Only the brave! God knows best

Each day when I pick up Dom from school, he likes to get of his buggy and lie in our driveway. I’m not entirely sure why, but he does. When it’s dry I’m happy for him to do that, but when it’s pouring with rain I don’t let him and have to pick him up screaming and carry him inside. He shouts and lashes out and even tries to open the hastily-locked fronted door. All he can think of is that I’m shutting the door on him and not allowing him to do something, when the truth is I am looking out for him, and what is best.

That’s how it can be with God – you want the door open, but push it and it stays firmly shut. You rush to another door and it’s locked, and you feel like shouting about the injustice of it all. It’s so unfair, why is God so mean? I imagine God has perfected his parental look of loving but knowing what’s best as the child is lashing out.

That is how it felt when I was trying to plan what I was doing the first full day of this trip. I had tried again and again to find something to do on the Saturday with other people, but everyone was busy and I felt panicked. I was coming to a different country with the purpose to connect and was going to have to sit by myself on day 1, it made me anxious.

I pleased so say that God has, yet again, gone ahead and I have been utterly blessed by my incredible and generous hosts. They have welcomed me into their home, spent time with me, and ended up taking me around an amazing farmer’s market and then out for some lunch before I crashed out with jet lag. I then had a nice evening watching golf and Downton Abbey!

When I thought I needed to be busy and visiting lots of people God knew what was best and provided. There is nothing wrong with my attempts to be prepared with an itinerary, but rather than being eaten up with frustration I should have trusted that God knows what He is doing.

I don’t deal with not knowing what is going to happen very well and so this week is rather out of my comfort zone as I am very much going along with what others are doing. I am learning to build up these weaker muscles so that when I don’t have a nice neat schedule, and no idea of what is expected of me I don’t crumble to pieces! Embracing and understanding my weaknesses means that they can be turned into opportunities.

I am someone who has spent many years retreating and hiding from busy-ness and people, and on this trip I have already been so blessed by conversations and spending time, just being, with others. I find it so hard to sit down and relax – I am always on the go, but I am trying and willing to learn, willing to grow in my relationships and that means pushing through the pain barrier.

God is so good and tender and He truly knows best.

God bless,

Kat

 

Only the brave! The journey begins

Have you ever done one of those crazy trust exercises where you are blind-folded and expected to fall backwards and be caught by the person behind you? When it came to taking that leap of faith I remember putting my foot out in self-preservation several times before taking a deep breath in and falling back. There is that moment when you have taken the leap and are falling back of slight panic, but then you feel the safe and solid arms behind you, and you can breathe a sigh of relief.  Your trust has paid off.

Well that is how I felt yesterday when I set off. Even in the hours running up I was asking myself why I was doing this. my self-preservation was kicking in. It would have been safer to stay at home, but if you say, like me, that you trust God, that trust needs to be put into action. So I metaphorically shut my eyes and fell back.

God was so faithful and throughout my entire journey there was a the beauty of God being in every detail and in every moment.

I love to feel safe, and for a long time I mistakenly thought this meant being safe in my four walls, or in what was familiar.  Yesterday I experienced that beautiful feeling of peace and safety even though I was well out of my comfort zone. I trusted that God had gone before me and that meant choosing not to stress about the details.

Being aware of your weaknesses is actually a strength. So instead of going into a situation in which I knew I would struggle and break down, I wised up. I was able to put in healthy boundaries and the right support.

heathrow

London Heathrow Airport have a brilliant team for flyers with hidden disabilities. I was met by a lovely and hilarious assistant who helped me through security and then I was the taken to a quiet lounge where I could avoid the busy-ness and sensory overload of the airport. At just the right time I was then met by another team member who stayed with me until I boarded the plane at the beginning. This meant I was able to be settled before the mad rush of people. These small things made such a difference and helped me avoid the stress and panic that I often feel in busy and loud environments.

When you are open and honest about your struggles, with the right people, we are enabling them to help us, and to cover us with their strengths.  For years I would hide my struggles and really let my husband, Ali see them. The poor guy got the brunt! By being open yesterday, I found out more about how kind and loving people can be.

One of the things that I had been really nervous about was getting off the plane at Atlanta. That airport doesn’t have the same support system in place as Heathrow, so I prayed., “Please Lord, would you put the right person next to me, who can help me”.

