It’s easy in life when we are in a waiting period to let discouragement creep in and threaten to knock you down.  It’s harder to see the positive things and lies and doubts rage on in your mind.  You start to doubt what you set out to do, who you are and if you’ve got it right. This is how I was feeling when I went to my home group last Thursday. I’d allowed someone’s opinion and the fact that I didn’t know where God was leading to get me down. Instead of keeping my eyes focused on Him, I was focusing on my frustration and high expectations.  I was challenged in our Bible study as we were looking at the subject of joy. We talked about how joy isn’t about being ‘really happy’ with life all going well, but about having a hope in God. This is a hope that overshadows the difficult periods of life like uncertainty and pain.  Joy comes from the assurance of salvation in God and the knowledge we are new creations in Jesus Christ and through him we are restored, healed, strengthened and can find peace.

We talked about how easy it can be to lose our joy in tough circumstances and then it hit me.  I felt God saying to me over the last few months to be joyful in Him and not to worry, fear or be anxious.  This is an area I have struggled with, in the past I have battled with anxiety, stress and depression, and although I have worked through these and feel much stronger, I still have days when the anxiety and stress seems overwhelming.  The verse ‘The joy of the Lord is my strength’ (Nehemiah 8vs10) keeps cropping up and I have felt challenged to make this a habit.  It is when I remember that He is bigger than my circumstances that my joy returns.

It is a huge relief – I believe I am not alone – but have a God who loves me and has amazing things for me and wants me to keep trusting.  I have been asking God this week for some encouragement as I was struggling with discouragement and that prayer has been answered.  I was forwarded an email from a lady who wanted to share with me what an encouragement and blessing the album had been to her and her family.  A friend messaged me and thanked me for the way the album had encouraged her in her faith and prayer times.  I really appreciated this as this is the whole reason I felt called to record the album.

It was easy after receiving my first few reviews this week to focus on the areas that I need to improve on and to feel that it wasn’t quite good enough.  Instead, I have come to the conclusion (after lots of help from family!) that you have to start somewhere. Experience comes with time and a journey. All that may come in time, but the important thing is desire to praise God. It is through this that I want to continue to encourage and write songs that will help people to keep going through the knowledge that they are precious, loved and unique.

As I have talked about in my blogs, I am passionate about mentoring and encouraging young Christian artists. It has been a huge blessing to get in contact with Geoff Howlett, who has also has a passion to encourage upcoming Christian artists. He reviewed my album and played my track ‘Just as you are’ on BBC Radio, Humberside.  Geoff authors an amazing newsletter ‘Never For Nothing’ each month, where he reviews new Christian albums, shares artist performance dates, news, and prayer requests which is then distributed around the world. I was truly blessed by his review as Geoff really captured the heart of this album and shared a lot of positives about the album as well as having a couple of good bits of feedback which are areas I can work on.

I am grateful for the people that God has brought into my life to encourage me and give me confidence to keep going.  I really urge you if you have a way you can encourage someone around you, whether by a kind word, a small gift or a kind gesture, then go for it! You have no idea just how much that may encourage someone to keep going.

May God bless you!