Tuesday, 14 March 2017

This week is brought to you by the letter I

I wanted to share one of my favourite songs. 


From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea

Creation revealing Your majesty

From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring

Every creature unique in the song that it sings

All exclaiming

Indescribable, uncontainable,

You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.

You are amazing God

All powerful, untameable,

Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim

You are amazing God

Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go

Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow

Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light

Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night

None can fathom

Indescribable, uncontainable,

You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name

You are amazing God

All powerful, untameable,

Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim

You are amazing God

You are amazing God

Indescribable, uncontainable,

You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.

You are amazing God

All powerful, untameable,

Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim

You are amazing God

Indescribable, uncontainable,

You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.

You are amazing God

Incomparable, unchangeable

You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same

You are amazing God

You are amazing God

(Songwriter - Laura Story) 


The line that gets me every time is "You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same" - God can look into the darkest depths of me and yet still loves me and still sent Jesus for me... I do cry every time I think of Him examining my heart and seeing all the crap and sin that's built up in there, yet He loves me the same. Truly an amazing God. 

Keep shining xx 

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Eat Pray Love

This week was Pancake week as we made pancakes in school for Pancake Tuesday, had a whole load of beautiful pancakes at Mum & Dad's that evening and even had the P7s make them in cookery club on Friday! I do love pancakes and they are especially nice when they are as soft as the ones I had this week!!! So to Karen and Dad I say a big massive thank you... you made my week!! 

This week has been a great week. I have been enjoying a new app I got which has really helped me to get my quiet times with God back on track. I enjoy studying God's Word - but I also wanted something that I can quickly start my day with - something to ensure my first thoughts go to Him. So I downloaded the iBelieve app which has a devotional, a verse for the day and other articles I can read. It then means I can carve out a proper time later to continue with my main study right now. I'm working through week one of Lysa TerKeurst's "Finding I Am" and it's amazing!! I would highly recommend it - especially if you watch the accompanying videos! It's brought the Bible to life again for me and made so much more sense of things I thought I knew. 

What else did I love this week?? Well - Thursday was World Book Day - and you all know how much I love reading!! We were dressing up in school so I got a lovely Where's Wally outfit - Wanda actually - and wore my stripey tights with pride!!! It was a really fun day - even though we celebrated on Friday as the school was closed on Thursday! All our wee P1s dressed up in costumes ranging from Disney Princessess to Red Riding Hood, and from Superheros to Harry Potter. Here's a wee photo of my lovely stripes!!! 

And that was my week! I'm so excited to be blogging again and even though I may not be as 'deep' as I have been in the past I hope you enjoy them as I get going again! A good mix never hurt anyone and variety certainly is the spice of life!!! 

Keep shining xx 

Thursday, 2 March 2017

H is for...

When it came to picking a word for this letter so many flooded my mind that I struggled to pick one. Then one jumped out and I realised it had to be this. 

H is for HEALTH. 

This is a subject very close to my heart as I am not very healthy, even though I know exactly what to I need to do - I've just been too lazy and gluttonous to do it. 

So let me share my story and where I am right now. 

Over the past lot of years - perhaps as many as 10 - I have had a battle with food. I have struggled with a binge eating disorder, emotional overeating and gluttony. I am currently about 5 stone (80 lbs) overweight and my BMI is atrocious. 

I've read lots of books and tried lots of plans - from Slimming World (which I just don't get), Weight Watchers (where I ended up maintaining for about 12 weeks), The Daniel Plan, fitness times and personal trainers. But in all of those times my head wasn't in the right place and so, with the best will in the world, I failed. 

I recently read an article entitled 'Are you exercising like unbelievers?' Which really spoke to me about what I'm actually trying to do. All along I've known all the right things - like my body being a temple - yet it didn't impact my heart. I've known that my weight loss / health kick needed to glorify God, but I thought that if I added a few verses here and there it would've 'Christian enough'. 

Nope! It doesn't work like that! 

So what now? What am I planning on trying to do next? 

Well... I'm planning on actually praying, spending more time with God and studying His Word, and taking the time to actually figure out how He wants me to lose weight. I have never actually asked Him what I should do before rushing to try the latest diet, so I think it's about time I started. 

I want to be fit and healthy enough to enjoy life with my family, serve God on the way He has for me to serve, and glorify Him in all I do and say. He's the only one who can help me - I'm just embarrassed that it's taken me so long to figure this out. 

