God has surrounded me with persons who care about me, my well-being, who look after me, my concerns, my whereabouts. I am grateful to have persons who are there to celebrate with me during times of celebration, encourage and lift me up in times of despair, and comfort and support me in times of heart ache and loss.

I am confident in my relationship with Christ and I believe with assurance that with Jesus at our side, we are never alone. However, He does demonstrate to us throughout His Word, the power of human connection as well in our lives. Connection is so important for mankind. It is how God created us to be. It is why God created man AND woman. God created each of us with a desire to be apart of something greater than us, His Kingdom and connection is an integral part of building HIS Kingdom. ‘And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching’ Hebrews 10:24

I like how Brene Brown puts it, ‘’connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.’’ Jesus wants that for us. This is why his greatest command is to love one another. Through that Love we can see, hear and value persons for who they are. Through Love we can give and receive without judgement, but with compassion. Through love we can build relationships and connections that sustain, strengthen and support each other.

Connection gives purpose and meaning to our lives. All of us have an important part to play in someone’s life. However, we are not always aware of these roles. It takes us acknowledging our purpose in the wider scheme of God’s will so that He can use us to bring joy, love, encouragement to the lives of others. These connections intended by God, are what enable us to do the great things that we may feel unable to do on our own. I could not raise my girls without my mom, my aunties, my best friends, my grandmother. They are important connections in my life, and they all have a part to play in helping me to carry out my role as Mom.

There are times we do feel threatened by certain people God places in our lives, and we do try to isolate ourselves or push them away. But God’s will is for us to honour those connections and grow. I am reminded of Moses and how he felt incapable and ill- equipped to go to Pharaoh when God had sent Him. But God had already worked it out by connecting him to Aaron. Connections take away our excuses and make ways for us to do what God has purposed us to do.

Let’s not forget Paul. In Paul’s writings you can always find him, advising, encouraging, reminding, reassuring or simply just checking in. He was a guy that valued connection and relationship. What I love about Paul’s writings was, he was very personal and transparent about his life to the churches. He was open and eager  to share his feelings and his state of mind no matter the situation he found himself in, partly because he wanted to establish that trust, but also because he relied on the strength of  the relationship he had with the churches to sustain him in difficult times. He trusted and depended on them to pray for him. Paul knew how important being connected to the body of Christ was in ministry. He understood relationship and brotherhood. He honoured the strength that lies in community.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 the word of God admonishes us to ‘’…encourage one another and build each other up…’’ The truth is, some of us will lose our way, many of us will lose faith and become discouraged but most of us will experience seasons of turmoil, weariness and disappointment; and this is why we need each other.

Ultimately, Jesus himself, is our greatest example. One of the first things he did at the start of his ministry on earth is assemble his ‘tribe’, his family of disciples, and although he had many disciples throughout His time on earth that he sent forth, the ‘twelve’ were his closest friends and he established relationship with them because HE needed connection.

Throughout the bible, we see where Jesus dined and fellow-shipped with his disciples and with people along His earth journey, building friendships, establishing connections. This is what we are called to do, this is how we survive life here on earth, as children of God. Galatians 6, verses 2 and 3 tells us to ‘‘share each other’s troubles and problems, and so obey our Lord’s command.  If anyone thinks he is too great to stoop to this, he is fooling himself. He is really a nobody.’’ We cannot succeed at life thinking we can do everything on our own or that we do not need anyone. It is the biggest lie we can feed our hearts. We may need to vet some of the people we include in our circle, but in doing that, we shouldn’t be self-centred in our thinking. We should not choose who we want to be connected to based on how they can help us advance, but sometimes be led to choose people who we feel we can extend ourselves to help. It goes both ways!
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 reminds us that ‘Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.’ This week I was most blessed by ‘my people’ and you know who you are. Near and far, every day and every couple weeks. It doesn’t matter, how often we get to chat or talk, I Love You! I appreciate you and I am grateful that God has divinely placed you in my circle, in my life.

