Lessons I’m learning from: the women in my family. ( Dedicated to my Mum and in memory of my Granny.)

I wanted to dedicate this blog to two women. Firstly, my Mum, her care and love knows no bounds. Secondly my Granny, who passed away in the summer of 2017; who has left an impact on my life that shapes me today. These are two important women in my life who have taught me many valuable lessons and have helped navigate me through many seasons of my life.

My Mum is a very wise woman, I am not just saying that, she has taught me so much and continues to teach me. My Mum is a Godly woman, any issue that I talk over with her she will always end in prayer. To place the issue in the hands of God, reminds us both that when life seems out of control. God is working in it in one way or another. That nothing is ever out of God’s control.

Proverbs 31v26 ‘When she speaks her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.’ My Mum is strong because she continues to care and support her four children as we all find our own paths in adulthood. She supports my Dad in many areas of the church. She also works long hours enabling people to accomplish their goals so that they can reach their full potential. It is a powerful gift Mum has as she has the determination and strength to see everyone reaching their full potential.

A powerful lesson she has taught our family is the truth of remaining faithful and trusting God even in the darkest moments of our lives. My Mum is a cancer survivor, it certainly came with its difficulties. A surgery that led to complications had my Mum in the hospital, with the possible outcome of her losing her life. Even when the medical staff were giving up hope, my Mum did not give up trusting in God and in the many miraculous ways that he works. I was taught a valuable lesson through her experience to hold close and to keep fighting, trusting God and surrendering all to him.

Having love and hope spoken over me from a young age, has taught me the importance of love and how a Godly love is different to that of a worldly love.  There are things that I have done in my life that have not honoured my Mum nor made her proud. While my Mum has never been afraid to tell me the errors of my way, she has always been quick to forgive. She is great at understanding, where we will differ on things, she will not judge me or love me any less. Lastly, my Mum is proud of her children, she will celebrate with us in our small successes and our big ones. She will be interested in our passions and will also have a hand to help us where she can. I love my Mum a lot and watching her with our family and other people has taught me a lot. I hope I will grow up to be as wise, caring, faithful and loving as she is.

My Granny was an incredible woman, who taught me love and the importance of laughter. She was a woman who loved her family with all her heart. She was a generous woman, who often put other people before herself. I knew my Granny for 21 years but I have been blessed to hear many wonderful stories about her. She did not always have it easy in life but she lived life well.

I did not have an old-fashioned Granny, she very cool and beautiful. She would fly over to England, she was from Northern Ireland and I can proudly say all of us were born there too. When Granny came it was something, we got excited about and would count down the days too. We would all go to the airport to meet her from when we were small into early adulthood, she was a woman you wanted to be around. She would play games with us and would take us out walking, that would always end with ice-cream or cake. Shopping was another favourite, time was spent in laughter and finding beauty even in the small things.

My Granny loved to dance and enjoyed company, she was well respected and loved because that was how she treated others. As we got older she would remind us, that we all come into this world the same and we all leave the world the same. We do not take any riches with us, it was a reminder to not pursue money and possessions as our life goal. To live life well with respect for other people and thankfulness for what we had.

Granny always looked presentable. We all remember in our house the night she sprayed so much hairspray that it seeped under our bedroom doors, we could literally taste it. She always put on lippy before she left the house, it is something that I have implemented into my life as a memory of her.

We were all taught through her, the importance of family and caring for one another through the good and the bad. Spending quality time together, the simplicity of having a laugh and sharing memories over a drink.

I pray that I will learn to love people better and to care for people more just like my Granny did. To be grateful for what I have in life, no matter how small it may be and to live life well. I miss my Granny a lot, but the impact of her life lives on in all her family members.

May you all have blessed week. You are loved and cherished, may you find time to thank and appreciate the women in your life who have helped you along the way. Love Victoria. xx

Lessons I’m learning from: 22 years. A letter to my younger self.

 

I turn 23 this weekend and I wanted to do a blog post on some of achievements and lessons I have learned over the years. I was always intrigued with the concept of writing a letter to your younger self. While the past cannot be changed, it interested me to reflect on how I have grown and how life has changed for me. I chose to write to my 15 year old self, who was struggling through school and also in trying to find her place in the world. These are the words of advice and faith I would speak to her.