I'll be sharing my journey as we go - mainly to keep me accountable and to share any success I have - to glorify Him and not me. 
Hopefully this really will be a great way to shine for the King! 
Keep shining xx 

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Strength for the weary...

The LORD gives his people strength. 
The LORD blesses them with peace.”
Psalms 29:11 NLT

This last week has been exhausting. 

In fact, the last two weeks have been exhausting. 

Ok - so realistically - my whole year has been exhausting!!! 

But the last two weeks more so. And I'm not only talking about physical exhaustion, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually exhausting too. 

Let me explain. Last week, my husband was away on a trip to Ukraine when my Nanna got really sick. She was 91 and has had a fantastic life (more about that later) but she took a turn for the worst and went downhill really quickly. She lives about 2 hours from us, so Mum and I headed down to see her and effectively say goodbye, half way through the week. It was devastating to see her get so frail and weak and although I wouldn't have missed it for the world, it broke my heart. I got to read to her (Psalm 46) and talk to her and tell her how much I loved her, while holding back big gulping tears - you know the really ugly sobbing ones. After saying goodbye we cried our way home.

There is something very surreal about saying goodbye to someone knowing that you'll probably never see them again. It's not pleasant. In fact it hurts like hell. 

On Sunday morning she passed away in her sleep - the way she wanted to go - peaceful and not in any pain. 

Our goodbye on Wednesday really had been goodbye. I'd never get to talk to her again, never get to call down, play cards or scrabble, or take her out for another lunch date again.

I'd never get to hear her voice telling me she loved me again. Or hear her delight when we walked through the door for a visit. 

On Tuesday we all congregated at Nanna's church to pay our respects, mourn her and show our love. It was one of the nicest funeral services I've ever been to (again more later in the week) but it was still one of the saddest. 

And then for the rest of the week I've been trying to get back to 'normal' - whatever that is. 

So I'm not only exhausted physically - from the inevitable running around and car journeys - I'm also mentally, emotionally and spiritually wrecked. Mentally I tend to overthink everything - from whether I should have gone back down and taken time off work before she died, to whether I should have been there with our family more after the fact, instead of just on Tuesday. Emotionally I have just lost my last and most loved grandparent - and I know I am blessed to have had her for so long, but in reality that just makes it so much harder. 

But it's spiritually that I am totally done in.  You see I did what I have done so many times before - I tried to go through the last two weeks on my own - in my own strength. And guess what - it didn't work. 

At a time when I was rejoicing in Nanna's faith, I let my own falter. I relied only on me and not on the One who made me. But God is so much better than me. 

Even when I fail, He still holds me close and gives me His strength and His peace.
Can I hear a great big AMEN?! 

I have many reasons to rejoice this week, and God is helping me to spot them and see the beauty in a fortnight that was hard. He really does give us His strength and He really does bless us with His peace. And there's no other I'd rather rely on.

I'm hoping to share more about Nanna later in the week :) 
Thanks for reading. 
Keep shining xx 

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

G is for...

Yeah we're talking about gratitude today!! So... why gratitude and why today? Well we've reached the 'G' in our alphabet (surprise surprise!!) but it's the perfect time because I've got the perfect challenge for you all. 

Having a heart of gratitude really does change everything. There is a reason why so many people do "Gratitude Challenges" - like my #100daysofgratitude Instagram challenge - or why Ann Voscamp's "1000 blessings" is so popular - we have finally figured out that when we are grateful and thankful life gets a little brighter, a little more rewarding and a little nicer! Being thankful takes the mundane and turns into something to rejoice in. Like this picture I found - I'm afraid I don't know who write it but it's so very true... 

This week marks the return to school for most of us. All my boys start back this week, while we as a staff started back last week to prepare for the new school term. Teachers are an amazing group of people and as a parent I've adopted a simple task each September to share my thoughts with them. 

In Northern Ireland were not really into 'teacher questionnaires' or things like that, but I wanted to let the teachers know that I'm there to help if they need me. And so I started writing little letters to them. 

Now there's nothing exciting about my letters - I'm sure lots of people write letters to the teachers, especially if your child has a few issues that you want them to be aware of, or if there's certain family situations going on, but my notes are different. 