This Week I Was Most Blessed by…..Lock-down Reflection

Hmmm… thinking about this prompt is making me realise how I need to make this a routine to reflect on my blessings each week. As I sit here, drumming away at these keys, anticipating the awesome words that I hope will eventually cover this space as I stall while I gather my thoughts, what comes to mind is the number of times I  have witnessed the girls, sharing and getting along this week. Sarai has really been trying to be a responsible and helpful big sister and Hannah has been exercising true patience and cooperation as well. I am thinking now that I must make a reward certificate for them. Big sister has been emptying the potty in the mornings, preparing the bath water for bath times and doing her best to tidy her room daily. Of course, thrown in the mix is her ‘bossy’ nature but that’s her and while I have so many expectations of her, she is killing it as a very able 5-year-old. She deserves far more credit than I give her at times. I will not deny that she has tested my patience with her behaviour and attitude this week, but when I think about it, the good moments heavily outweigh those brief moments of obstinacy.

I started off the week, obsessing over filling my time and our days with what I deemed as productive activities. These were activities where we as a family engaged with each other lovingly and activities that promoted opportunities for ‘structured’ learning like the perfect world I sometimes try to pretend that I live in. HA! Immediately, my perfect picture shattered, because once again , I was taking the image imprinted on my mind by observing and reading countless social media posts and tried to paint the exact same scene in my home and instead of a masterpiece, I ended up with paint all over everyone including myself and empty canvas. A perfect, well-orchestrated and planned ‘mess’! It didn’t work! It couldn’t work! I spent days 2- 4 in prayer: ‘Lord, show me what to do, teach me how to be, give me a clue on how to make this work for all of us,’’ and I remembered someone once said, ‘‘Do the next right thing.’’ ‘Ok Lord, what IS the next RIGHT thing?’ He brought me to this verse in Colossians 3:23, Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men….

What had God called me to do in this present season, serve my family and get to know HIM better. That is my worship to HIM. And I began to do just that. HE asked me to put my ‘ideal’ masterpiece of a plan to the side and do what was required of me by my family. Just do it! Do it with honour, love and humility. Do it with Joy! Do it in worship! I meditated on that scripture along with this one: Whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [and in dependence on Him], giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Colossians 3:17.

Slowly each day as I released my need for an idolatrous plan, I saw GOD’s HOLY SPIRIT emerging in our hearts as we not tolerated each other, but loved on one another, demonstrated patience and grace with each other. This week I was truly most blessed by the Power of God’s word to change my mindset, my attitude, my heart and consequently the spirit and mood in my home. I was blessed to see God listen to my whining, be gracious enough to endure it and love me enough to help me get out of my own way.

I am Blessed through His POWER!

3 Actionable Steps to Improving Your Bible Study.

Needs some encouragement for how to get started with your personal bible study time?

Read on as I share some ways that has helped me to purposefully spend time more time digesting God’s Word.

1. Choose and follow a bible reading plan

Youversion Bible App which you can get here has some great bible reading plans that you can select and schedule to follow daily. The app encourages you to set reminders as well. The bible plans help you to spend quality time in study as many of them start off with a brief, but enriching devotional, followed by several scriptures that follow the theme for that day. You can also develop a support community by inviting friends to study alongside you and share your thoughts on the application of scripture to your life. This is a great resource. I find it very useful and it also acts as a gateway to other resources to encourage you in your faith journey.
Biblegateway.com also has loads of bible reading plans and devotionals you can sign up for. They have an app that you can download as well by clicking here. It works quite similarly to Youversion. I’ve used it in the past for email devotionals. (Subscribe to my page for updates, as I will be posting some reading plans here very soon!)

First5.org an extension of Proverbs 31 Ministries is another option I found very useful. They have an app, but you can also use the website. What I enjoy about the first5 app is that the devotionals are powerful but short enough for you to follow if you don’t have much time. In the app you can also join the community with other readers who offer encouragement and share their testimonies. I plan to do another post on this in more detail so I can really express to you how valuable it was for me and why.