You are struggling a lot with school, self-worth and how you see the world. I know that you have decided to pursue your faith now, it is not going to be easy but I will promise you that you will not regret having your faith; growing in your knowledge and love of Jesus. Your faith will give you’re your identity more than anything else you will try to pursue in the next few years. You will find your self-worth in your faith and will help others to find theirs too. Faith will get you through some of your darkest times and the love of Jesus will hold you through your greatest losses. The Bible verse that will hang above your bed when you reach this age will be Ecclesiastes 3v11 ‘He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from beginning to end.’ God holds every aspect of your life, you will learn to trust that more and more. To God you are so dear and loved so keep the faith.

Your acne is controlling your emotions, I want to say it gets better with time. At 22 I still have flare ups of acne but it no longer holds the power that it use too. You are going to try some weird and wonderful lotions and potions on your face. I am not going to lie, some of them will leave scars. You will learn that letting it heal on its own is beneficial and that the less products used the better. There will be many amazing people throughout the years that will love you and will enable you to see beyond the acne. You will learn that you will be able to smile at yourself in the mirror and laugh. Your self-worth was never meant to be in the spots in your face but rather the beauty in your heart.

Also, stop worrying about your weight. Get out of this mindset as quickly as possible. Truthfully, you spend so many years worrying about food and fitting into small clothing. There is so much more to life. At 22 you are a size 12 and you look wonderful in clothing, ( don’t worry you still wear a load of black). Yes, sometimes you still worry about your weight because of that horrible mindset you were in for so long. You do have wonderful people who speak life and truth into you and give you a kick up an arse when you speak rubbish.

Fantastic news, you are smarter and more capable than you think. You will achieve your GCSE’s, A-Levels and a Bachelors Honours degree. The tears and the hard work is truly worth it. Throughout these years, make sure that you cherish all the good times that go along with it. Make sure you laugh and find joy in each day. Always remember to try new things, it is best to do it afraid than not at all.

Make sure you allow good people into your life. There will be a couple of years where you will believe that you are undeserving of love. You will befriend people who will treat you they way you believe you should be and you will push away the people who love you most. Thank you Jesus for his grace because those bonds will be mended. The horrible people will be removed from your life. You will learn that friendship is about quality and not quantity. Your life will be blessed with incredible people, love and cherish them as much as they do you.

An update from where your life is now. You still love reading and have your own Instagram page where you obsess over how good they are. You love writing so much that you have your own blog. Do not fret, your language and punctuation has improved. You are more confident and happy in your skin. You are still single but you are not lonely, you know that you do not need a man on your arm to have worth. You no longer eat meat or dairy so enjoy all that chocolate now. You work in retail but you have aspirations for this year. You are about to turn 23. You are an amazing individual, keep working hard in everything.

 

Love Tori xx

(P.S by the time you leave school, you allow no one to call you Vicky)

Lessons I’m learning from: decluttering.

 

This is not a blog about how Marie Kondo has transformed my life, as wonderful as her ways may be. Rather, it has been something I have been focusing on for the past few weeks. The act of decluttering takes time and patience. However, it makes room to find renewed purpose and hope in life.

One place that needed decluttered the most was my bedroom. I spent a few hours (with the help of my wonderful sister) getting rid of a lot of the junk from my room. I hold onto many things, that I believe are important or that will become useful again. Honestly, it just created mess instead of usefulness. Under my bed was the worst, it had many items that I had dragged back and forth from university and then had held onto as mementos. It was good to get rid of the majority of it because most of it was rubbish. We also organised my room so that it was accessible to pursue the passions I have now. Removing the unnecessary items has allowed me to see how life has moved on. While those things may have once held prominence in my life, they are not allowing me to grow at the moment. My desk is now for writing, I have items on it that inspire and also aid me to write. It is wonderful to have this passion of mine emphasised. It enables my mind to focus, to remember that writing is an art I want to pursue.

Another focus has been on decluttering my mind, I have put an emphasis on having a quiet time each day. To begin to free my mind and to focus on the truths that I want to build my life upon.  I have talked about how I journal and try to read my Bible each day. I have started reading books that help me to pursue my faith but also how to put it into practise in life. Each evening I have been reading a chapter of ‘The Purpose Driven Life’. I am only six chapters into it but my perspective on how I view life and items is already changing. What I love about this book is it starts right at the beginning, even if you are coming to it with no faith or whatever faith you have it meets you there. This book has enabled me to step back and evaluate why I see life the way I do, and how that is controlling how I live. To begin working through that has given my mind some relief and peace. To focus on what I need in life and what is necessary to get rid of.

