What to do when you’re tempted to do that thing where you disappear …

Please, tell me it’s not just me?!? Pretty please?

You know that thing where stuff happens and you don’t know what all the pieces look like and so you just run away and hide while you figure stuff out?

And then, by the time you get it figured out it’s two weeks (or two years!) later and you still have all these loose ends and not all the pieces are in place yet so you feel stuck?

Or maybe that’s just me?

We do it in business. We do it in life. It’s like we think we need to know all the answers before we can take decisive action.

But you know what? That’s total rubbish!

I’m yet to find one example of a successful person (however you choose to define success) who got where they did by waiting until they had all the pieces in place.

And I can’t find any examples in the bible either for that matter. Joseph got chucked in a hole and left for dead by his brothers before being sold into slavery. Not exactly an auspicious start.

Paul (or Saul as he was known at the time) was chief ringleader in a campaign to round up and kill Christians.

And one of my absolute favourites, David, God called him a man after his own heart even though he slept with another man’s wife and then got the poor guy bumped off because she was pregnant!

God doesn’t need you to have all the pieces in place and know all the answers and your business doesn’t either.

So here’s what I’d love to propose as an antidote to the temptation to run and hide …

Choose one thing, any one thing, it doesn’t really matter what thing you pick, that will help you move forward in whatever area of your life you’re currently tempted to run away from.

Take that thing (be sure to pick something small and easy to do) and do it. Right now if you can.

If you’re hiding from God because you’re don’t know where you’re at with him right now, your one thing might just be saying hello.

If you’re hiding from the wonderful people who raised their hands and said “Yes please, we’d love to hear from you each day!” because you haven’t emailed them in nearly two weeks, your one thing might be to write to them.

If you’re hiding from having that conversation with your spouse because you just know it’s not going to be fun, your one thing might be to speak up and ask for the conversation.

Whatever ‘it’ looks like for you, deep down you know that disappearing isn’t really the answer.

So go on, choose one thing, be brave and just do it anyway. It might not be pretty but you’ll be glad you did. And who knows where that one thing might take you.

Until tomorrow,

Keep smiling (because even the fake ones do clever stuff to your brain chemistry and before you know it, you’ll be cracking out the real thing.)

loveel

I want to love Jesus but honestly, it’s a bit of a struggle …

I don’t think this battle between what we want to do and what we do do is a new thing.

Paul struggled with it and I mean, he was Paul. So if he got himself in a pickle from time to time, it’s really too much to expect that we won’t! Not that I’m putting him on a pedestal or anything, that’s a wobbly place for anyone.

But if you had to list out holy people who did cool stuff for God, I’m pretty sure Paul would make most Christian’s lists.

So what do you do when God feels far away?

Or how about when you really, really want to love Jesus but it all just falls a bit flat?

Well, I have another question for you …

What do you do when your partner feels far away? Or if you don’t have a significant other, how about your mum or dad? If they’re feeling a bit distant, what do you do?

And what about those times when, you still really love them, but it’s all just feeling a bit meh?

Do we give up? Decide that we can’t have really loved them after all, otherwise we wouldn’t be feeling like this?

Or do we try something else?

Quite the little question master today aren’t I? (Although yes, that one’s a rhetorical one!)

Seriously though, God’s your dad. Jesus is described as a dear friend or like a brother. I don’t know what your relationship is like with your dad or your brother and if it’s not perfect, me saying that might make you wince.

But imagine what you’d like a relationship with a dad and brother to look like. Picture it in it’s dream-dream scenario.

That’s you, God and Jesus, hanging out, doing your thing.

So what if, when he’s feeling far away and you want to love him but are struggling, you just show up. Tell him how you’re feeling? Be real about it?

What would that look like?

loveel

P.S. I’m on a mission to build a community of women like you who are ready to reclaim what it means to be Christian. It’s called The Itchy Soul (http://theitchysoul.com) and I’d love it if you joined us.