2. Use a bible study template:

Two of the most common ones are S.O.A.P. and H.E.A.R. I will explain them further below if you stay with me. If you don’t have time to read it all now, it’s fine. Add this page to your favourites so you can come back later.

  • SOAP stands for Scripture. Observe. Apply. Pray.

I use this method mostly during my study time, but more recently I have been merging it with my prayer journalling method. (This post coming soon!)
There are lots of information and templates on using this method, but I prefer to just use my own personal study journal.

To briefly explain:

Scripture:  You record a few verses of scripture from the passage you read that spoke to you.

Observe: What parts are most meaningful for you? What words, phrases, questions or commands speak to you? You can highlight them in different colours, underline them, circle them…totally up to you!

Apply: This is the part where you quiet your mind to really listen to how God wants you to use this scripture in your daily Christian walk. How can it transform your attitude? behaviours? conversation?

Pray: Use your answers to the previous section to help focus your prayer. Ask God to show you how to apply what you have learnt, studied, and meditated on and thank him for illuminating your mind with His Truth.

  • HEAR stands for Highlight. Explain. Apply. Respond.

This is very similar to SOAP.

Highlight: You are meant to highlight, colour, underline portions of scriptur that stand out to you.

Examine: You can pull apart the words of the scripture using a commentary or by comparing different translations to gather meaning from the verse of text. Ask questions like: What am I learning? What does this mean for me? What do I understand from this?

Apply: Much like I mentioned earlier. This is taking what you learnt from examining the scripture and noting ways that you can make these lessons a part of your daily walk with Christ. Here you are asking yourself: How can I integrate this wisdom and guidance in my decision making, my conversation and my daily interactions?

Respond: Your response can be  a responsive prayer to what you learned, thanking God for what he has shown you or asking him to help you make some necessary changes in your life. Sometimes your response can be a call to worship and how that looks for you. Sometimes a response can be something more practical like, sending an encouraging text or lending assistance to someone in need.

3. Bible Journalling

Bible journalling has become very popular in recent years. Some persons tend to think that it is just for the creatives, but if you find that it works for you, go with it! What is it ? Bible journalling is artistically or creatively representing scripture  or responding to scripture verses during times of study and meditation, either on the pages of a journal bible, a sketch book or your actual bible. You can use the link below to see a really good journal bible that I have gifted to friends who wanted to get started.
(Please note, by making a purchase using this link I may earn a little commission.)

These are 3 simple ways to be intentional about your study time that you can easily implement right now
It’s best to decide which works best for you and the dynamics of your daily life and how much time you can set aside to spend in study. I have tried a number of methods over the years and sometimes different methods worked better during different seasons of my life. If you have tried something that you believe is no longer helpful to you, it’s ok. You can change course, but do NOT give up!

Links to the bible app downloads mentioned:

Youversion
First5.org
Biblegateway.com

Messy Lessons

A few weeks ago, I was cleaning up. To be specific, I was (in the America they say) vacuuming the carpets. I live in England however, so I should say: ”I went to ‘hoover’ the carpets.” But, since I am from a British overseas territory- in the Caribbean- which is heavily influenced by American culture, I will say that I was ‘vacuuming the carpets with the hoover.’ However, I digress, let me get to the point.

Anyway, I was having some problems with it and complained to the hubby. It did not seem to be working effectively, the floor was still quite dirty. I could see particles of all different sizes still stuck in the carpet. Basically, as he always does, he took it from me and gave it a try himself, and ‘Wallah’- it worked beautifully for him. Of course, I asked him what did he do that was different?

This was his response: ‘‘You need to take your time as you move it back and forth across the floor! Give it a chance to actually suck up the dirt. If you pass over so quickly, it doesn’t get a chance to really absorb the particles directly up the pipe and into the [holding] can.’’

And that was that. I said ok, but in my mind, I thought I want to get this done, I really don’t have time to be slowly passing this thing across the floor. I would like to do it quickly and do it once and for all!