Wow! God delivered! When the lady sat next to me saw the stewardess checking up on me, she asked why, and so I told.  She declared herself to be the perfect person to sit next to as her son has ASD and she knew all about the struggles and sensory difficulties.  She told me not to worry about the other end and that she would make sure I got through immigration and find my taxi driver. She did!

When I did hit sensory overload and started to panic she knew what to do. She got the stewardess to help me, and I was given some space in one of the galleys, some water and a chance to calm down. I was overwhelmed and blessed by peoples kindness, support, and friendliness and how I was welcomed with open arms.

I talked in my the introduction to this blog series about my struggles with the unknown, surprises, and sensory overload. For many years this has limited me, stripped me of my joy and my ability to just be and to do things otherwise I wouldn’t have done.  Yesterday, I really experienced that beautiful moment of facing my struggles and overcoming them.  This wasn’t because of who I am, but because of God’s grace and goodness.

Yes it was challenging and there were times where it was physically difficult. I had to persevere, but there was that incredible feeling of joy of what I had overcome. Something that seemed impossible was made possible with God.

Only the brave! Introduction: Leap of faith

So in a few weeks time I am going to a Christian holiday called Spring Harvest, and this year’s theme is called ‘Only the brave!’.  So it seemed appropriate to use it for the title of my mini-series of blogs that I will be doing over the next few days.  Sometimes God asks us to do something that means taking a massive leap out of our comfort zone and walking by faith and not by sight. Let’s say this sums up what I will be doing this next ten days. 

At the beginning of the year a friend had a word for me that God was asking me to do something that was (in her words) ‘peeing my pants scary’ but he wanted me to do it.  I laughed when I heard that but it summed up perfectly as I felt God was asking me to go to Atlanta, Georgia to visit the 10,000 Fathers Worship School on which I have been a student for the last 14 months. Not only is it a big deal because of the challenges of the journey but also because of the challenges I have in connecting with people. 

I genuinely love spending time with people, but due to my ASD and sensory issues I sometimes find it very hard to read other people and process what they are saying. In the same way, what makes perfect sense in my head leaves others scratching theirs. With my sensory issues I sometimes find it hard to be in busy and noisy environments and end up battling with sensory overload and scuttling off to find quiet even if it means hiding in a cupboard! For many years I have felt lonely and alienated because of the challenges to connect and the challenges to be around lots of people in busy environments. 

The last time I went to America I had a camera firmly fixed to my face for pretty much the entirety of the trip. I was safe behind the lens and taking photos meant it was a place to be able to hide in plain view.   

This time I feel God is sending me there to learn more about truly connecting, learning more about community and how to work in harmony. Something I have been inspired by with the Worship School is their hospitality – welcome, friendships, relationships and their heart of discipleship. For someone who has always struggled with these it feels a bit like being on a mission: Mission Connection!  

For some, flying to America by themselves, staying with people they have never met, not having a clear idea of the itinerary, and where your meals will be coming from would seem like a brilliant adventure and something to revel in, but for it seems a bit terrifying just to get through the flight.  I will have to contend with the smells, the sounds, the mass of people, confined space, people brushing past me with their cases. Alongside all of that is the unpredictability of a nine-hour journey, what meal might I be served and will I be sitting next to someone nice? 

I am someone who usually goes to the same places on holiday – I like the predictable and also to have a clear plan and know what is expected of me.  There has been a part of me wanting to break out and see more, but I have been trapped by these fears and the many things that can overwhelm me. Why on earth would I put myself through something like this? 

I have learnt that when God asks you to do something, it is best to do it! I believe He’s a kind and loving God and would not ask me to do something that was going to cause me harm. He wants to stretch me and bring me out of my comfort zone and He has been so patient and loving in the way He has been preparing me for this. It is not something that has just happened. 

I can honestly say if this trip had been suggested last year I would have run screaming for the hills. Through this last year as I have had come to terms with being on the autistic spectrum and having sensory needs. This has shed light and understanding over the challenges I have had to face over the years. God has been bringing freedom and wholeness step by step. I now have noise reducers that help me hear things at a normal level and not my default setting which is thirty decibels too loud. Also, now that I wear light-sensitive glasses I am not getting the bombardment of light that causes such pain to my eyes.   

With the understanding that I process the world very differently and need help processing certain things it has meant I have approached this trip with wisdom.  I have had to swallow my pride and be open that I will need help. It means I have been contacting airlines and airports and asking for help.  I have made sure I have a taxi all booked for when I arrive and someone to help me get to the right place. By being aware of my weaknesses I have been able to put in healthy boundaries and the right support – it means that something that seemed so impossible before is now not only possible but actually happening! Previously it would have left me crippled with anxiety and fear, but I now feel confident in through Gods strength. 