What Jesus might say if he were using voice recognition software …

So I’m doing a little bit of an experiment today. For the first time ever, I’m writing this using just my voice. Fun eh?

I think it started as a method of procrastination.

Because to be fair, it took me nearly 2 hours to get this all set up and working. It’s an app on the Mac and it had terrible reviews. I mean seriously, one star. I thought I was very brave to even give it a try!

So, having finally got it working, I then set about teaching it what my voice sounds like. No mean feat given that by the time I got to play with it my voice was very tired and croaky!

But overall I was quite impressed.

Given that I’m speaking to a computer, there are a few words which are a little bit tricky. It doesn’t understand ‘to’ or ‘two’ or ‘2’. (I had to manually go back and change that sentence!)

And then this thought popped in my head.

Do you know how it talks in the Bible about Jesus interceding on our behalf? And the Holy Spirit understanding the groans of our soul?

Maybe it’s a little bit like that?

There’s the very human us, with all these thoughts and feelings, stuff just sort of popping out of our brains randomly. (Or maybe that’s just me?!?)

So anyway, there’s us, sort of doing our thing. And there’s God, all holy and loving and fab.

And then there’s Jesus. Kind of stuck in the middle really, looking into the deepest, most honest part of our soul. Whispering to his dad.

Sorting out our typos.

Cool eh?

Do you think he ever whispers back in our direction?

Grabs a paintbrush and splashes red across the sky? Blows the clouds away so we can see the stars?

I like to think so. How about you? What sights and sounds and smells come into your day to remind you how much you are loved?

And what are you going to do about it? What does action look like for you?

Yes, you’re right. Action is the theme for The Itchy Soul publication. (http://theitchysoul.com) It goes to print on August 1st. And I would love it if you could grab yourself a copy.

In the meantime, have a fab weekend!

I look forward to sharing with you on Monday 😀

loveel

The (super cheap!) low tech answer to that troublesome problem …

Have you ever done that thing where you open the notes on your smart phone and you see stuff that you have absolutely zero memory of writing?

Or how about when you see stuff you wrote months and months earlier that you sort of left drift, and you get this big ‘aha’ because you remember just how important it is to you?

OK, so that first one totally just happened to me. There’s a note on my phone that says:

“Emily love Jackson”

I know I did not write that!

Emily is my eldest daughter. She doesn’t know a Jackson but she does have a friend called Jakob who’s a bit sweet on her so I suspect my middle daughter wrote that in an attempt to wind her sister up.

But childish games aside, what are we going to do about the thing where we forget what’s important?

I moved my white board next to my desk this week so I’m going to play with sticky notes but do you know what God’s solution is?

Reminders. Daily.

“Write it big and proper so you can’t miss it”, he tells Habakkuk.

How about we both pledge, right now, to choose one thing, write it down and stick it somewhere obvious for the next 7 days?

You game?

Then next Friday in our ‘I did it!’ party on Facebook, we can compare notes and see what happened.

It doesn’t really matter what one thing you choose – and if you’re one of those people who struggles to choose, you’re going to love the feature I have coming up in The Itchy Soul

Just choose one thing, right now, and write it down.

Got it? Good. Now go stick it somewhere where you’ll see it every day, multiple times per day, for the next seven.

And then go here and get yourself signed up for The Itchy Soul publication.

loveel

What I learned about loving unconditionally from a half-naked Jessie J

So I was at the gym on the cross-trainer (that’s the one with the funny arms that go back and forth at the same time as your feet are going up and down. Well weird!) when I happened to glance over at the screen of an exercise bike.

Because it wasn’t being used by anyone, it was showing the default music channel and that’s when I saw the silhouette of a scantily clad female person striking a pose.

The music started and the silhouette danced and sang. You know what the average female pop stars videos are like. We don’t dress them dowdy or in sweaters up to here. She was effectively dancing in her underwear.