Now, I was vacuuming with the hoover again this morning, and I remembered what he told me. I proceeded on this occasion to take my time moving the hoover back and forth across the floor, giving it time to extract the dirt particles from the carpet.
I thought to myself as I saw the pleasing results of taking my husband’s advice. The floor was gradually becoming spotless.

PATIENCE. PERSISTENCE. TAKING TIME. These words ruminated in my mind.

As I finished, and placed the hoover away for the next use, my mind went to the thought that sometimes, we don’t give our hearts enough time to extract what we need from the Word of God. We do not remain long enough in HIS presence to give our hearts time to soak in HIS guidance and direction, HIS truth and HIS peace. I realised that I run my life the same way I had been running that hoover back and forth across the floor, expecting it carry out its purpose but not being deliberate in my efforts to allow it to work efficiently. I move from one thing, one person, one idea to the other looking for answers, solutions, satisfaction. Instead of just deliberately sitting with God, being patient and consciously let HIS Word take root in my heart to fill me, encourage me and advise me. I find that even when I do open the Bible to search scripture, I flip back and forth reading chapter after chapter intent on feeding my spirit. But what I needed to do, was give the life- giving words I was reading, a chance to be consciously absorbed by my heart. Hubby revealed to me that I wasn’t giving it time to travel up the suction pipe and into the holding can of my heart.

This challenged me to be intentional about the way I study and use the Word of God to feed my Spirit, satisfy my soul and comfort my heart.  I know many of you probably make a habit to read your morning devotional or your evening scripture daily, but are you allowing it to take root in your heart so that it can be watered into wisdom for daily living. This is something I have been working on and I want to encourage you to do the same. You can have a look at this post on 3 effective ways to spend more time in God’s Word.

That was my messy lesson for you today. Be encouraged to keep growing.

Niclair

3 simple and enjoyable activities to do to connect as a family

In a time where many of us are safe at home and spending a lot more time than we would normally have with our family, we have been pressed into each other’s space 24/7.  For me, I welcomed the opportunity to enjoy some family time but after a while I did feel like I wanted back ‘my space’.

With young kids, quality time is more than just being around, they actively want to feel your participation, they want you to be involved and sometimes being involved 24/7 can feel overwhelming if you give into their demands all of the time.

Today I’m sharing 3 simple ways to enjoy family time together.

I have found that it works better when we plan our family time. The girls are satisfied knowing that there is special time designated for them and they look forward to that with real anticipation. Like …. they don’t EVER let me forget!

I am very aware that many of us are not just sitting at home twiddling thumbs and looking for ways to keep boredom at bay. Many of us are working doubly harder than usual because we are stretching ourselves between our 9-5 jobs and managing the kids full time- at home- as well.

I still believe however that this ‘pause’ which has been forced upon us, is not a punishment but a blessing in many ways. My husband has been totally enjoying his time at home. The girls love having both of us around.  Yes, there is the hanging concern about the future and what that looks like for us, but Matthew 6:34 tells me that I shouldn’t worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will take care of itself.

Right now, we have today, and today I can make memories and build relationships.

Spending family time can make some of us cringe, especially if you have teenagers. Yikes (I’m not there yet!) but I do know how teenagers can be.
This week, I wanted to share some ideas on how you can connect as a family.

Here are 3 simple ways that you can spend quality family time together:

  1. Karaoke or Family Dance Party– All you need is YouTube. Pull up some old Disney favourites. The Disney films have something for everyone!  I have two daughters, so you know we live for Disney!

    If you have teenagers, this is a good time to get familiar with all the latest bands and what the teens of today are listening to. You can even give them a dose of the groovy music of your time.
  2. Watching Films– My girls absolutely love watching films with us. They enjoy snuggling under blankets, and it is a ‘big thing’ in our house. You MUST have popcorn ad set the atmosphere and everything to watch a family film! You don’t need a Netflix account or Hulu or whoever, Amazon Prime has films as well as Google Play and the Apple Store that you can rent for a small price or purchase and keep it forever if it’s a family favourite.