To be reminded that life is brief has put an emphasis on what I am choosing to pursue. My faith reminds me not to get too attached to anything or anyone. That life on earth is not where life ends, to always have hope and to pursue that which blesses others. I am in awe of this quote from ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’, ‘The Last Battle’. ‘All the life in this world… had only been the cover and the title page, now at last they were beginning chapter one of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read, which goes on forever and in which every chapter is better than the one before.’ (Taken from Rick Warren’s edit on p39 of The Purpose Driven Life). I do believe that there is life after death, that we were all created in purpose and for a purpose, Whether we choose to pursue what we are called to do or live a life selfishly after our own desires. That is our choice.

To believe that I am here by chance and that this is the only life I live, truly leaves me unsettled because there would be no purpose in living. We all put our faith in something, one way or another. Where our faith lies, is the way that we will pursue life.

In giving myself time to begin thinking about what I truly believe and what I was allowing myself to believe, has given me freedom. It does not mean that I will always pursue the right decisions, if I can hold strong onto the foundation on which my faith lies that will enable to face the harder paths of life. Where life may not always fall in my favour, for that is a selfish desire to even believe for ones life, I trust that it will build my character. In growing stronger in my faith, I pray that it will enable me to love and serve people well. To hold dear to that which is important and to let go of the many things that are not allowing me to grow.

The decluttering process is still taking its time, I will let it take its time as it is something that should not be rushed. Reflection is a wonderful practise to do. It enables you to think about why you are doing something and what it is leading you to pursue. The impact that others are having on your life and to focus on the person you want to be. If you have not done it in a while and all you feel is life slipping through your fingers, may you take time to purposefully stop. Even for 15 mins out of your day. Take some time to breathe and process. Then move forward with your renewed sense of direction and hope.

To finish this blog. May we hold dear the many Muslim communities around the world, especially in New Zealand. Where we are called to pray, may we also love and bless people where we can. For God is love and he calls his children to love.

May you have a blessed week. You are loved and cherished; continuously keep learning. Love Victoria. xx

Lessons I’m learning from: practising gratitude.

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Colossians 3v23-34 ‘Work willingly at whatever you do, as you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

This is important for me to write about as the whole of last year I was dissatisfied with my life. I was in such a slump, that I was not motivated within myself to push myself forward. I wanted to be doing so much with my life; I was putting nothing into practise to make that a reality. I was not appreciating the life I already had and especially the people who were in my life.

One lesson that I needed to learn was that life is never plain sailing. It is full of difficulties, loss and confusion. I needed to learn to adapt to the new situations I was in. Instead, I was grasping onto the past, hoping that would become my reality again. I have said it before, and I will say it again, I am incredibly thankful for grace.

I know that the Lord is good because in the last few months I have began making progress with my life. Even when life feels uncertain, I know a peace within my heart to keep moving forward. I was reading a devotional this week, it began with the quote ‘Never place a period where God has placed a comma.’ (Gracie Allen). It is an important quote and truth that we should all know for our lives. We all have plans and dreams for our lives. When they fall through, or they turn into something you never wanted it to be; it is hurtful and a lot of the time it breaks us. In relation to the quote, there is a Proverb that states ‘We make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.’ I have hope in this verse,  that sometimes the plans I make for myself are in the belief that they are the right choice for me. Some of the plans that have fallen through in my life have been a blessing. I know if I had continuously pursued those choices, I would not have the faith or the joy that I have now.

A lesson I also needed to learn was the importance of growth and seasons. My Dad has this saying, ‘Nothing is ever wasted’. The pursuits in my life at the moment and the place where I am at. I t has a purpose. Whether it be for preparation or a pit stop to refuel. Allowing the journey to be part of my life, not just the destination.

A further lesson is that of gratitude. To be thankful for the life that I do have and for the people in my life and to bless those around me. I am in a job, where there are always people from all walks of life. I do not know how long I will be in my job so I am making plans to move on. I do not want to waste the opportunities that are available there. Making the most of making people feel known and listened to. Spending most of my time serving customers, if I can use that time to bless them in one way or another then that is nice. I find when my job is repetitive and draining, to focus on something positive brings more joy to the day. I am grateful that no matter how rough a day is, I come home to a warm house where there are people who love me, who will listen to me and also support me. I am trying to focus more on being present, to not be wrapped up in my phone or in music but to listen and to interact. I have an education, amazing friends, a beautiful faith and I am passionate about reading and writing.