It was at this point that the internal debate in my head started up. Why do they feel the need to wear so little in order to sell a record? What does this say about us as a culture that the slim, pretty, half-naked ones are the ones who make it big?

Blah, blah, blah!

And then I recognised Jessie J.

And without even consciously thinking about it, something clicked in my head. Because Jessie can sing. She has a fab voice. And yes, the song was a bit average and not one that I can remember the tune of now I’m home but, because it was her and I like and respect her, suddenly it was different.

And that was when I told myself off for being so judgemental and unloving!

Because it’s easy to love and show compassion when the other person is someone we respect or is like us in some way. Loving the people who are different is when things get messy.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

(And yes, I’m speaking to myself as much as anyone right now!)

Here’s to loving, even when it’s difficult and of course, if you’re ready to get really intentional about it, I have The Itchy Soul newsletter waiting for you.

loveel

They laughed when I said, “Know yourself.” And then they saw me run.

So you remember I told you yesterday about the whole marathon thing and how much I like to grumble? (I mean, I don’t like to grumble per se. It’s just kinda par for the course some days.)

Well this morning, a funny thing happened. I finally got all three of the kids back to school and I was pondering on how best to plan my day. There’s always a temptation to go wild and bunk off when they’re all back in school but some attempt at planning usually helps curb this, just a little.

So anyway, to save some time, I decided that, if I woke up early enough, I’d go for a run first thing while everyone else was sleeping. I didn’t set an alarm but thanks to my husband’s snoring, by 6:15, I was awake.

And you know what? It was lush out there. I didn’t grumble or complain once!

It still hurt and there were times when I really, really, really wanted to stop and just walk for a bit but it was like a totally different experience.

Ideas for these emails popped in my head. I remembered stuff I was meant to do that I hadn’t done yet. I chatted with God. It was all really fun.

And that’s when I had a bit of an aha …

I’m an early bird. Just so long as it’s light and not raining, I love being up and about first thing. Ask me to run after about 4pm and you might as well fill my shoes with lead for all the good it’d do me!

And having finally made that connection, you can be as sure as chips is chips that I’ll be out running again first thing Saturday morning instead of leaving it until later in the day.

And you know what else? The same is true with hanging out with God. As much as I love to flump on the sofa and watch a good film, I’m an active sort of a person. I’m not so great at being still and if you need me to sit quietly for too long, there’s a better than average chance that I’ll fall asleep!

I chat with God while I’m washing the dishes. I’ll grumble and complain and thank him when my feet are running. I’ll sing and ponder stuff in my head while making tea for the kids. Sure, maybe the whole ‘prayer closet’ way of the prayer warriors of old is more ‘right and proper’ but I hang out with God who loves me, just as I am.

In fact, you know what? He made you to be you, and he doesn’t need a do over.

So how about today we embrace all that it means to be us and see how those shoes fit?

As for me, I’m writing a series of mini-prompts that’ll help you do just that and I’ll be sending them out with the inaugral issue of The Itchy Soul.

Coming to a post box near you, soon!

Until tomorrow,

loveel

How to hang out with God while training for a marathon …

So something I haven’t talked about much, other than the occasional post on Facebook, but next April I’m running a marathon.

Some context … I’ve never run a race before. In fact, last year was the first time I ran as an adult and the farthest I ever got was a little over 3 miles (that was yesterday!)

It’s my eldest daughter’s fault. The London Marathon came on and I commented that I’d love to do it. Her reply?

“You can’t. You’re too fat!”

And of course, the rest is history!

I even have the t-shirt and she’s chuffed that she inspired it all. Yes, I’ve counselled her on the perils of being rude and cheeky but right now she’s still at the delighted ‘I did that!’ stage.

Every so often (like, almost every day!) I wonder what on earth I’ve let myself in for. Being me, I of course announced it on Facebook and Twitter (because I knew I’d want to back down by the Monday) so there really is no going back.

