Lessons I am learning from: God’s grace, healing and restoration.

I write this letter to my 21 year old self as a reminder of all that God has done in my life. My life looked a mess two years ago, I was absolutely broken inside. Slowly and beautifully God removed the broken parts and restored all that I needed to be. I struggled with trusting but God never stopped moving. I thank God for all I am today, for making me in his image and restoring all that was broken. I thank God for restoring my worth and for walking through life with me.

Proverbs 16v9 ‘The heart of man plans his way but the Lord establishes his steps.’

To 21 year old Tori,

You have finished university and your internship has fallen to pieces. You mind is still trying to catch up with the past three years. I know you are continuously questioning yourself and doubting that you have made the right decisions in life. These next two years will feel really useless to you. However, they are the making of you. You will have massive slumps, will make bad decisions and generally struggle. Looking back on these two years, you will see how much of it was about stripping off the old to be made new. Through it all, Jesus is holding you and walking with you. You will find that it is in your faith, that you will be transformed and renewed. That those relationships that look broken, will be restored. Your body changes but you learn to put your value in something greater than your weight. You learn to thrive, to stand up for yourself, to love deeper and to let go of hurt.

Don’t disregard the next two years, they may look dull in perspective to the lives around you. Reagradless, every step forward is progress. Unfortunately, you will allow your emotions to guide you. They will tear you apart because they are not truth. Your spirit will feel crushed, due to what you dreamed of crashing down in less than a month. I can assure you, if you had gone into any sort of ministry your heart nor your mind would have been ready. Be thankful, that in the next two years you will devour God’s word. You will read many books on how to live out God’s word and how to serve. You will have many opportunities to learn and grow in ministry. At the moment, you are not ready . You have a lot of healing to go through. Even at 23, you still have a lot to learn but you are in a far better place than you are right now. Lean in and trust God, his way is not easy but it is far better than trying to do it on your own. Do not be discouraged, even when you mess up do not believe God has turned his back on you. Turn your face back to him and recieve the grace that he gives. It is overflowing. Jesus’ blood covers you, none of your mistakes are beyond God’s redemption. Don’t let the past hold you and destroy all that is good in front of you.

As you heal and grow, your life will be used to minister to those around you. In greater ways than you could ever know. Even in retail work, by being yourself, you love and serve people well. Never feel like an opportunity is wasted, place it into God’s hands and he can turn it round for his good.

You will struggle with doing retail but it will only make you stronger. It is being used as preparation for your next step in life. You learn to serve people with all different manners; you will find that the ‘rude’ customers are some of the nicest people you will ever know. You will be glad to get out of retail but your time there was worthwhile, keep working hard. You will meet amazing people along the way. Choose to see the situation in a better light, it will help you on some of your hardest days.

Coming back home does not mean you have failed. Your parents will love and support you as you get back on your feet. They will help you not to make decisions based on your emotions. You make amazing memories with your youngest sister. Going to some incredible concerts and amusements. You look after each other and laugh too much even on the hardest days. You make stronger relationships with all your siblings. With age comes wisdom and healing. You see friends you have not seen in years, you help and support each other. Even though you do not love your town, you allow yourself to favour coffee shops and food places. A little warning, you spend too much time and money in Waterstones. You grow and you thrive. Your church family care and support you through these years. They speak truth over you to allow you to grow in areas of ministry. God uses these wonderful people to speak truth over your life.

Throughout the two years you will apply for various other jobs, none of them will be successful. I would admit starting an email to a candle shop stating ‘I love candles’ is neither professional or smart. (Thankfully your sister read through that email.) Honestly, you will be just about to give up when God opens the next door for you. Restoring your dream of going into ministry work, to care for and love people. God’s timing is perfect. You are thankful none of those other job opportunities were successful, for you would not be able to do what you are doing now. Even though this move is to a new country, you know that the Good Shepherd is guiding you all the way through.

From your 23 year old self, I cannot assure you anymore by saying. ‘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.’ (Proverbs 3v5-6).

I pray that this reflection over my life will reassure, encourage and help you. There will be many people who want to guide us; I found my life when I trusted God with it.

You are loved and cherished. Have a blessed week. God bless, Victoria.

Lessons I’m learning from: not losing sight of what is important!

‘Do not lose sight of what is important’ is a reminder that I have propped on my bookshelf, which came from a quiet time this weekend where I had been blinded with fear. The past weekend I spent in a fearful state because I believed a situation had happened that would have severe consequences. It did not matter that people had told me not to worry about it. Even when I spent time in prayer and I was being given incredible peace over the situation, I chose to remain in a fearful state. I wanted to believe that I had done wrong and that I was going to have to face repercussions for it. The truth was, the situation I was fearful about was not even real. I had made it real within my life. This reminder became a warning, that I had spent so much time trying to face a situation in my own strength I had lost sight of where my truth and worth comes from. Even in all my fear, I was being reminded that even if this situation had happened that God would not leave me or forsake me through it. That he still had authority over the situation, I could still trust in him no matter what was going to happen.