I want the teachers my boys have this year to know that I am there to help if they need things for their classrooms or if they need buns etc, and I want them to know that I'm on their team as they teach and spend 30 hours a week with my child. I want them to know that I trust them, and that I'll back them up if they think my child needs disciplined for something, and that I'll always ask for their side of a situation before I overreact! I want them to know that I care and that I commit to doing my bit of this process at home as well as I can.

But most of all I want them to know that I'm praying for them, that I've been praying for them all summer and that I will continue to pray for them all year. I want to let them know that I'm ever so thankful for everything they do, for the effort they put into their lessons and for choosing to do something that I couldn't do. I want them to feel appreciated, loved and prayed for. 

So I write them a note! 

As a classroom assistant I get a first hand look at everything that goes on in school to make it happen for our children, so my challenge to all of you is to take a moment this year and reach out with a heart of gratitude to any teachers in your life. They truly appreciate it. And they'll treasure your thoughts. I'd much rather be remembered as 'that weird wee woman who wrote us notes' than someone who either isn't interested or who only chats to the teacher to complain! 

So get out your notecards and put down a few cheerful and prayful thoughts down for your child's teachers. It makes a big difference in your year. 

I'd love to see your notes so please share!!! 
Keep shining xx 

Monday, 29 August 2016

Once I was seven years old...

You may or may not have heard the Lukas Graham hit with today's title's name, but my boys love it so I've listened to it A LOT!!! And as I did I thought about my life and all the weird and wonderful things that have happened to me at certain ages... so I thought I'd write you a wee post about it! 

So let's see where he starts... 

Once I was seven years old my momma told me

Go make yourself some friends or you'll be lonely
Once I was seven years old

How true this is for me! When I reached the lovely age of 7, my mum, dad and two sisters moved from the lovely town of Enniskillen to Newtownards to my Dad's family farm. I remember a summer of trips up to do wee jobs about the house, where Dad would pick me out of bed, complete with my cover, and put me into the back of his car. Half-way to Newtownards (which took about 2 hours in total), I'd wake up, have a sandwich or cereal bar breakfast (on the back seat beside me) and then chat to him the rest of the way up. What fun days!!! 
Well, when September came, and we'd moved up properly to Ards, at 7 years old, I started in a brand new school, with brand new classmates and a whole new set of teachers. And guess what my mum probably told me? To go get some friends!!! And I did! I had a couple of wonderful friends in primary school and am still in contact with them, although not as often as I'd like. 
Once I was eleven years old my daddy told me

Go get yourself a wife or you'll be lonely
Once I was eleven years old

And then we come to 11... At the age of 10/11 in Northern Ireland we do an exam that helps determine which school you go to for secondary education. When I did it it was called the 11+. (And now it's known as the AQE.) You do a series of tests, and then get a score. Everyone who has done the tests then gets a grade. If you got an A you passed, if you got an M you were borderline, and if you got an F you had failed it. Yep - it was that plain. 
I got an A and got accepted into our local grammar school - Regent House. And what did I do when I got to Regent? Why I found myself a husband of course!!! Seriously though, my husband and I didn't start dating til we were at university, BUT we were in the same year at the same school and were in several of the same classes!!!! 

Once I was twenty years old, my story got told

Before the morning sun, when life was lonely
Once I was twenty years old

And then comes 20... At 20 I was fearless, had 'left' home and thought I knew everything. In reality, I had packed my stuff and moved to the house I lived at in Belfast - where I was at uni - a house my mum and dad owned and paid all my bills for! And yet I thought that was it - I knew better and didn't want to be at home with them anymore!! Yeah.... Well.... 
During my years at university I had a lot of great friends round me. I started a chemistry course with my best friend, only to realise I loved the maths questions more than the chemistry, so changed to a maths degree. Here I met another set of fabulous girls who really helped me through the purse, despite being two years younger than me!! I may not be in touch regularly with all of these girls - although I think I'm Facebook friends with them all!! - but every one of them helped me in ways they can't even think about. I was not a nice person during university - I was selfish, lazy, focuses on the wrong things and totally preoccupied, yet these girls were willing to help me even despite all my many many faults. Thank you girls. 