  3. Games- For us, games have been very tricky as the girls are too young to understand and follow the objective of some of the board games we adults enjoy, but UNO is a hit with my 5 year old and the 2 year old is happy to ‘pretend’  play with a few cards from the deck. ‘Tumbling Monkeys’ is a family favourite that everyone can enjoy, little ones and older ones. Dominoes are an easy one for little ones to join in on the fun as well.

    But there are some of us who don’t enjoy board games or you may not have any lying around at home. That’s fine! Charades is a great one as well. You can play individual or if your tribe is large enough you can split into teams to play. Hide and seek is a fun one. It becomes a challenge between hubby and I to see who can find the best hiding spots in the house.


Sometimes spending time is just hanging out together. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is sometimes, to just sit in each other’s company and share stories, reminisce and dream together as a family. It’s a great chance to find out what’s on your little one’s heart. What’s going on in your young adult or teenager’s or preteen’s world?  What are they feeling? What are they excited about? What they are looking forward to?

Meaningful connections are what shape the hearts and minds of our kids and is important for nurturing emotionally resilient children.

This week I’m challenging you to rethink and be intentional about quality family time.
I’d be interested to know what simple ways do you spend quality time with your family.
Share your ideas in the comments!

Table For One

A few days ago, I was listening to a recording of a message spoken at a ladies’ conference. It really spoke to me, stopped me in my tracks and made me pause to have a heart to heart moment with GOD. She gave the illustration of God making this grand feast for us. He sets the table and fills it with ‘good’ stuff, ‘deliciously good’ food specifically for you and me. She continued preaching that GOD then invites us to come and take a seat and eat from the table. HE invites us to take everything that we need for nourishment and fulfilment. The part that really tugged at my heart is {she said} many of us get up from the table and leave what God has so exclusively prepared for you and I right there on the table. We do not bother to take our fill or even take it carry. Everything we need, everything that can and will help us in life, everything that will give us a more fulfilling experience, everything that will strengthen our spirit, our faith and nourish our souls, our bodies, our relationships, our finances, our dreams, we leave it there on the table. She continued by saying, when he calls us to feed us, HE is giving us everything we need to be who HE has made us to be. HE equips us, but we leave the equipment and pick up our own useless, makeshift ‘junk’ to go forth with. (my words, not hers.)

That really hit me. I began to talk to God, right there in the kitchen where I stood washing dishes. My prayer went a little something like this:

 Lord I have been feeling like I am stuck and my dreams or what I thought were the plans you had for me feel so distant. Lord I trust you, but sometimes it feels like YOU are taking me further and further away from where I thought we were going.
Am I just getting up from the table and not bothering to take the lid off these shiny silver platters? Lord am I not taking part in this feast you have personally cooked up just for me? This prayer has been on my heart from that day until now.  

What I have learnt about prayers is that they never go unanswered, but it is quite common to miss the answer, because either the answer was not delivered in the way you expected or it wasn’t the response you were hoping for.

In my prayer, as I lean into HIS grace daily, I am asking him to open my eyes that I might see the splendour of what HE has created especially for me. I am asking HIM to heighten my spiritual senses to the aroma of HIS plans and HIS purpose for me and for HIM to let me taste the tantalizing experience of HIS joy and fulfilment in my life just as HE has designed and purposed it to be.

Are you enjoying and filling up on the special ‘feast’ HE has prepared for you? Or, are you taking a few little bites and leaving it all there to potentially waste? Maybe you brought your own snacks to munch on but are realising that you’re not experiencing true ‘fullness.’ Maybe you need to pray a prayer like I did that God would help work up our appetites, so that you and I both leave nothing behind and take everything our Father has laid out for us.

I would love for us to pray on this together as you let your heart ruminate on these thoughts. Share your heart’s prayer in the comments!

Sending GOD’s Love and Light to you,

Niclair

*Thoughts from my heart, inspired by a message given by the HOLY SPIRIT through Mrs. Chrystal Evans Hurst.