Many years I lived in a state of fear dominated by two words – what if. This mentality limited so much of what I could do, but God has been challenging this. I could live in a state of ‘what if the plane is cancelled, or delayed? What if there is a terrible accident? What if they don’t accept my visa? What if I can’t cope and get sick? What if? What if? What if?  Living in this constant negativity is not much fun – it’s debilitating and stops you from living and walking in the freedom that God has designed.   

What would happen if I turned the what ifs around? What if I let go of my fear and let God take control? What if I trust that He has plans to prosper me and not to harm me?  What if I believe that he is bigger than it all?  What if I believe He has gone ahead of me and prepared the way?  Turning the what ifs around like this transforms an anxious, stressed mess on the floor to a person at peace and full of hope and expectation. I am not doing it in my strength or my understanding but trusting that God will lead and guide me. 

I’m taking a leap of faith, knowing that if He asks me to leap he will catch me! 

I’m inviting you to ‘come along’ with me as I take this leap of faith, and as I battle a plethora of hurdles and start to live not as limited but as an overcomer.  I will be blogging daily and I pray these would encourage you and remind you that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” 

Many blessings, 

Kat 

Wishing you a blessed 2018!

katpostimage

Hey guys,

Happy new year, I wanted to share my latest blog from cross rhythms which I pray blesses and encourages you as we start this new year,

http://www.crossrhythms.co.uk/articles/life/Redeeming_The_Past_So_We_Can_Move_Forward/61751/p1/

Many blessings,

Kat

‘Tis the season

Christmas is just a few days away and last-minute preparations are underway. Christmas music is playing in every shop you step in and Christmas films dominate television.

In one of the films I was watching a family end up having a huge amount of unfortunate things happen to them on a crazy Christmas evening. There are numerous trips to the hospital, broken bones, towed cars, getting stranded in a snow storm, being held up at gun point and being trapped in a burning building. Of course, everything is alright in the end. One of the characters is lying in a hospital bed recovering from smoke inhalation when suddenly “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” starts playing on the radio and she goes crazy but manages to laugh once she has let out all her frustration.

The reality is Christmas is not always the most wonderful time of the year.  This resonated for me this week when I was singing Christmas songs at a local event. Something kept jarring and left me feeling uncomfortable. There are so many flippant phrases in these songs: “soon all your troubles will be out of sight”, “mistletoe and turkey make the season bright”, and “it’s the most wonderful time of year”.  The more I sang these songs, the more and more it felt like giving false hope and continuing the illusion that something magical happens at Christmas and all your troubles just take a hike and everything will be fine.

In so many Christmas films, Santa grants a magical wish and suddenly things work out, but that isn’t real life.  In reality some people are struggling, lonely, sick, or afraid at Christmas.  Their circumstances don’t change just because we have put the trees and lights up. For some it actually makes things worse with financial strains adding to their list of concerns.

One of my favourite melodies is ‘Have yourself a merry little Christmas’ but singing these words to dear people, some of whom I know are going through so much, left me empty and feeling rather heartless.  So I decided to write some alternative lyrics – lyrics that talk about real hope and the truth of Christmas.  I believe the reason for the season is celebrating that God sent his one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to this earth. He came as a little baby, was born in a stable and laid in a feeding trough.  He grew up to live, die and rise again to save us and forgive us for our sins, and restore our relationship with God. He came to give us peace, hope, strength and joy.  He is our provider, restorer, king and friend.  This is the true hope and message of Christmas, and one that lasts past Christmas Day.  So I want to leave you with these lyrics which I pray will bless and encourage you.

If you are struggling, alone, or afraid, I pray that you would know God’s amazing blessing, provision, love, and peace in your hearts.

Many blessings,

Kat

Have yourself a blessed little Christmas,
May you know God’s peace,
In his strength and love you’ll find your strivings cease,

Have yourself a blessed little Christmas,
May you know Gods joy,
He brought love and freedom through this baby boy

Let us join as the angels sing,
Praises to the king of love,
The son of God, who has to come us,
To restore our broken hearts,

As we walk through mountains and the valleys,
Through his love sustained
In his gracious love he’ll take our fears away,
So have yourself a blessed little Christmas now,
Yes have yourself a blessed little Christmas now,

lyrics (c) 2017 Kat Mills