In being reminded to not lose sight, I needed to strengthen my faith further. To not allow this trial to overwhelm me; to stand against it with the truth and strength of God. I was talking to someone about the situation, they referred to it as a spiritual attack that was being used to bring anxiety and fear. There is significant purpose on being reminded to put on the armour of God, for even everyday situations can be used to attack us and deter us away from God. I know a fault of mine is that when I become too familiar with scripture then I miss the truth that is being spoken through it. For myself and for you reading this, may we remind ourselves what the armour of God is and its purpose. Ephesians 6v13-17 ‘Therefore put on the FULL armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.’ This is a person who is able to face any trial that comes their way. I love the reminder that there is no armour for our back, because with God we face our enemies straight on with the authority and the strength he gives us. It was how I needed to be suited up but instead I allowed myself to be overwhelmed with the situation. I was fleeing and had my back as an open target for everyone. I was not standing firm, being prepared to face the situation. I was losing sight of my worth and power that God gives me.

A further reminder was that these spiritual attacks come when our lives are moving in a deeper pursuit of God. When we are being asked to step out in a greater step of faith. If you go through the Bible, there are many examples of these spiritual attacks that come from various places or people. They are being used so that we question our faith and who we are. We need to stand boldly and to fight courageously against what is trying to destroy who we are. We don’t have our faith in Jesus because it is something fun to do, we put our entire trust in him and surrender all who we are. That is not an easy way to chose but we pursue it. We know that in each and every step we take, Jesus leads and guides us. Even when it is hard to see where our path is leading, we always have hope and love surrounding us. The things that we face in this world, no matter how hard or upsetting will never be the end of us.

A journal entry that I wrote over the weekend, spoke this this truth over my life. ‘Allow Jesus to be lifted higher than all your circumstances. Jesus is and always will be the good shepherd; who will guide you through all circumstances of your life. You are not rejected and alone. When you stray, call on the name of Jesus and he will bring you right back to him. John 10v14-15 ‘I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me me- just as the Father knows me and I know the Father- and I lay down my life for my sheep.’ Jesus has been through all the trails and temptations we have been through, he understands. No season is too tough when you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.’

I was reminded that we are not complete yet, therefore, we are not perfect. To stop demanding that for ourselves and from others. That each day we need to allow God to mould us, to remove and to prune what is necessary. Within our own life’s we  have received unconditional grace and love and each day we can bless other people with that. We are all a purposeful part of God’s creation, may we never allow the enemy to tell us anything that would dim that truth. That we need to allow God’s truth to speak louder than any lie of the enemy. To always remember, that God loves and cherishes us beyond our comprehension. That no matter what we face in life, it cannot separate us from his love. Isaiah 49v16 ‘See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.’

May we not lose sight, of how powerful and loving our God is. We never face anything he has not prepared us enough to face, we can trust him in that. Life is not always easy but with the full armour of God and with his power, we can face each trail straight on.

May you all have a blessed week. May we support one another, we will all struggle but may we be people who speak purpose and hope over each situation. Remember you are loved and cherished. Love Victoria. xx

Embracing Life: Failure does not have to be disappointing.

Today I failed my driving test, for the first time. I made the error early on in my driving test; truthfully, I was too slow pulling out on a roundabout. I knew by the reaction of the test instructor that I had failed. However, I did not allow that failure to impact the rest of the test, I chose to put all I had learned to practise and to do my best. When I had finished my test, though I had failed, I could be proud of all the progress I had made. Though it was disappointing I had failed, I was not disappointed with myself. The instructor commented that there were many positives from my driving. To be able to reflect on where I had started to where I was now, I was thankful for all the experiences. Though I will need to further my experience on the road before my next test, there are many goals I have achieved this year.

An important lesson I have learned is that failure does not mean that I cannot do something. I am a confident driver but there are skills that I need to develop further. This is an important lesson that I need to take into all areas of my life. That when life is hard and I do not get things first time around; I should not have the belief that I cannot do it. I have a defeatist attitude, if I fail then I give up. This year I have been learning that skills, like driving, take time and patience. No one has ever got anywhere without failing, those who are successful have not always been successful. They have had many failed attempts to be where they are now.

Normally I would be really harsh on myself because I have not succeeded but not this time. This year a lesson that I have been learning within my faith is to show myself grace. I believe God has been teaching me this through his word and through the people in my life. I have been learning that my worth does not come from when I succeed or when I fail. That my purpose is in who God says I am and the authority that he has over the situations in my life. I do not have to label myself as dumb or stupid because I did not understand how to do something first time.  The incredible people who have spoke words of encouragement, even when I was struggling has been incredible. I feel blessed with the driving instructor who took me from knowing nothing to being able to understand how to drive and to have achieved confidence in my driving. There were many doubts that ran through my head and twice I was ready to give up. I have learned to have determination to push through what I believe are my limitations and to have grace towards myself while I do it. That when I am anxious and scared, to trust in God’s leading and guidance because with him all things are possible.

While I take time away from driving, to go abroad for my internship. I will continuously engage in reminding myself of the skills and knowledge I need. Therefore, when I get back I am ready to pick up where I left off.

I pray for any of you struggling, who have failed in an area of your life. To not label yourself as a failure. That you would be able to reflect on all the skills and lessons that you learned from that experience; that you would pick yourself up and walk forwards into new experiences. May we be people who will encourage one another. I know from all the kindness and advice that I have been blessed with this year, that I want to be able to pay it forward so that someone else can be blessed. That is an encouraging way for us to be. We will meet people in our life time who will trample us down and make us feel weak and insecure. May we not pay that forward to people. Life is hard enough without having to belittle someone else. Remember, failure is not the end. For some of us it will mean developing our skills further. For others, it may mean pursuing something different. While disappointment can be found in failure, it does not have to be disappointing.

Philippians 4v13 ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Keep moving forward,

Love Victoria. xx