Am I TOO SPIRITUAL for you?

So, the other day, I was all bent out of shape and catching real ‘feelings’ because someone said to me that I was ‘‘overly spiritual.’’ We were discussing a topic and I was giving my views from a biblical perspective. Yeah! They said to me, ‘‘you’re too spiritual about everything’’. Say what! Yes, that hurt a little bit.

Why did this hurt? Here I thought I was on the right track, studying the Word committing God’s Truth to heart, for times like these! It hurts because I want to live a ‘souled’ out life for Christ. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I want people to see Christ in me, on me, around me and through me. I represent him and so I am on a journey to living my life wholeheartedly for Him, through his Spirit and guided by His Word. Which means yes, if you ask my opinion on something, I’m not going to give you Niclair’s opinion, I am going to seek God first and use HIS wisdom in my response to you. Is that not what you would hope for?

I guess you can tell I was wound up about that, but it also hurt because it’s not my intention to have the ‘holier than thou’ pharisee syndrome.  I want to be accessible to people, to my friends, to my colleagues, my family. I want to make myself available to people to confide in me, share with me, pray with me. My desire is to stay close to God and let His Holy Spirit impact my relationships, conversations and interactions I want people to trust me as their fellow sister in Christ, so this whole thing led me to thinking that maybe I need the correct balance, and I began to pray in that regard.

This one comment made me begin to lose confidence in the Holy Spirit within me as I pondered this ‘‘accusation’’ and reflected on my younger days.

To be honest I have always been considered the ‘churchy’ one, the ‘preacher girl’ in the clique of friends. And I never ran away from that. My girlfriends refer to me as the ‘grandma’, not just because I am older, but because I’m usually the more ‘grounded’ one, who doesn’t delve too deep into the risky situations. And I accept that.  I am grateful that they have that confidence to confide in me. I am grateful that they trust my opinion on certain things, they trust my advice because they know that whatever I tell them is going to be as biblical as I can get, biblical meaning as truthful according to God’s will and purpose for them.

I have never made apologies for my personality in that regard. And I won’t start now. I grew up a Pastor’s kid for as long as I can remember. I lived the weekly night services, being dragged to church almost every night, homework in tow. I lived the life sitting up in the very front bench, where your parents could see you and being volunteered to take part in EVERY SINGLE thing because that’s what was expected. And while I might have complained and maybe resented it a little at the time, I wouldn’t change a thing because I know that a foundation was being laid and it has helped me to be the individual that I am today. My parents were teaching me how to live a well-disciplined life. They were instilling Godly morals and values, and nurturing virtues that represented a disciple of Christ.

So I will not label myself with the popular ‘pastor’s kids’ phenomenon. I am proud to be a pastor’s kid. No, I didn’t have a rebellious period, if I did, it was my choice to be rebellious, not because my parents were forcing me to go to church. My rebellion was because I was a young teenage girl trying to navigate life and find my identity in this world; and a life strongly rooted in Christianity and church ministry involvement, helped me on my journey to womanhood.

While I accept that everyone’s story is different! This is mine and I am better for it. I say all of this to say, I cannot make apologies for sharing with you THE truth of God’s Word. If someone confides in me or you about something, I believe it’s because he or she trusts the advice that you or I would give. It’s because they know that we will do our best to give you a ‘Godly perspective’ otherwise they would confide in someone else.

Ok, I am rounding up my rant and I think the only way to release my feelings about that comment is to surrender it in prayer:

Lord, help me to not be judgemental, but give me wisdom on what to say to encourage, but also how to say it with gentleness and compassion, with love and kindness. Lord help me to remember that I am not above any one or better than anyone but help me to always trust your voice within me regardless of what people think.

Truth is, after I prayed that prayer, there was nothing that God prompted me, through HIS spirit to change about my ‘too spiritual’ response to that person. I left it at that and made peace with my hurt.

Thank you, Lord, for your Light and Truth.