So last night I pulled on my running shoes and got myself out there and honestly? It was really hard going. I’m slow and unfit (but slowly getting fitter!) and when I get back, my legs ache.

But while I’m out there, the one thing that keeps me going is the ongoing commentary in my head.

Some mornings it’s delightful to be out in the beautiful fresh air, running alongside the beach, thankful for living in a pretty part of the world and all that jazz.

Other times? I’m grumble and groan almost the whole time!

But you know what I love most? The reminder that popped in my head last night that God loves hearing it all.

I mean, I’m sure that if I were him, I’d prefer hearing the happy, joyful stuff but he just likes hanging out, sweaty and hot and tired and all.

So I got to thinking … what would today be like if we just chatted with him, told him what’s really going on, and actually be real about it all?

What would that look like?

If you’d like to hang out with God in a way that is most you (instead of following someone else’s rules and shoulds) you’re going to love The Itchy Soul. I can’t wait to share it with you!

loveel

How to be a Christian, without getting labelled as judgemental and homophobic.

So one of the reasons I started Heaven & El was to be an anti-dote to all that.

Every time something awful happens, that Baptist church somewhere in the US starts spouting off. And mostly people know that not all Christians are like that, I hope, but still, it doesn’t do much to help the likes of you and me.

When it’s happening way over there though, within an organisation I don’t know or like, it’s easy to pass it off as someone else’s problem.

But what about when it happens closer to home?

In your own church? Or a friend on Facebook? Or something written by a blogger you otherwise love to read and, usually, respect?

Then what do you do?

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Buckminster Fuller

We can’t change people’s labels by fighting with them. We can not use words to persuade someone that we aren’t judgemental.

The only thing we have, the only tool at our disposal, is love.

And nope, not the mushy hearts and flowers and chocolates kinda love.

Love as a verb.

Love in action.

But how do we live love in action without it becoming another to-do? Something we tick off for the day?

That’s something we’ll be digging into in the inaugural issue of The Itchy Soul newsletter. It goes to print August 1st but if you hurry, there’s still time for you to get your paws on one of those bonus 1 on 1 sessions.

Only 8 left. Just saying 😉

loveel

What a six year old Minecraft addict can teach us about prayer …

So my son is home from school today. He has a cold. Apparently man-flu starts waaay before a kid hits puberty.

And as is par for the course, by the middle of the afternoon, he got bored.

We’d done Finding Nemo and Wreck-It Ralph while he convalesced. Car tracks had been built and left rejected as they lost their charm. We’d even played frisbee and horsy rides on the trampoline.

And so it was that Minecraft called his name.

“Great!” thought I. “I can get some writing done.”

Oh no, not today. Minecraft is much more fun when you have someone to play with.

And so it came to be that, despite much protestation, I found myself being trained how to play Minecraft.

I was a dutiful student. I learned how to fly. I lit torches and built little stone walls. I even found time to die twice.

And then I suggested that it might be time for mummy to stop playing for a little bit. Truth be told, the retro, pixellated look makes me feel a bit sick!

And what do you think my six year old made of that? Did he take it lying down?

Not likely!

For the next 30 minutes he coaxed and coerced and as a result, enjoyed an extra half hour of company in his fictional world.

What if the way we chatted with God was a bit less like we just threw up the King James Bible and more like a child talking to her dad?

What would that look like?

If you’re keen to find out, you’re going to love The Itchy Soul newsletter. The inaugural issue goes to press August 1st and if you’re one of the first 10 to subscribe, you’ll get an extra sweet bonus.

Next? Go here: http://theitchysoul.com

Until tomorrow,

loveel

What about when it’s just meh?!?

Hiya lovely 🙂

This week’s episode is about those times when things feel a bit meh and a little experiment that could help make things better.

If the audio player isn’t working or you’d prefer to download the mp3, click here.

And now it’s over to you …

Give the experiment a try and then come back and tell us all what happened. I can’t wait to hear all about it! 🙂

loveel