Truthfully, I could not be more grateful for the life that I have. It is time for me to keep moving forward and to press on to be more adventurous with life. To know that no matter how messy life gets, to hold onto those lessons I have learned in this season. To see light and hope when everything seems dark. To keep working hard, when I feel demotivated and want to give up. To hold dear to those I love and those who love me. Life does not last forever, I do not want to regret not cherishing what I have.

 

May you have a blessed week. You are loved and cherished, may you always keep on learning. Love Victoria. xx

Lessons I’m learning from: the impact of journaling.

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I started journaling in my first year of university, to record memories and to keep an emotional check on my life. It was a place where I noted down prayers and bible passages that I was learning or leaning on at that time in my life. As I have gone through the years it is a practise I continue to do. This year especially I have been trying to journal every day. It has no structure at all, it is simply me and a piece of paper at the end of the day. From the first two months of this year, I am learning lessons from daily journaling and also lessons that I continue to implement from what I have learned over the years.

One lesson, and it is an important lesson, that no day is ever as bad as it seemed. I always journal an hour or two before I go to bed, it helps to settle my mind. Especially when the day has not been great. To be able to write down the lessons I have learned from that day, the areas of life that I need to continue to grow on has been vital. To reflect that, my life is not over because everything I did that day went badly. I attempt to focus on the positive aspects from that day, to focus primarily on the negative does nothing for growth or my mindset. Even when my mind is frustrated and tired, to be able to note down a Bible verse or a quote that has gave me encouragement, that is a blessing.  I do write down aspects I am struggling with but always with the hope that I will get past it.  To remind myself to breathe and to let go is important.

That in time everything falls into place/ begins to come together. Ecclesiastes 3v11 ‘ Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the scope of God’s work from beginning to end.’ Flicking through my old journals I see the aspects of life that use to impact me. The events in my life that used to overwhelm me or worry me. These are events that have all passed or I have become so used to doing, that there is no fear that controls it. A lot of my journals are based in my university years, which were highly fuelled by stress and worry. It is nice to reflect and sometimes laugh at what used to hold my mind captive. For sure I am thankful for grace, because I had/ still have so much learning to do.

Time brings healing. To let yourself have that time to heal over hurts that have happened is vital. Journal entries can be messy, it is through that mess that beauty and healing comes.

Journaling has taught me to be faithful and thankful, to the faithfulness of God and his promises. To note down promises that have spoken into my heart and seen them bloom into these beautiful truths, has been a blessing. There was a journal I kept just as I was finishing up my final year of university, I was reading through the book of Isaiah which is not the easiest thing to understand so I was primarily using it to take notes. Each morning and evening I would note down the issues and concerns I wanted to pray about. Whether they be for myself, family/friends or the world. It was in that summer that I was growing so much in my faith, that my granny died. My granny was someone I loved very much, she was really funny and loved her family deeply. My granny was an incredible woman and my heart broke at how suddenly she passed away. I truly felt God with me, having remained in his presence as I cried and mourned, helped to bring healing and peace into a situation that was out of the blue and out of our control. I will always be thankful that God had been holding me in that season even before that happened. There is a verse in Isaiah that states ‘He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears’, Isaiah 25v8. This is a promise that is repeated in Revelation, it is a promise that I hold onto. That on earth where there has been pain and grief, that God holds that close to his heart and in his salvation, there will only ever be peace and joy. I have seen God’s faithfulness in many areas of my life, being able to record those beautiful testimonies helps to ground me and reminds me where my worth comes from.

Lamentations 3 v22-23 ‘The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

Journaling remains a part of my life because it reminds me, that no matter how hard I may find life or how slow that I think it may be going. I am still living, and I am still moving. When I write about the memories I have had with friends and family, it reminds me I am loved and cared for. Journaling reminds me to have a thankful heart, full of gratitude. For the life that I do have, for the family and friends and for the God that guides me. Journaling may not be everyone’s way to express themselves, it is my favourite activity to do.

I encourage you reading this, that your life is important. Never see it as unimportant. We all have our own print to be left on the world. Use your life to bless others and to showcase the gifts and talents you have. You do not have to be famous to make an impact. May you know that you are loved and known for who you are. That God calls you His and delights in you.

You are so loved and cherished. May you keep learning. Love Victoria. xx