Here are a couple scriptures that encouraged my heart, as I worked through this:

 1 Peter 2:1-6
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Have you ever encountered something like this? What was your response? What passage of scripture did you find encouraging? I would love to hear from you!

Niclair.

6 reasons to start journals for your kids

A few months ago, I started journals for both my girls. I am no stranger to journaling. I have been writing journals from as young as 10 probably. It’s always been a way for me to clear my mind and refocus on what is important. Journaling also allows me to release and work through every emotion that I am feeling at any given time. Journaling helps me to keep track of my growth, lessons learnt, setbacks and failures, prayers answered. It’s all in there! Recently, I have completed reading ‘The Resolution for Women’ by Priscilla Shirer (very inspiring read, maybe I will do a post on it) and she mentions that she started journals for her boys. I thought to myself that is a great idea. I write significant moments in my own personal journal, but I thought it would really be a treasure to be able to pass on to them a record of those moments for them to keep and maybe pass on to their children. So, I have started this on their 2019 birthdays, and I try to write on their birth-date every month of the year. I have reminders set in my calendar each month, on those days, to complete an entry. It’s not the only time I write in their journals, sometimes I just record something they said or something they did that blew me away.

I thought I’d share with you some of the great reasons why you should keep journals for each of your kids.

1. It helps me to keep track of big moments. I’m terrible at the baby book thing. I mean to be honest most of them only go as far as 2 years. These days we try to record a video clip or take a picture and that’s great as well, but if you’re like me and get caught up in the moment, you may forget to press the record button. But being lost in the moment allows me to really be able to remember all of the details, so I can write them down along with the feeling and emotion I experienced.

2. I feel like I’m leaving a bit of legacy and a guidepost for growing up with them. I want them to know the prayers I prayed for them and how God responded.


3. It has helped me be more intentional in how I connect with them daily. It allows me to reflect on my role as mom, friend and teacher and holds me accountable to the quality of young ladies that I am trusting GOD to help me raise. When I pen my heart, my dreams and my hopes for them, those words become a mirror for me that draws me into examining myself and how I parent. Is my parenting guiding them and helping them grow into the purpose to which GOD has called them as individuals? Am I modelling the kind of mom I hope they would be? Am I modelling the God- fearing woman I pray for them to mature into?

4. Journaling for them has helped to keep me accountable to the goals and intentions I set for myself as a present mom. It makes it much easier to remember to extend the grace and kindness that I want them to experience in our home.

5. I can speak & pray the promises of God over their present and future. Journaling prayers and quoting scripture enables me to put all that’s good and perfect into the atmosphere for them to grab hold of at the right time with GOD’s leading.

6. And lastly, it’s something for them to cherish and maybe even pass down to their children.

I must add that it’s important that you write one for each of your children. (Easy for you Niclair, you’ve only got two!) Sure, it would be easy to just write one for my kids to share, but there’s something very special about having your own little book about just YOU! Writing separate journals gives me a chance to see the differences in their nature, their attitudes and their spirits. Each of my girls have their own unique personalities and this allows me to tease apart and appreciate their individual strengths , abilities and challenges as well as to pray specifically towards such.

I really recommend this, especially if you’re in the practice of journaling already. You don’t have to do it, every month, like I do. That’s just my preference. It’s totally up to you how often you do it. You can record in it once a year if you like.

A previous tradition of my parents was to keep photo albums, and they would record special moments in the caption or behind the photograph. My problem with that, is I never get around to printing photographs in this digital age. You can make it your own. Maybe you just want to record encouraging scriptures or uplifting quotes in your kids’ journals instead. That is totally fine, but create something that they can cherish, that they can hold long after you’re gone that will remind them of your love and desire to see them fulfil their purpose in Christ.

So, grab a notebook and a pretty gel pen and start with the first prayer you prayed as you held your little one for the first time and go from there. I promise it will add to the beauty of parenthood!

Share with me, how has journaling for your kids, helped your parenting journey?