Soon we'll be thirty years old, our songs have been sold

We've traveled around the world and we're still roaming
Soon we'll be thirty years old

And then we hit 30... I got married when I was 24, had one son at 25, another at 28 and was pregnant with my third at 30. So what do I remember about turning 30? 
Seriously??  Yep - not a thing. 
Let me explain why. You may or may not remember me mentioning my battle with post-natal depression or the dark times I had while pregnant with number 2 and number 4 sons. Well - when I got pregnant with son number three I got everyone to pray for me - and I mean everyone. If I met you in the street I probably told you and asked you to pray! And the whole time of my pregnancy I had no symptoms, no signs of PND and no reason to take any medication whatsoever. Fantastic, right? 
Yes and no. Yes - because obviously at the time I had a wonderful pregnancy and was able to enjoy it and my other two toddlers. No because apart from major things (like a trip to Disneyland Paris in the July), I remember nothing about that year. Not a thing. The only thing I remember about being actually pregnant that time was walking round Disney in the heat at a huge size, and the morning I went in to have him. I was lying in bed, ready to go up for my section, when a news report came on about Richard Hammond having his big accident (he was a car show presenter). It was shocking and I just remember watching it before I went up. And that's it.
I don't know why I can't remember such a big part of that year, but I'm sure there's a reason. All I know is while I can't remember it, I have a wonderful son to show for it and for that I'm truly thankful! And as my mum reminded me tonight, when we can't remember how we got through certain periods that's when God carried us..... just like in the poem about the footprints in the sand. (Thanks Mum!)

Soon I'll be sixty years old, my daddy got sixty-one

Remember life and then your life becomes a better one
I made a man so happy when I wrote a letter once
I hope my children come and visit, once or twice a month

Thankfully I'm not quite at the age to be able to sing this last verse, but I'm sure hoping I get to see it! My mum and dad are both alive at well at 64 and 67, and while I've just turned 40, I'm at a really reflective stage of life - call it a mid-life crisis if you want! I'm really thinking a lot about my life in the hope that I can start to pass things over to God and deal with them, to make my life a better one. I know I have issues - some small and some huge, but I also know that I have a Father God who knows every single one. And is there to help me deal with them as I need to. 
So there we go - my life in a song! Have you actually tried thinking back at different times in your life and looking at where you were? It's definitely a wonderful experience. 
Keep shining xx 

(Disclaimer: memories may appear different to different people, but since this is from my head, I'm happy with them!) 

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Bracelet love

I'm back - well for a bit at least!!! 

And to start off I thought I'd post something very light hearted and something I love... my Nomination bracelet! 

I was given my bracelet (and several of my charms) by a lovely bunch of girls that I do life with, for my 40th birthday this year. 

My girls are a crazy bunch of individuals who I go to church with, meet for coffee with, go to conferences with, read books with, and more importantly than anything, pray with and for each and every day. They have kept me sane in the midst of madness and I am so very thankful for every single one of them. They are my posse and we truly do life together. 

And yes - I turned 40 - it's a big one but I'm embracing it with the passion of a man and his mid-life crisis!! 

(*Minus the sports car or motorbike!! I'm sticking more to getting more massages and having fun with friends and family!)

But back to the bracelet - every charm I have is significant and I thought I'd share some of my lovely charms. 

See - told you it would be a nice light post!!! 

First come my fortieth charms - when I got my bracelet it came with some beautiful charms, all lovingly picked out by my girls. 

Because they are my wonderful FRIENDS!! 👍🏻

For my 40th birthday - a lovely cake!!! 🎂

Because my name is Tanya... 

Because I LOVE SHOES!!! 👠

And lastly a cross because our friendship is all the stronger for being based on our faith in God. 📖✝🙏🏻

And since then I got a couple more extremely special charms. I decided not to go daft and buy loads - I just wanted to get ones that were special to me, and that's exactly what I have. 

My husband and I took a lovely break in Italy to celebrate both of us turning 40 so this special charm reminds me of him  ❤️

I'm extremely proud to be Irish, especially when you see how amazingly both sets of football fans have been during the Euros!! So I got a little Irish clover!! 🍀

And then I got this one bought for me by another wonderful friend - 

You may have noticed that I talk a lot about butterflies - they just show God's amazing plans in action and I love that!! So a big thank you for this reminded of God's plan for my life!! 

And that's it for now. We did arrange that we'd all get a charm to remember the great conference we go to each February, but I haven't got mine yet!!! I'll show you it all when I eventually get it!! 

Thanks for staying with me - it's long winded but a fun piece to get me writing again. There's been so much going on that I want to share but I've struggled to write it all down! So this is definitely a start!! 

Speak again soon. 
Keep shining xx